Monthly Archives: June 2011

Tuesday Take-Away {Genesis 28:10-12}

 I haven’t forgotten about you, friends. I’d like nothing more than to spend some concentrated time on-line, visiting you and weighing in on your valuable posts. I’d also like some more time to write some of my own. But beyond what I would like to do, there is another preference that has surfaced for me–my “must do” for the next few weeks.

God is preparing my heart to attend P31’s She Speaks conference in July. Thanks to many of you and your investment into my story, I’ll be able to share with others some of the wonderful ways that God has ministered and is continuing to minister to my heart during this season–another step in my “living up to my learning” (if you didn’t watch my cancer-survivor picnic video, skip this reference or make up your own interpretation).

As a way of managing my time, I’m planning on posting a little nugget of truth at this blog on Tuesdays… something along the lines of Tuesday Take-Away. With God’s help and out of the well-spring that comes to me through him, I will endeavor to plant a little seed of truth and comfort into your heart. A small take-away for your day. My goal is not to overly flesh out my thoughts (some of you are shouting “Hallelujah” right about now… not funny). Rather, my goal is to point you toward a few take-aways that leap out at me. More than likely I’ll be chewing on them for the rest of the day. Accordingly here is the text and take-away for today:

“Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.” (Genesis 28:10-12)
My take-away:
  • Sometimes a “setting out” from the land of our comfort–our familiar–is required of us in order that we may walk in the fullness of all that God has for us.
  • There’s always a “certain place” of rest.
  • As odd as it might seem, a hardened “stone” rather than pillow is often the foundation for that “certain place” of rest and for the birthing of God’s dreams for our lives.
  • The “stone” we’re resting upon can serve as the portal that God uses to reveal himself to us.

So, my friends, how do you read it? What “setting out”, what “certain place”, or what “stone” is your portion this day? I love you each one and will get around to visit you as I can. As always…

Peace for the journey,

~elaine

near…

“A woman in the crowd called out, ‘Blessed is the mother who gave birth and nursed you.’ He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’” (Luke 11:27-28)
What “word” are your hearing from God this week? Is there a prompting from his Spirit within you, nudging you in a certain direction? A verse, perhaps, that keeps resurfacing through different venues? What sacred declaration? Gentle revelation?
 
What word?

God’s Word tells us that we are blessed to hear such a “word” and then further blessed when we obey its prompting. It may come to us in unexpected ways and through all manner of godly allowance; but for me those “words” normally first arrive at the doorstep of my heart via the pages of Scripture; God, then, backs up his Word with many moments of earthly punctuation as I continue to meditate and ponder the depths of his revealed Scripture.

It’s not enough to just hold Jesus as a baby at Bethlehem; it’s not enough to walk the road with him to Calvary and watch him die. It’s not even enough to see the resurrected Lord ascend into the clouds. What is enough is holding all of God’s truth within our hearts, believing it, and then obeying it. Have you read it this week? If so, then I imagine he’s been prodding your heart along in a certain direction and making sure that you “hear” him as you go about your daily business. And so I ask you again… what word from God has become your word of meditation in recent days?

Mine has been “the nearness of God.” In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reminded to consider just how near and close to me is the presence of God:

“Come near to God and he will come near to you.” (James 4:8)
“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” {Psalm 145:18)

As I’ve paused to consider the richness of such a promise, I’ve been moved to action. To come near to God, to call upon his name in prayer, to invest some time in the study of his Word, and to trust that with every intentional act of my heart will come his response–the fruition of his promise to draw closer to me.

God is near. Just near. For whatever that may or may not mean to you today, it’s certainly meant a great deal to me this week. Just thinking on that one word—near—has brought a rich measure of peace to my heart. I’m blessed to know the God who is near.

Now, to live what I know? To live the nearness of God? Well, that will be the measuring standard of truth revealed to my heart. I’ll keep you posted on that one.

What word has been your portion in recent days? I’d love to hear about it. As always…

Peace for the journey,
~elaine
PS: The winners of Joanne Kraft’s book Just Too Busy are Phil, Cindy C., and Pamela. Send me your snail mail, friends, at my new e-mail address: elaineolsen@live.com and I’ll mail these out early next week!

"Just Too Busy" by Joanne Kraft {a book review}

The first time I saw Joanne Kraft, she was sitting on a chair near the big windows outside the conference session we’d both just attended—a session geared toward having an “effective fifteen-minute publisher meeting” at the P31’s She Speak, She Writes annual conference. I noticed Joanne for two reasons: 1) her yellow blouse, and 2) her obvious tears.

I thought, perhaps, she’d just received some bad news from home; what I later would find out is that her bad news wasn’t attached to her home life; rather, to her dream for writing the book, Just Too Busy: Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical. Her hopes had been momentarily crushed by a professional who told her that the idea was best suited for a magazine article, not a full manuscript. This may seem like a small thing to most people, but for writers it’s a very tender, big thing. Dreams (whether you’re a writer or not) are just that important.

Normally, I would have immediately gone over to tend to Joanne’s tears; it’s in my nature to do so… to give hugs, ask what’s wrong, especially if it looks someone could use a tissue, even if that someone is a stranger. But I didn’t this time around because of my up-and-coming scheduled “effective fifteen-minute publisher meeting” with a publisher. Thus, our introduction would have to wait, and although I would see her throughout the remainder of the weekend, I never took the time to officially connect with Joanne. A few weeks later, we somehow managed to slip into each others’ lives through our blogs. Three years have passed since that time; we’ve had numerous chats and e-mail exchanges that have allowed us to grow a friendship—one of the best benefits that comes with having an on-line presence.

Neither one of us left that conference with a book contract that year. However, because of Joanne’s dogged determination and willingness not to cede her dream to one person’s opinion, she can add the title of “published author” to her list of accomplishments. I couldn’t be more thrilled for Joanne. Her pen via her heart is a special gift to her readers. Whether it’s a blog post, an e-mail, or the 187 pages I’ve just finished reading, Joanne’s words have a way of lightening my load and cheering my heart.

Joanne writes like she talks. What you’ll read on the pages of Just Too Busy, is exactly how she “reads” in her every day life. She’s kind, bold, generous with her encouragement, and her comedic timing goes a long way toward making a bad day into one that can be celebrated. We are like-minded in many ways, and I appreciate her willing candor on a variety of topics. You will see a lot these qualities throughout Joanne’s book.

Just Too Busy, Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical is a road map to aid readers in their examining of family life—in particular, calculating the stresses, strains, and conflicts that can often result from the self-imposed busyness that is crammed into a day’s existence. Sensing the strain from busyness in her own family, Joanne and her husband decided to take a radical sabbatical from the chaos of their lives. Radical, because that meant cutting out many of the extra-curricular activities for their four children (i.e. sports, music lessons) and to, instead, trade them in for more family time. Sabbatical, because they made this commitment for an entire year.

Their choice wasn’t based on worldly preferences; their choice was based on godly ones. Joanne and her husband weren’t giving up on developing the lives of their children. Instead, they were reclaiming them… the lives of their children. “No” to the outside world; “Yes” to the family being built within the four walls of their home. Sounds pretty radical to me! Sounds pretty darn smart as well.

Here’s what I love most about Just Too Busy. It’s not another checklist for making readers feel guilty about all the things they’re doing right and wrong as parents. Instead, this book gives readers a window-peek into the lives of six people who are surviving and thriving as a family unit. Why? Because of their willingness to draw some boundary lines regarding the outside influences that daily present themselves as necessities rather than possibilities. Joanne is the first to tell readers that her parenting isn’t perfect. I would also add to that disclosure by telling you that Joanne is an example of a parent who is perfectly willing to make a radical change so that her family might live more peacefully.

Some things you can look forward to finding out about in Just Too Busy include (but are not limited to):

  • The true definition of A.D.D.
  • The ten telltale signs of busyness
  • Keeping your hand at your side when all it really wants to do is fly high and say “yes!”
  • Joanne’s penchant for school field trips
  • The importance of Sabbath rest
  • Why singing “Jesus Take the Wheel” doesn’t count as morning devotional time
  • The traditional Thanksgiving table cloth
  • Where Amelia Earhart is currently residing
  • How to know if you’re “munning” correctly
  • Ditch days
  • Scrapbooking for the creatively challenged
  • Television rehab
  • Choosing the right “hills” to die upon

Just a few of the “gifts” from Joanne’s pen; some serious, some light-hearted, but all of them connected to one central theme—

Celebrating and capturing the beauty of a family.

In closing, I have a final confession to make. My family isn’t necessarily a good candidate for a radical sabbatical from our busyness, because quite honestly, we’re not that busy. We used to be when our older boys were small. The memories of the season have shaped the way I approach my parenting with this second generation of kids. Accordingly, I do far less (in terms of activity) with our younger children. Reading Joanne’s book has brought this reality to the forefront of my heart and has challenged me to make some radical changes in another direction. Not a change for busyness, but rather a change for family togetherness. Joanne’s words remind me, again, to take hold of these moments, to invest some personal energy into them, so that when my children have grown into adults, sweet remembrance regarding their childhood days will be their portion.

Just Too Busy is so much more than an examination of busyness. Just Too Busy raises the flag on behalf of families everywhere and gives them the permission to say “no” to outside distraction and “yes” to the inward cultivation of strong, healthy, family relationships. I’m so blessed and privileged to share this book with you, friends. It’s an easy read that will make you laugh, cry, think, and arrive at some conclusions about your own family’s busyness.

It seems like a lifetime ago when I first witnessed Joanne’s tears and her deflation regarding her idea for a book. Today I imagine her tears spring forth for different reasons. For a dream realized and for the tenacity and courage it took to make it happen. Today, I raise a flag in her honor and celebrate this milestone in her earthly tenure. I join her in making some radical decisions that will forever change the futures of the generation that sleeps beneath my roof this night.

Thank you, Joanne, for your radical heart of faith that was willing to stay the course despite the odds. I love you friend!
~elaine

 

{video trailer for Just Too Busy}

 

  • To sign-up for an opportunity to win one of three copies that I am giving away, leave a comment with this post. For an extra entry, link to this post in your facebook or twitter accounts and make sure to let me know in the comment section. I will announce the winners with my next post.

for love of You…

Today, while running a quick errand with my kids (is there really such a thing… a quick errand?), we were listening to Audrey Assad’s For Love of You. I haven’t listened to the CD in months; actually, I haven’t listened to much music over the course of my last year. Something broke in me along the way; music took a back seat and silence slipped in as a replacement. But just today, while listening to Audrey, I was reminded of something that I wrote a season ago before my suffering began:

~ ~ ~

{from “peace for the journey: in the pleasure of his company”, pgs. 6-7}

“Atlantica–the magical waters of mermaids and talking sea creatures–had lost its capacity to sing. Not because it didn’t hold a melody within its waters, but rather because a tragic death had beaten its drum upon her shores. Loudly and profoundly it marched, sending song’s breath to a watery grave, to be buried deeply within the unseen sands of an untouched grief.

Pain does that. It buries. It may burst forth in all manner of wild expressions at the time of sorrow, but it almost always finds a way to, at least temporarily, suspend the song. When death of any kind marches its cadence upon the soil of our souls, it buries. It digs deeply and cries hard and grasps for fragments of control that don’t allow the music its voice. 

But here is the truth of the eternal song. Once the music has made its way into a heart no amount of throwing and crying and denying its pulse can keep it buried forever. We can go to the grave refusing it a voice, but in the end, the music remains. It will find is chorus, even without our participation, because the King’s music is meant to be sung.”  

~ ~ ~

All of this to say, friends, the music is returning to my soul, one note at a time. Today I heard its chorus sung through Audrey’s beautiful voice. A simple grace given to me by the King whose melody remains, despite our suffering seasons. Even so, Lord Jesus, come and sing your song through me.

~elaine
PS: Be sure to join me on Monday for a review and give-away of Joanne Kraft’s first book release, “Just Too Busy!Shalom.

zoo thoughts…

zoo thoughts…

We took our young kids to the zoo last week. Despite the blistering temperatures and the long walks in between exhibits, I managed to have a few, chewing-on kind of thoughts as I went.

Eden isn’t as far away as we might think; it’s approaching our souls, even now…

 

No one but God could paint this one; he stands alone and high above the rest as a witness to the Creator’s creative pulse…

Sometimes a barrier allows us a bravery and a beauty not yet realized…

 

One day, I will ride one of these…

One day I will sleep with one of these…
 

One day, flamingo duty will be just fine with me…

This is, indeed, my beautiful “pink” season…

My kids will not be kids forever…

 

But my kids will always be my favorites of God’s created! I’ll be spending some extended time with them over the next few weeks… getting to know them all over again and trying to catch up with their childhoods. 

Indeed, Eden is closer now than ever before. Better grab it as it comes, friends! I love you each one. As always…

Peace for the journey,
~elaine

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