Notes from Jan

Tricks or Treats and Some Usual Good Practices

October 31, 2023

Yesterday I spent almost four hours with my mouth open for oral surgery. Saints above and below prayed for me, since I was antsy, at best. Alas, it didn’t help that I saw a cartoon with a pumpkin in a dentist’s chair. The dentist said, “Yes, I can straighten your teeth but it will make your mouth bigger.”

Well, I decided to be proactive and prayed the oral surgeon had a good relationship with his elders. I squeaked out, “Well, Dr. Lee, I hope you’ll treat me as you would your mother or grandmother.” He laughed politely and said, “Oh, I’d send them to another doctor.” This was not going as I’d hoped. So, not to be deterred, I pled, “Well, can you work miracles?” To which he responded, “That’s not my specialty but I hope a miracle won’t be necessary, just the usual good practices.”

Just the usual good practices? What would good practices look like to me on any given day? Or to you? I took comfort from the truth that he wasn’t playing God. “Miracles are not my specialty.” He promised to just deliver “usual good practices.” No tricks, just the usual, as in routine, habitual. So I chose to trust.

Trust is in short supply in our world. Fears nag. As Chad drove me home yesterday, I commented on the fact there seemed to be more Halloween decorations than usual. Ghosts, goblins, witches, massive spider webs, skeletons of all sizes, as well as strange blow-up characters and creatures abounded.

Still, for many kids in our country, the usual practice for today is to go trick or treating. Most still wear costumes, but all come for candy. There will be some well-intentioned homes handing out apples or toothbrushes to unsuspecting children. But like the card I sent to my grandson showed: When a kid’s handed an apple he says to the giver, “Remember, I know where you live.”

As for me, I’ve got some treats ready, just in case. But, I’ll stay home remembering a Halloween in 1969 when I went into labor. Several hours later, Heather was born November 1st on All Saints Day. Miracles still happen, preceded or accompanied by some usual good practices. To which, I’ll say no more.

Oh, except to say thanks for treating me with your good company. Hopefully, it’s a usual good practice for both of us.

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  • Reply Dale October 31, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    Thanks Jan. Briefly stated, a miracle in my world is a basic good practice as these seem to be in short supply. You were fortunate. Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg November 2, 2023 at 10:20 am

      Yes, fortunate and grateful. Once I saw the bill, I realized I’d, for sure, put my money where my mouth is. And blessings to you and Marty.

  • Reply Toni Lovingood October 31, 2023 at 4:27 pm

    Four hours in the dental chair would require sedation for me I think. So glad it is over with for you. Your mouth may not be ready for the Halloween treats but Thanksgiving treats are soon coming and pumpkin pie goes down easy.
    You wanted to know recently what we were reading. I just finished “Rose From Brier” by Amy Carmichael. Written after her injury on suffering. It was so good. The Ladies Bible Study starts Thursday and we are reading, “Grateful”. An excellent topic too!
    Lastly, I just finished “Tangled Vines” by John Glatt about the Murdaugh Family Murders. What a sad day for South Carolina!

    Love and prayers,

    • Reply Jan Carlberg November 2, 2023 at 10:36 am

      Thanks, dear Toni, for sharing what you’re reading. There’s much sadness in our world. In nearby Maine we had the tragic mass killings in Lewiston. And you have the horror of the Murdaugh murders in South Carolina. Add to that all the innocent lives being snuffed out in Gaza, Israel, Ukraine, Russia and too many other places in this hurting world. And so we pray and think carefully about how we vote. Meanwhile, we ask God to guide and strengthen our usual good practices: love, grace, truth, generosity, teachable hearts and to forgive as we’ve been forgiven, for starters. Lord, had mercy.

  • Reply Shirley Westrate October 31, 2023 at 5:00 pm

    And we thank you, dear Jan Carlberg, for treating us with your good words!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg November 2, 2023 at 10:39 am

      And I thank you, dear Shirley for your encouragemet. And for many ways that you, as a teacher and Christ follower, have encouraged others to know the value of their words, written and spoken.

  • Reply Maggie Rowe November 6, 2023 at 7:23 pm

    I love that your Heather was born on All Saints Day. Well done! And as for truth being in short supply, who was it who said that a lie goes halfway around the world before truth can get its pants on?! I thought of that today during the civil trial of our former president, who rarely bothers with truth or Truth. But that’s a subject for another time….grateful, as always, for your posts that help us think.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg November 7, 2023 at 12:37 pm

      And I am grateful for your words, dear Maggie. Praying we will have the mind of Christ when it’s time to vote and not be swayed by our tribes or pet bents. God blesses all with commong Grace. We need to err on the side of Grace and Truth.

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