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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)

Focused

Focused on You, may my thoughts ever be
Entangled with yours, clear my eyes, help me see …
Glimpses of grace, fragments of home
Reminders to me that I’m not alone,

In fighting this fight, in conquering sin
So present, so real, so embedded within …
This world where I live that turns a deaf ear
To what’s noble, what’s right, what’s true, and what’s clear,

In your Word, from your lips
On the cross, beyond the grave.
I am free from the curse
I’m no longer a slave,

To my past, to my fears
To mistakes in younger years.
You were there, you are here
You are present, you are near.

To lend your power
To perfect in me
All that’s not holy
All I’ve yet to fully be.

So fix my eyes, Lord, fix my heart,
Fix my thoughts, all on Thee
Walk me forward, walk me home
To the place I long to be.

Next to you
Hand in hand
Heart to heart
You’re where I will stand.

Even now
Even then
Even always,
Amen.

(F. Elaine Olsen, 10-13-16, all rights reserved.)

“Mother of the Bride” Review and Give-Away…

*This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to Cindy G. who will receive a copy of the book via Amazon. 

I love a good book, especially during these summer months when I have both the time and the energy to absorb a new story. And while I always have a compelling, fiction story sitting bedside, my favorite books fall into the category of non-fiction – truth-tellers, stories of “Been there, done that, and have the battle-scars to prove it”, a come-alongside-you-for-the-journey kind of book that feels more like a companioning presence than an uninvited stranger.

Cheryl Barker’s book Mother of the Bride: Refreshment and Wisdom for the Mother of the Bride is one such book. To clarify (lest any of you think my thirteen-year-old daughter has recently become engaged), I am not currently an official MOB (mother of the bride). I hope to have that honor in a season to come. As the mother of three older sons, I’m mostly sitting on the sidelines in that department.

But it’s fun to dream, is it not? When I was in college, my girlfriends and I saved up our spare change in order to purchase the latest bride magazines at the grocery, check-out stands. We’d cut and paste our favorite images into a notebook of sorts, planning for a perfect wedding, all the while praying anxiously (and rather insistently) for the perfect groom to slide onto the scenes of our lives. For most of us, that moment came. When it did for me, the worn and torn bridal pages from those earlier years were nowhere to be found. Instead, my mother and I started the process from scratch. Bless her heart; she didn’t have a come-alongside-you-for-the-journey kind of book in her pocket. Instead, she had me. Again, bless her sweet, patient heart.

Had Cheryl’s book been around then, no doubt it would have been a huge blessing to my mom, a gentle hug to remind her of all that’s good and right and honorable about her role as the MOB. Mother of the Bride truly is a “gem” for the wedding journey. Included in this beautifully packaged book are twenty-three seasonal vignettes written to highlight the special moments of the bridal journey. Each entry concludes with practical planning tips, as well as personal pampering ideas. There’s even a space for journaling your thoughts as you reflect on Cheryl’s heart-felt renderings. Some of my favorite vignettes include:

To Have and to Hold … Until She Gets Married

This vignette is all about the “letting-go”; whether you’re a MOB or a MOGroom, this is a relatable tug of any mother’s heart. A favorite quote from this selection is: “Let go of your daughter with grace and you’ll find her calling on you with joy.” (pg. 43)

Bye-Bye, Comfort Zone: Diving into Unfamiliar Waters

No doubt, the MOB will wear many hats during the wedding-planning process, some more comfortable than others. Cheryl challenges MOBs (and women everywhere) that “… each time we square our shoulders and say good-bye to our comfort zones, it leads to growth and more self-confidence.” (pg. 74)

Be Very Careful: No Do-Overs for the MOB

This reflection is a gentle reminder for MOBs to consider how important her responses/reactions are during a season where first responses are measured (and well-remembered). Cheryl writes, “Some situations, like various tasks or games, lend themselves quite well to do-overs. However, when relationships and feelings are involved, that’s another matter. Even if we get a second chance, the memory of the original situation will never be entirely wiped out.” (pg. 97)

My MOB and me, 7-19-97

Also included with the twenty-three vignettes are wedding venue worksheets – a very practical, thought-out list of questions to keep in mind when planning for your daughter’s special day. Truly, Cheryl has given all MOBs an inspiring gift in writing Mother of the Bride: Refreshment and Wisdom for the Mother of the Bride. She’s thought of everything and has packaged it beautifully as her “gem” to you during your special season of love and grace.

As for me and my future as a MOB, well, I’ll tuck Cheryl’s treasure away for a season longer. But when that day arrives, when my little girl looks at me with dreams of satin and lace and budding bouquets, I’ll know where to start. I’ll start with a hug from a friend named Cheryl who “once upon a time” penned a few thoughts about the glorious steps that await me as a Mother of the Bride – a come-alongside-me-for-the-journey kind of book that feels more like a companioning presence than an uninvited stranger.

Thank you, Cheryl, for writing your story and for inviting me to the wedding. What a lovely celebration this has been!

PS: Hey readers – leave a comment today for a chance to win a copy of Cheryl’s Mother of the Bride. The deadline for entries is July 17th.

5

Forever grateful to Shirley Jones for this likeness.

 

It’s been a sobering day for me. A day for remembering. A day for grieving. A day for gratefulness. A day for tears. 

Five years ago. I remember it well. Most days I don’t … remember it. Most days I live beyond it. But today I take time to remember the impact and the forecast of those words spoken over my life on that day:

Mrs. Olsen, you have breast cancer.

One doesn’t forget a day like that. This is my “I remember where I was” moment that folks often speak about when recalling a turning point in their history.

A two-hour trip home from Dr. Habal’s office in Greenville. A phone call to family. A phone call to Judith. A detour to Campbell University to find my first born and a detour to Methodist University to find my second. And then home to loving arms – to a mom and dad and children not quite ready to absorb the news. And then, that trip to Arby’s with the living tree growing next to our table. If you’ve read my story, then you know about that tree and those surreal moments surrounding that hallowed meal.

And here I am, five years out—a benchmark for cancer patients I’m told. Survival rates for us are measured in five year increments. By the grace of God I’ve made it to this milestone. Soberly, I await the next one, whatever that might be.

This is my one life, from start to finish, this is it. And while I’d like to say that I’ve masterfully handled the five-year journey toward this milestone, I won’t because I haven’t. Truthfully, I haven’t understood most of it. It’s been mostly a limp toward the finish line.

But there is something – a pretty important one thing that has emerged in these past five years:

My obedience to the day in front of me.

Not tomorrow’s obedience. Not next week’s. Not next year’s. Simply (and I think rather profoundly) an obedience to the unfolding of life in a single day and my participation therein. It’s an obedience that offers more personal yeses and fewer nos; more open hands than clinched fists. Just an obedience to the day – to live it, come what may, knowing that I am deeply loved and sincerely safe.

If we know this, friends, truly understand in the marrow of our bones that we are loved and that we are safe, then we can remain obedient to the day we’ve been given. Five years ago, I didn’t know this kind of security. I didn’t recognize the depth of God’s love for me, and I didn’t always feel safe in his arms. And so he gave me the love and the arms of others, and through their touch, God got bigger for me. In his bigness, I understood (maybe for the first time) that I was covered, completely and certainly safe in the shadow of the Almighty Father who calls me his child.      

And that’s something – a pretty important one thing that has trumped the scars required to get here.

Today is the day that the Lord has made. He has given it to me. In return, I yield my obedience therein. Come what may – a tomorrow, a next week, a next year, or maybe even five.

Today I raise my glass and offer a toast to August 23, 2015. I am loved, and I am safe. It is good to be here and to be sharing this day with you. As always …

Peace for the journey,

“Beyond the Scars: daring to live forward” Book Release

$12.99 (includes shipping)
$12.99 (includes shipping)

 

On January 11, 2014, I wrote this post. My heart was in a terrible place of discomfort. The publisher of my two books had disappeared off the radar, leaving nearly 2000 authors scratching their heads and wondering about the future of their previously published works. It was a mess, an awful confusion, and time has proffered very few answers to our mounting frustrations.

What to do?

Well, after I spent an appropriate amount of time licking my wounds and ample time on my knees pouring out my heart to the Father regarding (what I believe to be) this criminal injustice, I dusted off my knees as well as my original manuscript for Beyond Cancer’s Scars and edited it for a second edition. The book title was changed to Beyond the Scars: Daring to Live Forward to more accurately reflect the content of the book. My next step?

Enter Kennisha Hill, CEO of NyreePress Literary Group and my long-time, blogging friend. Through her encouragement and because of my implicit trust in her, I forged ahead with re-publishing my second book. Today, I’m pleased to present it to you . . . again. The cover has changed, as has the interior formatting. The introduction and conclusion have been re-written. Overall, it feels better to me, and I am grateful to have Beyond the Scars back in print. It remains the witness of God’s faithfulness to me before, during, and after a long season of suffering. It is my Ebenezer, my 1 Samuel 7:12—my Thus far, the Lord has helped me!

The Lord has helped me, and by his grace, I want to help others through the spreading of this book. Would you like to help as well? If so, then I have a special offer for you—a way for you to link arms with me in this season of ministry.

Currently, there are approximately eighty copies of the first edition (Beyond Cancer’s Scars) sitting in my mudroom. I want them to find their way to good homes, to others who are experiencing the scourge of cancer in this season. Accordingly, with the release of this second edition, I am offering a free copy of Beyond Cancer’s Scars to accompany every purchase of this new book made through me personally at this website via paypal or a check (while supplies last). A two-for-one deal! Because of rising shipping costs, both books will need to be shipped to the same address (USA orders only). My only request of you is that the 2nd copy wouldn’t become a dust collector in your home but that you would find a practical outlet for its release.

If you don’t have anyone in mind to receive the extra copy, I’ll donate one to my local cancer center each time a purchase of the new book is made until the old books are gone. You’ll see a section on the paypal link to indicate whether or not you’d like me to SEND the extra copy to you or for me to DONATE it locally. If no indication is made, then I will donate the book locally.

The cost of the new book is $12.99 which includes shipping (*all books shipped at media mail rates). Beyond the Scars is also now available through these online retailers (Kindle and Nook versions coming soon):

If you’d like to take advantage of the two-for-one deal I’m offering, please use the paypal link below (credit card orders are accepted with OR without a paypal account), or you can email me your interest by following this link. Also, if you’d like to read more about the new book, peruse the press release, see what others are saying, or download the first chapter of Beyond the Scars, please follow this link.

And a final thought – I would greatly appreciate your sharing this post with others on your facebook, twitter, and other social media pages. If you’re so inclined, I would also welcome your review of the book at Amazon and other on-line retailers.

I need your help, friends, and so I’m asking. I cannot do this on my own. Thank you in advance for moving the kingdom forward by linking arms with me in this season. It means more to me than you can possibly know.

Peace for the journey,

**This offer is no longer valid. To secure a copy of Beyond the Scars – click here!

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