Jackson Five Friday: An Extravagant Gift

Happy Friday, Friends!

Hope you are finding many ways to give thanks this November.  I appreciate how many friends are intentional and specific all month long about giving thanks. Certainly, we can never count our blessings enough.

One thing I’m incredibly thankful for is the community I’ve been a part of for the last eight years.  Almost four years ago, a group of moms threw me an incredibly lovely and incredibly loving 40th bash.  They said the sweetest, most affirming things and we had many, many laughs.  Then last Friday, a similar group threw another party as a send off.  They prayed for me.  They told stories about me.  They spoke blessings over me and shared what I’ve meant to them.  But unlike my birthday, which was largely about me, this send off was just as much about my guys.  This group shared stories about my whole family — there were tidbits about my husband Will, my son Will, about Nate, and of course, not surprisingly many about Sam.  Sam somehow generates a disproportionate share of our stories.  Oh how we laughed.  It meant the world to me.  It was like receiving an extravagant gift.  Friends that know and love you and your family are worth more than rubies and gold and myrrh.  It is priceless to be known and loved like that.

And honestly, I fear I will never have that again.  Having small children together is like a petri dish for friendship.  The bonds are easy and strong and life-giving, that little germ of relationship just takes off and flourishes.  New friends will not know my children in the same way.  They will not know how this one struggled with that or this one has always needed time alone, or a million little nuances my friends from last Friday night know so well.

But I heard something recently that I want to live by:  A Puritan man sat down to a meager meal of bread and water and joyously looked at the bread and water and said, “All this!?!  And Jesus too?”  No matter what situation I find myself in, whether it be an abundance of food, an abundance of friends, a lack of food or a lack of friends, no matter what, I want to survey the gifts given me and say, “All this?!?  And Jesus too?”  I want to stay incredulous that Jesus is my greatest and most important gift, all others are lovely bonus gifts.

What’s amazing is that when I tried to research where this Puritan tale originated, I googled “All this and Jesus too?” and what came up was the painting above.  This painting hung in my grandparents home since before I was born.  My grandfather, who thought whatever he had was the best, wherever he lived was the best, walked by this painting every single day.  Did he ever think, “All this and Jesus too?”  I don’t know.  But I know he lived it.

These words from Paul are so perfect for this mindset and for our hurting, seemingly out-of-control world:

 Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.  Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Thessalonians 5: 13-18

Have a wonderful week with your families, living each day saying “All this?  And Jesus too!?!”

With Love,

Kristie

 

 

Jackson Five Friday: Never Tell God What You Cannot Do

Friends,

It’s a beautiful, unseasonably warm day here in the suburbs of DC just like it was sixteen years ago.  I remember that day because it was the worst day of my life.

I had such a lovely time driving around running errands to prepare for the arrival of my parents that night.  But just before I left for the airport my brother called to tell me about my dad.  He’d had a massive heart attack on the flight.  I would not be picking him up from the airport ever again.  My parents’ quick but frequent trips to see Will and me came to a screeching halt, and honestly I expected my mom to instantly become old and frail and joyless.

But none of those things proved to be true, none of my fears were realized.  I would never have thought my mom, who was so utterly crushed, could continue to be a woman of faith and encouragement to all those around her.  With my dim human understanding, I thought the best friend by her side, the man who she’d been married to and adored since she was a mere child of seventeen, was the cornerstone, that she’d crumble without him.  But she didn’t.

No, for the last sixteen years, through all the heartaches and losses, she has been the same old Mom.  I remember friends in high school saying, “I really like your mom.”  I’d be thinking, “Well, no kidding, everybody likes my mom.  What’s not to like?”  There’s something about her that just makes you feel comfortable.  I tend to be pretty engaging and thankfully make friends easily, but this is not from my mom.  She makes friends easily too, but we accomplish this by entirely different means.  I tend to be very outgoing and might even pepper people with questions — something my mom would never do.  She just has a chill, inviting spirit about her.  People tell her things, but not because she asks.

I am so proud of her — what an amazing mom and gramma she’s been for all of us, what an amazing example of trusting God through dark, heart wrenching days.  She’s consistently modeled a heart of gratitude for the many blessings in her life.  She’s the antithesis of a “Why me?” person.  Instead she’s personified that God’s grace is sufficient.

So, friends, I hope I can trust God like my mom, even when darker days inevitably come.  I hope I can face each day knowing that God has a plan, and that just as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:8-9: “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it [the thorn in his side] away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'”

I hope you believe that God’s grace is sufficient too.  May we never tell God what we cannot do.

With Love,

Kristie