Jackson Five Friday: “I See You”

Hey Friends,

I’ve been thinking about the many pitfalls of social media. It can fuel envy and comparison. It can lead to an identity rooted in the approval of others. It can falsely reduce the complexity of life, and make it appear like some people have it all together. They don’t. Social media can also flat out lie to you.

A lie I’ve seen a lot recently is “I see you.” The thrust of the statement is that the forgotten or lonely or oppressed or struggling are recognized by some influencer. It’s one thing to say, “Newborn Mamas, I feel you. Getting up to feed and change baby every two hours is exhausting. Trust me it’s going to get better!” No matter the severity of the struggle, sincere sentiments like “I’ve been there” and “I get it” and “You are not alone” are comforting. But “I see you” is different. I realize it’s an expression, but the fact is the person doesn’t “see” you at all. They are on a device somewhere and your personal crisis is wholly unknown to them. I don’t think we were designed to offer theoretical comfort, to be burdened for others in such a detached, impersonal way. Nor do I think we can be satisfied with such comfort.

The more loving thing to say, is the truth: “God sees you.” He knows all about it. He loves you no matter what and He cares about your situation and your feelings. He not only literally sees you, He will never leave you nor forsake you.

The “I see you” bloggers could also offer the wisdom that is actually needed: “I wish I could help, but you need a face-to-face encourager. Get involved in a local church. Don’t just anonymously attend a Sunday service. Join a small group or a Bible study. Go to Sunday School. Go to Wednesday night dinners. No matter how hard it is at first, continue to seek real biblical community where you can be seen, loved, and understood. It is not always easy, but it’s always worth it. Find a church that is serious about loving its people and plant yourself there.”

The corollary is that if we truly desire to “see” hurting people, we’ll stop posting about it and go see them. Be the shoulder to cry on, the attentive listener, the speaker of truth that the hurting actually need. Being there for someone in their hour of need, or more likely in their intermittently needy life, is not always easy but it’s always worth it. Find a church that is serious about loving people and serve there.

Technology can be used for good. I’ve been writing this blog for more than eleven years and through it I hope I’ve spurred others on. I’ve certainly been spurred on by readers and commenters, and my posts are mostly reminders directed at me. But relationships based in technology cannot be primary. We need in-the-flesh relationships. We grow closer to Jesus in the midst of the body, the physical body, of believers.

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.”” ‭‭2 Chronicles‬ ‭16:9a‬ ‭

His loving eyes go to and fro, He stands at the door of your heart and knocks. But I hope you also have Christian friends who will see you and love you this weekend and always.


Jackson Five Friday: Weigh-In Culture

Hey Friends,

Have you had a good week? My Monday started with a green smoothie spill in the passenger seat, which is really not how you want to kick things off, but things trended more positively after that. But I will admit many aspects of our culture bring me down more than cleaning up a smoothie.

For example, I find the incessant weighing in on everything exhausting. And I don’t mean weighing in like at Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers. I mean how many people compulsively weigh in on daily events. I imagine it stems in part from social media, and all the liking and hearting. But what does it say about us that endorsing or condemning is now the norm on every little thing?

In a viral obsessed society, if a public figure says something worthwhile, there’s a rush to re-post. Oh yes I am for that. Yessiree, I am for that.

Granted this is undoubtedly preferable to the converse: someone somewhere says something objectionable and it’s like hungry horses racing for the barn. Everybody and their brother needs to weigh in. I am anti that. Oh my gosh, so offensive, so misguided, so uneducated. I condemn that, believe you me!

Forgive the irony, as I sit here using words to weigh in on the rabid weighing in, but I think our lives should speak for themselves. Unless I’m talking to you face-to-face about some issue in the public domain, I hope I am unlikely to condemn or condone much of anything. I condone Jesus and anything that points to Him. But I hope and pray my life reflects that without using a single syllable, verbal or written.

Please Lord let my life –my calendar, my prayer journal, my bank accounts, my choices, my values–reflect You. Help my life to speak so clearly and loudly that I don’t need to use words. Well, except here on my weekly blog. But even then Lord let my words be authentic, let them to somehow reflect You, even though I am the worst of sinners.

May all of us use words to bless others in real life relationships and not to rely on the impersonal means available to us through modern technology. This weekend pat someone on the back or hug them tight instead of liking a post or pic. Let your investment of time, money and talent illustrate your views, knowing that actions not only speak louder than words, actions accomplish a heck of a lot more.

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” Proverbs‬ ‭10:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭3:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Let’s cherish deeds over words, and truth and love always,


Jackson Five Friday: Treadmill Worship

Hey Friends,

Do you listen to a lot of Christian radio? I tend to go in cycles. I love all kinds of music, but if I’m in a rut then listening to Christian music always helps. Yesterday I spent very little time in the car, but heard the song Symphony twice. It’s impossible to listen to that truth without it impacting you.

In the last week I’ve implemented a different kind of encouragement. In September we got DirecTV, which for the first year includes Sunday Ticket (every NFL game that is played is available for my four fans to watch). There has been an outpouring of praise and adoration over this. From the boys’ perspective it sounds like calling DirecTV was my most shining moment. And I don’t even watch TV. I hardly know how to turn it on, and cannot tell you the number of a single channel. I did try it pay attention when the install guy was here so I could pass on some tips to the boys. As the guy was scrolling through the guide screen something popped out at me: The Hillsong Channel. I did not know such a channel existed but last week I found it, blared it and watched it from the treadmill. It was a worship service for which I did not know a single song, which I found pretty odd because I know a ton of Hillsong songs.

But how cool to combine exercise and praise — two of life’s surest mood boosters! Technology is insane. I can be in the privacy of my own home, running and belting out tunes with sold-out Aussie believers. The lyrics are right there on the screen and I can measure my heart rate while wearing the dumbest looking get-up in history. I have no excuse for not carving out time to exercise every day.

After all, if my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and it is, then taking time to care for it is imperative. Plus caring for your body shows how God’s design and commands intertwine. You do something for one reason: take care of your body because it literally houses the Holy Spirit, but the benefits are far reaching. For starters you physically feel better, you physically look better, your brain is clearer, and you have more energy. Similarly, you may look at the Ten Commandments as restrictive but if you live them you quickly see that it’s the same thing as exercise: obedience brings a whole host of benefits. God wants what’s best for us. Treating our bodies as temples is what is best.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:19-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Please God help me to do a better job of living out Your will for my life. Help me to remember I was bought at a price. Help me to glorify you in all I do.

Hope your weekend includes some calorie-burning praise!

With Love,


P.S. The picture of the green smoothie above was consumed while writing this post. It was as delicious as the view is beautiful. Come see me and I’ll blend you one.

Jackson Five Friday: Your Continuous Loop

Hey Friends,

Hope you’ve had a wonderful week. I snapped the picture above on a trial called The Western Rim. It loops around the western side of a canyon with various overlooks along the way. It was stunningly beautiful on Monday and will only get prettier in the weeks ahead; it’s tempting to hike it almost on a continuous loop.

Do you ever feel like some issue in your life is on a continuous loop in your head? Maybe it’s something someone said that crushed your spirit, maybe it’s some injustice that was done to someone you love, maybe it’s worry about a health issue, or a longing that is yet unfulfilled. Bitterness, worry and disappointment all seem to have the Disney FastPass on the Continuous Loop thrill ride that runs in our heads. But it’s not exactly magical, is it? On the contrary, it’s a foolproof recipe for misery.

But you know what we sometimes forget? We forget that we are the gatekeepers of the ride. We get to decide what thoughts get on that continuous loop. Imagine yourself standing at the entrance and turning away everything toxic.

“Excuse me, Worrywart, I’m afraid you aren’t an approved rider. Bitterness, sorry, try the Teacups. You can’t ride…Attention all guests, attention all guests, please read the requirements for this ride found in Philippians 4:8. If you are not specifically mentioned, please promptly proceed to the exit.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Really what we can and should have on continuous loop is thankfulness. The happiest place on earth, from a mental and spiritual perspective, is invariably full of gratitude. May we be full of gratitude for all that is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent or worthy of praise. May we give thanks without ceasing.

This past week I have had various things that have been embarrassing, discouraging, and worrisome, and I’ve let the wrong kind of thoughts replay in my mind. But a friend’s text set me straight.

“You can’t do this in your own strength but you know the One who can! Stay close to Jesus and He will comfort and heal your heart.”

I hope you too have a sweet friend who will guide you back to the truth. Romans 12:2 is an apt reminder that we are the gatekeepers of our minds.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:2 NIV‬‬

Praying that you’ll be discerning about what thoughts get airtime in your mind. Remember Gratitude isn’t ever in the FastPass lane, you’ll have to go and grab her. Strap her in tight and enjoy the ride!



Jackson Five Friday: 47 Business Days

Hey Friends,

I am pretty much the least likely person to give fashion tips, but I’ve got one for you. If you go to DSW and find a cute pair of shoes on the clearance rack that aren’t your size, you can have the store ship you the right size for free. It was almost a dangerous discovery. I ended up picking out three different pairs, for a total of $88.46. At checkout the cute girl, smiled and said, “So you’re all set. The shoes will ship within 47 business days.”

My satisfaction of discovering this fun loophole quickly dissipated.

“Within forty-seven business days?” I repeated, stunned.

“Four to seven,” she said.

So yeah, the reminders that I am getting old are both humbling and frequent. I would loved to have marched right out to the car and called my mom. She would’ve cracked up.

Last week, Nate and I were texting while he was at school. He told me, that he had an in-class essay for history, and that he was nervous about it. Knowing that he probably only had a minute or two before class I kept it brief. I said, “Praying. Use Specifics.” I meant, of course, for him to try to use specific details in his essay, but he responded right back, “Mongols Long Essay Question,” thinking I needed more information.

It made me laugh and for some reason the Taxi episode where Reverend Jim takes his driving test popped immediately to mind. Again, this is something that would be so fun to tell my mom or dad. Who knew my highly intelligent and diligent Nate could ever in a million years do something that would conjure up Reverend Jim!

These are such little things, and yet they deepen the longing for my parents. The bigger things — the things where God has orchestrated events in such an undeniable way — make me heart sick for my parents. There is no one who can celebrate what God has done quite like your parents. In November it’ll be twenty years since my dad died, and later this month will mark two years that my mom has been gone. The sorrow of not having them to hear what God has done has not faded in the least. If you’re parents are alive I hope you cherish the ability to share with them what the Lord is doing in your life. Nevertheless, the Bible calls us to keep proclaiming what He has done.

Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind! He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the waters on foot— come, let us rejoice in him. ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭66:5-6‬ ‭

I hope this weekend you get to live this verse: “Come and see what God has done!”

With Love,


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,


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,