Inscrutable Paths of God’s Blessing and Love

Today, I will try to conclude this series I started a few posts ago describing some real life, surprising “tales” about a number of friends.

I’ve told you some sad-sweet stories about my cousin, Sherrie, about friends, Michael and Loretta, and about 96 year old Paul Haney.

My husband, Paul, moved Sherrie from Phoenix (Glendale), AZ to Findlay, Ohio last summer, but our sweet Sherrie succumbed to Covid in the hospital two days before Christmas! We’ve been reviewing sweet memories and adjusting.

My husband, Paul, moved our friends, Michael and Loretta from Prescott Valley, AZ to Florida a little over two years ago, so they could be near one of their daughters. Michael, growing weaker last fall, succumbed to his Alzheimer’s this past December 30. Paul and I are at Loretta’s house in The Villages, Florida, right now, and I’m typing this in the dining room. We just had a lovely Valentine’s coffee breakfast and devotional this morning at the kitchen table.

In the last post about Paul Haney, Mr. White Tufts of Wisdom, we saw a man who practiced “redeeming the time”! Now, today, on Valentine’s Day, I will tell you a sweet story of a long-time friend, Jayne Russell, who bought a man’s tie when she was about age 53, and prayed for a man to fill it. Well, she had been praying for decades, and she  waited — sigh, sigh — patiently. The tie was an addition to her prayers, to add emphasis. And then last year, surprise! She was not the only one waiting patiently!

We’ve known Jayne since 1990, having met her at church in Ohio. Jayne became a missionary, serving decades in the Ukraine. Last spring she came home on an extended furlough (home service) and visited us in June at our house in Fort Wayne (our previous, Fort Wayne house).

Jayne Russell and my Paul. Fort Wayne is situated on the convergence of three rivers. We took Jayne down to Promenade Park in downtown FW. June, 2021.

We had a great visit and showed her around Fort Wayne. Jayne, now 55, told us that she had been contacted by a man from Iowa whom she had met a few years previously when he was traveling in the Ukraine. Hmm.

Free-spirited Jayne. In Promenade Park.

Jayne and Karen at the grave of Johnny Appleseed in Johnny Appleseed Park in northern Fort Wayne.




















Who is this man? Will he fit the tie? His name turned out to be Jeff Olson. He was 58 and had retired two years previously as an Air Traffic Controller. Jeff, a widower for eleven years, Jayne explained, had three grown children, ages 19-23. Jayne wondered if there was any possibility here. Is God in this?

In July, last summer, they had their first date at an aquarium in Springfield, Missouri. Jeff met Jayne’s brother and family, and Jayne met Jeff’s children. One daughter told her dad to be direct with Jayne, if he was really interested in a relationship. In Jeff’s initial contact, Jayne told us in an email, he had asked Jayne “to seek God regarding His will of a relationship between us.”  Jayne’s reply to him? “Definitely.” I had to smile at this.

In the fall we received an invitation to the wedding. We attended the wedding on December 29. At the age of 55, Jayne was marrying for the first time. The tie was being filled. She went all out for her wedding. Her parents are both with the Lord now, but the wedding was at their beautiful, old church in Sidney, Ohio. The place was packed! Jeff’s  23 year old son was his best man, and his daughters were the brides maids. It was a family affair.

The church setting for Jayne’s wedding on December 29 2021, all decorated for the Christmas season.

Their “unity metaphor” was a tall glass bowl surrounded by glass cylinders filled with various colored sand, one color per person. Jeff, Jayne, and the three young adult children took turns pouring in some sand until all five cylinders were emptied, and the tall glass bowl was filled beautifully with mounded colors, blending together. We pray now for this new chapter for everyone.

At the wedding reception. Jayne and Jeff Olson with some of their many friends who attended the wedding.

Jayne never had the honor of being a mother, but now she is moving into a similar role. But should any of these three children marry and have children, Jayne will proceed directly to “nana-hood.” May it be!

So, I’m sitting here in the dining room at Loretta’s in The Villages, Florida, and Jeff and Jayne are close by on vacation at the Kennedy Space Center, just over one hour from where I am. Ha! On Friday, we are going to phone-visit with them. I hope to ask Jayne about her view of what is going on in the Ukraine.

Isn’t it interesting that this is the year that Jayne’s tie was filled? I’m smiling. Of course, Jeff is not a tie-filler, but a man who loves the Lord and was attracted to this tall, bright, creative, hard-working, laugh-loving lady. He too had prayed — sigh, sigh — and waited. Now their prayers mingle.

Of course, I’m surprised (as I keep telling you– because God’s creativity and complexity confound me) that Jayne had to wait 55 years. And Jeff. He was a widower for 11 years. And these three children. They were 12, 10, and 8 when their mother died.

How inscrutable are God’s ways. What pain each of these people endured, yet they were never separated from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39).

This morning at Loretta’s kitchen table we read an article written by Dr. David Jeremiah called “Blessed Beyond Measure.”* Dr. Jeremiah gave us a science lesson to help us see God better.

Light travels at 186,000 miles per second, which is 5.9 trillion miles per year. Our Milky Way galaxy may be 200,000 light-years in diameter. Our galaxy is a part of a supercluster of 100,000 galaxies stretching over 520 million light years. Dr. J. notes that’s 520,000,000 times 5,900,000,000,000. Can you compute this?

This is just a part of God’s creation. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). God thought. God spoke. And it was so. It is so. Elohim, the Almighty, is Yahweh, the “I AM who I AM” whose wise words are the power of action.

Dr. Jeremiah observes that our God who is immense (infinitely immense) is also personal. He asks, “How is it that God is immense and personal at the same time?” Dr. Jeremiah’s answer? “All we know is that He is.”

That is right. That is humbling. That is fun. I’m reminded of Deuteronomy 29:29 which states that “the secret things belong to the Lord our God.” We should derive a happiness from knowing that His knowledge is infinite, that there are secrets He alone holds, that He can hold all the secrets no matter how huge they are within Himself, because He is bigger than all the secrets.

Revelations from science reinforce my confidence in the revelations of Scripture, as they should, since both have the same Author.

“I am convinced,” Romans 8:38 and 39 declare, “that neither death, nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Big. That’s a small word carrying a big idea. Irony. Dr. Jeremiah wrote, “Our God is a God who is big and who blesses big. He creates big and He cares big.” Dr. J. suggests that one way to comprehend better “the depth of God’s personal blessings is to contemplate the depth of the universe.” Failing to observe God’s blessings (which will make us unthankful) will cause us to focus on our problems and circumstances.

“It seems paradoxical,” Dr. J. notes, “but God’s blessings do not stop when we are in pain. God’s blessings pour forth from His character like the warmth and light of the sun He created: they are never-ending. But if we fail to recognize His blessings, we will never enjoy them.”

For Jayne and Jeff and each member of their newly formed family, it is healing to remember that “God’s blessings do not stop when we are in pain.” It is healing for me to remember this. It is healing for you to remember this. “God’s blessings do not stop when we are in pain.” No pain is strong enough, loud enough, or big enough to separate us from God’s endless love.

Jayne’s story shows that her decades long painful wait was honored by the Lord with joy beyond words.

I married an Olsen. We Olsens rejoice with these Olsons. In their story we recognize God’s inscrutable paths of blessing and love.

* Turning Points magazine and devotional by Dr. David Jeremiah. January 2021 edition.

**Stay tuned! I plan to begin a new series next in which I will describe and evaluate some fascinating books that I am reading. These are books which I hope will be beneficial for you to know about and maybe read yourself. They are pertinent to the times in which we live.


Categories: Biography | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Inscrutable Paths of God’s Blessing and Love

  1. lorettaperipoli

    Beautiful post as always, Karen! You have an amazing flair for words. So glad you and Paul are here at The Villages to keep me company!!

    • Karen Thomas Olsen

      Thank you, Loretta, for your special words! We are happy to be here with you!!

  2. Rick Shepherd

    Beautiful reading of your friend, Jayne Russell, Karen!…..Thank you!….I enjoy reading your posts!….Rick and Mary Shepherd

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