Jackson Five Friday: The Secret to Being Interesting

Hey Friends,

Hope y’all have had a great week. It’s still steamy here in Tennessee but that hasn’t curbed anyone’s enthusiasm for all things fall.

We recently had Back-to-School night for Sam, and today I visited Dub and Nate’s classes. I love knowing their teachers and hearing about what they’re learning. Often it’s the nonacademic components that impress me the most.

One of Sam’s teachers tosses a tennis ball around the classroom. The toss is accompanied by a question. You catch the ball, you answer the question. When you throw the ball back you ask a question. The teacher tells these seventh grade boys, “To be interesting, you have to be interested.” Honestly writing this makes me want to cry tears of gratitude. Knowledge of a formula or history fact cannot compare to being an inquisitive young man.

Truly Sam is interesting in part because he asks great questions. His little mind was churning out excellent observations and thoughtful questions at a young age. Part of his irresistible charm is that he’s interested.

However, I won’t go so far as to say he uses this to bless others. Because he doesn’t. He needs to work on being interested in others. Perhaps it’s time to finally implement my wise friend Beth’s rule about interacting well with adults (read more here). Asking good questions of others is an important part of being other-centered.

Jesus said we’d be known by our love for one another. But you can’t love someone well, or maybe even at all, without being interested in them.

So I’m tossing you the ball. Who will you toss it to, and what do you genuinely want to know?

Hope this weekend is full of being a disciple –asking great questions and intently listening.

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John ‬ ‭13:35‬ ‭ESV‬‬

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: When You Should Remember

Hey Friends,

C.S. Lewis wrote, “A pleasure is not full grown until it is remembered,” and I agree. Some moments in life are so lovely that the joy of it is too much to fully process in real time. The memory of it can be savored over days, weeks, or even years, and the pleasure of remembering exceeds that of the actual experience. I’m not sure if photos hamper or help. Sometimes a good snap captures the moment, other times pictures don’t do justice. I wonder if we didn’t have cameras if our brains would work harder to take note of the details, knowing we couldn’t flip through an album at a future date.

Last Saturday night Will and I were the only patrons at the pool. It was the most peaceful evening in recent memory and I have no idea why others hadn’t flocked there as well, but what a gift to sit there soaking in the last moments of summer, just the two of us. I imagine the picture above will always bring me joy, helping me to relive that beautiful moment.

And it’s good to remember. In fact, the Bible commands over and over again that we remember how God has been faithful, how He has loved us, and redeemed us. The Lord’s Supper is all about remembering too — that Jesus, while sinless, became sin for us.

But the Bible also commands that we forget. In 1 Corinthians 13 we are told that love keeps no record of wrongs. Sometimes it’s not easy to forget, but it’s not optional. We are forgiven as we forgive others. Is there someone you need to forgive this weekend? Praying today that I’ll know what to remember and cherish, and what by God’s grace, and His grace alone, I’ll know what to forget.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Have a fabulous weekend!

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Sorrow Upon Sorrow

Hey Friends,

I wish I had some sweet, funny story for you today. The boys have had a great first full of week of school, and both family and friends have visited from out of town, but this week has also been a heavy one. A local mom of five was killed early this week in a car accident coming down the mountain. The sorrows of this fallen world just never end. Every day we rub shoulders, often unknowingly, with people who are facing unbearable heartache.

And yet there’s often a callousness with how we treat one another. Sometimes loving kindness and sympathy seem overpowered by hurried self-interest. I want to put my own agenda on hold and pay attention to the needs of someone else. I want to do this with a pure heart and not in any way to check a box, or to fuel my own self-righteousness. But I know all the effort in the world won’t purify my heart, only God can do that. Still, right feelings follow right actions.

So how can you and I do the right thing this weekend?

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” James‬ ‭4:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Hope you have a weekend full of loving others well.

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: The True Story

Hi Friends,

Hope you’ve had a good week. We are settling fairly smoothly back into a routine. I oddly went to bed at 4pm on the boys’ second day of school. I was fevered and felt awful. By God’s grace I woke up fine. My mom told me I used to run a fever when I was little if I got overly tired. Doctors scoffed, and told her that wasn’t possible. Am I still proving them wrong? I don’t know. Anyway, we are looking forward to the weekend, and I hope you are too!

Did you see any good movies this summer? I go to the theater a couple of times a year. I’ll take Sam to Marvel movies, and I honestly like almost all kiddie movies. But movies are not typically part of any routine. I can flip through Netflix or Redbox and not have a shred of interest in a single title. Somehow boarding an airplane changes all that. I strap in and scroll through the selection, and practically every film seems worthy of my captive-audience time. I watched three movies this summer on flights — Ben is Back, Crazy Rich Asians, and The Green Book. They could not be more different but I liked all three.

At the theater I saw Toy Story 4 — our family always sees Pixar movies, and then the live-action versions of Aladdin and The Lion King. That’s six movies and I didn’t hate any of them, which is cinematic success in my book. Toy Story 4 and Aladdin both followed the era’s standard formula, along with the Marvel movies, of making the female part the strong leader. Do young girls out there find that encouraging? It feels so strained to me, so artificial, and already so tired and predictable, that it’s almost insulting. Characters need to be relatable. I’ve never met anyone like Bo in Toy Story 4 or any of these girl power figures. There’s suspension of disbelief and then there’s absurdity.

I’m all for girls being strong. I was raised to believe the sky was the limit. I have a law degree, and I don’t feel intimated by the success or accomplishments of others, but the best, most important, most rewarding, most challenging, most world-changing job I know is being a mother. You can be a confident, intelligent, physically strong woman — and a mother — and there’s no need to impose a burning desire to go around kicking butts and taking names like some kind of superhero. When did physical domination become a goal? It strikes me as one of the silliest notions out there — and we live among an awful lot of them!

Anyway, thankfully, Lion King broke the mold. The writers mostly resisted the urge to make every worthy hero feminine. In fact, they pretty much stuck to the story, and even, with a couple of exceptions, the music. The ritual scenes with all of the real-life animals bowing to the king were terrific. I think something deep inside us recognizes this is a reflection of the true story. We will gather and bow before the One True King. That scene sparks such emotion in us because that’s our actual destiny and we know it. We will fall on our knees in worship, and it will feel beautiful and inevitable and any crowns we have will be laid at His feet.

“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:8-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

But it is never about compulsion. Jesus doesn’t ever force you to love Him. It’s always our choice; that’s the only way love counts. But when we behold Him in all His glory, we won’t be able to resist. The truth will be so apparent that we will bow; we will be awestruck and humbled by His radiance and love. In part this life is our opportunity to respond to a lesser glimpse of Him, the glimpse that is always accompanied by two ever-present whispers, “I love you” and “Trust me.”

Praying you love Him and trust Him today, even when you only know only part of the story.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: You Get You

Hey Friends,

Hope you’ve had a wonderful week. We got back Wednesday night from vacation, and are trying to get ready for school. Two of three sons still have summer reading to complete and so it’s going to be a push to be done by Tuesday. But it’s worth it. We had a lovely summer and a memorable capstone trip in which we logged more than a thousand miles in a rented Chevy Impala. We packed our 10 long legs into that little number and saw some amazing sights. One of my favorite pictures is the road selfie above — it paints a picture of just how cozy we were.

I don’t know about you, but I find maintaining routines difficult when my boys are home. I want to be present and attentive to them, but that often means chucking my own agenda. Ahh, but Tuesday is a brand new day. It’s back to consistency with reading and writing and exercising and eating healthy. The world is my oyster. At least that’s how it feels. I am also aiming to add in some regular fasting. I have never, whether the boys are home or not, been consistent with fasting, but I do believe it is an important spiritual discipline. Even the simplicity of Jesus saying, “When you fast…” is always convicting. His assumption was that His followers would fast, and yet I’ve never made it a regular part of my life.

Will has been intermittently fasting for years but pretty much none of his admirable self-disciplines have rubbed off on me. Recently he was fasting in an airport while traveling with our younger two sons. This simple fact illustrates how fundamentally different we are. I love munching, getting coffee, and people watching in airports. The idea of fasting while traveling would never occur to me. Anyway, we were chatting on the phone and he was getting a little impatient about some travel inconvenience and I said, “Well, you’re probably just getting hangry from fasting.”

And his response has been replaying in my mind.

“You don’t get hangry,” he said. “You get you.”

It’s so true. Fasting brings out you. It magnifies your struggles. Just like being inconvenienced or being treated unfairly or any hurdle in life, our existing propensities can intensify under pressure. Increasing self-awareness is only one of the many benefits of fasting, but how great to regularly get a fresh look at you, unfiltered.

The world says, “you do you” but it’s not usually a call to use your God-given gifts for His glory. It’s more in the vein of “leave me alone, I’m good just how I am.” That’s not the message of the Gospel. The Gospel tells us that God knit us together uniquely in our mothers’ wombs. He loves us just how we are, but we are meant to be lovingly transformed more and more into His image. We become our truer selves and better, unique reflections of Him.

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭3:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Giving thanks today for a sweet summer, and praying for a season of discipline and growth. May we all continue to be transformed by beholding His glory.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Buckets and Barns

Hey Friends,

Last Sunday I was out of town for a swim meet. Shocking, I know. But I went to church and heard a fantastic sermon. Do you go to church when you are on vacation or out of town? I have never once regretted doing so. In fact, I always find it so encouraging. No matter the state of the world, there are great people who love Jesus everywhere.

The pastor was preaching from James 4.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James‬ ‭4:13-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It’s a familiar passage, but he tied it to a modern day example I’d never heard before. He said, the guy who came up with the “bucket list” concept, Dave Freeman, hit his head at home and died. He was 47. Will and I are 47. Needless to say, Dave Freeman hadn’t checked off all the items on his list. None of us have a guarantee to live another day, or even to take another breath.

It made me think about when Jesus told the Parable of the Rich Fool who wanted to tear down his existing barns to build bigger ones.

And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God. ‭‭Luke‬ ‭12:19-21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Do you have a specific list of things you want to do before you die? I do not. I try and live in the moment and soak up the places and experiences I am blessed to visit and have, but I’m not particularly inclined to check boxes. I love making memories with my family in new places. I enjoying trying new food and seeing new sights. But I also try to live in the reality that I may not wake up tomorrow. I want to live each day clinging to my Savior, grateful for every moment, and resting in the truth that this life isn’t all there is.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making a list of what to do before you die, so long as one entry is already checked off: Know Jesus.

“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John‬ ‭17:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

No bucket item or barn store can compare with knowing the only true God!

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Monday

Hey Friends,

I know “Jackson Five Monday” lacks the usual ring, but I’m just now getting to sit down and write. Still, the title is apt.

In May I followed through on a plan that had been brewing for years. I had planters installed to spruce up a somewhat barren view. I bought colorful flowers and enjoyed gazing at them almost every time I walked by. At least that’s what I did for a few weeks. But then I somehow missed watering them once or twice. They started looking more and more pitiful and yet I still forgot about them. Then I was out of town for a couple days, and when I got home it was quite evident that they were dead. My pretty flowers wasted away from utter neglect.

Isn’t that a picture of the Christian life? It only takes a day or two of skipping out on time with the Lord for me to notice the difference. My spirit begins to wilt like thirsty petals, and I may mistake my impatience for stress, but the truth is I need the nourishment of time with God and His Word. More than a few days and I feel unanchored, aimless and unmotivated. And we know that the Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint. We know we need to press on, but oftentimes knowing what to do — I knew these plants needed water — is not enough to do it. On my own, my life will always turn out like these flowers. I need the help of the Holy Spirit to do what I know I need to do.

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

But how is “pressing on” related to Mondays you may ask? Well, I love Mondays because they always feel like a fresh start. God’s mercies are new every morning but sometimes I feel readier to embrace them on Mondays. So, if you haven’t spent time reading God’s Word, journaling or praying yet today, there’s still time to kick your week off right. Your spiritual or literal flowers may be dead, but praise be to God, you can weed, uproot and plant new ones. God’s mercies are new every morning, and I pray today is a day you can boldly live into this truth, pressing on, confident that you are His.

With Love,

Kristie