Notes from Jan

Routine Matters

December 31, 2020

The older I get, the more I value and need routine. It keeps me from overthinking, or thinking at all. Like,what to wear? I decide the night before, when I’m more lucid, which isn’t saying much.

Since the pandemic took its deadly turn, and we’re home bound, I’ve taken to wearing pretty much the same outfit. Sweatpants with assorted tops, which turns out to be either a red turtleneck or white one during the holidays. Long gone is any fashion flair. There’s no scarf tossed over my shoulder or tied neatly Dr. Birx style. Most days I look like an athlete who’s taken time off, too much time.

Well, what prompted this blog was thinking about routine as sacred rituals. December 29th was a day at Canterbury when they remembered the death of Saint Thomas Becket, 850 years ago. Dean Robert posed a question that still niggles. “What did the monks do the day after Archbishop Becket was murdered in the Cathedral?” The answer was, despite fears they’d be next, the monks resumed their daily routine. At the sounding of the bells, they prayed, read or sang the Psalms. And through acts of discipline, love, and obedience lived out their calling that day. Even with quaking knees and pounding hearts, terror took a backseat to trust in God and their daily duties.

And so it is for us as we inch into this New Year with our dreads, sorrows and leftover hopes from 2020. However, where we place our trust matters. For sure, I’m hopeful about the vaccine’s efficacy. Sometimes we’re so busy praying for a miracle, we’re oblivious when God delivers one like a shot in the arm.

Well, come 2021, for starters, I hope to be awake. But not to cheer a ball dropping in Times Square but to be fully present now, not distracted by 2020 hindsight, nor anxious about tomorrow. I, like those monks, hang my hope on the Christ of Christmas, God with us. “O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood.” (Psalm 71:5, NLT)

As for 2021 resolutions, for starters, I’ve resolved to never say, “I need some alone time.”

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  • Reply Hilda Alajajian December 31, 2020 at 11:25 pm

    Thank you for the enCOURAGEment – I needed a little of that middle syllable tonight and so am very grateful for your post – again! 🙂

    • Reply Jan Carlberg December 31, 2020 at 11:48 pm

      Well, we need each other. Thanks, for your encouragement, Hilda, and may you find unexpected blessings in 2021, other than relief that 2020 is behind us…almost, as I write.

  • Reply Jennifer Dickinson January 1, 2021 at 12:15 am

    Wishing you and the family a Very Happy and Healthy New Year!
    Love Niffy

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 1, 2021 at 1:04 pm

      Thanks, Niffy. Loved your Christmas card and letter, a good way to close the miles between us. And may God surprise you with more than a shot in the arm.

  • Reply Kristina Harter January 1, 2021 at 8:15 am

    Happy New Year Momo! Love your writing and we Love you!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 1, 2021 at 1:08 pm

      Well, what a lovely surprise to see your name, my precious daughter-in-love. You have been a cushion of Grace during this challenging year. I feel a growing excitement about 2021 and a change in wardrobe.

  • Reply Marylou Habecker January 1, 2021 at 8:45 am

    Happy Née year,Jan! Love the post.
    So interesting about the “outfits” we wear! Remember the days of a “thousand dresses” and scarves and chicken dinners and ….
    God is so good to give us new routines and life and breath.
    We love you!!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 1, 2021 at 1:10 pm

      Yes, dear Marylou. And seeing your name appear is a breath of fresh air along with the blessing of fun and fond memories.

  • Reply Laura F-G January 1, 2021 at 9:34 am

    Alone time??!!! Not only are your posts full of God’s promises and wisdom, you always bring a smile to our hearts! Love you Jan! Happy ‘21!!!!

    PS I am sure you look adorable sweats snd all!!!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 1, 2021 at 1:14 pm

      Well, between masks and sweats, it’s hard to know who I am, much less my rating on any adorable scale. For sure, you are one of my most precious “Gordon girls”, stylish and adorable even masked in your cute and clever Christmas card.

  • Reply Huntley Leavens Skinner January 1, 2021 at 9:55 am

    I have loved Dean Robert and thought also about the monks the day after. Miss seeing you dear one but we will put our sweat pants on and do this day trusting Him with it. Happy 8 th day of Christmas

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 1, 2021 at 1:24 pm

      And I miss seeing you and the rest of our Christ Church family, dear Huntley. I do love leaning into and learning about the Twelve Days of Christmas. Growing up Baptist we pretty much hopped from Christmas to Easter. I love and need these extended and purposeful seasons of Advent and Lent. Meanwhile, we sing, pray and do God’s bidding in sweatpants or silk scarves to bless God and each other on this holy 8th day of Christmas. JOY to you and Tom.

  • Reply Valerie McCoy January 1, 2021 at 12:24 pm

    …and along with my black turtleneck and Christmas-y necklace, I settle into my overstuffed chair on New Year’s Eve and listen to the Midford Series. There was something so comforting listening to Father Tim and his wife celebrate their ‘normal’ Christmas service along with their beloved congregation. It assured me that 2020 is indeed in the rear view mirror and 2021 has healing expectation.
    With love to you, gracious lady! ❤

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 1, 2021 at 1:29 pm

      And love to you, dear Valerie. You had me at ” Midford”. How I’ve loved reading and listening to those books. Hallmark took a stab at it…but missed. And I, like you, have healing expectations for this new year. Fresh starts, new beginnings are Grace gifts from God’s loving and redemptive heart, who knows who we are and what we need. So, today I am wearing a green turtleneck, a sign of hoped-for growth. Oh and I’ve added a necklace, little glitz to toast this New Year.

  • Reply James Griffin January 1, 2021 at 6:55 pm

    Nice post. I live and teach on the campus of a Benedictine monastery and school. Yes, if there were gun shots or bombs, the monks would still pray, in the words of Mrs. Howard, “praying through the Psalms.” One soul at a time, one brick at a time, one day at a time.
    God bless you and yours, James

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 1, 2021 at 9:18 pm

      Thank you, dear James. You are blessed to teach in such a place and, I’m sure, you are a gift to your students. We have much to learn from the saints with whom we mingle or jostle past each day.

  • Reply Wendy Lane January 2, 2021 at 11:35 am

    I read that again, slowly and thoughtfully – so rich and beautiful. The story of the monks response to a murder in their cathedral was powerful. “The answer was, despite fears they’d be next, the monks resumed their daily routine. At the sounding of the bells, they prayed, read or sang the Psalms. And through acts of discipline, love, and obedience lived out their calling that day. Even with quaking knees and pounding hearts, terror took a backseat to trust in God and their daily duties.” Wow! Thank you for sharing this and your other wonderful, uplifting, faith-filled, encouraging thoughts! Oh – and your funny ones too – haha we’ve had enough alone time! Love you!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 2, 2021 at 12:54 pm

      And I love you, dear Wendy and Steve. I’m a proud parent of so many amazing Gordon “kids.” You and Steve and two of them.

      • Reply Wendy Lane January 2, 2021 at 3:27 pm


  • Reply Nopi Sidiropoulou January 3, 2021 at 4:33 am

    Thank you so much for this article. It came when I most needed. Have a healthy New year!
    Greetings from Athens, Greece.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 3, 2021 at 10:20 pm

      Wow! That’s a long way off. Thanks for reading and responding , Nopi. I learned that the Greek Orthodox Church will celebrate Christmas on January 7th. So a JOYOUS Christmas to you.

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