Notes from Jan

Comfort Food

January 26, 2023

Comfort’s not classy. It’s cozy. In food, for me, it shows up like a grilled cheese sandwich with a bowl of tomato soup. Or like this morning, a bowl of oatmeal to take the chill off a winter morning. Sometimes it’s a warm chocolate chip cookie with a cold glass of milk. We all have our favorites.

Simple foods brought me back to a story when my Mama was in her first year of nurse’s training at the Norwegian American hospital in Chicago, Illinois. During Mama’s first break, she returned for a weekend visit to her family. They lived in the Logan Square part of Chicago, where many Norwegian immigrants settled. Her Papa was the pastor of the Logan Square Baptist Church with services in Norwegian and English, such as it was.

Well, like most of us with a little bit of education, Mama returned to teach her parents what she’d been learning. Most important, to her, was their nightly routine. You see, every night before bed, her parents sat at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and a piece of toast. Never decaf!

So my Mama declared, “This is not healthy. You need to have a glass of warm milk, not coffee and toast. Trust me, it’s better for you.” Well, they wanted to be healthy and they also wanted to trust their eldest child’s freshly gained wisdom. So Mama and Papa said, “Vell, ve vill try dis new ting, Margaret.” So my Mama headed to her bed where two other sisters also slept, while her parents put into practice “dis new ting.”

About two of so in the morning, my Mama was awakened to sounds coming from the kitchen, along with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. There sat her parents enjoying their usual bedtime comfort food. When they saw their daughter, Papa raised his cup and said, “Such foolishness. Ve couldn’t sleep vit varm milk. So ve made our usual. Ve’ll sleep now.”

And they did.

Oddly enough, this story brought me back to my small group at church, where old and new ideas percolate. I find it’s comfort food for my soul. Tonight’s topic’s on HOLINESS. Sounds less than comforting. But I liked how Rowan Williams took being holy from a focus on ME to YOU. Just the opposite of how some folks feel around people who impress and depress you with THEIR “holiness.” He wrote, “A holy person makes you see things in yourself and around you that you have not seen before, enlarges the world rather than shrinking it.”(from Being Disciples, p. 53)

Which left me “tinking” about folks who’ve done that for me. Well, stories from my family and our small group, for starters. They nudge me to keep discovering and enlarging my world. And in a strange leap to accept when a cup of coffee and a piece of toast at day’s end may be just what the “doctor” ordered.

Just “tink” about it.

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  • Reply Dale January 26, 2023 at 1:34 pm

    Thanks Jan for the “food for thought.” So original, right? 🙂 More seriously, food is interesting in that we eat when we are sad and eat when we are glad – we comfort and we celebrate and often with the same food and/or drink. What your note helped me realize is that God’s food is different for each of us as He knows just what we need; even if it’s His caffeine before bed. Blessings dear friend, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 26, 2023 at 4:53 pm

      True, for sure. God knows what we need, even though it may not be what we want. Also, knowing my grandparents their coffee was not high-test. They needed to make those coffee beans stretch, like their limited “budget.” And speaking of comfort food, when I think of you I think,PEANUT BUTTER. Enjoy!

  • Reply Susan Curry January 26, 2023 at 1:34 pm

    You know I am smiling ear to ear

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 26, 2023 at 4:54 pm

      I thought I “heard” you smile, dear Sue. Always happy to hear from one of my “Gordon girls.”

  • Reply Bryden McGhee January 26, 2023 at 2:09 pm

    Gosh, I love this and have so missed hearing your stories, Mrs. C! After getting the Gordon email about chapel, I found your blog and am so happy to get to “hear” your stories and wisdom again! Much love!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 26, 2023 at 4:55 pm

      Wow! Thanks a bunch, dear Bryden. I look forward to being back at Gordon in a few more days. Happy you found the blog. I always love hearing from Gordon alums.

  • Reply Nancy Vecchio January 26, 2023 at 3:00 pm

    I’m “tinking” and I love it!! And I love your blogs of great wisdom! and love and miss you!! Must get together soon!!
    Nancy Vecchio

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 26, 2023 at 5:00 pm

      Well, keep “tinking” dear Nancy. And speaking of “tinking”, I’m loving studying the book of Joshua with Community Bible Study via our zoom group this year. We have another great group of women, led by Jane Rosell and Shelli Moran. But I miss seeing your face!!

  • Reply Radina Welton January 26, 2023 at 5:01 pm

    Thanks for the smiles and the giggles. They come every time I see you spell out that accent that I remember so well from the Sunday conversations that took place in our living room over coffee or at relative get togethers for one “ting” or another. My mother drank coffee near bedtime as well.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 26, 2023 at 10:09 pm

      We have a good and godly heritage, dear Radina. Good to hear from you from your new home in Oregon. Thanks for keeping in touch. They had little money, big faith, generous hearts and the ability to drink coffee at bedtime. What a winning comboi!

  • Reply David Smith January 26, 2023 at 5:52 pm

    I raise my cuppa Joe in your (and yr clan’s) honor!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 26, 2023 at 10:11 pm

      Thanks, David! I seem to have their genes when it comes to coffee at night. Woohoo!

  • Reply Maggie Wallem Rowe January 26, 2023 at 8:49 pm

    Keep the Norwegian stories coming, Jan! They help me feel “koselig” in this chilly January weather. And I like grilled cheese and tomato soup too – perfect winter combo. And as for Rowan William’s take on holiness moving from ME to YOU, I was actually in grad school when I realized that the 10 commandments weren’t really about me, they were about protecting others from me (and all of us from each other.) Love your outward focus in loving everybody, always!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 26, 2023 at 10:19 pm

      Tusen takk, Norski Maggie. Wow! Tough and important reminder about the true impact of obeying or disobeying the 10 Commandments.
      Well, it’s close to my bedtime.. Time for coffee!

  • Reply Alice M Shea January 27, 2023 at 11:54 am

    Your words were a comfort to me
    Thank You

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 27, 2023 at 1:49 pm

      Good to hear from you,dear Alice. We all need words and food that comfort in tough times. Nobody knows that better than Jesus.

  • Reply Wendy January 27, 2023 at 12:58 pm


  • Reply Jan Carlberg January 27, 2023 at 1:50 pm

    Love those hearts. My favorite motif. We’ve connected heart to heart for a long time. Keep it up, dear Wendy.

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