Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I’m feeling slightly nervous this morning.  Can you tell?  Are my palms all sweaty?

I’m excited too, but the excitement is laced with fears of failure that I just keep kicking to the curb with prayer.

You see, my book officially releases tomorrow. My first, solo book.  I wrote all 50,000 words of it.  By myself.  So you understand why I’m a little anxious.  But laying all my will-they-buy-it-and-like-it worries aside, I’m thrilled.  Thrilled because I like the book  and it’s no small feat to feel satisfied with the work of your hands. And more importantly, thrilled to finally start discovering how God will use these words in women’s lives.  And I know that He will.

Because I didn’t really write all those words by myself.

Want a sneak peak at the table of contents, opening, introduction and first chapter with Bible study section? I was hoping you might, and I prepared to grant you that wish!

It's No Secret, By Rachel Olsen (Chapter One)

(Click Fullscreen to read it larger)

If you’re at all intrigued, I hope that you will get the book. And read it. Read it with your girlfriend, book group, small group, mother-in-law … OK, so maybe you don’t want to read it with your mother-in-law.  Just give her a copy for Christmas this year.  (And maybe book mark it at chapter 7, or chapter 3)

Read it and tell others about it too.  Maybe read it and then pass your copy to a friend. Or leave it at the gym or waiting room for others to pick up.  Or donate it to the library.

Of course as much as I want you to read it and then pass it on to bless someone else, I’m secretly hoping you won’t want to pass it on. You’ll want to keep it because you enjoyed it and plan to reread it.  Besides, you’ll have underlined, written in and marked it all up. Even if you aren’t normally a write-in-my-books-kind-of-gal. That’s my hope, but there’s always the chance that you won’t … and that’s what’s got me a little nervous this morning.

Meanwhile, I’m off to teach a group of college students today and grade their first speeches to our class. They have to tell a story from their lives in this speech.  So they have to share something personal with strangers, just as I’ve done in the book. I bet they’re feeling slightly nervous too. We’ll all be anxious and jittery together.

To win a copy of the book, leave a comment by Thursday telling me if you are a write-in-the-book person, or a keep-the-pages-clean person. Or, just tell me how you typically approach Bible study – is it challenging for you or are you comfortable with it? And to help me spread the word about this new release, you’ll get an extra entry if you Tweet, Face Book or blog about this giveaway today and point people here to read the sneak peek.

Thankful for your willingness to read and tell others about it!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Our Common Struggles

It was an honor to pray through every request left here over the weekend. None of us are alone in our struggles to obey God and tame our “flesh.” I related to so many of you, and I felt for all of you.  I prayed for each of you, and your family members if you mentioned them in your comment.

I prayed to the unrelenting God whose love and mercy chases after us all the days of our lives! (Psalm 23:6)

I don’t know who is going to win the book – I’ll pop over to the random number generator website in a minute and find out. I wish I could give you each a  copy!  Some of your prayer requests even reminded me of specific chapters in my book.  I’m going to post a few here so you can get a feel for what the book addresses – and hopefully you’ll pause and pray for these sisters.

Jennifer wrote:

“Something I have struggled to tame is my pet peeves. Oh my goodness I have a long list of them! Recently God told me to write them down (and it filled up a piece of paper mind you). After writing them down God told me to really look at them. Do any of them matter? No. It does not matter if someone leaves a closet door open or doesn't put the cereal box back with the label out. If these things are causing me to take my focus off God, even for a moment, then they are wrong. So I am working to tame my pet peeves!! I am super excited for your book to come out!”

Oh Jennifer – I can so relate.  And let me tell you, chapter 7 of this book is sooo for you!

Faith wrote:

“I struggle with control issues and allowing people to see the real me. I don't like feeling like I don't have any control when it comes to certain issues in my life.”

Sweet Faith, I believe chapter 8 can help you move past this. (And I suspect chapter 9 can help you with the rest of your comment I didn’t post.)

Janet wrote:

“I am struggling with knowing I have all these health issues and using a lot of my money to pay for the medical bills. This exhausts me and frustrates me because I personally would like to be doing other things with God's money. I want to obey him but it is frustrating when my finances seem to burden me with each passing day. I have a hard time realizing that God knows what he's doing and he's only going to let me know so much for the plan he has for my life. I pray that God can change my heart to obey him with his money and through my health issues I will bring glory to his name. Amen! “

Janet, money is such a powerful force in life – that’s why I looked at it in chapter 5.  I’m so glad you recognize it’s on loan to you from God. Praying for you, dear one.

Candice wrote:

“My mom said my favorite word was "why?" until I left home. Recently, she's been hearing it more ...from herself. She has questions for God I can't answer. The struggle to find the right words must be how she felt when I asked so many unexplainable questions; i.e. "why is the sky blue?” I now know why the sky is blue and the grass is green, but there are some unanswered questions still rumbling around my mind. And I'm learning to trust God to show me the way. The encouragement I read in P31 blogs are always spot on!Hopefully, my mom is receiving the same encouragement from me (and from P31) to accept questions that go unanswered.

Candice, I’m not certain if your mom is a follower of Christ struggling to understand some perplexing things in life, or in the seeking stage asking you about the God you follow. Either way, I think chapter 13 could help.  And so could chapter 6. I’m happy to hear glad P31 has been a blessing to you!

Carla wrote:

“I have 2 very annoying and conflicting problems that I struggle with on a daily basis. First, I'm a perfectionist. I like things in order, specific order. I avoid doing something if I don't have the time, equipment, resources, etc. to finish the task or project to the best of my ability. Which brings me to my second problem........I procrastinate/or easily distracted. Because of my perfectionist side, I like to have things DONE but done right. The procrastinator in me won't let me do something unless I know it will be done right, the perfectionist in me is anxious until the job is done......but done right. Are you starting to see the conflict within my own mind that I have to contend with on a daily basis? HAHA....I have to laugh about it sometimes, or I'm afraid I will go insane  :)”

Carla, believe me, I know all about this crazy cycle you are in. I wrote about it in chapter 7.  I also wrote about it in the September issue of the P31 Woman magazine.  And I wrote a very practical accompanying article you can access online at the P31 website HERE.  Pop over and check it out.

So, who will win the book today? Will it be one of these gals - or will it be you? 

Off to get the winning comment number …

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

59     Timestamp: 2010-08-30 11:42:57 UTC

Congrats, Lo, I hope you enjoy the read! The rest of you stay tuned here  for other possible chances to win -  pop over to Amy Carroll’s blog from my sidebar today to enter one - or just grab yourself a copy and see what secrets God has in store for you! 

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Do you ever worry you might write something about your family that they would later see and be upset by?  I do, so I try to afford my family a certain degree of privacy. Yet in my devotion at P31 today I said some things about my then preschooler, now middle-school daughter.  Namely, about her argumentative nature.

She has frequently amazed me at her unwillingness to back down or concede ground in an argument – even when she stands to lose much just by arguing.   She has told me she struggles to tame this aspect about herself that comes so second-nature to her. 

Maybe you too know something about trying to tame an aspect about yourself that seems built-in.

She’s said, “Mom, for some reason I’ll argue even when I don’t really want to.” That comment made me think of the apostle Paul’s lament here in Romans 7:15

Maybe you too know something about doing what you really don’t want to do. 

Alaina is such a good kid - a precious girl.  And she wants to be an obedient daughter, Christian, and student.  Her nature just gets in the way at times. Maybe you know something about that – I sure do.

I actually think God put that don’t-back-down bent in her – for His holy purposes.  She just has to learn how to submit it to His will and let Him shape and channel it for good.  She would make a great Christian apologist.  Or lawyer for the ACLU.  Or stay-at-home mom who stands up against  injustice.

Maybe God can use your unruly tendencies for holy purposes too if you’ll submit them to His authority.

I invite you to leave a comment sharing an area of your life you are struggling to tame– something you need to up your obedience in. I will pray over that for you this weekend.  Commenting will also enter you to win a copy of my about-to-be-released book It’s No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know. So make sure I can contact you through your comment!

Alaina would not be upset I told you about her tendency to argue.  She’s learning how to tame it, but also to embrace it at the same time.  Let me show you what I mean. Yesterday she asked me to print off a homework assignment for her.  I responded, “Sure, just email it to me and I’ll print it out.  What’s the assignment, honey?” “We had to write about ourselves in a short little poem-thing to share with the class.”  Here is what she wrote:


Funny, energetic, argumentative & kind

Relative of: Rick (dad) Rachel (mom) & Caleb (brother)

Resident of: Wilmington NC

Who reads: realistic fiction, non-fiction magazines, & fantasy

Who likes: reading, soccer, violin, swimming & spaghetti

Who loves: family, friends, & owls

Who fears: terrorists, bad grades, & death

Who wishes: to be on Broadway, to be a lawyer, & to have a pet owl

Who admires: my parents, my brother & Mr. Mike

Who needs: food, more money & books

Who aspires: to go to Paris, go to law school, & have my own library


Self-awareness is a beautiful thing – especially when we bring both our strengths and our weaknesses to God and submit ourselves fully to Him. Because God knows a thing or two about not backing down.

He doesn’t relent the purposes for which He created us and gifted us. 


So thankful for my daughter, and for God’s unrelenting purposes.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Back to School Love

   I absolutely love the academic life. No wonder I married a professor and teach college.

Thinking of years past, I conceive of them all September – May.  Fall to spring, with a vacation between. Yellow leaves remind me of learning. Cold winter breezes remind me of books, read fireside. And the green shoots of spring make me think exams and graduation. My entire life’s memory is broken into school years. I began elementary at age 5 and continued through high school. Then I went to college.  And then graduate school. From there I came here with my husband, the professor, where we both teach.  September thru May.

I wouldn’t want it any other way. 

So this time of year is like New Year’s to me. 

Here are a few of the things I love about it:

  • It makes me want to put on plaid skirts and brainy glasses!
  • Few places are as full of promise as the aisle of new school supplies. 
  • The smell of freshly copied syllabi ready to be passed out on the first day.
  • The eager, expectant looks of the students on that first day, waiting to see that syllabus.
  • The hustle and bustle of students down the sidewalks and halls.
  • The reverent hush of the library in contrast to the hustle and bustle across campus.
  • That sense in the air – a mixture of fresh starts, fall, eagerness and school pride.
  • Fliers appearing everywhere on campus announcing club meetings and activities.
  • The chance to again engage young minds and shape the future.
  • The chance to again be shaped by our future.

Right now I’m creating my syllabus. Soon enough I’ll put on my plaid skirt – alas, I don’t have any brainy glasses.  I’ll head to the university and pull into the faculty lot, parking here:


With my textbook and lecture notes in my portfolio bag, I’ll walk under the pillars, passing the fountain.

Hear it gurgle and splash?



In the distance I can spot the campus clock tower. It was a senior class gift to the university a few years ago, the brain-child of one of our majors.  It chimes every hour -- I love that sound.  

I’ll enter the building by the lake and head to my classroom. I’ll unlock the door. Turn on the lights. Pull up my PowerPoint for that day.  Break out a fresh dry-erase marker. Lay out my notes.  And watch the students, many of whom I will fall in love with over the next 4 months, file in one-by-one and choose their seats.

They’re nervous - it’s a public speaking class. They have no idea what they are getting themselves into. 

But I do.   And it will be fun.

Another year has begun!


Thankful for a new school year – the chance to both teach & learn.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Healing Waters

I confess, I tried hard to ignore the oil leak in the gulf this summer.

Oh, it's not that I didn't care - it's that I care a lot.  And on a day-to-day basis, there wasn't much I could do about it. So watching the news coverage only made me stressed, mad and sad.  I would check in on the situation about twice a month.  Anymore than that and I started having nightmares.

Seriously, in June I dreamed I was surfing at our local beach when I noticed a rainbow-like sheen across the water. Followed by blackish splotches. Then as I raised my hand up from below the surface, it was covered in oil.  I woke up breathing heavy, stressed.  I really do worry about the status of our oceans and waterways - there's just been too much pollution.

A couple weeks ago I was talking to a competitive swimmer.  She said she prefers to do open water ocean swims to swimming in pools, but that she gets sick a lot when swimming in the ocean.  She wonders if it's a water quality issue. I hope not.

On Monday morning I was reading in the book of 2 Kings when I came across this passage in 2:19-22:

The men of the city said to Elisha, "Look, our lord, this town is well situated, as you can see, but the water is bad and the land is unproductive."

"Bring me a new bowl," he said, "and put salt in it." So they brought it to him.

Then he went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, "This is what the LORD says: 'I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.' "And the water has remained wholesome to this day, according to the word Elisha had spoken.

And so I decided to pray for God to heal our waters. Care to join me?

Lord God, forgive us for the many ways we have failed to be good stewards of the earth you created and placed us in. Help us to change our ways - to care about your creation and not just our own plans or prosperity.  Lord, I pray we have not already done some irreparable harm.  Please, Lord, heal our waters through our prayers, just as You healed that spring through Elisha. In Jesus' Name.

Thankful for a God who heals where we hurt.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

P31 Photos & Priceless Prayers

August 2010 001


Wanted to share a few photos from behind the scenes at She Speaks this year – and a few photos I’ll never forget.

On Tuesday evening I arrived at the hotel to share a suite with Micca, Renee and little Aster.  Gracious is Aster ever cute! The three of us went to dinner along with LeAnn Rice, Wendy Pope and Wendy Blight. 

LeAnn, Micca, Aster, Wendy P., Wendy B., & Renee

As we left the restaurant, a huge rainbow appeared in the sky – we could see the whole thing from horizon to horizon!  Hope you can see it in this shot.

Here’s another group of us eating dinner on Wednesday.  On Wednesday and Thursday the P31 staff set up for the conference while the speaking team does oodles of training.  She Speaks is the only time of the year we are all in the same place at the same time.  So if you’ve ever attended She Speaks, realize we reach information overload before you even arrive.  Mercy!

August 2010 005


From left around to right is Marybeth Whalen, Me, Ariel Lawhon, Zoe Elmore, Shari Braendel, Lynn Cowell, Whitney Caps, Lindsey Feldpausch, and Karen Ehman.



 Me & MB at SS 2010

During one of our training sessions on Thursday,  Tom Davis came in to speak to us.  He worked with us on our platform speaking skills – Tom is a former communication consultant. Bravo to Zoe, Karen and Shari who got up in front of us all - on the fly when Tom called them forward - and launched into a portion of one of their speaking presentations so we could all watch him critique them. That takes guts, and they each did terrific.

     Marybeth &  me

Then Tom briefed us on the work his ministry Children’s Hope Chest is doing around the world.  Most recently, they’ve been rescuing young women and even girls from the sex trade and helping them rehabilitate under the Lord’s loving care. The statistics he shared were shocking:

  1. Unicef reports that there are over 1.2 million children entering the sex trade yearly.
  2. It is estimated that two children per minute are trafficked for sexual exploitation.
  3. The average age of a trafficked victim is 14 years old.

Tom told us some of those stories and all of our hearts broke over what we learned.  But then … then … he told us of a brothel in Cambodia that had just been raided. Women and children were freed.  And he pulled out a pair of shoes from one of those girls. We choked back tears as we saw the size of them.


August 2010 006                 August 2010 007

                             Tom Davis

My Orange Sandals


Her shoes, in fact,  looked like a little girl version of the shoes I was wearing that very day. 

With or without these photos, I’ll never forget the size of those orange sandals, the size of the little girl who walked in them, or the size of the sin committed against her.


Trafficked victims are often forced to have sex 20, 30 even 40 times a day. 

So before you leave my blog today will you please take one minute and follow this link to www.sheispriceless.com just to pray a prayer with Tom and me?

Thankful the prayers of believers can make an impact (James 5:16).

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What Good Girls Wear

My middle-school-age daughter went back-to-school-clothes shopping last night with her own money and her girlfriend. This was a first. The friend’s mom took them, and since we’ve yet to buy Alaina a cell phone (can you believe that – she sure can’t), I was completely out of the picture.

I have confidence in her, and I’ve taught her about modesty and what looks nice on her. Yet I wondered: Would she skip the stores I’ve taught her to skip? Would she avoid the immodest styles I’ve taught her to avoid? Would she return home with things I strongly object to?

Would my good girl dress bad?

Nope. She returned home with a couple of terrific outfits. They were cute and modest.  And she even accessorized them well!  I have Shari Braendel to thank.  Shari is a friend, professional fashion consultant, leader of the Modest is Hottest fashion workshops and author of the new release Good Girls Don’t Have to Dress Bad. She’s got a whole chapter in the back of this book for how to help your teen embrace modesty and dress well.

If you have any questions at all about how to dress your figure, or wear make-up, or what looks good on you and what doesn’t - get this guide. In it Shari helps women determine their specific body type and how to dress for it.  She helps you determine the best colors to flatter your complexion. She gives individualized hair cut and make-up tips. She teaches how to build a wardrobe for each season, for your body shape and coloring. And she even has chapters that deal with the two dreaded items to shop for: swimsuits and jeans.

Oh and there’s more.  You just need to get the book. 

But guess what?  Right now you can enter to win a $500 personal make-over with Shari. Hurry over here to learn about that and enter to win. Then tell your friends about it – you bet I told mine.  After all, friends don’t let friends dress bad!

Monday, August 2, 2010

She Amazes

There's so many things I could say about the She Speaks conference this weekend. It was awesome! And there's many well known, impressive names I could throw out of people who were there making it all happen. But there's really only one name - other than God's of course - that I hold up along side of, and attribute the excellence of She Speaks to. That name is LeAnn Rice.

LeAnn Rice is the Executive Director of Operations of Proverbs 31 Ministries.  She is also the She Speaks conference planner and director.  Anything you saw there that looked nice, was well organized, or ran smoothly, you have LeAnn to thank.  Anything that wasn't beautiful and running smooth (and I bet you didn't see much that wasn't), it's because one of us goofed up what LeAnn had planned!

She is an administrative genius. And possibly the hardest working woman I know. She started  here as a volunteer and rose in a matter of years to the top position.  She is sharp, dedicated, detailed, and an absolute pleasure to work with and for. We all call her "the Queen." Not because she lords it over anyone - she is extremely humble - but because she deserves so much more honor than she receives.

She's also a single mom with a well-adjusted son. She amazes me!

There is seemingly no end to her talent; all that limits her is the number of hours in a day. Well that, and these crazy visionary women she works with.  Seriously though, she is not just administratively gifted but creative.  Check out her latest project.  And I hope that you will leave her a comment there or here telling her how much you appreciate her behind-the-scenes work at Proverbs 31 Ministries. After all, the Bible says to give honor where honor is due. And LeAnn deserves a bucketful of "thank yous" and "atta girls."

Thankful for LeAnn Rice!