Monthly Archives: September 2012

“Beyond Cancer’s Scars” . . . the first chapter and what others are saying

Some of you still might be wondering if Beyond Cancer’s Scars is a book for you. Here are a few thoughts from readers who’ve read the book:

“I was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer in April 2009. . . . Since that time I have felt most all of the emotions you wrote about in your book. The final battle has been with feeling that my life is over and I am just waiting to die. Your book has helped me to see beyond cancer and to move forward. . . . As you said in your book, I can now say with enthusiasm, ‘Cancer has given me far more than it has taken from me.’ I stood up during a time of praise at Sunday morning worship to praise and thank God for the healing He is doing in my life and to thank Him for cancer. Thank you for sharing your emotions during your desert experience because it has given me the Hope I needed.” –“S” from NC


“I am only on page 37, and I ordered 2 more books to share. . . . I realized when I read on page 21 that it is so true that people ‘need a faith-based resource to serve as a companion for their (cancer) journey.’ I have not had cancer but realize ‘everybody has a story’ (like the title of your one chapter). I could feel some of your pain about your cancer experience. On the other side of the coin, I could feel the hope that you offer in all situations because of your stories of faith.

Thank you for writing this book! I believe it has helped many people already and will continue to help others.” –“C” from NC


“Elaine Olsen has written a book that will touch your heart, give you hope, and point you in the right direction for dealing with the ‘something’ in your life. From a soul attuned to the path of victory for life’s journey, her words bring clear understanding to the phrase – God is faithful. Divided into 40 short devotionals, this book reads like an encouraging letter from a close friend, that will be reread many times to glean another morsel of much needed truth.

Elaine’s take on Paul’s admonition to ‘live on’ will inspire you to move forward in your journey – whether it includes cancer or’ something’ else. The stories of her daughter’s bike ride and the family’s trip to the zoo will bring tears to your eyes and cause your heart to swell with anticipation of something greater.

 Everyone needs to read this book. I can guarantee no one will be disappointed.” –Karen from GA


“It won’t take you long to recognize yourself on these pages, whether you’ve ever had cancer or not. I haven’t, and by the end of page 2, I already knew there were many lessons here for me.

These words are about so much more than cancer, although she shares both her struggles and rough times so honestly, it will be a treasure for cancer patients and their families. This book, with questions at the end of each chapter, and also a facilitator format, is ideal for churches to offer in a group or small group setting.

The secrets she shares here are for every one of us. They are principles for living, God’s way. There isn’t anyone who travels this journey of life without ‘something’, be it cancer, or some other form of suffering. But as Elaine so clearly says, all of our ‘somethings’ matter to God, are known to Him, and will be transformed in our lives for good, because of His grace. Get the book!” –Sonja from TX

Still not convinced? Then, perhaps, reading the Prologue and first chapter of Beyond Cancer’s Scars might help you to decide. Click on the following link: Beyond Cancers’ Scars_Chapter 1

To view the book trailer and/or to order your copy, click here.

Have a great weekend!

I’d love to hear from you . . . why might you need a book like this?


the moment the walls talked . . .


I’m not a fan of coming here . . . too many memories and a pocketful of worries.

It’s not the people inside; they represent some of the best of the best. Dr. Habal and his surgical, oncology team are uniquely gifted in doing what they do. With God’s help, they preserved my life, saved it for a season longer, and I am exceedingly grateful. But follow-up visits are never easy. Instead, they serve as invitations for me to remember the struggle. To enter, once again, that familiar memory from two years ago when I first heard those words, “Mrs. Olsen, the results of your biopsy indicate the presence of cancer . . . invasive ductal carcinoma.”

Two years later, my memory serves me correctly. One doesn’t forget a moment like that one. Some moments are meant to be remembered. They remind me of where I’ve been and how very far I’ve come.

When my name was called, I left Billy and the kids in the waiting room and traveled down that familiar hallway to that familiar examination room. Unlike two years ago, today I would go it alone; today’s visit was routine, less critical, and less worrisome. The room’s sterility was only outdone by its silence—a formidable combination for a mind content on reeling with the potentialities of possible outcomes:

What will he say to me when he comes in? What will he do to me? What will be the results? How can this be right? Where did things go wrong? Where’s my peace? Where’s the doctor? When will it be my turn?

These were my ruminations two years ago. Today? Well, instead of being fraught with worry and questions, I leaned my head back against the wall and rested my eyes. It had taken us two hours to arrive at our destination, and I was tired. I quieted my heart in the wait and listened to the sounds around me. Soft footsteps and even softer murmurings could be heard through the solid, oak door.

Little time had passed before I heard the doctor’s footsteps coming toward me. Instead of stopping at my door, he stopped at room next to mine and announced his arrival with a gentle rap and an even gentler greeting as he entered the room.

“Good morning, Patty. How are you doing today?”

Yes, Dr. Habal was on the move, and I would have to wait a bit longer. Did he say Patty? Maybe it was Kathy? In hindsight, I don’t remember. What I do remember is what happened next, about two minutes after Dr. Habal’s arrival there.

A guttural, turn-your-stomach scream called out from the room next door, interrupting the quietness and forcing my notice. My family tells me it could be heard in the waiting room as well. Some walls aren’t thick enough to insulate the suffering cry. Some walls, instead, herald its arrival, allowing everyone within earshot permission to listen in on private pain . . . her pain, the woman next door who had just received, perhaps, the worst news of her life.

Oh, I didn’t hear those words coming through the walls; I didn’t need to. Some moments write a witness all their own, requiring little explanation. Some moments are just that hard, hurtful, and seemingly hopeless. Some moments are meant to be remembered. This, undoubtedly, was one of hers, thereby becoming one of mine.

I wanted to bolt. I wanted to throw up. I wanted to leave the pain. Instead, I shed some tears on her behalf. Moistness collected in the corners of my eyes and then dampened my cheeks, falling gently into my lap. I marked the moment in solitude and stood in solidarity with my sister on the other side of that wall, knowing something of what she felt and wishing I could break through the scene to give her some truth.

All is not lost in the night, friend. Dawn will break through, and that which now feels like death can feel like life again. Like hope. Like spring’s resurrection after winter’s solemn grip. Hang on, sister-warrior. Yes, the fight has only begun, but the fight will not last forever. There’s more to the story. Hang on and hold fast . . . the best is yet to be.

I don’t suppose I’ll ever forget this moment . . . her moment. It belongs to me now. Some moments in our lives are meant to be remembered. Why? Because they remind us of where we’ve been and how very far we’ve come.

Two thousand years ago, another guttural, turn-your-stomach cry issued forth loudly from the cross, allowing everyone within earshot permission to enter into the Savior’s, suffering story. Two thousand years later, my memory serves me correctly, well-preserved for me in the context of Scripture:

“From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’—which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” —Matthew 27:45-46

Jesus, too, felt forsaken, forgotten, and all alone to grieve the realities of his present suffering. His pain was undeniable; his cry, soul-shattering. The worst news of his earthly life became the best news of ours. All was not lost in the night. Dawn broke through, and that which was death became life again. Became hope. Became spring’s resurrection after winter’s solemn grip. Jesus Christ held on for a strong finish, fought hard for his Father’s finish, knowing that there was more to the story, his story, our stories. The best had not already been. The best was yet to be. And those who stood by as witnesses to that moment never forgot it. It marked them forever; in doing so, it marks me forever, maybe even you.

Some moments in our lives are meant to be remembered, even the painful ones, especially them. They remind us of where we’ve been; they stand as a memorial to how very far we’ve come, and, most importantly, they tell us the story of where we’re headed.

My life has been marked by pain; my life is not defined by it, but by God’s grace, my life has been changed because of it. I cannot undo personal suffering, nor can I remove you from yours. I can only point you to the One whose story, whose truth, whose witness, and whose resurrection can move you forward to victory.

All is not lost in the night, friend. Dawn will break through, and that which now feels like death can feel like life again. Like hope. Like spring’s resurrection after winter’s solemn grip. Hang on, sister, brother-warrior. Yes, the fight has only begun, but the fight will not last forever. There’s more to the story. Hang on and hold fast . . . the best is yet to be.

With Jesus Christ at the lead, the best is always yet to be.

Peace for the journey,

What suffering moment from your past serves as a lasting witness to the faithfulness of our God and to his Son’s triumph over the grave? What triumph trumps the pain and lingers as a memorial to the hard-fought battle you’ve waged (perhaps continue to wage) to the glory and renown of our Lord? I’d love to hear your story.

coastal daybreak . . .

There are many moving parts to my story. They change on a regular basis, moving on to the stage of my life without warning and, just as quickly, making their exit. I cannot predict the flow. I only know to expect it—an ever-shifting current of ins and outs, ups and downs, heart-highs and heart-lows.

This is survival.

It’s not easily defined and even harder to defend. Each day is a fight—a deliberate choice to enter the fray, to live forward and to do so in the shadow and strong witness of Calvary. Because Jesus survived the cross I, too, can survive mine. He is the standard-bearer for survivorship, conquering the grave and stepping forth into resurrected light. I want to step accordingly, to greet each new morning with the expectation that what has not yet been wrought in me will be cultivated in me by the hands and willing grace of God.

As the sun rises, so does my hope. Daybreak heralds the arrival of possibility . . . opportunity. A new day for a fresh work of God, by him and for him. There’s so much yet to learn, so much yet to become. I am limited in my abilities, worn and torn by the struggle of my flesh. I am renewed by the truth that spirit trumps flesh, that eternal wins out over temporal, and that the pulse currently within me caters to them both—my now and my then.

Who, but our God, could fashion such a form to house both the seen and unseen seeds of forever? What mystery exists within us! The moving parts of our stories make for interesting dialogue, and for as long as our earthly tenures continue, we should our conversations with the Father. This is how we get to know him. This is how we move closer to holiness. When we tether our words to him, he tethers his Word to us.

This is survival. Real survival. This is how we rise above the madness and make sense of the many moving parts of our stories. This is how we live forward. We keep talking to God. In doing so, we acknowledge the Holy, and we open up our hearts to receive fresh words of consecration that, not only validate our survivorship, but also move us into a place of effective, kingdom ministry.

Two years ago, I couldn’t have predicted the parts of my story that have now moved on to the stage of my today. It would have felt too weighty back then; it barely feels a reasonable load right now. Still and yet, this is my story to receive and then to live. No one else gets to move the puzzle pieces. Just God and, then, just me. It scares me sometimes—this responsibility called my life. But what scares the most is not ever really living it, not daily making the most of it.

And so, this morning, to honor the moving parts of my story that belong to my Father and, then, to me, I said, “Yes!” to the morning’s light and joined Ben Ball on his radio talk-show, Coastal Daybreak. I trembled with the responsibility, and then I let it go . . . gave it to God, and said “So be it. Do with it what you will.”


(to listen to my radio interview with Ben, click on the following link: Elaine Olsen on Coastal Daybreak)


I don’t imagine I have a future in talk-radio, but I do imagine that God could take something as fluid as my story and give it a voice to further his kingdom purposes. In my weakness, he is elevated. In my brokenness, he is seen. In my survivorship, he is celebrated. And with my story, he is remembered.

When Christ is elevated, seen, celebrated, and remembered because of the moving parts of our stories, then we live the kingdom forward. We move it forward as well. What could be more honorable than this? What better way to finish the walk in front of us?

Keep moving, friends, and leave a kingdom trail behind you as you go. It’s the best that any of us can do.

Peace for the journey,


PS: The winners of Lisa Shaw’s book/CD and Cindy’s cards is Cheryl! I’ll be in touch, friend.

Spilt Milk and Grace . . .

If I could take back the last thirty minutes of my life and live them over, I would.

I wouldn’t have yelled at my daughter for spilling the milk in the utensil drawer. Instead, I would have offered her some grace and some tips on cleaning up the mess. I blew it, and the only excuse I have to offer up for my poorly chosen response is my carnality—my fleshly resistance to the work of the cross. And really, that isn’t much of an excuse. I know better.

Haven’t I spent a lifetime in the Word of God and submitted my heart to the refining fires of the Holy Spirit’s purification? No need to answer. I know the answer. “Yes” and “Apparently not enough.” When will I learn? When will holiness take hold? When will I stop doing what I don’t want to do, thereby ending up regretting the “do” I’ve done?

But for the grace and mercy of God, I’m toast. Done. Finished. Incomplete and completely hopeless. My righteousness is as filthy rags before the Father. Oh, I know it could have been worse. Trust me. I’ve been worse. I have some yesterdays filled with worse, some rancid history—a season or two in my past where I was deeply entrenched in willful sin, feeding the desires of my flesh and damaging my soul’s pulse. Thank God for his patience, for his willingness to tarry a while longer . . . long enough for me to come to my senses and to realize that a swine’s filling was a poor substitute for heaven’s bread.

My stomach sours with remembrance. My heart swells with relief for the mercy afforded therein. It’s been a long road, this grace journey. Some days, I still feel like the wretch in the middle of an amazing grace. Some days, I feel like a saint. Today I just feel numb. Suckered in by circumstance, I fell prey to the schemes of the enemy, and, in doing so, I became the predator—a mom sucking the life out of a moment and out a soul that depends on me to know better. To live better. To give better.

I’m sorry, sweet daughter of mine, for failing you today. Grace should be the standard in our home, and love should lead the way. It would be so much easier for you to understand the cross and its mercy and the big God who bent low to offer them both if I could get my act together and live accordingly. Your forgiveness is rich and your love all the more. Today, you’ve been Jesus to me. In doing so, you’ve erased some of the sting of the last thirty minutes. I promise that the next thirty will live better for both of us.

No more crying over spilt milk. God will put us back together. I love you, Amelia.



PS: My friend, Laura Boggess, wrote some kind words about Beyond Cancer’s Scars. You can read her thoughts and sign-up to win a copy of the book by clicking here. Even more grace added to my day. Thanks, friend.


Gratefulness . . .

Morning gratefulness. I’m choosing it. Where do I begin?

With her and this post she wrote about her mother, Glory, four years ago. It was one of my first connections with LauraLee; her story and her Glory touched me deeply back then—a witness that reaches through to today to remind me about the enduring love and hope of Jesus that triumphs over trouble and that brings glory out of suffering.

Secondly, I am grateful for the skillful work of Jen from Blue Yonder Designs. My transition from Blogger to WordPress was not a smooth one. Since that time, I’ve experienced no less than a few headaches with trying to work out the kinks. Accordingly, some changes needed to be made to the design, and Jen has been with me every step of the way. Not only is she techno-wiz (she’s been renamed by my husband as “super-technology woman”), she’s a joy to work with . . . easy, laid-back, available, and kind. If you’re thinking about making the switch to WordPress or would like some help with your current design, please consider using Jen. She has my solid recommendation, along with my respect.

This morning, I’m also grateful for the ministry and outreach of Lisa Shaw. Have you had the opportunity to listen in to her radio program on Thursdays? If not, you can visit this link at anytime to take advantage of her archived shows. Not long ago, I received a box of goodies from Lisa which included a copy of her book, You are Beautiful in God’s Eyes, and a teaching CD, Prayers from the Heart. Both of them are powerful representations and demonstrations of the Holy Spirit’s work in Lisa’s life. Her teaching ministry has been God’s tool of sacred transformation in my heart and life these past several months. I am privileged to call her my friend, and I know that you’ll be blessed by joining her on the pilgrim road.

a sampling of Cindy’s work

Today, I’m giving away a copy of Lisa’s book and the teaching CD to one of you. In addition, I’m including a package of notecards from my favorite card designer, Cindy. You can visit her Etsy store by clicking on this link. Cindy’s creative eye never ceases to amaze me. She has a knack for getting it right, every single time. I adore her work and am also pleased to call her my friend.

All four women—LauraLee with her writing, Jen with her technology, Lisa with her teaching, and Cindy with her creativity—reaching out to bless the world through their giftings. I am grateful for each one of them and the role they play in my life and am honored to share their work with you. Nothing blesses me more than to see others operating out of their giftedness and applying their willingness and “want to” to the creative pulse placed inside of them by Father God.

He’s put that same creative pulse inside all of us. He can’t help himself. He’s the Creator, and you, friend, are made in his image. You’re not void of creativity. You’re filled with it. You may not consider yourself a creative individual, but there is within you an artistic, inspired bent for innovation.

Take some time today to consider your giftings, further still, to put them to good use . . . God’s use. You are never more effective for the kingdom than when you’re operating out of your giftedness and your willingness therein. God’s signature on you, in you, and through you blesses the world. As always . . .

Peace for the journey,

What creative pulse resides within you? Leave a comment below to enter the give-away.

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