Letters to Aglet #4: Take Notes

Dear Aglet,

Grandma Jo here. I can’t help it–every time I think of how the world might be when you’re growing up and I’m growing old, I wonder if you’ll still use pencil and paper or if everything will be typed onto a screen and stored in a cloud. That just sounds futuristic. Not that it doesn’t happen plenty now, but at least these days there are young dinosaurs like me who still do things the old-fashioned way. Well, sometimes.

Recently some classmates and I got in trouble with a professor for not having taken notes during a guest’s presentation. That got me thinking about why it’s even useful to take notes: why it is necessary that every member of my class jot down several lines of incomprehensible summary of the speaker’s life-story (wasting paper and KILLING TREES, aaaaah) when the reality is that probably none of us would keep whatever notes we took. All that paper would just be thrown away/recycled by those of us who care enough to make the effort.

Well, Professor argued, it would have looked professional. It would have shown that we cared. It might have indicated that we appreciated the time the speaker took to come talk to us. And it would have been a gesture of respect for his life-story.

SO, take notes, Aglet. Be professional. Take notes.

Also. When there is something that you want to remember, take notes.

Around the same time this whole professionalism-thing happened, I realized what a horrible note-taker I’ve been at church. I found all these bulletins with absolutely nothing on them, and then I found one–exactly one–with notes from a sermon that I had come back to again and again since the fall when it was preached. One, Aglet, out of two-and-a- half-years-worth that I might have had.

I remember admiring people who took notes during the sermon. Not when I was a kid, mind you–back then I just drew doodle and passed notes with my siblings. But when I was older and realized what a good thing it is to have a preacher who preaches God’s Word, then I would look over and think, hey, good for that person, writing this stuff down. I didn’t think about why they were writing it down until church changed and I was relying on my memory for things I’d learned and ways in which I’d grown. I didn’t have any specifics–I could maybe remember certain topics or passages my pastor had gone through, but most of what I had was a vague sense that, yeah, this man preached the Bible and I was thankful for it.

Except for this one sermon.

It’s on prayer, Aglet, and I’m not going to try to recreate the sermon for you (I can’t, anyway), but I’m going to write down on here some things that I remember because I took notes that Sunday. It’s more for me than for my future hypothetical grandkid, honestly.

It starts out like this:

The evidence of following Christ is bearing fruit, living in obedience to Christ (John 15:4-8). Jesus is the source of our bearing fruit.

And then I have written three wonderful Scriptures having to do with God’s assurance of keeping those he saves:

John 6:37. John 10:28. Romans 8:38-39.

Abiding in Christ is not the way we bear fruit. It’s the means by which God causes us to bear fruit.

What follows is a mixture of Bible passages and questions and applications and it seems that I personalized them somewhere along the way. So modify the pronouns accordingly, Aglet.

1. Be a woman of the Word (2 Peter 1:21)

-If it’s really God’s word, how does my treatment of it show my attitude toward God? (John 14:15; Deuteronomy 6:6)

-Let testimony about God drive me to worship God and live in Christ (Colossians 3:16)

And then I’d written:

“Oh God, help me delight diligently in Your Word.”

2. Be a woman of prayer

-Pray simply

-Pray humbly (Luke 12:32)

• God delights in giving us gifts because it glorifies His goodness.

• We come boldly only because of Christ.

-Pray expectantly (Job 38)

• When He doesn’t give what we want, how we pray demonstrates how trustworthy we believe God to be.

-Pray regularly

• We pray, not only when we need something, but because we find rest and love and satisfaction in Jesus.

The last thing I’d written down was something I’ve probably known most of my life, but that Sunday it pierced me like a lightning bolt and it was as if the news were brand new:

Christ called me before I wanted anything to do with Him, and claimed by His grace my wayward heart.

Write down the important things, Aglet. And don’t take for granted that you’ll always have a faithful pastor to teach and re-teach you the glorious Gospel. Don’t even take for granted that you’ll have weird, random letters on the internet penned by your weird, future, hypothetical grandparent.

Take notes, sonny.

Merry Christmas,

Your (increasingly strange) Grandma,



Letter#2: Very Important Advice

Dear Aglet,

This morning, as I sat drinking the watered-down concoction the cafeteria likes to call coffee, I was struck by this thought, a thought I thought important enough to record here for your sake. Ready, here it is: When I am old, I won’t be young anymore.

I know, I know. Profound. As you read this, I would imagine you are thinking one of two things: either “Wow, Grandma Jo got a lot wiser when she got old,” or the opposite of that. I can read your mind, sonny. “This makes so much sense about how she is now…”

The reason I thought of this is, well, I don’t know what made me starting thinking it. Whatever. I was just thinking that someday I won’t look young like I do now. Old people are pretty in a different sort of way. My friends won’t look young and pretty and handsome either. We’ll all be judged on a different scale–by how we act and whether we have the wisdom of years.

Obviously, your grandma has some growing to do on that last point. Hahaha.

What was I saying? I keep distracting myself with funny thoughts. Will I be like that when you know me, I wonder?

“What is Grandma Jo laughing about?”

“Oh, something she did/said/thought amused her.”

“But it’s been a whole two days since then!!”

I like my sense of humor because it can turn my life into this running sit com, full of mishaps and ridiculous misunderstandings that seem, at the time, world-ending. I get mortified easily, but give me a couple days and I can’t stop laughing about whatever the mortifying thing was.

Like the time I felt called to defend the honor of my father’s mustache. It’s a long story, but it culminated with me half-yelling at the offensive person that, “when he gets to be my dad’s age, his facial hair will probably look bad too!”

It was a terrible comeback, one of my worst yet.

I did eventually apologize, but in the interim I would think about it and just laugh at how ludicrous the whole thing was.

Facial hair (somehow!) reminds me of what I wanted to say in the first place. I wish that people my age could see one another in the future. I think it would give us all a lot more humility if we could a). look in the mirror at our fifty-year-old selves, and b). realize we look no better/worse than any other fifty-year-old.

Future grandmas and future granddads, if they could see each other’s seventy-year-old selves, wouldn’t place as much stock on what their twenty-year-old selves looked like. One of these days, I will not be young, and even when I smile, it won’t look quite the same. Boys will begin balding, and eventually we should probably all stop wearing flip-flops and shorts.

That’s okay.

None of that mattered in the first place. And even though I slip into thinking it matters now, what matters is whether people commit to loving each other beyond years and beyond appearance.

The most beautiful elderly couples I’ve seen aren’t beautiful simply because they’ve stuck together for all these years. The best ones are the ones who still treat each other as if they are precious and beautiful. They were never thinking of their outsides when they fell in love with the beauty of something inward.

Till next time, Aglet.
Your Grandma, Jo.