Jackson Five Friday: Holy

Hey Friends,

Today is my birthday and it started out in such a sweet way.  My man woke me up by whispering “Happy Birthday” in my ear.  He read the Bible to me, and prayed over me, we went to the gym together and drank our green smoothies when we got home.  I mean, that’s a pretty perfect start — so what if the card he gave me was actually my Valentine’s Day card (he’d already written them both out and sealed them so there was a 50/50 chance).

But by eight a.m. my day was heading due south.  Sam broke down sobbing (a first) about not wanting to go to school.  He was devastated, saying it was too hard and no fun and “Mom, I’m begging you, begging you so hard, please let me stay home today.  I’ll do hard work.  I’ll work as hard as I can.  Please, Mom!”

This after yesterday having a neck issue at his basketball game and only playing the first few minutes.  For those of you who know him, you’ve probably heard how he pretty much threw up every Wednesday for a season (probably a year) because he had to wear a tie to school that day.  I think part of it is psychological because eating ice seems to cure it, but anyway the kid cannot stand for his neck to be touched by clothing, and the anticipation of having something touch his neck used to set him off.  Sadly, yesterday he was wearing two shirts, both crew-necked but evidently too crew-necked.  Anyway, Sam and I walked home after the game, and he seemed better.  Then on our trip down the mountain to get da brudders the panic about his neck–which makes him gag–returned.  I had to pull over so he could unbuckle and tear his shirt off.  He broke into an unprompted, heartbroken little prayer, “Please God, Please. please don’t let this last long!”

To be honest my thought process went something like this, “C’mon, God!  Really!  How could you NOT answer that prayer!?!?”

I imagine you can relate, but that is not the posture we are to have.  You know why?  Because God is holy.  Holy.  He’s perfect.  I am not.  I am so very flawed.  I love Sam and his brothers with a crazed passion.  I’m obsessed with them.  I want what’s best for them and I’m dedicated to doing whatever I can to make sure they have it.  But I know for a fact that I’d never choose one hard thing for any of them, not one.  And even though I am very flawed, I am not so stupid that it escapes me that never facing hard things would be bad for them, very bad.  Hard things allow us to grow, grow as people of compassion and character, and ideally closer to God.

So after I spent the first forty-five minutes of the school day with Sam, I left him there, heartsick but trusting that he’s in good hands.

At home I’ve had this song on repeat.  On my knees I told God I know He is Holy.  Holy. I hope you will be blessed by this song as well, that you also know that somehow all that matters is that He is holy.

The prophet Isaiah was changed by an encounter with God’s holiness.  This is what he wrote:

I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.  And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
    the whole earth is full of his glory.”

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

May I be similarly changed by reminding myself that “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty,” and despite life’s challenges, “the whole earth is full of His glory.”

With Love,

Kristie

Father Knows Best

Friends,

It’s a foggy morning here in Tennessee and my boys are still sleeping.  Sam’s school is closed today for road conditions, and the big boys’ school starts two hours late.  But birds are chirping cheerfully outside, which always makes me feel like Spring is just around the corner — a wonderful thought.  I’ve never been to Tennessee in the Spring and I am looking forward to taking it all in.

This morning I’ve been thinking about what a gift it is to be a parent.  My life is enriched in millions of ways by my boys; they are a treasure and a delight and yet in other ways very challenging.  The parent-child dynamic can give us tremendous insight into our relationship with God.  If you have more than one child, then you understand that your love isn’t a finite pie that’s divided up among your children.  No, we have enormous capacity to love each child with unquenchable adoration and concern.  How much more then can our omniscient, omnipresent God love each one of us?

Of course there are lots of ways our relationship with our kids can reflect our relationship with our Heavenly Father.  Yesterday school was cancelled and Nate wanted to go to open gym to shoot hoops.  Before we left I walked him over to the French doors that lead to our patio.  I showed him the ice accumulating on the glass-topped table.  I told him many times on the short drive there to be very, very cautious.  I pulled up to the curb, reiterated again to be careful, and I then watched my sweet and usually obedient little twelve year old, briskly walk on the ice-covered sidewalk, then inexplicably “jog” toward the building.  Sure enough, he slipped, legs flying high into the air, and down he crashed directly on his tailbone.

I jumped out of the car, walked carefully on the grass toward Nate, wondering why on earth he just plain ignored by many pleas.  But I bet God often feels a lot like I did in that moment.  My Child, He says, I told you not to do that.  Don’t you see?  I’m not trying to keep you from good things.  I’m trying to protect you from harm.  Don’t you trust me?  Don’t you believe I know what’s best? 

Part of being a child is making and then learning from mistakes, but part of growing up is also recognizing that trusting and obeying a parent is an important aspect of expressing love.

Jesus said,  “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.  My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.  Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” (John 14:23-24).  He’s not exactly being vague.  It’s pretty much a smack down.  If you love God, you will obey Him.  Where in your life does that truth leave a mark?  I think if we are honest, we all have areas where it just plain stings.

In my prayer journal there’s a piece by Elisabeth Elliot which talks about doing what God says.  She imagines a conversation with the  Lord and hearing these words, “Do [what I say] when you understand it; do it when you don’t understand it.  Take what I give you; be willing to not have what I do not give you.  The very relinquishment of this thing that you so urgently desire is a true demonstration of the sincerity of your lifelong prayer: Thy will be done.”

This surrender of what I do not have is apt for me right now.  Because I thought I had this whole transition thing pretty well planned out.  I’d jump with both feet into community.  I’d go to Bible study and have lunch dates and get involved at school.  Instead I’ve been home, from my perspective way too much.  I was home for a month with the big boys.  Then Sam was sick last week (no Bible study or social time for me), and this week he’s had one abbreviated day of school.  I love being with him — he’s the world’s best cuddler and he is such an interesting little conversationalist.  The other day he asked me if you committed a crime but weren’t caught for years and years and years, could you still go to jail.  I’m pretty sure I’ve never had occasion to explain the concept of statute of limitations and when they apply to my older boys, but that’s Sam — a deep, slow processor.  Everyday he asks nuanced questions that reveal just how much he’s been thinking about something.

But still, I’d like to get into a routine, to feel connected in our new place.  It is a challenge for me to trust that being home this much is what’s best for me.  It doesn’t feel like what’s best for me.  But part of loving and obeying God is trusting Him, trusting that this little season, while not like I envisioned it, is what’s best for me.

So I leave you with two questions: (1) Where are you failing to express your love for God in obedience? and (2) Where are you failing to trust God by refusing to relinquish what you do not have?

Because I can promise you, given the limitations and frailty of our fallen little minds, Our Father does know best.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Early Let Us

Friends,

It’s Friday but I’ve almost lost track of days this week since Sam has been home sick since Tuesday.  The doctor said sinus infection but yowza it’s kicked his behind.  Maybe it’s a sinus infection plus a virus of some kind?  It’s a bummer because we were just getting into the swing of things.  On Wednesday I took him with me to pick the boys up from school, and we also grabbed another boy that lives on the mountain.  Although at the time, I was thinking a sinus infection wouldn’t be contagious, I still had Sam sit in front with me so he didn’t breathe on anyone else.  And I cannot convey how thankful I am for this unusual decision, because half way up the mountain Sam demonstrated, rather graphically, that it may not be just a sinus infection.  Either that, or it was rapid onset car sickness.

When I dropped the boy off, I apologized for Sam’s upchucking and said, “Oh, and tell your parents, ‘Happy Anniversary.'”  Yes, we are making fantastic first impressions!

But physical ailments aside, we are still wading in some pretty deep emotional waters.  I think the boys will be just fine, eventually, but if you could pray for them I’d appreciate it.  The boys have mostly positive attitudes, but it’s not easy.  The transition has been less challenging than expected in a few ways, and harder, much harder, in others.  Of course, I’d love it if the boys would recognize that their identities are in Christ, not their position on sports teams or at school.  But they are just kids, kids who derive a lot of pleasure from sports and hanging with friends.

In church on Sunday we sang “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us,” which was actually performed at our wedding by my cousins.  It is such a beautiful old hymn, and has the following refrain, “Blessed Jesus, Blessed Jesus, Early let us turn to thee.  Blessed Jesus, Blessed Jesus, Early let us turn to thee.”

I know God has a plan for us.  Jeremiah 29:11-14a says:

“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.  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. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord.

May I trust the truth of these verses, and my family trust it as well.  May we bless the name of our Lord, and may we live out that sweet old song, by turning to Him EARLY in all our momentary troubles.

With Love,

Kristie

 

A New Year: Counting My Blessings

Happy New Year, Friends!

Today, January 6th, is the first day since November 20th, that I’ve sent all three of my boys to school from my own house.  They had a week off for Thanksgiving, and stayed a week at a friend’s house in Northern Virginia (and I was there too part of the time), and then little Will and Nate had more than a month off in the transition of changing schools.  It was not unlike having a summer vacation, well minus the friends, the warm weather, the activities and the long hours of daylight.  Thankfully we got to spend eight glorious days in Florida, because the lack of structure and community could probably bum anyone out, much less a moody teen and preteen.  But we did it.  Today is like the Jackson New Year!  Everybody is at school, and sweet Sammy even starts basketball today!  I would probably pop open a bottle of prosecco if I wasn’t doing the Whole30 (yes, maybe not the ideal time to give up alcohol and so many fun foods, but what is the ideal time?  And it will likely be the Whole25 since we started on the 4th and my birthday is at the end of the month).  Anyway, what better way to start the year than to specifically count up some of your blessings.  Because I’m sure you know that once you start you can’t really stop (you will never run out of blessings to count), and it does the soul so much good!

  1.  We lived through the exit of our mountain on Christmas Day despite record breaking rainfall.  Scary stuff.
  2. Although Will and Nate’s new school is 15-20 minutes away, my neighbor who teaches there and has a son right between my older two guys, offered to drive them.  I may have been more emphatic in responding to this gentleman’s generous offer than to Will’s marriage proposal.
  3. Even though Will just started a new job, he had the wisdom to tell his employer, “Hey, it’s our 20th anniversary and I’m going to need to take a week off, three and a half weeks in.”  Those may not have been his exact words, but you get the idea.  How fantastic of them to have graciously said, “Why, of course.”
  4. We have so many priceless memories made in our last few weeks in Virginia  These are two of the many sweet pictures I have and treasure from various sendoffs.  It sure is a wonderful feeling to be loved.

    Plus, the last week there the boys essentially had a 6 night/7 day long frat party.  We don’t do sleepovers so the treat of staying with friends who have two boys roughly Will and Nate’s ages was incredible.  So much football, basketball, and laughter.  So little sleep.

  5. I am overwhelmed with pride and gratitude over how little Will fared yesterday at school.  He never wanted to move.  He doesn’t exactly love meeting new people.  Without getting into the details, I saw him in couple of situations yesterday where I knew he wanted to jump right out of his skin, but he played it cool as a cucumber.  We all have to do things we do not want to do.  Seeing my son trying his best when he’d love to just go back to his sweet, tiny little school where he’s been known and loved since kindergarten is something I will never forget.
  6. On a lighter note, I am so grateful that for more than 8 years my boys were in a school that did not require any — and I mean any — school supplies.  Whatever they needed was provided as part of their tuition.  I don’t know if Tennessee just goes ludicrously over-the-top for school supplies, or if this is the norm, but MY WORD.  I had no idea how to be grateful in the moment, but I am now.
  7. Plans for visits from the boys’ friends from Virginia are in the works.  So so grateful we are not being forgotten quite yet
  8. Nate Jackson can be enormously frustrating (his schedule for school sits here beside me on my desk, and I’m 100% certain he needs it), but he is also the easiest person in the world.  I’m about as worried about him as I am of waking up one day and realizing I’m too thin.  Honestly he is so inherently fine that I’m not even sure Nate knows the how it feels to be awkward or intimidated.  He is a simple-pleasured child (over the moon that the Redskins are in the playoffs) with the most contagious laugh ever.  So grateful for him.  May he never change.
  9. I am grateful for a small, friendly community.  We’ve been welcomed with open arms from lovely people.  We’ve been to a cocktail party, a casual pizza dinner at one family’s home, and a huge white elephant party (which really is a fantastic way to get to know people — a white elephant gift is practically like taking a personality test it says so much).  We adore our new church, and our neighbors too.
  10. I’m grateful for lots of time to write.  The move is behind us, and now the boys are in school.  I’m not working anytime soon, and I’m going to power through organizing in the next week or so.  That will, theoretically, leave me gobs of time to write.  I have started a little devotional project — 30 Days of Praying for Your Spouse (catchy title, I know), and may tackle some fiction for the first time in a decade.  Time is a gift — may I use it wisely.

Like anyone, I have so much to be thankful for.  And I am thankful.  But I would still appreciate your prayers over the whole adjustment which despite some tremendous blessings, is just plain not an overnight deal, not even for someone as easy as Nate.

With Love,

Kristie