Jackson Five Friday: The Smell of New

Hey Friends,

I hope you’ve had a great week. I’ve had an abundance of highlights this week– nothing super major, just lots of sweet moments to give thanks over.

But one tiny bummer is I think the new-car smell in my new car is officially gone. The culprit: leaky milk on the way home from Costco. It was just days before that one of the boys climbed in the car and declared with enthusiasm, “It still smells new! How long does it last?”

I naively answered, “A looonngg time, if you don’t take any road trips in it.” Jackson family road trips have irreparably stunk up four different minivans over the years, but my minivan days are over. Or maybe not. The truth is we desperately miss the leg room, and since that issue will only get worse over time, my resolve to be post-van may crumble.

Anywho, along with that new car smell, my 90-day free trial of XM will soon expire. This is actually good news. It means I’ll stop experiencing the following pitiful problem: every time I go under an overpass or drive by a really really big rock wall (numerous times daily), the XM signal fades out and I think I’m getting a phone call. It’s such a let down to realize I am not. And you’d think I’d learn. I mean it’s worrisome to me that after two months of this, I have not learned.

Now, some of you may say, “I thought you hated talking on the phone?” Perhaps I did once. But clearly this little XM issue has proven otherwise. I think it’s a stage of life thing. Plus, it’s really sad that the person I used to talk to daily no longer calls.

“Christina!” my mom would say, joyfully rolling the r. And no that’s not my name. I have no idea what first made her call me that. But for decades that was always her first word to me on the phone.

But the great news is that where my mom is all things are new. That new baby smell never fades. The new car, if there was one, would be ding-free and new smelling, forever. In heaven the milk doesn’t spill and there’s nothing that is ever disappointing or pitiful.

Meditate on these words from Revelation:

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.

‭‭Revelation‬ ‭21:4-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

What a great way to kick off the weekend — with these true and trustworthy words.

Love to you,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Alignment is Vital

Hey Friends,

Hope you’ve had a wonderful week. This is our first week back to real life in 2019, and with four basketball games and a swim meet, it’s quite a running start.

It wasn’t long ago that I was driving four teenage boys to Florida. Since it’s all of a ten-hour drive I did let my seventeen-year-old do a few shifts. But with precious cargo, two of whom aren’t even mine, it’s stressful. I had to tell him to slow down about five hundred times. And “Woah, give this guy more space!” also seemed to be on endless loop. At one point I was trying to have a deep phone conversation. The person was telling me about some serious things going on. They were even getting choked up. I think one of my strengths is being a good, attentive listener but this is a feat with a teenager at the wheel. At one point we were flying by semi-truck after semi-truck and seemingly inching closer to them all the time.

“Aww,” I said to my phone pal, while I frantically gestured to my son to stinking hug the left line on the road, instead of the precarious right. This we repeated about ten times. Then, by God’s grace, we needed gas or something and his shift ended.

Later in the trip, he took another shift and this time there was less traffic, so we mostly stayed in the right lane. Still, I felt like we were veering right, like we were going to go barreling into the grass at any moment.

“Dude, quit veering to the right!” I said. “What is your issue with drifting right?”

At this point a little audio snippet replayed in my mind. Not long ago, my husband said, nonchalantly, as if only passing, “I think my alignment is off.”

Yep, we were in his car. Yep, a seventeen year old hasn’t driven misaligned cars yet enough to know how to automatically compensate. The trip was much smoother when I explained that straight was probably a few degrees to the left.

Alignment really is rather important, isn’t it? Cars are one thing, but real life alignment is truly vital. What’s your plumb line? Is it your gut? Is it public opinion? Is it whatever your friends or spouse say? I hope not. I hope you align yourself with the enteral truth of God’s Word. I hope you feed yourself Scripture so much that you can automatically play some of it in your mind, that situations instantly bring certain applicable passages to mind.

Praying today that 2019 is a year where I commit more Scripture to memory. After all, this side of eternity none of us will ever graduate from needing to align ourselves to God’s Word.

With Love,

Kristie

Tune Therapy

Hi Friends,

When was the last time you sang Jesus Loves Me with a group of adults? I happen to experience it today at the brunch following the baptism of my grand nephew. The sweetness of it can hardly be overstated. In fact, at my church the congregation always sings Jesus Loves Me to close out baptisms. The pastor holds the baby and walks up and down the aisle as we sing. I’m not a terribly emotional person, but it always makes me want to cry happy, grateful tears.

Why do you think that is? I think it’s because we live in a world that is so marred by sin, so intent on stoking our sense of entitlement, our perceived mistreatment, our inclination to be less than satisfied. A new weapon of instilling malcontent is to feed –via smartphones–an ending stream of mostly meaningless information. And for whatever reason, this never-ending stream is highly addictive. Has anyone ever scrolled and scrolled and then thought, “Wow, that was great. I’m so so glad I scrolled”? I seriously doubt it. But the Prince of this world relentlessly tries to hide the truth, the truth that we are loved.

The simple children’s song Jesus Loves Me is so powerful because it’s true. And children may sing with angelic voices and believe every word, but adults singing it know how life-altering this truth truly is. The Creator of the Universe, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords loves me! Me! Sinful, forgetful, scrolling, ungrateful me!

“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:18-21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The incredible news is that grace abounds all the more. Jesus loves you. I am praying today that you know that!

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: True Friends

Hey Friends,

It’s that time of year when we look back over the last 360 or so days and evaluate highs and lows. On New Year’s, the reflection is capped off with the singing of Auld Lang Syne, the centuries old Scottish tune about old friends. Remembering the gift of old friends is a sweet tradition.

I have been blessed to meet people I adore everywhere I’ve ever lived, which has included five different states. I loved my high school friends immensely. My closest college friends understood that although I spent a great deal of time gazing into the mesmerizing baby blues of Will Jackson, I really did love them too. I’ve made sweet friends in Bible studies, small groups, on the sidelines of every sport imaginable, volunteering at the boys’ schools, and in the most random ways. What a gift it is to feel known and loved. A good laugh with a dear friend is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

But here’s the thing, how many friends do you have that speak the truth in love to you? Do you have friends who challenge you to be better? For example, which makes you feel more loved: (1) universal affirmation, no matter what; or (2) a gentle word of course correction? Honestly, despite the cultural prevalence of the first, its not only not love, it’s flattery — an effective snare of Satan. Meanwhile the second is deeply loving. Yet somehow the inane message of our time has largely prevailed: Love is defined as tolerance and affirmation.

In contrast, I came across this perfect quote from Robert Murray McCheyne: “A man who loves you the most is the man who tells you the most truth about yourself.” Brilliant! There’s really no expounding upon it. I just hope you have such a friend and that you are such a friend. McCheyne was a Scottish preacher from the 19th Century, and surely would have known Auld Lang Syne. Did he remember those loving, truth-telling friends when he sang it? I don’t know. But from now on, I will.

I can hardly fathom how much our world would change if 2019 were characterized not by empty flattery, but telling each other the truth.

Sometimes I picture Jesus just hanging out with me. If I find myself laying on a lounge chair somewhere by myself, I imagine Him just chilling beside me. I know He loves me no matter what I do. There’s nothing I can ever do to make Him love me more or less. But that does not mean Jesus would ever sit idly by while I make poor choices. No, He would say, “Beloved, you don’t want to do that. That’s not who you are.” He loves me unconditionally, but He doesn’t passively sit by and watch me self-destruct. He’s my friend! In fact, He’s my best friend and just like the McCheyne quote, He tells me the most truth about myself. But sometimes He speaks in a still small voice and I must be still and listen hard.

Praying today that Jesus is your best friend too, and that as we try to love those around us well, we will use His perfect friendship as the model.

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:11-16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

With Love,

Kristie

P.S. It’s our 23rd anniversary tomorrow and I’m grateful for a million things about Will, including his willingness to tell me the truth about myself.

Jackson Five Friday: The Honesty of Hemingway

Hey Friends,

I hope you’ve had a week that’s been wonderfully free of hustle. Unfortunately, I’ve been running around like a chicken, but I’m optimistic that as of an hour ago, I’m done. I’m closing out the year with a leisurely ten days, savoring time with my family and anticipating celebrating the greatest gift ever given.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Hemingway. I mean I can appreciate his gift without longing to read him. But 2018 has held some surprises, good and bad. I’ve faced some things I never thought I would, and yet I’ve had good surprises, too. Oddly, I’ve been a religious user of my treadmill since October. I’m obsessed with it. And guess what? I love running a quick mile or doing HIIT on it. You’d have to know me to fathom how unlikely this is.

Another 2018 shocker is that two Hemingway quotes have been running through my mind on repeat. The first is this:”Madame, all stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true-story teller who would keep that from you.” Indeed, every true story ends in death. It’s a sobering truth. I’ve realized in 2018, more than ever that avoidance of this simplest of facts is pitiful and destructive. I am praying tonight that anyone and everyone who reads this will realize that their own true story ends in death. And I pray that that doesn’t scare you in the least, but instead reminds you of where you are going.

The other Hemingway quote that’s recently been on a nearly continuous loop is from The Sun Also Rises. It’s actually the closing line, maybe you remember it? Jake Barnes, the narrator of the story, says, “Yes, isn’t it pretty to think so?”

Barnes is condescendingly affirming the absurdly optimistic musings of Brett, his would-be leading lady, who says, “we could have had such a damned good time together.” The writing is pretty great.

But “isn’t it pretty to think so” has become my unstated reaction to others’ expressions of hope that seem disconnected from reality. Despite some hard things this year, I’m not jaded nor down. But I do know where my hope comes from — it comes from Christ alone. Window dressing or empty building up has never felt so cheap, so downright discouraging.

But here is the unbelievably wonderful news of the season: God delights in you “as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son–it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.” (C.S. Lewis). Does your story end in death? Yes. Are thoughts of eternity spent with an All-Loving Creator mere pretty thoughts? No! No! A million times “No!”

May we all know the truth of this verse tonight and always:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

With Love and Merry Christmas,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Self-Deprecating and Curious?

Hey Friends,

We moved to Tennessee three years ago, and God blessed me with a sweet friend before we even officially arrived.

In October 2015, I was here by myself making an offer on our house. I had some free time so I drove to the back of Lookout Mountain to check out the scenery. I stopped in a neighborhood that has sort of a little park on the edge of the mountain. It’s a twelve minute drive from my my house and technically in Georgia. With the sweeping view as background, I sat there, chatting on the phone with my guys back in Virginia. When I hung up, a woman sitting just a few feet away struck up a conversation. She had ridden her bike there and was reading the paper.

“Did you hear about that hurricane hitting Mexico?” She asked looking up from her paper.

I shook my head. “I guess I’ve been out of the loop.”

“Well, it’s Hurricane Patricia, that’s my name.”

That was the jumping off point, but twenty minutes later we were as tight as you can be in twenty minutes. I instantly loved everything about her. I ended up telling her that I just put an offer on a house on the Tennessee side of the mountain.

“Where?” she asked.

And when I explained she said, “That’s where I live!” Unbelievably she ended up being my neighbor across the street. That December, Will and I walked 50 feet to Patricia’s Christmas party. A month later Sam and I went sledding with Patricia and her pup, Piper. She’s become one of my favorite lunch dates — we invariably laugh our butts off and address the hardest of trials. We’ve both lost our beloved mothers in the last two years.

Anyway, Patricia is also the only person I know who was a close personal friend of President George H.W. Bush. When I heard George W. Bush say his dad “loved to laugh, especially at himself. He could tease and needle, but never out of malice,” I smiled. Yes, that describes Patricia too. In fact, it describes all of my favorite people. It’s almost a litmus test for likability.

Another measure of likability is also related to George H.W. Bush. His biographer and eulogist, Jon Meacham, spoke at my sons’ school on Monday. I was able to watch a recording of his remarks. He was hilarious and profound, with numerous worthwhile takeaways. But one thing he said, while not particularly complex, has had me thinking all week. He said strong leaders remain curious. Think about that for a few minutes.

Do you know any leaders who lack curiosity? Are they effective? Interesting? Inspiring? Are they even likable? I doubt it.

These two traits — laughing at yourself and remaining curious — make you likable, but relatedly and more importantly, they make you godly. Maybe the applicable passages don’t spring to mind. But really being self-deprecating requires humility. Similarly, remaining curious requires both reverence and humility.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:28‬

Praying today that I’ll be humble and reverent, and maybe a tenth as likable as Patricia or her good friend, George.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: All Out of Grace

Hey Friends,

I hope you’ve had a great week. I had a good but busy week. I saw a doctor who does not specialize in eyes– that’s twice this year –which for me is really something. He shot my knee up with some steroids. Once again I’m kicking myself for waiting. It’s been less than 48 hours and now the shot up knee is already appreciably better than the other. Don’t wait people.

I had another unusual moment with my husband who is over six-foot-three.

“Hey,” I said. “Can you do me a favor? Can you reach my other boot on top of that shelf?”

He looked at me stunned, like I had five heads. And then he smiled his sexy smile and we laughed.

Truly, it seems terribly unlikely but we are pretty sure that in almost twenty-three years of marriage, that was the very first time I’ve ever asked him to reach something. You might think the extra four inches would’ve come into play at some other point, but evidently not.

A third out-of-the-ordinary moment occurred on my way into traffic court. I was walking in with Dub.

By way of background, he turned seventeen on October 22. He had exactly one year of accident-free driving, and then on his birthday, he got to sleep in. His day started with a free period and he didn’t have morning practice. As I hugged him goodbye I suggested he swing by the coffee truck and get a treat. It was his birthday after all. But a few minutes later he called, wisely assuring me first that no one was hurt, but that he’d been rear-ended. When I made it to the scene, I realized that although he had been hit from behind, rear-ended conjured up something slightly different. Therefore, our trip to traffic court.

On our way in we witnessed an odd exchange. A police officer was telling a woman that the judge had dropped all of the charges and that she was free to go. I could not fathom why this news was not delivered by the judge himself, in the courtroom. But it seemed official enough. The woman was elated.

Dub and I climbed on the elevator.

“Well, Dub,” I said. “There’s two ways of looking at that. Either today the judge is in a mood to extend grace; or the judge just gave all the grace to that woman.”

I love to tease, as a child of Judy Huber it’s kind of a given.

But it got me thinking, aren’t you so grateful that God — the one true and perfect judge — never runs out of grace. He’s never reached his quota for the day. No matter how awful you’ve been, no matter how much you may have disappointed others, there is nothing you can do that will make God give up on you. Jesus is always standing at the door of your heart knocking.

Psalm 103 says He redeems our lives from the pit, and crowns us with love and compassion (verse 4). It’s not like walking into traffic court, anxiously waiting to see what will happen. No, if you answer the knocking, then you get crowned with love and compassion. There’s no mystery in it all. The only unknown is why the door is so often unanswered.

Praying today that I’ll always always answer and that you will too!

With Love,

Kristie