Notes from Jan


June 7, 2024

That’s me. At age eighty-four I’m grateful to be alive. Repurposed. The word showed up with a bouquet from my neighbor, Beth. Her birthday’s May 30th and mine June 2nd. Since they were going away for a few days, Beth, not wanting to waste the beauty, showed up with a smile and “repurposed flowers just for you.”

What a great word to interject into a consumptive culture. However, if you’re close to my age, you grew up before so many things, including relationships, were disposable. We washed diapers, reused tinfoil, and hung clothes on lines come laundry day.

Growing up, we used cloth napkins. And rags, usually old underwear, wiped up spills. Mama repurposed feed sacks from Owenby’s Mill in Georgia into curtains, aprons and dresses. On trash day, a simple aluminum bin stood by the curb. Now plastic bins overflow. Mine, included.

But stuff is one thing. People are another. After years of doing, I’m learning to be still. Repurposed. It helps that I’m old and tire more easily!! But it’s also a choice. Isaiah 30:15 says,”…in quietness and confidence is your strength, but you would have none of it.” (NLT)

For sure, God blesses work. But we’re more than what we do. We’re more than our many roles and hats as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles,spouses. More than teachers, nurses, pastors, doctors, coaches, builders, lawyers, musicians, artists, writers and webmasters( whatever they are.) Still the years Jud and I served at Gordon College were full and rich. But time comes when you wake up to a blank page. And if we connect doing with being, full schedules with success, it’s easy to question one’s worth.

For me, it helps to be learning to recognize when enough is enough and be content with less. It stills the restlessness that lurks in and around me. Quiet feeds my soul. Sometimes it nudges me to write. And I love writing. So thanks for reading. You encourage and affirm this repurposed time in my life. I’m fascinated at how God connects us through words, memories, confessions, humor. However, technology still amazes me, and the word BLOG still sounds like a four letter word.

Life changes and we change. But there is a sacred space where hope cushions the hard places in life with, “The best is yet to be.” And God’s promise that, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined…” what a Good God has up his/her sleeve, so to speak. (I Corinthians 2:9, NLT)

So take a deep breath. While we use words like re-purpose and re-imagine, God uses words like redeemed, forgiven and restored. Nothing is wasted in your life or mine. And so I pray to focus on what is, not get stuck in what was or might have been. And to welcome slow times.

May you find hidden strength, joy and peace in slowing down, taking deep breaths and discovering God’s goodness in and around you. Be. Still.

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  • Reply Marylou Habecker June 7, 2024 at 10:22 am

    Love these thoughts on repurposing!! It is so true..
    we are not what we do!!
    We were blessed to have rich , full lives … and we still do but repurposed!
    To LOVE is a great propose and that can happen at any age!!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 7, 2024 at 11:54 am

      So true, dear Marylou. Jud and I loved our years being colleagues with you and Gene, as well as other Deans, Provosts, Presidents and spouses who were part of the Christian College Consortium. So good to hear from you.

  • Reply Phil Eaton June 7, 2024 at 10:38 am

    Love this so much this morning, Jan. Just what I needed. It is in this stillness I feel God is nudging me more and more. I’m not always there, to be sure, but longing to rest in him. You are a gift.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 7, 2024 at 11:59 am

      Well, speaking of colleagues I referred to in my response to Marylou, it’s good to see your name show up, dear Phil. Over those years, you and Sharon became friends, not just colleagues. And, while you’re no longer the President of Seattle Pacific University, you still lead us in quiet ways through your writing and blog. Thank you.

  • Reply Katherine Bagley June 7, 2024 at 11:02 am

    Hi Jan!
    This came at just the right time for me. I just retired last Friday (Yay!) from a paycheck job and this past week I have been making lists, setting my alarm clock to 6:30 am (that is sleeping in for what I had been doing!) and trying to make the most of my time. While these are all fine things to do they have seemed to be overtaking my thoughts and enforcing the idea of the self worth of doing. It’s an adjustment for sure and I appreciate these wise words to help me along that path of being still and knowing God. To take delight in Him and learn what that looks like. To fill the blank page with love and friendships and serving. God bless you Katherine

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 7, 2024 at 12:04 pm

      Thanks, dear Katherine, for sharing the challenge that comes with a major change, like retirement. You and Jim have done so much on and off Gordon’s campus over your years. But, while new sometimes causes us to fear, I pray your blank page becomes the pause that refreshes. And chances are pretty good that a refreshed Katherine will refresh others, whether you plan to or not.

  • Reply Maggie Wallem Rowe June 7, 2024 at 2:19 pm

    Jam, how on earth did I miss your birthday? OK, I have a good excuse for missing the first 13 years of your remarkable life, but not the past 71. Your post brought tears to my eyes for several reasons, including family members who seem to have lost their purpose. I am clutching this line to my chest: “there is a sacred space where hope cushions the hard places in life with, “The best is yet to be.” Do you recall sending me a poster a couple years ago that says, “What if everything turns out for the best?” I have it framed to the left of my desk, and I look at it daily as a reminder that my worrying is purposeless (and not something I wish to repurpose.) As Tolkien wrote, someday everything sad will become untrue. Bless you as you enter this next year of life, dear friend.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 7, 2024 at 5:50 pm

      Thanks, dear Maggie, for the reminder of the poster. I’d forgotten the specific message but remember why I sent something to you. As God’s beloved children, it is not a stretch to believe that, one day, everything will turn out for the best. And thank you for your good wishes and your friendship. Everyone matters but Norwegians count twice!

  • Reply Carolyn Sylvester June 7, 2024 at 5:57 pm

    I love each message you post. I enjoyed you saying “blog is a four letter word” – so is love and you send a lot of that with each blog!’

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 7, 2024 at 6:10 pm

      WOW! Thank, dear Carolyn. I’m grateful you feel the love. And I sense it coming from you, as well.

  • Reply Gordon Candy June 7, 2024 at 6:02 pm

    Right there with you! Not always sure whether in or out!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 7, 2024 at 6:12 pm

      Just keep breathing. In and out. Thanks for all you do at Grace Chapel. But mostly for who you are, dear Candy.

  • Reply Nancy Vecchio June 7, 2024 at 9:31 pm

    A friend said to me, it’s our time to rest. Being busy most of our lives, for me especially with my church. Things have slowed down as I’m most needed in taking care of my husband. Not being as involved in serving in church made me feel a bit useless until my friend said that to me.
    Be still and know that I am God has been the verse revolving around in my mind lately, and often. Repurposed is a great word! We will always have purpose, but the chapter changes as we grow older and God still uses us as He wills and in different ways, until He calls us home.
    Thank you for the wisdom that truly comes from above! You have held a very special place in my heart, dear Jan, and always will.
    I love you my friend!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 8, 2024 at 9:22 am

      Time with you in CBS, dear Nancy, continues to bring me joy when I reflect on our group. Thank you for your example of a caring, tender heart. And for your faithfulness in caring for your husband. Vows matter. “For better or for worse, in sickness and in health.” I love the beautiful aria from Mendelssohn’s oratorio, Elijah , “O, Rest in the Lord, wait patiently for Him and He shall give thee your heart’s desires.” It’s from Psalm 37, one of my favorite songs. Rest easy. God’s awake 24/7.

  • Reply dale June 8, 2024 at 10:04 am

    Dear Jan, Marty and I are in Black Butte at the scene of my blunder and God’s miracle. I wonder if He ever gets tired of cleaning up after me?! The sites are majestic and appropriately so. “Be still and know” is my password so thanks for the citation. However, if I am hacked, I know the group to contact! It’s a football quote but appropriate: “if you are what you do, when you don’t you aren’t” The phrase “child of God” used to seem too mundane until I reviewed my behavior. Now it seems inspirational. 🙂 You are loved. Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 8, 2024 at 8:50 pm

      A miracle, for sure. As for God “getting tired of cleaning up after you”, I can’t speak for God, though I’n sure Jud or some in the family may think I’ve tried more than once. But I’m so happy to read you and Marty are off adventuring, again. I’m assuming you are also spending time with Doug and his family. . Sending love to you, Marty, Doug and family.

  • Reply Laura June 8, 2024 at 10:42 am

    Jan, belated Happy 84 young years. Many of your Gordon girls want to be just like you when we grow up! Full of wise words, quotes, humor, lock-tight faith, and hope. Keep repurposing your messages to the world as long as you are with us and selfishly I hope that’s for a long long time. Hoping for a summer visit…xoxo love you Jan C!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 8, 2024 at 9:04 pm

      Thanks, amazing Laura! I do love “my” Gordon girls and am so happy when I hear from any of you. As far as getting together, I stay hopeful we can connect face to face this summer, also. As for some of you wanting to grow up to be like me, next time we’re together, take a good close look! Meanwhile, I’m grateful for your encouragement and hopeful desire that i’ll be around “for a long, long time.” God only knows and He’s not giving me any specifics. Then again, I’m not eager to get a “best if used by ” date. Better to stay hopeful and cherish each sunrise.

  • Reply Alyssa Arnold June 8, 2024 at 4:37 pm

    Hi Jan, reading this on a rare “slow” day. Looking forward to carving out more pockets to be still and just be. Happy belated birthday! I enjoyed this post on repurposing.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 8, 2024 at 9:10 pm

      And I enjoy hearing from you, dear Alyssa. Thank you for your birthday wishes. I’m happy to receive them all year long. And I hope your slow day includes some slow dancing with Andrew. It must be beautiful in Utah and, hopefully, hot too hot.

  • Reply Karen Grant June 9, 2024 at 2:28 pm

    Thank you Jan, as I truly needed to hear your thoughts today. I am encouraged now to slow down and rest!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 9, 2024 at 4:06 pm

      Well, dear Karen, then I’m grateful I listened to the nudge and wrote this peace. Like most of what I write, it starts with me paying attention to what God is saying to me and changes I need to make. Slower is better. Rest is restorative. Thank you for reading and risking responding on the post. You encouraged me. And others, too, I’m sure.

  • Reply Linda Anderson June 10, 2024 at 8:44 am

    So, so good, Jan. And so very timely. Thank you. There are so many things to love about you, but I think your sense of humor is my favorite! What would we ever do without it?! Do you think laughter might be next to godliness? ❤️

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 10, 2024 at 4:01 pm

      Well, for sure, I hope it’s not cleanliness! And what a gift to see your name appear on my screen! Thank you for so many years together at JOY Bible study and Grace Chapel, dear Linda. And for the amazing Mom to Mom program you developed to help women keep learning and growing while they helped nurture their own children. May a deep sense of peace and joy bookend your days. You, like I, believe the best is yet to be! As for the value of humor, George Bernard Shaw wrote,”You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.” Here’s to a merry heart!(Proverbs 17:22)

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