Monthly Archives: March 2010

Walking my Peace…

“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it, and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace…’” (Luke 19:41-42).

I had a bad dream last night. Not surprising considering the events that preceded my final surrender to slumber. I’d already had my good dose of going-to-sleep, Bible reading and was happily drifting away when I heard the slamming of car doors on my front lawn. I awakened Billy and asked him, “Did you hear that?” As if.

He hadn’t. I ran to the dining room window to discover two trucks on our front lawn. Because of some recent car break-ins in our neck of the woods, I was certain that the bandits were making their rounds to my beat-up van, chock full of remnants from a day’s work in the attic that were soon to find a new home at the Salvation Army. My husband commented it would be a blessing if the robbers would cart the stuff off thus, saving him a trip. After pulling on his britches, he headed outdoors to take a look around. Alas, no bandits, only EMT workers responding to a neighbor’s call across the street.

Once I was back in bed, my adrenaline was still pumping and my mind began to entreat all the possible scenarios of what “might have been.” It took a long time for me to resettle my thoughts and move back to the calm I had previously known, but eventually I drifted off to sleep.

To a bad dream.

I won’t go into the particulars, but safe-to-say, it involved a couple of missing children… my children. Seems ridiculous even typing that now; dreams always have a way of living bigger when they’re “in the moment” and happening upon the stage of the subconscious. At the time, the feelings I felt were very real and enough to arouse me from my slumber. Once fully awake, I went upstairs to check on my children and returned to my thinking… about how the earlier wanderings of my mind might have contributed to a bad dream. About how God tells me to bring all thoughts captive to him and to allow him to reframe them in accordance with his truth.

And when I did, when I began to hash this dream out with God, I remembered my previous going-to-sleep, Bible reading from Luke—Jesus’ words that said,

‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace…’

And then I remembered what would bring me peace.


And then I was incredibly thankful for this one truth that I, in fact, do know and do hold as my abiding truth in all my times and situations, both day and night.

Jesus Christ and the promise of his peace.

Jesus no longer weeps over my ignorance as he did on that day when he stood on the threshold of a painful surrender. He doesn’t look down from heaven today and shed a tear regarding my willful neglect of his truth. I imagine he still cries for others who’ve yet to make that leap of faith-filled understanding, but as for me and my faith, I’m securely anchored to Jesus and to the pilgrimage of Easter that we walk together this week. His story is my own. His life and death and resurrection belong to me, even as it belonged to those who stood by to watch it in living color 2000 years ago. The words he echoed through his tears back then are the words he echoes still… words he’s entrusted to me and to you for the telling.

We are God’s peace-ambassadors, his kingdom peace-keepers, peace-makers, peace-tellers. We are the living color, flesh-and-blood carriers of our Savior’s truth, and should we choose to remain silent, the rocks will rise up to take our place. God is just that good. His truth is just that pure. His life is just that real. His love is just that much. So good and pure and real and much that even the stones of creation cannot contain their voices regarding his authenticity.

I want to be found as faithful. I want to herald the truth of Easter, and I want the anchor of God’s peace sustaining me on all occasions, whether the moon or the sun is governing the light. Today, I know what brings me peace because long ago I “recognized the time of God’s coming to me”, and I received his story as my own. I live it again this week as I walk to Calvary to remember, to reflect, and to renew my heart as an Easter child with an Easter inheritance to share.

A very good dream. A very certain reality.

God’s Peace. God’s Son. God’s Gift. God’s Grace.

The Truth behind Easter.

Remember Christ well this week; live Christ all the more. I’ll meet you at the empty tomb. As always…

peace for the journey,

PS: The winner of the pay-it-forward giveaway is Leah @ The Point. Congrats, Leah. Please send me your snail mail via my e-mail, and as soon as the book arrives in the mail to me, I’ll send it your way along with a few extras. Enjoy.

paying it forward…

paying it forward…

Not long ago, I won a pay-it-forward giveaway from my friend, These are the goodies I received in the mail yesterday. I’ve never read Captivating but dearly love the work of John Eldredge, so I’m looking forward to diving into this “read” over spring break. In addition, I have a new travel mug for my morning brew and some Nips (another new for me) that, if I’m not careful, might cause me a trip to the dentist! Thank you, Christy, for your kindness. Your package arrived on a good day when I needed a friendly lift.

Now, as a winner of the giveaway, I’m to pick a few of my favorite things and pay-it-forward to one of you. Here is the book that will be included, Alicia Chole’s Anonymous: Jesus Hidden Years and Yours. You can read about it further by clicking here. Also, I will add in a few extras to sweeten the win.

If you’d like to participate in this contest, here are the pertinent details:

  • Leave a comment to this post, letting me know you’d like to be included in the contest (I have some readers who might want to comment but don’t want to be included, so please make sure you let me know).
  • If I draw out your name as the winner, be willing to write your own pay-it-forward post once receiving the package in the mail, posting a link back to peace for the journey.
  • Create your own pay-it-forward package to bless one of your readers and be willing to mail it in a timely manner.
  • Enjoy each page of Anonymous.

Make sense? I hope so. I’m not very good at this type of thing but feel so blessed to have won Christy’s giveaway. I’m all about paying-it-forward, friends, because the love of Christ compels me to do so.

Just this morning, I was reading in John 12:1-10 about Jesus’ anointing at Bethany. As a way of preparing my heart for this week-long pilgrimage to the cross, I’m re-reading The Final Week of Jesus by Max Lucado. It includes seven days worth of reading, all recaps of chapters from his book, And the Angels were Silent. Saturday’s readings focus on Simon the Leper’s dinner for Jesus, along with the lavish anointing of Jesus by Mary. Again, I am moved by Jesus’ response to the dinner guests who thought little of her extravagant worship…

“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me” (John 12:7-8).

Extravagant love loves abundantly. I can’t help but recall a piece of godly wisdom I received from my mother several years ago regarding the wealth and worthiness of our words and actions toward others. It went something like this…

Elaine, we all do a really good job of sending people flowers once their dead. We send them to the funeral home and litter the graveside with blooms of extravagant remembrance. But rare are the people, Elaine, who send people flowers while they are still living. Be one of those people, daughter, send flowers now while you still have the recipients with you.

Mary gave a rich bouquet to Jesus that day. It came in the form of a costly anointing. She gave Christ her lavish worship because she understood, better than most, that his death was imminent. She didn’t concede her grief to an “after the fact” moment. She gave it to him while he was yet living, and it has been remembered to us these last 2000 years. It’s a story that teaches us about giving God our best now while today is yet today–about loving others as we love Christ, for what we’ve done in his name for others, we’ve done as unto him.

This week, I was given a bouquet by my friend, Christy. I’d like to do the same for you. In turn, I imagine that there is someone in your path today who needs the witness and kindness of heaven given to him/her via your heart and hands. Would you be willing to pass on God’s love to one of his created? It doesn’t have to cost you a year’s worth of wages, but it should cost you something… your time, your prayers, your deliberate attention, and yes, perhaps your wallet. We have been richly blessed by God with great abundance, so let’s get to the “flower shop” and start putting together a bouquet that will let your neighbors know that they matter to you and, therefore, matter to the kingdom.

Pay-it-forward, friends, and see if God is not faithful to plant a beautiful garden on your behalf and for his renown! As always…

peace for the journey,

PS: In your comments, please make sure you indicate whether or not you want to be included in the giveaway, which indicates your willingness to pay-it-forward. Winner will be drawn with my next post. Blessed Sabbath rest to you and yours this weekend. Shalom.

Good Gravy and the Beth Moore Closet

Good Gravy and the Beth Moore Closet

“Oh good gravy!”

(My newest expression used in times of frustration. Please don’t tell me there’s something wrong with it; I could have said something else, have often said something else, but please don’t take my “good gravy” away from me. Thanks to Jet and Cord, cowboy brothers currently running “The Amazing Race” on CBS, I have a new expression for my moments of frustration. It’s nice watching two brothers being kind to one another on this show, considering that most of the other paired contestants are challenged when it comes to kindness and to finding alternate expressions for the four-letter expletives that flow like water from their mouths. Yes, I love me some clean-shaven, boot-wearin’, nice-talking, momma-lovin’ cowboys.)

Back to my “good gravy.” (Which, by the way, I couldn’t make any to save my life. I’m not a cook. On Monday I ventured into the kitchen to make spaghetti for my family and set the smoke alarms off… I’m not kidding. But I digress, again. I imagine it might happen to me a great deal over the next three months. My brain is being pulled in a thousand different directions. Bear with me, K?)

Anyway, yesterday I made the brave decision to venture into one of our closets in our spare bedroom. Not just any closet; the “Beth Moore” closet. Yes, I admit it… I have one. My husband added shelving to the closet several years ago as my Bible study resources began to multiply. Along the way, Beth’s made shelf-room for some of her other author friends. Over the past six years, I’ve accumulated curriculum kits that include:


  • Jesus the One and Only
  • John the Beloved
  • Believing God
  • Psalms of Ascent
  • Esther
  • Daniel
  • The Patriarchs
  • Living Beyond Yourself
  • A Woman’s Heart, God’s Dwelling Place

Nancy DeMoss’s Seeking Him
Priscilla Shirer’s One in a Million
Jennifer Rothschild’s Fingerprints of God & Me, Myself, and Lies
Alicia Chole’s Anonymous

I’m sure I’m leaving something out… help me Bible study gals! That’s a lot of meals out, friends, approximately $3000 worth of eating out or buying clothes or taking a nice vacation with my family, but I’m not bitter, I’m just sayin’, that’s all. And then there are the file boxes crammed with other teachings, ones I’ve developed and ones that I used prior to our moving here (a spiritual gifts study, advent study, Easter study, etc.). Oh, and the “props” attached to the studies (the golden scepter, the crown, the fountains, the candles, the dozen or so table cloths made to match the colors of the bookcovers, etc).

And lest I leave out the rest of the closet’s contents, how about the 100 or so CD’s that have done little more than collect dust over the past six years, and the craft supplies crammed in the upper corner, along with an endless supply of gift bags and wrapping ribbon, and the spiral notebooks crammed with study notes to which I will never again refer; not because they aren’t worthy, but because there is absolutely no organization to any of it.

And this is just one closet, friends (HELP ME, Cindy!). The more I dug, the more I found. Quickly I was surrounded in a sea of struggle, and with tears running down my face, I simply looked up to God and offered my “Good gravy!”

His response?

“Yes, Elaine, a lot of it.”

And as I looked around me, on the bed and stacked all over the floor, I saw the witness of a good investment, some “good gravy.” I could have invested my money elsewhere. Even more importantly, I could have invested my time in a thousand alternate directions, but as I began to sort and pitch—being careful to hold onto the good and eliminate the non-essentials—my heart was tendered by the reality of what God has done through me over the past six years, most days in spite of me.

Not only has he taught me a great deal about his Word via some awesome Bible study mentors, he’s allowed me the lavish fellowship of friends who have come alongside me to share in the teaching. My Tuesday night gals have made the investment worth it. Collectively, we carry the wealth of the kingdom within us, exponentially increasing its value everywhere we go. We may not be able to recall with specificity all the valuable insights we’ve received via the fourteen-plus studies we’ve done together, but we’ve certainly taken hold of the one thread that’s been woven throughout them all.

Jesus Christ and the life-altering truth of his Word.

That’s why most of the participants kept coming back to study on Tuesday nights. They understood it wasn’t about me, but about God. About learning more, seeking more, growing more, living more. About realizing that the “more” is best lived within the context of community, rather than in isolation. Could we have grown in our spiritual walkabouts with Jesus apart from one another? Certainly. God’s Word tells us that he has given us everything we need in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit to grow in our faith and understanding of his truth (see 1 John 2:24-27). But without one another, we would have grown differently, perhaps at a slower pace and without the benefit of sacred participation—of having our hearts intersect for a season so as to bring about a richer, fuller expression of faith.

My Tuesday gals have been my “charge and keep” for a long season, my very “good gravy” and then some. They will continue on without me, for they have seen the merit of what it all means. I’m not sure if I’ll be facilitating another study come fall in my new home, but one thing is for certain.

I’ll carry my closet with me as I go. And should my new home have ample room for a “Beth Moore” closet, I’ll tenderly unpack each study, give them a place of individual prominence, and be thankful for the “good gravy” that has already come to me because of their presence in my life.

Thank you, Beth, Priscilla, Jennifer, Nancy, and Alicia. Most importantly, thank you Tuesday night gals for making Bible study a priority and Jesus Christ, all the more. He is our anchor, our Teacher, and our very great Reward. Keep to him all the days of your lives and see if he is not faithful to fill your plate with enough “good gravy” to keep you well fed for the pilgrimage home. I love you more than words will allow. As always…

peace for the journey,

PS: For those of you interested in simplifying your life and especially your home, Cindy at “Letters from Midlife” has done umpteen posts along these lines. You can find them HERE. Thanks, Cindy. I imagine that I’ll be revisiting your thoughts/words often in the weeks to come.

Copyright © March 2010 – Elaine Olsen


Loose ends.

We all live with some. I don’t imagine there is a day that goes by when a loose thread or two don’t dangle their insistence before our eyes and within our hearts, thereby challenging us to trust in something bigger, Someone bigger, to weave them into the fabric that we call our lives.

I’ve had a thread or two or five or ten over the past few months. Some of them still dangle before me. Some of them, thankfully, have been picked up by the capable hands of Jesus and have begun to add their color to my canvas. I can’t see the fullness of their beauty, not yet. But as a woman of faith—a woman who is learning the road of the “ancients” of Hebrews 11—I’m believing God for their worthiness. It’s all I can do when I cannot see the road in front of me. I can only see the One who leads me, and that is enough for me, friends, for He is my “next.”

It’s been a little over two weeks since I put the final punctuation on the manuscript I began back in August of last year. The idea had been stirring in me for some time, but after walking through a week-long, intentional time of searching my Father’s heart (thanks, Lisa!), God confronted my heart regarding my faith and the lack of it therein. It was during that time, that the topic of my next written work came into clear focus; I’ve spent the past seven months writing that focus and have now completed my thoughts. The tentative title?

On Walkabout with the King: stepping the path of an ancient faith. (You may remember me talking about it here.)

Fifty thousand words and forty reflections later, I am well-pleased with the resulting conclusion. Not the words necessarily, but the work that has been accomplished because of those words in me and that will continue to work through and out of me in the days to come. We cannot delve into the lives of our spiritual ancestors and remain the same. Not really. Certainly we can give them a casual glance, take note of their faith and their “settled confidence” in God, but if we dig deeper for further clarification regarding their faith and how their faith pertains to ours, then we will be changed. It is God’s promise to us.

“This is what the LORD says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” (Jeremiah 6:16).

I have found some rest for my soul. I’ve stood at the crossroads and asked for the ancient paths. I’ve seen their faith in living color and applied it to my daily walk. Why? Because I desire nothing more than to be a woman of faith… a woman who steps in the paths of her spiritual ancestors. A woman who isn’t just “all talk” and no “walk.” A woman who isn’t afraid to make the same journey that they made. A woman who is willing to pick up her tent, even as Abraham picked up his tent, pack up her family, in order to keep in step with her King’s directives.

Today marks the beginning of that odyssey, friends. Today, my husband and I stood before our congregation to make the announcement that the Bishop of the United Methodist Church has issued the call for us to move this June. It wasn’t an easy announcement. We’ve invested the past six years of our lives into this church and surrounding community. The work of our hands dwarfs in comparison to the investment that we’ve made with our hearts.

We love our people, and we’ve loved them fully.

It’s not always been perfect. Loving in the flesh always leaves the door open for mistakes on both ends. That being said, we’ve always loved willingly, kindly, and with enough open honesty to admit our frailties in the matter. When love loves that way, then love blooms, and today, my arms aren’t big enough to hold the bouquet that I’ve been given. Today, my bouquet overflows with the witness of the colorful blossoms that have been lavished upon me over the past six years. How thankful I am for the garden that God seeded on my behalf long before my moving van ever crossed the Wayne County line six years ago. How thankful I am for the seeds that he’s planting now somewhere else.

I don’t know where that somewhere else will be friends, nary a clue. We won’t know until the end of April. But God knows, and to a lesser degree the Bishop knows, and that is enough for me. Did you hear me? Just in case you missed it…

God’s knowing is enough for me.

Seven months ago, it might not have been enough, but today, his enough proffers as certainty rather than maybe. If I’ve learned one thing from the “ancients” who are listed in the Hebrews’ Hall of Faith, I’ve learned that our God can be trusted with our futures. Why? Because he is our future, he is our “next,” and I intend on keeping one hand on the hem of his garment and one hand around the waist of my family until his hem crosses me over that finish line, and I find a final and perfect rest for my soul.

It’s all I can do—keep holding on and keep believing in the One whose cloudy pillar is on the move. God has asked a great thing of me; it’s not easy to pack up six lives and move them in accordance with God’s directives. But God’s great asking is in keeping with my faith’s cultivation; he’s not asking anything of me that he didn’t ask of his people long ago. And so, like those from my spiritual lineage, I cast my eyes to the horizon this night and remember that I am but a stranger on loan to this alien country. That there is a better country coming, and that this one isn’t it. This one only serves as the bridge between what has been and what will be. And the steps taken in between the two?

The walkabout of faith.

I’m on it; so is my family. So are you, and so is our King. He can be trusted with the road ahead, so let us all take hold of his hem and press on, believing that the “what and the where” that is to come is exactly the journey he has intended for us all along.

Sweet trust. Sweet rest. Continuing…

peace for the journey.


Copyright © March 2010 – Elaine Olsen

a phone call from God

a phone call from God

Yesterday was a good day. I can’t let today go by without chronicling the truth of my yesterday. It would be easy to forego the writing… to let yesterday’s goodness linger as sweet remembrance in my mind, but I don’t trust my mind as much as I used to. My mind is prone to wandering, to forgetting, to casually and occasionally reflecting on the goodness of God rather than keeping it constantly before me.

Thus, my pen and a few words this morning, so that in seasons to come—when March 16, 2010, is long forgotten—I can reach back to this piece of paper and remember my God, his goodness, and how he took a simple day and made it something significant for me.

It happened like this…

My Tuesday was well-planned for me long before it arrived. Bible study preparations were on the agenda, as well as preparations for an upcoming speaking engagement this weekend. Once the kids said their good-byes, I took to my agenda willingly and with energy, believing that God would strengthen me with his power for the completion of tasks therein. But as I have learned (and it’s been a life-long learning, friends), before I can be effective in God’s kingdom work, I must first come to his feet for the feeding. Without his filling, my daily tasks proffer more like religious productivity rather than relational privilege.

So we sat together… me and Jesus. We read his Word together, prayed together, and then in usual fashion, I asked him a question, not unlike the question I asked of him the other day regarding my “next.”

Father, what would you like for me to be for you, to do for you in my next season of living?

It’s a good question to ask of him, for with the asking, God has the privilege of entering into our queries with the deliberations of his Holy Spirit alongside. I think our Father likes nothing more than to engage with our honest pleas for guidance, especially when those pleas issue forth from a humble desire to serve him better. Certainly, I know how I might like to serve the kingdom in the season to come, but it seems to me that further refinement of just exactly what that service will look like is needed—some clarity and defining that I don’t fully have at this point. And so, I asked. And so, he answered.


The word from the Word regarding my “next.”

You are to be a doorkeeper, Elaine.

Immediately, my thoughts went to the verse in scripture that says something about “being a doorkeeper at the temple rather than dwelling with the wicked.” I didn’t have the verse memorized. I knew it was somewhere in the Psalms, and I made a mental note to pull out the concordance at a later point in the day so that I could more fully engage with God’s directive to be a doorkeeper. I closed my time of devotion, thanking God for his Spirit and for entering into my deliberations. I asked him to bless the work of my hands that day, and then I moved on with my day.

Bible study prep.

I pulled out my notes and workbook from a previous week’s work in Jennifer Rothschild’s study Me, Myself, and Lies. How I have enjoyed my time together with my Tuesday night gals this go around! The study has been timely, needed, chock-full of truth, and the fellowship with other believers has been ever so sweet. We’ve grown in ways I never imagined possible when we began this journey together seven weeks ago. God has been faithful to meet us each and every week and has, especially, been faithful to strengthen me with a rich portion of leadership capabilities that I didn’t think I possessed.

As I was re-reading Jennifer’s words from “Week Six: A Hope Filled Thought Closet” I arrived on “Day Three,” page 138. On that particular day, Jennifer had us re-write Psalm 84 in our own words. As I read over my rendition, something began to stir in my spirit. Could it be? Is it Lord? The very same scripture you impressed upon me in our prayer time? The one about being a doorkeeper? Well, lookey there…

“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” (Psalm 84:10).

I was moved to tears and, again, made a mental note regarding my need to further explore this concept of being a doorkeeper on a later occasion when I had the time to process it more fully. Fast forward to last night’s gathering at Bible study.

I was sharing with the ladies about my moments of intimate exchange with the Father earlier that day. I told them about his initial word to me during my prayer time… about being a doorkeeper and what that might mean. And then, I told them about the moment from that initial moment, when I received a further prompt in this direction while reviewing my notes for our gathering that evening. As I was describing this to them last evening, at exactly 7:20 PM, something happened I didn’t expect. Something so perfectly timed, that if it wasn’t true, you’d think I’d set it up somehow.

Kim’s phone rang. No sooner had the words about my being God’s doorkeeper come out of my mouth, then did her cell phone ring out, eerily resembling the sound of a doorbell. We all had a good laugh, as I said to the Lord out loud, “Yes, Lord, I’m listening. I’m headed to the door and will open it up to see what you might have to say.” We all were kind of stunned, perhaps thinking it a nicely timed coincidence in keeping with our discussion, but it didn’t end there.

A few minutes later, I looked over at Kim. She had a puzzled look on her face. I knew something was up, so I asked her about it.

“Elaine, you’re never going to believe what that call was about. You need to look at this… a text picture someone just sent to me on my phone.”

I walked over to the phone and looked. This is the picture that I saw.

A door with a wreath hanging on it.

Needless to say, we were all stunned—none more than me. All I could do was bow to the moment and offer my words of obedience to, indeed, tend to the voice of the Lord as it pertains to my “next.”

Apparently, I’m to be a doorkeeper. I don’t know what that fully means at this point, but I’ve some thoughts along these lines. I’ve done some research, and I will continue to flesh it out in the days ahead. I am convinced that God will be doing that as well—sitting beside me and showing me what it means to be his doorkeeper. I’m not looking for a whole lot of defining from outside sources; I’m fully confident in God’s ability to bring clarification, and after all, his defining is what I’m after, not the world’s.

I don’t know what this means to you today; perhaps, it was meant just for me. But I think you need to understand something about our God…

He longs to offer you his voice, his direction, his defining, his answer. He will go to great lengths to make sure that you hear him correctly. Some of you may feel a bit short-changed in this area, may feel like his silence is indication of his lack of interest in your future. I understand. I’ve been there many times before. But then a moment like yesterday happens, and my faith increases, further confirming my belief in the practice of intimate discipleship… of coming to the shores of God’s grace and eating some breakfast from his fire every day.

It’s a practice that is serving me well, friends, and it brings hope to my spirit that there is more to come—more “in the moment, on fire, from the holy, hot breath of God” kind of moments that will arrive for me, as I am faithful to keep pulling my ship to shore and anchoring my heart and thoughts to the One who has been faithfully waiting for me in the night.

God is good, and his voice is sweet. I am exceedingly grateful for his willingness to share that goodness with me in any form he chooses.

Even with a cell-phone. I can hear my Savior calling; he’s calling for you as well. As always…

peace for the journey,

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Copyright © March 2010 – Elaine Olsen

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