a mother’s grip … a Father’s shadow

a mother’s grip … a Father’s shadow

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” (Psalm 91:1-2).

I noticed it today while perusing my family Easter photos.

My grip on my son’s arm. Fingers that were content to grab rather than to gently frame. It is a telling photo, friends. One that speaks a witness as to the current condition of my heart. Mine is a heart gripped by the fragments of a broken trust. A heart that is afraid to believe that all is, indeed, well with my soul and that all will continue to live well in the days to come.

God is my shelter, my rest, my refuge and my fortress. In Him, alone, I need to put my trust. I don’t always do it, but I need to; thus, I will speak it, even if I don’t always fully feel it. Why?

Because it is the truth. God’s truth. And His truth is based on fact, not on emotions. If emotions were the rule of the day—the foundation behind our reasoning—our building of anything is as naught and crumbles to a quick death and dust accordingly. That is why truth exists apart from feeling. Feelings often come as a rich flavoring to truth but cannot be relied upon to paint a whole and accurate picture.

I know. I spent most of my forty-three years painting an inadequate faith. Over the past few weeks I’ve been faithful to add a few more brushstrokes to the mediocrity. It doesn’t paint extraordinary, friends. Instead, it paints usual, average, customary and just plain ordinary. Perhaps even less.

There are reasons behind my less. There always are. We don’t live less faith because we suddenly decide that “less” is a better swallow than “more”; there is always a driving force behind our less, and for me, that force has been rooted in a deliberate and difficult inward pause to examine the passage of time.

How quickly it comes; how easily it goes, and how fleeting is its remembrance once it has passed.

I notice it more profoundly these days. Age does that. Having a son turn twenty does that. Having a second child graduate from high school does that. Having conversations with aging parents does that. Having a daughter who has finally become too heavy to carry does that. Having a reflection that wrinkles and a frame that wearies does that. On and on I could chronicle the ways in which I’ve noticed the uncompromising and severity of a clock’s ticking.

And while I’ve long wished for the passage of time in younger seasons, this is the season when keeping it contained seems more urgent, more pressing and increasingly, more necessary. This is the time when the hugs squeeze tighter, the grip holds firmer, and when the words “I love you” speak clearer. Forty-three years of passing the time have given me a gift of sorts.

The gift of understanding … of realizing just how profound each moment should live. Consequently, when it’s not living … when moments collect and accumulate and are lived like moments to burn … well, I struggle. It seems they should, each one, live better—breathe with meaning and walk on purpose.

Good in theory; more difficult in the carry through. Why?

Because we somehow have fooled ourselves into thinking that time is ours to control. That another day is ours to live. That what was left undone in our today can be taken care of in our tomorrow. That moments can be replicated, redone and replenished because forty-three years have afforded us the witness of their abundance. That tomorrow … that next week and next year … well, there will be more.

That’s the difficult tug of my heart, friends. The struggle of my trust in this season of living. I want more moments that matter. I want to be a conscientious time-spender. I want to capture time, not squander it. I want to profoundly seed my light and influence into the lives of those around me, and then I want to watch them grow and multiply and burgeon beyond my initial investment.

What I want is time. What I’ve been given?

This moment in time. Right now. My isolated heart beat. My breath that goes in and out of me like a vapor. That’s it.

There are likely to be a few more beyond this one, but who am I to say? Who are you to make me that promise? God holds our bookends, friends. Our beginnings and our ends. In between, we are given but a few moments of influence on this earthen sod. They are passing in swift order and will soon be the history of another generation to remember.

And while it shouldn’t make me sad, while God doesn’t intend for me to stay mired in my emotions regarding time, He’s allowed me a moment in this season of living to pause before its authority over my life and over the lives of those I hold dearest.

It is a worthy pause, and as I continue to mine its worth, I do so seeing another picture emerge from an Easter family photograph. Zooming out from my initial grip on my son’s arm, I see something else. I see a shadow. A father’s arm … a husband’s arm that frames both my son and me into the bigger picture. It is a telling photo that speaks a witness as to the current and always condition of my Father’s heart.

A sheltering love; a shadowing rest. A refuge and a fortress Who holds time as a friend, and Who holds me within its grip for good reason and for extraordinary purpose. This is a picture I can trust. This is a faith I can believe. This is the sheltering that I need, thus I pray…

Keep me there, Father, nestled within your shadow and content to abide close near your heart. Frame my life within the timing of your will. You’ve given me my beginning; continue to shelter me as I journey toward my end. You are that end, God. May the moments that I walk forward from this one be filled with the shadowing truth that all moments walked with you, walk living and on purpose. Thank you for a Love that will not let me go. Amen.

Copyright © April 2009 – Elaine Olsen

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35 Responses to a mother’s grip … a Father’s shadow

  1. So beautiful, Elaine! I, too, have been thinking alot lately over the passing of time and making the moments that I have count.. really count.

    So glad I stopped by this evening.. you’ve given much to think about and a reminder of all I have for which to be thankful!

  2. Oh Elaine, this is a precious benediction to my day.

    My Dad spoke of his journey towards the end today. He was very reflective. He spoke of knowing He is going home. He prayed over me. Asking the Lord to help me know how much Dad loves me. He prayed asking the Lord to protect and guide my future. He prayed asking the Lord to be personal and present throughout the rest of my life. Tender moments to cherish, yet so hard.

    In need of that sheltering love and shadowing rest. Lord, keep my Daddy nestled close to Your heart until You choose to bring Him safely home.

    Tears keep falling, but God is holding me close too,

  3. Elaine, bless you for sharing your heart so honestly. So thankful we have a Father we can totally trust, who is with us each step of the way. So glad we can rest in Him. Can’t imagine life without Him…

  4. Oh, Dear, this one grabs me. They grow up too fast…

    We’ve been in and out of town this week for spring break. This time together has been precious. My boys are growing into young men and I must say, I want to grip their arms and never let go!

    thank you, my friend, for sharing this vulnerable moment. My heart beats with yours.

  5. As I go and visit my friend daily and watch her die, I am reminded of how fragile is…… She is just 63 .. just one year older than I am. I cried when reading your post today.. My life up until 10 years ago was filled with much strife and sorry.. I have had 10 years of peace and there are many days that I look backwards and pray that the Father give me some of the years that have been stolen from me…..

    Beautiful post girl…

  6. Dear Elaine, I just recently discovered your blog. Your heartfelt words are amazing. Thank you for your openness, honesty and the encouragement you have given to live in the moment.

    God Bless,

  7. Nothing has grabbed my attention more in the last 5 years than watching 4 people that I love leave this earth too soon. It has ignited my heart and soul in a way I never dreamed of.

    It’s a beautiful gift for you to be given this glimpse of His Truth in this way, Elaine, and I am praying alongside you as we minister during this season…in our families, in our communities, and in our ministries.

    Love to you, dear sister.

    Your authenticity, insight and talent is a blessing.

  8. I totally understand the concern about making moments matter and have purpose. I have an aunt who is 101 and would like nothing better that to go home to be with the Lord. I had a daughter who was taken at the age of 28. I have to have faith that God’s timing is perfect and just trust Him and live for Him now. Donna

  9. While I haven’t been given the gift of motherhood and all the tugs a heart feels in relation to that holy vocation, I do come face to face with time.

    It is a rare life that won’t at some time breathe the pause that comes when we count days behind and days ahead. For those who are able to take these moments and inhale them deep into our beings – to realize that what lies ahead is neither promised or certain – have been given a gift to open. A gift that must be lived wisely and cherished conciously from that moment on.

    I enjoyed your analogy of our alpha and omega’s as the bookends God holds in his hands, as an avid reader it speaks to my heart. I am more aware now than ever that the volumes of life which fall between those bookeneds leave a legacy. I am sad to say much of what I have written of my life to date isn’t worthy of another read. Yet, I am grateful that my pen has not be laid down yet. May I wisely write in the time I have and the life I live.

    I have missed you this week. I pray that this time with family has brought much joy to your mothers heart.

    Shalom my friend,

  10. I have been giving this a lot of thought lately as well. I am so glad to have read your thoughts. I find myself valuing my family and the time I have with them so much more now than ever. It saddens me to think about life without them, but I know we have glory awaiting us and it is so much BETTER.

  11. "thank You for a love that won't let me go".

    chokes me up because I echo that deeply in my spirit, soul & body, Miss Elaine.


  12. What confidence you inspire. No matter the zigs or zags of the human condition, that tender touch and gripping gaze is undeniable, certain, tenacious, precious. We mothers derive great wisdom (and our own comforts) from that aspect of the Father’s care!

    I loved the picture analogy too. It speaks more than the usual 1,000 words.


  13. Elaine,

    I am ever so grateful to the mindfulness of God. He is ever so mindful of us as evident in so many ways and in your message that I’ve come upon before heading out to church.

    This has been on my heart so much lately. As I had to release my Teen daughter ‘just’ to go into the dentist chair at 7am this past Friday for a procedure I felt my grip on her arm wanting to hold on to her, shield her from the pain. I wanted to be in the room, guide the hand of the dentist and make sure she was safe…it was at that moment she encouraged my heart, “Mommy I know you are here in the waiting room and God is with me so don’t worry. I love you”.

    Aww, with tears flowing even now I had to sit in the waiting room and pray and as I did I thanked God that even when my grip must be released a bit to allow her to grow and go… Abba Father’s grip is always there! His presence is with her and with my adult daughter and grand daughters. As I sat there praying, silently crying and thanking God for His presence being with “them” (my children), my cell rang and it was the person who God has given to us to grace our hearts and lives with that which Abba Father has placed in him through our Lord Jesus Christ; it was my husband, her Daddy the one who although he was not in the waiting room but at work, his shadow was there felt through the prayers on the phone and the encouragement he gave to my heart and the words that he spoke..” Babe, I’m with you both in prayer and God is there with “A” I love you”.

    In that moment the words of both my daughter and her Daddy rang in my heart reminding me that GOD IS THERE even when my grip is released His is ever present.

    Forgive my long comment but I had to give God the glory for leading me to your message as this has been the thoughts of late — when I have to release my grip a bit my prayers and love remain over my children and grandchildren and my husband; their Daddy and Grandpa’s prayers and love as well are there shadowing mine powerfully and our GOD is covering us all. It is in His shadow we can all find peace and refuge.

    I love you for your transparency and your heart for God and your family. Thank you for giving me today Peace for my journey but I most especially thank the One who is our peace – JESUS.

  14. It seems that many are struggling with trust and how God is shaping the time that we have left. As I look at the world events I am reminded of how easy it is to allow fear to grip my heart, yet I keep reminding myself that He IS still in control. He is methodically putting all the pieces of the puzzle together so that one day it will form a beautiful piece of art that glorifies Him.

    Hold tightly to HIM, Elaine!


  15. Quite enlightening Elaine. I could sense pain in that scripting.

    Father God, I lift up all those who struggle with this issue of time and Your shadow of protection. I pray that You would cover them with Your grace & mercy Father God. I thank You Father God for putting Elaine in my path. I pray in Jesus' name, amen.

  16. Elaine,
    I see myself in this post – the joys, the struggles, holding on, letting go, aging parents, etc.

    This particular part of your post spoke to my heart so strongly:

    “I notice it more profoundly these days. Age does that. Having a son turn twenty does that. Having a second child graduate from high school does that. Having conversations with aging parents does that. Having a daughter who has finally become too heavy to carry does that. Having a reflection that wrinkles and a frame that wearies does that. On and on I could chronicle the ways in which I’ve noticed the uncompromising and severity of a clock’s ticking.

    And while I’ve long wished for the passage of time in younger seasons, this is the season when keeping it contained seems more urgent, more pressing and increasingly, more necessary. This is the time when the hugs squeeze tighter, the grip holds firmer, and when the words “I love you” speak clearer. Forty-three years of passing the time have given me a gift of sorts.”Time is flying by so quickly. Most days I feel as if I’m calling out to God, saying, “Lord, please slow everything down…let me catch my breath!” Ah, but time marches forward. Your prayer was exactly what I needed this day.

    Thank you, my precious friend…

  17. Excellent Elaine!!

    This are things I’m s-l-o-w-l-y learning myself.

    It just never seems to get “easier” does it?

    No matter what season we are in.

    I want to make my moments count as well.

    Great reminder for us all.

    Have a blessed Sunday Elaine♥

  18. I love how you have taken the picture and found so much truth from it! Terrific!
    I am experiencing those moments that have little meaning right now and it isn’t a good place. I wish I had kept a stronger grip on my only child and kept her here closer to me but it wasn’t God’s plan for her or us and now I wonder what he has for us to fill my hands and moments??
    Enjoy the precious gift you have been given:)

  19. Oh, Elaine – this is such the cry of my heart as well. Time is so precious, and from the Father! Thank you.

  20. When we see the small picture, we see in part. When we ask God to show us the big picture, He zooms out our perspective and so we can more accurately see. Beautiful, Elaine.

    This week I listened to a Newsboys song called “Adoration” over and over. It describes someone visiting the newborn Jesus…my favorite portion of the song says, “He takes my finger, and He won’t let go and He won’t let go. It’s nothing like I’ve known before and it’s all I need to know.”

    I’m gratefully dwelling in the shadow of the Most High God, and holding on to Him for dear life!

  21. “More moments that matter”.My husband and I went to dinner last night and talked about just this topic. Our boys are still young, but needing us less, and as the times come inbetween these moments we want them all to matter because we may not have control over the time, but we do have control over how the time is spent. Thanks for sharing your heart so beatifully.

  22. Thank you friend, for the reminder to stop and rest a while here. In God's divine timing it's clear I was meant to read this TODAY. You're right…our week was wonderful but with too few moments together for this Momma's preference. Like you, I am becoming more aware than ever these days about the passage of time…particularly through the lens of those I love.

    One thing is for sure…a parent's journey is not for the faint of heart. There is indeed such a peace in the knowledge of the "sheltering love and shadowing rest" of my Father who walks beside. He also brings tender encouragement to my soul by reminding me that you and many others are walking this journey at much the same place as me.

    Thank you my friend. Praying for and with you….

    Love & blessings,

  23. Beautiful thoughts, as always.

    I know I’ve been much more aware of the preciousness of time since my 40th, which was 4-1/2 years ago now. But I still waste too much of it, because I often confuse pleasurable with important.

    Of course having a heart attack a month after my 40th birthday helped me appreciate time more, too! God has His ways of getting our attention, doesn’t He?

    Hugs to you!

  24. My dear Sister-in Christ,

    Your truth burns in my soul and grips my heart. No one could have written it more beautifully and surely. And I share your pause and thoughts and fears.

    My older son turns 30 this year; my younger is now 28. Four grandchildren. Gray hair, thinning hair,. . . well, you get the picture. Time is doing what it does best. Make me think, ponder, wonder.

    I just want to be all I can be for Christ. I simply want to love my family and cling to them. My greatest hope is to leave them a legacy of God’s grace and love. And I want to leave this world and enter the next, knowing that I have pleased Him.

    Thank you for your rich words and your dedication to Jesus. You are an inspirational woman. God uses you greatly!

    In Christ’s Love,


  25. Elaine, a thought that really struck me this morning is how we are His workmanship. I know we all KNOW that, but what a precious truth that is! Our kids are too, and when it comes down to it, we can rest and trust ourselves into His hands to mold and shape and do His perfect work…through it all.

  26. I do think as we age, and especially when our children and parents age, we feel our own mortality…we grip tightly on what is good, realizing it won’t be there forever. Time does pass so quickly, sometimes too quickly. I know I have had many moments recently when I’ve wanted to hit the pause button to savor a moment or an experience.

    All we have is a gift from God, given for us to hold loosely. I pray I love and cherish the lives God has put within my grasp.

    Blessings, my friend,

  27. Such a beautiful post my friend. My heart breaks at it’s significant. If only our kids could understand this heart of love we have for them. I have been praying on this matter today. So amazing to come here and find these words…

    In His Graces~Pamela

  28. Elaine:
    A beautiful post. Missed your posts last week, but so glad you had the opportunity to spend some time with your family.

    I find myself in the midst of Thankful for the time I have and wanting to make glorious use of each minute and saddened by the lost of wasted minutes past.

    In reading the postings of sister bloggers here, I noticed how some were so needing to hold on to the time and some were so impacted by the refuge and shadow of the Father. A timely post. May we all find precious the time we have and rest in our Father’s loving shadow.

    You are such a gifted wordsmith Elaine. Thank you.


  29. wifeforthejourney:

    Our children have been blessed by the hand you have had in their lives. I cannot begin to number all that you have given, and how your hands have, in turn, restrained, guided, disciplined, encouraged, embraced, and comforted each of them.

    By my estimation, the work of your hands has always been one of the finest outward expressions of your love, and your faith. I am so glad that I get to share in the raising of our children, and hope that God’s grace will continue to abound in and through my own hands.

    You are just the woman for sons, daughter and husband. YOu are the best!


  30. The part of the post that meant the most to me was the last line…”Thank you for a Love that will not let me go.” Whenever my faith seems weak, that’s the one thing I count on – knowing that His love for me is so strong that he will not let me go.

  31. Incredible …

    So glad the Father gave you the eyes to see it, and the presence of mind to share it.

  32. Intentional living, my friend… It is how I choose to live my life. And I get so frustrated with those around me… who live for the immediate gratification… It tends to humble me… because my intentionality was never intended to make me feel superior, but to be available to the Father… but often… too often… I forget it.

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