Notes from Jan


May 31, 2024

On this day, May 31, 1963, Jud and I said, “I do.” in the chapel of the First Baptist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. But not just to each other. We vowed before God, family and friends. No crossed fingers. We meant it. Vows matter.

Even though it was the sixties, we didn’t create something culturally clever, like to love each other but with opt-out clauses. Or, as one song said “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.” We promised ” to have and to hold from this day forward.” And we vowed we’d hang in there “for better or for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.”

But on that day, nothing hinted at ‘the worst, sickness or death.” However, I got the “for poorer” part, and why I stifled a laugh on “for richer”, since we had so little. But we had each other and my brother Dan’s reluctant gift of his car, an old Oldsmobile. But it sure beat hitchhiking to Colorado, our first home while Jud attended Denver seminary

Still on this day, sixty-one years later, I marvel at how rich I am. I never could’ve imagined the life those vows delivered. Like, 35 years at Gordon College. For sure, we survived times we struggled over how opposite we were in style and temperament. Times when I hid behind “a headache.” Peeved about something. Oh, but all the times we loved why opposites attract and the family that followed. We learned to respect our differences and help each other flourish.

And so today, I celebrate marriage, and the power of vows. I give thanks to God for Jud who gambled big on me. As I did on him. Life’s richer because of leaps of faith. Like Ogden Nash wrote, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” And over and again I see why the greatest commandment is about loving God and each other. (Matthew 22:37-38) And I’m learning, love sustains and comforts even after ” death do us part.”

So to any of you still reading, here’s the best advice I ever got from my Mama on marriage and relationships, which I’ve shared before. “Life’s short. Never miss a chance to sit close.”

And for perspective on love and life, consider the following: Like these words from Ruth Bader Ginsberg, “In every good marriage, it pays sometimes to be a little deaf.” (That’s good advice for parents and friends, too.) Or as someone wrote that could’ve been me, “I’m not arguing, I’m just explaining why I’m right.” And the last bit of googled advice, for now, from Bill Murray, “Whatever you do, always give 100%. Unless you’re donating blood.”

But, while laughter helps, for wisdom on what enduring love needs to thrive, I turn to I Corinthians 13 and quake and marvel at the scope, the toughness of real love. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance… Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.” (From I Corinthians 13, NLT)

So, dare to love and be loved. As risky as it is, after all’s said and done, Love Matters.

And so do you.

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  • Reply Mark Taylor May 31, 2024 at 2:49 pm

    Jan, thanks for sharing these thoughts on your anniversary. Carol and I observed our 51st anniversary earlier this week. I say “observed” rather than “celebrated” because I was at home and Carol was in Oklahoma helping our family members who live there (and are Gordon alumni). But like you, we celebrate a long life together.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 31, 2024 at 6:55 pm

      Congratulations to you and Carol, for 51 years of learning and practicing Loving God and each other, while living in close quarters. Alas, some give up too soon for their own good and the good of others. As to Carol being in Oklahoma and you in Illinois, some say “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” And remember, once you’re together, ” Never miss a chance to sit close,” unless it’s hot and humid.

  • Reply Maggie Rowe May 31, 2024 at 3:09 pm

    I loved reading about you and Jud in the beginning, Jan. You have also helped me today. I’ve been asked to give a reading at a wedding where Mike is officiating in two weeks on the South Carolina coast. Both groom and bride lost their previous spouses and are now in their mid to late 70s. As they begin again, I may share some of the thoughts you’ve given us here. Bless you friend.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 31, 2024 at 6:57 pm

      Well, feel free to use anything I wrote, if it’s helpful If not, don’t quote me!! And blessings on your time with Mike and these newly wed folks. Grace abounds.

  • Reply kris May 31, 2024 at 3:10 pm

    i LOVE YOU and I LOVE this!!!! thank you. and happy anniversary!! xoxoxoxo

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 31, 2024 at 7:00 pm

      And I LOVE YOU, precious Kris! You, Mike and your kids are part of our forever family. And thanks for your good wishes. Lily loved getting to see you and Zoe.

  • Reply dale May 31, 2024 at 3:48 pm

    Thanks Jan, I expect we all identified in our own way with your scripturally based message. We remind ourselves often that everything is negotiable expect the relationship; and, if we are both the same, then one of us is unnecessary! I know Jud’s love for you was passionate and permanent and I know you knew and felt this as well. Thanks to both of you for your wise and encouraging example. Love, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 31, 2024 at 7:07 pm

      Well,you knew us before we were married and for many years since, friend and brother Dale. Your insights often add to these posts. Like “everything is negotiable except the relationship.” You and Marty are examples worth paying attention too, as well. By the way, your card(not the check) is in the mail. I love that we share the same birthday. June 2, but separated by a few years. OK, I’ll admit it. I’m a lot older!

  • Reply Carolyn Sylvester May 31, 2024 at 4:07 pm

    Thanks for your wisdom. We just celebrate 50 years. Seems like “forever” – 2 kids and 5 grandkids later…. I love how you word everything.
    God bless you,

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 31, 2024 at 7:08 pm

      Well, congratulations to you, dear Carolyn. It seems like forever when you’re in the middle of kids but looking back it’s a blink of the eye. Enjoy the moments. They matter.

  • Reply Joyce Ruppell May 31, 2024 at 4:32 pm

    So timely Jan as tomorrow is our 50th anniversary and we are thinking many of the same thoughts!
    Love is forever!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 31, 2024 at 7:19 pm

      And congratulations to you, dear Joyce. I felt sad and troubled when I read a recent article that reported marriage is not as appealing or important to many younger men and women today in our country. Nothing worthwhile is easy. And, for me and you who celebrated 50 and more years of marriage, making and keeping vows, loving and being loved are worthwhile endeavors. Spread the word.

  • Reply AnnMenzie May 31, 2024 at 9:18 pm

    amen I have been married 52 years and we are so opposite. But what a rich life we have.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 31, 2024 at 9:35 pm

      Thanks, dear Ann, for another example of the “rich life” that comes from opposites attracting. And congratulations on 52 years.

  • Reply Priscilla Young May 31, 2024 at 10:50 pm

    Love what you wrote, Jan. Mark and I just passed 43 years and went to In and Out Burger! Today on Sirius XM The Bridge I heard “Still the One” which is one of those songs we love to sing loudly to each other. In an age of marriage break ups, how blessed we are to have these long-lasting and loving marriages. We’re look forward to seeing you soon.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 1, 2024 at 9:56 am

      Thanks, dear Priscilla. Often after we landed in California, Jud and I headed for the nearest In and Out Burger place. Good spot to party and celebrate! We also had a local favorite, Nick’s Roast Beef. See you and Mark in a few days.

  • Reply Julie Mozena June 1, 2024 at 3:13 am

    Wishing you a happy anniversary, Jan. What a beautiful tribute to your life with Jud ♥️

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 1, 2024 at 10:01 am

      Welcome home from your adventures with Trevor, amazing Julie! You know how to celebrate special times. Thanks for your good wishes. The years fly by. Hard to believe I turn 84 tomorrow. That’s getting up there! Annie Dillard’s words remind me to soak up today. She wrote, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” I love that you are part of my California days and sometimes, even here. Come again.

  • Reply Evelyn Karlson June 1, 2024 at 2:51 pm

    Thank you, my dear Norwegian sister. This post is profound, Jan. Bless you for leading the way for so many of us that have been inspired to go thru stance with our own vows! I love you- Evie♥️

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 1, 2024 at 7:06 pm

      Tusen Takk, very dear Evie. Such a gift to my heart to see your name pop up on my screen. How I loved our times together at Ravencrest in Colorado with Bonnie. And seeing you,listening to you sing, and meeting your family in Florida. You have blessed many. And you just blessed me AGAIN. Jeg elsker deg!! Your Norwegian sister, “Yan”

  • Reply Alyssa Arnold June 1, 2024 at 4:45 pm

    Jan, such a lovely post, though I imagine painful. I know you wrote a variation of your mama’s advice on a momento folks signed when I married Andrew. Thank you for your beautiful insight on life, love, and change.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 1, 2024 at 7:12 pm

      And thank you, dear Alyssa, for reading and taking time to respond so thoughtfully. It always does me good to hear from “my Gordon kids.” And you are right, I did write those words on the book people signed at your wedding. It’s hard to stay angry for long when you”sit close.” Or dance, as you and Andrew did so beautifully at your wedding. Happy Summering to you both in beautiful Utah.

  • Reply Wendy June 2, 2024 at 7:25 pm

    Oh yes, love surely does matter! So good Jan. I love your Mom’s quote – Steve’s and my rendition is “Life’s short, never miss a chance to hug!” 🙂 And I get the being poor, we married one week after I graduated from Gordon and all I had were student loans. But we didn’t care, we were so happy. We still are 44 years later (can you believe it’s been 44 years since we were your students?!) Thank you for your beautiful thoughts and especially sharing your anniversary with us, so many feelings…. And happy birthday! I hope you had a wonderful day and pray God’s richest blessings and favor upon you in the year to come. All my love.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 3, 2024 at 11:27 am

      Wow! No I can’t believe it’s 44 years for you and Steve, dear Wendy! Seems like you just graduated a few years ago, even though I know better. Thanks for your good wishes. I enjoyed my 84th birthday yesterday, especially since my eldest Grand, Lily, was here to share it with me. At day’s end with a carry over today on Monday June 3rd, I still feel very loved by my family, friends and neighbors. Thanks for your part!!

  • Reply Toni Lovingood June 4, 2024 at 7:12 am

    What sweet reflection on what a real marriage is. It reminded me to sit closer today.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 4, 2024 at 11:16 am

      For sure, dear Toni, it would do us all good to hear or ignore a little more and sit close more often. Hope you’re enjoying a beautiful spring in the South. Although, when it gets hot and humid, it’s hard to sit close, unless you have a fan going or air conditioning! Happy Summering!

  • Reply Tina Hoofnagle June 13, 2024 at 5:01 am

    Appreciate so much these words on love. I realize I have not been “sitting as close” as your mom encourages. Some changes are in order particularly as we do not know the span of time God will give us. Just like a good sermon we never fully know how the Spirit will move a person through words shared. Thank you for your on going ministry in your remembrances and being faithful to share to share your experiences.
    God bless Jan Carlberg

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 13, 2024 at 8:29 am

      Thank you, dear Tina, for reading this post and taking the time and risk to respond. I’m grateful God uses words to teach and encourage us. Sometimes God speaks through unlikely people and in surprising ways. We just need to be better at paying attention and listening with more than our ears. And I’m preaching to me! Meanwhile, sit close and expect good to come from your move of faith and trust.

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