Jackson Five Friday: Learning from Lament

Hey Friends,

Hope you are all well.  It’s been a relatively quiet week in our house, which is kind of nice because I am traveling again this coming week.  My oldest son is missing a full week of school to participate in a national swim meet in Orlando.  It’s rough having to chaperone and all, but I think I’ll make the most of it reading poolside between events!  Seriously, although I wish our whole family could go, I’m super excited about this meet.  For the first time since we’ve moved to Tennessee, Dub will swim alongside former teammates from the DC area.  I love the rare instance where our new and old worlds collide.

Anyway, this week I’ve been thinking about how vital it is to know that God’s mercies are new every morning.  I’ve watched all three of my sons experience discouragement in different areas this week.  For Dub it was a challenging class at school, for Nate it was baseball, for Sam it was broken leg related (as an aside please pray he gets a boot at his appointment on Tuesday).  But I think no matter what the hard thing is, the lesson is the same.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22-23

The world can feel so dark.  It wants us to believe that things will never be better — that tomorrow will be just like today.  But if you follow Christ, everything is working together for good, and you should boldly claim each day as a new beginning.  Yes, learn from your mistakes, but live in the freedom of knowing His steadfast love NEVER ceases.  His mercies never, ever end.  Embrace every new day as a gift, as a chance to do it right, praising God for His faithfulness.

When my sons are grown, when I’m not even alive anymore, I hope they’ll cling to the truth that God’s mercies are new every morning.

So when you see the sun rise this week, when you hear the birds begin to chirp, take a minute to thank God for the clean slate of a brand new day!

With Love,



Jackson Five Friday: Karma

Hey Friends,

It’s been a heavy week. Any week you attend a funeral for a forty-eight year old is, by definition. But it wasn’t just that. So, I’ve needed a good laugh. And I got one at my own expense, as usual.

In October, the five of us spent a few days in New York City. It started out with just Nate, Sam and me tagging along on Will’s work trip. But then Dub’s swim team training trip to Florida was cancelled at the last minute because of a hurricane. He ended up flying up alone to Newark and navigating his way to meet up with me at Penn Station. As an aside, I think it’s fantastic to give kids — he was still fifteen at the time — a chance to do something that feels intimidating. I generally have a can-do attitude and I desperately want my boys to have confident independence when it comes to travel. Plus, can you imagine my 6 foot 5 inch son being an unaccompanied minor delivered at the gate by a flight attendant? How absurd is that? I was telling my brother, Jeff, one time about the airline regulations governing travel of a minor.

He could not stop laughing. He said, “I can just see Dub being walked out, hand in hand with the flight attendant. ‘Do you see your Mommy?'”

Hilarious, but no thanks!

Anyway, he made it and the four of us used the subway to dart all over the city. It’s a dirty way to go, but you can’t beat the ease and efficiency. The only problem was Nate. Somehow every time we went through the turnstiles he had an issue. He went too slow or somehow got jumbled up. The three of us were dumbfounded by how he could have an issue with something so simple.

“NATE!!” We gasped.

“What on earth? Nate!!!!”

I bet it’s obvious where this is going. Yep, I was briefly back in NYC this week to meet my grandnephew who will be two months tomorrow. After spending time cuddling with him, and delighting over his adorable dimples that he flashes constantly, it was time to go.

Wednesday morning we strolled with Baby to a local bagel place and then I ducked down the stairs to the Subway. I had a rolling suitcase and a shoulder bag. It was just before 9am so there were quite a few people flying effortlessly through the turnstiles. But my can-do attitude failed me. Somehow I got my suitcase handle stuck on the turnstile. It locked in place, my suitcase dangling from its steel arm. I tried to slide it off, yank it off. Nothing worked. The busy New Yorkers behind me were thrilled by my ineptitude. I pulled so hard that it bent the suitcase handle. Now it requires immense force to collapse into its slot, or to pull it up. I honestly don’t even know how I broke free. I just know after fighting with the stubborn turnstile for what felt like a very long time, it cried uncle and gave me back my battered suitcase.

Needless to say, our repeated, “NATE!!!”s were immediately cued up in my inner dialogue. I laughed all the way to Penn Station.

I got home that night at 12:15a. Nate had called me when I was maybe an hour away. I told him to go to bed. He begged to stay up.

“I just want to talk to you,” he said. “I just want to hear about everything.”

When I walked in, he’d not only waited up but cleaned up. The family room in particular was spotless. I plopped down and told him all about his new cousin, all about the funeral and he cracked up about how the turnstiles had taken revenge on his behalf.

I’ve been praying about connecting with this middle child who is sometimes lost in the busy mix. It’s amazing to me how faithful God is to answer my prayers. A number of sweet things have happened since I started praying specifically about it. Is there some interpersonal relationship you should be praying about more?

Jeremiah 29:12-13 says, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

He listens. May I seek Him with all my heart. Praying the same for you.

With Love,


Jackson Five Friday: One Hope


I skipped posting last week because I had the opportunity to spend a three-day weekend with my family.  No sporting events or other obligations, just the five of us hanging out.  I try to not take those times for granted.  I know my boys will soon be grown, and I’ll never regret any time I focus just on us.

But I have been thinking about all the events in the news too, from school shootings to the passing of Billy Graham.  It hasn’t been a very uplifting stretch.  Then last night I got horrific call.  A dear friend of mine in Virginia is facing unbelievable heartache.

The sorrows feel unrelenting, the waves of heartache bunched together like never before.  Where are the still waters?  Where are the green pastures?  I can tell you where they are not.  They are not in the news.  They are not in the laws.  No person, wise and old, or young and idealistic, can lead you there.  Why continue looking to anything in this world for answers?  It’s never provided any peace, any hope, not a single green pasture.  Apart from God, the bent of this world is utter devastation and destruction.  No one looking at facts could possibly deny it.

There is only one hope: Jesus.  His peace passes all understanding, both for this life and for the eternity that awaits.  His life gives ours purpose and direction.  His death marks our pathway to eternity with Him.  He is the Light of the World.  What sense does it make to reject Him and then rage at the darkness?  It’s an absurdity.  The Light was given for you and for me.  May we invite Jesus in to every dark corner of our hearts.  May our lives be just as Jesus described, like a city on a hill, shining brightly and undeniably for Him.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:14-16

With Love,



Jackson Five Friday: Torn ACL Blessing

Hey All,

Nope, no new injuries in the Jackson household. Praise God!! But I recently met a man who told me about how his torn ACL was a blessing. This gentleman was a Div I basketball player, and he told me how he needed this injury. He said it was vital that God humble him. At first, he said, he was angry. But that the injury ended up changing his whole outlook on life. Now, everyday he wakes up, he is full of gratitude. The obvious sincerity of this man brought tears to my eyes. I want to exude joy the way he does.

And I’d give anything for my boys to have this kind of never-ending gratitude. But can I be honest? They don’t. Not even close. Not a one of them. The thing is I feel like I’m not nearly as influential (for good or bad) as I thought I’d be as a mother. Let me give you an example. My sixteen-year-old has never ever, in his over 100 days of driving, said the following: “Have you seen my keys?” Nor has he ever, even momentarily, misplaced his phone. With me for a mother, how is that even possible? If there is anything at all I’ve been consistent about, it is showing him how to lose these personal items multiple times a day.

And then this weekend (hence the late post), the handsome, organized little devil went and swam his heart out at the Tennessee State Meet. He finished 5th and 6th in his individual events and both his relays were 2nd in the state. As you might imagine, I am bursting with pride. But I’m also just in awe of how much work and dedication and focus such a feat requires. Again, one may wonder if he is indeed mine.

But even for personality traits that I might like to give him, like a bent towards optimism, it’s the same story. I think mainly all three of my sons were born with certain dispositions and the influence of nurture is pretty limited. I should rephrase that. Parental nurture is pretty limited. Godly nurture, as the former Div I athlete illustrates, is limitless.

So parenting involves more prayer, more loosening of my own grip, more yieldedness to God’s will and means, than I ever could have imagined. A sense of peace comes not from knowing I’m doing a good job as a mother, but knowing that God has a plan. In fact, His plan is good, pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2).

May I seek first His Kingdom. May I offer myself to God as a living sacrifice. May I never be conformed to the patten of this world, but renew my mind. Then I will know His good, pleasing and perfect will. May I live each moment yielded to the Lover of my soul.

Praying the same for all of you.

With Love,


Jackson Five Friday: Praying Away Traffic


I used to be in a hurry all the time.  I constantly cut it close, almost always arriving late.  I have honestly gotten much better.  God has thoroughly shown me over and over and over again that “hurry hurry has no blessings,” or in Swahili “haraka haraka haina baraka.”  Of course, I said better.  I’m not cured.  This week Sam and I were in a situation where I cut it way too close, and it was absolutely vital that we arrive on time.  When we were about ten miles away from our destination, the map on my phone turned red.  The route had some kind major incident and being that we were in the middle of nowhere we had no alternative route.  We were supposed to be 12 minutes out but the phone suddenly said 24 minutes.

Sam started to get really worried.  I was trying not to reveal how utterly sick I felt about creating this stressful situation.  Here was my inner dialogue.  “We should pray about this.  But shoot, I know Sam will act weird about it.  Maybe I shouldn’t even tell him that I’m praying about it.  What?  What are you saying?  Of course, you should pray about it with him!

I grabbed his perpetually warm little hand.

“Sam,” I said.  “We need to pray about this.”  And so I did.  I prayed aloud that God would please, please clear a path.

I know how trite this sounds, but when I looked at the map again, the red was gone.  The traffic, which seemed to be caused by a temporary, one-way flag situation — based on the fact that no cars had been passing in the opposite direction and then a whole slew did — was suddenly moving at full speed.  We never saw what caused the slowdown.  And yes, the path could have been about to clear anyway, but we’ll never know for sure because we did pray about it.  The most logical answer is that God answered our prayer, even though I do not deserve to have such self-inflicted stress relieved.  God heard our prayer and the traffic cleared.  Those are really the only two pertinent facts.

I am not advocating treating God like a genie in the bottle.  But I don’t just cry out to God in times of need.  I talked to Him a lot.  I tell Him how grateful I am.  I tell Him how much I love His creation.  I tell Him how much I need Him.  I beg Him for mercy and for wisdom.  I need to do this even more.  The Bible says, “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Someone once said, and I wish I could find the exact quote, that they talked to God more than they talked to anyone else.  That’s a telling statement.  With each passing day, may it be more and more true of me.

A.W Tozer said, “We please God most, not by frantically trying to make ourselves good, but by throwing ourselves into His arms.”

May we all throw ourselves into His arms!  It’s the best place to be.

With Love,



Jackson Five Friday: Tibia Lessons


Last week my son, Sam, broke his tibia skiing.  It’s a spiral fracture so I’ve learned that the x-ray view is of great importance.  From one view it looks like there’s a small horizontal crack in his bone, but the x-ray shot from above reveals the crack spirals down the inner part of the bone.  It’s amazing what you can learn in eight short day, and not just about tibias and x-rays.

For one thing, I’ve learned that I’ve been lacking in empathy.  Three of my five nephews have broken a bone in their leg or foot in the last year.  Did I feel terrible for them?  Of course.  Did I have any appreciation for what this actually meant for them or their caretaker?  Uhh, no.    True empathy is always a good thing.

Secondly, it’s been a good reminder that despite my plans to go here and do that, and “tear down this barn and build a new one,” the truth is I cannot guarantee that I will live another day.  Instead, I want to live my life taking nothing  for granted.

Third, I’ve witnessed my son rally and mature this week in ways I could not have predicted.  When things seem terrible, it’s a great life lesson to know they don’t stay that way forever, or in this case, for very long at all. There can be times when the fallen state of the world weighs heavy on your soul.  I have been praying this week about some truly heavy things for some friends. But even in dark days, it’s good to remember that it won’t always be like that.  There’s a song I used to sing a lot with my mom about this. Here are the lyrics.

Someone said that in each life some rain is bound to fall

And each one sheds his share of tears

And trouble troubles us all

But the hurt can’t hurt forever

And the tears are sure to dry

And it won’t rain always

The clouds will soon be gone

The sun that they’ve been hiding has been there all along

And it won’t rain always

God’s promises are true

The sun’s gonna shine in His own good time

And He will see you through


Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.”  But He didn’t say it would be ALL trouble. Plus, He told us that He loves us and would never forsake us.

 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16 :33,


In the midst of sorrow or on life’s mountaintop, Jesus is always there. I hope you take heart in that!



Jackson Five Friday: Season-Ending Injury

Hey Friends,

The last twenty-four hours have not been the best.  Since Sam did not have school yesterday — his fourth day off in a row — I took him skiing to a cute little place in Mentone, Alabama.  Skiing in Sweet Home Alabama.  Who knew?  We started out a little rough.  It was harder than he remembered.  Unlike his brothers, Sam has skied very little and not in 3+ years.   The place is just one hill and is served only by a tow rope.  Exiting the rope was not mastered by Sam in the first ten minutes. Despite my firm instructions he kept pointing his skis down the hill as he tried to get up.  I resorted to some tough love.  You can’t even begin to fathom how grateful I am that this was not when he got injured.

He was a little slow to warm, but definitely made huge progress.  The lift guy and others were high-fiving him and giving him knuckles galore.  We took a break and hilariously Sam sipped his Coke a la Elf with the “syrup coffee” in the mailroom.  It cracked me up so much that I had to have him do it again so I could record it and send it to his cousin who shares his affinity for Elf culture.  Sam has this magic about him where he consistently makes everything about a thousand times more fun than you’d ever expect it to be.

We headed out again and he said, “Let’s ski down holding hands.”  He said this not because he needed help.  He didn’t.  He just thought it’d be fun.  And it was.

After we’d spent a good chunk of the day there, my boots started to hurt.

“I think I’m going to be done, Sam.  You can go two more times and I’ll watch you.”

“How about five?” Sam asked.

“Okay,” I said, thrilled on the inside that he was enjoying himself.  I think it was his third trip up when his leg got twisted and yet he somehow kept holding on to the rope.  This caused a very unnatural leg rotation — a gruesome to watch rotation, a trip to the ER, a fractured tibia and the end of basketball season before his first game.  Basketball is his favorite.  Unless you are our neighbor and hear the constant pounding of the ball on the pavement, you can’t possibly appreciate how much this kid loves basketball.

I don’t know why God allowed this to happen.  But here’s what I am praying.  First that Sam will draw near to God.  The Psalmist wrote: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (34;18).  And James tells us: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (4:8).  Sam, despite his comedic genius and gargantuan size, is still just ten years old, so I know this is a big prayer.  But please join me in asking God to help Sam turn to Him in the difficulty and sadness of the days to come.

Second, I’m praying that our entire family will learn all that God has for us in this season.  May all five of us have ears to hear all that we need to.  May these next couple months, which will look much different than we would’ve thought, be reminders that we are not in control, that God is always good, that we can trust Him even when we don’t understand our circumstances.  May I draw near to God on the mountaintops of life and in the valleys, and that is my prayer for you as well.

With Gratitude for Your Prayers,