Notes from Jan

Just Twenty MInutes

November 29, 2023

Just got home from a vestry meeting at church. Time purposefully spent with folks I like spending time with. And both matter. Time and people. We only have so many days on this earth. And time, not money, is our most valuable asset. Oh, and people.

Well, for sure, I learned a lot about living life fully and purposefully from watching the funeral service for Rosalynn Carter. What a remarkable woman. While there’s a lot I could write, for now I’ll just reference part of a reflection by her son, Chip.

During early years when his father, President Carter, was campaigning, sometimes Chip had to pitch in and speak before crowds. He, like many people, was terrified of public speaking. He said, “Before I had to go out front and talk, I often vomited in the bathroom. Then, one day my mother said, ‘Chip, you can do anything you want for twenty minutes except hold your breath.’ And those words still help me.”

We all have hard things to do, tough people to relate to. We’re a mix of regrets, fears and hopes. It’s part of being human. But sometimes just twenty minutes can make a world of difference.

Since we ‘re studing Ephesians in Community Bible Study, I thought about Ephesians 3:20 tonight at vestry and when I reflected on Rosalynn’s life and Chip’s story.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasureably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,”

A long time ago, when I learned that verse, I put the focus on God’s power. But recently I realized God puts the focus on us. Whatever immeasureably more happens, it’s through God’s power at work within us. Well, God did a lot through Rosalynn’s life. And you and I have choices each day to trust God’s power at work within us to do” immeasureable more than all we ask or imagine.’

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m good at asking and imagining. But I’m also good at hiding in life’s bathrooms to avoid something or some one that scares me to pieces. Now, I’m daring to imagine what God can do with just twenty minutes through his power at work within me. I just need to come out of hiding.

You, too?

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  • Reply Mark D Taylor November 30, 2023 at 5:31 am

    Yes, the memorial service for Rosalynn Carter was very moving. I’m looking forward to getting a copy of their joint memoir Everything to Gain.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg November 30, 2023 at 4:23 pm

      Well, I hope Tyndale is the publisher! Thanks, Mark, for taking some of your valuable time to read and respond. Sending love to you, Carol and your remarkable family.

  • Reply Valerie mccoy November 30, 2023 at 2:27 pm

    Jan, I also loved the beautiful reading of
    Maya Angelou’s:

    When great souls dies, “the air around us becomes light, rare, sterile. We breathe, briefly. Our eyes, briefly, see with a hurtful clarity. Our memory, suddenly sharpened, examines, gnaws on kind words unsaid, promised walks never taken.”

    • Reply Jan Carlberg November 30, 2023 at 4:29 pm

      Yes, dear Valerie. So much to learn from memorial services about how to live better while we’re still around. We can all use some of our twenty minutes to “gnaw on kind words,”in need of being spoken or heard and to take those “promised walks,”while we still can.

  • Reply Dale November 30, 2023 at 7:29 pm

    Thanks Jan. It might be a stretch, but I have been studying Mark and noted, with help from a commentary, that the word “immediately” is used 42 times (grace to all those who decide to count). What struck me from your message was how often I put off (to a more convenient time, which often means never) reaching out to those the Lord brings into my life. “God is ready to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine but, as you note, we have to come out of hiding. Blessings friend, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg December 1, 2023 at 9:43 am

      Me, too., my brother-friend Dale. Holy nudges are easily missed in the responsibilities and noise of daily life. It’s hard sometimes to differentiate the important from the urgent. One of the gifts of this season of life is less hustle (and muscle) and more time to sit and stare… to just listen into the silence. And in the quiet sometimes I hear a whisper from God about some one or some thing to attend to. It comes out of the blue, so to speak, but you and I know the Source. And you and Marty have been God’s hands and heart to so many, including Jud and me. Thank you!

  • Reply Maggie Wallem Rowe December 1, 2023 at 9:51 pm

    Oh Jan, you’ve done it again. Or God’s power working immeasurably within YOU as a writer has done it. I needed this reminder that God chooses to work within us, as fearful and as frail as we are. As I am. I’ve been asked to give an invitation at a church event in NJ where I’m speaking tomorrow afternoon, and I know nothing in me can bring another to Christ. I can only point the way and trust God to do the leading and the bringing. Thank you, dear friend.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg December 2, 2023 at 11:13 am

      Well, I’m praying for you, dear Maggie. Jesus seems to love working through you. Can’t blame him!!

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