Free Shipping. Click to learn more.

FREE SHIPPING — all orders over $50!
  • Resurrection Eggs

User Archives: Rachel Olsen

  • Focus Determines Direction

    Posted on January 8, 2013 by Rachel Olsen

    Rachel Olsen

    "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2 (NIV 1984)

    Focus is an interesting thing. A powerful thing. I believe it makes change possible.

    I live in in North Carolina - home to NASCAR. I even drove a stock car once in a qualifying race at the Franklin County Speedway. So I've talked to a few race car drivers in my time. Here's what I learned from them: You have to focus on where you want to go.

    Race cars move so fast that the slightest change in course - the slightest turn of the wheel - quickly produces big changes in your position on that track. Surprisingly, where you look can shift your body enough to turn the wheel just enough to send you in that direction. Even if that wasn't where you intended to go.

    In other words, your focus determines your direction.

    That's why race car drivers are taught never to look at the wall. Look at the wall and that is where you will end up - crashed.

    I think that's also why the Bible spends so much time teaching us to keep our eyes on Christ. Because our focus determines our direction.

    Do you recall the story of Peter when he saw Jesus walking on the water in Matthew 14:29? Peter climbed out of the boat and walked on the waves. As long as he focused on Jesus, he walked toward Him on the water. But as soon as Peter looked down at the wind-whipped waves beneath him, that's precisely where he ended up.

    I wonder if our typical New Year's Resolutions aren't us looking at the wall, or down at the sea instead of us focusing on Christ. We make promises like "I'm going to lose weight," or "I'm going to get more organized." (I've made both those resolutions before.) Or maybe, "I'm going to stop this affair." And then our focus is on our weight, the mess, or the forbidden fruit.

    Next thing we know, although it's not where we intended to go, we're sinking in calories or clutter once again. And we feel defeated. Crashed. Then we give up.

    Thankfully, I've found a new way to do New Year's Resolutions that keeps me properly focused. Instead of making my long list of ways I plan to improve, I prayerfully choose just one word to be my focus for the entire year. Just one word that represents what I most hope Christ will do in or through me that year. One word to give me direction.

    It's not a regret-based word but a vision-driven word centering on the kind of person I want to become. It keeps me looking forward and upward.

    I pray that word, meditate on it, memorize verses with it, and use it to remind me to keep my eyes on Christ, trusting Him for transformation in that area of my life. And I've seen transformation take place!

    Reading Hebrews 12:2 reminds us to take our eyes off ourselves and our circumstances - off the problem behaviors or the "walls" in our lives—and fix them squarely on Christ. Because our focus determines our direction.

    Ultimately Christ is the perfecter of us and our faith. We can trust Him to turn our resolution into reality as we stay focused with our one word and with our eyes on Him.

    Dear Lord, I want to fix my eyes squarely on You today. Help me see You at work in my life and in the forming of my heart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    If you're looking for focus and direction this year, Rachel Olsen has written a new book with her pastor called My One Word: Change Your Life With Just One Word. Pick up a copy and learn how to walk through a year with Christ and your one word.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What "walls" in your life have you been looking at?

    What can you do to remind yourself to keep your eyes on Christ? What word would help you maintain focus?

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 105:4, "Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always." (NIV)

    Romans 8:5, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Matthew, Hebrews, New Year Reolutions

  • Looking Around

    Posted on December 21, 2012 by Rachel Olsen

    Rachel Olsent

    "Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap." Ecclesiastes 11:4 (NIV)

    Do you ever look around at other women and wonder how in the world they get so much done?

    Me too.

    It's frustrating to feel that you are somehow falling behind, or missing out on all the things you want to accomplish because you just can't seem to make it happen.

    So I started to analyze why it was others seemed to get more done than I did. Why did they reap more than me?

    Was I just not cut out to run at as fast a pace as them?

    I suspect there may be some truth to that. We all know people we'd classify as "high energy." Note: I'm energetic, but I'm not one of those perky morning people that I dislike, uh, er ... admire. Okay, envy.

    Was I just in a different season of life? I still have kids in the home - kids who cannot drive. Certain seasons of mothering or care-taking can be busier.

    But the more I thought about it, the more I realized these were not the full crux of my problem.

    No, the crux of my problem was waiting for everything to be perfect before I moved forward. If I didn't feel I could do something "right," I often didn't do it at all. If I couldn't control each move, or the outcome, I waited rather than began. And that meant a lot of things sat either un-started or unfinished.

    Home improvement projects.

    Sewing projects.

    Writing projects.

    Work projects.

    Even my elaborate study-the-Bible plans.

    I spent a lot of time waiting until I felt fully ready, and all conditions seemed ripe before I would begin. That was a lot of time wasted. In fact, when I reflect on the things I have accomplished in life, I'm not sure I've ever felt fully ready for any of them when I started.

    I wanted ideal conditions. A primary lesson in the book of Ecclesiastes is learning to distinguish between the things we have control over, and the things we don't. For instance, we can't control the weather, the aging process, or the job market. Trying to control such things is futile. And waiting for the climate, our appearance or the work industry to be perfect before we embark on our dreams is just as useless.

    Will we never plan a picnic because it could rain? Will we not bother exercising because we're going to die at some point? Will we put off training for that new job we've always wanted because the economy could turn?

    The message of Ecclesiastes 11:4 is: Stop procrastinating! Don't be overly cautious. Quit waiting on perfection. Staring at the clouds stops you from sowing, which ultimately limits your reaping.

    True, the conditions might not be perfect. Your efforts might fail. Or they might have to be repeated for months before they yield significant results. But they also might succeed! And you don't know in advance what is going to work.

    Nothing will work, however, if we do not.

    We can't control the rain, the locusts of life, or the size of our harvest. But we control the planting. And nothing grows that isn't first planted with energy and fertilized with prayer.

    Ecclesiastes teaches us our inability to control the future should lead us into diligent work, not into depressed daydreaming while we watch clouds - and others - go by.

    While we can't control everything, we can do something about one thing. She who stares at the clouds - waiting - does not reap. But she who plants, reaps.

    Dear Lord, forgive me for the time I've wasted waiting for ideal conditions. Waiting until I felt sure I could succeed. I want to move out in faith. I want to plant and reap. I want to be a good steward of the time and opportunities You afford me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Lose the long list of resolutions — all your sweeping promises to change — and do something about one thing this year instead of nothing about everything. In Rachel Olsen's newest book, My One Word, she and co-author Mike Ashcroft lead you in choosing just one word that represents what you most hope God will do in you, and focus on it for an entire year. Pick up your copy by clicking here!

    Reflect and Respond:
    What have you been putting off doing?

    How does procrastination, fear, or perfectionism prevent you from being a good steward of God's opportunities and callings?

    Power Verses:
    Philippians 4:13, "I can do all this through him who gives me strength." (NIV)

    Joshua 1:9, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Ecclesiastes

  • What It Takes to Struggle with Something Hard

    Posted on November 30, 2012 by Rachel Olsen

    Rachel Olsen

    "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." Romans 8:37 (NIV)

    Beginning in my twenties, I wrestled each day with chronic pain and fatigue. The first few years of it, doctors had no idea why.

    Then came the diagnosis: fibromyalgia.

    I was told this condition was poorly understood, not very treatable, and also not reversible. In fact, they called it "degenerative," meaning it would worsen as I aged. In short, doctors said I had no chance to conquer this pain.

    The pain worsened for a couple years and I couldn't image what my life would be like five, ten or fifty years down the road. I prayed for deliverance.

    Looking back I'm astonished that despite my pain, I continued to work a full time job and take courses for a master's degree. I really don't know how I did that—except through Christ—because it was such a struggle daily. To concentrate on my work or schoolwork took an inordinate amount of effort because I had to focus over top of the ever-present pain in the foreground. Not to mention, a lack of quality sleep.

    Fibromyalgia was the thorn in my side, quite literally. And I leaned into God for strength. Often through tears.

    A long-distance friend wrote me this week to tell me she was experiencing a near debilitating condition: fibromyalgia. She gave me permission to share a portion of what she wrote:

    "Life has thrown me some pretty horrible punches and I have always gotten right back up. Except now. And to be honest with you, Rach, this is NOT a LIFE! And I can't BELIEVE that GOD would do this to me ... why isn't He healing me? All He has to do is say the word! I BEG Him to do that daily. While He keeps His mouth shut [on the healing] He did give me Psalm 88 the other night, and I cried a river. I was jumping for joy in my heart, but at the same time. Do you know what I mean?"

    I did know what she meant. So I told her my story. I told her that I walked this painful path too. I gave her my best tips for physically managing this condition. I told her how I tried to do all the right things according to my doctors. How I prayed, and prayed, and prayed for healing—sometimes out of faith and sometimes out of desperation.

    I told her how, seven years after my pain began, I was walking by a lake one day praying yet again for deliverance from this. And while I had often sensed God heard my prayers, this time I sensed He also answered. I sensed deliverance.

    Year-eight saw me pain free from fibromyalgia—the incurable, degenerative condition doctors don't totally understand. My condition stopped degenerating that evening by the lake and instead began improving.

    So in honesty and with compassion I told my friend:

    "Will God heal you soon? I don't know."

    "His ways are higher than our ideas of how things should go. But I can tell you this: It is possible. He hears your prayers and He is not indifferent to your plight. God loves you. Above all, don't equate your suffering with how God feels about you."

    Because despite all this stuff we're struggling with, victory is ours through Christ who loves us.

    I don't know what your story is today—what you are struggling with or against. But I know this: God knows your situation and He is not indifferent toward it or you. He loves you mightily! And His right arm is not too short to save you.

    So lean into Him because you need His strength until His deliverance comes.

    Lean in, pray and persevere despite the pain you are in. And keep hope alive in your heart. For this is how we struggle with something hard while holding the title "More than Conquerors in Christ." In Him overwhelming victory is ours.

    Dear Lord, thank You for rescuing me from all my troubles–either here and now, or in eternity. Strengthen me until your deliverance is seen. I believe victory is overwhelmingly mine through You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Lose the long list of resolutions and do something about one thing this year instead of nothing about everything. In My One Word, Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen help you find lasting change by spending an entire year focusing on just one word that represents what you most hope God will do in you.  Prebuy My One Word by Rachel Olsen

    It's No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know by Rachel Olsen

    Reflect and Respond:
    Study and take heart today in the truth from Romans 8:18: "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." (NIV)

    Power Verses:
    Romans 8:22-25, "We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Romans, Rachel Olsen

  • A Sparkling Confession

    Posted on October 29, 2012 by Rachel Olsen

    Rachel Olsen

    "The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity." Proverbs 11:3 (NIV)

     

    I slipped the ring with the garnet colored glass onto my young finger. My hands clasped behind my back as my mom and I exited the store and climbed in our station wagon.

    Once in the car with my mom's eyes on the road, I laid my hands in my lap and began admiring my new ring.

    On some level I knew it was wrong because I didn't ask Mom if I could have it. And I surely didn't pay for it — I was only five. But it was my parents' store I took it from. Didn't that also make it mine? And it was my birthstone — it practically had my name on it.

    Apparently age five is not too young to rationalize.

    It's also not too young an age to learn about integrity.

    I have often heard it said that integrity is what you do when no one is watching.

    When no one was watching, I stole a ring.

    My mom noticed the ring on my finger and asked me where I'd gotten it. I think I told her my friend had given it to me. She knew better. But she didn't say so yet.

    Instead, she told me that if I refused to tell the truth she, and others, wouldn't be able to trust me. And she told me that if I didn't confess and correct my mistakes when I realized them, I'd feel awful with guilt. She gently warned me that ignoring that guilt would eventually harden my heart.

    I asked my mom to turn the car around because I needed to go back to the store. When we arrived, she didn't let me quietly put the ring back on the display. She instructed me to tell the lady working the register what I'd done, and apologize.

    I was torn. Part of me wanted to come clean. But part of me didn't want this lady to think less of me for stealing. I loved visiting our store—all the employees treated me so well. They cooed over me, complimenting my dresses and dimples. They gave me mints or gum from their purses.

    I feared confessing would cost me their favor.

    Billy Graham once said:

    "Integrity is the glue that holds our way of life together. We must constantly strive to keep our integrity intact. When wealth is lost, nothing is lost. When health is lost, something is lost. When character is lost, all is lost."

    Proverbs 11:3 says it this way, "The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity."

    I nervously set the ring on the counter and told the clerk I'd taken it earlier. She furrowed her brow and told me that was wrong, and never to do that again.

    Then she smiled, reached down, picked me up, and told me that stolen things lose their sparkle, but that an honest girl never would.

    My five-year-old heart wanted to be the kind of girl that sparkles. (And my grown-up heart hasn't changed much.)

    If yours does too, pre-decide today to do the right thing. To tell the truth. To flee from temptation. To be modest, or to be gracious, and to never steal.

    Although it may be hard—it may even seem to cost us something—integrity will guide us safely. Jesus said it will also allow us to see God (Matthew 5:8). And it will ultimately help us to shine.

    Dear Lord, I want to shine with integrity. I want a pure heart that readily sees You. And I want You to be pleased when You look at my heart. Forgive my sins and help me walk in a manner worthy of my status as Your daughter. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    For more on how confession and integrity restores our sparkle and vitality, see chapter 10 of It's No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know by Rachel Olsen. This resource with Bible study questions at chapters' ends makes a great book for a women's small group study.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What recent wrong do you need to confess, apologize for, or make amends for today?

    What do you need to pre-decide today?

    Journal your confession and decision.

    Power Verses:
    Proverbs 20:7, 11, "The righteous who walks in his integrity—blessed are his children after him! Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright." (ESV)

    Proverbs 12:22, "The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Proverbs, Rachel Olsen, Confession

4 Item(s)

Helping you find, grow, share and celebrate your faith
Who doesn't love free shipping!? At Family Christian, you can qualify TWO ways:

1. To your door (just $50 minimum)*

No coupon required! Simply add $50 worth of merchandise to your cart and select the "Free Shipping" option under "Shipping Method." Easy as pie.

* Valid on merchandise totaling $50 or more before taxes. Please keep in mind this is valid on domestic ground shipping to addresses within the U.S. only, not valid toward international delivery. Additional charges apply for express shipping. Terms subject to change without notice.

2. To your store (no minimum order required!)*

At checkout, select "Ship to your local Family Christian store" and enter your zip code to find our closest location. Not sure if there is a Family Christian nearby? Find your local store now.

* Valid on select merchandise only
Loading... Loading...