Author Archives: kltolsen

About kltolsen

Born and raised in Ohio, I attended college and graduate school in Indiana, moved to Scotts Valley, California south of San Jose to teach, then back to Ohio for many years, and now I live with my husband in Arizona . I have taught in three Christian high schools and one community college. My first teaching position was in Scotts Valley, and in the summer of 1980, a tall, dark, and handsome 26 year old California boy who had recently completed his degree in Aeronautical Operations from San Jose State University followed me to Columbus, Ohio where I had accepted a new teaching position at Worthington Christian High School. There in Worthington, we were married. Paul became an Air Traffic Controller, and we raised two beautiful girls in Piqua and Troy, Ohio. We now also have a son-in-law and two precious grandsons born in 2009 and 2012. In 2007, Lockheed Martin transferred my husband to Prescott Valley, Arizona, a new adventure for us, and we are enjoying being back on the western side of the USA again. Besides reading, learning, teaching, and writing, I love to swim, stroll around the neighborhood on my bike, take Water Aerobics classes, mingle with neighbors at our Community Center, and participate in our local church. As my health permits, I love to travel and see God’s amazing creation. Since retiring in the summer of 2012, my focuses turned to completing a doctorate (which I began pursuing in 2006), developing this blog, doing some freelance writing, and being involved in Christian education at my church. With great gratitude to the Lord who carried me through the process, I graduated from Trinity Theological Seminary in August, 2016, earning a DRS (Doctor of Religious Studies) with an emphasis in theology. My dissertation is entitled "A Taxonomic Theology of Suffering and Joy Designed to Assist in Christian Growth." I’m wearing my eye glasses or “life lenses” which instruct me to “Look for the Lord in every page of Scripture, in every corner of nature (easy here in Arizona), and in every chapter of my life." No matter the direction of my life, it's a journey north.

What a Summer! Miles to drive, Adventures to Greet

Wow! You haven’t heard from me since June 19! What’s been up? I’ll let you know!

First, in my last post (a part of a series addressing my six sailing points on navigating our reading experiences), I addressed points three and four. I drafted a final post on points five and six over a month ago but did not publish it, wanting to revise it more. I think the series has gotten too dense, too heavy. Anyway. . .

Then summer turned into a river of raging rapids, rushing me miles down stream (some hyperbole). Pause, pace.  More roaring rapids are about to carry me away again, but before they do. . .

I’m choosing to postpone the conclusion of my six point series (leaving very few of you in suspense), and I’m going to write about summer. Summer is a time for lightness, for adventure, a time to put aside didactic exposition, a time to storytell! (Lord willing, someday I’ll finish the six point series.)

The summer saga begins. And it begins with the giggles of a three year old fairy. Can you hear her? Flossy blond strands surround blue sky eyes. Sunshine twinkles from her delicate fingers and toes. For six days, she dances with us. Together we laugh.  Continue reading

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Points 3-4: Knowledge Soup and Thinking Habits

Recently, I re-read Patricia MacLachlan’s Sarah, Plain and Tall which  won the 1986 Newbery Medal award. Yes, Newbery awards are for children’s literature. Good children’s books make good adult reading. I’m also reading Why Suffering by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Titale. What a contrast! The first is “an exquisite, sometimes painfully touching little tale” (according to The New York Times Book Review), a lovely narrative based upon a true story, while the latter is a theological exposition exploring theodicy and the meaning of suffering by two philosopher-theologians.  Both are nutritious and yummy.

In some ways, I evaluate them differently, because of their differing purposes, audiences, and genres. I bring my background to my reading chair where I’m comfortably curled. “There is no frigate like a book,” Emily Dickinson exhorts us, so from my armchair, I sail, navigating by the six points of my Reader-Navigator’s Map.*   Continue reading

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Genre, Genre, What are You? (Plus a Gabe update)

Are we there yet?

You mean, at the end of this series? No! It’s taking me a long time to get through it because I do not post every week. So, I’ll see if I can up the pace on this series about being a good reader and a self-discipler.

We’re on point two of six points on The Reader-Navigator’s Map.* Point 1 is Biblical Literacy (both the anchor and rudder) and point 2 is Genre Identity (the ship’s hull). As the ship’s hull, I see an understanding of a book’s (or a writing selection’s) genre as some ballast in my ship (my mind) giving me balance and perspective, essential to reasonable interpretation, analysis, and appreciation.

Don’t you love to learn and to read? I doubt you would read my blog otherwise. Since we must be rather brief (a book I am not writing here), I would like to offer a smattering of quotations from some expert readers along with some commentary to help us consider the impact of genre (categorization of literature) when reading.

I’m sure  you view writing as a craft. Writers are sometimes called wordsmiths. Have you ever thought of reading as a craft? This is not my idea. A fascinating thought! Who said it? Continue reading

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Genre: Prayers of Intercession

Readers,

In my last post at the beginning of this week I asked you to pray for Gabe. You may want to re-read it. Here is my update at the end of the week. (These are not long posts.)

Gabe is a 13 year old boy with neurological issues and Akathisia who is literally wasting away — starving, and in extreme anxiety. He lives with his family in southern Ohio. His parents and grandparents are dear friends of ours. Gabe has four younger siblings.

Gabe and his family are back home from DC where Gabe was taken to the Amen Clinic this week. They did testing but offered little help. The trip was extremely difficult on everyone for many reasons. (They rented an RV and took the entire family. Gabe can’t quit moving or walking and needed the RV space. He is neurologically hypersensitive, so everything is agitating.) After the testing the parents met with a team of doctors.

They say that a part of his brain has been damaged due to one of three things:

1) PANDAS: According to one site, PANDAS means “Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections occurs when strep triggers a misdirected immune response results in inflammation on a child’s brain. In turn, the child quickly begins to exhibit life changing symptoms such as OCD, anxiety, tics, personality changes, decline in math and handwriting abilities, sensory sensitivities, restrictive eating, and more.”

2-3) Or, the cause could have been caused by Lyme disease or parasites, but no matter, a part of his brain has been damaged.

Rebecca, Gabe’s mother who is a nurse, has suspected that it could be PANDAS (which I had never heard of).

More testing is to be done, but I don’t know from where (what clinic and location). And I don’t know if it will happen because I just received some text update from Carolyn, the grandmother, as follows:

“The HS woke you up to pray. Rebecca just said they are taking him to the hospital for admission. This will be awful for him but she can’t do it anymore. He was up most of the night just walking He’s losing more weight and his brain is really bad. Just mumbling now.”

I wonder what kind of pain Gabe is in. I’ve never heard this discussed, but I’ve seen two, recent pictures of him. He looks like a person who has lived through Auschwitz. He looks like a starving child from a third world country, only Gabe does not have the bloated stomach. He’s skin on bones everywhere.

Gabe knows Jesus. They may lose him.

Please pray for God’s mercy and whatever words come to you, but lift him and them up. I know I’ve never used my blog in this way before, writing personal letters (another genre) requesting prayer, but I also believe that you are grateful to pray for others in such deep need. We are one in the bond of love.

Thank you so much for being the Body of Christ,

Karen

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Genre: Prayer: For Whom? Gabe

My dear readers,

Today, I am supposed to address point two, Genre Identity, of our six points on The Reader-Navigator’s Map. Instead I’m going to ask for prayer. Yes, prayer is a genre, a category of communication both spoken and written. As a kind of literature, I can integrate it into our second point!

Prayer is a lifeline to the Lord. Like oxygen, we cannot live without it. Today, I want to ask you to pray for a 13 year old boy who is wasting away and will die without intervention — a miracle. This young man has dealt with neurological issues for years and has developed, probably from prescriptions, a disease called Akathisia, plus he has developed an eating disorder. Akathisia simply means” the inability to sit”; it is a movement disorder, an anxiety disorder. Combine this with an inability to eat or digest most foods, liquid or solid, and you can imagine the results. Continue reading

Categories: Joy & Suffering -- Good & Evil, Parenting | Tags: | 2 Comments

A Fleet of Books on my Biblical Literacy Shelf: Frigates 7-12

What a beautiful day today is! I’m sitting at my dining room table typing on my laptop while looking out over our side yard, viewing dwarf fruit trees in full foliage and tall rose bushes in prolific bloom — scarlet, yellow, and peach colored pedals. Billowy clouds herald God’s majesty.

The heavens and our garden declare the glory of God.

Nature presents numberless volumes of divine literature: “The heavens are telling of the glory of God and the expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech and night to night reveals knowledge “(Psalm 19:1-2 NASB).  Telling, declaring, speaking, revealing. “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). From my window I’m reading a happy book. You have such books all around you in your nature’s libraries. Nature’s Divine Library.

In my previous post I presented suggestions for another library, your home library. I presented a dozen books as suggestions for your Biblical Literacy shelf, and then I described the first six. Today I’ll address the latter six books. Biblical Literacy (knowledge of Scripture’s narratives and declaratives; note post dated March 29, 2017) is the first of six points I’m offering as guidelines for navigating our reading experiences as Christ-followers — or pedestrian theologians — or salty, savory sailors on the Reading Sea. As Emily Dickinson declares, “There is no Frigate like a Book.”

Let’s look over the second six frigates, a small but powerful fleet. Ship Ahoy! (I hope you don’t mind my metaphors!) Continue reading

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Your Home Library: One Dozen Books to Build Biblical Literacy

I always encourage young people to start their own, personal libraries — to begin with just one shelf in their bedrooms to place books worth keeping for a long time, some for even a lifetime. Whatever our ages are, we can equip ourselves with excellent resources to help us disciple ourselves in Christ and to guide us in whatever we read.

In our last post, I presented six points (guideposts, navigator’s criteria) to guide the Christian reader. You may wonder why my first point would be Biblical Literacy. Employing our ship/ocean metaphor that I set up in the last post, I am identifying Biblical Literacy as the anchor to ground us, the ballast to stabilize us, and the rudder to guide our vessels — as Christ-followers, thinking and interacting with what we read, whatever we may be reading. Therefore, I’d like to offer you a concise bibliography of core books to build your biblical base. You may have a number of these or some similar to them. You may find some here that you may want to add to your wish list. A person growing in biblical literacy and alert thinking will want to use books such as these. Continue reading

Categories: Christian Reader, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

A Good Friday to You

And what is good?

I have the next post in our series ready, but today is not the appropriate day for it. I awoke this morning, meditating on the meaning of good in Good Friday. You have probably heard much on this theme over the years, but we can never get enough nourishment.

My mind traversed various verses on this good theme.  “The Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.” “No one is good but God.” “You are good and do good.” “O, taste and see that He is good.”*

I thought of the first usages of the adjective, good, in the opening chapters of Genesis which describe God’s response to His own work: “And God saw that it was good”, repeated after each day’s work, but after the sixth day’s work, God saw that it was “very good”. God is good and does good work.** I thought of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. I thought of pure goodness, as in God’s character and His work, in contrast to the more complex goodness expressed in a fallen world.

I thought of the cross as the ultimate expression of that good-bad goodness.

I’d like to present a few quotations, Continue reading

Categories: Christian Reader, Joy & Suffering -- Good & Evil | Tags: | 2 Comments

It’s Brief! – One Apology and Six Pithy Points for Readers

Why is it that one Christian describes a book as a blessing from the Lord, another finds it flawed but useful, and a third sees it as dangerous? Listening to differing views has motivated me to do some research and to write a basic list of guiding principles that can help us navigate our reading experiences (religious and secular) in ways that lead us away from the shoals and toward solid Christian growth.

I apologize for the tediously long, recent post that set up this new series! Let me redeem myself, as it were, with a brief post. Here is a preview of the six points (as currently standing) that we’ll be exploring in future posts. Please note that I’ve moved from a guidepost metaphor to a map/voyage metaphor.

Six sailing points on The Reader-Navigator’s Map:

  1.   Biblical Literacy = both anchor and rudder                                                                                                                      2. Genre Identity = the ship’s hull                                                                                                                                    3. Knowledge Soup = the ocean                                                                                                                                          4. Thinking Habits = wind in my sails                                                                                                                              5. Influence and Influenced = Reader-Pilot’s changes/growth                                                                                      6. Impact = From Pilot to other passengers — changes/growth

This is where this series is launched. This is where this post will dock! I’m excited to write about Genre (not gender) Identity!  With these points, I hope you can anticipate where my reasoning is sailing.

God bless you with wisdom and joy in reading,  remembering as Emily Dickinson expressed,                     “There is no Frigate like a Book. . . .”

Comments welcome! Invite a friend to join us!

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Self-Discipleship in Christ through Reading*

R. C. Sproul recounts in his book, The Consequences of Ideas, the story of attending a parent conference in a public school when his eldest child entered first grade back in the 1960s.** Sproul listened to the principal explain the school’s philosophy and program, describing specific activities that promote particular aspects of child development. Every activity had purpose.

Finally, Sproul asked the principal, “What kind of child are you trying to produce and why?” The principal answered, “I don’t know. Nobody has ever asked me that question.”

Sproul replied, “I deeply appreciate your candor. . . but frankly, your answer terrifies me.”

The school’s methods stemmed from a purely pragmatic philosophy — what works; what succeeds. But succeeds at what?  Pragmatism can foster a child who can do: read, write, compute, relate and respond. But what of the soul of the child? The composition of the heart? The character? The life? For what purposes is the doing?

This applies to our doing, and in this post, to our reading. “What kind of person am I aiming to become through my reading and why?” Continue reading

Categories: Being Like Jesus, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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