Notes from Jan

Good To Be Seen and Heard

September 8, 2021

Somewhere I read the secret to a long life is to keep waking up every morning. Well, I’m still here and grateful for every day. But, I seldom leap out of bed. This stage in life lets me linger longer some days. I awake relieved. Night didn’t overstay and today arrived with promise and enough responsibility to remind me I’m not irrelevant, should I lean in that direction. However, I am leaning. Sometimes Kristina, my daughter-in-love, gently massages my bent neck, then encourages me to put back my shoulders, stand tall. Lily told me it’s about my core. Well, I love New England but parts of me seem to be heading south. It’s an uncivil war in my body. I could get specific but choose to bite my tongue. As Garrison Keillor wrote, “I come from a people with badly scarred tongues.”

Well, today I lunched with two friends from Christ Church at a Gloucester restaurant. Near the end of the meal, someone, who’d been eyeing us from afar, walked over and asked, “Excuse me, but are you Jan Carlberg?” I confessed, “Yes, I am.” Turns out she knew me from Grace Chapel, our church home for many years. Frankly, it did my heart good to be remembered, to be seen by someone who knew me way back when. And recognized me!

Oddly enough, she interrupted a conversation about Nathanael, a Bible story found in John 1:45-50. Philip, new disciple, goes to find Nathanael, to tell him they found Jesus, the one Moses and the prophets wrote about. Nathanael’s puzzled that anything good could come out of Nazareth. But Philip says, “Just come and see for yourself.”(v.46b,NLT) When Jesus calls him “an honest man”, Nathanael wonders how Jesus knows that. “Then Jesus answered, “One day, long before Philip called you here, I saw you under the fig tree.”(The Message)

Well, that’s startling! Sometimes we think God watches to catch us doing something wrong. Imagine God observing us, like a proud Papa. Sometimes I need reminders God sees and cares about us, this world. Daily, we’re bombarded with terrifying images and statistics. Does God see us under our fig trees? Maybe we feel like nothing changes , our prayers ricochet off the ceilings, but take heart, we’re seen and heard. While it’s not always how I feel, this is what I believe.

“You saw me before I was born…How precious are your thoughts about me, O God…And when I wake up in the morning, you are still with me!” (from Psalm 139, NLT)

Good news for this new morning.

God’s still here.

And we’re still here, even if parts of us keep heading south.

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  • Reply Darlene Gibson September 8, 2021 at 10:25 am

    Such a good word for those of us who are now “grownups”. I’m not old, I’m just finally a grownup.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 8, 2021 at 10:58 am

      As I read on a Leanin’ Tree card with a sloth sprawled across a branch, “Naps…because adulting is hard. Hang in there.” Always good to hear from you, Darlene (and John)

  • Reply Jan Carlberg September 8, 2021 at 10:59 am

    As I read on a Leanin’ Tree card with a sloth sprawled across a branch, “Naps…because adulting is hard. Hang in there.” Always good to hear from you, Darlene (and John)

  • Reply Susan September 8, 2021 at 11:00 am

    I so needed to hear this today. If you heard my prayers this morning you would know that you are not irrelevant and that God is still using you. I have your Welcome Home (book and cassette-ages me lol) and Old Testament Bible Study. I think I have every single one of your mothers books. Lena being my favorite and probably my most read book, other than the Bible. Truth be told, I do not read many of your emails- sorry, just being honest. But today I was lead to read it. Thank you for helping me to put on my big girl pants and start my day, knowing my loving Father rejoices over me with singing. I have relatives in Gloucester. I may be that person in the restaurant one day…♥️

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 8, 2021 at 11:06 am

      Well, not sure who you are but so happy to be relevant, if only for a day. And, like Nathanael, to be honest is a good thing. LENA is one of my favorites too, as a book and more so, as a person. Hope to see you in “Glosta” one day. Don’t hesitate to interrupt. They’re often God-gifts.

  • Reply Maggie Wallem Rowe September 8, 2021 at 11:04 am

    Jan, each of your posts is relevant to my life. I don’t think I can say that for any other writer I follow. I was encouraged when you said that part of you is heading south, because we want your feet to come visit us here in the Smokies one day!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 8, 2021 at 11:10 am

      WooHoo! That’s a good gift, Maggie. And I do love North Carolina, the state many of my family call HOME. I’ll add your perch to my high-hopes. My feet are already tapping or clogging, which is not my gift, having grown up Baptist.

  • Reply Tara Lombard September 8, 2021 at 11:52 am

    Grateful today that I, heading south but still a little “north” of you in age, get to follow in your footsteps as I read your messages in my inbox! If you find no other reason to feel relevant, know that you are still a Titus 2 woman to many of us!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 8, 2021 at 4:13 pm

      Well, I just grabbed my Bible to look up the traits of a Titus 2 woman.
      There’s a lot there. I, as I’ve done more than once, chose the verses I aspire to be. Jud’s not here to speak to my submissive nature. Thankfully, he’s not talking. I’m never fully at ease when someone likens me to someone or something in the Bible. God knows why! However, thanks for this boost and challenge, dear Tara. I’m grateful if I nudge anyone closer to Jesus.

  • Reply Mark Taylor September 8, 2021 at 12:19 pm

    Jan, after we exchange the normal pleasantries, a waggish friend of mine says, “It’s better to be seen than to be viewed.”

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 8, 2021 at 4:17 pm

      Hah! To be sure, Mark. I still laugh when I sing, “When the “roll is called a pyonder, I’ll be there.” Nothing quite like cinnamon pyonders with a cup of hot coffee. Hugs to you and Carol.

  • Reply Joyce Ruppell September 8, 2021 at 12:49 pm

    Thanks Jan for this wonderful reminder from Psalm 139 my favorite psalm!

  • Reply Jan Carlberg September 8, 2021 at 4:18 pm

    We all need reminders. And you’re welcome, dear Joyce.

  • Reply Kathy Conti September 9, 2021 at 6:11 am

    Good morning Jan. You may not remember me but I met you at Grace Chapel first at VBS 1986 when you were part of the VBS mother’s class. You and the other wonderful honest moms leading played a huge role in leading me and my family to Grace. I had two boys in VBS and was pregnant with our daughter that was born in January 1987. For the next 14 years God blessed us at Grace Chapel. Many of those you led the women’s ministry that I still cherish how God blessed me. The Tuesday morning Bible Study , Faithlift where we were blessed with so many women of faith, From th3 Heart in November, and so many other ways. I now live in Wrightsville Beach and last fall I finally read Papas place. You have and always will be someone that I thank God for blessings in my life. Finding this website has been like connecting with an old friend from home. Thank you for all the ways you continue to reach out for Jesus.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 9, 2021 at 12:28 pm

      Thank you, dear Kathy, for this vastly encouraging response to the blog…and even more to our years at Grace Chapel. The list is long of women and men who mentored me, so I could do the same for others. I’m so grateful to be part of God’s love-links. Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina is where our family vacationed since I was 16 years old. I love that place. I have family in Wilmington, Raleigh and other parts of North Carolina and hope to visit them before the year ends. I’m so happy you found the blog so we can stay connected. JOY to and through you this day.

  • Reply Nancy Mering September 9, 2021 at 11:11 am

    Jan, yesterday’s post reminded me of the story of Hagar (Genesis 16) who ran away when she was impregnated by Abram, which made Sarai jealous and caused her to mistreat Hagar. But the Lord’s angel found Hagar and urged her to return home. She named God El Roi: the God who sees. I believe it’s the only time in scripture when a person gives God a name. I love knowing this about God: that wherever I am–physically, mentally, spiritually–he sees me and cares for me. Thanks for your good reminder about this.

    BTW, Hagar’s Sisters is a Christian ministry to support women who are experiencing or have experienced domestic abuse. God sees them in their suffering even when they think no one does.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 9, 2021 at 12:36 pm

      Thank you for this, dear Nancy. I almost wrote about Hagar, but decided not to lengthen the post. Thank you for this important Bible story, and reminding us of the scope of God’s care for woman and children who feel invisible, hurting and suffering in silence. God does see and care. Yes, I know of Hagar’s Sisters and thank you for mentioning that significant ministry. I hope readers will look it up to give support, as well as the ministry of Amirah. I miss you at Church but your legacy lives on. Maine’s lucky to have you and David. Thanks for reading and responding, Nancy. Responses from readers adds so much to the post and encourages and teaches me.

  • Reply Toni Lovingood September 9, 2021 at 11:17 am

    How often have I been like Nathanael and ask “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” or some other neighborhood or some other family? What a great reminder that he has seen us way before we saw him. I just started your mom’s book, “The Mending Basket”. I am always amazed at the timing of God. In the first two chapters see talks about the attack on 9/11. And here we are twenty years later and we all still remember the moment we heard it on the news, so sad for all the lives lost.
    I am loving “The Hungry Heart”. So blessed this month to be reading books by mom and daughter.
    Lars Gren (who is 85 today) had recommended a restaurant that was just after you crossed the bridge going into Gloucester near a theater, but he couldn’t recall the name. He said it was one of their favorite places for chowder. Do you know which one it might be? We hope to someday return to that area.


    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 9, 2021 at 3:36 pm

      It’s the Causeway Cafe off route 133 as you enter Gloucester. If you want great Haddock “chowda”, go to Charlie’s down closer to Good Harbor Beach. Well, I hope you come back this way. It’s a great place to visit and an even better place in which to live. Thanks for reading our books. My Mama wrote good stories. It helps she lived them first.

  • Reply dale September 9, 2021 at 12:29 pm

    Thanks Jan. It is a frightening thing to be known, but a comfort when I consider the options. I believe God smiles more than we think. He probably shakes His head, but still smiles.

    Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 9, 2021 at 3:39 pm

      I picture a loving Papa doing both. Alas, too many of us portray a finger pointing God, heavy on judgment, slim on mercy. As for you, Dale, God must laugh out loud when you get going. Me, too.

  • Reply dale September 9, 2021 at 4:00 pm

    Well, according to my reading of the Abe Stoltzfus version of the Amish Bible, God is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient and vivacious. I think the Greek translation is full of good humor. It got me thrown out of chapel, but, hopefully, not the eternal church. 🙂


    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 13, 2021 at 1:10 pm

      You’re a keeper. As a fisherman you know that’s a good catch. And you are, as a friend, Dale.

  • Reply Peggy O'Neill Clarke September 11, 2021 at 3:51 pm

    Yes, God is still here! How wonderful to hear those words, Jan. I have been cleaning out closets. Of course I have avoided the one I was loathe to do because it contains many 35 mm slides entrusted to me to scan and print and dole out to the rest of the family. This was such an onerous task that I had put it off way too long. A dear one recently stopped in after hearing me on a rant and lent a hand! Oh what a relief and answer to prayer. God is still here! And He is so good! I now have the knowledge and the means to do this task I had been dreading. Glory Be!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 13, 2021 at 1:19 pm

      Two is better than one for so many situations in life. You are blessed to have such a good friend. As someone who can get tripped up on trying to find the perfect time to tackle a project or deal with a challenging situation, I’ve “claimed” this as one of my essential Bible verses. “IF YOU WAIT FOR PERFECT CONDITIONS, YOU WILL NEVER GET ANYTHING DONE.” Ecclesiastes 11:4, NLT)

  • Reply Peggy Clarke September 15, 2021 at 11:04 am

    Thank you, Jan, for sharing that verse with me. I am going to “claim” it as essential also!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 16, 2021 at 2:00 pm

      We’re in this together. Best to share and hope for the best.

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