Notes from Jan

Sometimes Hope Sings Unlikely Songs in Unusual Places

December 11, 2021

Well, I needed hope. For days I tried booking my booster. CVS suggested I head to Haverhill on December 20th. Too late. Finally, I stopped by Gloucester’s Senior Center. They referred me to Conley’s drug store in Ipswich.

And so it came to pass I joined the line at Our Lady of Hope in Ipswich. Conley’s and the Catholic Church partnered to bless all takers. Easy parking. And the fellowship hall(my Baptist term) provided an airy place to wait.

As I entered, music filled the space. The person ahead of me mumbled, “Thank God it’s not Christmas music.” Suddenly I heard the lyrics to, “I Will Survive!” I said to the women nearby, “Hey, listen to that. We’re at the right place for hope.” They laughed at the song’s timing. I meant that and more. The lyrics didn’t mention COVID. But when fear’s a worse epidemic, I received those three words as vocalized hope.

So, imagine my masked smile when the song, “Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive!” hit the airwaves as I stepped behind the curtain for my booster. Afterwards, I took my seat to wait the required fifteen minutes. Suddenly I heard, “Celebrate good times. Come on!” You can’t make this stuff up. Well, I could but didn’t. While waiting, I read Community Bible Study’s commentary on II Peter 3 and tapped my feet to “Celebrate.” Odd combo. But that’s life. Sometimes, doing one’s duty and minding the mundane provide teachable moments for God’s mini-classes or miracles.

Well, I believe neither place nor playlist were accidental. And while some of the lyrics aren’t worth repeating, the timing reminded me of creative ways God gets our attention. Yesterday, Our Lady of Hope represented what the Church should be, a healing and hopeful place. I don’t know who chose the music but I have a feeling I wasn’t the only one who left with a boost to more than my immune system. As I headed outside, the speakers blasted, “We are Fam-i-ly!”

We are family.

Which is reason enough to get in line and roll up our sleeves.

Besides, it’s Advent, part of God’s plan to heal and save us from something worse than COVID.

God’s prescription?


So head to your Bethlehem barn, the place you can’t imagine God will show up. Your Hope and mine waits for us. And remember, angels still sing.


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  • Reply Dale December 11, 2021 at 9:26 pm

    Thanks Jan,

    I think finding meaning in the mundane warrants a plaque in our homes; I will let you decide where to put it! You remind me to experience life, since that is what we have each day and where Jesus promises to be. Went to the office, the bank, got the car washed and ate at Culver’s. Not a great trip for Jesus, but I am guessing He enjoyed being present.
    Blessings dear friend, your Wheaton under-classed man.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg December 11, 2021 at 10:33 pm

      Well, you are younger than I am, though we share the same birthday. Still, you’re often my teacher,Dale, which explains only some of my notions. As for your errands, I suspect Jesus prefers riding in your car to mine. My 11 year old Prius hasn’t had a bath in a long time. I’m thinking spring, after winter’s long gone, which could be closer to our birthday in June. Thank you for your blessings, dear friend. You and Marty are two of God’s best blessings to me over many years. As for the mundane, it’s so every day, but full of sacred possibilities.

  • Reply Marjorie Lund December 11, 2021 at 9:27 pm

    G0d helped you JanM

    • Reply Jan Carlberg December 11, 2021 at 10:48 pm

      Well, my Norwegian friend from Grace, I don’t know if you’re asking God to help me or affirming God helped me. Actually, both are true. When I write, I need help, pray for God’s guidance, then take a leap of faith and start writing. It’s often when I look back or the response of someone that helps me see how God, once again, helped me. On another note, I’m grateful for you and Bill and your years of faithful service in so many areas at Grace Chapel and at Gordon College. My two of my favorite ornaments on the Christmas Tree are the ones Bill carved to celebrate the Partner’s program at Gordon. Jud and I look like Norwegian nisse, two cute elves ,who unlike some have neither time nor heart for mischief.

  • Reply Mrs Toni Lovingood December 15, 2021 at 12:05 pm

    The tune of all those songs is very familiar to me. What an appropriate selection for a pep rally of the fight against Covid. Merry Christmas to you and your family. Your mother’s writings and yours have been a special blessing to me this year. Thank you!!!


    • Reply Jan Carlberg December 16, 2021 at 9:24 am

      Now that’s a fun thought Toni…” a pep rally of the fight against Covid” For sure it’s a battle and we’ve hurt ourselves by
      choosing to ignore the severity and the consequences from inaction. Some of us have turned a global health crisis into a political showdown. As a result, we’ve allowed the virus time to find new ways to attack. As for being a blessing to you, dear Toni, thank you. All of you who take tine to read this blog send me a tone of encouragement, It’s not about agreeing on everything but finding ways to be civil while we learn from each other. Whoops, as I wrote the line about being a blessing I remembered something my Norwegian grandmother said, “If you “tin” you are a blessing, you’re not.” Wishing you and your family and wonder-full Christmas.

      • Reply Jan Carlberg December 16, 2021 at 9:28 am

        Whoops…just reread what I wrote.. You send a “TON” of encouragement, not a “tone”.And my grandmother said “TINK” as in think..not “tin”. I guess I need to pray that any who read what I write be given the gift of interpretation.

  • Reply Toni Lovingood December 18, 2021 at 8:19 am

    Your grandmother and mother and you have many words of wisdom worth reading and sharing over and over. Lamb soup is a favorite story. I’m so glad those “life lessons” have been preserved in writing for the next generation.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg December 18, 2021 at 2:03 pm

      I’m grateful for all they passed along to me,And for folks like you who appreciate generational stories of faith and courage.

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