Notes from Jan

The Word Became

December 22, 2022

Mama repeated five words to me, often. Why? When I was a teenager, I argued. She countered with parental wisdom. I resisted. Until finally, she gave me that look and ceased the debate with five dreaded words, “Not another word, Janice Dawn!”

Sometimes I feel buried in words, including my own. Recently, I envisioned tongue-tied as a gift. Like a ribbon wrapped around my tongue, this tough- to- tame- beast. My grandmother nudged me to think before speaking, reciting words from a poem, “Boys flying kites haul in their white-winged birds. You can’t do that when you’re flying words.”

Today I read words from Frederick Buechner, “In Hebrew the term DABAR means both WORD and DEED. Thus to say something is to do something. ‘I love you.’ ‘I hate you.’ ‘I forgive you.’ ‘I am afraid of you.’ Who knows what such words do, but whatever it is, it can never be undone. Something that lay hidden in the heart is irrevocably released through speech into time…” Which makes me think deeper about what words can become.

Word’s cause something. Always. God’s Word, the message Jesus lived changes us, if we choose, like the story of JOE in my last blog. John 1:14 states, “THE WORD became flesh and dwelt among us.” Jesus came and through words and deeds(DABAR) proclaimed, God is with and for us. And Joe believed.

Like Buechner wrote, ” God never seems to weary of trying to get across to us. Word after word God tries in search of the right word…” Then, God risked it all. Eugene Peterson translated John 1:14 in The Message as, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son.” Some days it’s easier to make the leap from a barn in Bethlehem to my backyard and balky self. Still, God doesn’t pull up stakes when I doubt or struggle.

So back to words, especially ours. In our combative climate, how could Christ in our neighborhood make a difference when we gather together this Christmas? Maybe we won’t need to have the last word. Perhaps the better gift comes tongue-tied. Or a look delivers words from long ago,”Not another word, Janice Dawn!”

During these past few years, so much has come between families, within churches and our country. Mama spoke nine words that marked my marriage and still nudges me to higher ground. “Life’s short, never miss a chance to sit close.” So today, I love imagining us wrapping each other in joy, grace, hope, kindness, forgiveness, patient listening and love. Like O Little Town of Bethlehem says.‘How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is given.” And not just that night “when The Word became flesh…” But when we mute ourselves to silence words better left unsaid. And in that stillness create a sacred space where miracles can still happen.

God risked all to come close. Why not us?

Meanwhile, God Jul!

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13 Comments

  • Reply Heidi Bunce December 23, 2022 at 6:41 am

    Thank you for this good word, Jan!!! Merry Christmas to you! Here’s a link to my favorite version of “O Little Town of Bethlehem “:
    https://open.spotify.com/track/53vV2VUm3ZSN25f9zOQQ6E?si=PIuYCWKHTV-9E-vGPpNOjw
    Christmas hugs to you today!
    Heidi

    • Reply Jan Carlberg December 23, 2022 at 5:39 pm

      Thanks, dear Heidi. Always a treat to hear from Gordon alums. And thank you for the gift of your visit this past summer and for this gift of music. God Jul to you and your family and friends,

  • Reply Dale December 23, 2022 at 9:38 am

    Hi Jan, thanks as always for speaking from the heart (Jan’s) to our hearts (Dale’s). I love words and, unfortunately, spoken words come quite easily for me, but seldom at the right time! I try to remember that words matter and that God’s Word matters most and SOMETIMES I do – remember!

    I love you dear sister and those words flow easily.

    Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg December 23, 2022 at 2:54 pm

      And I never tire of reading your words, brother Dale and very dear friend. Don’t know where you’ll be this Christmas. I’m in California with the whole family. Wherever you and Marty celebrate Christmas this year, family and friends can be sure of two things: music and laughter. All will be well if Marty handles the music and you keep ’em laughing. God Jul and much love to you and your family.

  • Reply Maggie Rowe December 23, 2022 at 9:56 am

    Jan, I had to smile when I read your late mother’s words, because, of course, all of us who are enriched by your blogposts would say just the opposite. “More words please, Janice Dawn Jensen Carlberg!”
    God Jul, sister!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg December 23, 2022 at 2:59 pm

      Hah! Well I can only hope my Mama’s reading your response to my latest blog! Oh, and not giving me that look and going,”Ufda!” Well, very dear Maggie, thank you for your encouragement. We Norwegians need each other. Tusen takk and God Jul to you and your family in the mountains of North Carolina or wherever you’ll gather this sacred season.

  • Reply Alyssa December 23, 2022 at 4:47 pm

    You reminded me and Andrew of that sit close idea on our wedding card!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg December 23, 2022 at 5:41 pm

      Well, that’s the best wedding gift I could’ve given you, dear Alyssa ! Hugs to you and Andrew. God Jul and Tusen takk for staying connected all the way from Utah!

  • Reply Wendy December 24, 2022 at 12:20 pm

    I, like Maggie, had to smile when I read your Mom’s 5 words to you – but because it didn’t surprise me at all and made me chuckle. Sweet you are, mild you are not! Haha! Thank you for these beautiful words – I’m already thinking of who I want to share them with because I know they will be a blessing. Your description of John touched me in a whole new way just now – so powerful.
    Merry Christmas dear Jan – enjoy your time with family! Love you!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg December 24, 2022 at 2:00 pm

      Well, you are someone who knows me! So you got my Mama’s words to me. But you also catch my heart, for which I’n grateful. May you, Steve and your family flourish in the year ahead, very dear Wendy. I write from California where I am enjoying my family. Chad and his crew fly in tonight. JOY on steroids!

  • Reply Toni Lovingood December 27, 2022 at 8:40 am

    Jan,
    Your mom and grandmother were filled with words of wisdom. The pen has been handed to you and you use it so well.
    I thought of you and your mom this week. We had purchased a prime rib and the store had cut away the bone and tied it back to the meat. When we removed it I thought wow that would make a good soup stock. Your story of lamb soup immediately came to mind. Your grandmother couldn’t afford the lamb meat so the butcher sold her the bone and she made a wonderful stew and your family never knew until you quizzed her about the secret to her recipe.
    Merry Christmas!
    Toni

    • Reply Jan Carlberg December 27, 2022 at 1:43 pm

      Well, dear Toni, that is one of my favorite stories. She told me the story when I went from Colorado to Brooklyn via BUS (It was all we could afford), to celebrate my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary. Jud and I were living in Denver where he attended seminary and I taught school. We had little money (a family trait) but hospitality was never connected to what we had but who we were. My mama knew how to stretch to feed extra folks who showed up or were invited to join for a meal. I thought it had to be special family recipes that worked to feed the masses. So one morning I sat with my Norwegian grandmother in her tiny kitchen in Brooklyn and asked for some of her recipes. I especially wanted ones for her meatballs, rice pudding, cookies, pie,etc. Then asked for her lamb stew, which seemed to feed the multitudes. She smiled, then said, “It’s a secret but I’ll tell you.” Since then I wrote the story in THE WELCOME SONG and shared it with thousands at conferences, college chapels and as far away as Kenya. After sharing the story with college students in Kenya, one young woman came up, gave me a big hug and exclaimed, “Your grandmother is like my grandmother!” Hospitality, generosity of heart and home, link cultures. And at the heart is the Lamb of God. It, for sure, continues to be a recipe for REAL Life.

  • Reply Toni Lovingood December 27, 2022 at 1:55 pm

    I love, love, love the extra details of the story. I would love the meatball recipe too.
    She had great ones like the orange juice, mayonnaise and sugar salad dressing. Maybe your next book can be recipes. Food was the focus of your family’s hospitality. Just think how many people found a way to Christ over a cup of coffee and conversation at the dinner table. ❤️

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