Notes from Jan

Life Between the Lines

April 22, 2020

The Kleenex surprised me, tucked inside Mama’s Bible. I’d been sorting through books when I pulled her well-read copy off the shelf.  Thumbing through, I found the tissue alongside Genesis 12. It’s Abraham’s story of trusting in God’s Goodness,  then moving by faith, “unto a land that I will shew thee.”  Mama read the King James Version. Abraham just listened to God and started packing.

When I was a kid, we moved a lot so I can see why Mama’d marked that place.  It’s like she left a piece of herself behind, a reminder that life’s sometimes weeping-hard. But by faith, it’s possible to “move into a land that I will show thee. ”  Tissues talk; hers, mine and yours.

Weeping’s not new, nor are pandemics and moves away from the seeming safety of the familiar, or an itch to get back to normal, no matter how risky. But that’s part of why I love the Bible, mine and Mama’s.  It tells stories of real people,  who struggled to believe, God haters and God lovers, sometimes housed in the same body.  Most of all, the Bible’s a love story.  From Genesis to Revelation we see God’s faithful love, even when folks, then or now, could care less.

Faith-walkers, like Abraham and Mama, still tell their stories through the Bible, a tissue or notes in the margins. Not dead words, life givers. As for me, I’m learning there’s nothing wiser, no matter how stupid it looks, than trusting God to bring good from the worst.  Think of Good Friday, then Easter.

Someday, when this pandemic’s relegated to sentences in a history book, I hope the generations following  take courage from the stories discovered between the lines.  They will, if we refuse to return to business as usual. And they will, if we, no matter how weeping-hard life becomes, wholeheartedly love God and each other,  take care of this earth and daily dare to trust God as we faith the unknown.

Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or discouraged.  For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9 ,NLT



















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  • Reply James April 22, 2020 at 12:51 pm

    Great post Jan. I have my Mom’s Bible too, and her underlinings and marginal notes are there. I tell my students, “It has God’s authority, and Mom’s too!”

  • Reply Jan Carlberg April 22, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    There’s much to be learned between the lines. Loved what you tell your students! Our Moms still speak.

  • Reply Marty Lefever April 22, 2020 at 3:11 pm

    …your precious Mama, her King James Bible AND your amazing thoughts and insights, so beautifully expressed!! Thanks, dear friend!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 22, 2020 at 5:26 pm

      Thank you, Michigan Mary, my “faithful philodendron” of a friend.

  • Reply Dale April 22, 2020 at 5:14 pm

    Thanks Jan,

    A friend, who is the CFO of a major national healthcare organization, told me last night he works, he comes home and turns off his computer and phone and then weeps! I will share your insights with him. Once again, God’s timing is “pretty good.”

    Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 22, 2020 at 5:29 pm

      How painful and understandable. It’s overwhelming. He has a good friend in you, Dale, as have Jud and I for many years. We need each other until we’re finally Home.

  • Reply Maggie Rowe April 24, 2020 at 8:20 pm

    We “faith” the unknown. Yes Jan – thank you once again!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 25, 2020 at 10:28 am

      Yes, we do, dear Maggie.. Together’s better, always.

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