Category Archives: peace

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 . . .

Flies.
Feeds.
Feathers.

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,

on starting the God-conversation

 

A few things occur to me this morning while reading Luke’s account of “Jesus sending out the seventy-two” (Luke 10:1-24). In particular, I’m focusing on two sentiments/phrases that Jesus instructed his disciples to use in their evangelism campaigns. What strikes me is their simplicity, while at the same time their capacity for profound, kingdom results. Those phrases …

1 – “Peace to this house.”
2 – “The kingdom of God is near you.”

And here’s my thought as it pertains to my evangelism campaign, maybe even yours. Wherever your feet take you today, whatever group you wander into (either by accident on through intention), whether he or she is a stranger or friend, why not start the God-conversation with a little, “Peace to this house” followed up by a little, “The kingdom of God is near you.” It might flow a little differently than that. Maybe something along the lines of:

1 – “Peace; God is near.” or
2 – “Peace out, peace in. Peace here, peace near. Peace everywhere.” or
3 – “Peace. God. Now.”

Words like that. Words that are reliable. Words that are true. Peace is here, because God is near. And wherever God is, his kingdom follows alongside. How do I know? Because he said so.

Once having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” –Luke 17:10 (emphasis mine)

If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, then you carry the kingdom of God with you wherever you go. Why not speak a little peace and a little kingdom into the hearts of those within arm’s reach today? It certainly would be an interesting way to start the God-conversation. It might even be effective.

Peace out, peace in. Peace here, peace near. Blessed Peace in and for our journeys, everywhere. I’ll meet you on the road!


when obedience comes back around …

I remember the night I first penned those beginning words to Beyond Cancer’s Scars with the nudge of the Holy Spirit alongside:

“Out of your poverty, Elaine, surrender your pen.”

It was a hard obedience. At that point in my journey, I was exhausted, worn out and hammered down by the emotional and physical requirements of my cancer season. Questions multiplied in my mind that night, doubts as well. What would become of this obedience?

In the end, words came from that obedience, nearly 60,000 of them. One thought after another, day after day of concentrated writing until forty days culminated into one binding—an inside look at one survivor’s very personal surrender. My surrender.

And so it was. So it is. Beyond Cancer’s Scars.

Tonight I look again at that old obedience. I hold the sum total of those thoughts tenderly in my hands, lift them up to the Father, and ask him a few questions not unlike the ones I asked him on that June night back in 2011. In swift measure, I sense his response. Oddly enough, it mirrors an old refrain.

“Out of your poverty, Elaine, surrender your pen.”

This is the work of our hands, the Father’s and mine. Collectively, we labored alongside one another in this hard obedience, and the end result—these words of 60,000—mean more to me than most any of the other ones I’ve said and written these past forty-seven years. These words were a gift to me; in turn, they became a gift for others, at least that’s been my hope.

But these words aren’t mine to keep; they are meant for release. To, once again, be surrendered as an offering to the Father who first enabled them … who lives in each one of them. Only he knows where to take them and how he wants to use them.

What will become of this obedience?

I haven’t a clue. But I will walk it through, just like I did back in 2011. I surrender these words all over again, believing in their eternal value. This is the best I can do … the most I can give. And therein is a moment of perfect peace for this journey I am traveling.

I pray the same for you, friends. Rest tenderly in the peace of Jesus Christ tonight, and may Sabbath arrive to your soul as a gentle grace from heaven.

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Silent Night

Silent night.

It’s been one of those for me. I tried to fill it with a few phone calls and text messages to friends while waiting in my car for my kids to emerge from their youth group meeting. No one answered. All was silent, and the hush filled my heart until I could no longer suppress my reality. The pain inside of me was going to find its voice, and the silence offered it a stage for release.

Rather than trying to hold the silence at bay, I gave in to it and allowed it to hold me. Cradle me. Collect all the tears that had been welling up within me. In those moments of surrender, the Father allowed me to move out of my silent night so that I might enter into another one—the holy quiet belonging to Bethlehem some 2000 years ago.

Mary’s labored breathing followed by the push and pressure of Emmanuel’s eagerness to make his entrance. Joseph’s soft responses to his beloved. Stabled animals shuffling in the hay. Neighs and brays; snorts and sneezes. Whispers of the wind stirring as symphony. A baby crying. The boisterous interruption of a heavenly choir.

And therein, my momentary pain was overshadowed by lasting remembrance.

Perhaps this is the beauty of a silent night … when sorrow bumps up next to Salvation. When pain nestles closely to Promise. When that which is holding us so tightly releases its grip to the mighty Hold of heaven—tiny fingers wrapped around human hurt, reminding us that all has not been lost in the silent night. Instead, all has been gained there, in that place of sacred collision.

It doesn’t seem reasonable, this holding of peace while simultaneously holding pain. But it feels right. Even in the ache, I’m willing to take hold of it, make sense of it, because the thread that ties me to the eternal is stronger than the frayed threads that tie me to the temporal. I am made for heaven, and a silent night tethers me to home.

Maybe today you’re wrapped up in a heart-hurt. Life has surprised you with pain, an unexpected grief that threatens to steal your peace. You have nowhere to place it, no friend to shoulder the load. The silence is deafening, and your escape uncertain.

Me too. Greater yet, God too! God is with us as we make our pilgrimages to Bethlehem this year, as we wrestle with our pain and strive to make peace out of chaos.

Emmanuel is in the manger. Emmanuel is in our silent nights. Emmanuel … holding our hearts. Healing our hurts. Keeping us safe. Walking us home.

How I love the gift of Jesus; how I need this blessed grace! On this silent night, I bend the knee and bow the heart to honor the King’s advent in my life. ‘Tis a sweet mercy and a blessed trust to have my silence interrupted by the great and glad declarations of heaven. As always …

Peace for the journey,

My Silent Night

Oh holy, quiet Bethlehem;

Tonight I linger here.

Beneath your stars, within your walls,

Your truth resounding clear.

 

The Baby cries his advent;

The momma cries relief.

The daddy cries his tears of joy;

The heavens cry belief.

 

How lovely is this moment;

That lingers then and now.

Both quiet and both willing,

For peace to take a bow.

 

To enter in and change me;

To soften pain with praise.

To dry my tears with silence,

To cause my hope to raise.

 

Oh silent night! Oh holy night!

You’ve never sung so strong.

So clear, so true, so tenderly,

Relieving all that’s wrong.

 

You are where I’ll linger;

You are where I’ll sing.

For unto to me a child is born,

Onto him I’ll cling.

(written by F. Elaine Olsen.12-01-13.allrightsreserved)

 

 

“Peace Be Still” ~ a BellaMella Canvas Give-away

**CONTEST IS CLOSED! Thanks to everyone who took the time to peruse Melanie’s work. Amelia just drew the winner – SKOOTS 1 MOM. Congratulations, Skoots. Please shoot me your mailing address so that I can pass it along to Melanie.

Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.  -Mark 4:39

Jesus spoke these words to the tempestuous waters that raged around his disciples on a night some 2000 years ago. He continues to speak these same words over us in our nights of troublesome sailing. 

Peace. Be still.

Peace. How desperate we are for God’s daily allowance to be ours! I cry out for it in times of personal struggle. I cry for it in your times of great tribulation … for God’s peace to be our portion regardless of the strains that come against us.

The good Father has never forsaken my prayers along these lines. While I’ve not always received the desired outcome of my specific prayers, I’ve never been denied the peace of Christ. It is possible to bear the seemingly unbearable when God is in the boat. Wherever God is, so is his peace.

Not long ago, my friend Melanie Dorsey began to paint her heart-words onto canvas. Bravely, she allowed the world a window-peek into her giftings to see, first hand, how God is moving her faith forward. How blessed I’ve been to watch this unfold – a new dimension to further develop her words of witness. I couldn’t be more inspired. So …

I asked Melanie if she would be willing to apply her creativity and her paint to this verse from Mark. This portrait is the finished product. And this, friends, will be given to one of you.

“Peace be still” is a mixed media, 11 x 14 canvas. The sides are painted and suitable to hang “as is” or framed. The canvas has a sealer for a finished look, and the character is cut from an actual hymn page, Wonderful Peace (belt displays hymn title).

I love it. I hate to part with it, but it’s been in my heart to do this for a few weeks now with the idea of sending one of you a little peace for your journey.

If you are interested in winning this treasure, take a moment to peruse some of Melanie’s other work at her webpage. In the comment section below this post, please tell me which ones are your favorites. Your name will then be entered into a random drawing for a chance to win this “Peace be still” canvas. For additional chances to win, please share this particular post link on your facebook and/or twitter pages. Indicate in the comments below your additional participation. This contest will close at noon on Friday, October 25th. A winner will be announced on Friday afternoon, and Melanie will send the canvas directly from her studio.

Now, for those of you unfamiliar with this beautiful hymn, Wonderful Peace, I’ve included a rendition of it sung by one of my favorites, Gary Chapman. Sing your way to worship, friends, and remember that our Jesus has not left the boat. He who superintends the waves is the Peace who superintends our hearts. Be not afraid. Peace … be still.

I love you dearly,

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