Jackson Five Friday: Hokies, Bread and Circuses

Hey Friends,

I sometimes oscillate between a desperate sense of “Come Lord Jesus” and a sunny optimism that we must be on the brink of revival. One thing is clear: the old Roman adage “Give them bread and circuses and they will never revolt” seems to be the guiding principle of our national leaders. In fact, the clown show just will not end. Instead they up the ante every dang day. It’s embarrassing, but it’s also deadly. Plus, it’s not clear how we reject the bread and circuses when so many of us have amused ourselves to death (as was predicted by Neil Postman). The depth of thought, the ability to examine unintended consequences, to reason through any analysis, to weigh risks and benefits are all severely diminished. The level of innumeracy is stunning. The arguments people make with statistics are often patently absurd and yet go completely unchallenged. There’s little recognition that every health stat needs to be defined over a period of time. Ignoring the time period leads to such foolish conclusions.

Come. Lord. Jesus.

Ahh, but then you get a shot in the arm in the most unexpected place: Blacksburg, Virginia. I hope you have enjoyed watching Enter Sandman as much as I have. If not, here is the link. But those Hokies do know how to bring the hype. I made my family watch the clip the other day and asked them if it made them think of anything else.

Does it make you think of something else?

C.S. Lewis wrote about how the joys of earth are foretastes of heaven. Enter Sandman is unified joy. It’s the tiniest taste of what it will be like to worship our Savior. We will be utterly united and full of unimaginable joy to praise Him. When we see something that gives us chills, that makes us almost inexplicably happy, maybe we should always ask, how does this point to eternal joy?

When Jesus does not come, He’s waiting for more to come to Him, for more to answer His persistent knocking. So, selfishly I want heaven’s version of Enter Sandman. I want it today. But God’s heart is for us to be here as His ambassadors inviting more and more to the never ending joy of His eternal kingdom.

I am guilty of being terribly frustrated by the world. But God loves the whole world. The parable of the lost sheep from Matthew 18 concludes with “And if he finds [the lost sheep], truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”

May our will be like His, that not one should perish.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Beware the Frozen Cheese

Hey Friends,

Late on Christmas Eve 2020, which was a Thursday, I went to the ER. Since Will could not go in with me (we spent Christmas vacation in Florida), I edited a blog post I’d written that week and hit publish while I waited to see the doctor. The post was about neck pain from writing out Christmas cards, but I knew then the real cause of the pain.

A few days before that Will and I were out Christmas shopping. I had weird sensitivity on my left arm and shoulder. I told Will about it and that when I went for a long walk the day before I felt awful afterwards, like sick even. “You don’t think I could have shingles, do you?”

“No,” he answered confidently.

“Maybe it’s just from writing out Christmas cards,” I said.

“Definitely,” he said. “I’ll massage it later. You’ll be fine.”

Will worked on my neck, and I thought maybe it was better. Since the ice maker was broken and there was a block of cheese in the freezer, I also “iced” it with the cheese.

Have you ever gotten a rash on your neck from icing with a frozen block of cheese? No? Just me? Yeah, well, not even me really, but that’s what we thought. A Christmas Card injury compounded by frozen cheese. We have a lot of degrees between us — Will is a board certified MD — but somehow, in the moment, this made sense. It’s pretty funny now.

Anyway, we went to church on Christmas Eve and I was miserable. My neck was killing me. The pains in my head felt almost like electric shocks. I always watch It’s a Wonderful Life with my boys on Christmas Eve (Will is not enough of a night owl to stay up and watch). But I told them I couldn’t do it. All three of them came and told me goodnight in bed, and if felt disproportionately devastating. I mean it’s just a little tradition, but I was so dang sad about it.

I tried to sleep but eventually I grabbed my phone and did a few google searches. You know what can cause shooting pains in your head? That’s right: shingles.

I woke Will up and told him, “This has got to be shingles.”

He took me in the bathroom and turned the light on. He looked at my “cheese rash” and saw that it was going down my arm.

“You have shingles,” he said.

Hence the ER trip where I got antiviral and heavy pain meds which allowed me to sleep and wake up Christmas morning much improved.

Sometimes we are reluctant to see what is right in front of us. Our ability to manufacture alternative explanations and rationalize can be amusing, but it can also be eternity-altering. Romans 1:20 says God’s “invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

Every day of our lives we wake up to the heavens declaring the glory of God, and the sky proclaiming His handiwork. (Psalm 19:1). But we can harden our hearts, and provide alternative explanations. We can rationalize away every species and the glorious diversity we encounter everyday, but if we do that we just get dumber and dumber. If you doubt this to be true, maybe do a quick check of the headlines.

Where in your life are you choosing to believe it’s just a harmless little frozen cheese rash? The first step in getting better is to admit, “Yeah, that is not a cheese rash.” Or yeah, this universe did not just happen. Or holding onto bitterness is rotting my soul or I do need to pray for those who wish me harm. Or that website is turning me into an animal. Or my envy is eating the joy from my life. Or my desire to please others is debilitating. Or my greed is causing me to rationalize being dishonest. I don’t what it is. But I bet we all have something that should be plain as day. May we ask the Lord to give us eyes to see and the Spirit-led will to act.

With Love,

Kristie

P.S. The random picture above of half roof, half utter glory I just snapped from our “bonus room.” It’s where the boys have foosball and video games. This week I’ve been painting up there and envisioning what it could be. I’ve also been decluttering. I’m not the best house painter, nor declutter-er. But these are satisfying endeavors, lots of time to contemplate things and tangible, gratifying results.

Jackson Five Friday: “That’s Pretty Good”

Hey Friends,

Last week I mentioned that Will and I can get a lot of mileage out of tiny tidbits. For example, a phrase that we work into conversation once or twice a year stems from subtitles at a gym we belonged to in Virginia. It was a typical morning with all the televisions on but mostly ignored by the gym patrons. Some were on ESPN, CNN, and MSNBC. One channel was turned to FOX and what caught Will’s eye was that the subtitle feature just kept saying “That’s pretty good.” It didn’t matter if the topic was a raging wildfire or the price of gas, the subtitle just again repeated, “That’s pretty good.”

I feel like this subtitle glitch kind of paints the picture of my week. “That’s pretty good” has aptly and sincerely applied. I got some pretty good news. The weather has been perfect. I got some de-cluttering done and fixed a window that hasn’t closed properly for years. One afternoon I read a book by the pool, alone. I got to see some old friends from Virginia I’ve been meaning to see since they moved to Alabama last year. We got to catch up and hang out on their boat. I mean, “that’s pretty good,” right?

But on the other hand, our world is unraveling in heartwrenching ways and it almost feels like we’re watching leaders try and say “That’s pretty good.” The truth is it’s awful. The spinning of it all is callous and anything but empathetic. The tension of all of it feels especially tight, and in a sense it is. We can watch live feeds of death, destruction and despair from every corner of earth. We can even watch the moons of Jupiter pass the big red spot in high definition (how I ended up watching that this week I do not know, but it’s pretty amazing). Our capacity to know and to view is almost limitless, but our capacity to process and to do is not. The Bible is clear about our calling to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn” but the smartphone access leaves us all exhausted by the overload. Yesterday was the day I spent boating with friends. I did not know about the tragedy in Kabul until later. On January 6th I went on a jet ski tour with Nate and Sam in the Florida Keys. I missed both events in real time because I was making memories with people I love. Are you getting time away from your phone and constant updates? If your capacity to mourn with those who mourn feels stretched, maybe it’s time to tighten your circle and unplug.

Jesus offered an unusual method for addressing anxiety. Here’s his recommendation: “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!” Luke 12:27-28.

So whether you are in a place where “That’s pretty good” is truly descriptive or is more akin to calloused spinning, we can all benefit from stopping to consider the lilies. When did you last examine the plants and trees that flourish around you? This glory is a reminder that God’s loving attention to the temporary doesn’t compare to the attention He pays to you and to me.

Even in C.S. Lewis’s day, which we might not suspect would feel so overloaded, he wrote, “We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.”

Are you starving for solitude, silence, private, mediation or true friendship? Praying, by God’s abundant grace, you find all of these things in the days ahead.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Ugh

Hey Friends,

I hope you are well. I wrote last week about I had the best summer of my entire life. Well, summer is over. And I’ve had a week of frustrations and disappointments to kick off this next season. Thankfully all my boys are well. I am trusting they will have an excellent school year — that is certainly my prayer. And Will and I had the kind of laugh fest on Wednesday night that results in a sore face. Mostly it was over the most hilarious voicemail I’ve ever received. We played it over and over again. Nate and Sam thought it was funny too, but their interest waned by the fifth or sixth playing. Not us, I don’t even know how many times we listened to it and died laughing all over again. I think our shared ability to get serious mileage out small tidbits is a theme in our marriage, and a saving grace.

It seems like I can be mostly optimistic that the tide is going to turn on the direction of world, but then other times that naive optimism leaves me vulnerable to appalling realities. This week I feel like I’m in some kind of mental boxing match and I can’t get my paws up to protect myself. Plus, lots of dreary weather. That never helps.

But I’ve been thinking about how the Bible never asks us to pretend. The Psalmist pours out sorrows and doubts and desperate pleas with the most raw emotion. There’s no pretending.

When Paul discusses the meat eaters and the veggies-only people in Romans 14, he doesn’t say “Meat eaters, when you are with the vegetarians, pretend you are a vegetarian too.” No, we can accommodate others by forgoing things. Don’t eat steak in front of a vegetarian who’s offended by it. But there’s no need to lie and say you never eat steak. The Bible never recommends pretending; in fact, it condemns it. Ephesians 4:25 says, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”

Sometimes I tell my sons to look at the world through different lenses or questions. God is a God of order, I tell them – Where do you see disorder? God has not given us a spirit of fear – Where do you see fear manifested in our world? God is a God of truth – Where do you see the world asking you to pretend something is true? Sadly, these lenses clarify a great deal about our world today. So much disorder. So much fear. So much pretending. It wears me out.

You are probably worn out too. Praise God that His mercies are new every morning.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Best Summer Ever?

Hey Friends,

I hope you’ve had an excellent summer.

I have visited both Mount Rushmore and the Badlands. I saw the buffalo roam, fed wild donkeys, and watched prairie dogs pop like whack-a-moles. I checked off Nebraska as a new state, and walked over to Iowa — first new state I’ve entered on foot. I rode an electric bike, which felt particularly refreshing since the heat was oppressive and the terrain unexpectedly hilly. I hosted friends from Michigan I’ve known for more than 35 years. I learned to play pickleball and became somewhat obsessed with the mineral water, Topo Chico — something about using a bottle opener on a glass bottle. I visited Austin, Texas and attended a legislative session. My hotel room in Austin had a record player and the lobby an impressive selection of vinyl to borrow from. In Fort Worth I had creamy jalapeño and cilantro soup — game changer. I stayed a couple nights on beautiful Kiawah Island, South Carolina. I sat under the shade of a Shabumi instead of an umbrella. I went deep sea fishing. I snorkeled Alligator Reef in the Keys.

I made ceviche with freshly caught mahi. I dropped my son off for college without shedding a single tear. I got to play with my darling grandniece — we scooped play ice cream for a solid half hour. I pondered that I’ve never met a little boy who would find it entertaining to methodically build a triple scoop and exclaim, “Nice” over and over. I had the queso of Tex-Mex dreams in both Texas and oddly, Kentucky.

This might seem like a random stream of consciousness. But the truth is everything on this list I did for the very first time. Summer 2021 was chock full of brand new experiences. But that’s not at all what made my summer great. The great thing was the people. It’s always the people.

I got to see friends and family that I dearly love, but I also got to spend the sweetest one-on-one time with my guys. It was particularly awesome to make some really fun memories with Nate. As the middle child, he is the one I’ve had all to myself the very least. He and I had some big Texas fun in July, but we also did a couple day trips for college tours. God was so good to give us some hilarious experiences because there’s no one I’d rather laugh with.

Even if you stayed close to home all summer, and didn’t have any out-of-town guests, I hope you’ve had lots of opportunities to love on your people — to enjoy the simplicity of stories told over dinner, or laughs shared amidst games like Scattegories.

C.S. Lewis said, “It is when we are doing things together that friendship springs up — painting, sailing ships, praying, philosophizing, fighting shoulder to shoulder. Friends look in the same direction.”

This cherished season of building many side-by-side memories is coming to a screeching halt. Next week all the boys will be back in school. In some ways, it’s totally time. We are ready. But I still think it’s good to look back and give thanks for all the ways these relationships were bolstered this summer.

After all only two things last forever: people (as Lewis said you’ve never met a mere mortal) and God’s Word.

May knowing this help us rightly order our lives.

“The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” 1 Peter‬ ‭1:24-25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: “Here’s Dugby” AKA “Dud”

Hey Friends,

I hope you’ve had a wonderful week. On Wednesday, I dropped my eldest son off for his sophomore year of college. After Olympic Trials in June, he’s mostly been home, and I will miss him immensely.

My mom used to say that when she had little kids, people told her, “oh wait till they’re teenagers” with a sense of dread.

“I never felt that way,” she said. “I loved the teenage phase.” I’m with her. I’ve loved every phase from infancy to today and can’t believe that my firstborn will cease to be a teen in a couple months. His eagerness to help me has been a constant blessing. When he was six he insisted on pushing and loading the heavy Costco cart. The other day when I asked him to vacuum he immediately stopped what he was doing and did it. Being both helpful and a sweet, fun companion is just part of his identity.

Speaking of his identity, twice it’s been mistaken in ways that I’ll laugh about until I die. Although he is William Jackson III, my mother gave him the nickname “Dub” before we left the hospital. Perhaps predictably this turned into Dubby. Baby Dubby was the sweetest little guy you could imagine and we never ever called him Will or William until he started school.

When he was a toddler we went to a mega church. Hence the nursery workers were almost always strangers. When you checked your child in, you passed them over the half-door, put a name tag on their back, and got matching identity bracelets with a security number. One time when my husband Will had written out the name tag, that first “b” in Dubby evidently looked like a “g.”

When we picked him up after church, he was passed to us back over the door with a Johnny Carson type declaration, “Here’s Dugby!!”

It is no less funny to me today than the moment it happened. Hopefully the second mistaken identity will stay as fresh.

To close out the summer, we spent a few days in Florida. One day we went deep sea fishing. It was just the boat captain, Chris, and the five of us. We caught mahi, and got to snorkel on the way back. It was pretty amazing and different from anything we’ve done before. But the most fabulous part was when Dub reeled in our first catch.

Chris exclaimed, “Well, they may call you ‘Dud’ but you’re not one!”

Can you imagine calling your son “Dud”? Yep, he went to Olympic Trials and is the sweetest, most helpful guy around, but he’s a dud. So, so hilarious!

But you know who is incapable of misunderstanding who you are? Your Heavenly Father. He knit you together in your mother’s womb. He knows you better than you know yourself. He has a specific calling for your life and He loves you beyond measure.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139:1-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

He made you. He loves you. He hems you in.

What more do we need?

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Another PSA

Hey Friends,

I’m about ready to don gear — hats, t-shirts, bracelets, whatever — that says, “Make PHI, PHI again!” I truly don’t have any desire to hear anyone’s vaccination status. I feel like it’s just weird — as if you’d tell me your STD history.

But despite my frequent feelings of “oh golly TMI,”I’m about to give you way, way too much information. But maybe it will help someone—that certainly is my hope. I’ve had three health epiphanies in the last year. In December 2020, I had shingles. Let me be perfectly clear: you want to avoid shingles. The vaccine evidently may cause arm soreness, but the pain of shingles is no joke. You are eligible for a vaccine at 50. Get it, that’s my recommendation. Of course, that doesn’t mean I need to hear about it. Again, let’s make protected health information, personal again.

For you ladies not wanting more children and suffering from anemia, when a hysterectomy is medically indicated don’t procrastinate. I had mine in February 2021. It has been life-changing. I feel so much better that it’s a little devastating that I didn’t do this right after Sam was born. My obsession with ice dissipated. I have ten times the energy. I can work out hard without feeling weak and downright ill the rest of the day. My hair is falling out less. It felt like such a big decision because I’d never before had surgery of any kind, and I honestly did not know the many ill effects of chronic anemia.

A corollary of having shingles along my neck and down my left arm, then having surgery where they tell you not to lift anything for six weeks, is that if you don’t use something it will atrophy. It’ll atrophy like you can’t believe. In March, I discovered that my left shoulder was frozen. My range of motion was less than 50% of what it should be. I tried swimming laps. I could not. I couldn’t swim ten yards with both arms if my life depended on it. My shoulder required a cortisone shot and lots of PT. This week I’ve swam 400 meters in a long course pool for time, on three different days. My times were atrocious but a few months ago I couldn’t swim at all.

You have muscles all over your body. If you don’t use them, you will lose them. Your spirituality is like is a muscle. Do you exercise it daily? How’s your prayer life? Are you reading God’s Word every day? In what other ways are you reminding yourself daily of ultimate truth? In what ways are you intentionally inviting Jesus into your day? He’s there anyway, even when we ignore Him. But we can turn our eyes to Him and “the things of earth will grow strangely dim.” Are you doing that? To be honest, summer is a particular challenge for me spiritually because I am rarely alone. I need to do much better.

“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:30-33‬ ‭ESV‬‬

So three things: (1) Many of you will soon be eligible for the shingles vaccine, if you aren’t already. (2) Don’t put off your health or procrastinate about whatever might be medically indicated. (3) We lose what we don’t use. May we never lose our thirst for God’s Kingdom. There’s nothing more important and more freeing.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Love the Cowards

Hey Friends,

On road trips, are you an uptight passenger? I’m the worst. This summer I have confidently driven around both South Dakota and Texas. I love exploring the unknown for pure pleasure or for college visits. It’s a gift to spend one-on-one time with our children. And it’s also a gift to drive a rental that requires drivers to be at least 25 years old. At least that’s a gift to me.

However, even a short trip down the mountain in the passenger seat can stress me out. Then, last week, we were all five in the car with Will driving on a unknown street and hit a bump so fast that we were momentarily airborne. We were only on that street because of a missed turn. Hilariously a few hours later, after dinner, Will missed the turn again. Fortunately, the second time around we did not get air. One “Duke Boy” demonstration annually is enough.

It’s torture for my sons to drive, but my eyes are just too dang old to do really long stretches. Sometimes I have to use them, and then my “pro tips” hardly cease.

Set the cruise for 72 and don’t touch it…Well, don’t sit next to this truck…slow down for this curve…get past this nitwit…don’t touch the radio…don’t look at your watch…now it’s sprinkling, 72 is too fast.

I’m insufferable. Thankfully, I have often told my sons we are to love everybody always. Maybe that’s how they stay sane. Maybe in their mind they are just meditating on “Love everybody always,” and that’s how they mostly keep from lashing out at me.

Since fear isn’t necessarily predictable, I have no fear of flying. Other than maybe the first few days of “15 days to slow the spread,” I also have enjoyed a sense of peace about Covid. It’s not that I don’t think I could die on a plane or from Covid — more that I like my chances. If I’m in that statistically unlikely group destined to die, well then “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”

Why can’t I have that peace in the passenger seat? I guess partly it’s that I don’t like my chances as much. The other part is that my sense of control is outsized. It’s almost as if I believe that if I’m behind the wheel I can ensure safety. It’s silly. Downright stupid really.

What’s worse is that I struggle with feelings of disdain for the silliness of others. I need to be more sympathetic for those who are terrified by the media or of cancel mobs, or just of death in general.

The truth is that, in my heart of hearts, I know it is the Lord who orders our steps. It is the Lord who numbers our days. Why I systematically forget when I climb into the passenger seat, I cannot explain. I need, by God’s mercy, to do better. I’ve got to.

Where are you pretending to be in control? How can you live more surrendered?

“A man’s steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way?”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭20:24‬ ‭

Have a wonderful weekend, trusting that our steps are from the Lord.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Rudderless Living, Platinum Edition

Hey Friends,

I hope you’ve had an excellent week. Mine has been full of blessings, one of which is that I had one of the best laughs of my life. Do you have some experiences that just bring a smile to your face every time you think of it? I hope so. Praise God for the life-giving balm of a good laugh.

Since the unraveling world seems to top itself day after day, I think we need to treasure light-hearted joys all the more. Do you wake up each day stunned by the new heights of absurdity reached overnight? Are we living in some weird Truman Show where the producers are betting when we will all cry uncle?

It’s an odd time to be alive. Do you think every generation feels this way? Maybe to some degree, but ours does appear to be a uniquely rudderless era. Moral convictions for many are based on popular opinion. Leaders put a finger to the wind to decide what they think. Focus groups and polls determine policy. Congruence and logic are painfully absent.

I recently read that some now argue — and I’m not making this up —that the Golden Rule should be replaced by the Platinum Rule. Can you guess what it means? I’ll give you a hint: much of Covid hysteria was based on it. That’s right, instead of treating others as you would want to be treated, the platinum rule would require you treat others how they would want to be treated.

It’s pretty amusing to consider the possible conclusions of this flawed logic. If someone wants to be beaten senseless and called names, do I need to comply?

But as insane as our world sometimes feels, at its root, it is the same old story. It’s just the Serpent planting his predictable seeds of doubt: “Did God really say?” His efforts to subtly twist truth are relentless. We should remind ourselves often that we know his tactics. Where in your life do you see truths being twisted?

May we not live rudderless, but confident that our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. May we live knowing that Jesus’ words can guide us each day, and that He spoke with abundant clarity and simplicity about how we are to treat others.

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: “It’s Forbidden”

Hey Friends,

Do you remember the Beauty and the Beast scene where Belle is told by The Beast not to enter the West Wing? “It’s forbidden!” he says, fiercely. Well, I had houseguests a few week ago, guests I’ve been begging to visit me for more than five years now. But somehow, even with lots of notice and a burning to desire to make everything inviting, I somehow had not gotten around to cleaning my room. I spoke as viciously as I could: “It’s forbidden.” I had piled papers and laundry in my bedroom to create the illusion in other places of organized simplicity. Well, kind of. I also had to forbid the laundry room. And I had to explain away the absurdly overbooked shelves. But most of the house was quite presentable.

Since these guests of mine are dearly loved and I knew my disaster area would not actually impact our relationship, I did let them see my room before they left, embarrassing as that was for me. After all, healthy relationships do require being our real selves. My real self is not a great housekeeper, and we’ve never had success with cleaning services. My husband is OCD about his stuff, not because he appears to be impeccably organized, but because in reality he has a precise routine and knows exactly where everything is at all times. I’ve never been able to convince any cleaning service how much I truly mean, “Do not touch this area.” I also equate a good cleaning with perfect floors. Every single time I find stuff on the floor that is missed. So, we’ve tried many times, but having our house cleaned is just not something that works for us. You might think after twenty-five years this means I’ve become an expert cleaner. Nope. Instead I go with “It’s forbidden.”

Of course if you don’t love someone warts and all, then that’s not really love. True love requires acknowledgement of truth and the truth is everyone is heavily warted. Hiding faults only exacerbates the imposter syndrome we all have to one degree or another. Where in your life are you fearful of being exposed as a fraud? Even if you start with a thing as shallow as revealing your domestic disorganization, I encourage you to be real with your friends. Don’t you want to be loved for who you are and not who you aim to project?

On Tuesday I listened to this excellent sermon on friendship. It’s based on Mark 2:1-12, which is the familiar story of the paralyzed man being lowered through the roof by his friends to Jesus. It’s such a beautiful picture of friendship.

One time a girlfriend and I taught that passage to three-year-olds. We built a cardboard house with a flat roof and used playmobil toy people to act out the man being lowered down. It cemented in my mind the loving effort of these good friends, but this sermon drives home the point even better.

The pinnacle of friendship is bringing your friends to Jesus. It almost certainly will not look like a hole in a flat roof, but in what ways are you bringing your friends to Him? How can you acknowledge and thank your friends who have done so for you?

2 Corinthians 2:15a says, “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved…”

May our aromas be sweet and pure like gardenias, ever drawing others to Christ.

With Love,

Kristie