Notes from Jan

Life from the Sidelines

September 16, 2021

Life is good, even at my age. Maybe, especially so. I’m in California taking care of GRANDsons, who in high school and middle school are better at taking care of me. I like them. A lot. And their friends. A folding chair or a bleacher seat keeps me from keeling over at their soccer games, practices or water polo matches. However, some activities like laundry and meals draw on my life experience. And it’s good to have some must-do activities. But I also like that most of my life has moved over to the sidelines. I prefer observing, cheering, and being available.

Maybe some of that has to do with the times I wasn’t picked quickly at recess. I had an awkward stage that lasted longer than I’d have wished. Or perhaps it circles back to when I tried out to to be a cheerleader in college and failed to make the cut. Apparently, it required more than enthusiasm and a loud voice. I didn’t do well in science, either. Got a D in a Wheaton College Homemaking class, which fell loosely under science. You know, like nutrition. Looking back, the teacher was generous. Lets just say, I was more creative than skilled. Mostly, she down graded me because I did not follow instructions well. Had I revealed that trait, Jud might have had second thoughts. But most of us aren’t thinking, when it comes to love. Thank, God. And I mean, THANK GOD.

The teacher’s name’s forgotten but not some lessons I learned in that little class of horrors. Lesson #1: Just because my aunt Doris was a Home Economics super star at Wheaton, did not mean it was for me. Lesson #2 Plan B is not a mark of failure. It just may mean you’re learning to pay attention to what matters to you, and to God’s call on your life. Lesson #3 Do not wear something in public, for which you received only a D in a Clothing class.

As for sidelines, I like them. It’s about perspective and availability, not punishment, as in sidelined. If I carried a business card, It would read: AVAILABLE. Then again, maybe I should add: CHEERLEADER.

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  • Reply Dan Russ September 16, 2021 at 11:28 pm

    Availability is a lost art in our hyper-busy world. Good for you Jan! And you are my favorite cheerleader, bringing great joy to my life. Enjoy those grandchildren.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 17, 2021 at 7:17 pm

      Always good to hear from you, Dan. You’re easy to cheer on! And it is a gift of aging to be more available and less tethered to rigid schedules. Sometimes doing nothing is just what’s needed.

  • Reply Beth Johanson September 16, 2021 at 11:41 pm


    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 17, 2021 at 7:19 pm

      Well, you’re a pleasant surprise, Beth. Thanks for connecting..heart to heart to heart,etc.

  • Reply Karen September 17, 2021 at 5:42 am

    Jan, I can’t tell you how happy it makes me feel that I have a person like you who is also a home economics fail. I especially resonated with the clothes; I could get my smock on that I made in class but for some reason I couldn’t get it off! Oh well. As I always say, “my strengths lie elsewhere!“ Your family is so lucky to have you cheering for them on the sidelines XO

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 17, 2021 at 7:24 pm

      Well, good to know I’m not alone., Karen One teacher commented that the way I sewed the darts you couldn’t tell if I was coming or going.
      After I married, i did make curtains, and other things that didn’t involve zippers or button holes… and a dress for Heather when she went off to kindergarten. She was too young to question my skills or motives of trying to re-write history.

  • Reply Marty Lefever September 17, 2021 at 6:49 am

    Love this encouragement today! Thank you, dear friend! Love YOU…

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 17, 2021 at 7:25 pm

      And I love you, dear Marty. You and Dale have been cheerleaders for me over many decades. Thank you!!!

  • Reply Anne Kirby September 17, 2021 at 8:15 am

    You tickle and delight me with your insights. Thanks, Jan.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 17, 2021 at 11:55 pm

      Well, if only some of my teacher’s had been “tickled and delighted”! But I am grateful to have sprinkled some joy on your day, Anne.

  • Reply Linda Moore September 17, 2021 at 1:34 pm

    Oh Jan-in my book,
    You have an A in encouragement
    You have an A in communicating so well via spoken and written word
    You have an A in love and compassion
    You have an A in grace and humor
    You have an A as a worthy Christian to model (I could go on!)
    Thank you, for being you! I wouldn’t want you any other way.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 18, 2021 at 12:03 am

      Wow! I don’t know how to respond other than, can i get you to send this to my children?
      And would you speak at my funeral?

      • Reply Wendy September 20, 2021 at 10:30 am

        Linda nailed it.
        Love you!

        • Reply Jan Carlberg September 21, 2021 at 11:41 pm

          Love you, too, Wendy. Linda is a GOOD friend!!

  • Reply Evelyn M Morgan September 17, 2021 at 9:36 pm

    God has blessed each one with unique talents. If we all excelled in the same thing, it would be a boring world and we wouldn’t need each other. I chuckled when you talked about your experience in Miss Eversole’s Foods and Nutrition class. She had a way of communicating that penetrated my thick skull and helped me earn good grades. I almost envied your ability to speak and write. My strength in sewing came in pretty handy when you needed help to convert an outdated dress from Aunt Harriet into something that you proudly wore for a dressy situation. I cannot speak publicly or write books, but I used my abilities to good advantage as I handmade many dresses for profit and kept my family outfitted on a tight budget. Thanks for the memory. At this stage in life, it feels good to remember the good times. I love your blogs – don’t regret what you can’t do. You have more talent than you realize.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 18, 2021 at 12:08 am

      Oh, Evie, you were a Godsend many times when we were college roommates. After your skilled hands tackled that dress, I felt like Cinderella after she was dressed by her fairy godmother. Since we were at Wheaton, I wasn’t dressed for a ball but fit for one more banquet! Thanks for the reminder to not lament what I can’t do but be grateful for what I’ve been gifted to do. Part of that gift is appreciating the gifts God gave you, dear Evie, and your generous use of them on my behalf and so many others.

  • Reply Ann Menzie September 19, 2021 at 8:46 am

    Jan you get an A++ from when I sat under your teaching. God knew the plans He had for you and how you would effect many women. Thank you

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 19, 2021 at 10:26 pm

      Thank you, dear Ann. I learned so much during those years of teaching. Your encouragement is a reminder that most of us are clueless when we are impacting another person’s life. If this is true for me, it is also true for you, Ann. It is a privilege and responsibility to cheer each other on this journey HOME. As a recent ad on TV reminded me, during the Patriot’s football game, “We run as one.” It doesn’t feel that way with so much divisiveness in this country and in the church. But we need to wise up and find ways to focus on the most important: Love God and each other. Thanks for reading and responding, Ann.

  • Reply Valerie McCoy September 23, 2021 at 9:27 am

    Home Economics! I thought I had this one in the bag. Apparently I did. The teacher put my ‘dress’ (term to be used lightly) into a brown bag and said, “try again and bring back tomorrow with a perfect hem the way I taught you.”
    I went home, cried myself to sleep and told my momma that I just didn’t care about making a perfect hem!!
    When I woke up the following day a beautiful dress was hanging from my closet, re-made by my beautiful Yiayia. She had come home from her job creating baby doll clothing to find my poor attempt at a ‘dress’. While I fell asleep she re-made the entire dress and hung it back in my bedroom closet. Not a word was spoken. But my teacher smiled at my grandmother’s handiwork and gave her an ‘A’. For me, she told me I might do better in the Writing class. Thank goodness for the world!
    Thank you Jan for the love!!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 23, 2021 at 12:40 pm

      What a great story! Thanks, Valerie. I’m grateful for Marshall’s and TJ Maxx, at this stage in my life. No more hemming and hawing around. Blessings on your day and your grandmother. Nothing like the love of a Yiayia, Bestemor, or an Abuela, for starters!

  • Reply Jeri October 9, 2021 at 9:22 am

    ❤️❤️❤️ What a great life story Jan! And your comments! Made my morning already

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 9, 2021 at 7:07 pm

      Thanks, Jeri. We all have our stories. Not all made for the public. But God knows all and loves us still. Thankfully, there’s Marshalls and TJMaxx so I
      need not stitch myself into a corner. Hugs to you and Ron.

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