Notes from Jan

Gold Mettle Winners

August 15, 2021

Sunday night, the torch passed from Tokyo to Paris. These games presented an unusual mix of solemnity and celebration. Athletes shattered world records inside empty stands. Meanwhile, our world set records for fires, floods, and losses from a pernicious pandemic. Which is why most mornings Dean Robert led his Garden Congregation to pray for Tokyo and the Olympic Games, as well as troubled places around the world. A daily call to balance reality with hope.

While I love these Games, the stories behind the athletes linger longer than medal counts. Remember Simone Biles? She stood for more than individual medal counts. In a world rife with troubles, Simone represented something we needed more than another golden moment for Team USA. She reminded us that real life’s more about mettle than medals.

Mettle’s a word Jud’s mother used. She valued, but also exhibited the trait. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “Mettle’s the ability to cope well with difficulties or to face a demanding situation in a spirited and resilient way.” Jud learned well from his mother, and I learned from Jud as he faithed his final days.

The world watched Simone demonstrate “the ability to cope well with difficulties.” She withdrew from most events, but cheered from the sidelines. For all who suffer in silence, she exhibited courage on a global platform. Simone spoke truth about the importance of mental health and modeled self-care as anything but selfish. In the end, she won a bronze medal for her performance on the balance beam. But for herself and many others, Simone is a Gold Mettle winner.

But most of us will never get close to the Olympics, much less compete in one. However, all of us know Gold Mettle winners. The Bible contains many stories of ordinary men, women and children who exhibited mettle. Imagine if we took our focus off our need and quest for individual recognition. What if we chose to honor the folks who fell down but got back up? How many points for faithfulness in everyday life? Kindness? Resiliency? Truthfulness?

Well, these are sobering, yet hopeful thoughts. And according to the Bible, the life of faith is like a race. (Hebrews 12:1, NLT) So, look around. Know any runners who need a Gold Mettle award? A shoulder to lean on? Maybe a cup of water? A hand out or a lift up? Maybe a song? I take courage from faith-full runners like these. “We are pressed on every side by troubles but we are not crushed and broken… perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit… hunted down but God never abandons us. We get knocked down but we get up again and keep going.”(II Corinthians 4:8-9, NLT)

The life of faith’s both individual and a team endeavor. We need Jesus and each other to make it to the finish line. For sure, life’s more about mettle than medals.

Ready to keep on?

Try again?


Heaven’s cheering us on.



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  • Reply Maggie Wallem Rowe August 15, 2021 at 7:33 pm

    Jan, our mettle will be tested tomorrow as our newborn granddaughter undergoes cardiac surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital. We just found out that her highly trained surgeon got his MD in North Carolina. Somehow that has encouraged us as it feels like a personal connection. More importantly, our faith has trained us for such a time as this. Your posts continue to feed our hungry souls.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 15, 2021 at 9:15 pm

      I will join many who are praying., dear Maggie. You and Mike have mettle forge by life’s struggles and your choices to “faith’ them and keep on with or without answers.

  • Reply Anna Iltis August 15, 2021 at 8:02 pm

    Jan, I love this post as with most of your posts!! I have been reading about resilience in Sheila Wise Rowes book Healing racial trauma.. I’ll have to work mettle into my vocabulary!! I desire resilience and mettle in my life as part of my legacy.. ❤️

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 15, 2021 at 9:17 pm

      The word may be new to you but you and Peter are mettle winners.

  • Reply Nancy August 15, 2021 at 8:32 pm

    Jan! I love this new word “mettle”! Much more useful in Gods kingdom. Thank you for this beautiful blog!

    I am hoping to see you soon at CBS! Great times ahead!
    Just so Love you, Nancy

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 15, 2021 at 9:21 pm

      It is a good word , Nancy, It circulated more in another time, when mettle was more valued than medals. I look forward to seeing you at Community Bible Study in the fall. Which isn’t that far away.

  • Reply Dale August 15, 2021 at 9:31 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I would give you a gold medal for your mettle and for encouraging the rest of us to press on. I doubt if encouragement will ever be an Olympic event, but I would nominate you as a cheer leader; bad knees and all. 🙂

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 16, 2021 at 11:28 am

      Well, that made me smile, then laugh at the image of me as a cheerleader. For sure, my knees and other parts would balk at bends, jumps, leaps ,splits and kicks..not to mention tiny skirts. But if a LOUD voice and both WILL and HEART to encourage and cheer on others is sufficient, count me part of the team. Thank you, my fun brother-friend, for the boosts you send my way. Hope you and Marty are still enjoying beautiful Burt Lake.

  • Reply Toni Lovingood August 20, 2021 at 11:58 am

    Thank you for sharing this. So true. I am over halfway through “the welcome song”. I have intentionally slowed myself down to make it last longer. I just read about Uncle Jack. I remember those pins with bars on them for Sunday School attendance. Your book is great. Reading a little in it each day is like eating a Dove dark chocolate and letting it melt slowly, so you don’t miss one moment of enjoyment. I like to take the time to ponder the lesson in each story. I am so proud to have your book. Thanks for writing it.

  • Reply Jan Carlberg August 21, 2021 at 11:31 am

    Thank, you dear Toni. I still have that pin as a reminder to be faithful in small things. And to have something I’ve written compared to dark chocolate…yum!

  • Reply Wendy September 1, 2021 at 7:04 pm

    Catching up on some past posts I didn’t get a chance to comment on – but wanted to 🙂 I had not heard this definition of mettle before and found it one worthy of repeating and writing down. I long to be a person of great mettle! And I agree Jud was, and you are. Love you!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 1, 2021 at 9:55 pm

      And you and Steve are, also. I love you two, too.

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