Category Archives: Raising Faith

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,


Jadon’s Fight

“Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.”  -1 Timothy 6:11

He lies here, stretched out and so very vulnerable, like when he arrived in this world. His chest is broad, his head is shaved, and in true Jadon fashion, his legs are crossed in just the way he likes to sleep.

Gladiator. That’s what comes to mind.

He is beautiful. He’s my boy, #3 falling in behind his two older brothers and just ahead of his sister.

I can’t believe we are here. My unbelief is trumped by the reality—the gravity of this moment.

We are here, six days out from the most horrific day of my life. I don’t like revisiting that moment. There will be time for that in coming days. For now, I want to focus on this one moment, the one reality that struck me profoundly at 2:00 AM this morning and has stayed with me ever since.

Jadon’s fight is so much bigger than a hashtag or a Go Fund Me account.

Jadon’s fight isn’t just about him, although he has every right to call it all his own.

Jadon’s fight isn’t just so his parents or his brothers or his sisters are able to watch him play ball, graduate, go to college, marry, and have children.

Jadon’s fight is grander than all these parameters.

Jadon’s fight is eternal.

Jadon’s fight is for you, everyone of you reading this now. Everyone who has checked in, prayed, given, loved from afar, loved up close. Stranger, friend, family, and even, perhaps, foe. Jadon’s fight doesn’t discriminate.

You see, if you know Jadon personally, you get this. He loves life. He loves people. He’s never met a stranger. He steps up to the plate when called upon. Of his own accord, he mentors young boys. He carries groceries to cars on food bank days. He ushers at church. He volunteers (he would joke “voluntold”) with Special Olympics, VBSes, and the Appalachian Service Project. He buys veterans meals when they come into Zaxby’s and is ready with a quarter when you need an extra sauce and don’t have any change. He has a verse ready when your spirit is downcast and a smile when yours is upside down. He’ll give you a ride; he’ll give you his shirt. He’ll find a way to work around a problem by creating a new solution (Have you seen his hillbilly bench press?). He helps his mom and never complains. Never.

He has a servant’s heart because he serves the Father’s heart.

And serving, friends, is what landed him smack dab in the middle of this very blessed mess.

Upon Jadon’s insistence, he and his father left the safety of his car to remove a tree branch that had fallen across the road so that others could safely, more easily move down a neighborhood street. And just like that, in a moment of serving—of bending low to lift up—Jadon was struck by a bigger tree branch that put him on his face. It has put us all on our faces, the very place where Jadon would want us to be …

Talking to God.

Thus far, it appears to me, mission accomplished. Thousands of us have joined in holy dialogue with the Almighty, all on behalf of Jadon. History is writing the story, and because my son’s words are currently buried somewhere deep within his gladiator soul, God has called me to serve as Jadon’s mouthpiece.

Since his birth, Jadon has been declaring his faith so very well before many witnesses. You are sharing your Jadon stories with us, and I am not surprised by any of them. I just rarely hear of them. Jadon’s humility often keeps me from knowing just how widely and deeply he’s sown God’s love into the soil of humanity. The harvest is coming to pass, friends, and the fruit we’re taking hold of (the witness of a young man whose name means “God has heard”) is ripening before our very eyes.

What a sight to behold! A good fruit in a good fight.

“Good?” you might ask. Yes. Good. Why? Because Jadon’s fight is not just a fight to live again personally. Instead, Jadon’s fight is an invitation for you and me to join him on the front lines of faith and to live eternally.

And that, friends, is exactly what makes all of this good.

So, if you’re inclined, would you join us on the battlefield? Would you be willing to step up and step into the glorious harvest of faith that awaits you? Jadon would want you there, alongside him, contending for the “bigger” that is beyond what we can currently see. Jadon wants you with him now. Jadon wants you with him next. Jadon wants you with him forever.

Jadon wants you with God.

I do too. So consider this your invitation to join us on this sacred road of suffering. Grab our hands, grab a tissue, grab a moment, and grab whatever fragments of faith you have. Let’s take hold of the eternal life to which we’ve been called. Together, with Jadon leading the charge, we can sow and grow an abundant harvest that will last forever! As always and forever…

Peace for the journey,

If you’d like to follow Jadon’s progress please visit my fb page. All posts pertaining to Jadon will be made public. If you’d like to read a nice article about Jadon’s story published by the Laurinburg Exchange, click here. In addition, Jadon’s has been featured on the local Charlotte NBC station. You can view it by clicking here. Along the way and as we go, there will be many ways you can help us. We’re not shy about asking. We need help at so many levels. If you would like to join Jadon’s fight in a financial way, please click here. Every dollar raised will go specifically toward paying for the financial cost of getting our boy well. We are eternally grateful! Please feel free to share the link to this post but keep in mind that all rights are reserved by me. If you’d like to use a quote, please seek my permission first. Thank you!

©F.ElaineOlsen. All rights reserved.

Living Deuteronomy 4:9

My heart and my pen landed on this verse this morning, while scribing the words of Deuteronomy into my Journible:

“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” –Deuteronomy 4:9

And I thought about my dad and our time of circled prayer in my garage last Saturday morning which included my mom, my husband, and my two younger children. I am my father’s child and these are his grandchildren; he continues to make faith deposits into all of us.

A word here. A prayer there. A genuine love wrapped up in arms and with enough hearty laughter to crack even the driest of souls wide open to receive God’s showers of grace.

My daddy has not forgotten the things his eyes have seen, nor has he let them slip from his heart. Instead, he remembers the faithfulness of his Father and lives it forward. What he has sown into me, what he has sown into my children, cannot be measured on this side of eternity. His scattering of kingdom seed roots deeply in our hearts – a generational dispensation of faith. Who we are, in part, is directly linked to who he is.

I am grateful for all the ways I see my father’s faith at work in my life and in the lives of my children. I am grateful for all the ways I’ve yet to see my father’s witness walk on eternally. He has been careful and intentional with his legacy of faith. I am challenged to live accordingly … to remember the things my eyes have seen and to not let them slip from my heart as long as I live.

What about you? How goes it with your remembering, your slipping? Your generational dispensation of faith? When was the last time you circled your family members for prayer or spoke bold truth into their hearts?

This is not the time to shrink back in your faith, friends. To assume that no one is listening or no longer needs the witness of your history with Jesus. There’s too much in that place (your history with Jesus) not to speak it forward. What God has done for you—in you and with you—is a mighty work of grace. He means for it to walk on eternally in the hearts, minds, and souls of those who sit beneath your influence.

This is how we get home safely to Jesus—the thread that tethers us back to our beginnings when Father God hovered over the dark and deep and determined that we would be part of the goodness that flows out of him. Adam and Eve, all the way down the family tree until you and me. Generation after generation of obedient and willing saints who chose not to forget the things their eyes saw or let them slip from their hearts for as long as they lived.

That’s a lot of circled prayer time, a lot of faith lived forward. It reaches down through history, through the words of Deuteronomy, in all of God’s Word, and, most importantly, in the words of my daddy whose extraordinary faith has warmed the hearts of all who’ve drawn close to its flame.

What I have seen I will remember. I will not let it slip from my heart for as long as I live. I promise.

I love you, daddy.

Raising Faith (part twelve): Embracing Your Rest

Raising Faith (part twelve): Embracing Your Rest

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on him, for God is our refuge. Lowborn men are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie; if weighed on a balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath.” (Psalm 62:5-9).

“Momma, I’m glad we’re going home.”

“Why do you say that?”

“I need to stop the fun for awhile because I am so tired.”

“I understand, honey; mommy’s tired too.”

Those were her words today while driving home from grandma and grandpa’s. Two days of non-stop entertainment with the full attention of grandparents has a way of wearing out the most willing of participants. Like us, I am sure they are resting well tonight, in the comfort of quiet and with their routine returning to usual. My daughter and son love visits with their grandparents. Why?

Because of the attention. Because of the intentional effort put into their visits. Because sometimes, grandmas and grandpas better understand the value of time and the giving of it therein.

They’re not too busy, too bothered, or too bogged down with the world’s agenda so as to neglect their gift of influence upon another generation. They are on the backside of some valuable lessons that have taught them to appreciate the simple joy of investing in our Father’s most precious commodity—human life.

But investing, both in the lives of children and in adults, comes with a price tag. It often invests tired and weary and with the aches and pains of knees that prefer the couch rather than the floor or the baseball field in the backyard. It requires that the will supersedes the flesh, especially when the flesh is crying out for some quiet amidst the invasion of words that so adequately flow from an endless supply of questions and needs that refuse their silence. It requires an open mind and welcoming arms, even when ideas don’t match and visions don’t level the same.

Investing in people is hard work. But it is God’s work for each one of us. Our holy requirement as participants in the Great Commission … as priests in the household of believers. He means for it to cost us something. Not because he relishes our slavery to the task, but rather because he delights in the lives of his creation and in giving each one of us the privilege of savoring accordingly. Simply put,

We don’t have to invest in people. We are given the delightful freedom to do so.

That being said, Jesus understands our weary. He spent his earthly pilgrimage investing in the lives of people. On many occasions, his need for solace would require his absence from people. He wasn’t afraid to tend to this need. Many places in Scripture record him pulling away from the crowds to find his soul’s peace with his Father in private (Matthew 14:13; Mark 1:35; Mark 6:31-32; Luke 4:42; Luke 5:15-16).

Just like my daughter’s need to rest from the joy of relational output, Jesus, too, needed his rest from the crowds. Time with his Father in quiet solitude was like going home for Jesus. Why?

Because of the attention his Father gave him. Because of the intentional efforts of renewal afforded him in the pause. Because God better understands the kingdom value of what time with him will seed:


Further investment in the stuff that really matters.

I understand my daughter’s need for the journey home. The excitement that surrounded her departure from our routine and our very scheduled life was matched by her enthusiasm to return to the same. She loves coming home to rest, and so do I. We are a people who need our Father’s rest. But in between the going and the coming?

Lots of fun. Relationships that count. Love that grows and hearts that better understand how kingdom investing really breathes.

I don’t know how this strikes you today. We all, every last one of us, are heading home. This life is but a breath, whether we are “highborn” or of lowly estate. The clock is ticking and our weary will soon be laid to rest at the gates of heaven. What we do here matters for all of eternity. The privilege of sacred investment is a gift to us from our Father. What we choose to do with such influence is left to our discretion. He will never force us to seed his grace and love into the lives of others.

But he wants us to. Not because our crowns will boast heavier and more bedazzled with the jewels of his favor, but rather because he has seeded his grace and love into our hearts through the unimaginable gift of Calvary’s cross. And that kind of investment, my friends, should shake our complacency and force our knees to the floor in gratitude and toward the intentional sowing of Godly influence into the hearts of others, especially our children.

Perhaps, like my daughter, you are in need of some rest this day. You’ve played hard and loved real. You’re routine has been blessed with the interruption of relationship, and you are weary from the doing. Your Father is calling you home for some solace and some attention. He understands your requirement, and he is ready to touch your tired with the sacred salve of his perfect intention. Come home to Jesus, and find your soul’s peace. He is waiting to invest his love into you. Thus, I pray…

Give us the wisdom, Father, to know when we are in need of your rest. You, alone, are our rock and our fortress and the seeding of our strengthened hope. Forgive me when I fail to come and when I falter in loving others because I have neglected my time with you. My life is but a breath, but for as long as I am breathing its measure, I want to spend it wisely and with your perfect intention guiding my steps and blessing my obedience. Thank you for the privilege of investing your love into the lives of others and for the privilege of sitting at your feet to receive the same. May Sabbath rest be my portion this day. Amen.

Copyright © October 2008 – Elaine Olsen. All rights reserved.

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Raising Faith (part eleven): Embracing Your Nakedness

Raising Faith (part eleven): Embracing Your Nakedness

Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (2 Corinthians 5:24).

November 2001

He didn’t deserve my stern rebuke. He deserved something, but not the severity of my harsh response. What I should have offered him was some grace amidst a teachable moment. What he received, instead, was a portion of judgment leveled at a heart too tender for the verdict … too innocent for the label.


Because my nakedness refused God’s dressing. Because my flesh is still so very much in tact.

I don’t recall the specifics of that occasion. I only remember a few words that quickly seared their way into my heart and forced me to my knees in humble apology. It is a message I carry with me, even some three years down the road. Not because I delight in the boast of my sin but rather because I want the lesson from it for always. A lesson intended for my growth; not only as a parent, but as a keeper of God’s truth.

Jadon, young in years and full with a “me first” mentality, was wearing on my already thinned nerves. Me, older in years and still so often filled with a “me first” mentality, responded to his continual fussing by sending him to his room. It must have been a hard send because his response to me was a soft and sorrowful obedience.

With tears rolling down his cheeks as he surrendered to the upstairs climb, he simply turned around for a final glance and spoke these precious words of conviction over my soul:

“Mommy, God sent you here to be our lover.”

I don’t know if it was the tears or his gentle way of his administering God’s truth to me, but regardless of the emotional mixing, his words cut deep and immediately shrouded my heart in heavy conviction.

Guilty as charged, son. Naked and exposed, yet again.

I’ve never forgotten that moment. I think my Father would have it remain firmly entrenched in memory. He used my sin and my son’s broken spirit to teach me a valuable and consecrated lesson about human life and about the responsibility that I bear in loving each one toward his kingdom end. An end that is best served…

through love rather than shame.
through grace rather than judgment.
through mercy rather than punishment.
through selfless rather than selfish.

Oh, the groanings of my flesh! I am naked in my want for the righteous clothing of my God. He’s been dressing me for over forty years now, and still there are moments of raw and real exposure that are mirrored in my body. I am housed within a tent that isn’t well pegged to the ground and that blows wide and open at the whim of a temporal wind.

My life of faith is a literal peep show for the world to observe, and quite honestly, I’m not sure if anyone is coming back for a second look. I’m not sure I want them too. When I can’t love with grace and mercy and selfless intent, I can’t expect a good review. From the world. From my own family. And most importantly, from the perfect Lover of my soul—the God who created my frame with an eternal cloaking in mind.

A dressing that does not include my fleshy imperfections, but rather a perfection that will swallow up the old with the life-giving breath of heaven’s new. Until then, I groan all the more because I know that what awaits me on the other side of this pilgrimage unto death, is a life fully clothed with the righteousness of my salvation.

Flesh living is painful living. There are no short cuts to perfection. God uses the lives of other pilgrims toward that end. The groans of our sacred shaping may come to us through a stranger, a friend, a co-worker, a parent, a spouse, and some days…through the tears and honest words of a child.

God did indeed put me on this earth to be a lover of my children. Period. No matter their wrongs. No matter their mess. No matter their pursuits toward self-interest. I am the one who has been given the sacred privilege of loving them to adulthood. I don’t always do it right, but I always do it real. As it comes, even when God turns the table and allows my young son the sacred privilege of loving me into my adulthood.

If faith is to be raised in this generation, then our nakedness must be embraced—even when it’s humbling and especially when it exposes the truth of a neglected imperfection.

Perhaps this day, you know the groanings of a “yet to be finished” cloaking. I understand, for I am woman who shares your exposure. All of us, every last one of us, are as naked before God and before one another. We might mask it well in the temporary, but as you and I stand before our Father, there is nothing hidden from his view. No portion of our flesh that he cannot see. This truth, alone, is worthy of a few painful utterings.

The greater truth? God sent his Son to be the Lover of our souls. And with Jesus, there is always grace. There is always mercy. And there is always a love rooted in the selfless sacrifice of Calvary’s cross. It is more than enough to lead us all home to our heavenly dwelling where the mortal will, once and for all, be swallowed up by the eternal life that is ours through Jesus Christ our Lord. Thus I pray,

Thank you for loving us perfectly, Father. For sending your Son to his own cloaking of flesh that has enabled us to one day drop this tent in trade for another—an eternal dressing worthy of the streets of gold. Thank you, also, for the sacred shaping that comes to us through our exposure. Give us the grace and the wisdom to receive our teaching, even when it comes to us through a child and forces us to our knees in humble confession. Today, we groan in holy expectation for what is promised to us in our tomorrow. Come quickly, Lord. Even so come. Amen.

Copyright © October 2008 – Elaine Olsen. All rights reserved.

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