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.

Joni, Elisabeth, and My Applesauce: How Not to Go Astray

What kind of title is this? ” Joni, Elisabeth, and My Applesauce: How Not to Go Astray.”  It represents a smattering of thoughts that come together in my struggle to walk. To walk in a particular way and in a particular direction, neither of which is natural to me. Have you ever tried to change the way you walk? Self-consciously, you turn your feet forward, not letting them angle out or in or whatever way you really like, but your doctor says is incorrect. It is just not natural for you.

Beyond the literal, “walking” can mean so many things. If you look up walk in an exhaustive Bible concordance, you’ll find hundreds of references. Walk. Walked. Walking. Makes me tired. And I haven’t even mentioned run, running, and races!

Hmm. So much to talk about! Let’s sit awhile. Would you prefer coffee or tea? Just a few reflective excursions and then we’ll resume our walk. Or, is the seated conversation a part of the walk? Yes. So glad we can rest and walk at the same time. (The world of the Kingdom is ironically different.)

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Categories: Spiritual Growth | Tags: , | 6 Comments

Simply Resolved

Resolve, resolute, resolution. Verb, adjective, noun. So, I’ve simmered over my resolutions and plans for 2018 and presented the topic to you, appropriately, on New Year’s Day. But I did not offer my “New Year’s Resolutions.” I invited you to share your thoughts, yet only one person has responded, only to ask me what my resolutions are. Well. . . . Continue reading

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God’s Blessings in 2018: Resolved

My Dear Readers,

Today, January 1, 2018, I send you my best thoughts for God’s best for you this year. This will be short! Amazing! Here also is a word from the Word:

Daniel 1:8:  “But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.” (ESV)

Few role models could surpass Daniel as portrayed in the book of Daniel. When people belittle the practice of making New Year’s resolutions, remember Daniel. His resolve was not made at the beginning of a new year, but at the beginning of a new life, a life he did not choose, a life forced upon him, exiled from home. His resolve was made with grace, wisdom, and tenacity. According to Daniel 9: 23, Gabriel commended Daniel : “You are highly esteemed.” God’s esteem is the best kind.

The KJV translates “Daniel resolved” as “Daniel purposed in his heart”. Ahh.

Paul and I are working on some resolves and heart-purposing. I suppose you are too? God bless you with grace, wisdom, and tenacity in your resolves. Maybe I’ll share some of my resolves. I invite you to share some of yours right here on JNC!

Gratefully,

Karen

 

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The Best and Worst This Season

Charles Dickens gave us A Christmas Carol, and among many others, he also gave us  A Tale of Two Cities. I plan to to savor some Christmas literature this season, but first I’d like to consider Dickens’ opening to his latter tale, a fitting interpreter of our current year.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, Continue reading

Categories: Christian Reader, Joy & Suffering -- Good & Evil, Spiritual Growth | Tags: | Leave a comment

Peace, Pursuit, and Andrea del Sarto

I just re-read the last several posts to review where we’ve been going on JNC. I enjoyed the descriptive posts more than the informational post, largely because the descriptions engender peaceful feelings. I need peace. No pursuits. I must be quiet. Right now, physically, I feel awful: my fibromyalgia. I feel like I’m being crushed from the inside out. I had to leave church this morning, unable to stay for the worship service or the Thanksgiving, fellowship dinner following the service.

I do not use JNC as a platform to detail my personal issues; this is not a place for writer’s therapy.  I try to stay focused on themes that nourish growth in Christ and well-rounded maturity — for all of us! Is not JNC’s motto “Walking with Christ and becoming more like Him”?  It’s an embarrassingly lofty goal, but biblically sound (after all, we, as pedestrian theologians, have the Holy Spirit). The motto reminds me of Robert Browning’s poem, “Andrea del Sarto”. Here are two, often quoted lines from this long work: Continue reading

Categories: Being Like Jesus, Christian Reader, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Lessons from Cardinal and Ordinal Numbers

“So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom, ” prays Moses as recorded in Psalm 90:12. Numbers are teachers. ‘Tis the season of counting, so 2017 seems to be. (By the way, we are home now after a 10 1/2 week trip to the midwest. Note postscript below.)

I’d like to consider the number one, after considering a few other numbers. Five hundred years have passed, as of this October 31, since Martin Luther (1483-1546) posted his 95 Theses (statements or declarations) on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. This date is usually used as the historical marker for the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, although history reveals birth pangs centuries earlier. For instance, note Peter Waldo and the Waldensians (twelfth century),  John Wycliffe called “the Morning Star of the Reformation” (1329-1384), and John Huss who was burned at the stake (1374-1415).

Via his 95 Theses, Luther intended to announce a public debate, hoping to clarify the University of Wittenberg’s position toward the sale of indulgences.

Have you read through the 95 Theses? Quite interesting. I have my father’s copy, and in this post you’ll find three photos I took of it. Ninety-five is an intimidating number. I’d prefer to examine the number one. You know, the number one can be overwhelming all by itself. One. Alone. Sola. Solo. Solus. Whole number. Not a fraction. Not plural. One. The integer.

What is an integer? You see, counting,  numbers, and specifically, the number one have much to teach us.  Continue reading

Categories: Christian Reader, Travels | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

A Taste of Delicious Plenty

My senses and heart have been overloaded these past two months during our Midwest travels and stays. We’ve made the Findlay Family Farm (on my mother’s side) the hub of our adventures. Whether at the farm, or my sister’s home in Indiana, or friends’ homes in Troy, Ohio, or Caesar’s Creek Campground south of Dayton, we find ourselves nestled in God’s diverse expressions of His glory through His creation and creatures.

Perspective is a view. A change of location changes one’s view, which should influence one’s perspective. For years I viewed the Midwest from an insider’s viewpoint. We’ve now lived in Arizona for ten years. From there I’ve acquired an outsider’s view of the Midwest.

Have you lived in various regions of the country or world? How does moving from one place to another impact your understandings of other places and people and even your understanding of yourself? Continue reading

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The Summer’s Flying toward Autumn

The summer is flying toward Autumn. Nearly a month has passed since I last posted and since Paul and I headed eastward in our F150 Lariat pulling our Coachmen Travel Trailer. Our Maiden DistanceVoyage.

The summer’s flying toward Autumn

Days dense with weight fly light as light.

While the summer is flying, we’ve been driving. Driving across country from destination to destination. (Note previous post.) Not only are we now on the backside of my graduation*, we’ve also completed two weeks at “the farm”!

 

Commencement Ceremony on August 5, 2017
                         Trinity Theological Seminary

Dr. Karen Thomas Olsen

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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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