Notes from Jan

A Time to Cry, A Time to Clap

October 23, 2023

Lots of crying around the world, especially in Gaza and Israel. And in my car, when I pray. Well, not wanting to arrive red-eyed when I picked up my Grandgirl Maggie and her friends Saturday morning, I slid in a CD . Music often lifts my spirits.

But the first song was Jesus Wept by Cynthia Clawson. It’s based on Bible verses like, “Jesus Wept.” (John 11:35) But also from other accounts and descriptions of Jesus as “despised and rejected–a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.” (Isaiah 53:3, NLT) So, before turning into Maggie’s driveway, I turned off the CD and dried my eyes. Afterall, this was a time to clap, not cry. We were enroute to volunteer at the Northshore Packathon for Haiti.

And Haiti reminds me of another hurting country. Sometimes needs overwhelm and paralyze. But packing lunches for Haitian children, moves us from doing nothing to something. It bends the arc towards justice, mercy and kindness. However it takes visionaries and organizers, like Huntley and Tom Skinner, living saints and part of Christ Church. Thank you. And so, after learning 400 volunteers packed almost 52,000 meals in two days, we clapped.

For me, doing something for Haiti, is personal. It was a Haitian immigrant through whom God showed up the first day Jud and I came to Yawkey Cancer Center at MGH in 2011. Some of you know the story but it’s worth repeating. Why? Sometimes we hear or read negative comments about people who come from other countries. We sometimes fear, shun or ridicule those who differ in color, race, language, religion, gender, dress or status. And I believe at such, Jesus weeps.

So back to July 2011. Jud sat patiently in a special chair while they hooked him up to the chemo drip, designed to kill the cancer without destroying him. Meanwhile, I stood off at a distance, trying to appear more calm and confident than I felt. Turning away now and then to pray out of sight or sound of what Jud endured.

Suddenly, like a dark-skinned angel, a nursing assistant appeared bearing a sturdy chair. She set it down with a thud of authority, then turned to me and said, “Sit, Mama!” And so I sat. But she didn’t leave. She stood behind me, then placed a hand on my shoulder.

After a few moments, she began to hum, “Great is They Faithfulness, O God my Father.” I turned slightly, placed my hand on hers and said, “I know that song.” She smiled and said, “I thought you might, Mama.” And so last Saturday, I packed lunches for children in Haiti. One small way to extend grace and and say thanks to a small country that produced an angel who hummed hope into me(and Jud) through her kindness and courageous faith.

So, as we look around or within, it’s understandable to feel fearful or hopeless. But I take hope from remembering a Haitian woman God tapped to infuse me with courage to faith that day and the years since then. We all need reminders that while circumtances and we change, God remains faithful.

Does it nudge you to hum along with me on the chorus?

Great is Thy faithfulness, Great is Thy faithfulness

Morning by morning new mercies I see

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.”

Remember, God’s faithfulness, mercy, provisions and grace aren’t just for you and me. Sometimes we’re the recipients but more often, God chooses us to be the angels.

But either way, it’s a time to clap.

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20 Comments

  • Reply Diane Baker October 23, 2023 at 5:08 pm

    Jan,
    Thank you for this sweet and strong reminder, just what I need at this moment.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 23, 2023 at 9:16 pm

      Dear Diane, how wonderful to hear from you. Thank for reading and taking the time to respond. We all need doses of encouragement. I’m grateful to have passed some along to you. You and Francis are often tapped to be God’s angels. Thank you for your willingness to do so much for so many. It may be incognito to most of us, but not to God.

  • Reply Maggie Rowe October 23, 2023 at 5:11 pm

    Oh, Jan, what a beautiful story this is. I had not heard it before, and I was deeply moved by the sight through your words of this beautiful Haitian nurse with her hand on the shoulder of my beautiful Norwegian sister, both humming in solidarity. We have a nephew born and adopted from Haiti and he is a family favorite, so it’s almost as if I could hear the voice of that nursing assistant as well. I just learned today that I’ve been accepted for a short vision/ ministry trip to Cuba, where we will be carrying filters to provide clean water. I’ve been feeling an urgent need lately to serve hands-on and away from my computer. Bless you Jan.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 23, 2023 at 9:19 pm

      And Blessings on you, my Norwegian angel, as you travel to Cuba. Wherever you go, you bring JOY, through your writing, speaking and face to face connections. I’m grateful for you, dear Maggie.

  • Reply Evelyn Morgan October 23, 2023 at 5:39 pm

    The words of old hymns say it all.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 23, 2023 at 9:20 pm

      And if I close my eyes and focus, I can almost hear your singing, dear Evie. Thanks so much for checking in through this blog. Keep singing.

  • Reply Dale October 23, 2023 at 5:50 pm

    His mercies are new every morning because we need them every day and, thankfully, He knows our needs before we express them. There is a reason for the stories (people) God brings into our lives. Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 23, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      Well, you and Marty, are part of my story, two of God’s angels. Thank you, my brother Dale.

  • Reply Marty Lefever October 23, 2023 at 6:11 pm

    I’m nudged…remember God’s faithfulness as we navigate our journey! Thanks for today’s encouragement! Love you, friend!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 23, 2023 at 9:25 pm

      And I love you, my dear Michigan Marty. You are in my prayers as you navigate new terrain. Jesus walks with you. Fear not. Easy to write but tough to do sometimes. I speak from experience and fragile but persevering faith.

  • Reply Huntley Skinner October 23, 2023 at 6:59 pm

    I am weeping as I read this aloud to Tom. . I weep when I think of our Haitian friends. Yet Hope and faith sustain me. Thank you for packing Saturday.you are such a gift to both of us.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 23, 2023 at 9:38 pm

      Thank you, dear Huntley and Tom, for creating the opportunity for us to do something tangible for the children in Haiti. I was so touched by your story of 3 little girls in your neighborhood who made and sold friednship bracelets, then brought the $8.00 they collected to you for the Haitian children. You and Tom bless our church family through your example of hospitality and creative service to young and old, while leaving JOY in your wake.

  • Reply Pat October 23, 2023 at 8:33 pm

    Beautiful. Music like that always makes me cry happy tears.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 23, 2023 at 9:42 pm

      And you, dear Pat, are still my favorite Nurse Practitioner. Thank you for your years of faithful service to all who came to Family Medicine for care. You are one of God’s angels. And I’m grateful to have been tended to by you. And good to read the music mentioned in the blog touched your heart. Happy tears are good for mind, body and spirit. It’s not an RX, but maybe it could be,

  • Reply Ann Menzie October 24, 2023 at 8:11 am

    Thank you Jan. My husband has just found out he has lung cancer. I am afraid even knowing God is with us. We go to the oncologist on Friday. Please pray for us

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 24, 2023 at 10:07 am

      Oh, dear Ann, thank you for sharing this hard news. I pray as I write for your husband and those who design his particular treatment plan. And I, like you, get afraid, too. It’s natural. There are many verses in the bible where people express fear. God gets it and us. It’s not a case of IF we are afraid but WHEN. Often I said these words to quiet my pounding heart, “But WHEN I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalms 56:3-4, NLT) Actually, “mere mortals” can do a lot of damage but the point is that ultimately, we are safe with God. Trust is not a feeling, It is a choice. I pray for strength for you, dear Ann, to keep putting your trust in God. I can promise God will be with you and your husband. You do not FAITH this alone.

  • Reply Wendy October 24, 2023 at 3:58 pm

    I remember that story, and loved hearing it again. So beautiful and such a “sermon” on so many levels! Loving, embracing, caring for, respecting all our brothers and sisters – no matter their color or culture – they are priceless! And how our God put that precious woman right in your path at just the right time with just the right song on her heart to share with you! Ah yes, Great is His Faithfulness! So thankful for His mercies that are new every morning. May our dear brother’s and sisters all around this broken world see them too. <3

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 24, 2023 at 5:19 pm

      Amen, dear Wendy. You and Steve and two of his angels, dispensing grace through caring and respecting others, especially with those with whom we may disagree. Love.

  • Reply Joyce Ruppell October 25, 2023 at 2:28 pm

    What a wonderful reminder He gives us “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow!”
    Love being reminded of the Barrington College Hymn too!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 26, 2023 at 12:15 pm

      And, dear Joyce, I love being reminded of our shared heritage and mission with Barrington College. Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to the blog. Keep singing.

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