Notes from Jan

Life’s Inconveniences

January 31, 2018

If I thought it was hard putting up the Christmas tree, taking it down proved harder, since, for the better part of two months it delivered “tidings of great joy.” 

Why now?

Maybe because February’s coming with heart-shaped everything plus Lent.

Feels awkward ushering in Lent with joy.

Chad and family handled putting up, decorating and taking down the tree.

My task? De-trim da tree.

No mere bauble nestled inside tissue paper or cardboard divider.  Each ornament contained stories of places and people from the journey.

Nautical themes bobbed off branches, gifts from others except for one I gave Jud: small sign with dangling lure, “An old fisherman lives here with the catch of his life.” 

Ornaments from Gordon’s trustees provided two favorites: Bill Lund’s carefully carved Norwegian Partners and the one from our final Gordon Christmas,  a pair of shoes with the words, “Big Shoes to Fill.”

Scandinavia showed up with God Jul,  red and pewter hearts, Dala horses, wheat weavings, and mama’s hand knit bells.

Treasures from Michigan Marty,  remind of evergreen friendship.

There were those few surviving clay or paper ornaments made by our children and Grands. Priceless.

As I packed them away, only some suggested a religious theme, two crosses, some angels and cross stitched JOY ornaments from years of being part of JOY Bible Study at Grace Chapel.

Leaves me wondering, ” what is sacred?”


People, places and purposes captured in symbols.

Love out on a limb.

Can’t believe I almost left the tree and ornaments  boxed this year.

Felt inconvenient,  hard to ask for help.

Count Rostov in A Gentleman In Moscow  says,” In the end, it has been the inconveniences that have mattered to me most.”

In life

and love.

And sometimes when Christmas comes in a box.

Batteries not included.













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  • Reply Maggie January 31, 2018 at 10:53 pm

    “Love out on a limb” – I love this Jan! And I’m glad Gordon gifted you with the perfect ornament, that pair of shoes. You and Jud left big shoes to fill indeed.

    So appreciate your posts. I stop whatever I am doing when they come and read each one with appreciation and gladness of heart.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg February 1, 2018 at 4:03 pm

      What would life be without those who risk, share, willing to dangle, like Love out on a limb. Thanks for reading, Maggie. Happy to read these posts deliver “gladness of heart.”

  • Reply wendy lane February 1, 2018 at 12:01 am

    I love the people, places, stories and love behind our ornaments too (when I can remember!) We have a couple sheep from you Jan, think of you every year when I put them up and when I take them down. <3

    • Reply Jan Carlberg February 1, 2018 at 4:00 pm

      You and Steve were faithful sheep-herders at Grace Chapel. You “earned” those sheep.

  • Reply Mark Taylor February 1, 2018 at 1:03 am

    I’m glad you put up your tree and ornaments again this year. It’s a good reminder to all of us to go through the paces that might seem inconvenient or too hard (physically or emotionally). But the very act of doing is part of what makes the traditions meaningful.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg February 1, 2018 at 3:58 pm

      “Faith without works” kills more than the spirit. Jud’s example of steadfastness, purposefulness pushes me, helps me “go through the paces”, when I’m tempted to give up or take a Jonah-nap to avoid God’s nudge or carry on a tradition as ingrained as putting up a Christmas tree.

  • Reply Carolyn Sylvester February 1, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    Jan – your years at Joy Bible Study at Grace Chapel were my “formative years.” I treasure those memories. “Thank you for your service,” as “they” say! Remember you are yoked with Christ, sharing the memories and the burdens. How wonderful it is for Him to be yoked to you! Blessings on your day.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg February 1, 2018 at 3:49 pm

      And formative years for me, as well, Carolyn. I’m grateful for all of you who listened and learned with me. Sweet times.

  • Reply Margaret Hunt February 1, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    I thoroughly enjoy your posts and your story telling. Your stories always touch me and I am encouraged to write some of my own. Perhaps mine will be of interest to my grandchildren and my eight great grandchildren.

    Thank you for sharing your gift so freely. Margaret

    • Reply Jan Carlberg February 1, 2018 at 3:46 pm

      Please do write your stories, Margaret. They’re the true treasures, tax-free inheritance.

  • Reply Dale Lefever February 1, 2018 at 4:55 pm

    Thanks Jan,

    In our family, we subscribe to a “statute of limitations” concept for sharing stories. It makes us wonder what life would have been like had we “known.” Psalm 23 makes it clear that when we move from the pasture, we pass through the valley before sitting with Him at the table.

    Blessings, Dale

  • Reply Barrie levine February 2, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    I don’t put up a Christmas Tree — think Menorah — but I appreciated the musing, philosophical tone of your lovely piece, introducing the deeper meaning within your collection of “ornaments.” There is much to share between cultures and the open-hearted people within them.

  • Reply Valerie McCoy February 3, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    Oh my goodness…as I am befuddled this morning with ‘inconveniences’, your sweetness comes along and “smacks me upside the head”, as some friends like to say. Truly the inconveniences of my life do indeed matter the most because they carry with them…trust, obedience, laughter, and longstanding devotion. That’s a life worth being inconvenienced over!

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