jolson

jeff olson

counselor. writer. outdoorsman. US.

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using your gift

The 2013 film Frozen tells the story of a troubled princess named Elsa who possessed a special gift—the power to create ice and snow. We’re not talking about making iced tea. No—with a flick of the wrist, this princess could unleash a blizzard that would instantly turn a warm summer day into a... read more »

not far from us

Scientists tell us that the chemical element carbon is the building block of life. Hidden from the naked eye, this vital atom is in everything, from the air we breathe to the food we eat. In fact, carbon makes up nearly 20 percent of the human body. Without carbon, life as we know it wouldn’t... read more »

to suffer alone

In a Downton Abbey episode, beloved housemaid Anna Bates is brutally raped. It was heart-wrenching to watch her try to keep it a secret. The head housekeeper, Mrs. Hughes, found Anna shortly after the assault—bruised, crying, and hiding in a corner. Despite the strong urgings of Mrs. Hughes, Anna... read more »

turning to friends

Redwood trees can grow to incredible heights—some reaching more than 375 feet! Yet most redwoods have a shallow root system that typically burrows less than 10 feet into the ground. So how do the massive redwoods stay upright? What keeps them from crashing to the ground, especially when strong... read more »

heart condition

Every morning I pop a baby-strength aspirin. Heart disease runs in my family, and my doctor says it’s good for the health of my ticker. The particular brand of aspirin I take has the shape of a heart embedded on one side of each little yellow pill. At first, I thought it was just cute. But now,... read more »

for everyone

The very first time one of the apostles stood up and publicly addressed a crowd about the good news of Jesus, he wanted to make it crystal-clear that what he was proclaiming was for everyone. The New Testament book of Acts tells us that this happened on the day of Pentecost—an annual Jewish feast.... read more »

clinging to hope

During the summer of 2011, Dave Mull spent nearly 4 hours adrift and alone in the rolling waves of Lake Michigan, clinging only to the handles of a Coleman cooler. The boat Dave had been fishing in had suddenly capsized and sank 5 miles offshore, forcing him and his three companions into the deep,... read more »

destructive pride

In the classic 1991 animated movie Beauty and the Beast, Gaston is the town’s strapping, egotistical hero. He’s a “manly man” admired by the locals and desired by many of the town’s younger women. Most seem to be huge fans of Gaston and overlook his obnoxious ways, except for the young and... read more »

the rules of grief

Two years ago, I held my father’s hand as he drew his last breath. Since then, as I’ve struggled to figure out what a world without Dad looks like, I’ve learned and relearned a few things about grieving. I’m learning that it’s okay to grieve. Solomon observed that there’s a time for... read more »

sleepless nights

Sleep. It’s one of the most underrated pleasures in life. There’s nothing like a good night’s rest or napping on a rainy day. My bed feels like a refuge—a small sanctuary from the cares of life. On some nights, however, sleep is hard to find. In the dark stillness, cares and concerns of all... read more »
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