Monthly Archives: December 2009

#15 faith conceives a galaxy

Back in August, I did a video post regarding some plans I had for my upcoming fall season. One of those plans included beginning a fourth manuscript based on Hebrews 11 and those who receive an honorable mention as persons of incredible faith. Over the last few months, their stories have become my own. I am almost half-way through the writing process but have slowed my pace because of Christmas. I hope to return to the “pen” with concentrated effort next week.

I wanted to share with you one of the reflections included in the work thus far. My goal in writing this book is to glean wisdom and faith therein from an “ancient” path–the one first tread by those who walked it best and, therefore, made their way into holy writ. They are my heroes. Thus, I leave you with my thoughts, along with some corresponding questions that reflect the style/layout of the projected 40 reflection book. I covet your prayers for future contemplation, a swift pen, and the continuing message of faith that God wants to weave within me and out of me and finally to thee–you, my friends. Blessings this week.


{faith conceives a galaxy}
“By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.” Hebrews 11:11-12, ESV

“Mommy, this is one in a thousand nights.”

Those were my son’s words to me last evening as we sat under the cover of darkness on our front porch looking up at the night sky. The cool November air and partial cloudiness of the heavens didn’t keep us from our imagining. Instead, we took to the diversion believing that the moments shared between us would be ours for always—securely tucked away in remembrance for a season somewhere down the road.

I knew what he meant, even though his words were a bit scrambled. His words often remain trapped within his nine-year-old vernacular. He can’t always articulate his thoughts in a language worthy of his thinking. Still and yet, he tries to put parameters around his feelings, and what he felt last night was special. Felt wanted. Felt loved and a part of the great cosmic movement circulating above his head. Felt like this was a night that could not be replicated… at least not for the next 999 nights.

I imagine his feelings had less to do with the stars and more to do with the story I told him about those stars. A story that took place in a long ago and far away season on an evening beneath the same landscape that currently cradled our vision. A story about an aged man named Abraham who took a night walk with a big God into the land of Promise. A vision that exceeded possibility to include the sure certainty of tomorrow’s reality—

A son.

A rich heritage of both physical and spiritual descendants that numbered with the stars, not with calculated understanding. When God revealed his plan to Abraham regarding his forward fruitfulness, Abraham took God at his word. He believed his Father. In doing so, Abraham became our spiritual father—the head of faith’s ancestral tree that still roots beneath our night sky and is illuminated by the same stars that shine as a witness to the certainty of God’s Promise, both then and now.

I told my son that when God and Abraham took their night walk and witnessed the magnitude of the galaxy surrounding them, one of those stars had his name written upon it; one of them had mine and his daddy’s, his brothers’ and his sister’s. That even then, God was thinking about all of us and how we would make a welcome addition to faith’s family tree. That somehow the stars up above us had withstood the passage of time so that the two of us could spend an evening beneath them, imagining Abraham’s faith moment when his belief in God’s promise superseded his doubts.

Tears streamed down my cheeks as I watched the little boy imagine alongside me. Ten years ago, he seemed an impossibility to us. Years of infertility gripped our first years of marriage. We walked through a long season of trying to manipulate the outcome by artificial means, only to be disappointed time and again. It wasn’t until we relinquished our control—our plans for God’s—that we were granted our star’s witness. A son named Jadon, meaning “God has heard.”

Faith conceives a galaxy.

Faith doesn’t stop short of the Milky Way. Instead, faith rides its spiral arms all the way through to completion, naming its inhabitants as it goes and claiming each one as family … as faithfulness. Faith lives in the witness of twinkling lights, the illumination of which is timeless and the vibrancy of which is eternally potent. When faith anchors its hope there—up above and within reach of heaven—then faith finds room enough to conceive the “impossible.” Faith believes beyond the impractical and the seemingly unattainable to take hold of God’s promise which always stems from the immeasurably more of his goodness.

Abraham and Sarah’s “impossible” was couched in the barrenness of a womb. To conceive there was to complete God’s promise. Their faith granted them sacred fruition—a “believing is seeing” kind of finish. For us, our impossibilities are couched in a great many things, a great many wants, and a great many doubts. We want to take God at his word regarding our conception of scripturally spoken promises, but our barren estate forbids our believing God for anything further than the emptiness we now harbor. Why? Because the emptiness seems too vast, too lonely, too uncertain. Instead of trust we choose manipulation. Instead of faith, we formulate a back-up plan just in case our God doesn’t come through.

When wombs remain empty, faith lingers at the edge of dismissal. No wonder so many of us are stagnated in our spiritual progress. We equate faith with fullness, when in truth faith most readily grows and is active in our barrenness. When we can’t grasp this, then faith no longer serves as our guiding light but rather burdens us with its requirement. Instead of looking up at a night’s sky to receive faith’s everlasting witness, we stay grounded in our temporal visioning, limiting our belief to that which the eye can see and the mind can control. We trade our “one in a thousand nights” in for countless nights mired in routine and rote participation.

I don’t know about you, but I need my “one in thousand nights” every now and again. In fact, a nightly detour to a porch and to the wild imaginings of a nine-year-old boy serve me particularly well in those seasons when my faith feels empty and dissolved by the worldly constraints pressing the issue of my belief. When those moments arrive for me… arrive for you, instead of receiving and feeling the uncertainty of them all, let us, like Abraham, receive the certainty of a night’s walk with the King.

There is a galaxy up above that never grows dim and that continues to shine as an everlasting witness of God’s promise to his children.

Faith conceives a galaxy. Back then. Last night. Right now. Thus, I pray…

Keep me to a night’s pause, Father, beneath your stars and with the whispers of Abraham’s “long ago and far away” as my serenade. You were there when Abraham took in the witness of their vastness; you are here when I do the same. Forgive me when my focus remains earthbound and frozen in a time frame that reaps temporal results instead of the eternal promises that you have spoken on my behalf. Shower me with “one in a thousand nights” as I am faithful to entreat their grandeur—their testimony regarding the truth of your thoughts and love toward me. Never once have you wavered in your promises, God. Keep me faithful to that end until my end lands me home and finishes me fully. Amen.

A further pause…

~ What barrenness have you known in recent days? How has that emptiness challenged your faith?

~ Consider the phrase “When wombs remain empty, faith lingers at the edge of dismissal.” Do you agree and, if so, how has this been true in your own walkabout of faith?

~ Describe your last “one in a thousand nights.” What about that connection with your Creator left a lasting impression within your soul?

~ Take time to read about Abraham’s “one in a thousand nights” moment as recorded in Genesis 15. Give close attention to all of the words spoken by God (see verses 1, 4-5, 7, 9, 13-16, 18-19). Which “certainty” voiced by God do you most need the witness of in this season of living?

~ The same God who visited Abraham in a night’s pause is the same God who visits us in ours. Take time to be with him this evening beneath the witness of his night sky.

Copyright © December 2009 – Elaine Olsen


post signature

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21).

It’s the music that’s captured my attention this Christmas. Old songs; new songs; new renditions of old songs. Perhaps more than any other Advent season I’ve experienced, this one was meant for music. It has paused me more than once and brought about the teary reflection of my heart.

Music has caught my attention. In particular, one verse from one familiar carol.

For lo, the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold;
When with the ever circling years,
Comes round the age of gold.
When peace shall over all the earth,
Its ancient splendors fling;
And the whole world give back the song…
Which now the angels sing.

The carol?

“It Came upon the Midnight Clear” written by Edmund Sears in 1858—a time in history when our country stood on the brink of civil war… civil unrest. A season when a great chasm existed between two public opinions with very little wiggle room in between. A season not unlike the one we’re living in currently.

Perhaps more than ever before, we need the witness of Mr. Sears’ “pen” as reflected in this song, especially this verse. He writes about a time fast approaching, a time spoken and written about by the prophetic poets of long ago. An up and coming age of gold when peace—an ancient peace—will unleash its fullness upon the earth so that the only response of its recipients can be…

Glory to God in the highest! Peace, now finally and forever, on earth. Very good and kindly intention toward all of God’s created—men, women, children, stranger, friend, sinner and saint alike.

Peace. Perfect peace. Found only in the Author of peace—Jesus Christ. And while we know a measure of his strength today, there is coming a day when Peace will reside over all the earth in finality. A “season” when the sky will split and Peace will descend upon his created to reign without objection. A forever filled with humbled hearts and submitted knees to the One who submitted his will to the will of his Father and entered into a fragile and needful humanity.

Without Christ’s entrance into our world, we’d have no exit into his. Read that again, and receive the depth of this truth.

The Gift and Peace of Christmas secures the future—the Golden Age where everything “ancient” births in its fullness to fling an everlasting “peace” back to its Creator in chorused thanks. How my heart and flesh long for the day when I give back to God and all of heaven the “greeting” they gave to me… to the world via a cloven sky some 2000 years ago. When I can say to him with all certainty…

Peace on earth.

Peace forever.

Peace for the journey.

The Golden Age is fast approaching, friends. Soon the wait will be over, and we’ll hold the witness of its entirety. Maybe today. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe as we gather at the manger in collective remembrance come Christmas morning. Would your heart, along with mine, be willing to take a few minutes on Christmas Day to give back to God the greeting he gave us at Bethlehem’s pause?

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.

His favor rests with you.

Merry Christmas, friends. May the peace of Christ rule in your hearts this week. I’ll see you on the other side of Bethlehem.

post signature

a prayer for Runner Mom…

Would you all bless my heart by remembering our sweet blogging friend, Susan (most folks just call her “runner mom”), in prayer this week? Susan’s father, Mr. James Furman, passed away unexpectedly into the arms of his heavenly Father this past Saturday. He’d just arrived home from turning on the heat at his church in preparation for Sunday services and mentioned to Mrs. Lib (his bride of fifty-six years) that he wasn’t feeling well. Moments later, Mr. James moved from his earthly “tent” into his heavenly dwelling, and all the angels of heaven stood by to watch him make his glorious entrance to his Father’s throne.

Tomorrow, Mrs. Lib, Susan, and the rest of the family will stand graveside to memorialize the life and witness of Mr. James Furman. I understand him to be a fine, Godly man, who lived his life on purpose and with the hope of heaven reigning supreme. I certainly know him and Mrs. Lib to be the parents of one extraordinary daughter.

I highly esteem Susan, as does my family. She’s a faith walker, and I am privileged to count her as my good friend. (What kind of person drives five hours to meet an “internet” friend, sight unseen, and live under her roof for two nights with her exceptionally bizarre and wild family–all because she was willing to take a few pictures for said “internet” friend’s book? I’ll let you decide.)

Welcome home, good and faithful James. Your Father has been waiting for you…

peace for the journey,


PS: If any of you would like to send Susan a card in the mail, please e-mail me, and I will send you her address. Her computer is currently not cooperating with her life. Shalom.

from my tree to yours…

from my tree to yours…

I don’t have much to tell you this evening.

It’s cold here; wet to boot—weather not fit for a night’s excursion to the mall or otherwise. No matter; the cash is about spent and the “to do” list almost finished. Cards are in the mail, and the buckeyes have been made. The house? Well, it could use a clean, but it will have to wait until another day when my “want to” catches up with my “need to.”

No, tonight is a night for much of nothing. For flannel jammies and a good movie or a good book. The jury’s still out as to which one will garner my attention.

There’s been a lot of that lately—attention grabbing moments vying for my notice, my time, my energies, my heart. Some of them I willingly engage; some I run from in swift retreat. They’re ample, abundant, and available enough for my continual involvement. But tonight, none of them matter much to me. None of them are strong enough to hold my interest or to sway my willingness.

Nope, tonight I just want to live with my life in solitude, away from the world and from the pressures encroaching upon my sanity. Tonight, I want to sit before my Christmas tree and drink in the peace of the season. It is, perhaps, the one thing that has kept my attention in these last few weeks.

The tree.

The tree keeps my attention.

When everything else “Christmas” dulls me, worries me, forces me to tears and to wanting to pack it all in for another year, the tree keeps me grounded and at peace with the day’s “hustle and bustle.” I only have to sit with it for a few minutes to find some beauty in the madness, to feel the warmth of its seasonal embrace.

The tree forces my notice and holds it therein. I cannot live Christmas without it. I can live without the outside decorations, the knickity-knack nightmare I claim as holiday décor, and even the Christmas pottery I’ve collected over the years. But the tree? Well, it’s a keeper. Not because it is stunningly decorated, but rather because it is stunningly peaceful.

The tree is where my heart anchors after a long day’s flight of fancy.

The tree keeps my attention.

And I suppose, there is a sermon somewhere in all of that. I’ll let you write it, friends. Something about a tree and its light, its peace and its capacity to keep ones’ attention. We could live without the rest of it, but the tree?

Well, it’s the lynchpin of our faith.

The tree keeps my attention. I pray it keeps yours as well. May its witness burn brightly in your heart this night and as you walk ever closer to Bethlehem’s beholding.

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree, how lovely are your branches.

Lovely, indeed. As always…

peace for the journey,

PS: Did you know that husband and me made the Endean Family Christmas letter this year? First time in history I’ve been included in anyone else’s Christmas letter other than my own. I’m pretty sure we’ve “arrived”–well, at least in their hearts. Stay warm, friends!

a tender ache

a tender ache

My heart is completely sad—full of a tender ache that exceeds understanding.

But let me rewind to a week ago, where it all began, even though I wasn’t privy to the beginning; only to the heart-stirrings of a young daughter who didn’t forget to remember her.


The woman from my “by the grace of God next time” post. Perhaps you remember her as well. I first encountered her five months ago—the memory of that day as fresh now as it was then. Her brokenness intersected with my compassion, and we shared a sandwich and some fellowship outside a Bed, Bath, and Beyond store on a hot July afternoon.

I’ve not forgotten her; just buried her a bit beneath the urgency of the moments that bombard my daily existence. Daughter hasn’t forgotten her either; from time to time she asks about her. Last week she asked about her again.

“Mommy, I wonder if your friend Gayle will get any presents this Christmas? I wonder if she has a place to sleep tonight? Do you think she’s hungry? Could she come live with us?”

“I don’t have the answers, baby, but we could pray for her… pray that God takes good care of her this Christmas and that maybe he would allow us to run into her again.”

We did pray and then said our good-nights. I thought a lot about Gayle over the next twenty-four hours, and then buried her again beneath my busyness. That was until yesterday morning when I nearly ran her over with my van.

I never take my children to school; Billy assumes that role, but the kitchen counter guys were coming, and I don’t do “guys” in my house all by myself. Thus, I offered him a trade–my taxi services for his overseeing of home improvement. After dropping my kids off, I decided to make a quick run to the McDonald’s drive-thru for a biscuit. The four-lane road was packed with the usual morning traffic, moving slow enough to force my irritation. It was then that I saw her sauntering between those four lanes, making her way, it seemed, to McDonald’s as well.

After making a hasty swing into a parking space and dashing indoors, I found Gayle sitting alone at a corner booth. I re-introduced myself and asked her if I could buy her breakfast. She heartily agreed, and then she amply consumed. Knowing that God was calling me to further interaction, I offered Gayle a ride to the place where she was staying; she said she was living at a local motel not far from our location.

We made a quick detour to a local store for some clothing and toiletries before heading “home” to Gayle’s temporary shelter. Upon arrival, I quickly surmised that Gayle had nothing to call her own at this motel—only a recent stay that left the owner questioning whether or not she should be allowed to stay there again. He finally agreed and gave me a reduced rate for two nights with the understanding that Gayle was not to smoke in the room.

I signed my name to the receipt and then drove her to the designated location at the back of the motel—an isolated locale away from the other “guests.” We unpacked her purchases, had a prayer together, and then hugged our good-byes. As I drove away, Gayle was heading back through an alley way to the front of the motel to secure some ice for the Pepsi liter I had purchased.

My heart was fragile in those moments; so much so, that I didn’t notice the commotion going on around me at the motel. I only noticed the empty rooms on the backside of the motel, an open door to one of those rooms, and the gaunt figure of my new friend in search of some ice. I spent the rest of my Monday in contemplative hurt for the entire situation. I couldn’t quite put parameters around my feelings, wasn’t quite sure as to the “underpinning” of my strong emotions, but I felt them… all day.

And then this morning, after dropping our kids off at school, my husband called to tell me about a report he’d just heard on the radio. A double homicide at the very same motel my friend called “home.”

Yesterday, somewhere in the neighborhood of 10:00 AM (the exact time I was unpacking Gayle and leaving the premises), a couple was found shot in their room—employees of the motel, family to the manager that I had spoken with earlier. A couple in their 60’s; apparently, they lived there, worked there, died there—most likely a robbery to blame for their deaths.

I’ve spoken with the police twice today about the details of my excursion to the motel. Thankfully, Gayle is safe. The police told me that she was still carrying her ice bucket around when they spoke with her last evening. Thankfully, I am safe as well. Funny thing, in all my interactions yesterday morning, never once was I scared, felt threatened by my environment, or worried at all about the details of my interactions with Gayle. It wasn’t until I left her that my heart began to experience an extreme heaviness—the weight of our encounter.

Today I better understand the reason for that weightiness.


Pure and prevalent and within reach of where my feet walked yesterday morning. Two dead, less than ten doors down from me… close to me, yet kept from me.

And my heart is completely sad because of it all.

For Gayle. For the couple who were needlessly slain. For the manager, who moments just beyond our encounter, would learn of his relatives untimely demise. For everyone tonight who sleeps without a roof; for those who sleep with one knowing that come check-out time tomorrow, they’ll be back at it again—panhandling for another night’s rest, another day’s food.

Tonight as I sat around my dinner table with my family, the tears poured down my cheeks. The food wasn’t the richest of fare; we live on a budget, and with Christmas just around the corner, there isn’t always the extra we’d like. But we’re satisfied, and we’re safe, and Lord willing, we won’t have to worry about where we’re going to lay our heads for the next season. According to the world’s standards, we are richer than most, and yet my heart is completely saddened by it all. There is a gnawing discontentment that roots deeply within, and I’m wondering what to do with it.

I am exceedingly grateful for all that I’ve been given, but I’m a bit sickened by the disparity that exists between my good and Gayle’s. It doesn’t sit well with me, and while I’d never in a million years want to be her, I imagine she’s thought at least a million times that she’d like to me be… be you.

Be someone who matters to someone else; be loved and cherished by a good man, adored and dutifully honored by her four children. She’s not there yet; I don’t envision that she ever will be. But I am, and my heart is completely saddened because of it.

For her. For my world. For those who’ve never known the truth of the kingdom that is intended for their gain, their ownership, their joyous impartation.

I don’t know if justice will ever roll down for Gayle on this side of eternity. I wish that it would… that in some large way she’d find deliverance at the hands of her Father. But my feeling tonight is that she will have to wait. And that wait is the saddest lingering I can imagine. To not know freedom here but to have to wait for it until her arrival “there,” is a long, arduous, and depleting journey to get home. I hope she makes it.

I am haunted by my experience, friends; this one this time around will not bury soon. I suppose God intends for it to simmer until next time, and I can honestly say this evening, I’m not sure my heart can handle a next time. Not sure I want a next time.

I prayed for a next time back in July. God gave it to me yesterday. And now, I don’t have clue what to do with it—with Gayle and the holy rest of them who walk a similar path.

An odd Christmas ache, friends, that has found its way to my heart this year. It’s found its way to our Savior’s as well; and somewhere between the two—the ache and the heart—Christmas tells its story all over again. It shouts its everlasting witness.

Its glory; its gain; its good; its grace.

And therein, my tender ache finds the smallest inkling of some peace…

for the journey.

Thanks for listening; thanks for praying as you will. May God show himself faithful to the cries of the saints this night. I love you each one.

post signature

Copyright © December 2009 – Elaine Olsen

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape
error: Content is protected !!