Notes from Jan

Still Learning

March 23, 2023

Returned home from North Carolina last evening. I love and need time with my brother, Ralph and sister-in-love Chris. A couple of mornings, Ralph made pecan waffles along with country ham and warm maple syrup. We had Carolina BBQ and just enough sweet tea to last me until I head back in August with the whole family. So now you know why I didn’t post a blog until now. Too busy feasting and making memories.

Sunday meant church. They’re members of a more conservative Presbyterian Church. I attend an Episcopal church that’s not as conservative. But both congregations love Jesus, work at knowing and loving each other, and welcoming those outside the church. As a family, we don’t agree on everything but who does? But we love each other. Period.

However, last Sunday I expected to be on opposite sides of the pastor’s sermon: “It is Good: Human Sexuality.” I was so sure I knew where he was headed. And that’s just one of the problems within churches, Congress and elsewhere. People like ME. We’re so sure that WE are right and THEY are wrong. This sermon was part of a series from Genesis on the theme of God creating and saying, ” It Is Good.” And this Sunday he tackled a tough issue within our culture and The Church. He’s brave.

Well, I’m still learning. Before he preached, we sang, God is so Good, like we needed reminders. I do. If I heard nothing more than these snippets, God got my attention. “Don’t treat people like a social issue.” And “Relationships matter more than winning arguments.” And “sometimes saying nothing may be better than saying something.” He wrapped his words in GRACE.

Sunday felt a little like going back in time. I was a kid again sitting with my brother in church. He pointed out a WWII Vet, 100 years old, sitting across the aisle, wearing his baseball hat with the stars on it. But when the service started, he removed his hat. The song came from my childhood, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” The old soldier leaned on the chair in front of him and sang like he knew more about leaning on Jesus than I’d ever know. Too true.

We sang about the strong arms of Jesus but as I looked around I sensed we come to church to lean on and learn from each other, too. We need each other to deal with hard stuff in our world, country, churches, within our families and unwell stuff inside us. Like my friend, Jay Barnes, reminded me when dealing with divisive issues and hurting folks, “We’re to listen, absorb pain and return Grace.

Well, sometimes I need reminders of what to let loose of. Maybe that’s why I’m still singing the last verse of Sunday’s song,

What have I to dread, what have I to fear, leaning on the everlasting arms;

I have blessed peace with my Lord so near, learning on the everlasting arms.”

And when I or you choose to handle issues and each other with gloves of grace, I suspect God takes a deep breath and says, “That’s Good.”

I’m still learning.

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14 Comments

  • Reply Maggie Rowe March 23, 2023 at 3:50 pm

    Amen to all you said, Jan. Especially your references to God’s grace, and North Carolina barbecue. In that order.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 23, 2023 at 4:19 pm

      Well, I thank God for both, like you, and in your order. Springtime in North Carolina did my soul good. Beautiful time of year and always
      a treat for me to spend time with my Carolina family. And it always does me good to see your name show up. Thanks for your encouragement, dear Maggie.

  • Reply Kaye Cook March 23, 2023 at 4:19 pm

    Amen, amen, amen. Learning and Leaning. I admit to a special fondness for North Carolina BBQ and sweet tea, and the song “Amazing Grace” and the truth of that song. Thanks for your reminders to look up.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 23, 2023 at 4:26 pm

      What a fun surprise to see your name show up, dear Kaye. Your southern roots are showing. And I love connecting with them and to you. As for looking up, it improves the view and offers another perspective.

  • Reply Marla Henderson March 23, 2023 at 6:14 pm

    Oh how I love you! I’m using this one in a team meeting!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 24, 2023 at 9:37 am

      And I love you, very dear Marla and your whole family.!! I’m so proud of you and the work you and Rich are doing.As for
      sharing this in one of your team meetings, share away. To teach one must first be taught and you have been well-schooled in your family, at Gordon College, as a mom and wife and in mission work in the Philippines and in Colorado Springs. Give ’em Grace! Love always, “Aunt” Jan

  • Reply Becky Mnaseau Barnett March 23, 2023 at 6:35 pm

    I heart this and you!

  • Reply Jan Carlberg March 24, 2023 at 9:43 am

    Well, good morning, dear Becky. Love seeing your name show up. Nothing like connecting with one of my “Gordon kids.”
    Thanks for your encouragement. You know about using gloves of grace in ministry. Keep on. God sees the Good work you do in His name.

  • Reply Sue Andringa March 24, 2023 at 12:24 pm

    That is VERY GOOD, Jan, and I’m still learning too! . Many thanks and big hugs!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 24, 2023 at 7:41 pm

      Big hugs to you, dear Sue. So much to learn. Grace is the dialect of God. And the more we listen and experience God’s Grace, the more we’ll pick up that distinctive dialect. And just maybe more folks will want to learn where that accent comes from.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 24, 2023 at 7:42 pm

      Big hugs to you, dear Sue. So much to learn. Grace is the dialect of God. And the more we listen and experience God’s Grace, the more we’ll pick up that distinctive dialect. And just maybe more folks will want to learn where that accent comes from. Thanks for your encouragement.

  • Reply Wendy March 26, 2023 at 10:06 am

    Oh my goodness, I am so guilty these days of being sure that I am right and “they” are wrong! When I catch myself thinking like that, it is not pretty, So I cry out to God to forgive me, and “create in me a clean heart”. Which works, for a few minutes anyway. ‍♀️ I am glad to know that you are still learning too dear Jan! I want to always remember something I learned at Gordon, that I have come back to over and over, and that is to “major on the majors, and minor on the minors”. The “major“ being Jesus! So good, how you ended, “And when I or you choose to handle issues and each other with gloves of grace, I suspect God takes a deep breath and says, ‘That’s Good.’” ❤️

  • Reply Jan Carlberg March 26, 2023 at 9:28 pm

    A good reminder, dear Wendy. Sounds like something Dr. Marv Wilson would teach. He did it with his life… kept to the most important and didn’t get tangled in the weeds. Blessings on you and Steve.

    • Reply Wendy March 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      ❤️❤️❤️

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