Tag Archives: Greg Olsen

2020 VISION: Short, Sweet #4

“…I have prayed for you.” Lk 22:32

How awesome is that to think about? Yes – Rabbi Yeshua was talking to Peter, but in the original language, He used the inclusive form of you. In other words, “I have prayed for y’all”.

Right now – whatever you are doing – just think about that. Yeshua Ha-Mashiach is praying for you in Heaven and before He created you. I remember the first time that verse really hit my mind like a sledge hammer. I was overwhelmed it. GOD was praying for me…me…a sinner who had broken His heart too many times to count. He was praying for…each one of us.

“So then, this is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name…” Ibid.

I love teaching language. I love teaching about books. BUT – I love teaching about GOD even more. After keeping my tongue under control (mostly) in the public schools, it is sooooo fun to be able to talk about the One who created me to be a teacher and to share all the wonders of the subjects that lie behind the physical facts (as we know them).

Because of the Prayer March happening in Washington D.C. on Saturday, we talked about prayer in the library. We read about prayer. We colored papers about prayer. We wrote and talked about the words in the “LORD’s Prayer” as we filled in the blanks. Some of them knew about the prayer gathering happening on Saturday. A couple of them knew someone who was going there. Some needed to know definitions. Some didn’t really know this prayer.But all of them knew Jesus and Our Father.

“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.” Ibid.

What did surprise me is how many did not know the words to His prayer that He taught us. I remember learning this prayer before I could put myself to bed. I remember saying this prayer everyday in school after our teacher read us a Bible story. I remember saying this prayer as I said my earthly goodbyes to my mommy and daddy. I remember saying this prayer on my knees with my children and husband every night before we tucked them in to bed.

Now that was Heaven on earth.

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Matt 6:9-15

Like usual, after a full day of teaching, I am already yawning. The choc lab girls have meandered back to their comfy beds. Shadow-Spooky-Sparkle kitty has curled up in a tight ball in her favorite chair. So I smile as I yawn again.

Life leads us into a different faith journey every day. Some I love – and some – – – I never want to live through again. Then I as I yawn again, I wonder – how many times have I said His prayer over these 70 years?

Can’t begin to guess.

Having a prayer that comes immediately to your lips when the world betrays you, is a blessing beyond measure. I wonder how many of the children of this world will have that comfort in the years to come. I wonder how many know that Jesus is praying for them. I wonder – how many of you know that His words are a promise and He never breaks His promises…

“I have prayed for y’all”.

“Awesome Wonder” by Greg Olsen

VISION 2020: Quiet Time

Lately, I have noticed that noise filters through almost every minute of my existence. From the moment I open my eyes to pulling the covers up over my head at night, there is some kind of sound drifting into my ears. The constant pulsations of TV, radio, social media, podcasts, music, furnaces, dishwashers – even the once silent rooms of any library of our society are humming with sound.
 
Not sure why this aspect of life has started to bother me, but it has. I’ve also found, that old habits are hard to break.
 
“Quiet is the think tank of the soul.” Gordon Hempton, acoustic ecologist
 
As I considered this quote over the last few days, I thought about all the “Quiet Times” of my life. What made them so special that even decades later, the clarity of the experience is overwhelming? The emotions – the images – the thoughts are imprinted deeply and I would not trade them for all the noise that surrounds me on a daily basis.
 
I miss my “Quiet Time”.
 
“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.” 1 Kg 19:11-12
 
Old habits are hard to break. When did noise have to start as soon as I wake up? Why do I think I need it to fall asleep? Why does a quieter version in the form of soft music fill my small library at school?
 
Today, I shut the music down in my library. I wanted to remember what it was like to work in silence. Long ago when I was a page for my hometown library, the nosiest thing I remember was the sound of a fan on a muggy, hot summer afternoon. The rustling of newspapers by the senior citizens who came in every day to read them. Students slumped at the round tables scattered throughout the narrow room, turning the pages of their notebooks or books (or passing notes back and forth),
 
When the head librarian whispered, everyone heard her, stopped what they were doing and paid attention.
 
That was the AWE of the “Quiet Time” being broken.
 
I think that is what has bothered me. It is harder to hear as we age. Noises side-track us, and we miss the small voice or certain pitches amid all the other sounds. The loud raucous noises in this physical world have gotten to the point that the windstorms of sound blast our ears; the earthquakes vibrate under our feet, and we stumble into pits of endless, repetitive auditory nonsense until the fire threatens to eradicate our hearing altogether.
 
The Whisper.
 
Sadly – we often miss His whisper. That gentle, soft voice that comes in the “Quiet Times” of our lives. The times when we shut the noise of the world away and open the door where harmony awaits.
 
Tonight, I shut off the TV, the music, the man-made chaos and went outside to check in with My Father. The peeper frogs were singing in the rain, and an animal was scuttling somewhere in the woods. It was not silent, but it was His creations that were making noise – and somehow – it was still a “Quiet Time”.
 
A “Quiet Time” in His presence amid all He had created. And it was good, because He waiting for me – just like He said He would – just like He always does. The dogs sat by my side in the rain, as we talked. Even the old girl, who hates getting wet, nudged the side of my leg as she wiped her head on my leggings.
 
I think I’m going to try to extend these “Quiet Times” into even more of my day … and night.

“The LORD is near …” Ps 145:18

“Make sure of that one fact, that my everlasting Father takes care of the hairs of my head; that my heavenly Father watches over me with a love that never falters and with a patience that is never exhausted.”~Rev Dr John Cummings, 1807-1881

friends-zoom                [Greg Olsen artwork]

CHRISTMAS JOY (4 Days and Counting)

When it is the last day before Christmas break in a small Christian school, there is joy everywhere. Parents pop in. Presents magically appear on desks. Hugs wrapped around on the outside squiggle their way in and wrap themselves around the heart as well. Carols bounce off the walls while the story of a baby in the manger is told in a variety of ways, keeping the kids laughing and dancing and prancing and joyfully praising (and snowballs flying).

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”~Lk 2:10

What a day to put in the treasure chest of memories and rejoice over and over whenever I pull it out and hold it again. Emotions fade away, but that core of truth always remains. In the same way great joy came that night so long ago, and I am sure the shepherds pulled that memory out from time to time to marvel over the core of what they saw and heard. Turing it in front of them. Questioning their sanity. Wondering at the blessing.

👼Do not be afraid.
👼Good news.
👼Great joy.
👼People of good will.
👼Baby in a manger.

Yup. Heard the angels. Heard the words. Saw the baby. Saw the parents. Scratched the head – maybe the beard. Blinked the eyes a few times. Went home to sleep. Couldn’t sleep. Counted sheep. Told the family. Family made some snide comments, but hugs got passed all the way around. Went back to bed after prayers had been said. After all, what does one do after a glorious impossible miracle?

Lucky for us. Luke wrote that glorious impossible miracle down. I often wonder if Luke asked Mother Mary about baby Yeshua? Or did he know one of the shepherds? One of the kings? Seems to me, lots of miracles took place just so we could continue to read about it 2000+ years later.

Glorious impossible miracles that just keep multiplying.

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”~1 Pt 1:8-9

When the students come to our small library, we have story time, pick out new books, and usually make a bookmark. Not sure how bookmarks became a thing, but now the kids ask what will be on the bookmarks before they even come to library. So this week, I made bookmarks for them. They giggled. They laughed. They wanted more than one.

After all – 
🎅Santa is coming to town.
Jesus is coming to town.
🎄Seeing them together brings joy to girls and boys – of all ages.
👼Good news.
👼Great joy
👼To all people of good will.

As the angels sing of Glorious Joy we get to see the Glorious Impossible “as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be…”

Four days and counting – – – wheeeeeeeeee….. 

   [Greg Olsen artwork]

THE CHRISTMAS CAROL (11 Days and Counting)

“The memory of a single hymn [carol] learned in childhood has often proved decisive in the spiritual crises of later years.”~Historian Ernest Edwin Ryden
 
As much as I love all my churches that have adapted to the “Christian-band-stage-presentation” format, I still miss the formality of the church in which I grew up. I miss the “standing-on-holy-ground” reverent quiet that seemed to circle the sanctuary even when I was all alone to cry or sing or pray or just sit in silent wonder. I miss the hymns – the carols – that everyone sang every year – in harmony. I miss the recitations of the Psalms, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Aaronic blessing said from the back of the church.
 
As I watched President Bush’s church funeral service, the sniffles tickled my throat with memories.
🎄My mom’s many solos.
🎄The smell of pipe smoke as I leaned into my dad’s side and closed my eyes.
🎄The organ my God-mother tried and tried to teach me to play (the feet couldn’t keep up with the hands).
🎄The instruments that would accompany the choir on special occasions – played by people/peers I knew and admired.
🎄“O Holy Night” – my first childhood solo with a choir.
🎄The many years as a soloist for a variety of city churches and even a synagogue or two which helped pay my way through college and those first years as a teacher.
🎄Walking down the aisle by myself to marry the Hubby.
🎄Directing my own kidlets’ programs in that same childhood church – and a few others.
🎄But the strongest memories are those of the voices – mom,dad, grandma, Hubby, kidlets’ voices – tickling my ears as we prayed – as we spoke the psalms – as we sang the carols – as we stood side-by-side in God’s presence and felt His spirit bind us closer than close.
 
On nights when the Christmas Spirit seems far away, in these days when disunity rips at my edges and the seams of our society, it is the carols that unites my heart with hope. I don’t even have to listen to a CD or the radio or – (you get the idea). The words are there – even the harmonies. All I have to do is close my eyes and hear yesterday’s voices singing those familiar words in my heart.
 
“O Holy Night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!” ~John S. Dwight the-nativity-greg-olsen (Greg Olsen artwork)

ADVENT 2017: LOVE #1

”Cause I alluz been with you, children. An’ whenever you sing, I’m goin’ to be with you still. An’ you know how I can say such a mackulous thing?…Why, ’cause we in Jesus…”~Odessa Williams

This is the week that I pull out my favorite Christmas stories. The ones my mom and dad read to me. The ones that were read to me in school or Sunday School. The ones I read to my children. The ones I read to my students. The ones that my NC Grands missed out on last night, because they were way too busy to read books.

Sad grandma.

Regardless, Grandma, pulled those stories out today and took some time to just read to myself. Like always, nothing puts me in the Christmas mood like these special stories. One of my favorites is The Manger Is Empty by Walter Wangerin, Jr. This is the same author who wrote the “Ragman” , a story that has been portrayed in many churches over the years.

This particular Christmas story revolves around the 7 year old Mary, daughter of an African-American preacher, and one of his elderly parishioners who is in the hospital, Odessa Williams. No spoiler alert – you will have to read it yourself.

Full of laughter, smiles, memories, and lots of tears. I finally tore myself away from those enchanted lands on the premise of getting something done (which didn’t happen). Instead, I napped in front of the fire between my two dogs on ‘their’ couch with Shadow Spooky Sparkle cat stretched out on the rug right in front of hearth. Sweet dreams of Christmas stories dancing in my head – prayers of gratitude in my heart.

“Babies, babies, we be in the hand of Jesus, us in his hand, and ain’ no one goin’ to snatch us out. Jesus, he don’ never let one of us go. Never. Not ever – -“~Odessa Williams

Before the Grands left today, they shook their packages one last time, argued over the beanie babies, re-arranged the village people and peeked in the creche. “Grandma, where is baby Jesus?” the Granddaughter pulled at my hand to make sure I saw the empty creche. I laughed and explained that Grandma Mickey always kept the Baby Jesus out of the creche until Christmas Eve. We did the same thing when our kidlets were little.

Old traditions die hard.

However, after re-reading Wangerin’s short little book, I think the seven year old Mary in The Manger Is Empty had a much, much better explanation.

“Jesus, he doesn’t have to be in the manger, does he? He goes back and forth, doesn’t he? I mean, he came from heaven, and he was borned right here, but then he went back to heaven again, and because he came and went, he’s coming and going all the time – – right?”~Mary

He’s coming and going all the time. He grabs us by the hand and “…don’t let one of us go. Never. Not ever.”

“For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”~Is 41:13

[Greg Olsen artwork/personal photo]

GRATITUDE ATTITUDE 2017 #9

Joy.

This tiny word can stand alone, and I still just want to smile in thankfulness.

J
O
Y

Y
O
J

Spread it out List it. Write it backward.

Doesn’t matter. It is not a simple synonym for happiness – – – at least not for me. Joy bubbles. It erupts from a well spring deep within me. The gurgles bounce around until I can no longer contain them and I have to smile. Not a small smile – one of those large, crazy, out-of-controlled smiles.

Gurgles of JOY. Bouncing out into a darkening world. Bubbles of JOY. Flowing rivers of JOY. JOY that can’t be locked away, dammed up or lost. JOY spring of the living waters.

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for JOY, and with my song I praise him.”~Ps 28:7

For whatever reason, JOY has been the thought of the day. I can’t say it is because of the weather. The past two days have been rainy, cold and dank. Dogs have been tracking mud in the house. Kitty has been begging to go out until she puts a paw on the wet, cold porch. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her run so fast for her warm place in front of the gas logs.

JOY is a gift. I tend to think that since God created us in His own image, JOY must be an attribute of God. I can only imagine what JOY there was in the Garden before the fall. JOY to walk together. JOY of communion. JOY of purity of spirit. Peacemaker’s JOY. Face-to-face JOY.

“Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”~Heb 12:2

JOY-ous path re-opened that the living water might flow freely ‘…on earth as it is in heaven’. Tap in to the JOY. Seek the well-spring deep within. The Holy Spirit will open the spigots wide. Yeshua will laugh with JOY as it flows out and into the world. And JOY will bounce higher than “…red rubber ball.” as the Father re-JOY-ces with us all.

Yep – I have a lot of JOY in my Gratitude Attitude.

“And I think it’s gonna be all right.
Yeah, the worst is over,
Now the morning sun is shining like a Red Rubber Ball.”~Simon/Garfunkle
[google images/Greg Olsen artwork]