Jackson Five Friday: Warts

Hey Friends,

No, I don’t have any actual warts, that I know of anyway, but I am now old enough to have misshapen fingers. My pinky on my right hand has a wholly inexplicable and disturbingly large bulge. I think, much like my poor eyes, my hands are aging at an alarming rate. Oh well. To live is Christ, to die is gain! I so long to meet more people who truly live lives that reflect the Christ-followers’ truth that to die is gain.

Instead the media would have you believe death itself is brand spanking new, a 2020 phenomenon. I try to counter this by constantly reminding people around me that they can’t guarantee another breath. Recently I told a painter, here at my house for an estimate, “You could die on the way back down to your car.” He looked at me, somewhat befuddled and said, “Well, thanks.” It was actually a pretty humorous exchange. But it’s the truth: we need to be ever-ready to meet our Maker.

Another media fallacy is that there are people who have no warts. Here’s a conversation I recently had.

Other person: “I just really don’t like it when he does ‘x’”

Me: “Have you heard the phrase ‘warts and all’?”

Other person: “What?”

Me: “You are called to love him warts and all. No one on this earth is perfect. Every single person will disappoint you. Every person has flaws. You have flaws. Loving someone — loving him — means loving him warts and all.”

Love keeps no record of wrongs. But our culture keeps impeccable records, and it keeps them for decades, even centuries. This gotcha vibe begs the question: What ever happened to grace? Its absence is ruining both societies and relationships. How can there be such ignorance of the self-destruction?

Stop for a second and think about who in your life needs your love and affirmation, warts and all? Is there a single person in your life that’s NOT on that list? Spoiler alert: there’s not.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians‬ ‭4:2-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

May we be humble, gentle and patient with others this weekend. May we shut off the the fear-mongering, hate-inducing media, and instead make EVERY effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace. May we love one another, warts and all.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: The Secret to a Happy…

Hey Friends,

It’s looking like a spectacular weekend to celebrate July 4th. The festivities may be different, but you can be immensely grateful for your country even if you stay home and watch that repulsive hot dog eating contest, which my family never misses. Mercifully, I imagine it’s cancelled this year. Of course that may result in my guys wanting to re-do their own contest from last year. I filmed and my four guys tried to choke down the hot dogs. It gave us all a new appreciation for Joey Chestnut. They were so confident and their abilities proved pitiful.

The wonderful adage “a happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers,” actually applies to life in general. Forgiveness is a part of any good relationship, and forgiveness is always, always part of being happy. If you don’t forgive — if you refuse to extend grace — you are a miserable person. Governments are made up of people and will always be flawed. In fact, the complexities and distance from consequences means government is always more flawed.

Our 25th anniversary is coming up in December. In 25 years of marriage do you think maybe we’ve had a few instances to forgive? One time on a Mother’s Day card my son wrote that I’m the world’s best forgiver — I don’t even know what the sweet boy had been forgiven of, but it’s an incredible statement. I’ll never forget it. But one thing I know is: I love being happy. And I realized a long time ago that to be happy you need to forgive. To be a happy spouse you need to forgive. To be a happy friend, you must forgive. To be a happy parent, you’ve got to let it go. To be a happy citizen, you can recognize and even mourn grievances, but you are also called to forgive.

Can you personally recall the truth of this statement lived out in your life?

It is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11b NIV

We should all be able to point to a slew of examples. After all, the Bible also says:

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians‬ ‭3:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

With Love,

Kristie

Tell Me Some Good News

Friends,

I almost never post on a non-Friday but I always feel a little boost when I sit down and preach to myself on the blog. I feel like I could benefit from daily blogging these days. I need to feed myself the truth, even when I have no appetite for it.

Today I opened my eyes, reluctant to start another day. I feel so beat down by people — not disease, not unrest, not the gloomy weather we’ve been having, not the fact that I will surely die — just people. I don’t ever remember feeling so widely disappointed. The fear and hypocrisy just get to me sometimes. Truly, have fear and hypocrisy ever been so rampant? Even among professing Christians? It’s devastating.

This morning, as my husband was about to leave for work, I was awake but resolved to just go back to sleep.

“Tell me some good news,” I said, eyes barely open.

“Tell you some good news?” He repeated.

“Yes, please. Please just tell me some good news,” I said.

“Uhh,” he stammered, trying to think. But then, being a wise and wonderful man, he exclaimed: “He is Risen!”

I smiled. He is indeed risen. I hope you have someone in your life who can tell you the best news ever first thing in the morning. When you feel discouraged, turning your eyes to Jesus is always the answer. Jesus is the one Person incapable of disappointing me. And just as the old hymn says, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.”

A corollary is that we shouldn’t expect anyone to meet our expectations. I fall into the pit of thinking people will act consistently, that they will be rational, that they will not be hypocritical, that they will not be filled with fear. But that’s 100% on me. Doing this is itself irrational and hypocritical. It is also giving others power over me they should never have. After all, my hope is in Christ alone.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Yes, because He is Risen, we know the hope. A glorious inheritance awaits. Isn’t that great news?

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: The Wisdom of Roy

Friends,

This week I met a guy who told me he walks every morning with a buddy. He said this buddy just complains nonstop about all that is going on in the world. Wisely this gentleman decided that they need to start their walk with listing five things they are thankful for. Gratitude is always the answer, and making a specific list always changes my perspective.

This wise new friend of mine was here to repair appliances. When he asked what my husband does, and I told him, he said, “Well, I know my number one for tomorrow morning: Thank God I’m not a hospital administrator during a pandemic.” So do let me know if you are local and need a charming, wise and reliable appliance repairman.

Anyway, yesterday would have been my parents, Roy and Judy’s, 61st wedding anniversary. I don’t know if weddings in 1959 all looked as magical as theirs, but the style and class coupled with their obvious joy made for great photographs. Sadly, my dad didn’t live to see the 21st century, but I can hear his commentary on much of it anyway.

One thing I know he’d say for sure: “Talk is cheap.” In fact, my inner Roy reiterates this on a daily basis. Has any society in the history of mankind been more prone to value statements over action? I don’t get it.

Our lives reveal who we are, not our statements. Twitter and social media in general have exacerbated the issue, but our calendars and bank statements remain reliable measures of what we truly believe. Listening is a lost art, while weighing in is the trend. Empty proclamations of goodness instead of soul-searching prayer. How did we get here?

The Bible doesn’t say, “Talk is cheap” exactly, but it does outline how we develop character.

And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5: 2b-5

Praying that as for me and mine, we will persevere, knowing that hope will never put us to shame.

With Love,

Kristie

P.S. If you think about the meaning of the word persevere, about all of its connotations, do any of them jive with mere statement making? I don’t think so. To persevere is an action. Talk is cheap.

Jackson Five Friday: A Different Kind of Fight

Hey Friends,

Well, the world is full of problems, isn’t it? It always been a fallen world, and it always will be, but the intensity of hurting seems greater than ever, at least in my lifetime. How do you personally try to stay the course, to not get overwhelmed? I pray, read, chat with friends. I sometimes meditate on Scripture, especially Psalms. I always benefit from laughing with my four favorite guys. Just tonight I had such a good laugh with my husband and it really is balm for the soul. I wish it was something that could be shared because I’d love to give you the gift of a great laugh, but alas not all things are blog-appropriate.

But really, no matter what comes your way in life, the bottom line is that we are called to trust God, His plan and His timing.

I adore this wisdom from Hannah Whitall Smith:

We are to fight the “good fight of faith,” as Paul exhorted Timothy; and the fight of faith is not a fight of effort or struggle, but it is a fight of trusting…It seems so unsafe to sit still, and do nothing but trust the Lord; and the temptation to take the battle back into our own hands is often tremendous.

I don’t know if you can relate to this. If there is an area of your life where there is nothing whatsoever to do, but to trust God. It is hard though. And of course there are other areas where we are called to be agents of change, and to be resolved in the face of every obstacle. That’s hard too. And although we could apply these principles to today’s world in general, in my own mind I am thinking of tangible, personal specifics.

I am praying that wherever we need to let go and let God, we’ll let go in trust. I am praying too that wherever we need to keep doing what we are doing despite the opposition, that God will gird us up to press on.

No matter what kind of fight you are facing, don’t give up.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Hebrews 12:1 NIV

The race is marked out, may we run it with perseverance.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: 2020 Questions

Friends,

I did something in January that I don’t think I’ve ever done before: I posted a list of questions to ponder for the year 2020. You know what wasn’t on it? Anything whatsoever to do with what is going in this inexplicable year. They’re still worthwhile questions, but I think the list needs to be supplemented. So, here are some additional questions that I think are important.

Who in your life is helping you to understand some experience you have not and cannot learn first hand? I’m not talking about reading an article or watching a video. I’m referring to learning from a friend, preferably one-on-one.

How can you fight injustice in your own community?

How can you listen to and empathize with someone else’s pain, and yet also encourage them to forgive?

Do you monitor your heart to ensure you are not letting bitter roots take hold?

Are you taking worries and fears to the Lord and not letting media or other sources stoke these harmful flames?

Do you ever try to justify hating someone?

Do you regularly ask the Lord to help you to clearly see the sin in your own life?

Do you aim to carry other’s burdens via social media? Or are you primarily carrying the burdens of friends with whom you have an actual relationship? Is it healthy to be continually weighed down by injustice in the world, when you could be contributing to the needs of people in your community?

The honesty of Linus may be relatable — certainly there are people who claim to love humanity while their own relationships indicate otherwise. But Christians are called to love not only their neighbors, but their enemies. Praying I will do better and better on this high calling — all for the glory of God.

“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:46-48‬ ‭ESV‬‬

With Love,

Kristie

The Highest Calling

Friends,

The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. One of the highest callings to pursue this end is to mother. In fact, despite the horrific state of our world and the disrespect motherhood gets, I consider it the very highest calling on my life.

Yesterday one of the most important mothers in my life met her Savior. Jill Jackson not only gave my husband life, she raised him in the way that he should go. If you know Will, you know what I mean. I often talk here on the blog about how much I love my man, but I do not much talk about how accomplished he is, or how his work ethic is unparalleled. His mom raised him to believe the sky was limit and to work hard. She loved and cheered on her son so very very well.

This Mother’s Day we knew Jill might not have long to live. Both her sons, daughters-in-law, and seven grandchildren encircled her in bed. She laughed at our stories — she’s been delighting over my endless tales for 29 years. I told her about how Will and I were supposed to soon do a cooking class as a fundraiser and she cracked up about how funny that concept was. Will and I in the kitchen for charity? Surely there must be some mistake. Will is a faithful dishwasher but does not cook…at all.

Yesterday as Will was driving to see his mother before she passed (by God’s grace he did make it in time), I was chatting with an old friend, who happens to be black. I first met her twenty years ago in Bible study and she lives in the DC area. I wanted to interview her for a blog post, but even though we talked for over an hour, I feel like we barely scratched the surface of today’s issues. But one thing she did say applies to whatever you are facing. From the death of a loved one, illness, financial insecurity or the deep wounds of injustice, her words apply: “I can’t even begin to wonder what the Lord is doing. All I know is I am thankful He is in control.”

I too am thankful He is in control. I am thankful that, for the follower of Christ, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. I am thankful that my husband had such a wonderful mother, and I hope I never lose sight of what a high high calling it is to raise my own sons.

Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her…Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Proverbs 31:28, 30

With Love,

Kristie

P.S. Some of my favorite women are not mothers and yet I still see this call admirably lived out in their lives. I also feel like part of my calling is broader than raising my own sons. I love all of my nieces and nephews, my sons’ friends, and pretty much any child I come in contact with. One hour each week that I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be is when I teach second grade Sunday school. I miss those kids immensely. Anyway, just want to be clear that although there’s not a good word for “God-given, uniquely female intuition/compassion/wisdom” I believe using it to encourage one another is the role of every woman.

Jackson Five Friday: “You Like Them”

Friends,

The world continues to unravel in disheartening ways. I am praying for justice and peace and revival, and I hope you are too. Jesus is the Creator and Redeemer. He is our constant companion; He gives wisdom, transforms and enlightens. Apart from Him we can do nothing. A year or so ago I read The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton. It’s an incredible book and made me wonder if I’m supposed to take the Tennessee or Alabama bar exam and become a public defender. It strikes me as about the oddest thing in the world that I could do that. The fact that I have a law degree almost feels like a weird little lie I sometimes tell. Anyway, praying and asking God what I can and should do.

But on a lighter note, if you’d haven’t read last week’s blog, you can scroll down or click here. It’s kind of a prerequisite for this week’s, and plus, I think it turned out pretty good.

By means of background, my lovely niece, Caitlin, has two babies. Brooks is almost two-and-a-half, and Maisie is five months. If she FaceTimes me, I answer — almost without exception. Because if I wait and try her back, with two babies she often can’t answer. So if I’m on a walk with friends, I answer. If I’m just stepping out of the shower, I answer. Yesterday she called and I was out and about.

As she was telling me the latest sweet and hilarious little stories from Brooks, a group of young girls, maybe college-aged, walked by in such extensive PPE that you’d think they were giving one another Ebola tests. But they were just casually walking and talking together, through their face shields.

I turned my phone around to give Caitlin a quick glimpse.

“Wow,” I said. “Hazmat suits.”

Her little face narrowed, her eyebrows flashing concern.

“You like them,” she said, sweetly.

“Ahh, you are right,” I answered. “I do like them.”

That was the end of it. We went back to babies and catching up and laughing.

Do you have relationships like that? Do you have someone who will remind you, “You like them.” Not brow beat: “You hypocrite, I thought you said you like people.” Just a gentle but faithful reminder?

I hope you have people like that. And I hope you are that person for others. We all need accountability. We all need spurring.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrew 10:24 NIV

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: “I Like You”

Hey Friends,

I’m not much of a Netflix binge-er. I have a hard time getting into any shows. But I do like watching movies with my boys, and once in a great while, I will even watch a movie alone, usually on an airplane. Anyway, last week I watched It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. I loved it. Tom Hanks was a very convincing Mr. Rogers. The same day I finished watching the movie, Will read me a quote from a book. He’s an obsessive reader and I benefit from him sharing tidbits he knows I’ll appreciate as he tears through everything from leadership to history to theology. Honestly, one of my favorite things is to be sitting beside my reading man and hear the words, “Listen to this…” Last Saturday, Will read to me about Joe Girard, who was evidently the world’s greatest car salesman. Girard claimed the secret of his success was getting customers to like him.

Each month he sent every one of his more than thirteen thousand former customers a holiday greeting card containing a personal message. The holiday greeting changed from month to month (Happy New Year or Happy Thanksgiving, etc), but the message printed on the face of the card never varied. It read, “I like you.” As Joe explained it, “There’s nothing else on the card. Nothin’ but my name. I’m just telling ‘em that I like ‘em.”

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

We laughed about how this tactic actually worked, and then Will said, “I wonder if Bob ever sent cards out or anything.”

Bob Staples is our brother-in-law (my sister’s husband). In a sense, Bob is the Girard of his generation. He has sold cars for decades and has the most loyal customer base imaginable.

“I doubt he sent cards,” I said. “He wouldn’t need to. He genuinely exudes, ‘I like you.’”

It was just an off-handed remark, but the truth of it, coupled with the “I like you-ness” of Fred Rogers has really left me thinking about how important this is. Bob is handsome and kind, but I bet his customers keep coming back again and again because they feel liked. In fact, it’s not just a feeling. Bob likes people. People know when they are liked. People like to be liked. Do you shed an “I like you” vibe wherever you go?

In today’s culture, even though we have added that little thumbs up button, there’s a real void of liking. We seem to be obsessed, more than ever, with who we CAN like and new demarcations arise almost daily. You are NOT wearing a mask? I don’t like you. You ARE wearing a mask while driving alone in your car? I don’t like you. You left your house when you could’ve stayed home? I don’t like you. You refuse to affirm or condemn exactly what I affirm or condemn? I don’t like you.

But gentle, dear Mr. Rogers had it right in his sweet little song:

I like you as you are. Exactly and precisely. I think you turned out nicely. And I like you as you are.

Some people like Bob Staples and Fred Rogers have a much easier time liking people. It doesn’t come as naturally to everyone, but it helps to remind ourselves that each and every person has been made in the very image of God and is worthy of dignity and respect.

Of course, Jesus took the concept much further. Not only are we to love our neighbors as ourselves, the standard is even higher than that. Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44 ESV.

How are you doing on loving your enemies? Are you praying for those who persecute you? I don’t think you can without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Yet, with God all things are possible!

Thanks for reading! I like you! And I hope you have a fabulous weekend loving and praying for even your enemies.

With Love,

Kristie

P.S. The picture above is from five years ago but illustrates just how much Bob exudes “I like you.” This massive dude, Brian, was in a gym where Bob was shooting hoops with my sons. In a matter of seconds, and in a very subtle way, Bob made such pals with Brian, that Brian played along with telling Sam, who was seven, that Bob had whooped Brian in a wrestling match. Brian even suggested that he had gotten that big in hopes of having a rematch with Bob. It was priceless, and yet Sam found it so believable that he was extremely concerned about how his Uncle Bob would fare in the rematch!

Jackson Five Friday: Devotion Duplication

Hey Friends,

I hope you are having a fabulous week. My two younger sons finish school today. Sam started smiling from ear to ear the second he opened his eyes. I’m hoping and praying that after today zoom school is about as common as a snow day. Please Lord Jesus!

Have you been encouraging and receiving encouragement more than usual these last couple months? I hope so. I’ve been blessed by sweet words, perfectly applicable Scripture and hilarious memes. I’ve also heard some of the best stories. A well-told story with humor and a spiritual takeaway is like my love language. God has been so good to give me a steady supply, even when social interactions have been more sparse than ever before.

Plus, I just love when God’s fingerprints are on the smallest of details. A while back a friend from church gave me the New Morning Mercies devotional by Paul David Tripp. I flipped through it but did not start reading it on a regular basis till just recently. It’s deep and encouraging, and seems to particularly apply to the issues of the day. On April 22, I took a picture of that day’s devotion and texted it to my niece, Caitlin. I knew she’d love it.

This was her response: “This is gold. Thank you for sharing. A game changing perspective.”

But here’s the crazy thing. Later that day Caitlin’s friend, who happens to live in Taiwan, texted her the same exact page.

God is in the details. Sometimes we have to look a little harder than that, but He is always there.

He is our Creator, Redeemer and Companion. We do not need to wonder who we are or why we are here, our Creator has told us. We do not need to worry that we don’t measure up — we don’t. But thankfully our redemption is not earned, it is given. We do not need to worry about being alone, we never are. For the believer, Jesus is our constant companion in this life, and upon breathing our last breath here we will see Him face-to-face. What exactly do we have to fear?

Encourage one another. Love one another. Know that your Creator and Redeemer is also your Companion. Look for God’s fingerprints in the details of your life, but when you do not see them, trust that they are still there. As Paul David Tripp says, “Hope does not put us to shame.”

But now says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Psalm 43:1-3a ESV

When you pass through the waters, He is there. He is calling you, and calling you by name. He created you, redeemed you, and He’s with you always, even to the end of the age. Hope does not put us to shame. Praise God.

With Love,

Kristie