Notes from Jan

This Is SO You!

September 14, 2023

The ads pop up like annoying gnats in my email. Some suggest “we picked this just for you.” But the worst came yesterday, an ad showed a pair of skinny jeans and a mini-skirt with “this is SO you. “Well, lets just say, it’s been awhile since they’ve seen me. Otherwise they’d know this is a taunt, not a temptation.

As you can tell from my last post, I’m pondering change. Change in me, others and in our world. Recently a family member sent a photo of a t-shirt announcing : “It’s weird being the same age as old people.” Which reminds me, change can be slow like aging, or swift like the loss of a home due to fire. Or as predictable as changing seasons and entering a new grade in school. All bring challenges and opportunities. Which is why we need prayer and each other to help us handle both.

Take the challenge of school, for instance. Last Sunday Father Patrick prayed, sprinkled holy water and blessed all who came forward under a rite of fall we call, The Blessing of the Backpacks.” The first and largest group included backpack lugging children and anyone in the field of eduation. Other categories followed, like business, medicine, construction workers, moms lugging diaper bags,etc. Finally, the generic one for all who didn’t fit anywhere else but wanted whoever they were and whatever they did to be blessed. That was my group. Small but blessed and given a tag for our “backpacks” like the others.

After I returned to my seat, I read the tag’s prayer.

“O God, bless this bag and the one who carries it. May you strengthen us for the work ahead, give us confidence and inquisitiveness in learning, and refresh us at play. Open our hearts that we might show care and compassion to all we meet along the way. Amen”

Well, one thing I know is we all carry invisible backpacks and need blessings. We all bear heavy burdens and are weary from trying to fit into the world’s mold that markets, “This is SO you.” We know it’s not. But who are we?

Beloved and made by God, that’s who. And Sunday God sent a small child to remind me. He sat behind me with his family, while I sat missing Jud and my family. Then I felt a light tap and turned around to see his small hand offering me one of his animal crackers. It came like manna for the moment to a hungry heart. Kinda made me wonder if the small boy and Jesus hatched a plan to affirm, “THIS is so you.”



And thankful for Christ Church and one small boy who blessed me with far more than an animal cracker.

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  • Reply Radina Welton September 14, 2023 at 11:01 am

    I would ask your blessing to use this delightful piece as a read-aloud in the first meeting of a small group I’m establishing in our senior community. It’s just the nugget I was looking for. Thank you always, Jan, for supplying us little “animal crackers of manna” from the pew behind.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 14, 2023 at 6:54 pm

      Oh, dear Radina, please feel free to read and share this piece. We all need stories to help each other make it Home.
      I can always count on you for some encouragement. Blessings on you, Kendra and the Petrocelli family.

  • Reply Maggie Wallem Rowe September 14, 2023 at 5:06 pm

    Oh I needed the laugh that came from your opening salvo against obtuse marketers, Jan. I feel the same when I see the “You’re worth it” ads. I want to shoot back, “Oh no I’m not!” On a more serious note, we do all carry backpacks. A professional counselor told me once that we can help others unpack theirs but we can’t carry it for them, I’m still learning that.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 14, 2023 at 6:57 pm

      Thanks, dear Maggie, for the many ways you add to whatever I’ve written. So much still to learn. I’m grateful Jesus is a patient teacher and has some marvelous assitants, like you.

  • Reply Sweet Sue September 14, 2023 at 7:37 pm

    Love you, my dear Jan!! ❤️❤️❤️

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 14, 2023 at 8:57 pm

      How fun to hear from you, dear Sue. Grateful you didn’t melt in the heat of Arizona this summer. Heard you had a great time at Burt Lake. Sending “animal crackers” of encouragement to you and Bob.

  • Reply Dale September 15, 2023 at 6:43 am

    Thanks Jan for these casually shared but deeply felt insights. I barely know me but rest in the assurance the One who made me does and is not confused about who and whose I am. And, I am not His because He has no choice but especially because I am His choice. This is a great starting point for each day but the world still chips away and draws me to be someone I am not and someone I don’t need to be – I am His and He is mine. Now, bring on the day! Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 15, 2023 at 8:44 am

      So true and such an important remidner, brother Dale. As I read your meaningful addition to this post I thought about recess when I was a kid. I remember waiting to get picked when two of the most popular kids were choosing teams in elemetary school. Inside I’d be hoping “pick me, pick me.” Sometiomes I was chosen close to last. Not a good feeling. But to think that God who knows and sees all says, “I pick you!” And God did’t put it off as long as possible. From the beginning that was God’s heart..ALL of us on the same team. All made, loved and chosen by God to be ALL God longs for us to be. AMAZING GRACE.

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