Monthly Archives: May 2014


“Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” –Hosea 6:3

Surely . . .

One of my favorite descriptors attached the Lord and his presence in this world. Surely he will appear. Surely he will come to us.

When will he appear? When will come?

When we acknowledge him and as we press on to acknowledge him.

Surely Christ is already here, but as our hearts become more attuned to his presence—more inclined to notice him in the everydayness that often escapes our perception—we realize that his fingerprints are all around us.

He cleanses afflicted thoughts with rain from his heavenly storehouses.

He colors gloomy dispositions with brilliant yellows and greens from his artist’s palette.

He softens prickly attitudes with the tenderness of a petal.

He enlivens dulled senses with the aroma of new birth.

Surely he has walked in this garden, long before I took notice. The life he has planted in this place has sprung forth as fresh grace, enriching the soil and enlarging my heart.

I am not alone in this garden of goodness. God is surely here, and so are you, friend. Today I pray for you the cleansing, coloring, softening and enlivening revelation of our Creator in your little corner of the world. If your thoughts are afflicted, your disposition gloomy, your attitude prickly, and your senses dulled by circumstance, then I invite you to step outside into the garden of grace.

Acknowledge the Lord; press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, the Lord will appear. Not to frighten us nor to harm us, but to give us his kingdom . . . one petal at a time. Oh the rich favor and promise we hold as kids of the kingdom!

Peace to your house this day; the kingdom of God is near you.

Are you looking for a devotional to add to your daily walks with Jesus? I still have copies of Peace for the Journey. Click here.

Are you or is someone you know walking through a suffering season? Click here to learn more about Beyond the Scars, a gentle companion for the wounded heart.

Saving Grace

This has been my saving grace in this season. Mind you, not the grace that saves me from my sin but, rather, the grace that keeps my sanity intact. Whenever the stressors in my life seem too big and my capacity for handling them feels too small, I strap on my tennis shoes and hit the streets for a long walk in God’s wild kingdom. I’m literally steps away from beholding a blue heron take flight, hearing a pileated woodpecker drilling for food, or chronicling the life cycle of a family of geese as they nest, grow, and explore their surroundings.

I explore alongside all of them – taking snapshots of their activity and taking note of the grace-work going on in my heart. In seeing them live out their days, I’m better able to live out mine. I don’t know when I started making it so hard, this living out my days, but hard it is. I see the changes in myself, and I struggle with this ache.

But God’s creatures help me in my deliberations. They break down the stress for me and allow me a moment’s peace – a break in the day to soak in simplicity and to find the smile that too often remains hidden behind my sadness.

I am grateful for herons and woodpeckers and geese. For life that returns to the neighborhood after a long winter’s nap. For the swift take-off of the blue one, the noisy rattle of the red one, and the feathering nesting of the grey ones.

Flying. Feeding. Feathering.

Perhaps this is why I’m enjoying my time with them this year. In them, I see something of the someone I want to be. A woman who . . .


As God has so carefully crafted his creatures, so too he has crafted me. May God help me to live as my feathered friends so courageously live – free from the worries of the world and firm in their trust of their Father.

So make me like them if you will, Lord,
The blue, the red, the grey;
Grant me faith to trust you fully,
With the advent of each day.

Let me soar on heights of glory,
Let me feed from heaven’s hand;
Let me lace my nest with feathers,
From the grace that fills your land.

When the work feels far too tedious,
And the stress too much I’ll break,
Rest me there beside cool waters,
In the shade of mercy’s lake.

Strengthen feet for forward movement,
Strengthen wings for upward flight;
Strengthen beaks for inward searching,
Strengthen hearts for faith’s good fight.

Keep me tethered to this earthen sod,
While there’s work enough to do.
Keep me tethered to forever,
Take me there when I am through.

Yes, make me like them if you will, Lord,
The blue, the red, the grey;
They are yours from start to finish,
I am yours . . . this I pray.
(F. Elaine Olsen ©2014)

Kept in peace,

What I Learned this Year (top ten from the Lunchroom Lady)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” –Galatians 6:22-23


Well, it’s official. This lunchroom lady has hung up her apron for the summer. That’s what my kids call me . . . the “lunchroom lady.” I remember the moment the label first surfaced on our first day of homeschooling two years ago. I was busy tidying up the kitchen after feeding my two students in our makeshift cafeteria (a.k.a. the dining room) when I heard my son playfully utter his request:

“Hey Lunchroom Lady, may I have another slice of pizza?”

I laughed back then. But after two years of making lunches, administering educational plans, keeping records, and keeping the peace between sibling-students, I don’t feel much like laughing anymore. Instead, I feel like crying. Why? Because I’m just not convinced it’s working for us—mostly for me.

Maybe because of the guilty feelings I carry about altering their social scene. Maybe because my personality isn’t well-suited for round-the-clock, child supervision. Maybe because, at forty-eight-years-old, I’d rather be pursuing other goals.

Am I hurting them? Am I hurting me? Probably – at least to some degree, and this is a difficult wrestling. These next several weeks will tell the rest of the story—whether or not my “want to” will resurface for another year of more of the same. I can’t imagine it will, but time has a way of adjusting emotions, reshaping feelings into something lesser than what was first felt and believed. What now seems so traumatic will (in coming days) seem less severe. Perhaps then will be the time to make decisions regarding my children’s educational needs, not now while stress threatens to muddy the waters of reasoned responses.

As a parent, I have a responsibility to educate my children, and as a citizen of the United States, I have a legal obligation as well. Accordingly, I can either allow the state this role or I can assume my position as the “lunchroom lady” as well as the many other roles that naturally surface alongside as requirement—teacher, principal, janitor, recess monitor, and the like. For a variety of reasons, my husband and I made the decision to homeschool our two youngest children a couple of years ago. And today, on the backside of our 180 days of compulsory attendance, I’m wondering about the depth and the strength of our learning.

What did we learn? Was it enough? Was it worth the investment?

I can’t speak for my kids, but I can offer a few thoughts about the depth and strength of my learning this year. Here are a few “take-aways” written on my final exam, a few tips from this lunchroom lady for those who choose to follow in my footsteps:

1) Selfishness doesn’t belong in the lunchroom; be prepared to take the test anyway.

2) Not every good idea is the right idea; choose rightly and be at peace.

3) Independent learning can foster laziness; when no one is watching, it’s easier to default to lethargy rather than industry.

4) A wise lunchroom lady understands that she must feed her soul before feeding others. Living it in reverse promotes crankiness.

5) Test days make poor study days; study daily, and you’ll walk more confidently and peacefully through the exam.

6) Manners are free; poor etiquette comes with a price tag.

7) The cafeteria is never really closed; after lunch comes supper—family life after the school day ends. Keep the apron handy as well as the Kleenex.

8) Strap on the Holy Spirit; pray for his fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control). It’s going to be a long day (see #7).

9) Grades are good indicators but aren’t always accurate reflectors of the rest of the story.

10) Lean into the rest of the story. This is the curriculum that matters the most.

And there you have it—a few closing thoughts from the lunchroom at Peace Academy. As you can tell, my kids weren’t the only ones who learned something this year. I was a student as well; truth be told, I probably failed more exams than either of them combined. It’s a sobering thought and, perhaps, a driving force behind my tears in recent days. At the age of forty-eight, I never imagined this would be my classroom—the curriculum that God would use as the crucible to refine and purify my heart. It’s my strong impression that we still have some work to do.

What did I learn? Was it enough? Was it worth the investment?

Time will tell, but until then, I must lean into the rest of the story . . . my story; read some more of the text and add a few lines of my own. This is the curriculum that matters. This is the course of study that counts for the kingdom, and this is the life I have chosen. God has generously laced this journey with his marvelous grace so that, no matter the grades on my report card, there is more than enough mercy and love to pass me through to forever.

Grace is not an excuse for failure—for not showing up to the classroom, not listening up to the teacher, and not living up to my learning. But grace is what it has always been—available. Available to catch me, cradle me, renew me and reshape me when I fail. Grace keeps me in step with God’s Spirit and, every now and again, he uses me as his conduit therein. Because of this truth (this overriding understanding that I am duly enabled by God’s grace to be a dispatcher of his Spirit), I am able to move forward beyond the stressors of this academic year and to consider a next one.

Maybe right now, you’re in the midst of a difficult learning season. You didn’t plan on adding this curriculum to the heavy course load you’re already carrying. Instead, it added you, and you cannot imagine making it through to the exam, much less passing it.

Take a moment to breathe. Take a moment to read, again, the ten tips from this lunchroom lady. Take a moment to pray over each one, and then take more than a moment (take two or ten or twenty) to consider #10. Lean into the rest of the story, and see if God doesn’t have something further to say to you. What you hear in those moments might just lend you enough strength and depth to walk the curriculum through to the finish.

Keep in step with the Spirit and keep company with his available grace. Against such things, there is no law. Instead, because of such things, there is life and, every now and again, there is laughter.

“Hey Lunchroom Lady, may I have another slice of pizza?”

Maybe, Son. Just maybe.

What difficult classroom are you experiencing in this season? Is there one particular tip from the list above that God is using as a prompt in your heart? Never underestimate the rest of the story. It just might be the best of your story in the end.

Click here to learn more about Beyond the Scars – a tool to help you or someone you love examine the rest of the story under the lens of grace. Peace and prayers, friend.

Photo credit – Copyright: chris_elwell / 123RF Stock Photo


One glance in her direction, and I knew that she was carrying a terrible ache in her heart.

Maybe it was the way her head was lowered, covered up by the golden locks that frame her face.

Maybe it was the way she flicked her husband’s hand away from the back of her neck as he tenderly tried to comfort her.

Maybe it was because I knew some of her story.

Maybe it was because God needed me to notice.

Regardless of the reason for my knowing, it was clear to me what she was so desperately trying to hide . . .

Her grief. Her loss. Her something.

“Everybody has something. Your something might not be my something, but at some point in your life, you’ve had a something. Maybe not a big something, but something large enough to rock your inner equilibrium and force your outward response. It’s not particularly important what your something is. What is important is what you do with your something. Somethings come and go; what will endure, however, is the memory of how you handled yours.” (from Beyond the Scars, p. 13)

I think she is handling her something as best she knows how. Somethings don’t come with a survival manual, and the last thing she needed in those moments was another “how to” on how to handle her grief loaded on top of the already burgeoning responsibility of carrying it. Instead, what she needed was for God to notice her and to do his noticing through one of his children, through the unexpected hands of a servant who isn’t normally included in her inner circle but who was willing to momentarily charge in to deliver a message of hope.

And so I entered in and interrupted her grief to give to her what God had given me moments earlier. To wrap her up in my arms, cradle her pain, and strengthen her with heaven’s declaration.

“This is not the end of the story.”

In that sacred pause between us, I knew that she believed me . . . believed God, and I felt the burning of a great love inside of me for a woman I barely know. I am grateful for those flames because they remind me, even as they reminded her, that I am alive and that . . .

“This is not the end of the story.”

Not for her. Not for me. Not for you either.

I don’t where you are in this season of life. I don’t know the suffering somethings that have walked these many miles by your side. But I do know what it is to lower my head in sorrow, to wet my lap with bitter tears, and to flick tender caresses away from my neck. And I know what it feels like to feel alone, to feel so buried beneath my grief that I didn’t even know that I needed God to notice me. When all I could see, all I could hear, all I could absorb was the terribleness of my something.

Like a death march to a bottomless grave.

Maybe today you’re marching in similar stride. I don’t know how long it will last, friend. I wouldn’t dare try to talk you out of your grief. Grief walks its own timetable, and I’m not in charge of the clock. There’s a seasonal work taking place in your soul, and it can only be accomplished by your willingness to walk it through. Piece by piece, step by step, until one morning you wake up and you feel the warmth of something stronger, a peace that surprises you and that reminds you . . .

“This is not the end of the story.”

That day is coming, and it isn’t very far from now. Our God has taken notice of your pain; your something matters to him. It matters to me as well. Rest easy in the arms of Jesus, friend. There are more lines to your story, and our very good God is working on a way to make them all count for the kingdom . . . even when you can’t feel past the pain.

Especially then.

I love you dearly.

If you or someone you know is walking through a suffering something right now, I have a resource that will serve as a gentle companion to you and to them while moving through the pain. It was written with you in mind; it is released to you in love. Click here for more details.

Also, my friend, Laura Boggess, is hosting a give-away of the book at her website. Click here to learn more.




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