Category Archives: exemplify

a prayer for Advent

My soul doth magnify the Lord (Luke 1:46).

I’ve been talking to my soul lately, asking it to keep pace with Mary’s magnificent declaration. Like her, I want my soul to amplify Jesus. I want my soul to make him bigger … more obvious to those around me.

But it’s hard. The trying times talk my soul into other amplifications—an alternate focus that sheds light on the struggles instead of light on the Savior. The everyday stressors are often given a place of prominence in my thought-life, thereby taking up habitation within my heart. And what grows there grows elsewhere.

Inward to outward.

Better be careful what gets in … right? If you and I want to sing alongside Mary this Advent season, then we’d better take note of our empty, inward spaces. They are fertile soil for wandering stressors.


Whatever is keeping you awake at night is what is growing in your soul. It can be an ugly and frightful declaration come morning’s light.

Look in the mirror. What does it say? My soul doth magnify _______________________.

In this season of life, I am ever mindful of the role that my soul plays in God’s kingdom development. Many days, I fall short of my calling. My soul doesn’t always magnify the King. On those days, I kick myself a thousand times over, beat up my soul until it’s bloodied by untruth. I bet I’m not alone. Why?

Because as Christians we understand (and are often enlivened by the fact) that our souls are designed to house the magnificent. That inside each one of us there is an extraordinary capacity to hold the burgeoning, holy-kingdom that cannot be fully explained in words, only magnified by expression. By attitudes. By generosities of the heart that exceed what’s customary … what’s expected.

When our souls do magnify the Lord, there isn’t room within for lesser soul-growth. The Lord’s great light fills a soul to overflow and burns a candle brightly where shadows once reigned. This is why I pray Mary’s prayer and sing her song and paste a sticky note to my desk to remind me of this deep desire. I want a soul filled with Jesus, and I want him to fall out of me and on to my students each day.

What a magnificent thought! What a magnificent agenda! What a magnificent trust!

This is who we are. Jesus magnifiers. May your soul and mine be so heartily inclined this Advent season. Thus, I prayerfully sing this thought tonight to the only One who can make it happen …

Soul … magnify Him! Amen. So be it.

Peace for the journey,

PS: One of the brightest souls out there is my friend, Melanie Dorsey. Her light shines brightly for Jesus. I’m giving away a set of her watercolor, note cards. Have you checked out her designs?  Leave a comment with this post, and your name will be entered into the drawing. The deadline to enter is next Sunday, December 6th, 6:00 PM.

Exemplify’s Christmas Issue

Take some time today to download the December/Christmas issue of Exemplify by clicking here. There are two separate sections to peruse through. Kristen graciously asked me to submit something for the issue. You can find my article entitled, Everlasting Peace, in the second section. I’m looking forward to reading it all this weekend! Thanks, Kristen, for all of the hard work you put into ministering to us via your magazine. You and “it” are gifts to the world!

Be blessed today, friends; I’ll be back tomorrow to post a piece from my current work-in-progress. As always…

peace for the journey,

Prelude to Genesis

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” (Genesis 1:1-2).

Thought precedes action.


We may not be aware of the processes that coordinate behind the scenes to fuel our accomplishments, but they are there. Existing and simmering to bring about the plans of our heart … to walk the dreams of our creative impulse.

Thoughts are the stuff of creation. Without them, our lives walk accidental, void of purpose, and full of happenstance. And if that’s the case, if life is but an inadvertent pause birthed through inconsequential measure, then God is no longer needed. Rather, he is relegated to the role of an occasional participant in the Creation story when we need the story to make sense. When our thoughts force us to fill in the blanks of our beginning with some semblance of reason.

How callous we’ve become in our approach to our Genesis—to the whispers of all things Edenic that breathe a story much bigger than the one to which we’ve grown accustomed.

Six days of creative impulse and then a seventh to sit back and to reflect.

Doesn’t quite do the process justice, does it? We think it does. We’ve perfected our telling of said process, and on most days, I am quite content with a faith that walks so simply. But in doing so, in accepting the “flannel graph” version of Creation as presented to me in my youth, I miss the depth and the breadth of a beautiful pondering.

I miss God’s thoughts in the process, and to miss God’s thoughts in any process is to neglect one of his most sacred gifts to us as his children—

to think with the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:9-16).

Thus, rather than sitting on the backside of Creation’s completion … rather than pulling up a chair on a seventh day to sit and ponder the fruition of a week’s hard labor … I carry my chair to the front side of our beginnings. To the moments that gathered and filled and served as the prelude to our Genesis.

They are there, not figments of a wild maybe, but real moments that are yet to be recorded by man’s pen but that are fully scripted in the annals of heaven. Our God is eternal, and with Him is our beginning, our end, and our every breath in between. Accordingly, as the pages of our Genesis unfold, we find Him already present.

Waiting. Hovering. Contemplating the dark and the deep, the formless and the void, knowing that out of his cauldron of wet, he would pour forth and plant the fruition of his thoughts.

Somewhere between seemingly nothing and everything, God lingered with his thoughts and with the endless possibilities that were his to write. To create and to birth. To fashion and to form. To measure and to mold. To perceive and then to paint.

See God there, staring into the face of the deep and monitoring the reflection of his thoughts as they gaze back at him. Pause and consider the moment. Linger long enough and full enough to grasp, at least in part, the magnitude of your beginnings.

There, amidst the ripples of blue skies and earth’s grass, stars and galaxies, flamingos and bluebirds, peach trees and rose bushes, amidst the swirls and inklings of all manner of species, comes another ripple. Your ripple. Your face, presenting itself as a possibility on the canvas of God’s forever. Your life reflecting back into the face of your Creator.

Imagine that moment, and if you’re still standing, find your knees and your gratitude for the truth of such a beholding. Long before you imagined your Father, he imagined you and lovingly decided that, indeed, you would play an important role in his creation. That you would bare his likeness and that his “goodness” would be declared over you, even though he knew you would be prone to declaring otherwise.

Your created life didn’t begin inadvertently. It began with the thoughts of God, long ago and far way in a distant dark and wet that hosted his hovering and that boasted his canvas. You aren’t his accidental impulse. You are his intentional pause—his deliberate holding until such a time as this when your seed of his Genesis’ prelude has finally bloomed into the living witness of his creative genius.

That, my friends, is what pulling up your chair to the front side of creation will get you. A truth that exceeds your sixth day arrival. And while some would argue that God worked up to our creation—that somehow after five days of a busy work week he finally yielded his best—I would say that his best was birthed long before that sixth day ever arrived. Why?

Because thought precedes action.


In our minds and in God’s. And since his mind exceeds ours and his actions all the more, our faith should grow in the belief that we are and have always been seeded with his eternity. Indeed, it is a story that is much bigger than our occasional flannel graphs and our reasoned grasp. May God grant us the wisdom and the willingness to walk its depth and to speak its grace with the whispers of the Genesis prelude pulsing in our hearts as we go. Thus, I pray…

Thank you, Father, for thinking up me. For pausing long enough to count my ripple worthy of your kingdom canvas. I cannot fathom such grace, such favor on my behalf; nonetheless, you’ve allowed my voice a melody or two alongside yours, and I am undone with the gift. Thank you for the blood of your Son that counts me worthy of any measure of kingdom influence. You, alone, harbor the seeds of my beginning and the punctuation of my end. You’ve seen it all; you know it all, from the prelude of Genesis until now, throughout forever. May I always harbor the certain and secure faith that comes from such a sacred knowing. Amen.

Copyright © January 2009 – Elaine Olsen

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PS: This article recently appeared in the March Issue of “Exemplify” (an on-line ezine). To download the June issue and read other back issues, click here.

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