Notes from Jan

Piece Keeping Missions

March 18, 2022

No, it’s not a misspelling. It’s what quilters do, keep pieces, scraps of fabric, then piece them together and make something out of seemingly nothing. The result? Something beautiful, memorable to both the quilter and the recipient. But it’s also useful, practical beauty, providing warmth and comfort. Such a quilt in shades of blue rests on a chair in my bedroom. It was a wedding gift from Mama Frey, my Sunday School teacher when we lived in Georgia many years ago. It’s one of the few things I’d grab in case of a fire.

So why talk about quilts while Ukraine’s under fire by Putin and those who support his unprovoked war? Well, it came to me how often, when I was growing up, we used old quilts to make pallets on the floor when we had more people than beds. And as I watch women and children, old and sick fleeing Ukraine, I imagine quilts being spread on floors in homes and churches throughout Poland, Romania, Denmark, Hungary and so many places in Europe. Folks may not view them as such but I think Jesus sees them as holy, sacred scraps.

And so are they and we, with our pieced together lives. Patchworks of Grace. On call to be cushions, pallets, reminders that God chooses us to do Good some how, some way. For example, yesterday my eleven year old grand bounded in from school with an extra measure of enthusiasm.

“Guess what, Momo?”

Well, I couldn’t guess. He’s like a living Wordle puzzle for me only I just get one shot, not six. So back to Basil’s enthusiasm.

“Well, Momo, after school we found this big piece of cardboard by that corner market we stop at to get stuff. (junk food, unavailable at his house) And I had a marker so we wrote, ‘HONK , IF YOU SUPPORT UKRAINE!’ And we stood out there for like 45 minutes and folks kept honking. It was great!”

And I thought the world’s full of kids and adults who want to help when bad things happen. We just need the equivalent of a piece of cardboard, a marker, a quilt to demonstrate we care. Something to show a hurting neighbor or world, that our arms, homes and hearts are open to help. Something is better than nothing. Perhaps, someone who honked returned home and contributed to a humanitarian organization or church helping refugees, or stopped to pray for people suffering in many parts of this world, like Ethiopia.

As small as it was, it seemed that God in an eleven year old boy nudged him to do what he could with what he had. And only God knows what will come from Basil’s piece keeping mission.

Or of yours and mine.

Piece by piece, miracles still happen.

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  • Reply Ann Menzie March 19, 2022 at 7:08 am

    Jan, I am in Sarasota for the winter attending a CBS Bible study. Imagine my surprise when one of the participants mentioned your mother as one of her mentors. We discussed your mother, you and Jud (our facilitator attended Gordon when Jud was President). God truetype makes us Christians one family. Thank you for the mentoring of your family in our lives

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 21, 2022 at 8:48 pm

      What an encouraging note, dear Ann. Sarasota’s a beautiful place and I love CBS Bible studies. We are currently studying James. I love hearing these stories about my Mama. She was a remarkable woman. Yes, we are one family, which is why our prayers matter for people suffering all over this world, like Ukraine, Ethiopia and many in Russia. Thank God for all the welcoming folks throughout Europe and beyond.

  • Reply Wendy March 19, 2022 at 9:49 am

    Go Basil!
    Yes Jan, I think Jesus sees them as holy, sacred scraps as well. God bless all who are helping on the front lines so incredibly.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 21, 2022 at 8:52 pm

      Yes. The numbers or refugees keep growing. This is a vital time for the Church to function like Christ intended. So many are doing what they can. It seems, however, that people with less are doing the most. Sacred scraps. Each one matters.

  • Reply Dan Russ March 19, 2022 at 2:37 pm

    Thanks for sharing this sacred scrap, Jan. Reminds me of the British saying, “I’ll do my bit.” God has a strange and gracious way of using our bits.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 21, 2022 at 9:17 pm

      Love that saying. Grateful, always, for the ways God stitches us together as colleagues and friends to keep us from unraveling when hard times come. And they do come.

  • Reply dale March 19, 2022 at 3:01 pm

    They, are young ones, are life sponges. They hear what we say and watch what we do. Sometimes more carefully than we would like but it’s a joy to invest in the next generation, who already show signs of passing us in grasping the words and works of Jesus.

    Blessings, Dale

  • Reply Jan Carlberg March 21, 2022 at 9:40 pm

    It’s my hope and prayer that our children and grands go beyond us in “grasping the words and words of Jesus.” As sponges there’s so much we absorb all along life’s spectrum, often without knowing it. Social media is a powerful teacher, but hopefully these past few years have reminded us through politics and a pandemic that face to face relationships matter, as do facts and the truth. I’m grateful for friends like you, Dale, and for the Holy Spirit to help us discern God’s best from all the rest.

  • Reply Maggie Rowe March 25, 2022 at 9:13 am

    Jan, as always I read your posts with deep interest. Along with others, I applaud Basil for stepping out with his sign. Oh what God will do with a young man like that whose heart is already tender towards the suffering.

    Piece by piece, miracles continue to happen.

    And now when auto-correct changes the name of our home in NC to Piece Ridge, I believe I will not mind as much.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 25, 2022 at 2:00 pm

      Yes, dear Maggie, that is one of my prayers for Basil and all my Grands. I do battles with auto-correct from time to time. Not surprised you found a lesson in the misspelling. Your place is both because you are both…one who has learned what to do with life’s pieces and when to turn to the source of true Peace. So proud of NORWAY and their commitment to take in 100,000 Ukrainian refugees. We(the USA) did the same yesterday but doesn’t seem as grand a gesture when we have more land and resources. We are also wrestling with Afghan refugees and so many clinging to hope on our southern border. Welcoming strangers is God’s idea so we, as Christ followers, need to find ways to do so. The best of governments will never match the heart of God and his children at work. Blessings through you and Mike as you minister in Norway.

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