Rev. Dr. Karen Nelson
Show Notes:  
Release Date: Jan 15, 2019
About Dr. Nelson:

Karen Nelson is married to Gary Nelson, a mother of three, and grandmother of 8! She is a follower of Jesus Christ and an Ordained Elder in the United Methodist Christ.  As a second career pastor, Karen went to seminary after twenty years of working with youth in various churches around the state of Iowa. She received her Masters of Divinity and five years later she received her Doctorate of Ministry from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary.  Karen is also a trained Spiritual Director.

Karen has served at First United Methodist Church in Marion from 1996-2002, New Horizon UMC in Coralville from 2002-2011 and as the Field Outreach Minister of the Central District of the Iowa UMC from 2011-2016. She considers it a blessing to serve as the pastor of Lisbon UMC, a community she and Gary have known and loved for years.

Karen has served on the Board of Advisors for the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary as well as taught at the same institution.

Karen’s passion is the Church and it is her desire that all people come to know how much they are loved by their God.

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.






  • Finding A Spiritual Director — A PDF with the  Top 10 Essentials When Choosing A Spiritual Director
  • Spiritual Directors International — This is where people connect with spiritual companionship and deep listening.
  • Ignatian Spirituality  —   Information on and experiences of Ignatian spirituality from Jesuit and Ignatian sources around the world.
  • Centering Prayer — Beautiful, elegant and peaceful, the app includes an adjustable timer, as well as opening and closing prayer options that may be read before and after Centering Prayer.


Do you long for a deep, fundamental change in your life with God? Do you desire a greater intimacy with God? Do you wonder how you might truly live your life as God created you to live it? Spiritual disciplines are activities that open us to God’s transforming love and the changes that only God can bring about in our lives. Picking up on the monastic tradition of creating a “rule of life” that allows for regular space for the practice of the spiritual disciplines, this book takes you more deeply into understanding seven key disciplines along with practical ideas for weaving them into everyday life. Each chapter includes exercises to help you begin the practices–individually and in a group context. The final chapter puts it all together in a way that will help you arrange your life for spiritual transformation. The choice to establish yourown sacred rhythm is the most important choice you can make with your life.

Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation by Ruth-Haley Barton


   “Come away and rest awhile.” Jesus invites us to be with him, offering our full and undivided attention to him. When we choose retreat we make a generous investment in our friendship with Christ. Truth is, we are not always generous with ourselves where God is concerned. Many of us have done well to incorporate regular times of solitude and silence into the rhythm of our ordinary lives which means we’ve gotten pretty good at giving God twenty minutes here and a half an hour there. And there’s no question we are better for it! But we need more. Indeed, we long for more. In these pages Transforming Center founder and seasoned spiritual director, Ruth Haley Barton, gently and eloquently leads us into an exploration of retreat as a key practice that opens us to God. Based on her own practice and her experience leading hundreds of retreats for others, she will guide you in a very personal exploration of seven specific invitations contained within the general invitation to retreat. You will discover how to say yes to God’s winsome invitation to greater freedom and surrender. There has never been a time when the invitation to retreat is so radical and so relevant, so needed and so welcome. It is not a luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual life.

Invitation to Retreat: The Gift and Necessity of Time Away with God By  Ruth-Haley Barton


Few books in Westminster John Knox’s publishing history have been so embraced and so loved as Marjorie Thompson’s Soul Feast. First released in 1995, this spiritual classic continues to be a best-seller, as thousands each year accept her invitation to the Christian spiritual life. Offering a framework for understanding the spiritual disciplines and instruction for developing and nurturing those practices, Soul Feast continues to be a favorite for individual reflection and group study. Now engagingly redesigned to appeal to contemporary spiritual-seekers and repackaged for easier use in study and reflection, Soul Feast is a must-have.


Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life by  Marjorie J. Thompson


M. Robert Mulholland Jr. defines spiritual formation as “the process of being formed in the image of Christ for the sake of others.” Compact and solid, this definition encompasses the dynamics of a vital Christian life and counters our culture’s tendency to make spirituality a trivial matter or reduce it to a private affair between “me and Jesus.” In Invitation to a Journey, Mulholland helps Christians new and old understand that we become like Christ gradually, not instantly. Not every personality is suited to an early morning quiet time, so Mulholland frees different personality types to express their piety differently. He reviews the classical spiritual disciplines and demonstrates the importance of undertaking our spiritual journey with (and for the sake of) others. This road map for spiritual formation is profoundly biblical and down to earth. In the finest tradition of spiritual literature, it is a vital help to Christians at any stage of their journey. This edition is revised and expanded by Ruth Haley Barton with a new foreword, spiritual practices and study guide, to provide spiritual direction for individuals and groups seeking spiritual companionship for one another on the journey of transformation.

Invitation To A Journey by M. Robert Mulholland, Jr.


Is an impostor robbing you of God’s love?
We’ve bought into the lie that we are worthy of God’s love only when our lives are going well. If our families are happy or our jobs are meaningful, life is a success. But when life begins to fall through the cracks and embarrassing sins threaten to reveal our less-than-perfect identity, we scramble to keep up a good front to present to the world—and to God. We hide until we can rearrange the mask of perfection. Sadly, it is then that we wonder why we lack intimate relationships and a passionate faith.

All this time God is calling us to take the mask off and come openly to Him. He longs for us to know in the depth of our beings that He loves us and accepts us as we are. When we are our true selves, we can finally claim our identity as God’s child—Abba’s child—and experience His pure pleasure in who we are. Brennan Manning encourages us to let go of the impostor lifestyle and freely accept our belovedness as a child of the heavenly Father. In Him there is life.


Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging  By Brennan Manning


 Have you ever wanted to pray better and become more comfortable praying alone or with others?
Want your prayer life to be something more meaningful and impactful?
Want to learn different ways to build a closer relationship to God through prayer?

Take this 21-day prayer journey, exploring different prayer methods and and ways to pray deeper than you’ve ever prayed.

Learn to pray more, pray better, and pray deep.

•    Start each day with a brief overview of a prayer topic or method.
•    Then use guided prompts which lead you through a prayer for that day.
•    Lined pages allow you to journal your prayers and your prayer experience.


Pray Deep  by  Kathryn Shirey

A 2013 Midwest Publishing Awards Show Honorable Mention Sharon Garlough Brown tells the moving story of four strangers as they embark together on a journey of spiritual formation: Hannah, a pastor who doesn’t realize how exhausted she is. Meg, a widow and recent empty-nester who is haunted by her past. Mara, a woman who has experienced a lifetime of rejection and is now trying to navigate a difficult marriage. Charissa, a hard-working graduate student who wants to get things right. You’reinvited to join these four women as they reluctantly arrive at a retreat center and find themselves drawn out of their separate stories of isolation and struggle and into a collective journey of spiritual practice, mutual support and personal revelation. Along the way, readers will be taken into a new understanding of key spiritual practices and find tangible support for the deeper life with God. If you want to travel this journey with others, you will find a group study guide and book club resources at


Sensible Shoes  by Sharon Garlough Brown