Notes from Jan

Lost and Found

April 9, 2020

We’ve all lost something during these prolonged time outs.

But what have we found?

I found a journal in a stack of books, words written from May  to September 2014, the year I lost Jud in November. It remained unopened for several days.  Enough trauma in the world. Why add to Lent’s laments?

Finally, this past Monday, I stuffed my pockets with Kleenex, mumbled a “Help me, Jesus” prayer and took a seat.

Reading tentatively, word upon word,  page after page of scribbles, jots, lines and spaces, revealed a love story, better than any  romantic fiction I’m fond of reading or watching.    Hidden in the journal, I don’t remember writing, were snapshots of a loving family, caring friends, good neighbors, diligent doctors, nurses, aides, orderlies, cleaners and tray servers. And overall, God’s mercy and grace, no matter what.

Perhaps, what amazed me most was life going on in the middle of great suffering, mostly Jud’s.  We laughed, read, watched Red Sox and Patriots games, attended church.  We planned Camp MoPo  and sleepovers with our grandchildren.  Jud fished with Chad, Luke and Poco.    We celebrated birthdays and anniversaries. In between hospital visits for chemo and tests, we lived life as fully as possible.

Then, came lock down.  Jud in isolation at MGH. To visit, we needed to scrub,  wear gloves and masks. No children allowed.  Still, life more fragile and precious continued, measured  and monitored by doctors, nurses and lab technicians. Tough decisions  made, important protocols followed, days became weeks.  There were tears, quaking hearts, anxious minds, flimsy faith to be sure. But we took life in small bites, moment by moment, savoring words from God and others, listening to music like Ortega’s ” when I am alone, give me Jesus.”

And Jesus came and stayed.

Still here.

Much to my surprise, I never lost it as I read the journal.    Made it through with Kleenex to spare. Gratitude can do that.

After closing the journal, I found myself singing the song, a Haitian nursing assistant, hummed on the first day I took a seat to watch and pray while they hooked Jud up for his treatment at MGH.

“Great is Thy faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness

Morning by morning new mercies I see

And all I have needed Thy hand hath provided

Great is Thy faithfulness

Lord unto me.”

It was true then,  as my journal reminded me.

And it is true today, during this season of gloves, masks,  isolation and uncertainty.

On the last entry, I wrote the verse Jud and I hung onto that September day. It was found in Colossians 1:11-12 in The Message.

“We pray that you’l have the strength to stick it out over the long haul–not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives.  It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.”

Jud was good at balancing hope and reality.  While I prayed this prayer for Jud, He prayed it for me, knowing I’d need it more.  And I did and do.

When we felt lost, God found us,  and gave us strength to endure the unendurable.

That was then,  today we have an unexpected challenge to balance hope with reality. During this uncertain time, I believe God’s strengthening and working in us and our world.  Why? Because God knows what’s coming, so is  ” making us strong enough to enjoy everything bright and beautiful he has for us.”

Some day.

Hard to believe?

Grace never made sense.






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  • Reply James Griffin April 9, 2020 at 11:53 am

    Thanks Jan. Sometimes it’s hard to reopen a book.
    God bless you. James

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 9, 2020 at 3:00 pm

      A thoughtful and understanding response, James. Thank you.

  • Reply Jim Trent April 9, 2020 at 11:58 am

    Thank you, Jan, for your profound words.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 9, 2020 at 3:01 pm

      At most, some words from my heart to any who needed a heart to heart moment. Thanks for listening, Jim.

  • Reply Peggy Hothem April 9, 2020 at 12:15 pm

    Thank you Jan for sharing your heart so openly with words that can minister to all of us in these days of waiting. Great is Thy Faithfulness is so true, even when sometimes our feelings are not quite there. But Sunday is coming! There is hope because of Jesus.

  • Reply Nancy Mering April 9, 2020 at 12:55 pm

    You’ve given us so much here that’s so meaningful, Jan. Thank you for all you’ve shared. Certainly many of us have had similar experiences of loss and/or will have them. I’m especially grateful for the two Colossians verses: particularly pertinent now and in so many life experiences. Good to hold on to—

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 9, 2020 at 3:08 pm

      Truths embedded in Holy Week in the middle of a global pandemic help to keep me tethered, afloat while the sea billows roll outside my window. May Christ, who truly “endured the unendurable” have mercy, yet again, on this world for whom he died.

  • Reply ruth s wacome April 9, 2020 at 1:01 pm

    Thank you, Jan. I hear ya.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 9, 2020 at 3:09 pm

      Peace to you, dear Ruth, as you “faith” each day.

  • Reply Radina Welton April 9, 2020 at 1:19 pm

    Tissues, please! Fred Rogers says “Look for the helpers.” YOU are a helper! Thank you! I really hope the day will come when this is all behind us and we can meet.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 9, 2020 at 3:11 pm

      And I look forward to time with you, as well, Radina. It will come, just not as quickly as most of us wish. Until then, we remain heart to heart.

  • Reply Julie Mozena April 9, 2020 at 1:31 pm

    This post brought tears to my eyes, Jan. You write with such grace, warmth and depth. Thank you.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 9, 2020 at 3:18 pm

      Oh, dear Julie, word has traveled from California to my perch on this side of the country, word of all you and other friends did to help Heather, Matt, Lily, Luke and Basil as 3 of the 5 fought this virulent virus. I’m so grateful my children and grands have such faithful friends. I think you’re one way God shows up with casseroles, chili, and cookies, which were Basil’s favorite. You are part of my growing list of big and beautiful blessings. Now, If I could just get your curly hair!

  • Reply Myrna April 9, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    So beautiful, yet true. Thanks for sharing your hurts , healing and most of all your heart. ❤️

  • Reply Jan Carlberg April 9, 2020 at 3:20 pm

    Thank you, Myrna. We need to find ways to stay heart to heart until we can be face to face and unmasked.

  • Reply Jeri April 9, 2020 at 4:28 pm

    Yes, you are brave to open a book filled with strong emotions during a difficult period. But in the end, the strength found there, the friendships and beauty found there, bring a light of perseverance and love. So very much needed now as well, facing a new storm. Journals are like that, I have found. Revisiting them reminds us of how much the Lord carries us, reminds us of the Ebenezer planted. And you are sharing with us this thanksgiving, Jan. Blessings to you in this time of disruption.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 9, 2020 at 8:27 pm

      Thank you, Jeri. I appreciated your reminder of “the Ebenezer planted.” We may be in isolation but never all alone.

  • Reply Valerie McCoy April 9, 2020 at 4:39 pm

    Oh Jan….”life in small bites” while we try to understand grace. I am reminded of Ann Lamott’s words, which I may have shared with you at another writing;
    “Grace bats last.” Sometimes I understand her meaning in this and at other moments I ask too many questions. But this I know; I am so grateful that you read your journal and that your love for us, during your most personal, aching writings, were shared with this yearning body of believers who adore you and want to share this, our Maunday Thursday.

    And as I was reading Buechner this morning he challenges each of us during holy week, as our virus frustration reaches a crescendo, to whisper to each and every person we pass, ‘Jesus died for you, precious one.’ And so I do.

  • Reply Jan Carlberg April 9, 2020 at 8:30 pm

    What beautiful reminders, dear Val, from two of my favorite writers.. “Grace bats last” and “Jesus died for you ,precious one.” So many precious people driving trucks, hauling our trash, stocking shelves and tending sick and wounded. Heroic, precious life givers.

  • Reply Dale April 10, 2020 at 11:16 am

    Thanks Jan,
    God gave us the Scriptures so we would never forget Him. He gave us our memories, so we could cherish, for a lifetime, the ones He gave us to love.

    I don’t want to get spooky, but I believe those who have died in Christ are alive and conscious in His presence – so watch what you say about some of those pictures. Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 13, 2020 at 3:33 pm

      Thank you, Dale for being one of God’s gifts to us during those days of isolation. I believe the veil is thin between here and there.

  • Reply wendy lane April 13, 2020 at 8:49 am

    Oh I loved, loved, loved this entry. So very precious and powerful. Sharing your experiences, so real, so raw, so hard – coupled with your faith, so firm, so beautiful, so encouraging, so heartwarming – was just like a big warm hug from you and God. I love that translation of Colossians. Have already copied it and pasted it into an email I’m going to send to my loved ones. And have already forwarded this post to others. Thank you for sharing your beautiful heart and faith – it helps. Love you.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 13, 2020 at 3:34 pm

      Thank you for this virtual hug, Wendy. I’m grateful you were encouraged, as you’ve often encouraged me.

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