Notes from Jan

Soul Food

September 8, 2022

Well, I’m back from North Carolina. We love each other, so the weekend with family came and went too fast. And yet I’m full of soul food, and I’m not talking BBQ, sweet tea and fresh coconut cake. Laughter, sharing and caring fed my soul. We remembered and told stories, but didn’t let nostaligia rob us of truthtelling or hope.

Actually, the laughter started before we arrived in North Carolina. Remember, I was flying with Chad. You see, I’ve had this strange growth on my chin for over a month but couldn’t get into the dermatologist until two days ago. It was ugly. But I didn’t grasp how much until Chad said, “Mom, you need to cover that up or they won’t let you on the plane.” He implied it took away appetites. So I slapped on a BIG bandaid.

After arriving at Logan, smiling people met me with a wheelchair. “WELCOME TO JET BLUE. PLEASE HAVE A SEAT.” Chad booked my ticket and ordered a wheelchair to get me to the gate quicker than I usually go. I learned later he noted I needed people to speak up/at me. As in SHOUT! Which explains why I was so impressed with my new hearing aids. However, when it came time for him to push the wheelchair he braked, grinned and said, “Joke’s over!” I haven’t had so much fun at an airport in a very long time. Laughter fed my soul. So did just sitting beside Chad on the plane, playing wordgames.

On the other hand, there’s nothing quiet about my family. Apparently, the morning after I arrived, Chris got out of bed to ease a leg cramp but her leg didn’t cooperate. It buckled. She fell, hit her head and had a concussion. Elise, their daughter and maker of that delicious fresh coconut cake, called 911. An ambulance, EMTs and a Dr. came. Chris was laid to rest…back in bed. A lump on the head and bruised shoulder. The RX? “Keep her talking and keep an eye on her.”

Meanwhile, my brother, said, ‘I’m not feeling so well.” When his daughter, Sarah, looked at him, he had two fingers on his wrist, checking his pulse. His strength is not dealing with medical emergencies. So the rest of the weekend that was our signal to each other. Two fingers on our wrist, followed by laughter. Ralph grinned sheepishly.

We bingewatched The Extraordinary Attorney Woo on Netflix. It’s Korean with subtitles, but then I use subtitles most of the time, except for sports. It gets in the way of plays I want to see. Nothing like pajama time, watching a good movie or tv series, and Ralph’s popcorn. Togetherness feeds the soul.

Oh, I forgot to mention that during the emergency, I slept. I was less help than my brother. Well, at least, I didn’t add to the stress. Except after a while, quasi-alert Chris asked, “Has anyone seen Jan?” Somebody should go check, see if the doctor went to the wrong room.” Elise checked. I was breathing. Whew! In my defense, the room had dark drapes and a fan whirring. Stillness fed my soul.

But slightly after 10 am, and all medical folks were long gone, I emergered. Well rested and oblivious to any emergencies. The smell of country ham, Norwegian pancakes does that for me. The following morning I awoke to my favorite breakfast aroma. Bacon! Sarah was making buttermilk biscuits, bacon sizzled in the oven. She hauled it out. Perfectly done but not according to the smoke alarm. The steam set it off. I feared firetrucks would arrive shortly and we’d be designated a Center for Catastrophes. One day an ambulance, the next a firetruck. I said, “I’m heading home tomorrow before the police come.”

But no one but Hillary showed up our final morning. She blew in with hugs, a wooden frog caller for Ralph(don’t ask) and more. Chad’s friend from his days in California. But now part of our family. Friends feed the soul. We need these connections. Unlikely ones, often. The kind God brings together.

And so tonight I look forward to the first gathering for our church book study. We’re reading THE GOOD AND BEAUTIFUL YOU by James Bryan Smith. The first chapter’s entitled, “You have a soul.” It’s a reminder we’re more than a self. The world’s good, too good, at feeding the self. But the soul is at the heart of you and me. It’s easily overlooked but not without cost.

Which is why I’m eager to feed my soul tonight among people I love. Family. God’s family. I, like you, am an embodied soul. “The self is too small to bear the weight of who we really are.”(p.14) Our souls are a gift from God. The author reminds us,”The soul’s infinite capacity to desire is the mirror image of God’s infinite capacity to give….the unlimited need of the soul matches the unlimited grace of God.”(p.22)

Like the words from the old hymn says,” All I have needed they hand hath provided. Great is they faithfulness, Lord, unto me.” And like I say to my Grands often when we’re together, “Don’t we have it good!”

North Carolina family.

Church family.

Soul food wherever, however, forever.

And for whoever.

Or whomever.

And remember, sometimes our holiest act may just be a good belly laugh.

Try two fingers on your wrist.

You doing ok?

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  • Reply marnie wells September 9, 2022 at 12:57 am

    Thank you for the smiles and the few LOLs!!
    I’ve been in Rome with my youngest son for two weeks and headed home to New Hampshire this morning

    God is Good!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 9, 2022 at 10:10 am

      Yes, God is good, dear Marnie, no matter how it appears during dark times. I’m assuming you went to Rome, Italy and nor Rome, Georgia. However, time with out kids can sometimes feel like we’re in a foreign land. Keeps us on our toes, or knees. New Hampshire is a good place to call home. Enjoy the Fall season, though I’m afraid, leaves are just going to dry up and blow away, due to the drought. Well, brown is a color, not just as colorful as fall usually is in New England. It’s our time to strut out stuff. The tress, not you and me.

  • Reply Jeannene Newark Webster September 9, 2022 at 8:40 am

    Jan, I feel like I just read something your lovely Mother would have written, and I can think of no bigger compliment! ❤️ So glad you got together with your wonderful family!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 9, 2022 at 10:17 am

      Well, dear Jeannene, that is a HIGH compliment. My Mama and I thank you. I think she still claims me., but she’s not talking. Our family is wonderful but with all the other stuff that’s a part of being a family, reasons we need Jesus, forgiveness and a massive dose of humor and determination to not make ever thing that bugs us come between us. Actually, we look better on paper than in real life, sometimes. But Grace still comes and covers and we inch on, trying to catch on quicker than usual. Thanks for reading and taking the time to respond. Love always.

  • Reply Wendy September 9, 2022 at 8:52 am

    Oh my goodness, what an adventure filled weekend! I agree, adventures with family and friends are the best – even hard adventures. How fabulous you could travel with Chad – no matter how hold we get (and they get!) our children are tied tightly around our heartstrings like no others. I’ve been at Sherri’s this week helping watch Mickey while they work – my heart is full, and my body is exhausted – haha. Recently we spent 4 days with Sandi and Bob Moir at their beautiful home in Clemson. Yep – times with family and friends are the best 🙂
    Thank you for sharing yours!! <3

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 9, 2022 at 10:22 am

      My, you’ve had an eventful time, as well, dear Wendy and Steve,. I love reading about your GRANDparenting and time with Gordon friends. So, you’ve got friends in the south! South Carolina has great peaches and pecans. They have a “war” going between their state and Georgia as to which one has the best. As for Chad, I’ll travel with him, any time he’ll have me. He’s fun and thoughtful. And, as I wrote, I cannot ever remember having so much fun in an airport, nor hearing so well.

      • Reply Wendy September 9, 2022 at 11:10 am


  • Reply Maggie Wallem Rowe September 12, 2022 at 12:16 pm

    Jan, I am trying not to be bitter that you were in my home state of North Carolina and you did not drop by for some grits. I would have even made the southern Norwegian version. I’m thinking you could have just parachuted into our mountain home the way the late Queen Elizabeth reportedly did during the 2012 London Olympics. That would give both of us something to write about! Truly, I read all of your posts, and I can’t say that for many of the bloggers I follow. Much love to you from the NC Rowes, including two of your Gordon kids who live in Hendersonville as of Saturday!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 12, 2022 at 3:27 pm

      I love Hendersonville. Hope Adam, Liz and family do, too. Big hugs to all y’all.. By the way, how to you contort southern grits into a Norwegian version?! Add lutefisk?

  • Reply Ruth Wacome September 12, 2022 at 9:27 pm

    Love it, Jan! You must feel like a new woman!!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 12, 2022 at 9:47 pm

      Not quite new, but renewed! Always good to hear from you, dear Ruth.

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