Category Archives: election

the man I’m voting for . . .

If they could be like him, then I’d be feeling better about casting my vote in a couple of weeks. If President Obama and Governor Romney would spend a day with him, they would learn a lot about life, about truth, and about how to walk humbly through this world with their God. If they knew him—really took the time to stop, look, and listen to this man—then they would better understand the human condition.

They would know that governing the United States is a privilege, not a right. They would understand that no one person deserves to hold so much power.

They would humbly and gently make their declarations, realizing that no one person has all the answers.

They would find their knees every day, knowing their limitations and reaching out in prayer to the One and Only God whose boundaries are limitless.

They wouldn’t be afraid to touch the unlovely. Instead they would reach their arms into the mangled mess called humanity to offer hope, to extend courage, to present faith, and to bestow love.

They would worry less about their clothing and, instead, relinquish their threads to the naked, the exposed, and to those who cry out for the covering of mercy.

They would stop taking our money and, instead, buy us dinner on occasion.

They would value life instead of taking it. They would give up their own lives so that the one entombed in the womb might have the chance to live and breathe and make his/her own pilgrimage of grace.

They would stop lying and start confessing, knowing that what has been done in the dark has not been done in secret.

They would stop patting themselves on the back. Instead, they would lend their backs to the broken road and carry the bricks and mortar of restoration.

They would easily forgive, because they have been forgiven much.

They would speak less and listen more.

They would laugh more and smirk less.

They would sit on the porch swing instead of sitting at fundraisers.

They would create make-believe stories with good endings instead of creating real stories with bad endings.

They would ask deeper questions and be content to live with some mystery.

They would make each day count, each encounter significant, instead of planning for the next four years.

They wouldn’t hide behind the Oval Office. They would run to the front lines to protect my freedom.

They would give, give, and then give some more, because they would realize that all they’ve ever had was never really theirs to begin with.

They would work late, play less, pray more, and God-bless.

Yes, if they could be like him, then I would feel better about casting my vote in a couple of weeks. If his name were on the ballot, then I would feel safe and secure when pulling the lever. Instead, I feel sad, disabled, and removed from the process. I’m no longer confident that my voice will be heard and that my vote will be tabulated. The corrosive nature of what we’ve become . . . what we’ve allowed, saddens my spirit and has me longing for a season from my yesterdays.

A time when the greatest fears I held were based on the imaginary, mysterious creatures lurking underneath my bed. A time when the greatest peace I felt was when my daddy came through the door, checked under the bed, and prayed my fears away.

No, I don’t suppose Mitt and Barack will ever have an occasion to spend some time with my dad, but if they could, I have no doubt they’d walk away from that encounter wanting to be more like him. I know I do.

Chuck Killian for President! Now there’s a man deserving of my vote. Somehow, just thinking about him today brings peace to my soul.

I love you, Daddy, and for the record, I’ll take a ride on the porch swing with you any day over a state dinner at the White House. You’re the real deal. I trust your heart, and no matter the results of the upcoming election, I will always feel safe with you in my life.

Room to Breathe

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; you works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, … .” (Psalms 139:14-15).
I am pro life. Whether on the battlefield, in the nursing home, at the end of a feeding tube, on death row, or in a mother’s womb, I will always vote for life. This doesn’t affiliate me along party lines, for both sides hold their merit in various ways. It does, however, make me ever conscious and deliberate about the decisions I make when elections roll around. That being said, there is a story I want to write.

Not because you haven’t heard it before, but rather because by not doing so, I would be denying the stirring that’s been haunting my thoughts for nearly a week now. It’s a story that’s been writing me for the past five days. A story that doesn’t belong to me alone, but one that belongs to the million plus voices who, this year alone, will never be given …

room to breathe.

We all know the outcome of the presidential election on November 4, 2008. But there is a lesser known outcome from that day that probably didn’t make the “cut” for post election discussions around your tables and in the work place.

California’s Proposition Two. Jim Downing, writer for “The Sacramento Bee,” reports the following:

To a huge majority of California voters, it seems, the chicken does come before the egg. The measure makes California the first state to require that its chickens be freed from their cages and allowed to stretch their wings.…

And what does getting out of a cage mean for a chicken? Three main things: a nest, a perch and a place to take a dust bath. Without these basics, hens act stressed. Caged systems don’t offer them, while modern cage-free setups generally do.”[i]

Apparently, the hens are living in less than desirable conditions, and while their “output” remains strong, their surroundings for doing so was deemed worthy of an upgrade. The National Humane Society contributed over eight million dollars toward the upgrade, while opponents donated over seven million dollars toward its defeat.

Fifteen million dollars expended on behalf of the chickens. A costly proposition in my opinion, and one that paid off…at least for the hens. By the year 2015, hens across California will be stretching their legs, making their nests, and enjoying the romp of a dust bath at whim and will. Thanks to the voters, California hens will have a little more room to walk their two year life expectancy without any…

*bars to cage their steps.
*inconveniences to cramp their living.
*restraints to hinder their production.

Room to breathe, friends. I can almost hear their thankful clucking from where I sit tonight on the opposite coast. And lest you think, I’m ungrateful, I’m not. I am for the humane treatment of all of God’s creatures, but as it pertains to a chicken’s “rights” and California’s Proposition Two, my heart and soul shudder at the hypocrisy lived out with such a mandate.

Many well-intentioned people expend their pocketbooks, voice their objections, and vote their conscience along such lines. They man their vigorous campaigns with bold initiatives and principled views, all in the name of the humane treatment of animals.

But when it comes to the one and half million unborn babies who will know an early death this year because of abortion, pocketbooks often remain closed. Voices remain silent, and the human conscience is swallowed up by a vigorous “lesser” that offers no room for innocence to breathe her first breath, much less make a nest, find a perch, and stretch her wings toward hopeful flight.

Many will argue that the issues are different. That the variables are extreme and cannot be considered as equal.

I would agree. Hens and human life are different. They are not equal and, in terms of intrinsic worth and eternal value, should not be considered in the same breath. But when the hypocrisy is so blatant, so obvious and so egregious, I cannot help but speak of them in the same sentence. When the rights of a hen get more press than the rights of the unborn child, my heart cries in disbelief and in grief for the moral disparity that is blanketing our country.

Abortion was not the only issue in this year’s election. I understand. There were and still are many valid concerns that weigh heavy upon our hearts. America is the sum total of these concerns. But I’ll be honest. I didn’t walk to the voting booth with many of them in mind. Instead, I walked with a “one issue” focus that took hens and the like off the table and put the sanctity of life at the helm.

I cast my ballot accordingly; not because of any particular fondness for either candidate, but simply because I want the unborn children of 2009 to have the right to walk their life expectancy without any…

*bars to cage their steps.
*inconveniences to cramp their living.
*restraints to hinder their production.

I want them to live. To spread their wings and to have room to fully breathe their rights as God-created, human beings. Some will. Sadly, statistics show that over a million won’t. And tonight all I can muster is a few painfully pondered questions.

Who can fathom the consequential depths of such poor decisions? Why would anyone want to? Who could argue the death of a child as a best laid plan…ever? Who could appreciate such statistics and reason them appropriate? Who could voice abortion’s worth accordingly?

I cannot, nor would I ever endeavor to try. My holy fear of a Holy God won’t allow me to voice such an offense in his presence. God is not impressed with our excuses, with our many words and with our defense of such poorly reasoned sin. Nothing we could argue would warrant his condoning of abortion. He is the Author of human life, and he values it accordingly. The fact that you are reading this now is witness enough to the beauty of such a sacred truth.

Your mother was willing to give you room to breath. To let your life matter. To let you grow and to let you become a person of kingdom influence upon our King’s soil. There was never a moment when you didn’t count, when you didn’t matter and when your Father looked away. You have always been his priority. Not chickens. Not ever.

As I approach a new year with a new Washington, I will be watching to see if our new President will uphold the strides that have been made in the past eight years toward reducing abortion and toward promoting the rights of the unborn child. I will remember California’s chickens, and I will expect higher preference to be afforded the children growing in the womb. I will settle for nothing less, at least as far as my voice is concerned. I may be forced to live with the choices of unreasonable politicians, but for as long as I have breath, I will voice it…

For life. For freedom. For wings to stretch. For nests to call home. For perches from which to launch, and for wide, open spaces that afford me a gracious cleansing and room enough …

to generously and thankfully, breathe it all in.

the fruit of my thankful womb!

As always,

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Copyright © November 2008 – Elaine Olsen. All rights reserved

[i] Jim Downing, “What California Voters Hatched with Chicken-Cage Ban is Unclear,” The Sacramento Bee (November 10, 2008), http://www.sacbee.com/111/story/1380971.html.

PS: Congrats to Pamela for winning the $20 gift certificate toward a necklace. Pam, please e-mail when you are ready to purchase, and I will have a code for you to deduct the $ from the total purchase. If you know you won’t use it, please let me know so my daughter can draw another name! Congrats, friend.

This Moment…

This Moment…

“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

Perspective.

I woke up this morning, just as I have for the past forty-two years. With some moments and with an opportunity to make those moments count. To seed them with eternal thoughts and eternal doings or to limit them by ignoring the possibility of their worth.

I bet you woke in similar stride. If you’re reading this, then you did and, now, you have come to see what I have to say in the matter. A matter that matters for the kingdom, but not one that will impede the process. Rather, one that has been part of the process all along and has finally been given to us for the unwrapping.

Thank God. Seriously. Thank Him for the unveiling of an answer that has kept us captive to our “what if’s” for a long season.

Had I hoped for a different outcome? Yes. Did I weep some tears for the unborn child? You bet. But I did something else in addition to my disappointment. I gathered my family sometime after midnight, and we surrendered our tears in prayer to God. We laid our hopes and dreams and fears before the throne of heaven, knowing that our Father heard, understood, and then, listened to him as he asked for our understanding in the matter.

For a higher perspective that yields faith, obedience, and a heart that is willing to seed mercy and grace accordingly. For hands that are willing to get down in the soil and get to the business—God’s business—that exceeds a shift in Congress or the new residents of the White House. It includes them, but they are not the sum total of the whole.

They are part of the bigger picture, and alongside my country, I choose to stay focused on the role I’ve been given to play and the chapter I’ve been given to write. No one can do that for me. My story is mine to live, and these next few moments are mine to give to the world … to God. To stand and to kneel as the bridge between the two.

It is my joy and my privilege to do so. Thus, I pray for peace. Search for peace. Receive my peace, and go forward from this one moment, walking with peace. Peace is not some far off possibility or longed for conclusion. Peace shattered the night sky over 2000 years ago with the cries of his feeble flesh and his divinely rooted purpose.

A purpose that included moments of walking out the role he’d been given to walk, on an earthen soil he’d been given to save. Is Peace ringing his hands this morning? Is Peace heading to the local bar to drown his sorrows? Is Peace chaotically assembling his army for a showdown? Is Peace spreading more gossip seeded in fear? Is that the Peace you know?

If so, then may I be so bold to suggest that true peace will never be your portion?

Time for perspective, friends. Time for reframing and for some soul searching in the matter. Time for remembering who you are and who you belong to and for believing in a stronger and higher purpose that exceeds this one moment; not separated from this one moment, but rather lived in unison with a greater unseen whole that is walking its story in perfect cadence with our Father’s clock.

I love America. I love the fact that I’ve been given the privilege to call it my home. Do I think we are off course and could use a strong and bold revival in our land? I’m praying for it because I fully believe we are due its arrival. We are a needy and selfish people, both inside and outside of the church. Some of us our licking our wounds today. Some of us our celebrating a shift in leadership who has promised far more than any single person is capable of accomplishing.

Human nature is like that … always thinking it is up to us to solve the problems and the sin in the world. Too much of a load for any one man to carry. But One did. All the way to Calvary and back, fulfilling the role he had been given to play. The story he had been given to write.

His name is not Mr. President. His name is King Jesus, and he, alone, is my Peace this day. He’s yours too.

Pray for him. Seek him while he yet may be found. And then walk with him, in this moment and in the next, until all moments are gathered and collected and laid to final rest within the boundaries of a garden’s rest. Heaven. Forever.

A final unwrapping of a gift and an unveiling of an answer that has kept us captive to our “what if’s” for a long season. So be it, even so come.

Live it like you mean it, friends. This moment is yours to seed for eternity’s gain. As always,

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Copyright © November 2008 – Elaine Olsen. All rights reserved

The Forest for the Trees…

The Forest for the Trees…

I dedicate this piece to my friend, Melinda at “Traveling the Road Home”, who graciously afforded me the use of this picture from one of her recent trips. It grabbed me the moment I saw it on her blog, and it has taken me a few days to put some words around it. I pray they speak its witness accordingly. Thanks, friend.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” (Hebrews 11:1-2).


What do you see when you look at this picture?

I see beauty. I see between. I see beyond.

My eyes refuse the focus of the cluttered clustering trees and instead focus on the entirety of the painted landscape. Rather than get bogged down in the details, I breathe in the witness of a well-planned masterpiece …

the forest instead of the trees.

The full and lush of a long ago planting, seeded by the hands of nature and through the intent of a loving God who visions at a higher level than me. Who paints with a perfected end in mind rather than settling for a partial finish. Who gives careful attention to the details so that the finished product breathes with the life and vitality of exacting and necessary brushstrokes. Who gives us his creation to teach us something about eternal visioning and forever focus.

Faith.

Lived and walked in the details, all the way through to the end—to the other side of the forest where clutter gives way to spacious living. Where shadowed existences give way to God’s lighted embrace, and where the backward glance at the trees left behind fills in the gaps about seasons previously misunderstood.

The ancients of Hebrews 11 understood about faith and the potential cluttering therein. They were commended for their focus … for seeing the forest as their bridge to home rather than as an obstacle to prevent their arrival. Refusing to be overwhelmed by the maze of tangled brambles and knotted roots along the way, they set their eyes on the faint glimmers of a finish that sparkled its radiance light through the dim masking of branches and foliage.

Their vision leveled toward completion.

“All of these people were living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:13-16).

A city … just beyond the trees. A better country that houses the perfected end of the process that we now walk. A permanent dwelling where the din and lies of the forest are replaced with the splendor of God’s eternal peace and truthful witness.

Friends, if ever we needed the witness of eternity’s truth, it is now. We are walking through a tree-laden season of volatile living. The chaos and clutter of an electoral process is leaving most of us confused and pointedly focused on the trees that obstacle rather than on the forest that divinely shapes. Our minds landscape with the ugly and contrary nature of a temporary foliage that refuses to budge and that so easily trips.

We fight understanding as we soldier on. We refuse to bend and to bow to the trees’ cloistering for fear that in doing so, we will never make it beyond their branchy embrace. Rather than concede to the process of our perfection via difficult trees, we slash at their bark with our words, with our hateful intent, and with our neglect to love.

We fear the outcome, even though the outcome was never ours to fear. What happens in our country over the next few weeks does matter. It is important. But our perfected end, and God’s sovereignty in the matter, isn’t so fragile that it cannot abide an Obama or a McCain presidency.

God has never intended for our focus to stop mid-forest. To freeze frame on a single tree or on a single event in history that was only ever intended to be one miniscule part of the whole. The enemy would like nothing better than to stop us in our tracks and to have us think that the next president will be our savior. The truth is…

No man or woman will ever or could ever hold that title.

There is only One who is worthy of such an honor. His pilgrimage through the forest would require that his Father journey deep into its dark in order to cut the one tree that would house and hold his surrender. He did, so that our requirement would be less. So that we could walk it through to the other side with temporal wounds that bleed less and never lasting. Christ didn’t journey without forethought. He walked with one purpose in mind.

The forest for the trees.

The beauty, between, and beyond of a portrait that was painted long before he allowed us any voice or any vote in the matter.

Is God concerned about our now? Perhaps, but only as it pertains to his completed masterpiece. Is God involved in our now? Absolutely, because what he has in mind is a canvas that is brushstroked with the truth of his ample sacrifice—an end that is painted with the blood of Calvary’s grace. And that, precious readers, will always warrant his attention and his brush.


We are almost home, nearly finished and nearly perfect. God is after our beauty, both individually and collectively as a people. No thing or no one person will thwart his kingdom agenda. No matter the trappings and confinement of a few temporary trees … no matter the outcome of a presidential election … God’s light is still shining through the branches of our dim and our confusion. He is calling us through to the other side, and one day soon, our backward glance will afford us a beautiful understanding for the cluttered shaping that we now walk.

Fear not, our Father has allowed us our trees so that his forest will boast the punctuated splendor of a few faithful hearts—hearts that are trusting and fully content to leave the painting up to him. Thus I pray,

When I am fearful, Lord, with the confusion from the trees that surround my life, remind me of the forest that houses the completeness of your plan. Illuminate each step with the light of your forward focus that will keep me moving in the right direction and in the full assurance of what awaits me on the other side. This season is my season—one that you have ordained for my steps and for the steps of the country that I call home. Keep us, Father, in perfect rhythm with your will. And when I am tempted to consign such understanding to the fragile minds of men, forgive me for assigning them with too much. You, alone, are the King of my heart and my life. Only you can carry me on to my perfection and to your intended end. Humbly, I bow to the beauty of your trees this night. Amen.

Copyright © October 2008 – Elaine Olsen. All rights reserved

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