Monthly Archives: November 2009

Black Friday with Me and my Man

Just in case you missed Black Friday shopping, here is a re-cap of my day with my man in tow (what a trooper he was… is). I trust you’ve all had a good week; I hope to be re-aligned with my “pen” in the coming week, thus getting away from all the blah, blah, blahing of video-living! As always…

peace for the journey,

it’s beginning to look a lot like crazy…

it’s beginning to look a lot like crazy…

Just a quick greeting from my house to yours as we enter into this week of calendared “thanks”–a practice that should follow us every day of our lives. I’ll be offline most of the week, but wanted to send you a pre-Christmas tour of my life!

I pray God’s peace and blessings to you all as you center your hearts around an intentional day of gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy in our country and the freedoms we know because of Christ Jesus. As always…

peace for the journey,


the darkness before the dawn

Morning is breaking.

I am ready for its arrival. The night’s pause has been a restless one for me. And while I’m not ready for the noise of a new day, I’m ready for the security of its light.

The quiet and dark of night often startles me. I hear things in the night that I don’t hear during the day. Bumps and creaks… fragile sounds that force my notice—force my trust. I cannot always determine the source of those sounds. My imagination tries its hand at identification, but it is not reliable.

Imagination is tricky business. Imagination creates. Imagination births. Imagination cultivates the seeds of my thoughts, and therein lies the rub. What my mind thinks is what my imagination grows.

I cannot help but think in the restless ache of a long night’s retreat. When sleep eludes me, thoughts invade me. When thoughts invade me, sleep eludes me. It’s an unforgiving cycle of give and take that sometimes depletes me for a next day’s living … sometimes energizes me for the same. My night’s imagination has served me in both directions.

Honestly, I’d rather be sleeping, but most nights I don’t. Instead, I grapple with this restless ache on a regular basis, trying to decide what to do with the time that exists between the darkness and the dawn.

Between the darkness and the dawn—a good soil for a good growing … a faith’s growing. A bridge between that which cannot be seen and that which is readily visible. That which is imagined and that which is reality. That which is shrouded in darkness and that which is unveiled in daylight. That which is secret and that which is revealed.

A night’s ending and a day’s beginning is a good edge to stand on if one is longing for faith’s interpretation. Faith teeters between these two extremes.

Faith accepts the mystery of the night while anxiously stepping toward the daylight.

Faith struggles with the unseen noises of the night, pondering their authorship and authenticity.

Faith looks intently into the darkness rather than retreating behind closed eyes.

Faith writes new words, new chapters in the darkness because the night insulates and isolates the “pen” from competing, daytime distractions.

Faith walks through the night because faith is certain about the morning.

Faith allows the night her witness because faith has seen the brilliance of its contrast.

Faith grows in the darkness because darkness has always been a good soil for faith’s good beginning.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” (Genesis 1:1-2)

The first darkness before the dawn.

The pregnant pause before the proclamation.

The cultivation before the coronation.

The imagination before the illumination.

The faith edge I’m teetering on in this moment—between night’s grip and day’s break.

I’m almost there. Morning is breaking. The light is beginning to filter in through the blinds, arriving just in time to strengthen my understanding. To validate my night’s wrestling. To buoy my faith and my steps for another day’s journey until the sun and moon collide, once again, to wrestle out their witness within my soul. How I long to embrace the beauty of them equally. Thus, I pray…

Hold me, Father, in the in-between times—those moments between the darkness and the dawn. Cultivate your strength in me as I struggle to reconcile my imagination with your truth… my questions with my faith. When the night seems too long, too dark and too confining, lighten my spirit with the witness of your eternal flame. Burn it strong; burn it certain. Settle my heart in sacred confidence regarding the surety of the day’s arrival. And should I falter in my fear before I get there, find me in my struggle, hold fast to my frame, and pull me through into your morning’s light.

Dawn. Proclamation. Coronation. Illumination. Where I want to live in faith, sweet Jesus. Amen.


Copyright © November 2009 – Elaine Olsen


growing up honest

for a boy who grew up to be an honest man… I love you, son.

Out of ninety-eight people scheduled for traffic court this morning, only half showed up. Of the half who made the effort, only three pled an initial “guilty” during the roll call moment. Those three were moved to the front of the court docket to have their cases resolved first.

One of those three was my son. He was part of the three percent willing to take ownership of his mistake. In doing so, he saved himself some time and received a reduced sentence for his crime.

Traffic school (to which he presented his certificate of prior attendance) and $165 in court costs and…

No points on his license.

Honesty wins the day! Honesty doesn’t come without consequences, but honesty often tills the soil for favor in the eyes of the judge. Being able to “own” our issues, our mistakes and our sins, is a key to our continuing growth as a human being.

As it goes with our flesh, so it goes with our faith.

Honesty wins the day. Confessing our sin before the Judge always merits his kind favor, his grace, his forgiving love. Never once does our Judge turn aside an honest confession. Instead, he listens intently for our intent and pronounces judgment accordingly.

No traffic school. No court costs. No points on our license. None. Done. Dismissed from judgment with nothing more than the loving grip of grace to accompany our steps home.


Because long ago on a hillside, another stood in our stead and received the verdict for our crimes. A once and for all “guilty” so that we might find favor with the King. Instead of allowing us to linger with our punishment, Jesus Christ surrendered his body to our pain. He paid the cost. He absorbed the sharp prick of the “points” applied to his flesh and the lengthy stay required in the courtroom until the work had been accomplished, finished and completed for all eternity.

His admission of guilt freed us from having to continue in ours. His willingness to “serve the time” freed us from unnecessary seasons behind bars which, in the end, could never adequately proffer in fair exchange for the crimes against God that we’ve committed.

Jesus Christ became “sin” for us, so that through him, we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). What does that mean?

It means that we are as clean before the King. That what Christ did 2000 years ago was enough to purify us so that we can stand before the Judge spotless, guiltless, free to speak our witness because of Christ’s witness on a cross.

A familiar truth to most of us; in fact, one so well-worn that when we hear it again, read it again, we’re tempted to move past it without re-absorbing the impact of its witness. Familiarity often breeds passivity—a complacent forgetfulness regarding the merit of the witness.

Would you be willing this day, perhaps even in this moment, to play that courtroom scene out again in your own heart? To relive that moment when you first tasted God’s grace in full measure? To picture yourself there, before the Judge, when the roll call commences?

You, awaiting the sound of your name from his lips, preparing your heart for your “guilty” confession when the time comes to answer his question “How do you plead?” You’re shaking, perhaps sweating, wanting desperately to state your case but understanding that any objection you can offer for your sin seems as foolishness in the light of his glorified presence. You’re wanting to get a pass, but fairly confident that none will be offered.

That is, until your name is called, and the question is asked, and rather than looking at you squarely in the eye, the Judge casts his glance in another direction—to the One who stands by your side in your defense—and looks him squarely in the eye and says…

“How do you plead, Son?”

“Guilty, Father, let the prisoner go. She is clean; he is clean. I am the One cloaked with the responsibility… the sin. See me; free them.”

And with those words, and because of that sacred surrender, your time in court is over. You leave the scene a free person. No blemish to your record; no shame attached to your name. It doesn’t make sense… this sacred exchange between your flesh and Christ’s, but you receive it nonetheless. Grateful for the reprieve; mindful of the cost.

And today, if you’ve made it this far with my words and with your remembering, then your heart, like mine, should be filled to overflow with gratitude for the One who stands beside us to plead our worthiness before the Judge.

Today, I walk my grace with continued thankfulness for the gift of Calvary. I am guilty of a great many crimes against God. I’m not sure what percentage of the world’s population is willing to admit personal guilt along these lines; perhaps, three percent is too generous an estimation, but if three out of a hundred are going to make the good confession, then I want to be part of the three. I want the honest admission of my heart to be the catalyst that moves me forward in my growth as a Christian, and I want the favor of the Judge on my behalf.

Honesty wins the day. Always. In the courtroom of life; in the courtroom of grace.

Bend the knee and bow your heart this day; your posture of reverent confession is the precursor to God’s pardon. As always…

peace for the journey,

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Copyright © November 2009 – Elaine Olsen

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a bit of housekeeping

Precious Readers:

We’ve come to a point in our journey together where I feel as if I need to address an issue with you; not one I ever intended on having to address, but one that I feel I need to be more vocal about in regards to my writing.

Plagiarism–copying and pasting my thoughts as your own. I feel as if I’ve been generous to all of my readers with my words over the past, almost 2 years of blogging–giving freely of my pen for God’s kingdom agenda. But I’ve noticed some traffic as of late and some infringements along these lines that, in my opinion, crosses the boundaries of “basic blogging etiquette.” It creeps me out a bit, and concerns me to some degree. Thus, I’m asking you as kindly as I know how to, please STOP using my words as your own. If you’d like to reference something I’ve written, please don’t hesitate to send me an e-mail.

Now, I’m all about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, and quoting anything I’ve written with proper referencing is fine. But to paste entire posts of mine as your own isn’t right. I’m sorry if this seems harsh; many of you might be offended, but the greater offense is to unlawfully “take” something that belongs to me without my permission.

Now, with that being said, I want to move on with my words, sharing them with you because of the trust we share within this blogging community. As always, friends, may God’s peace be yours this night and in the days ahead. I want to continue life with you in the blogosphere without having to worry about “word theft.” Certainly, God has given each one of us enough words and creative thought to write our own, unique posts. I, for one, am the benefactor of that overflow and so enjoy reading what you have to say.

Thanks for listening.


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