Jackson Five Friday: New Favorite 

Hope you’ve had a good week. I topped mine off with a roadtrip in torrential rain. I listened to the most random playlist imaginable, Sam watched two movies, and four hours later we were safely reunited with the rest of our family. 

One of the songs that popped up is one for which my emotional ties run deep.  The song is New Favorite by Alison Krauss. It’s a sad ballad about a woman realizing her man has a new favorite. Both the rhythm and the lyrics are heartbreaking. But the application to my own life is a little unusual. My husband use to sing it to me back in 2003, suggesting that our new baby boy, Nate, was my new favorite.  As if I was choosing Nate over Dub.  Will thoroughly enjoyed teasing me about my new favorite.

Listening to it today took me right back. I remember worrying that sweet Dub, who had every ounce of my attention for 21 months, would feel somehow less important.  But I don’t think he did. Instead we loved our Baby Nate together, delighting  over him side by side. 

But it’s nice to be somebody’s favorite, isn’t it?  Does your spouse know they’re your favorite?  Do you make sure they know it day after day? 

And most importantly do you know that you have a favorite kind of relationship with God?  He made only one of you. He made you for a purpose. And He delights over you. 

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

‭‭Zephaniah‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Have a fabulous weekend knowing you are rejoiced over. 

Love,

Kristie 

Jackson Five Friday: Going Home

Friends,

I’ve had an unusual-for-me stretch of days.  Last Wednesday I went to Miami to be with my husband on a business trip.  Then on Friday we drove two hours north to the area where we’ve made hundreds of special memories over many years.  Since we almost never go anywhere without our boys, being gone for four consecutive nights felt like forever.  I’ve been counting up the nights we’ve been away in the 15.5 years we’ve been parents and the total, before last week, was seven, two of which were for a surgery that Will had in Philly while we lived in the DC area.  Truly, we just love having our guys around and even though we had a great time last week, both of us were excited to be home.

It’s funny how the longing for home is universal.  Sometimes it’s a geographic longing:  I had an Uber driver in Miami who was from Haiti.  He was telling me how in his country things are terrible.

“Schools are terrible,” he said.  “The government is terrible.  There are no opportunities, but I love my country.  I just want to go home.”

Other times, the longing is more symbolic.  I have burned close to two tanks of gas since I returned from Florida, and I haven’t gone anywhere.  Just run a boy here, fetch a boy there, but for hours, literally, every day this week.  When I walked in the door for the last time each day, I felt a wave of peace: “aaahhh, home!”

Home is a sense of belonging and a place of rest.  It’s a place where you are nourished and restored.  I hope your home is all of these things for you.  But I also hope that this describes your church home.  Are you part of a fellowship of believers where you feel like you belong, like you are nourished and restored?

I visited a church in Palm Beach Gardens last week that I really enjoyed.  But I was just a visitor.  I didn’t feel any deep sense of belonging.  It reminded me of how different it is to feel known and valued within the body of Christ.  Praying you too know this aspect of going “home.”

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.  Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.  Romans 12: 4-8

With Love,

Kristie

 

 

 

Jackson Five Friday: SMH

Hey Friends,

Hope you are well. I know many of you have been faithful to pray for my mom. Yesterday when I talked with her she said that she was feeling better, more like herself, than she has in YEARS!!  So thank you for your prayers.  Please keep them up. 

I also have located egg-laying replacement chickens.  Hopefully that sad debt will be at least partially repaid early next week. If you have no idea what I’m talking about read last week’s post. 

A third development is that I have finally been enlightened about the confusing little acronym which is omnipresent on social media: SMH.  The only thing I could come up with, when I would see SMH was “So Much Hell.”  It didn’t seem to make much sense but I had a mental blank. I could not seem to think of a single alternative.  Only God knows the number of times I’ve read some little rant followed by SMH or #smh and thought “huh, so much hell?”  And I could’ve easily just googled it, but was willing to treat it as a perplexing riddle, expecting it to just come to me at some random moment. But alas I it never did. My niece texted me the explanation. It stands for “shaking my head” which seems obvious now since it is highly correlated with pharisaical condemnation.  

I think I’d kind of like it if I saw it used like this.  “Can’t believe I did that’ #smh” or “Blown away by this outpouring of love. #smh.”  But it’s actually short hand for the exact sentiment of the Pharisee praying to not be like the tax collector. 

“The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭18:11‬ ‭NIV‬

“Shaking my head” is 21st Century speak for “Thank God I’m not like them.”  There is no love or compassion in it, even if there’s also attached some love or tolerance-based hashtag.  I hope spewing hate is not condoned because a few #lovewins or #lovetrumpshate hashtags are tacked on. 

But either way I have a solution: demonstrate love to the Pharisee.  Actually it’s Jesus’ solution and he modeled it perfectly. When the Pharisees brought the adulterous woman to Jesus, reminding him that by law she should be stoned, Jesus sat quietly and drew in the sand. When he was pressed for a response, He said, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  John‬ ‭8:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

That day all of her accusers walked away. I’m praying that I would be gracious and kind in a world where it feels like few would. Praying that my life will reflect His light even amidst a culture dominated by head-shaking stone-throwers. 

Friends, I pray, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, you and I will love BIG this weekend, loving even the people who are clenching their teeth and have a stone ready.  

Fondly,

Kristie 

Jackson Five Friday: Hazel and Grace

Hey Friends,

Hope you’ve had a wonderful week.  Mine did not start out that great, but grace upon grace is the story of my life, so things have gotten better.

Before I tell you what happened, you should know about Hazel.  Hazel was the class pet for Sam’s first grade class.  Like all the children in the class, Sam loved Hazel and was ecstatic to sign up to bring her home for a weekend.  The anticipation of this special weekend was an event in itself.

“Is it this Friday I get to bring Hazel home?”

“No, Sweet Boy, a couple more weeks.”

But the weekend eventually came and we brought Hazel the guinea pig home from school.  I cannot tell you how disruptive this was to my personal shalom.  I was worried sick that we would lose or somehow kill Hazel.  Monday morning could not come quickly enough and I felt a huge burden lifted off my shoulders to deliver the class pet safely back to school.

I am now wishing that my Hazel anxiety would’ve kicked in last week.  It would have been good for me to remember how inept I am, how my concern over Hazel’s well being was in no way irrational.  When animals depend on me for life, then yes it is appropriate for anxiety levels to surge.  Tragically, they did not.  I was asked to see after animals, and somehow Hazel didn’t even come to mind.  Instead, I said, “Sure.”  It’s right there in my text: an unequivocal commitment to look after animals.  But did I remember to close the hatch on the chicken coop?  No.  No, I did not.  Instead, I sat on my front porch, watched the storm roll in, and did not think a single second about letting the cat in or making sure the chickens were safe.

I woke up the next morning and remembered, but it was too late.  I walked over and let the kitty in, and then strolled nonchalantly over to the coop.  I could not believe what I was seeing.  I felt sick and embarrassed and ashamed and like the complete loser that I am.  The coop was in a state of disrepair and the chickens were no more.

How would you like to send the text to the owners?  Uhh, I know you haven’t been gone twenty-four hours, but I’ve already managed to get your chickens murdered.

Last week I posted about Sam’s sweet humble spirit, his sober assessment of himself.  In contrast, I’m wondering if I have utterly humiliating experiences like Tuesday morning because I am prone to think of myself too highly?  Romans 12:3 plainly says, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”  Do I need to be knocked down every whipstitch?  Or as Sam often quotes from Mrs. Doubtfire, “Do I need a few light slams every now and then?”  I know for sure that embarrassing episodes occur in my life more than yours, and it doesn’t matter who you are.  Am I just a slow learner?

But there’s another spiritual truth at work here too.  In Luke 7:47,  referring to a sinful woman, Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

The demise of the chickens was met with incredible grace.  I loved these neighbors of mine before, but when you are forgiven much, you love much.  And I madly love these dear, grace-filled neighbors of mine.

I hope you too know both sides of this equation.  I hope you’ve had occasion to forgive something big, and that your heart has grown because you’ve been forgiven.  It’s not a hashtag.  It’s not a motto.  It’s not an empty declaration that love trumps hate.  It’s actually forgiving someone who wrongs you.  It’s actually owning that you suck, and then loving your forgiver.

May we all love and forgive with reckless abandon this weekend and always, and may we know that each and every breath is grace upon grace.

With Love,

Kristie

 

 

 

Jackson Five Friday: Be Vulnerable

Friends,

Today was our first day of summer and we had nothing special planned.  The boys slept in (well, technically Dub went to swim practice early but then napped).  I watched an episode of Leave It to Beaver with Sam.  Nate and Sam played basketball at the park, while Dub and I ran a few errands.  It was a very ordinary day, and no one complained, which as far as I’m concerned is a victory.  Sometimes the transition from scheduled life to freedom can be bumpy.

Then tonight we went to dinner with a friend of Will’s.  Louis has Will’s same job, except in Australia.  Louis is very engaging and a gifted storyteller, and I had a delightful time learning lots of fun tidbits.  We brought him up the mountain to show him around a little bit, and introduced him to the boys.

Louis had a great basketball story for Sam, and Sam used his best manners listening attentively and laughing at just the right moments.

But when Will left to take Louis back to his hotel, Sam came over to me with a look of concern on his face.

“You know, Mom,” he said, “He was very interesting, and I liked talking to him.  But when he was telling me the story I felt like I don’t know what to say other than ‘yeah’ and I’m afraid that if I just say ‘yeah, yeah’ that it’ll sound like I’m not interested, when really I’m very interested.”

I can’t even tell you how endearing I found Sam’s vulnerable little admission.  I can so relate to what he was describing, and I just adore him for being willing to share this inner struggle.  Some of the most meaningful conversations I have in life stem from Sam’s consistent candor.  His vulnerability makes me love him even more, which doesn’t even seem possible.

It doesn’t matter your age (you probably are not ten like Sam), vulnerability is always endearing.  Can you point to where admission of your own insecurities has helped strengthen your relationships?   I hope so.

Romans 12:3 says, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

May I be Sam-like in thinking of myself with sober-judgment, and please God don’t ever let him outgrow his willingness to candidly reveal insecurities.

Happy Friday and be vulnerable with someone this weekend!

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Hospice

Hi Friends,

How does the word hospice make you feel?  I think it sets off a mild anxiety attack in many of us, and for others it triggers full on panic and utter despair.  But I don’t think it should.  The word really represents a paradigm shift — from actively treating the underlying disease state to focusing instead on the comfort of the patient.  It does not really indicate anything at all about how long the patient may or may not live.  Sometimes when the focus is taken off treatment, patients rally and do much, much better.

My mom was hospitalized on May 10 with very severe COPD.  The hospital administered IV steroids and put her on a machine to ease her breathing, but she kept getting worse.  The respiratory therapist kept adjusting the machine to higher and higher settings, but she did not improve, and she just wanted to be home.  I spent two nights with her at the hospital, where she was poked and weighed and examined almost continuously.  She’d just drift off to sleep and it would be time to check her blood pressure again.  There were alarms and wires and disruptions galore — despite best intentions and practices, hospitals are not always a peaceful hub of healing.  When I called to make sure her machine at home could match the settings in the hospital, I was dumbfounded to learn that the machine she’d been sitting on in the hospital was inferior to what she had at home.  We could not get her home fast enough!

We left the hospital on Tuesday afternoon, with a few prescriptions and hospice care lined up.  My mom and I sang together on the twenty-minute ride, and I knew getting her out of the hospital was the right thing.  I fully expected her to rally at home.  I really did. But she has exceeded all expectations.  She is doing so so much better!

My mom is a medical marvel.  I’ve been telling her she should offer to be the subject of research because she has muscles that refuse to atrophy.  Her inability to breathe easily means she just doesn’t do much.  She lives a very sedentary life.  Yet if you watch her walk to the bathroom she is steady and strong.  In the hospital she was trying to sit up and accidentally moved into that Pilates move, teaser.  Both her arms and legs were straight up in a V formation.  Do you know what kind of abs she must have to do that?  And I’d be pretty comfortable wagering she could still — at seventy-five — do a push-up.  Sadly, I did not get even a hint of this God-given strength.  Unlike my mom, I am weak and arthritic.  The atrophy-resistant muscles are not part of my DNA.  I can only hope the trait skips a generation and maybe my boys are blessed with it.

My mom is also a spiritual marvel.  She has the best attitude in the world.  She is full of gratitude and fully trusts that God is in control.   I’m amazed how she holds in tension the will to get better and submission to God’s plan, even if His plan is that she won’t live much longer.  Maybe it sounds cold to write about this so frankly, but I hope not.  Despite society’s idiotic avoidance of reality, we are all going to die.  My mom has modeled so much wisdom, faith and grace for me my whole life.  Is it any wonder then that she would be setting a high bar in this season too?

Yesterday the hospice nurse visited my mom and she told her that she has a patient that she’s had for THREE YEARS!  She told my mom, “Maybe you will beat that.”  The trajectory of my mom’s post-hospital recovery has been amazing and I am praying it continues.  But I am also grateful for every day I get to talk to her or see her.   None of us is guaranteed another breath anyway.  Today could be my last.  It could be yours.  I hope you know where you are going when you die.  Making Jesus your Lord and Savior is the most important thing you can do, no matter how long you live.

In the words of Paul, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

With love and gratitude for all your prayers,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Sunrise Sisters

 

 

Hi Friends,

When I was a little girl, less than 10, I wrote a story about a princess who fell madly in love with the boy who took care of her royal horse.  I don’t remember any of their names, but I remember feeling oddly attached to the characters.  When I quit my job to stay home with my beloved Baby Dub, I wrote another story — a full length novel, about a woman who knew great love and overcame incredible heartache.  The premise of the novel was that love is a risk worth taking.  I shopped it around to a few agents and publishers, but nothing became of it.  Then I met an agent who told me, “Listen, you’ve learned so much from writing a whole novel.  Treat it as your learning lab.  Put it on the shelf and move on.”  That was the most liberating advice I’d ever been given.

And move on I did.  I started writing nonfiction — stories from my own life.  I wrote about how God was faithful in my own heartaches and losses, and I wrote lighthearted pieces about raising a family.  In 2008, I started this blog, Spur, and have loved crafting every single word.  It has been mostly for my own benefit, and if a few of my words have encouraged someone, well then, that’s icing on the cake.  Writing is an outlet for me.  Carving out an  hour to write is an indulgence.  I’d rather write than eat ice cream, or get a massage, or go shopping, or almost anything.  It is the pinnacle of me-time.

Then just about six weeks ago I was watching the sunrise over the Atlantic in a spot that has been special to me for many years.  The concept for a story flooded my mind.  It was based on a place, on friendship, on beholding the sunrise.  Next Friday, Sunrise Sisters, will be available on Amazon as an eBook.  The kindle app is free and easy to download for pretty much any device.   It would mean the world to me if you’d buy and read this novella.  It is the first in a series of three, and I pray that it will be a fun read with some substantive take-aways.

Your prayers for the success of Sunrise Sisters would be greatly appreciated.

With Love,

Kristie

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.   Jeremiah 29:11