a little more time on the court…

Jadon looked at me from across the court. He was sitting with his teammates on the bench. It was “senior night,” and with about three minutes to go in the game, our boys had a significant lead. I was sitting in the bleachers. I knew what he wanted. I’d been expecting his glance all night. Accordingly, I had my eyes fixed on him for most of the last quarter of the game. As soon as he caught my eye, his face said it all. And even though I heard no words from his lips, I knew what he was asking of me.

“Mom, can I go in the game?”

I was ready with my reply. I’d been working up to it all day; a mothering nervousness had needled me from the early morning hours, wreaking havoc on my digestive track. This was a big deal. Four months ago, the “big deal” was my son surviving the ambulance ride to Charlotte. Four months ago, I would have been happy with my son waking up and (on command) giving me his thumbs up. But last night, what was needed wasn’t his thumb’s up. What was needed, instead, was one of mine.

And so, across that ball-court, I gave him one … a thumbs up indicating my approval for him to enter the basketball game to play a little bit longer than his initial first-quarter, obligatory “start of the game” hoorah. Mind you, that would have been enough for him; it would have been enough for all of us, but something inside of me moved me to risk allowing him to have a little more time on the court.

A little more time on the court.

Another moment or two to bask in the gloriousness of it all. My dad would call it a Hoosiers’ moment (you remember that movie, right?). You know the kind–the glory that comes around once in a lifetime that celebrates a great accomplishment, a milestone that collects as a stone of remembrance and serves as dinner-table conversation for generations to come.

No, it wasn’t the closing moments of the NCAA Final Four. It wasn’t even the closing moments of Scotland Christian Academy’s basketball season. But for Jadon (and for us) it was a moment that felt just as weighty and significant. The miraculous work that God began in Jadon on the night of September 14, 2018, was on display and in full measure as Jadon was able to score his only basket of the season. His name and his two points are now forever recorded in the annals of SCA basketball history. They are forever etched on our hearts as well.

And today, nearly twenty-four hours removed from that gloriousness, the memory that most beautifully resonates within me is not when Billy and I were standing next to Jadon on the court when his name and senior status were announced. It’s not his dramatic and certain entrance onto the court, leading the team out from the locker room (although that was magical!). It isn’t even his scoring a bucket (and the gracious gift of an opposing team making the way for him to do so – thank you Antioch coach and team!). No, the moment that stirs my heart this morning and that forces the tears to flow gently down my cheeks, is the memory of the look shared between a mother and a son–an understanding that gave my boy…

A little more time on the court.

In these past four months, there have been many times when I’ve had to give my “yes” even though I would have rather given my “no.” Last night was not one of them. I didn’t have to give my “yes” but in not doing so, I would have missed the joy of watching my son playing alongside his teammates and of honoring the Father’s mighty work in Jadon’s recovery.

Some moments are worth the risk. Some moments are worth …

A little more time on the court.

Who of us doesn’t want the same … more time on the court? A moment or two longer to get in the game, to feel the court beneath our feet, the ball within our grasp, and the hammer of feet pounding alongside us as we inch our way closer to the goal? Who of us doesn’t want to feel the glory of a senior night that plays itself out in an arena before a home crowd hungry for a win? To suit up, wear the number, lace the shoes, and charge on to the court with adoring fans championing our every step? Who of us doesn’t want to look across the court, see our Father in the bleachers, and get his holy nod of approval for a little more time on the court?

There is something eternally beautiful about that picture, a truth that should both enliven and encourage our spirits today. It’s a comfort that sows deeply in mine, so much so that I don’t want to overstate the moment for you … to project too many of my own thoughts into what your heart might already be considering. But I do hope you’ll consider this:

Your Father is in the bleachers and he has given you a little more time on the court.

Is there risk involved? Well, all of life seems to call for it at some point. But with our Father in the stands, there is no game we will play, no risk we can take, where we’re not without his watchful eye and within reach of his loving arms. So, suit up. Get in the game, and go forth in his power and his love. Apparently, God has given us all …

A little more time on the court.

Peace for the journey,

Thanks to Nick Tippett for this video footage!

And here’s Jadon’s mighty entrance onto the court…

(1-12-19/f.elaineolsen/allrightsreserved)

getting on the bus with your children

First day of school – 1996

 

Several years ago, one of our church members cornered me in the hallway and seriously asked me if I would be interested in teaching a parenting class. I had to hold back the laughter as I (just as seriously) declined her offer.

“I’m not your girl. I don’t think most of my parenting tips would be welcomed. I’m old school to the core. In fact, I’ve told all my children to send me their future therapy bills when they get older as they’ll probably wind up on a psychologist’s couch one day because of me. Plus, the jury’s still out regarding my kids. Talk to me in ten years, and we’ll see where they’re at.”

Well, ten years have come and gone. And just a few days ago, someone made a comment to me about my four kids (now ages 29, 27, 18, 16) … about how “good” they are. Naturally, I beamed inside, quietly remembering the earlier request for me to teach a parenting class.

Oh folks, it’s only by the grace of God that these kids have turned out remotely “good.” Truly. If anyone shouldn’t have had four kids, it would be me. I’m a daily mess. In many ways I’m still “not your girl” as it pertains to parenting tips. But in talking with Billy last night and wondering what one tip (besides daily prayer and putting your kids smack dab in the middle of strong and fierce believers in Jesus Christ) might prove helpful to those of you in the middle of “growing up” some little ones, I came up with this. It didn’t originate with me, but it is something I’ve held onto ever since technology began to infiltrate every nook and cranny of our daily lives. Are you ready? Here goes…

When you hand your kids a phone, you are handing them the world.

Go ahead and read that again. Let it sink in.

When you hand your kids a phone, you are handing them the world.

Think about it this way.

You get little Johnny or Susie ready for the day. They’re fed, clothed, and let’s say, have a pack full of $$$ strapped to their backs. You take them to the nearest bus station, buy them a one-way ticket to anywhere, kiss them goodbye, maybe even say a prayer, and send them on their way to a big adventure. You’re excited for their new-found freedom, and so are they! Yippee. Johnny and Susie are growing up. Their independence stuns you, and you give yourself a pat on the back. They’re on their way.

To where?

Who knows, but they’re going.

The only problem is (well really there are a ton of them at this point), Johnny and Susie are five years old, maybe 10. Heck, maybe even 15. For sure they’re ready, right?

But before the day is out, you slowly begin to realize you’ve lost your child. You have no idea where they’re at, where they’ve been, who’ve they’ve talked to, who they’re with, or when they’ll return.

They are just gone. Hard to find. Lost and, by now, listening to anyone who might be inclined to offer some free advice on how to get back home. And you wonder where it all went wrong.

As it goes with Johnny and Susie on the bus, so it goes with technology.

When you hand your kids a phone you are handing them the world.

So you, as a good parent (not a perfect one mind you, but a good one), have a responsibility and a choice to make. Are you going to get on the bus with them in the morning, be in their space and in their day of wild exploration, or are you going to trust them to navigate safely through a big city … a really big world … and return to you in one piece?

It’s your choice to make. I know which one I made all those many years ago and the one I’m still making today.

I get on the bus with my kids, every single day. I know who they’re texting, and I’m not above reading those texts when necessary. We don’t do secret apps on our phone where messages mysteriously disappear (seriously, parents, don’t you get this?) and, to date, my teenagers don’t have social media accounts. They might someday, and when they do, they’ll better be able to take that bus ride by themselves. But for now, they’re still under my roof, and I still take seriously my role as their mom–to shepherd and shape their hearts safely through to adulthood.

So, there you go, folks. After reading this, you might agree with my earlier assessment about my parenting skills. I may not “be your girl.” That’s OK. I didn’t ask to be. But I’d be neglectful of this nagging feeling I’ve had in my head and on my heart all day if I didn’t tell you one last time…

Get on the bus with your kids before you lose them to the world. You only get one ride with your child, and it’s a short one. As always…

Peace for the journey,

(1-09-19/allrightsreserved.)

on finding your place…

I’ve watched her over the past few weeks, preparing herself for a new season. Her golden brilliance was ours but for a few days, or so it seems. Without resistance, she’s released her color to the earth. Valiantly she stands, as she always has, tethered to the soil by her roots and tethered to her purpose by God’s design. Quietly and most sacredly, her posture poses a challenge to my soul …

Find your place in the moment, Elaine.

I spent my morning walk mulling over her prompt in my spirit.

Find your place in the moment.

It’s not always easy. My inclinations often move me elsewhere, sometimes ahead of the moment, sometimes behind. Instead of surrendering to the blowing of the wind, I often fight it, trying desperately to hold on to my color even though the shifting season demands for its release. In doing so, my emotional reserves are spent, leaving little behind to nourish the “dressing down” of winter—the nakedness and barrenness of a season designed to empty so that the re-dress of spring may come without hindrance.

Out with the old. In with the new. And so it goes, or so it should.

I’ve a lot to learn about finding my place in the moment. How about you?

Perhaps this is the message for the season in front of us as we make our way to and through another Christmas. To find our place in the moments that come to us, whether planned or unexpected. Whether welcomed or uninvited. To not rush past them or fall in behind them but, to instead, stand steadily in the middle of them, even if it means surrendering a final leaf or two or ten in order to more fully open up ourselves for the greater work of the season.

Whether naked or fully dressed, the maple tree in my front yard stands ready and available for the seasonal plans of her Creator.

I pray for a similar stance. I pray the same for you.

Find your place in the moment, friends. Linger long enough to hold it and then, in faith, to let it go so that you might embrace the next one. God is with you in all of your moments, and he will give you the grace and grit to find your place therein. I’ll meet you somewhere in the middle. As always…

Peace for the journey,

my miracle

I saw her staring at us while in the check-out line at Wal-Mart. I didn’t know her, but it was apparent that she knew us. Moments later, her declaration confirmed my suspicions.

“Glad you’re home. Welcome home!”

Jadon and I looked toward the sound of her voice as I said, “Oh, do you recognize my son?”

“No, Ma’am. I recognize your miracle.”

My heart was tenderly warmed by her pronouncement.

My miracle.

My Jadon.

It’s been happening a lot these days … strangers recognizing my miracle. We call Laurinburg home, and ever since our arrival here over a week ago, we’ve been stopped by folks wanting to speak a word, give a hug, meet my miracle. Somehow (and as only God could orchestrate it), they feel a part of the story, tightly connected to the ever-growing community who are surrounding and supporting Jadon’s healing.

Whether through prayers, through giving, through visits, through doctoring, or just as casual readers/observers of my Facebook posts, their involvement in Jadon’s fight have granted them access to the outcome. It’s also given them access to our hearts.

Within minutes of Jadon’s accident, I made the decision to have our need go public on Facebook. And while I’ve frequently had a love/hate relationship with social media, this time around, I’ve seen how God has used it for his kingdom gain and good. The fact that you’re reading my words in this moment is proof that you are (at some level) connected to our story. And this, folks, is a beautiful representation of what I have often called “sacred multiplication.”

In the economy of God, when we enter into God’s handiwork—when we see him at work and decide to put our hearts and hands to the plow alongside his—we plant seeds into the lives of others. The growth and influence are exponential, expanding at a rapid rate that exceeds singular gain. The rapidity and scope of influence is often so great, it’s incalculable.

That’s where we’re at, at a point of not being able to measure the length, breadth, width, and depth of this far-reaching miracle. It has touched many lives, and I believe that this is what God had in mind all along. God’s miracles are eternally impactful, intended to point the world to him.

Mission accomplished. Mission accomplishing.

This beautiful sorrow we’ve carried continues to point the world to Jesus, reminding those with eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to receive that God has not left us. Instead, he is in our midst, making himself known to us, and drawing us all into a deeper, more intimate relationship with him.

Not long from now, in just a moment or two more, our faith will become sight and we will meet our Miracle-Maker face to face. But until then, there is a beauty being scripted into this world by the very hand and heart of God that should remind us all of just how close he really is to us, of just how much he wants to be with us, to do for us … to love us. Accordingly, I want to live my life with eyes wide-open, expecting to see more of the Father, to be and to do and to love more with the Father. God is not exclusive in his dispensation of miracles, friends. Through Jadon, I have come to realize that his generosity as it pertains to the miraculous far exceeds my expectations therein.

Humbly and with deep reverence, I make the confession that I can no longer underestimate God.

These past seven weeks serve as a witness and testimony to the Father’s inestimable love for me. My entire life, I’ve read about and committed to memory many of the miracles recorded in Scripture. But on this day, some 2000+ years beyond their unfolding, God has given me one of my own to hold.

This is my parting of the Red Sea. This is my feeding of the 5000. This is my “Lazarus, come forth.”

This is my really big God showing up on the scene of my itty-bitty life in a really big way.

So, by all means, go ahead. Recognize my miracle. Call him by name and welcome him home. Jadon’s story belongs to you even as it belongs to me. God has beautifully written you into this chapter of our lives and the ink is still wet. There is more to come. With God, there is always more to come.

Sacred, extraordinary, kingdom multiplication.

What in the world?!

God in the world. 

Yesterday. Today. Forever.

Amen. So be it.

©F.Elaine Olsen (allrightsreserved)

PS: In case you missed it on FB, here is one of the thousands of prayers prayed over Jadon in those first 24 hours following Jadon’s accident (thank you, Mike Price!). 

by Faith

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

Last Friday, September 21st, our son found his words again. It all started with sign that read, “Say hi.”

He did … said “Hi.”

We were overjoyed to hear his voice, albeit groggy and weak. He read the sign; he followed the prompt. Jadon is coming back to us, piece by piece.

Not long after his initial proclamation, he made others. Simple things—his name, year, birth date. And then he made an unexpected proclamation, one I’ve never heard him say before. When the therapist asked him what my name was, what we expected to hear was “Mom” or “Elaine”. What he said, instead, was …

“Faith.”

In the nearly eighteen years of his earthly tenure, I’ve never heard my son refer to me as Faith. It is, indeed, my first name, but I’ve always been called by my middle name, Elaine. And therein lies the rub. I’ve written about it before … the struggle between my Faith and my Elaine. You can read about it here.

As life goes, the struggle continues.

Will it be life lived according to my Faith or according to my Elaine?

Time will write the witness. For now, the balancing act continues.

And even though my son may not have intentionally called me by my first name just over a week ago (for the record, he’s not called me that since), God seems to be using Jadon to remind me of something I often forget:

A certain faith is often forged in uncertain times.

We are there, friends, in an uncertain season … again. Eight years ago, we were battling through the uncertainty of my cancer diagnosis. Naively, I think we all assumed that this would be our family’s primary “suffering issue.” Every family gets one, right? – maybe two or three or ten. And while my cancer journey was, indeed, a sorrowful season for all of us, it now seems like a small thing compared to this very big thing.

Jadon’s gift bag from the Ronald McDonald house…

We know it. Jadon knows it. Apparently, you know it as well because we’re hearing from you. Yes, it seems as if all of us are #joiningjadonsfight for a whole lot of reasons via a myriad of routes therein. My faith, your faith, our faith is being hammered out and shaped in ways we never imagined prior to Jadon’s “bending low to lift up.”

And in this moment, I am bending low beneath the weight of this limb to pick up my Faith before I pick up my Elaine. It’s heavy. It’s messy. It’s raw. It’s clumsy. It’s graceless. It’s grace-filled. It’s less textbook and more “on the job” training. Honestly, it’s probably the most unsophisticated Faith on this planet.

But it is mine, and it is growing.

So thank you, Jadon, for calling me out by a name for which I am lesser known. Perhaps in those quiet days before you found your words, God was giving you some of his.

By Faith I am listening. By Faith I’ll walk this road with you. Along the way and as we go, may God grant us his strength, his wisdom, his joy, his love, and (as always) his …

Peace for the journey,

September 27, 2018 (the night before Jadon’s 2nd surgery)

Follow Jadon’s Fight on my facebook page. In addition, Scotland Christian Academy (Jadon’s school) are selling #joinjadonsfight t-shirts. If you’d like one, follow this link. Lastly, we are blessed by the continuing financial support we’re receiving. If you’re so inclined, you can follow this link to do so. 

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