Category Archives: sanctity of life

innocence lost…

Today I’m writing with my tears.

It’s not always good to write from a place of strong emotion, but for some reason, I’m compelled to say something. To offer a few words on behalf of a young life that has passed from this world with little more than an on-line epitaph that reads…

“Body of four-year-old missing boy found in a dryer”

In a dryer, friends.

A young life disposed of and temporarily hidden in a place designed for wet laundry, not for the fragile frame of his innocent understanding.

It shocks me, repulses me, angers me, and reminds me that I am living in the middle of a world’s evil. It’s extreme and callous, prevalent and intentional. This is just one story amongst thousands with enough “sensational” value to land it on the front page of an Internet search engine, alongside rumors of “Scientology fraud” and a “rare murder in Mayberry.”

More evil. More senseless acts of violence. More sin. More depravity. Have mercy. Is that all there is these days?

This seems to be the case, at least to a public without the eyes to vision beyond temporal atrocity. Everywhere we turn, everything we read, every news’ broadcast that anchors in our homes and via our computers is littered with the stories of evil and the depravity of humankind. Why?

Because evil sells. Evil roots at our deepest fears, and while our “senses” warn us to run away from the invading headlines, we sometimes cannot help but be drawn to the story. If we’re not careful, we enter into the story and, before long, our minds and our hearts are filled with thoughts that run contrary to what God desires.

True, we cannot turn a blind-eye to the problem of sin in our world. Evil speaks to the very reason of its contrast … God’s good. Evil sets the stage for a final showdown between heaven’s grace and hell’s determined intention for destruction. And while, as Christians, we know how that’s all going to flesh itself out one day, today I cannot help but wonder when that might be.

I’m ready for God’s final showdown. For an end to the enemy’s temporary “reign” upon this earth. I don’t want to read any more headlines regarding evil being perpetrated against God’s children, especially those who are unable to retaliate and who blindly trust their “elders” because God has created their young hearts for trust.

I don’t want child sex offenders to receive a “light sentence” because of their perceived “rights” in the matter. They gave up those rights when they made the decision to give into their depravity rather than seek help for their problems. Their excuses regarding their own depraved childhoods hold little water with me.

I’m not unsympathetic to their need to find resolution to their sin; I am, however, unsympathetic to them finding that resolution in a half-way house or group therapy session that sits within reach of a neighborhood school or playground. God’s grace can and does mediate its way behind prison doors—a controlled environment that sometimes better serves the cause of evil’s transformation (just ask my friend Mike, who spends a lot of time behind those closed doors dispensing God’s grace to the needy). Some soils are better left untouched by evil—protected and “out of reach” for the enemy’s intention.

I don’t want any more babies to be aborted in the name of a “mother’s rights” to her body. Our bodies are not our own. We were bought with a price; time to get on our knees and find our thanks for the fact that we’ve been given this moment in time, these few breaths to live our purpose on this earth, because our mothers better understood the value of their seeded womb. There is coming a day when every murdered child will have his/her day in court. The King will hear their cries, and if grace hasn’t been pled over the perpetrator’s heart, then God will exact a sentence in keeping with the crime.

I don’t want any more children to know the physical abuse and torture from adults who claim their “mental instability” as the culprit rather than calling abuse by the name is deserves—evil… sin. Those who decide that having “control” over their children allows them unlimited authority in the matter are those who have never sat under the authority of Jesus Christ. Children were not created for beatings, for the hammering out of our own “issues” upon and within their feeble flesh. Children were given to us as a blessing from God to be a blessing unto him.

No life arrives upon this soil without God’s planning; God’s notice; God’s love. None. Kids are not our mistakes. They are our treasures and are meant to experience their own walk of grace and discovery upon God’s earth. To think otherwise, is to cast our lots into the cradle of evil that births these heinous atrocities like water from a faucet.

Like a young girl being gang raped outside a high school dance while others stood by and did nothing.

Like a child being chained as a prisoner for years in her basement while giving birth to several children, fathered by her captor.

Like a young boy dying after being tied to a tree for days as a discipline strategy to get him to comply with parental rules and regulations.

Like an unborn baby being extracted from his mother’s womb prematurely to meet out a woman’s fantasy about being a “mother.”

Granted, these are extreme examples, but when children are diminished in the eyes of those who are charged with their keeping—with their “rearing” and their shaping—then intention plants a seed toward evil. And seeds of evil, when watered with years of neglect and a refusal to grow in a healthier understanding, eventually grow into a field of sin that harvests as tomorrow’s sensational headlines.

We must stop this, friends. All children of this world deserve better. They deserve our time and attention, our looking at them as our Father looks at them. Some of us are in the middle of our parenting years. Some of us on the backside of them. Some of us have never known the fruit of our own wombs. It makes no difference our “parenting” station in life. God’s children are meant for all of us. And I bet this day, there is a child within your circle of influence who could use your witness.

You prayers, your presence, your time, your gifts, and your wisdom that, in the end, will harvest toward kingdom gain rather than toward hell’s determined intention.

The only way that I know to combat this kind of evil in this present age is to invest my life in its contrast—in the lives of the children I’ve been given and in the lives of others who sit under my influence. Some of them are children. Some at other various stages in life. Regardless of ages, all of us are in need of a better response to the problem of evil in our world.

May the grace of the cross be the “rooting” that forces our contemplation in the matter and that leads us forward to make a change in our world. Any other “rooting” proffers little in the cause of God’s children.

And God’s children, well, the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.

Thanks for listening to my tears and my words today. How grateful I am for a public canvas that allows them both a safe place to land. As always…

peace for the journey,

~elaine

Contentment

Contentment

“‘… in quietness and trust is your strength.’” (Isaiah 30:15).


Contentment.

How long has it been since you’ve experienced the sheer joy of resting in the contentment of a moment?

I saw it in my daughter the other day. I took a picture.

With a good book in one hand, a good drink in the other, she partook of a moment so few of us fully understand. I’m pretty sure she didn’t understand it herself. Her mind has yet to wrap itself around such wisdom. Age is her viable excuse; what’s mine? I’m forty-three and still searching for understanding. What’s yours?

Let me tell you what I received from that moment (other than the gift of an adorable picture I’ll have for years to come). Amelia’s contentment didn’t stem from the rich narrative of her newly acquired book or the even richer “makings” of her beverage.

Her contentment came from being able to enjoy them both without worrying about who’s in the driver’s seat.

No worries about the road ahead. No concerns about the upcoming “stop” signs and signals, the merging traffic, the oncoming vehicles, the potential accidents waiting to happen. No fear about what’s in front, what looms behind, what lies on either side of her cradled confinement.

No, when Amelia took to her reading and her drinking, she did so with the full confidence that her chauffeur would carry her fragile frame from point “A” to point “B,” allowing her the freedom to enjoy the ride.

In quietness and trust she made a big assumption. She assumed she didn’t have to worry about her safety. She assumed her only responsibility was to enjoy the moment she’d been given—the one including a good book and an even better drink.

The simple faith of a child.

We’d all do well to take a look backward at an earlier season of living when life walked easier because our trust believed better. We needed less proof back then about the road ahead. We simply lived it as it arrived because we assumed that our chauffeur had us covered.

He’s got us covered, friends. Sit back and enjoy the ride this weekend. The good book and a good drink awaits your quietness and trust in the good God who is “holy” intent on getting you from point “now” to point “forever.” As always,

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Copyright © June 2009 – elaine olsen

Ultimate Blog Party 2009!

I heard there was a party going on in town.

Not wanting to miss out on the fun, consider this my official RSVP to the largest blogging party of the year. For those of you who are new to my blog, welcome to peace for the journey. For those of you who are regulars, consider yourself invited. Hop over to Five Minutes for Moms to offer your RSVP and join in on the fun.

The only thing that would make this party better would be to have you, my blogging friends, with me at the table, sharing a cup of mocha and surfing the blogosphere alongside one another. Alas, I think I am the lone blogger in my neck of the woods, so I’ll manage the party hat and coffee by myself … sort of.

Blogging for me has never been a solitary undertaking. Instead, it has been an open canvas upon which to paint the words of my heart. And just in case you haven’t heard, my heart belongs exclusively to Jesus. Yes, my heart is also crowded with love for my family and friends, but my God reigns supreme. He holds the title to my “now” and my “next.” Thus, when I take to the pen via a blank computer screen, I cannot help but bring his truth alongside. There is no other worthy boast of these lips than that of Jesus Christ and him crucified.

I could try and pretend otherwise; lighten things up a bit so as not to offend anyone who might be stopping by for a peek. But in doing so, I would denying the essence of peace for the journey. Peace is not a concept and cannot be accomplished via a prescribed measure of steps. No, peace is a person, and his name is Jesus Christ. He has radically and profoundly interrupted my life with his grace and has allowed me his leading companionship for the road ahead.

I am undone with the gift for I am unworthy of such a lavish expression of eternal love. Still and yet, I humbly and gratefully hold out my heart for the receiving. Time and again, because of God’s overflowing love for me and through the life changing work of his presence within me, I endeavor to pen my thanks and his truth via this blog. To hold it as private … to hoard God’s love and his truth in selfish reserve … is to walk in isolation from the gift’s intention—a ministry that was always meant to be shared.

A Gift that was meant to be given away, not hidden away.

Thus, the impetus behind peace for the journey. I give it to you, my readers, as the best offering that this heart will ever make. I don’t always get it right; I am fragile and yet young in my understanding of all things eternal. Still and yet, my heart is in the right place, and my deepest desire is for my words to bless and honor the one true Word—Jesus Christ.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. … The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1, 14).

He’s the one Word who has made all the difference to me as I pilgrim this earthly sod. Because of Jesus and his sacrificial surrender on the cross over 2000 years ago, I understand that this journey—these days of weary walking and a sometimes difficult hard—is but a passing through to my forever. In a time when things around me seem uncertain, I cling to the certainty of my God.

He’s real. He’s alive, and his Peace is available for the journey. Yours and mine.

May you always find Him here … through my words and in my life. You are welcome at this table anytime, and I consider it a privilege to walk the road with you, my friend. As always,

~elaine

I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment to receive the chance of a $15 Starbuck’s gift card. My prize isn’t officially registered on the UBP 2009, so I will be doing my own drawing at the end of the week from the comments on this particular post. Make sure and check out all the fine prizes over at the UBP 2009! Shalom.

If I am chosen as a winner by the UBP, my top three choices are:

#19 — $50 Target gift card from Shoot Me Now; #21– $50 Target gift card from Agoosa; #22– $50 Target gift card from Beginner Baby Blog.

If not chosen for these, I would also like #68 ($30 gift card from CBD), #91 ($25 Target gift card), and #123 ($20 Kohl’s gift card).

Room to Breathe (part two): My Consolation

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. (Luke 2:25).

I am caught in a struggle this morning. A struggle that requires my penned obedience. A struggle that calls for some words that have yet to breathe and to find their home within my heart and upon this paper. I know they are here … simmering just beneath the surface of my chaotic thoughts, but getting them out into the open requires a bold and mighty wrestling.

I’m fighting for some words today because, quite frankly, I am not sure there is anything I could write that would embody as much passion and need as the last words I penned. How does one begin to trump the sanctity of life? What follow up could be written that would matter in comparison? At this moment in our nation’s history, could there be any other issue that warrants our more needful attention?

Some would suggest my need to “lighten up” a bit. To take a load off and to marinate my weary with some comfortable complacency. I would argue that this world’s collective propensity toward complacent and “lightened up” living has landed us on the current road of our confusion. We are people desperately wanting to live at ease with our convictions. The problem? Convictions were never designed with ease in mind.

Strong held convictions are deeply sewn into the fabric of our souls. When pulled upon by the arduous contrary of a rebelled cause, we cannot help but feel the tightening of their threaded grip. The resulting “ouch” is not permission for us to stay focused on the pain. Rather, it is God’s invitation for us to put voice to the pull and to put his convictions ahead of our comfort.

This is almost always … a difficult deliberate.

True and eternal conviction is never birthed through accidental measure. We don’t wake up one day with a sacred depth. We cultivate it through the intentional pursuit of the one God who created us with depth in mind. Who designed us with a heart and soul and mind capable of hosting embedded convictions.

God never intended for us to mealy mouth our way through important debate. He means for us to win the debate. Not with our words, but with his—with the truth of his Gospel written and firmly rooted within our hearts. With love-driven actions that boast the visible witness of such a holy planting. We are never more fully alive then when we are fully operating from the conviction of God’s Word within. All other living breathes temporary and complacent and less essential.

I’ve lived most of my life half-way. I am no longer content to do so. Thus, the struggle to find a mattering word this day.

I stand in good company. Not long ago, there was a young woman who faced a similar struggle … a wrestling with the word. She was given the awesome responsibility of bringing God’s Word to the world. She allowed her innocence to be cloaked with the perceived shame of an unplanned pregnancy, and rather than offering her objections in the matter, she simply bowed and offered her words of surrender that would seed eternal and that would convict everlasting:

“I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38).

A difficult deliberate, indeed. It came to pass, just as the angel had said. The Word became flesh via her flesh. He walked among us. Died because of us. Rose again for us, and now lives forever through us.

What could be written to trump the sanctity of human life? What “follow up” could be penned that would trump my impassioned pleas for the life of the unborn child? There is only one Word that surfaces.

Jesus.

Emmanuel. God with us. The Author of human life. The One who found his voice because his mother allowed him the room to grow and breathe and become the certain and final consolation of all mankind.

In just a few weeks, Christians will celebrate Jesus’ birth by remembering his humble beginnings. At least we should, shouldn’t we? Or will that, too, fall prey to our complacency and to the world’s cry for us to “lighten up”? To resign our convictions in order to soothe the nagging ache of naysayers who can’t quite put their finger on their discontent?

Oh, my friends. Hear me if you will. Better yet, go with me if you can. Just for a minute to that stabled manger and hear the cries of our Consolation as he wrestles with our humanity and weeps because of our chosen and deliberate silence. It may sing as a Silent Night in our carols, but nothing could be further from the truth. The silence of our eternal dark was shattered that night through the obedience of one who whispered her “yes” and through the willingness of One who shouted his “YES” accordingly.

I don’t know just exactly how my Christmas season will breathe. But of this I am certain. Most of the world will miss Christmas this year because most of the world intends to do so. They will wrap and spend and shove their version of contentment beneath the tree, but true and lasting peace will never be found shoved beneath a tree.

Lasting Peace spent himself upon a tree—high and lifted up, unwrapped for all the world to review. Some wisely received him as their own, but most turned away. Most still do because most will choose complacency over conviction when given the choice. “Lightening up” has become the politically correct preference of our barely visible standards. It has also become the stench in our Father’s nostrils—an offense to the Consolation who cried his surrendered tears 2000 years ago so that we could fully live the freedom of salvation’s grace.

A baby named Jesus changed my life. If you know him as your Savior, then you can voice the same. We may not fully understand his incarnation. On this side of eternity, understanding comes in part. But there is coming a day of full perception, when the pull of our convictions will thread directly back to the heart of our Father. We will see the connection and be thankful for all of the difficult deliberates that have weaved for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

It won’t be long, friends, so stay the course. Keep to the road. Keep to the Word and find your voice on his behalf. He is so worthy, and this is not the time to shrink back in our faith, but rather the time when we must stand as a bold witness to the convictions he threads the deepest. Thus, I pray…

Strengthen our convictions, Father, with the pull of your truth … with the depth of your Word. Forgive us for our silence and our willingness to concede our witness. May this season be the one in which we testify to the grace we have known, the forgiveness we have tasted, and to the sure hope we harbor for how this “thing” is all going to end. You are our end, God. Our Consolation and our Savior. Keep us willing and keep us certain … all the way home to your heart. Amen.

Copyright © November 2008 – Elaine Olsen. All rights reserved

Thanks to Sassy Granny for the wonderful song and picture. Please head over to her blog today for her thought-provoking post, “Not in a Million Years.” Shalom.

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.

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