Category Archives: speaking

the unspoken blessing

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today …” –Hebrews 3:13

I saw it in their eyes last evening … a familiar pain. It’s one I’ve felt before. It always touches a nerve whenever I speak on it, especially those nerves deeply embedded in the heart and firmly rooted in remembrance. In sharing a bit of my own story, I quickly discerned that my strong emotion stirred up emotion in the ladies who’d gathered for our weekly Bible study. And instead of studying the Bible, we studied the God of Bible who comes alongside us in our woundedness, who dries our tears, and who speaks words of healing into those places where words have often gone undeclared.

Oh the ache of the unspoken blessing! Who of us hasn’t longed for a few words of eternal encouragement from an uncooperative candidate? It seems it would be easy to impart words of strength to those we love. Why then, do we so often keep them to ourselves? I think this is one of the resulting side-effects of never having received the blessings due us. The words we long to receive can often be the very words we refuse to give.

What tragedy … to forsake the blessing of others because we feel under-blessed. We are not under-blessed. We are the children of God, the over-blessed, the lavishly loved, and the richly endowed kids of the kingdom. When we live there, in God’s house of affirmation, the overflow of his love to us more easily overflows through us. Blessing others becomes our default rather than our reluctance.

Not so long ago, I wrote a few words about our words of blessing. Maybe you’ve read them; maybe you’re reading them for the first time. They seem an apt fit with today’s rumination, and so I release them to you again for your consideration:

“Our words mean a great deal to others and to us as well. Words released as flowers are words that carry us through our seasons of deepest darkness. They brighten our spirits. They lighten our loads. They keep us from lesser feelings—lesser attitudes—that, if not guarded, could quickly morph into lesser behaviors. Anger, bitterness, selfishness, waywardness, faithlessness, fear, pity, envy, and blame, are all possible, lesser products of the heart when words of kindness and encouragement aren’t extended as healing replacements.

Rarely is our neglect intentional; mostly we don’t think about our words as being an investment into the heart of another. But sometimes we forsake the “giving of flowers,” keeping our words to ourselves because it’s hard to speak them. The emotional toll that honest words require can be exhausting, raw, and exposing, thus the reason so many important conversations never take place between two hearts. Instead, we sometimes choose our silence because the contrast is too much of an honest look into our flawed and fragile hearts. Self-preservation over personal revelation becomes the order of the day. When that happens, hearts remain as they were—unchanged, unmoved, and uncolored by the witness of a flower or two given in the name of love.

Whatever our reasons for keeping our silence, we must understand that some lives will come to an earthly close without the blessed benedictions due them. Words of blessing are reserved for a funeral, when in reality, so many of them should have been spoken in advance. Words spoken at a funeral, flowers given then? Well, they’re likely to be forgotten, to decay over time, buried alongside the casket. But words of encouragement spoken into a heart before a heart moves home to heaven? Those are eternal words that never die. They blossom as a witness to generous grace and serve as a lasting memorial to the human spirit and to the God who puts eternity into the hearts of all humankind.”    (F. Elaine Olsen, on “Sending Flowers to the Living” from Beyond Cancer’s Scars , p. 124-125).

Maybe today you feel the ache of an unspoken blessing in your heart. Maybe today, you’re refusing someone else the privilege of hearing the words due them. Wherever you are in this story, my prayer is that you will allow the Father to move in to that place of woundedness and to restore to you what is rightfully yours. You are the apple of your Father’s eyes, and his love for you is without reserve or condition.

Live in his encouragement today and then, out of that overflow, live to encourage someone else. As always …

Peace for the journey,

If you’d like to secure a copy of Beyond The Scars or Peace for the Journey, click here to learn more. I greatly appreciate your support as I walk through this transition in my writing ministry.

Running my race . . .


Safe . . . protected under the shelter of God’s wings.

Those were the phrases that surfaced in my mind and the feelings that settled deeply within my soul when I awoke at my parents’ home yesterday morning – a Sabbath morning. Certainly the fact that I was with them and under their watchful care had something to do with the peace that I felt. Even more so, knowing that I was under God’s watchful care and firmly attached to his will and his strength, well this was a great grace for me—to know that I know that I know that all is well with my soul and that I could firmly and forcefully approach the day with certain confidence.

And so we went, Jesus and me together, sowing kingdom seed during the three morning services at Garner UMC. This is a big week for the folks in Garner. Their annual Relay for Life event will take place on Friday night at Lake Benson Park. The community will come out in force, none more so than the community that gathers each Sunday at Garner UMC. Their hearts are passionate about Relay, about this race for life. In a small way, my preaching was to be a rallying cry of sorts—a central meeting point for the saints to begin their intentional steps of pilgrimage toward Friday night’s festivities.

By the time the noon hour rolled around, I had a strong feeling that we had done what we came to do . . . God and me. His call to me to go and preach grace and my obedience therein—a corporate venture toward kingdom multiplication. A call not to solely reflect on my cancer survivorship but, more importantly, to address the issue of my soul survivorship. In doing so, in talking about what it means to survive this life with Jesus as my compass, everyone who made it out to Garner UMC yesterday morning was able to find their place and mark their paces in the survivor’s lap of the most important relay they will ever run—a relay for everlasting life with their everlasting King.

Safe . . . protected under the shelter of God’s wings. There we stood yesterday morning, linking arms for the kingdom cause, and I am undone with the memory of it all, unable to fully reflect in a few words what it meant to me. What it meant to my family—daughter, sons, husband, and father on the front pew, mother in the choir loft. What it meant to the congregants. I just know that it meant something special for all of us, and on this Monday morning, I am exceedingly grateful for yet another undeserved blessing from my Father’s heart and for the privilege of joining him on the front lines of grace.

I leave you with a few words my father wrote to me last evening; forgive me if they seem self-indulgent. Perhaps I’m not writing them for you. Perhaps more so, for my children and for their children for a season yet to come so that they, too, can hold this memory as part of their spiritual heritage and remember a day when Faith Elaine took to the pulpit and rallied the troops in the name of soul-survivorship and exclusively for the name and renown of Jesus Christ her Lord.


It isn’t very often that a preacher gets to sit at the feet of another preacher; especially when that preacher is your daughter. I sat on the front pew this morning—watching, listening, and feeling some very deep and heart-warming ‘moments’, as I heard Elaine preach. Tonight, to reflect or write on what I experienced would be fruitless—some things are too deep, too precious, and too sacred. Silence is often the best response to the ‘deepest of things’. One of these days I might be able to, but not tonight. So, let me offer a prayer instead—a prayer that I keep nearby and use it often. While the author is unknown, it comes out of the 17th Century, entitled, A Nun’s Prayer.

“Lord, thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing old and will someday be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all, but thou knowest Lord that I want a few friends at the end.

“Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing, and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others’ pains, but help me to endure them with patience.

“I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.

“Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a Saint—some of them are so hard to live with—but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people. And, give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so. Amen.”

Goodnight, Elaine, sleep well, and when the morning greets you with the rising sun, you will hear music, the kind of music we all heard this morning. Keep singing that Song! 



on finding what’s lost . . .

Every now and again, you find something you weren’t looking for—a surprise tucked into routine. Sometimes the discovery proffers pain; sometimes promise. Today I straddle the fence between both of them, pain and promise. Let me explain.

For over a week now, we’ve been scouring the nooks and crannies of our home looking for a misplaced video camera. We haven’t seen it since our moving here nearly three years ago, with little to no distress regarding its absence. Why the urgency now? Well, my son would like an IPod, and we wanted to make this happen as cheaply as possible. Accordingly, a trade-in at the local pawn shop seemed in order—a rarely used camcorder for a gently used IPod. Thus, the search began.

Yesterday, after piecing through every single box in our attic, under our beds, and in our closets (to no avail), I sat down in the den, staring at the television in the corner of the room. Slowly, a thought emerged: Maybe it’s in there (“there” being the antique trunk that serves as the entertainment center beneath our television). Figures. The forgotten treasure was right in front of me all along; I just didn’t have the eyes or the inclination to see it.

The like-new camcorder was found, along with the original box and accessories. Delighted with the discovery, my husband began the delicate process of repackaging it for resale; I had a further thought: Maybe there’s some footage on that camera that needs to be erased before its relocation. Maybe there’s a forgotten story or two that we pushed aside in an earlier season, leaving it to marinate and simmer on a 4GB scan disk for later retrieval.

To my surprise, there was some forgotten footage—two stories; one in particular that struck my heart with both pain and promise—a video clip in 2009 of a speaking engagement at Little River UMC. I spoke twice that day, a morning and afternoon session. In hindsight, I recall uploading the afternoon talk to my computer and tweaking it for promotional purposes, but I never did anything with the first session . . . until now, nearly four years later.

What makes that day significant for me (and the many weeks of prep work leading up to it), is that my focus for the event was the underpinning for the manuscript I would write over the next several months entitled On Walkabout with the King. I finished that work with firm and good intentions of getting it into the hands of publishers. But then, life happened—a ministry move, cancer, the writing of Beyond Cancer’s Scars, and homeschooling. So, I shoved it aside, a purple binder filled with 50,000 words about my struggle to make peace between my “Faith” and my “Elaine” (for those of you who don’t know, my name is Faith Elaine).

And just last night, I struggled with it all over again. I listened to the passion and purpose in my heart from 2009, and I wept over and wondered about the woman talking back at me—the one with hair, a slimmer frame, and well, a couple of other things.

Is she still here? Does the flame still burn as vibrantly as it once did?

Tough questions. Ones with which I’m willing to wrestle. And so, I give you this clip this morning, even as I give it to myself—a few words about faith, solidly anchored in the faith of our spiritual ancestors as chronicled in the great Hebrews’ “Hall of Faith.” Indeed . . . every now and again, you find something you weren’t looking for—a surprise tucked into routine. Sometimes the discovery proffers pain; sometimes promise. Today I straddle the fence between both of them, pain and promise.

If you’re so inclined, I invite you to pull up a chair, grab a cup of your preference, and open up God’s Word to Hebrews 11. Maybe, just maybe, there is a forgotten story you tucked away in an earlier season that needs remembering. Maybe it’s in there, hiding and simmering deep within you, waiting for re-discovery. Today, I join you at the table, and I promise to keep you close in my heart as we wrestle the thing out. You are never far from my thoughts.

PS: Congrats to Leah! She is the winner of the audio CD of Alicia Chole’s Anonymous.

a right word at the right time {part one}

“Therefore Jesus told them, ‘The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil. You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to the Feast, because for me to right time has not yet come.’ Having said this, he stayed in Galilee. –John 7:6-9


Sometimes we need to stay in Galilee a while longer. The Feast in Jerusalem will have to wait because those in attendance are not yet ready to hear the truth. Right words spoken at the wrong time do little to further the kingdom cause; instead, right words spoken at the wrong time often stir the pot of dissension, fueling the anger of the crowd and bringing untimely harm to the truth and the truth-giver.


Not that we shy away from speaking the truth for fear of personal harm, but rather we keep to the shadows until the threats no longer thwart the truth. Truth needs a readied stage, a readied audience. The beginning days of the Feast, when frolic and frenzy often reign over reason, rarely provide a readied audience. Sometimes, it’s best to wait for the frenzy to die down instead of prematurely jumping into the fray with right words that, more than likely, will be trampled upon by the wrong motives and wounded pride of those attending the Feast.


Jesus wasn’t afraid to die for speaking the truth, for being the Truth; it’s what he came to do . . . to free us from the lies of the enemy. But Jesus knew the right time to speak his right words. He wasn’t swayed by a human agenda that operated out of wrong motives. Instead, he waited . . . walked his Father’s agenda, and when the time was right, he emerged from the shadows and spoke his piece.


Eternity holds the witness of what Jesus’ waiting to go to the Feast accomplished for the kingdom. We cannot see the fullness of it just yet. This wasn’t the climax of Christ’s ministry, the biggest accomplishment of his earthly tenure, but it’s worth our time, our pausing a little bit with Jesus in the shadows in order that we might gain understanding regarding a right word spoken at the right time.


In this season, we’re being pushed from every angle to enter the fray and to engage in the frolic of a Feast that has little to do with truth and much more to do with pride. Right words have never been more important. But I’m wondering if just maybe we could learn something from Jesus about timing . . . about when to show up at the Feast and when is the right time to speak those right words.


We need to make the most of them . . . our right words. We need to make them count. Some would say there are no right words, only opinions. They would be wrong; there are right words, and when they are released in the light and moment of God’s timing, they grow his kingdom, not frustrate it.


Right words and the right time to speak those words.


I think I’ll pause with Jesus in Galilee today and travel in his shadow. Words not yet spoken that tarry beneath and within the shade of God’s holiness are words that will eventually carry the strength and witness of eternity. Those are the kinds of words worth waiting for, friends. They change the landscape of the world around us and bring the kingdom of God within reach.


Wait for them, right words and right timing. The world has never needed them more. As always . . .


Peace for the journey,

What is your tendency . . . to jump into the fray with right words too soon or to wait on right timing? What benefit might there be to waiting?

a gracious grace revisited…

a gracious grace revisited…

I want to tell you how I feel tonight.
That being said, feelings are sometimes a dangerous soil from which to write. Seeds planted there spring forth from the rawest point of the human condition, and I have not always found this to be the most profitable way to manage my emotions. I long to put parameters around my weekend, to somehow be able to express to you all that’s going on inside of me, but in doing so, I’m afraid my words will fail … won’t adequately capture the depth of what I’ve tasted.

I’m not sure I need to. Some moments are better left to the sacred sanctuary of our silence. But throughout the past forty-eight hours, and in the midst of my desire to bookmark this chapter in my life titled Little River UMC, I’ve come to a simple, yet grand conclusion about the weekend. A few words I’d like to serve as my “stone of remembrance” regarding the grace of God and just how far he has traveled on my behalf to bestow on me the gift of sacred participation in his kingdom work.

I love God and his Word more today than I did yesterday. I want to jump into the pages of Scripture and be part of the story. I want to bury my head in the midst of God’s truth until it spews out of my mouth and ears and hands and feet. I want to scour every inch of every word that’s been written in the Word until it becomes the final word behind my many words.

Why the passion? Why the urgency? Why the need?

Because yesterday God proved himself faithful … again. Yesterday, I stood as a living witness to the power and transformation of God’s Spirit existing within me. To be used by God and to know that this usefulness is happening as it happens is the greatest joy and confirmation I have ever known. It wasn’t the expressions on the faces of those who gathered that signaled to me my effectiveness; it was the impression I felt deep within my soul.

Yesterday, I made a heartfelt offering to God. In my time of preparation leading up to the event, I promised to give him my best—to be a student of his Word and then to take my “learning” and to share it liberally with his children. Tonight, my heart longs to watch the seeds of that sharing blossom into something more … perhaps some of the reason behind my stirring emotions this evening. But yesterday’s sowing belongs to another … to hands that are better able to grow all things in accordance with a master plan that exceeds my efforts at cultivation.

Father God knows best the next steps in the journey … both theirs and mine. I must trust him with the “finishing” work. In the meantime, he tells me that we’ve got some finishing to do on my end. That I should fix my eyes on the road ahead, cast a glance in a forward direction, and continue my tutelage under his capable leadership.

I want to be prepared for more moments of having my heart stirred by holy impression. Whether they come to me through a group setting, a one-on-one encounter at the local grocery store, in my home or around the table with friends, wherever and whenever kingdom seed is called for, I want my pockets full for the sowing.

I don’t want to have to do research when the world comes knocking. I want to live the research that has come to me through intentional study and preparation. I want to prepared, in season and out to give a reason for the hope that I carry within my heart.

Thus, I get back to the Word this week. I keep learning, keep listening, keep bending to the leading of my Father’s initiative. He has something more for me, and I plan on jumping into the pages of holy writ in order to find it.

Would you join me in the search? Pull up your chair alongside of me in God’s classroom to see what he might want to teach you? Would you open up the good book to a good story and take your place as an active participant in the scene? All of God’s Word stands ready for our willing participation. None of it is null and void of purpose. It’s still breathing with authenticity, with life, and with the power to change hearts, move mountains, and bring us to our knees in absolute wonder regarding its worth.

I want God’s wonder this week; I want the same for you. All of us, every last one of us, are given a measure of influence upon this earth. Let’s invest our portion toward kingdom end, and let’s do so in remembrance and thankfulness for the grace we’ve tasted. As always…

peace for the journey,

PS: You might remember me writing about Mr. Calvin and the strong impression he had on me when I visited Little River last year (click here to read). That’s him in the picture above. He found me during a session break, and when I invited him to sit in on the last session with the ladies, he went home, put on a suit and returned. Truly, he is one of God’s most precious saints. I’ll see you again, Calvin.


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