Notes from Jan

Mending Times

August 3, 2021

As I age, I’m aware there’s less of it. Time. Reminders lurk in odd places, like at the grocery store. The guy’s T-shirt read,”In dog years I’d be dead!” I laughed, then calculated my age. Fast. Dr. Seuss reflected,” How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June.”

When I was growing up, my parents reminded me often to “redeem the time.” That meant quit wasting it. Stop stalling, which I was good at. Still am. So, how does one “redeem the time”? How do we buy it back? Forgiveness? Reconciliation? Choose better today? All three, for starters.

The King James version of Ephesians 5:16 reads, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Time is not evil. It’s God’s gift. But we use it for good or evil. The same verse in the New Living Translation reads, ” So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days.”

These are perilous times for our climate, nation, world, physical and mental well-being, and The Church. Sometimes, we’re too tribal for truth. We lack empathy for those outside our kind or our belief system. Too often, we forget to be civil, grateful and teachable. We miss “opportunities to do good.”

In contrast, I share again a story about John Constable, nineteenth century English landscape painter. His eldest son, John, wrote in his diary about one unforgettable day. Critics came from far and near to their home for an exhibition of his father’s newest paintings. The focal point was a massive landscape hidden behind curtains, for a special unveiling. When the drapes parted, folks gasped at the canvas, slashed from top to bottom.

Later that evening, son John returned home, looking guilty and scared. The father asked, “John, did you do this?”


What happened next marked the son forever. John’s father simply asked,”How shall we mend it, my dear?”

Annie Dillard wrote, “How we spend our days, is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Art Buchwald said,” Whether it’s the best of times or the worst of times, it’s the only time we’ve got.”

As I write and reflect, I’m overwhelmed with guilt, and sadness from missed opportunities to do good, or from times I contributed to the evil in this world. There are many ways to “slash a canvas.” Then I remember one of the names for Jesus is Redeemer. And tenderly I sense Grace whisper, “How shall we mend it, my dear?”

Maybe that question belongs on a T-shirt. It’s bound to deliver more hope than “In Dog Years I’d be dead.”

As Dean Robert reminds us daily, “The night has passed and the day lies open before us, let us pray with one heart and mind as we rejoice in the gift of this new day…”


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  • Reply Karen Grant August 3, 2021 at 11:22 am

    Thank you for speaking to my heart today!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 3, 2021 at 12:01 pm

      Heart to heart…a good way to connect, always. Thank you, Karen.

  • Reply Nancy Mering August 3, 2021 at 11:28 am

    Such important reminders for us, Jan. Thank you. Hearing Dean Robert say those words every day is one of the best parts of listening to him for me—

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 3, 2021 at 12:03 pm

      Me, too, Nancy. I love those daily welcomes and reminders to all of us in “The Garden Congregation.” Thanks for staying connected, dear Nancy. I miss seeing you and David.

  • Reply Becky Manseau Barnett August 3, 2021 at 11:29 am

    Ah, so grateful for this good word today!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 3, 2021 at 12:04 pm

      And I’m always grateful to see your name pop up, dear Becky. Sending hugs to you, Will and your family.

  • Reply Jeri August 3, 2021 at 11:31 am

    Perfect! Thank you Jan! Such rich images…

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 3, 2021 at 12:08 pm

      How blessed we are to have this means of staying together and encouraging each other during this time of much distancing. I do love that story of John Constable. So much grace and alas, so the opposite of how I sometimes reacted as a parent. It’s part of why I love being a grandparent., one of God’s gifts of a second chance.

  • Reply Dale August 3, 2021 at 12:08 pm

    Jan, thanks for the “timely” reminder. As I observe that today is the youngest I ever will be I remember a time management guru stating, “time is life, which means how we spend our time is what we value in life.” Sobering truth, but as you mention and even more important reality for a believer.

    Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 3, 2021 at 12:11 pm

      Sobering truth, for sure, my dear brother Dale. I hope you and Marty are still enjoying days at the cottage on beautiful Burt Lake. I remember it well as “time well spent.” As time with you, dear friend, always is.

  • Reply Wendy Lane August 3, 2021 at 2:55 pm

    I’ll raise my hand for a “How shall we mend it, my dear?” t-shirt! Beautiful post Jan. So good to always remember what a gift our time is, and how valuable it is. Thank you! <3

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 3, 2021 at 3:15 pm

      I knew you’d be up for something like that! Thanks, Wendy, for connecting. Most of us have forgotten how to mend..cloths, as well as relationships. Both take skill and time. You and Steve are thoughtful , caring menders.

      • Reply Wendy August 3, 2021 at 3:42 pm

        We learned from some of the best in you and your wonderful husband <3

        • Reply Jan Carlberg August 3, 2021 at 9:28 pm

          Aww, thanks, Wendy. Jud and I loved being a team.

  • Reply Kris August 3, 2021 at 4:10 pm

    Love this! So true – such good words – thank you. Xoxox

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 3, 2021 at 9:35 pm

      You’re welcome, very dear Kris. Hope you’re having a great time with your family in North Carolina.
      So happy you’re back in the neighborhood. You know the importance of mending and tending hurting folks with grace.

  • Reply Maggie Wallem Rowe August 4, 2021 at 6:48 pm

    Jan, I had not heard the story before of the slashing of the canvas. The father’s response was truly extraordinary. I will not forget this lesson or your post. You spoke so directly to my heart. I’m not quite in December yet, but “October” feels quite chilly at times!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 5, 2021 at 12:54 pm

      Thank you, dear Maggie. It’s a lesson and image that challenges me to be a person of Grace and mercy. in a world, too harsh and chilly for our good or the good of others.

  • Reply Joyce Ruppell August 5, 2021 at 9:33 am

    such important words for today and everyday. How often I remember my parents advising me to “redeem the time” for life is short and how I was responsible for being a faithful steward of my use of time. I have tried to follow their advice my whole lifelong. We can always find something good to do to bring light and hope to the people in our lives.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 5, 2021 at 1:01 pm

      Yes, dear Joyce. It is part of how we are to show we are followers of Christ, children of God, not members of a particular party or tribe. “In Christ there is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female……(Galatians 3:28, NLT) And I would add: Republican or Democrat, Liberal or Conservative,. We’ve much mending to do and no one is more ready to help us redeem these times and the time of our lives than Christ, The Redeemer.

  • Reply Mrs Toni Lovingood August 9, 2021 at 2:25 pm

    Last spring in a book called “A Tribute to Moms” I was introduced to your mother’s writings. I can’t begin to tell you how I have been blessed in reading them. Her obituary said she wrote 16 books. I have read 13 and I know I am missing “The Mending Basket”, but do you have a list that I could then search for any titles I might be missing? I was a little sad when I was getting to the end of the list of her writings and then I googled your name and was DELIGHTED to find out you are a writer also. I just purchased “The Welcome Song”. Reading your posts reminded me so much of your mother’s writings and I am so glad the writing has continued with you. Each book is underlined, highlighted and pages turned down with so many lessons I don’t want to forget. Thank you for this post. It was so true and so good.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 9, 2021 at 5:48 pm

      What a lovely surprise to meet another person who loves my Mama’s books. For sure, she encouraged me to write. The blog’s been an important way for me to write and connect, especially when my husband was ill, after he died and during this pandemic. As for her titles, have a look and see if you have all of these.:
      The Sun is Shining on the Other Side…it is a collection of her stories that I helped compile
      Who Will Wind the Clock?
      A Nail in a Sure Place
      Prop’ Up the Leanin’ Side
      All God’s Children Got Robes
      Violets for Mr. B.
      First Comes the Wind
      Stories from the Beach Chair
      Papa’s Place
      First We Have Coffee..her best seller and most beloved
      Stories from the Sea’
      The Mending Basket
      Thank you for reading the blog, Toni., and even more for reading and cherishing words my Mama wrote and lived.

  • Reply Toni Lovingood August 10, 2021 at 10:05 am

    Thank you for this list of 13 books. Is “The Sun is Shining on the Other side” 1994 (which I have a beautiful autographed copy of!) the same book as “The Margaret Jensen Collection”? 1990?
    If so then I am only missing “The Mending Basket” which I will add to the collection. I also purchased an issue of Virtue magazine from 1989 that had an article from your parents regarding marriage.
    All of these are treasures to me. I have spent hours at the kitchen table with my Bible, journal and your mother’s books.
    My husband is from Murphy, NC and we lived there for 37 years. We have been to the Friendly Center in Greensboro and Wilmington so the routes your parents traveled were familiar to us.
    My favorite stories are lamb soup, ugly shoes, The Dress, “while you are dying iron”, Red linoleum, old songs like “The Eastern Gate” and “Come and Dine” brought back so many memories, Annie & Willie’s prayer.
    Her writings painted a picture so clear that the reader could almost taste the meatballs for Sunday dinner and I plan to make the salad dressing of orange juice, mayo and sugar.
    A big lesson was “Ven you have heart room, you have house room”. She lived the gift of hospitality. She opened her home and cared for strangers with love and a meal as she had seen her mother do. She shared painful moments in her life. A wayward son, cancer, a son moving away never to return, sudden loss of spouse, loss of Shalom dream, etc. I have a clock that Ken always winds weekly. Her books and the lessons are timeless.
    I read some of the CaringBridge Archive and see that you have endured loss also. Thank you for being a vessel used by God through your writings.
    Many blessings,
    It is so apparent that the same joy and acceptance is in your life too. What a legacy to the next generation!

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