Author Archives: Karen Thomas Olsen

About Karen Thomas Olsen

Born and raised in Ohio, I attended college and graduate school in Indiana, moved to Scotts Valley, California south of San Jose to teach, back to Ohio for many years, to Arizona for 11 years with my husband, and finally to Ft. Wayne, Indiana to be near family. (Leaving Prescott Valley, Arizona in 2018 was very hard. Sigh. But for family? Worth it.) I have taught in three Christian high schools and one community college. My first teaching position was in Scotts Valley, California. 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, which was a great adventure for us. Arizona was a good place for my health and great for Paul, a California boy who loves the sunny southwest! However, being far from family is not easy. So, in July of 2018 we moved to Ft. Wayne, Indiana, where we are near relatives and just hours from each of our daughters, one near Chicago and one north of Cincinnati. For years, I worked in Christian school curriculum design and development, which was challenging, exciting, and satisfying. After retiring in the summer of 2012, I focused on completing a doctorate, pursuing some writing projects, and being involved in Christian education at our church. Maintaining this blog continues to be important to me. 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." Besides reading, learning, teaching, and writing, I love to swim, stroll around the neighborhood on my bike, take Water Aerobics classes, mingle with neighbors, and participate in our local church. As my health permits, I love to travel and see God’s amazing creation. 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, and in every chapter of my life." No matter the direction of my life, it's a journey north.


I’ve never done this before, but it’s time.  For twelve years I’ve written all the articles for this blog, Journey North Character. I’ve never re-posted an article, but I am today, adding a bit at the opening and closing to connect it to our new series. I’ll also add a photo.

Last month I began a new series dealing with some current social issues and biblical responses, by juxtaposing the trans movement with transformation in Christ. Now there’s a contrast.

I published the following post on June 22, 2014, entitling it “The Rest of Dad’s Poem.” Paul and I lived in Prescott Valley, Arizona then. Sigh (memories).


I’ve been sitting on my recliner, reading my father’s poetry and his grandfather’s poetry. My dad — Marion R. Thomas. My great-grandfather — Daniel Driver Thomas. I never met Daniel Driver, but I heard about him from my father. Dad loved and respected his family members. Dad loved and enjoyed God’s world.

Marion Thomas, age 81. Picture taken by his oldest grandchild, Amanda, when she was taking a photography class at our community college. Note the knit cap he often wore in his latter years when he was cold.

I even found a poem he wrote entitled, ” Come, Celebrate Grass” ( 40 lines about his lawn, written around 1987).  [Another poem he wrote, which I think will connect well with our new series on current social issues, is Dad’s poem entitled “Suppose” written in the 1940’s when Dad was in his 20s.] Here it is. Continue reading

Categories: Education, Parenting, Perspectives on Culture, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , | 6 Comments

Isaiah, Jesus, and Whatevermike

I read. I listen. I compare. Hmm. What are the meanings of their messages? Can one discern?

Whose messages?

Isaiah, the Prophet, as he “hears the word of the Lord,” Jesus, the Christ, as He hears the word of the Lord through Isaiah, and Whatevermike, as he hears the word and anti-words of another god.

Ahh. I have distinguished already differing deities. If the messages are from the one and same “god,” then we will interpret the meaning and consider applications differently than we would if the messages are sourced in separate “gods.”

Where is this world headed? Who is at the helm?

I am currently reading the book of Isaiah. During the season leading up to Resurrection Sunday, I was nourished by the New Testament gospels. Isaiah lived probably 700 years before Christ. His writings, ancient to the Son of Man (but not to the I AM of John 8:58), present Christ’s calling card:

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor” (Isaiah 61:1-2a; compare to Luke 4:19-20).

How privileged we are to have the Scriptures, to be able to read them and hear them taught. I have not been sheltered from the Bible. God’s Word has not been canceled from my sight or hearing. But the Word has been sidelined in our society, as you well know.  In the public square it has been ridiculed, maligned, disdained, and largely rejected. Yet, its voice is not extinguished. Like invisible sound waves, its truths penetrate, rumbling beneath our feet.

What is the spirit of this age? Whose spirit is upon whom?

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Categories: Education, Parenting, Perspectives on Culture, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , | 4 Comments

For Your Progress and Joy in the Faith

You’ll find this phrase, “for your progress and joy in the faith,” in the middle of a Pauline passage, Philippians 1: 21-26, which needs to be read within the context of the entire, little epistle.

It is true that I did not post anything in the month of February. I have a draft that I never finished, and I’m not going to use it. I am starting with a fresh focus today that has been simmering in my mind recently, and it awoke me this morning: “for your progress and joy in the faith.” Such an intriguing thought nested within Paul’s themes.

I found this picture at the Good Samaritan Mission. It fits perfectly with the class I taught there called A Traveler’s Guide through Suffering and Joy.

Though a fresh focus, it fits well with my last post, my January post, which caused a number of you to contact me personally via email, phone, and even by card through the postal system! I felt a need to be more personal, because it is easy for us to simplify, unintentionally, those people who write or speak, because we do not see them in their contexts. So I gave you a bit more of my context. Thank you for your caring touches.

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Categories: A Personal Note, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , | 6 Comments

Like Sea Waves: A Personal Note

After returning to Indiana from a six week snowbird trip to Florida last March, I began a downhill slump that didn’t begin to turn upward until October. What happened?

I think I need to be more personal with you. So, today’s post will differ in tone and content from most of my posts. No explorations into Noah Webster’s original dictionary. No quotation from an obscure theologian. No fascinating dives into word etymologies and usages. No book reviews. But I will include photos! We need their encouragement.

At Spanish Springs in The Villages of Florida.

Paul and I returned to Florida a month ago now. We plan, Lord willing, to stay until mid-March. But we may be moved to change our plans.

My perspectives and attitudes did move last year, surging like sea waves on the beach, crescendoing and then receding. Signifying what?

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Categories: A Personal Note | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

A Story Told: The Cosmic Adventure

A story told is the breaking of the silence.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:2-3).

 “Before the foundations of the world, He chose us in Him… in love” (Ephesians 1: 4).

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:4-5).


After brunch we read one chapter to the children and adults.

In the breaking of the silence, as in the breaking of bread, a story is told to nurture the life of the world.

Man shall not live by fact alone.

Here’s the way for a nana to live, and I’m looking more like her each year!

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Is Atheism Dead? – Eric Metaxas Replies

Is atheism dead?

It is easy to observe in secularized societies that atheism — “no-Godism” is the practical presumption (the underlying, working worldview), opening big doors to “yes-godisms” — the innovative idol-making-machines of millions of human hearts in search of meaning. If you don’t devise your own gods, then the obvious meaninglessness of existence settles in to destroy you – nihilism. What’s the point of living?

In 2021 Eric Metaxas published a book of 403 pages by this title, Is Atheism Dead? I included it in my list of books to review this year in my Roaming Reader series.

I’m sorry to take so long to get to this book! In the meantime, Eric has come out with another book, a mere 139 pages, entitled Letter to the American Church. Pastor Erwin W. Lutzer writes that Metaxas’ new book “is like a bucket of cold water thrown into the face of a sleeping church.”

I ordered it and added it to our small stack of Eric’s work. Metaxas is a prolific writer as well as a radio host, international speaker, host of “Socrates in the City”, and cultural-political commentator. He has written three, significant, biographical tomes, one on Martin Luther, another on William Wilberforce, and a volume on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He’s written humor (which flavors most of his writing and speaking), children’s books, scripts for Veggie Tales, and articles appearing in many magazines.*1

403 fascinating pages.

His December 25, 2014 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, entitled “Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God,” became the most popular article in the history of WSJ. *2  You will find two links to this article below. (If you can’t read the book, at least read this article. I suspect that you will appreciate it and will be encouraged.) The huge response to the article spurred him to invest much time and work to write Is Atheism Dead?.

The WSJ article begins:

“In 1966 Time magazine ran a cover story asking: “Is God Dead?” Many have accepted the cultural narrative that he’s obsolete– that as science, progresses, there is less need for a “God” to explain the universe. Yet it turns out that the rumors of God’s death were premature. More amazing is that the relatively recent case for his existence comes from a surprising place —science itself.”

“As science progresses, there is less need for a “God” to explain the universe”? This sets up his 2021 book, Is Atheism Dead?.

Metaxas lists five challenges to the “secular consensus” of God’s death, which have become clearer and louder over the years since 1966 — most of which many publishers and pundits prefer to overlook and avoid (a kind of censoring?). Metaxas speaks out. Here are the five challenges his text develops.

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Categories: Christian Reader, The Roaming Reader | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Witnessing the Witness of Queen Elizabeth II

Much has been discussed recently regarding the memorializing, mourning, and burying of Queen Elizabeth II. Most of us were attuned, in varying degrees, through the services of technology, to the unfolding of events since her passing on September 8 . I too followed along. Watching both the state funeral at Westminster Abbey and the committal service at St. George’s Chapel on Monday, September 19, one particular item (among numerous fascinations) caught and maintained my attention.

Each attendee held a copy of the Order of Service and followed along.

The Order of Service.

I listened. I observed. I watched people reading or singing from the substantial bulletin. The speakers read their contributions from the printed liturgy.  Every word appeared scripted. (Even the funeral sermon, not printed in the liturgy, is printed and available online.) But what was the content? What was the focus? What was the meaning? And who may have believed it? Who will believe it?

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Categories: Biography, Christian Reader, The Roaming Reader | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Picking Two Books (Back to The Roaming Reader Series)

I have two, excellent books to tell you about today. You may never read them, but you may be glad to know about them. Maybe you will want to pick up one of them. No matter, I hope you’ll find some encouragement, enjoyment, and even inspiration from this post.

Paul has been picking                                           climbing cucumbers in our raised-bed gardens. Fun, fun! So is picking a good book to read.

I began The Roaming Reader series in March while still in Florida.* I  interrupted the series in the last three posts in order to respond to some questions from a reader. Now, we need to get back to the list of eight books that I picked for discussion. In March through May, I focused four posts on just two books. Today, I want to consider two more books. Since I”m looking at two in one post, this roaming reader will shorten her leash!

Which books on the list did I pick for today?

One fiction: A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles (2016).

One nonfiction: Liturgy of the Ordinary, by Tish Harrison Warren (2016).

Within these selections, what do we find?

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Categories: Christian Reader, The Roaming Reader | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

How are People Nurtured — In Our Constitutional Republic and Pluralist Society?

Today, I will confront the last two of four question-points in this current series (which interrupted another series). These are the questions I’ve been addressing in answer to a reader’s inquiry about an extended quotation I presented by Dr. A.A. Hodge regarding  the impact he foresaw  back in 1887  that secular, public education would have on America.

“In God We Trust.” Where have I read these words?

The previous two posts considered the first two points listed below. Now, let’s consider the latter two.

  1. What is pluralism and what is a pluralistic society?
  2. According to the U.S. Constitution, what is the role of government in education? What/who is responsible for education?
  3.  In our Constitutional Republic, how are individuals nurtured, and how is our culture nurtured?
  4.  What are the roles of the Bible and a “Judeo-Christian” heritage in our current “pluralistic society”?

Nurtured. Nurturing individuals. Nurturing cultures. What is nurture? What does a country’s form of government have to do with the nurturing of individuals and cultures?

Of course, I can’t fully answer these questions, but I can present some ideas pertinent to our times for you to ponder.

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Categories: Christian Reader, Dr. A.A. Hodge, Education, Government, Perspectives on Culture | Leave a comment

Approaching Education in a Pluralistic Society

Two main questions should be addressed today.

(Other things are going on at my house, so I grab a few minutes here and there to jot down ideas for this post. Then I will finish this and post it after our grandsons return home.)

This is a continuation of the previous post. In that post I presented five points of questioning to explore based upon two questions by a reader about the meaning of a quotation I presented and its application for today’s society (1).  The quotation from Dr. A.A. Hodge, first published in 1887, was about the role of public education in a pluralistic society here in the United States (2).  In answer, first I explored the meaning of pluralism and a pluralistic society, and now we explore these two questions:

  • According to the U.S. Constitution, what is the role of government in education?
  • What/who is responsible for education?

I think you know the answer to the first question. I think you know that the answer to the second is a current issue of controversy. Actually, the what/who is responsible has long been controversial, not only in our country but in many countries, throughout history.

Therefore, the answer to the first question becomes pivotal.

What does the U.S. constitution say about education and government’s role in it?

I’ve collected many old textbooks. This one, written for grades 7-9, was published in 1925.  Very interesting!

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Categories: Christian Reader, Dr. A.A. Hodge, Education, Government | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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