Category Archives: writing

Five Years of Peace

Five years ago, I started this blog.

  • Five years.
  • Half a decade.
  • 1826 days.
  • One-ninth of my life.
  • 555 posts.

Who knew it could be done? I certainly didn’t . . . not back then. Back then, I was just a little girl dreaming about collected words—thoughts yet unreleased in the previous eight-ninths of my life. Back then, I didn’t know a thing about blogging; I just dove in one day, swimming in the thought of it all, and here I am, five years later still paddling my arms and drifting with the current wherever it carries me.

I never thought it would last this long. Never. Honestly, I never had a plan. I’ve just kept at it, one word at a time. Looking back, I’ve crammed a lot of life into these past five years and chronicled it accordingly. A recorded history of messy faith wrestled out in front of an audience.

Interesting then, that I should I come across a passage of scripture this week, undetected by me in the entirety of the nine-ninths known as my journey on planet earth.

“Here are the stages in the journey of the Israelites when they came out of Egypt by divisions under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. At the Lord’s command Moses recorded the stages of their journey. This is their journey in stages:” (Numbers 33:1-3, NIV)

A journey in stages. Forty years. Forty stops along the way. Chronicled at the command of the Lord. A recorded history of messy faith wrestled out in front of an audience—us.

Why? Because maybe, somewhere in the Israelites’ stages—those “starting places” according to the New American Standard Version of the Bible—we find ourselves, and we collect God’s strength for the journey ahead.

Our path to Canaan is not unlike the one the Israelites traveled. There are many stages along the way. Pauses that shape us; pauses that launch us. Starting places, not ending ones. No, never ending ones, not yet. The Lord hasn’t set us on this course to finish us here. Our finish comes later—in a stage just beyond this one. Until then, we mark our course, and we leave a trail of faith so that those who step behind us won’t have to wonder where we’re headed.

I suppose that’s the sum total of what’s been done over these past five years—this one-ninth of my recorded history. Stages and starting points of a messy, unglamorous faith. In it all, I hope that I’ve written more truth than fiction, more faith than doubt. Most importantly, I pray that these posts serve as sign-posts–not so much in regards to where I’ve been, but even more so to where I’m heading.

Thank you for walking alongside me, readers, and for allowing me to join you in your journeys of faith these past five years. It’s been a beautiful stage of grace, a starting point for many deep, enduring friendships. It’s hard for me to imagine another five years’ worth of words at this cyber address, so I won’t go there . . . won’t plan a moment of it. Instead, I’ll walk on in faith and with gratefulness for every seed of grace that’s grown in this place.

This is my journey in stages.

I walk it with Peace.

time . . .


“We’re growing older, realizing we cannot stop the hands of time.”

So said my elder friend in her annual Christmas greeting to my family. I felt the profundity of her proclamation. It’s nothing new; it just hit me harder this go around, struck me in the center of my heart. We’ve all heard it before, maybe even said it a time or two, a comment about our inability to halt the progression of time.

I’m not sure I really want to . . . stop time, but there have been a few occasions when I’ve felt some pain regarding its passage. At the core, I imagine it’s my desire to hold more of it . . . to manage time and to dispense it as I see fit. I find this yearning in others as well. It’s not always obvious, but every now and again, someone lets it slip . . . a word or two of regret that lingers as sadness rather than fond remembrance.

I heard it from my daughter’s lips on Christmas day when she realized that her unwrapping was over. Instead of savoring each gift, she tore into her treasures and could only watch as the rest of us lingered with our piles. She couldn’t stop the clock, and while tucking her in bed that evening, I saw the tears welling in her eyes as hope disappeared into the night with her whisper, “I wish we could do it all over again; I wish tomorrow were Christmas.”

I heard it in myself on Christmas day while listening to the CD my husband made for me of my eldest son’s 1998 cassette rendition of “It’s Carol Time”—song after song of Nick singing a cappella his favorite carols from the hymnal. In 1998, he was nine years old—a boy just discovering his voice via a microphone and a tape player. In 2012, a man now twenty-three, still discovering his voice. And I cried at the passage of time—this brief blip on the radar of my life that came and went by rapidly, almost without notice.

I heard it in my mother’s voice during a phone conversation this afternoon . . . a word or two that led me to believe there’s more to the story than meets the eye. That the passage of time has her, too, wondering about the swiftness of it all. A Christmas come and gone with but a few, brief memories that might easily fade with time.

Three generations of Killian women, all of us thinking on and digging into the depths of what it means to live a life too hastily and to know that no matter our longings, we cannot slow the hands of time. We can only live time as time arrives.

It’s a difficult thing to weigh it all out, especially when emotions run wildly and hearts are easily wounded by realities that cannot be manipulated, only experienced. Perhaps this is why so many of us struggle this time of year. We’re positioned for remembrance, for reflection. We don’t get to manage the calendar. December 25th comes for all of us, whether or not we’re prepared for its arrival. It’s thrust upon us, and we must walk it through.

Yes, we’re fine with remembering the Savior’s birth; his story lived way back then. But what about ours . . . our right now? Christmas also positions us to remember the birth of other things, other seasons in our lives; in doing so, we live the weightiness of the passage of time. It can be a grievous contemplation; accordingly, it shouldn’t be overlooked or underestimated. Instead, it should be given room enough to breathe, thereby allowing our grief a good release, a tilling up of the soil that cradles grief’s roots for the new seeds that God longs to plant therein—a fresh planting of the Lord to supplement the soil of our yesterdays.

If we cannot heartily grieve, then we cannot healthily move forward. We must acknowledge the pain that we feel regarding the passage of time; in doing so, we’re better prepared for the steps that lie ahead. Carrying grief or carrying regret into our tomorrows will limit forward progression. This doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t feel it; it simply means that we should live it as it arrives—recognize it, speak it, and give it the respect its due. This is how we gain better perspective. This is how we live truthfully before God and before his created. This is how we work it out and release some of the heaviness attached to time’s seemingly, increasing cadence.

We are growing older, friend, with each moment we’re allowed. It’s true; we cannot stop the flow of time. We can, however, live our moments authentically, wholly, and wonderfully engaged with the process. I don’t know what this will look like for you in coming days, but for me, it looks like this—a stringing together of a few words and thoughts from time to time that most accurately portray the stirrings of my heart. Perhaps they will stir yours as well, allowing you a moment or two of reflective pause, enabling you to put a few words to your story. If so, then this has been time well spent—sixty minutes of my life that I cannot reclaim, only release forward . . . to you. Do with them what you will; live them as you are able. Live your moments as they come so that you, too, can release them to your history with highest regard and without terrible regret.

And just in case you’re wondering, you mean the world to me. The time that you give to me is a rich grace from God. I love you each one.

Peace for the journey,


When a Friend Walks Away . . .


There it is again . . . that trigger that sends my mind spiraling. Accordingly, here are my tears, falling into my water bucket. I no longer know the identity of the wetness that soaks my rag and buries the floor in mop water. I scrub and scrub, trying to wash away the mess that has accumulated on old tile. It doesn’t seem to matter; the shine’s not what it used to be. It stays buried beneath old woundings, refusing the work and will of the sponge attached to the effort.

When, God? When will this floor heal?

When, God? When will my heart heal?

I have a festering wound. It’s been with me for awhile, almost two years now. Most days I don’t notice it, but every now and again, the trigger flares up, and the hurt returns. I’m tired of carrying it. I’m tired of feeling it. I just want to let it go and move on. Perhaps there are some of you who feel the same way; you’ve been hurt, and the corresponding ache fills your heart every time you think upon it. You feel isolated from the world that was supposed to understand you and accept you, most days in spite of you. Instead of receiving you, the world has rejected you, or at least the two or three who purported friendship with you only later to deny your existence.

Almost as if you weren’t there.

My hurt has resulted from a post I wrote about a popular, Christian book after it made its debut. I thought my review was fair and gracious. Others thought otherwise. The review has since been removed from my blog, not because I don’t believe in the words I wrote back then but rather, because, I was wounded by the responses I received from others. My skin isn’t thick; my skin is tender, my heart even more so.

Almost immediately after writing that post, my readership declined; not casual readers or those who happened upon me via a Google search, but those I counted as friends. They just walked away with no explanation (one of the reasons behind my growing disdain for social media . . . it’s just too easy to walk away from one another). Oh, they never said this review was the reason for their departure. They didn’t have to. Sometimes a heart just knows; sometimes discernment is easy.

And so, I’ve carried this ache for a long time, and I can no longer pretend it doesn’t hurt. I see those friends out in the social media world when I take my daily stroll in cyberspace. I’ve kept tabs on them, hoping that something would change, that they’d move back into my world. But they haven’t, and it’s time for me to let go of what I thought was friendship and begin to release myself from this obligation to matter to them. They no longer wish to be here, and while this reality hurts me, I no longer wish to cater to this pain.

This isn’t a game to me, friends. What I do here matters to me. You matter to me. I’ve spent nearly five years building relationships with some of you, and I thank you for affording me God’s good grace, even when I’ve not always said what you wanted to hear. I don’t always get it right, but I’m always willing to try, always willing to be honest about my struggles, my failures, and my triumphs.

Shouldn’t we do better at loving one another? Shouldn’t we live grace rather than just talk about it? When we make an investment into the hearts of one another, shouldn’t we stick around for the outcome? Maybe I’m going about this all wrong. Maybe I shouldn’t expect so much from my readership. Maybe then, it wouldn’t hurt so much when someone walks away. Maybe.

Tonight, I’m wondering about it all, and I’m asking God to heal my hurt and to show me how to make my heart a good fit with this forum. Tonight, I needed to say a few things and begin to flesh out how I’m going to move forward in this space. How am I supposed to write heart-words without risking heart-wounds? I don’t think it’s possible.

And so, I’ll scrub a little longer. Stay on my hands and knees and keep at my floor cleaning until something beyond old tile and accumulated mess begins to emerge . . . until I see the shine. God kneels with me. Even when the world walks away and distances itself from me, God sees me. He doesn’t play games with my affection, nor does he play by the rules when it comes to dispensing his love. Instead, he receives my affection and loves me beyond the rules, beyond the limits of what’s reasonable.

He is where the heart begins to heal. He is when the heart begins to heal.

Tonight. Right now. In this moment.

Even so, Lord Jesus, come and shine me up with the generous love and favor that belongs to me as your daughter. I want to keep loving, keep writing my heart, and keep showing up in this place. Heal my wounds and bring discernment to my spirit. Help me to forgive, and help me to move on. Remove the accumulated mess from my heart, and replace it with a fresh cleansing of grace. Thank you for always kneeling to my need and for never leaving my side. Amen. 

“Beyond Cancer’s Scars” . . . the first chapter and what others are saying

Some of you still might be wondering if Beyond Cancer’s Scars is a book for you. Here are a few thoughts from readers who’ve read the book:

“I was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer in April 2009. . . . Since that time I have felt most all of the emotions you wrote about in your book. The final battle has been with feeling that my life is over and I am just waiting to die. Your book has helped me to see beyond cancer and to move forward. . . . As you said in your book, I can now say with enthusiasm, ‘Cancer has given me far more than it has taken from me.’ I stood up during a time of praise at Sunday morning worship to praise and thank God for the healing He is doing in my life and to thank Him for cancer. Thank you for sharing your emotions during your desert experience because it has given me the Hope I needed.” –“S” from NC


“I am only on page 37, and I ordered 2 more books to share. . . . I realized when I read on page 21 that it is so true that people ‘need a faith-based resource to serve as a companion for their (cancer) journey.’ I have not had cancer but realize ‘everybody has a story’ (like the title of your one chapter). I could feel some of your pain about your cancer experience. On the other side of the coin, I could feel the hope that you offer in all situations because of your stories of faith.

Thank you for writing this book! I believe it has helped many people already and will continue to help others.” –“C” from NC


“Elaine Olsen has written a book that will touch your heart, give you hope, and point you in the right direction for dealing with the ‘something’ in your life. From a soul attuned to the path of victory for life’s journey, her words bring clear understanding to the phrase – God is faithful. Divided into 40 short devotionals, this book reads like an encouraging letter from a close friend, that will be reread many times to glean another morsel of much needed truth.

Elaine’s take on Paul’s admonition to ‘live on’ will inspire you to move forward in your journey – whether it includes cancer or’ something’ else. The stories of her daughter’s bike ride and the family’s trip to the zoo will bring tears to your eyes and cause your heart to swell with anticipation of something greater.

 Everyone needs to read this book. I can guarantee no one will be disappointed.” –Karen from GA


“It won’t take you long to recognize yourself on these pages, whether you’ve ever had cancer or not. I haven’t, and by the end of page 2, I already knew there were many lessons here for me.

These words are about so much more than cancer, although she shares both her struggles and rough times so honestly, it will be a treasure for cancer patients and their families. This book, with questions at the end of each chapter, and also a facilitator format, is ideal for churches to offer in a group or small group setting.

The secrets she shares here are for every one of us. They are principles for living, God’s way. There isn’t anyone who travels this journey of life without ‘something’, be it cancer, or some other form of suffering. But as Elaine so clearly says, all of our ‘somethings’ matter to God, are known to Him, and will be transformed in our lives for good, because of His grace. Get the book!” –Sonja from TX

Still not convinced? Then, perhaps, reading the Prologue and first chapter of Beyond Cancer’s Scars might help you to decide. Click on the following link: Beyond Cancers’ Scars_Chapter 1

To view the book trailer and/or to order your copy, click here.

Have a great weekend!

I’d love to hear from you . . . why might you need a book like this?


“Beyond Cancer’s Scars” Part Three (disappointments along the way)

Six years is a long time to hold on to a dream. Really, I’ve been dreaming the dream much longer than that. Some dreams initiate in childhood when minds are less cluttered, less bothered, and more willing to believe that it could easily and actually happen—the fruition of one’s dreams. At the age of three, maybe four I stood on Beulah Riddle’s front porch in Hartsville, IN, dreaming some dreams and forming some words.

“Beulah, I wrote a song. Want to hear it? It goes like this . . .”

I don’t remember the song or the words. I don’t even remember it being a dream at that point. I just remember the memory, singing some phrases and feeling Beulah’s pleasure. Perhaps this was my first foray into the publishing world . . . stringing words together to sing a song, to tell a story, to entreat an audience. It would be a while before I could spell those words and scribble them on paper, but maybe the dream started there, on her front porch.

It hasn’t left me—my desire to tell my story. But that dream has morphed over the years, been shaped by the harsh realities of the publishing industry. Not everyone appreciates my songs like Beulah did. Not everyone is willing to take a chance on my words. I’ve spent the last six years actively trying to get someone’s attention, trying to make it past the front porch of traditional publishing.

It hasn’t worked, at least according to the large folder of rejection letters I’ve collected over the years. I’ve made it to the porch a time or two, even gone so far as to sing a few lines of my song to some well-known publishers. But no one ever sticks around for the benediction. They have their reasons. I’ve heard them all. But none of them feels reasonable to me. Reasons (whether valid or not), don’t change the fact that when rejection arrives, rejection cuts into the dream . . . whittles away at passion and pulse.

I know this one. Past rejections regarding my written words have scarred me, not silenced me but wounded me enough to strengthen my resolve and my decisions for how I want to handle my stories going forward. I carried both my writing scars and my cancer’s scars with me when I attended a writer’s conference last summer, just days after completing my latest manuscript. I also carried this resolution: a publisher’s reluctance to take a risk on me won’t wound me as deeply this go around. If they didn’t want my story, then I would find a way to get my story to readers. Holding this confidence in my heart freed me to be me, to say what I needed to say during the five publisher appointments I snagged during the conference.

My pitches (a.k.a. making your book irresistible to publishers) weren’t perfect; far from it. I blubbered my way through each fifteen minute time slot. In the end, four of the five publishers took my proposal back to their publishing houses. A year later, I’ve yet to hear back from two of them; I almost made it past the front porch with the other two, but in the end, my words received a “thanks, but no thanks”—some kind of mumbling about how cancer doesn’t sell. And I felt the cut, once again. And then I heard these words from my son one October afternoon when my sorrow spilled over on to him (turn up the volume; Jadon used his inside voice on this one):

I did get back up from my wounding, brushed myself off, and found the one idea that worked for me. With the willing and prayerful consent of my husband, we forged ahead to publish the book ourselves, not unlike what I did with my first book. It’s been no small thing; it’s been a huge undertaking. There have been obstacles, frustrations, and a more than few reasons to find my knees along the way. But as we round the corner toward home, I’m thinking that the end result will be worth the struggle to get there. I’ve paid a high price to write this story, both with my flesh and with my bank account. I’ll never get a full return on this investment (at least when measured by industry standards), but I’m counting on something greater . . .

A lasting legacy. A living witness. A personal investment into the lives of those Beulahs who are willing to sit on the front porch with me and listen to my song. If I can give them the words that God has graciously given to me . . . if I can give them to you, then my story, as well as my faith, move forward. In the end, what else matters?

The world doesn’t get the final word on our dreams, friends. God does, and word has it, his front porch is big enough and sturdy enough to cradle them all.

“Beulah, I wrote a song. Want to hear it? It goes like this . . .”

Peace for the journey,

What dreams do you hold in your heart? Who are your “Beulahs”–the ones who’ve championed your story, your dreams? I’d love to hear your witness from the front porch today.

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