Notes from Jan

Thank You For Showing Up

January 19, 2024

Showing up matters. Philip Yancey reminded me of this in today’s GRACE NOTES. Since I’m more of a night owl, it takes awhile for morning to get my attention. At my age, I’m grateful when night ends and another day shows up. So I want to do likewise, not end but show up. Woody Allen said, “Seventy percent of success in life is showing up.” While that’s not the gospel truth, it’s worth a passing thought.

And speaking of thoughts, my January calendar states, “Don’t look back, you’re not going that way.” True. But there’s something to be said for and learned from looking back. I just don’t want to get stuck there. Like yesterday, it marked the 9th anniversary of Jud’s memorial service in Gordon’s chapel.

When I look back to that wintry day, January 18 ,2015, I see faces of friends, family, alums, colleagues, neighbors, doctors and nurses. People who showed up. And I’m awed and grateful. Thank you again. You helped me get up the next morning and get on with living. And you still encourage me to get out of bed and “faith” the day.

But, after I wake up, I appreciate and need ritual and routine more than when I was younger. They add structure and meaning. One simple routine is to make my bed. It provides order. And one of my rituals is reading a Psalm and other devotional books while sipping coffee and glancing out the window to see what nature is up to today.

So what’s the point? Routines and rituals matter. So does paying attention. Take the story of Simeon in Luke 2:25-35. Old faithful Simeon longed for the Messiah. Through the Holy Spirit, Simeon learned that before he died, he’d see his Messiah. And so on an ordinary day, Simeon, nudged by God’s Spirit, went to the temple.

Now, get ready for the best part. “So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there.” ( Luke 2:27-28,NLT) And an ordinary day turned into an extraoridnary encounter with The Messiah. I picture Simeon weeping as he realizes who his old arms are cradling. Jesus. The Messiah.

How did Simeon know? No trumpets sounded, no red carpet rolled out as Mary, Joseph and a baby entered the temple. Years of routine, ritual and listening to God’s Spirit prepared Simeon for this moment. And he didn’t miss it. Simeon showed up.

And that’s my prayer. I don’t want to miss those moments because I fail to be present and accounted for. I need God’s help to focus. But I also need a cup of coffee in the morning. You know, “First we have coffee.” Which reminds me of something I read by a prolific author named Anonymous, “If you are not coffee, chocolate or bacon, I’m going to need you to go away.”

Not you! I’m thankful you showed up and hope you’ll come again.

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  • Reply Rita Smith Dove January 19, 2024 at 11:00 pm

    And you showed up for me. Thank you.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 20, 2024 at 9:56 am

      Yes, dear Rita, we need each other. Thank you for ways you showed up for so many during your years at Gordon College. You made a difference. And I’m sure you’re doing the same now where you live and work. James, while not with you, I’m sure is praying for you and loving you from heaven’s porch. May God bless and strengthen you as you “faith’ each day.

  • Reply Stan GAede January 19, 2024 at 11:59 pm


    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 20, 2024 at 10:00 am

      Well, I don’t know what I’d have done without you and Judy, dear Stan. You’ve were like bookends for me during Jud’s illness and since his death. All the years of friendship continue to strengthen and deepen even while we live on opposite coasts. Heart to heart and kindred spirits remain undauanted by geography. Thank you for continuing to show up for me and so many more.

  • Reply Barbara Van Brunt January 20, 2024 at 7:19 am

    Great thoughts to start my day today Jan! Thank you! ❤️

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 20, 2024 at 10:03 am

      Greeting to you and Fred in chilly Ohio, dear Barbara. It’s in the teens here this morning. Thank you for your years of showing up to tend so many in the name of Jesus during your years with the Salvation Army. You made a difference in New England and in my life by inviting me to be part of your ministry to women. May God continue to bless the work of your hearts and hands, dear Barbara and Fred.

  • Reply Linda Herrmann January 20, 2024 at 8:12 am

    We always get excited when we see your name show up in our email. Your writings have always been a blessing to us. We never finish reading without walking away with words of wisdom along with a smile or chuckle. Emmanuel Always, Linda and Bill Herrmann

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 20, 2024 at 10:08 am

      Well, that’s a boatload of encouragement, dear Linda. Thanks so much for showing up by reading and responding to this post. I’m grateful for any way God chooses to work through me to add wisdom and a smile to your day. We need each other to make it Home.
      May God bless and strengthen you and Bill for the journey. You’re in Good hands.

  • Reply Marilyn Bullock January 20, 2024 at 9:29 am

    Hi Jan, I do enjoy youe writings. I remember the times we had at Joy so many years ago and how much you and your Mother added to my life Thanks

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 20, 2024 at 10:12 am

      Thanks, dear Marilyn. I enjoyed being with you in JOY bible Study and our years together at Grace Chapel. And I’m grateful, but not surprised that my Mama added to your life. It is so fun for me to see both familiar names, like yours, and ones I’ve yet to meet show up to respond to a blog post. By showing up, you encourage me to keep on. May God bless you in some special way today, dear Marilyn.

  • Reply Theresa Morin Hall January 20, 2024 at 9:36 am


  • Reply Jan Carlberg January 20, 2024 at 10:19 am

    I’m smiling ear to ear, as I see your colorful response to this blog. I’ve been sipping coffee as I read and respond to all who showed up in the response section of this blog. It’s so fun for me when I hear from one of my “Gordon girls.” And you remain one of my favorites, dear Theresa, but don’t tell anyone. Last night I had dinner with Laura F,Sharon and Steve C, 3 more Gordon favorites. No last names needed for you. May God bless you and your family in ways you most need and pray for in this New Year.

  • Reply Dale January 20, 2024 at 10:34 am

    Thanks Jan. I have a friend whose wife has severe dementia. She does not know him when he comes but he knows her -which is the point of his visit. It is wonderful to be known by friends and our loving God – from the foundation of the earth. Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 21, 2024 at 9:41 am

      For sure, you and Marty, have shown up for Jud and me for many years. Thank you, my dear friend. Like you, I have known men, women and children who continue to love and be present for spouses, parents or friends who are incapable or sometimes unwilling to connect. in any meaningful way. My Mama was a nurse for more than 50 years and i remember her saying, “Just because they can’t respond, doesn’t mean they can’t hear or are aware. So feed encouraging words into them.” When one of my Mama’s sisters had severe dementia and she couldn’t speak or respond. She stayed curled into herself until her sisters began singing hymns. Then, my aunt unfolded like a flower and sang along loud and clear. It must be that the mind stepped aside and the Spirit sang by heart. And I’m grateful that God in his goodness brough us together as friends. Thanks again for many ways you encouraged us on this journey, and still do, for me, until we’re all HOME together, by faith and God’s Grace.

  • Reply Valerie January 20, 2024 at 12:26 pm

    Perfect, perfect, perfect! I quietly wept as I read your post today……I must have needed a comforting ‘nudge’ to get this day started~ ………along with a cup of ‘morning blend’.
    I love you Jan

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 22, 2024 at 10:10 am

      And I love you, dear Valerie. Some days we all need an extra nudge to get up and get on with the time entrusted to us. i remember your love for Gordon students and am grateful for ways you show up for me in responses to this blog. Small gifts matter in greater ways than most of us imagine. I think of “Job’s comforters” and how they were at their best when they simply showed up and sat with him in his misery, sorrow and confusion as to the whereabouts of God. Enjoy your “morning blend” and may God show up in some way you especially need today or through you to someone else in need.

  • Reply Maggie Wallem Rowe January 20, 2024 at 2:09 pm

    Jan, I’m glad you chose to show up yourself in my inbox this morning to shine a spotlight on old Simeon. I have always loved his role in Scripture. Another friend wrote recently that characters like Simeon, Anna, Zechariah, and Elizabeth are the “sage agers” in the nativity story. It’s wonderful to have seniors play such an important role! I have portrayed both the young and the older Mary for several decades now, and my favorite scene is when Mary and Joseph enter the temple only to be met and blessed by Simeon, and then also Anna. We have no idea whether Mary’s biological parents were supportive of this unusual birth; Scripture is silent on that subject. But we DO know that the new holy family was blessed by the faith of this surrogate father and mother. How the tears must have stained Mary’s cheeks at this moment!

  • Reply Jan Carlberg January 22, 2024 at 10:16 am

    Well, dear Maggie, for anyone who has ever seen and heard your dramatic presentation of Mary, the nativity comes off a Hallmark card and into real live. And from there, to the heart. Such a gift you continue to give through this living portrait. And, I too, love these “sage agers”, like Simeon and Anna. Thanks for stopping by, showing up and sharing your insights on Mary and some old saints, gone but not forgotten. Thanks be to God.

  • Reply Jan Carlberg January 22, 2024 at 10:18 am

    Whoops! The above should read “real LIFE” not real live, dear Maggie. Old fingers fumble sometimes.

  • Reply Wendy Lane January 23, 2024 at 12:46 pm

    9th Anniversary of dear Jud’s memorial service… and what a beautiful, honoring service it was. Thank you for all the gems in this post, as usual! I’m encouraged to not focus on the past, but learn from it and be thankful for it. And start each day, ie show up, with Jesus and coffee! I loved your mom’s book. And I love reading everyone’s comments here – great to see Stan Gaede’s name pop up – he was another favorite of Steve’s and mine! And I love Maggie’s whole comment too – sage agers, who surely blessed young Mary and Joseph. Love and hugs dear Jan! <3

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 23, 2024 at 9:52 pm

      And many thanks to you, dear Wendy and Steve, for showing up at Jud’s service. I, too, love reading the comments and learning from the responses of others. Which reminds me, I’m so grateful for Martha Stout who helped wean me from caring Bridge site after Jud died. She was the one who helped me start this blog. It’s been a lifelline for me to connect with others and express thoughts, struggles and sacred moments. And now and then a dose of humor.

  • Reply Wendy January 23, 2024 at 10:34 pm

    Thank you Martha Stout! From all of us who love Jan and her blog!!! ☺️

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