Focusing for 2017

Ready or not, 2017, here we come! Really? That is, 2017 says to us, “Ready or not, hear I come!”

As I’ve thought and prayed over the themes to explore in 2017, I’ve found my mind full of more ideas than I can attempt. I’ve decided on some core focuses which will offer us plenty of space to travel! In this new year, I’ll continue to write one article per post, but I want to add a Pass Along section with each post (or most posts) in which I will highlight a resource: book, magazine, website, store, recipe, or whatever.  I’ve been posting once month, but I may try twice a month.

Here are our core focuses as I presently understand that they should be for 2017: 

  1. Key ideas or draft excerpts from my coming book (Lord willing) on suffering and joy based upon the stocked pantry of my doctoral dissertation. You never know (and neither do I) when these portions will be posted. No order is promised.  I hope you’ll give me some feedback.
  2. Explorations into biblical passages, themes, or words with reflective and practical applications.
  3. Explorations into reason, science, Bible, and faith; the struggles of doubt and belief.
  4. Insights I’m learning about the publishing industry.
  5. Favorite quotations spurring reflections and responses.
  6. Attempts that I can manage with God’s help based upon your requests — if you are willing to make suggestions. Any?

Journey North Character is about walking with Christ and being changed by Him. To use other terms, it is about biblical sanctification which is also called spiritual transformation or spiritual formation or Christian growth. The Bible is our primary text. We learn from Christ through the Scriptures with the illuminating light and grace of the Holy Spirit.  Wherever we go exploring, the path draws us closer to the Lord and to His goals for us (Romans 8:29; II Corinthians 3:18).

Today, I want to conclude with a quotation from The Valley of Vision,  an anthology of rich prayers and devotions composed by Puritan leaders from centuries ago, edited by Arthur Bennett.*  My husband, Paul, received this book for Christmas from some dear missionary friends. (The volume has a significant handicap. While it provides a bibliography, it does not attribute authorship to the individual readings, so we don’t know which Puritan wrote which piece!) The following reading is entitled “Requests”.


O God,

May I never be a blot or a blank in life,

cause the way of truth to be evil spoken of,

or make my liberty an occasion to the flesh.

May I by love serve others, and please my neighbour

for his good to edification.

May I attend to what is ornamental as well as

essential in religion, pursuing things that are

lovely and of good report.

May I render my profession of the gospel

not only impressive, but amiable and inviting.

May I hold forth the way of Jesus

with my temper as well as my tongue,

with my life as well as my lips.

May I say to all I meet,

I am journeying towards the Lord’s given place,

come with me for your good.

May I be prepared for all the allotments

of this short, changing, uncertain life, with

a useful residence in it,

a comfortable journey through it,

a safe passage out of it.

May I be in character and conduct like

the dew of heaven,

the salt of the earth,

the light of the world,

the fullness of the fountain.

May I never

be ashamed of Jesus or his words,

be deterred from fulfilling a known duty

through fear,

be discouraged from attempting it through weakness.

May I see all things in a divine light so that they may

inform my judgment

and sanctify my heart.

And by all the disciplines of thy providence,

and all the ordinances of religion,

may I be increasingly prepared for

life’s remaining duties,

the solemnities of a dying hour,

and the joys and services

that lie beyond the grave.*


To this breathtaking prayer, we say, “Amen.” It is beyond my experience but contains my aim. This prayer may contain the seed of all the thoughts that this blog, Journey North Character, could hope to plant and nurture. You would be enriched by printing this prayer and employing it as a spiritual springboard in your communing with the Lord.

This is a fitting way to conclude 2016 and to launch 2017. Thank you for reading these posts. I appreciate your comments whenever you feel led to respond.



*Arthur Bennett, editor. The Valley of Vision – A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, Carlisle PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, (1975, first printing), 2015 (14th printing), pages 274-275.


Categories: Spiritual Growth | Tags: | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Focusing for 2017

  1. Carolyn

    What beautiful thoughts that describe you my friend. May 2017 find you accomplishing more than you ever dreamed.

    • kltolsen

      Thank you, Carolyn, for your prayers and encouragement! May 2017 find you a rich blessing to your family, church, and neighbors! “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.”

  2. Marty and Brenda Zuidervaart

    Looking forward to reading more of
    your heart and mind this year, Karen.

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