Notes from Jan

Feeling A Little Like Scrooge

April 23, 2024

Remember when old Ebenezer awoke from those troubling dreams and found out he hadn’t missed Christmas after all? Well, that’s a little like how I felt after I returned from my recent travels. I thought I missed spring. But I didn’t. While we’re not as colorful as springtime in the South or as fragrant as the Jasmine in my daughter’s California yard, we do well with yellows. Forsythia and daffodils sprout like sunshine on stems and branches.

And then, another sign of spring showed up, when John stopped by to swap the storm door for the screened one. Proof that winter’s gone and summer’s on its way. Like A.A. Milne wrote in When We Were Very Young, “She turned to the sunlight and shook her yellow head, And whispered to her neighbor; ‘Winter is dead.’ “

It’s the season for taking a deep breath, unless you have allergies. And it’s time to get at work that needs doing inside and out. Truth be told I’d rather sit and ponder awhile. Leaves me wondering if I’m struggling with spring fever. Or am I too old for such? Have I become immune to this dis-ease?

I hope not.

As a kid I caught it when puddles were for splashing and Mama packed away woolen coats, mittens, scarves and hats in moth balls. But best of all, on the first day when, for sure, summer was breathing down spring’s neck, we celebrated and took a hike. Not up a mountain, since we were living in DeKalb, Illinois. This was farm country, flat and famous for its corn.

But this was a rite of spring. And well worth the trek from our parsonage to Prince Castle. So Mama put Ralph in the baby buggy and I took my brother Danny’s hand and off we went to DeKalb’s ice cream heaven, where square scoops showed up for five cents. Spring had sprung and we were rich!

And we were in ways that mattered most.

So I ,did the best I could today. Went to the freezer and took out a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream that cost me close to $5.00. On sale. After scooping out one more harbinger of spring, I sat and savored the gift of memory and taste.

Sometimes the best cure for spring fever is something cool. Like a scoop of ice cream. Or the cool breeze coming through my screened door. Today feels unhurried and hopeful, like the pace and heart of Grace.

And, like Scrooge, I’m grateful for second chances, which spring showcases throughout creation. But especially, comes as Grace to you and me to remind us winter doesn’t last.

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  • Reply Dale April 23, 2024 at 10:47 am

    Thanks Jan. Marty and I are in the nostalgia phase as well and have been looking at family pictures and trying to remember what we “thought” these years would be like – some delights and some, of course, disappointments. We wonder a lot as to what the world will be like for our children and grandchildren and confess we did not have many of these worries at their ages. We do know God’s love is both simple and profound and the basis for all hope – as we in Michigan hope for Spring before summer comes. Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 23, 2024 at 3:33 pm

      So true, my dear friend. I fight fear about the future for our children and Grands by praying and recalling God’s faithfulness. Hope’s harder to come by some days more than others. But forever friends like you and Marty add to my reservoir of hope.

  • Reply Tim Madden April 23, 2024 at 1:52 pm

    Very nicely written, Jan! Wanda and I have been married for over 50 years, and though we have been reading your blog for a while, I’ve never felt to comment. Thanks for keeping on keeping on in the faith. We love you:) -Tim

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 23, 2024 at 3:36 pm

      What a nice surprise. Thank you for taking the plunge to read and respond to the blog., dear Tim. Congratulations to you and Wanda for 50 years of marriage. May it be so that “the best is yet to come.”

  • Reply Valerie McCoy April 23, 2024 at 5:10 pm

    I just love childhood memories, Jan. They fill me with beautiful nostalgia and yearning. I wonder if my thinking is wrong though when I ‘yearn’ for what was easy and lovely and simple. I hope God forgives my childhood recollections as I always seem to turn back the pages to find myself lying down on my parents’ front lawn waiting for The Good Humor truck while creating pictures from the clouds. Or the early spring days when my Mom would open our seasonal, screened-in porch and promise me a Tootsie Pop after I woke up from an afternoon rest on the porch sofa. I would listen to the huge leaves of the oak tree clap syncopatedly along with the wind, as my eyes grew heavy (which is probably why I love singing “You shall go out with joy and be led forth in peace, the mountains and the hills will break forth before you…and the trees of the field will clap their hands…”

    And now life begs me to see what lies a.h.e.a.d. as I close the door for the last time of the only ‘married’ home Peter and I have known for more than 50 years. Tears didn’t subside for many days as I moved closer to the reality of apartment living, and yet I am thankful that there are new trees to clap their hands, forsythia to watch swaying to and fro (why do people trim their forsythia anyway?), and enormous magnolia blossoms that take my breath away.
    I don’t really like this growing old business; perhaps that’s why Jesus knows that I need to hold on to the memories of simple youth……loosely of course.
    And you, Jan, are additonal sweet aromas of memories I hold closely.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 24, 2024 at 11:24 am

      Oh dear Valerie, growing older has many challenges. Each day seems to draw on a need to relinquish some thing, some one or some part of life as it was. But, as you say, it’s wise to hold loosely to all but God. And thankfully, God’s holding on to us. And I’m grateful for the gift of memory. May God bless your new home with joy and peace. Sing on and enjoy discovering new ways God shows up to let you know you are beloved.

  • Reply Toni Lovingood April 24, 2024 at 9:00 am

    Thanks for sharing your memories. It makes us all pause and reflect on years past and happy memories. In this season of life, I think we pause a little longer like we did as a child to savor the moments and taste each bite of the goodness of God.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 24, 2024 at 11:27 am

      It is good to pause and remember, especially the goodness of God and his faithfulness throughout all generations. It helps give perspective when I become anxious about what’s ahead. Each day has much for which to be grateful. May God bless your day, dear Toni, in ways you need a reminder of his love for you.

  • Reply Wendy April 24, 2024 at 1:42 pm

    So beautiful Jan! I especially love this: “Today feels unhurried and hopeful, like the pace and heart of Grace.” The older I get the more I cherish quiet times. But I also loved your past and present ice cream stories. Wendy Connor brought me a dish towel with a great ice cream quote – only I can’t remember it and I’m not at home. I tried googling “funny ice cream quotes” and there are literally 100’s out there! Haha, just fabulous! We’re hoping to come up this fall for homecoming – maybe we can enjoy some ice cream together?! I would sure love that on all accounts. <3

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 24, 2024 at 5:34 pm

      And I will love any excuse to have time with you and Steve.Once you’re home, hunt that ice cream quote. I could use a laugh. And I always love when I see your name show up.

      • Reply Wendy April 24, 2024 at 8:20 pm

        I am sure Wendy and Sandi would love to see you too, let’s be in touch closer to the time.
        Here is the quote:
        “ Money can’t buy happiness
        But it can buy cows
        And cows make milk
        And milk makes ice cream
        And ice cream makes you happy”

        • Reply Jan Carlberg April 25, 2024 at 10:02 am

          That’s a great quote. Thank God for cows! And yes, I’d love to see Sandi ad Wendy, as well. I never get enough of my Gordon “girls.”

  • Reply Alyssa Arnold April 24, 2024 at 2:49 pm

    “Sometimes the best cure for spring fever is something cool. Like a scoop of ice cream. Or the cool breeze coming through my screened door. Today feels unhurried and hopeful, like the pace and heart of Grace” — this was my favorite part of your post, great visuals and thank you for the reminder

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 24, 2024 at 5:37 pm

      Well, dear Alyssa, hope spring is showing up in Utah and you and Andrew can enjoy some ice cream together. It is a beautiful time of year and full of promises and surprises popping up from the earth once covered in snow.

  • Reply Maggie Wallem Rowe April 25, 2024 at 4:29 am

    Jan, I’m glad that you “do well with yellows” as that is certainly the color of spring in Norway. Spring flowers last a LONG time here. Daffodils have been blooming for at least a month, and the dandelions are enormous. The forsythia is also still in bloom. Easter/ Paske decor here is all about yellow. We head back to the States next week, and as much as we are eager to rejoin family and friends there, we are also “grieving the leaving” here. It truly has come to feel like a second home. And honestly, I am dreading our upcoming US election. A friend here told us yesterday, “We trust our government here in Norway,” as well they might. No political ads are allowed on radio or TV, and election funds are provided by the government so candidates aren’t under the influence of corporations or mega-donors. Such a good system. So we hope and pray for a fair and free election at home (and no more insurrections!)

  • Reply Jan Carlberg April 25, 2024 at 10:12 am

    Oh, dear Maggie, I’d love to see spring in Norway. Actually, any season. Over our years of travel, Jud and I experienced winter and summer in Norway and loved both. As for our upcoming election, I’m also concerned. And some of the most troubling of alignments have come from some of my brothers an sisters lumped into the category of “evangelicals.” Lord, have mercy. And so we pray and vote and love one another, some how. Well, we know how. With the same love and mercy that has been lavished on us through Jesus. May your finals days in Norway be blessed as you and Mike have blessed so many. And as my Daddy used to say and pray for, “traveling mercies. “

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