Notes from Jan

Still Shining

January 13, 2023

It cost too much so I said, “Not now, maybe another time.” The man, at our local Ace hardware, smiled and said, “If I give you my discount, it’s this much.” I was stunned at his generosity and kindness. So, I said, ” Wow! Thank you.” We wished each other a Merry Christmas, then I left with my berried treasure.

The wreath’s a mix of grapevine branches and red berries. I see it as I write on the thirteenth of January. It reminds me how much of my life has been blessed by the generosity and kindness of others. Gifts I didn’t earn or deserve. Like Grace and all that Christmas demonstrates of God’s loving, generous heart.

Well, speaking of Christmas, my tree’s packed away until next Thanksgiving weekend. It remained unadorned this year. The Grands were coming to help me decorate but plans shifted. So I let it go. After all, I was flying West for Christmas so no need to decorate as usual. Especially, since I mostly love the lights. It cozies up wintry nights. I need light. Like Steve Martin said, “A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.” I know we’re not talking sunshine, though there’s less of it this time of year.

Which is why I like the tree lights. But this year, some of the lights went out. Still enough stayed lit. So I let it go and enjoyed what was instead of what should or could be. Chad, my tree man, said he’ll add new lights when we set it up again.

As to the less lit tree? Well, it took me back to Father Patrick’s sermon Sunday and words from Isaiah 42:1-4,( NIV) about the Messiah, Jesus. “… a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” My Christmas tree, like me, has seen better days. But we’re still around, minus some wattage. But I take hope and joy in picturing Jesus cupping his hands around my stub of a candle, yours, too. Fanning the flame with the breath of life, so we keep shining, “like stars in a dark world.” (Philippians 2:14-15) However, when I read the whole passage, I’m reminded to “do everything without complaining or arguing.”

So, maybe that’s something to resolve in this New Year. Less complaining and arguing. More shining like stars. Less trying to make life perfect, more letting go and trusting God with our hopes and needs. And more gratitude for those who bless us with generosity and kindness when we least expect or deserve it.

Shine on, Sacred Stubs.

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  • Reply Dale January 13, 2023 at 8:36 pm

    Thanks Jan,

    Wonderful imagery and reminders. Rumor is the sun is supposed to shine here in MI for the second day this month so we will spending the day outside – of course with SPF 70. Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 13, 2023 at 9:44 pm

      Enjoy your sunny day. The sun hid throughout most of my weeks in California. Rain and more rain. Since I returned home, not much sunshine, either. Candles help. One of my fondest memories from the year Jud and I were in Norway and Sweden during the darkest days of the year, candles and tiny lights were everywhere. Total darkness didn’t stand a chance. But I could see how depression is a problem during those long months without much sunlight. Well, for sure, you and Marty shine. Sacred stubs that you are.

  • Reply Rebecca Erickson January 14, 2023 at 5:43 pm

    We, too, had a partially lit tree this year. The middle section was out so we added new lights to the middle of the tree. I was worried they would “out-shine” the old lights but they graciously blended in with their neighbors on the top and bottom. About a week later, the top and bottom sections gave up. Those brave middle lights carried the whole rest of the season without complaint. It reminded me of the church. Sometimes one area just peters out from over use or exhaustion and then new folks come in and help us shine. But, eventually the rest, too, tire and then the “new middle” carries the day and so it goes and so it glows. I thank God for new lights and for the fact they don’t all have to shine at once! I so enjoy your meditations. Thank you

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 14, 2023 at 9:44 pm

      Thank you, dear Rebecca, for adding to the blog with your illustration of your tree and the church. Neither are perfect, which gives hope to all of us who come in need of healing and all God offers for the stubs we bring. We don’t all have to be flood lights…just a little light makes a big difference in the dark. I loved, “and so it goes and so it glows.” Glow on, Rebecca.

  • Reply Wendy January 15, 2023 at 3:11 pm

    I’ve never been called a “stub” before – haha! But in the context of this beautiful post – I’ll take it – and shine on with Jesus help. I love the imagery of His hands around me and His breath fanning the flame within me. Sooooo thankful for His grace and the gift of Christmas. It truly does help snuff out the grumbling and complaining. <3

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 16, 2023 at 6:35 pm

      Me, either. But the older i get the more I’m aware I’m wearing down. Which, is why I love the image of Jesus cupping his hands around my flickering wick, to fan the flame. Such Grace, instead of choosing a new “candle.” Keep shining, dear Wendy and Steve.

  • Reply Wendy January 16, 2023 at 8:50 pm

    You too dear Jan! ❤️

  • Reply Toni Lovingood January 19, 2023 at 10:22 am

    Jesus is still shining brightly through you. Thank you for keeping your fingers on the keyboard and lifting us all up.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 20, 2023 at 5:24 pm

      And thanks to you, dear Toni, for taking the time to read this post and reply. I enjoy being connected to so many folks, old, young and mid-lifers, through this means of communication.

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