sacred remembrance…

“Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles and the judgments he pronounced.” (Psalm 105:1-5)

I haven’t told you this story before.

Tonight seems a good fit for the telling. Why? Because tonight I need to remember. Remembering is one of the major mandates that God laid at the feet of his people throughout Scripture, thus becoming a lasting mandate for us as well.

To remember. To recall where we’ve been… where we’ve come from and the faithfulness of God therein. Remembrance is particularly helpful in a season where chaos abounds and our faith proffers more like a molecule rather than a mustard seed. As we become intentional with our remembrance—especially as it pertains to God’s everlasting faithfulness in seasons past when troubles assailed us and we couldn’t determine the workings of his hand only to be surprised in the end by a miraculous return to peace—when we recall those moments of grace and deliverance, then we’re better able to take hold of the doubts that overwhelm us in our current seasons of travail.

God knew back then, even as he knows now, the power that comes with our sacred remembering. Thus, tonight I remember… a day in recent history. A day dated April 14, 2010. But before we get there, let me set the stage.

In early February of this year, my husband received a call from our District Superintendent informing us that we were on the “move list.” No other details were offered, only that we were to begin making preparations for a move, both emotionally and physically. Over the next couple of months we did just that… not only preparing our hearts for a move, but also preparing the hearts of the congregation we’d served for six years. It was a difficult preparation from many different angles. That being said, we’re accustomed to moving. We’re a Methodist clergy family, wholly… holy committed to the itinerant lifestyle.

Fast forward to April 12, 2010. We received a call from our DS informing us of where our next pastorate would be. On paper, all made good sense. Great location; big enough parsonage; thriving congregation; a salary in keeping with expectation. We spent the day contemplating our “next,” but as the day wore on, so did our concerns. Before nightfall, we were a complete mess. We couldn’t put our finger on the pulse behind our concerns, but we knew something was amiss. The next morning, we received an answer.

A phone call arrived informing my husband of a situation surrounding our new appointment. In good conscience and after heavy deliberation with me and with God in prayer, my husband respectfully requested he be re-assigned to a new church. There’s always a risk that comes with making such a request of the Bishop, especially at the eleventh hour when appointments were being set in stone. To say that we were crushed in spirit with the recent revelation is to say too little. We had long felt this would be our moving year. Even prior to us knowing about our moving status, God had prompted our hearts along those lines. We were, however, content to let the process run its course, believing that God would move the hearts of the Bishop and his cabinet if he so desired to move us to a new place of ministry.

The day was fraught with anxiety. Hours went by before hearing anything. And then he called. Not God… the Bishop. He was sympathetic to our concerns and assured us that we could return to our previous appointment without any problem. And then, he offered a postscript.

“By the way, I have another appointment you might be interested in…”—something about a dying congregation, about our coming in as a first, test-case for a revitalization effort going on within the UM church and how our support would be generated in partnership between this new church and the conference. I wasn’t thrilled; I was confused.

Thus began an all night deliberation regarding a “move” not in keeping with our personal expectations. However, by morning, we’d decided to “go” with a few conditions attached to our “going.” Apparently, conditions don’t always mesh well with a Bishop’s offer, thereby creating another five tenuous hours of back and forth between my husband and the Bishop’s cabinet. Not handling the pressure very well, I did what all smart women do when confused.

I went shopping.

I told my husband that my phone would be on and that he should call me should something change. He did… a couple of times. His voice was tearful, his pain palpable. It didn’t look like a move was going to “press through” for us this year. During his final call to me, he said, “Elaine, the DS just called again and wanted to know if he should remove us from the ‘move’ list.” I hesitantly replied with my “yes.” We closed our conversation, and I headed to the dressing room.

And then it happened… a moment I couldn’t have planned… a moment I didn’t anticipate. As I live and breathe, I was standing before the mirror in the Belk’s dressing room, arms extended into the air in preparation for trying on a blouse. As the blouse enveloped my frame, so did a warmth I’ve never experienced before (even typing this now, I feel the witness of the Holy Spirit running throughout my body). From head to toe, I was wrapped and energized in the marvelous light and life of God’s Spirit within. I immediately retrieved my cell phone from my pant’s pocket and speed-dialed my husband.

“Honey, text message the cabinet and tell them we’ll come… no strings attached.”

He thanked me and immediately sent this message to the cabinet:

“We’ll go and we’ll go with God. No strings attached.”

We were later told that with the receiving of that text, the climate in the conference room immediately shifted and every one of our “attachments” were not only met, they were exceeded. Now here we are, almost eight weeks down the road, and I’m telling the story again. Not only for your sake, but mostly for mine. Why? Because I need to remember tonight; need to be reminded that for all the unknowns that currently torment me, there was a day in recent history when God firmly and beautifully gave me his “go” to be in this place.

I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t wondered a least a thousand times “why?” over the past eight weeks. It’s been a difficult “fit” with my heart. That being said, I’d also be lying if I tried to deny that dressing room moment. I can ask “why” all I want, but the truth is, I cannot deny the Spirit’s presence on April 14, 2010, in Belk’s. It’s almost as real to me this day as it was then, and friends…

Who of us doesn’t want some of that?

Remembrance is a good thing. It keeps us moving in a right and holy direction, even when we cannot see our next step. Remembering the presence and faithfulness of God in our past better enables us to move forward with our future. It’s one of the strongest tools we have in our spiritual arsenal to fight the enemy’s schemes for personal disaster. Tonight, I’m wielding that sword. Tonight, I’m writing my faith, out loud and on display for all the world to read. I don’t know if you needed it, but I certainly did, and I happen to believe that there might be a few of you who need to remember as well.

Remember God. Remember him well. Remember where you’ve come from, where you’ve been, and where you’re headed. Remember how he’s been there each and every time. He’s in it all—past, present, and future, and his faithfulness never ends.

Remember God and find your thanks, sing your praise, and tell of all his wonderful acts of kindness toward you. Your deliberate remembrance this day will be the spontaneous hallelujah of your tomorrow! As always…

Peace for the journey,


PS: Thanks to Sandi Patty’s wonderful marketing crew, I have three copies of her newest book to give-away. The winners are… Cheryl B., Teresa, and Joan. Send me your snail-mail girls, and I’ll get your book to you this week! Enjoy.

Copyright © August 2010 – Elaine Olsen

33 Responses to sacred remembrance…

  1. wow. what a story to be remembered.
    i have a feeling your husband, the
    pastor, has a prophet for a wife!

  2. Oh Elaine –
    During one of the more difficult (maybe "most" would be a better word) weeks of late, this post is so timely.

    I too need to remember.

    I can't spend the time right now, but I know I will come back to this in the morning. I will be spending time tomorrow morning… remembering, so that I can move forward with God. I need the reminder that He has come through for me in big ways and little ways before, and He won't stop, no matter what I am doing or going through.

    Love you.

  3. Elaine, I loved what you wrote:
    "Remembering the presence and faithfulness of God in our past better enables us to move forward with our future."

    I need to do that too. Thank you for sharing your story and how faithful God is.

    Blessings and love,

  4. For me, this part of your post really stood out:

    "Remembrance is a good thing. It keeps us moving in a right and holy direction, even when we cannot see our next step. Remembering the presence and faithfulness of God in our past better enables us to move forward with our future. It’s one of the strongest tools we have in our spiritual arsenal to fight the enemy’s schemes for personal disaster. "

    A good word for such a time as this in my life and in the lives of my family.

    Regarding April 14…I remember that day well. I remember spending the day in prayer as you and Billy dealt with the frustrations and fears of the unknown. I also remember the weekend we had following those days, and the Bible verse I shared with you.

    God is doing a new thing. Trusting Him to lead you through the days ahead.

    Love and prayers…

  5. Sitting here in tears of joy… what a great revelation God has revealed to me… it hit me like a 2×4 right between the eyes… and it didn't even hurt… It's a joy. Thank You Jesus!! Thank You for using Elaine to reach out to me.

  6. wifeforthejourney:

    A timely word for me this morning; got another one from our friend Joseph F.

    April 14th was and is a precious day. Thanks be to God for His gift of encouragement and for my wonderful wife!

    Love you,

  7. "Remembering the presence and faithfulness of God in our past better enables us to move forward with our future."

    Amen to that my sweet sister! I too have so many rememberances where God was/is so faithful!

    Thank you for sharing your "rememberance" – another story in your faith journey.

    The Lord Himself goes beofre you and will be with you… Deuteronomy 31:8

    Love you friend!

  8. Okay Elaine… THIS gives me goosebumps!! I just KNOW that something good is coming!!! I can't wait to see what God has in store for you and your precious family!!


  9. What a beautiful tapestry of God moving in your life. I have had times when God hugged me like that, but I didn't always know what that meant. I mean, sure, He loves me. But what on earth does He want me to do? I'll keep this picture of you in that dressing room in my head for a while. Ha! Maybe not a picture you'd like your readers to carry around? Lol. You know what I mean. My journal is filled to the brim with God-times like this. I treasure each one, as I'm sure you do.

    God's richest blessings on your family, and new church family…

  10. Remembering gets harder as I get older. There are times it presents itself as a discipline and I think that is exactly what you are writing about. Strange, isn't it that I fight so hard at times to obey when obedience always results in peace and affirmation. Well, perhaps it's not so strange. Indeed, the very thing I want to do is so often the thing I do not. Who will deliver me? Thank God, we know him.

    Glad for the excellent reminder, good friend!


  11. So awesome Elaine…be used!!! It is going to be an incredible journey for you and I love walking with you in it here in blogworld. Thank you friend!!

    Looking for that moment in my own life…

    Believing Him~Pamela

  12. Wow amen, that is such a touching story, I guess life in the ministry we have many a tale to tell, and it all ends the same way, God blesses…Hugs and blessings, Barbara

  13. Beautiful, friend.

    Although, the Baptist ministry life is slightly different in the way we handle moves to new churches, i totally understand the feelings felt by you and your hubby.

    That moment in the dressing room… those are the moments that take my breathe away and the peace is poured on.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  14. Sweet friend…I have been away from your blog for a while…just sitting down and slowing down…and letting your words minister to my heart tonight. I am remembering you.

    This encounter you shared here…it needs remembering and retelling. It stirs and encourages my heart to be reminded of God's faithfulness and how He speaks and guides us personally if we are willing to listen and surrender.

    Love your heart always,

  15. Remembering His words to me.

    His promises.

    Yes, sweet friend, I'm right there with you. Remembering.

    His presence. Power. And peace.

    Our situations are different, but the remembering, I believe, is the same.

    Praying for you.

    Sweet dreams.

  16. My, my, my. What an precious story Elaine. Remembering what God has done is such a faith builder for what He IS doing and WILL do.
    This was a great reminder to remember and give thanks, trusting in all things.
    I needed it,

  17. Well … all I can say is "we're sure gonna have a LOT to talk about come Sept!"

    This is a fabulous story on so many levels. It's a testament to God's incredible Providence, but so much more. It's so Isaiah-like … going with God, and with no strings attached.

    I certainly understand this better than I would have had I not just been re-located myself. It's all good, but the trail leading here was a doozy.

    Blessings, hugs & love,

  18. "Your deliberate remembrance this day will be the spontaneous hallelujah of your tomorrow! "…oh,yes…I will remember…I do remember…thank you, Lord….

  19. "HOLD UP!!!" When I say something profound or humerous my daughter has a habit of saying this in a silly voice.

    I was wrapped in the warm of the Holy Spirit like I have never felt this past weekend. I stood in the middle of a hallway, vacuum running, my thoughts spinning and then like a warm bath that calms the Holy Spirit showed me CLEARLY what I am to do. Peace that follows…and then we can look back and remember that moment and the why we did not know in that moment. I love how God is just like that.

  20. A message of remembrance — a good word for any day! Thanks, Elaine! (And thanks for the Sandi Patty book — will email my address!)

  21. Elaine, precious healing words you have written here. As always drawing me closer to my Lord. Loving Him more as I remember because He follows through with all His promises.

    God's blessings, my dear one.

  22. Oh Elaine, thank you for sharing. You already know from our personal exchanges that I'm praying…

    Aww, "remembrance" that is so critical.

    I am in a place of journeying back to dream forward myself. I'm in a bit of a different place from you as I have to glance back in order to see forward what God is doing and He's showing me but I can certainly relate to what you're saying.

    The presence, peace and blessed assurance of the moment you had with the Holy Spirit in the dressing room is WORTH holding tight too!!

    I still hold tight to the moment in the shower when GOD said, "as I told Abraham, I tell you and Peter, Go". HE is with us in the "go" even when you get 'there' and wonder now what? It's not looking exactly like we thought Lord…

    Oh but He reassures us it's about His plan and that He's with us in it as He is with you and your hubby. Love you dear friend.

  23. Elaine,
    I loved this post. It might be one of my favorites in fact. I love to remember and know that I need to do it more when life takes on turmoil. I had a moment like that a long time ago that I can still feel the intensity and certainty. I felt strange sharing it with my husband but I did and that's when my life changed.

  24. Every act of God builds on the past with a view toward the future. ~ Henry Blackaby

    with love,


  25. Oh – Elaine!

    This is one of those posts – that connects my spirit with yours and sings God's praise together in unison!

    He desires to make His Presencce known to all who will follow hard after Him – no strings attached!

    Bottom line – even when you were about to make a mistake – He came through with the warmth of His Spirit to lead and guide you to make the right choice – His choice – in full surrender!!

    There has been alot about Remembrance just today on several blogs I follow! I am also in a period of remembrance from 4 years ago before my husband went to glory – He's taking me back daily to the journals I wrote then… those were the days when God Himself turned around my entire life as well as my husbands – for His glory and purposes. I have not looked back since and the miracle after miracle God did over a period of more than 124 days back in 2006 is so worth remembering because every day points to God's faithfulness – even on the day when my husband landed on the shores of heaven! God was faithful to us both!

    Thank you for sharing your heart in all the details that bring God praise and glory!

    And I must stay that I can't think of a better pair to bring life to this new congregation!

    He is a magnificent God we love and serve!


    Choosing JOY, Stephanie

  26. Hi Elaine! I read your blog for the first time this evening. My mom sent it to me because she knew I could relate to your post "sacred rememberance". Recently my husband and I made a huge move from, no other than Wilmore, Ky to the upstate of South Carolina. I personally did not want to make the move at all! I was in LOVE with Wilmore and perfectly content with our life there. My husband had a job offer from Anderson University in SC…seven hours from dear family and friends! Again, I did not want to make this move. But, just like you, God gave me that feeling you talk about in your blog. I knew without a shadow of a doubt we were supposed to make the move. As much as I didn't want to, I knew God wanted us to. He gave me a peace that I could not comprehend, but knew could only come from Him. And oh how He has blessed us! It feels wonderful knowing that you are living God's will for your life. We do serve an awesome God!

  27. Elaine, I needed to read this post tonight. Yes, we do need to remember His faithfulness in the days when we are struggling with the 'whys'…

    Thank you so much for sharing from your heart and your experience in the dressing room.

    Love & peace,
    <>< Iris

  28. WOW, Elaine, I too got goosebumps reading this account of the Holy Spirit's presence on and about you.These are the times to remember. Indeed! I did need to hear this. I am so proud of you for sharing it. God is going to bless your witness here. We have to build those 'altars' – we must never forget what the Lord has done in preparation for our TODAY! His will – His way – His perfect plan!

    He is still the 'I AM' over our past – our present – and our future.

    My hugs and prayers go out to you and your family in this transitional time. I pray God's FAVOR on your TOMORROW! Praise His Holy Name!

    God bless

    Patrina <")>><

  29. Sweet friend, so glad that God led you to write about this remembrance. Like Beth, I remember it well also. I am hanging on to see what God is going to do in this new place! And, it will be BIG! Love you!!

  30. This is a wonderful story, Elaine. Thanks for sharing. I have had a number of such moments. I always write them down, even if only for myself, in order to do precisely what you wrote: to remember. It is so easy to forget or to question afterward — did that really happen? Written down immediately afterward, I KNOW it happened, and I REMEMBER. Thanks again.

  31. Elaine,
    I too am a pastor's wife, although not UM, and I've picked up from reading your blog that this move has been challenging for you.

    Your post blessed me – I hope your own words encouraged you, too. Perhaps God gave you that dressing room experience so that when the days to come were difficult, you would not doubt that you were right where He wanted you all along.

    Sacrifice is hard, otherwise it would not be sacrifice. My prayers are with you, pastor's wife to pastor's wife.

    Many blessings,

  32. Dear Elaine,
    This is such a moving post. At an opportune time you have shared with us what you will probably never forget – you gave your unconditional surrender, and God took over.

    As long as you were protecting your own interests, however legitimate your requests were, God could not step in to do the work that He alone knows how to do, in the best way He knows!

    Thank you dear Elaine. I love reading personal accounts of your God encounters.


  33. What a beautiful rememberace of His peace and presence during that crucial moment, He is so good! 🙂

    I thought I would share with you about this blog that encourages bloggers to share these special moments, it is called "Memorial Box Mondays" and it originated with Linny at

    Just in case you weren't aware of this and need to hear stories from fellow christians about how He, our Lord, has stepped in marvellous ways.

    May He guide you and give you wisdom in all that you do, always acknowledging Him in all that you do.

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