Notes from Jan

Lets Write Better Stories

June 19, 2020

We need stories.  The least interested child or adult, whether in class or church snaps to when they hear, “Let me tell you a story.”  History’s  a story.  We need it taught, but even more  to remember so we don’t repeat the worst of our past. For example, today is Juneteenth, a day commemorating the official end of slavery  in 1865.   But current events demonstrate not everyone got the memo then or now.

On June 2nd, I turned eighty. 80! That won’t make it into any history book but it’s part of my story. While the pandemic came out of the blue, my birthday didn’t.  I’d expected it for the better part of a year and  sung happy birthday for months , albeit while washing my hands.  So, in light of all the suffering and dying in this world,  it’s a gift to be alive with enough  breath leftover  to blow out a candle or two.   Eighty lit candles would’ve set off smoke alarms, which usually signals to my neighbors I’m cooking supper.

So what’s the point?  At eighty it’s tempting to see change as a threat, instead of a sacred opportunity. This isn’t a time to despair. We, the people, can wrest the narrative from those who divide and spread hate and fear of the other. You and I  can write a history worth repeating.  We can, but only if we will. 

Historian, Jon Meacham in The Soul of America wrote,”In our finest hours, the soul of the country manifests itself in an inclination to open our arms rather than to clench our fists, to look out rather than to turn inward; to accept rather than to reject.”

We’re going to make history one way or another. So lets write a better story together. Each day’s a blank page.

Thank God.






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  • Reply Jim Trent June 19, 2020 at 5:23 pm


    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 19, 2020 at 8:43 pm

      Martin Luther King,, Jr. said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

  • Reply Randall Mathews June 19, 2020 at 5:39 pm

    Thanks, dear Jan, for your insight which is always much appreciated in this world. It makes my day a little brighter. Oh, BTW, best wishes on your 80th!!

    Big hugs to Maggie and Kate.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 19, 2020 at 8:45 pm

      Thanks, Randy. Maggie and Kate will love getting e-hugs from you. I’m grateful for your good wishes, as well.
      Love to you and Alice.

  • Reply Lisa Carlson Penta June 19, 2020 at 5:50 pm

    Thank you, Jan. As always.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 19, 2020 at 8:46 pm

      Thank you, Lisa, for using some of your “blank page” to read and respond.

  • Reply Shirley Westrate June 19, 2020 at 5:51 pm

    Oh, I wish I’d known that all those Happy Birthday stanzas on June 2nd had actually been for you! And I’m all in for better stories.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 19, 2020 at 8:48 pm

      Keep washing those caring hands of yours and singing away, dear Shirley. It’s always somebody’s birthday. As for stories, you know how to tell and write a good one!

  • Reply Ann Menzie June 19, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    Yesterday Trinity Covenant Church became Highrock Lexington. While we celebrate the change. We also mourn the past. May God’s glory shine thru this new entity

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 19, 2020 at 8:58 pm

      Change is hard, especially during the upheaval of a pandemic and protests for needed changes in our society/world.
      As you navigate new terrain may you find your footing on the “Rock of Ages, cleft for you. ” You have the privilege of being part of God’s glory-shine as you flex instead of fume during your church’s transition.

  • Reply Jill MacCully June 19, 2020 at 6:50 pm

    Happy Belated Birthday, Jan!!!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 19, 2020 at 9:02 pm

      Thank you, dear Jill. I am grateful you chose to use part of your “blank page” to read something I’ve written. Younger ones, like you, add to my hope chest.

  • Reply Maggie Rowe June 19, 2020 at 7:01 pm

    Excellent and thought-provoking as usual, Jan. We are doing our best to write those next chapters with you.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 19, 2020 at 9:04 pm

      You, dear Maggie, are doing that so well through your spoken and written words. I cheer you on from my Perch.

  • Reply wendy lane June 19, 2020 at 7:55 pm

    No way you’re 80!
    I love how you have always been, and continue to be, so adventurous – and that includes open to change.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 19, 2020 at 9:12 pm

      Hah! Lets just say this is a good time to be required to wear a mask. As for being open to change, it helped that I spent most of my life with college students and had a husband who challenged me to read wider and think deeper than I might have chosen. You and Steve were two of those college students who kept me open to change and adventure. Thank you!

  • Reply Nancy Sheys June 19, 2020 at 8:01 pm

    Amen! ❤️

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 19, 2020 at 9:15 pm

      Hearts are my favorite motif and you’re a faithful reader for which I’m grateful, Nancy.

  • Reply Linda Moore June 19, 2020 at 8:54 pm

    Here’s to the birthday GIRL! I’m so glad you are here to continue the gift of your words, humor and wisdom. You are a gift that indeed keeps on giving-ultimately a gift from the Father to us!

  • Reply Jan Carlberg June 19, 2020 at 9:18 pm

    Well as my youngest granddaughter said when considering my age, “So far, so good.” And that’s the truth. You, dear Linda, have been one of God’s gifts to many women throughout New England, including me. Thank you for your card, too. You have a good memory to match your good heart.

  • Reply Myrna June 19, 2020 at 9:44 pm

    Happy belated birthday, Jan! I was pleasantly surprised to find out you and my sister not only enjoy the same birthday but the same birth year! You both seem much younger than the number would indicate. Blessings on you and thank you for consistently giving us food for thought with nuggets of hope mixed in!❤️

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 20, 2020 at 11:59 am

      Well, that’s a fun surprise to find another June-bug. It doesn’t work this way for some, but the older I get the more hopeful I become. I have a hunch it’s years of learning to trust Jesus no matter how it looks or feels.

  • Reply David L Smith June 19, 2020 at 11:04 pm

    HBD, and thanks for your stories!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 20, 2020 at 12:01 pm

      Thank you, David. All those years at Gordon with students and alums like you have kept me younger than my years. Gratitude’s great soul food for brain, body and heart.

  • Reply dale June 20, 2020 at 2:23 pm

    Thanks Jan,

    We share the same birth-day, but not the same…..

    We don’t have to celebrate all of our history, but we should remember it – God does.

    Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 20, 2020 at 3:00 pm

      So far I’m proud we share the same birthday, Dale. For the most part, you’ve respected your elder. You and Marty are such an important part of my history. As for story telling, you’re one of the best!

  • Reply Nancy Mering June 20, 2020 at 2:59 pm

    You help each of us write a better story, Jan, and I am/we are so grateful. Many happy, healthy returns of your special day.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 21, 2020 at 8:25 am

      Thank you, dear Nancy. Your story includes deep and wide reach into people who we may overlook or disdain but God remembers, loves and calls by name. Your redemptive work through AMIRAH to help women trapped by human slavery and your work in Kenya through the KIJABE education and feeding program inspire me to be and to do more. Thank you for your faith-full example.

  • Reply Laura June 21, 2020 at 10:41 am

    Jan!!!!!! I hope we are all as articulate, faithful and passionate as you are at the big 8-0 and may we all Strive for better stories. Happy belated 80 and big Distancing-hugs to you. Keep pushing us all! Xo

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 21, 2020 at 11:19 am

      Well, very dear Laura, you’re one of “my Gordon girls” who’ve helped keep me younger than my years and face suggest. Thank you!!! X0

  • Reply Marianne Cannon June 21, 2020 at 3:24 pm

    Happy Birthday, Jan! Even if you took poetic license when describing washing your hands while singing Happy Birthday 3 (my grandbabies tell me) times, I love the image. However, if I practice the drill, I will need more than soap and water to even maintain the skin on my hands until January! Much love in your new year, Marianne

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 22, 2020 at 3:47 pm

      Me, too. Hand wringing would be worse, however. It does a number on mind and heart, as well as one’s hands. Thanks for your good wishes. I look forward to seeing your beautiful eyes at church in a couple of months, Marianne.

  • Reply CAROLYN SYLVESTER June 22, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    Jan, Well I sure hope you get 80 birthday greetings! Happy Birthday to you! God bless you and all that you do to bless others. love, Carolyn

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 22, 2020 at 3:48 pm

      Thank you, dear Carolyn. I feel blessed and grateful. All the years we shared together at JOY Bible Study continue to feed my soul.

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