Jackson Five Friday: Call List

Hi Friends,

I’ve had a recurring thought these last few months that maybe my friends in Virginia have a call/text list for me.  It is so encouraging to get a text or call every now and then, just because.  Friends will text me that this or that made them think of me.  But it happens not just once in a great while but pretty consistently.  Could one of them have said, “Hey listen, you know what Kristie is going to need?  She’s going to need to know we still love her, that she is not forgotten, that the Jacksons may not be people we see all the time, but they haven’t fallen off the face of the earth.”  I am kidding about the list.  I don’t know how that would work, and some of these friends aren’t connected by anything other than geographic proximity.  I think these sweet friends are just being sweet friends, without any need for an orchestrating force beyond the faithful promptings of the Holy Spirit.

These dear ones are just being biblical, following Paul’s admonition to “encourage one another and build one another up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11.  But I am so very thankful for their faithfulness — so very thankful.  How are you doing with that little mental list of phone calls you should make, or friends you should check on?  Can I encourage you to send that text or email?  Maybe a handwritten note would be a treasure for that person.  Maybe the sound of your voice would mean the world to them.

This week I heard about two untimely deaths.  One a 45-year-old husband and father.  One a 25-year-old woman.  I knew them both, although not terribly well.  But you don’t need to be close to someone to have the gravity of death hit you with force, especially when that death is sudden and decades or a half-century too early.  Often our culture tries to live in denial that death is even a reality.  I find it horribly sad when empty platitudes –borne out of desperation to feel better in the moment — are all people have to cling to.

But I’m honestly not trying to be a downer.  It’s Friday and I hope it is full of joy for you and yours.  I hope that you know what will happen to you when you die, that you cling to a Risen Savior who loves you, instead of platitudes.  I hope, today, you’ll reach out to someone to build them up and give them an encouraging word.  Just let them know you are thinking of them.  Because one thing in this life is certain: you won’t always have that chance.

With Love,




Jackson Five Friday: 1986

Happy Friday, Friends!

Do you know where you were in August of 1986?  I was getting ready to start high school, which is interesting to remember, given that my oldest son is wrapping up his first week as a high school freshman.  But more than starting high school, August 1986 was magical for an entirely different reason.  On August 19th, 1986 — thirty years ago today — I became an aunt.  My sister gave birth to a huge baby girl with lots of black hair.  Sadly, my mom had injured her back that week and so I moved in with my sister and her husband to help with the new baby.  I was completely nuts about her from those first days.  I remember holding her while she slept, not wanting to put her down.  At fourteen I couldn’t care less about getting stuff done, and I never tired of gazing at and cuddling with Caitlin.

My teenage self recognized this baby as a  blessing, and it wasn’t long before she walked and talked, speaking in full sentences as just a tiny little thing.  Yes, that precocious little girl provided many laughs.  Even still, as much as I loved her those first years, I could never have fathomed the blessing that she’d be in my life.  For thirty years she’s been a light-filled gift, and I can hardly stand the fact that she’s living so far away from me.  To say that I’ve put the hard sell for Tennessee on her new husband is a bit of an understatement.  But truly, I can so picture them here.  In fact, I can pretty much picture Caitlin right by my side wherever I am.  So grateful for the all the times these last thirty years that right by my side is exactly where she’s been.

So on her 30th birthday I am praising God for her life.  What an incredible gift!

Psalm 107:8 says, “Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.”

His unfailing love is always worthy of thanks, and Sweet Caitlin is one of His wonderful deeds!  Who can you give thanks for today?

Have a fabulous weekend!





The Difference of a Year

Hi Friends,

All my boys are at school.  I am home alone.  My bed is made.  The dishwasher is unloaded.  I walked 3.5 miles, I don’t even need to wait till Friday to write!

And it’s pretty tempting to post because it was a year ago today that we came to visit Chattanooga for the first time.  I had been here, very briefly, as a child, and Will had as well, but neither of us had even passed through in the last thirty years.  Earlier in the summer, Will had visited and learned lots of wonderful things about the area, but it is still a surreal experience to touch down and immediately start asking yourself, “Could I live here?”  I mean, I probably do that everywhere I land, but when you are strongly considering uprooting and really doing it, it has a slightly different feel.  Anyway, we landed early evening on a Sunday and flew out Tuesday afternoon.  We never saw the sun; it rained nearly the entire time, often in torrential fashion.  The boys and I spent lots of time with a realtor, seeing many different neighborhoods, including atop two different mountains.  But the one area we did not see was Lookout Mountain.  That first trip I could not have envisioned the walk I just returned from that has expansive views on both edges of the mountain.  I could not fathom the views because with the rain, there were no views.  I did not know Sam would walk home from school or that church and youth group would also be steps away.  It is amazing to stop and think what can change in a year!

I’m usually a terrible phone friend, but I caught up with Caitlin (my niece) this morning for nearly an hour.  Her life too has changed drastically in a year.  It was almost a year ago that we met Cam for the first time.  They’d been dating most of the summer and she’d been telling us all kinds of wonderful things, but we just hadn’t met him yet.  Then we all went to a Nats game and it took maybe an inning to see that Cam was charming and kind, and most importantly, crazy about Caitlin — tomorrow will be their two-month anniversary.  So Caitlin left Northern Virginia too, and the little school where my boys were students.  She is loving married life in NYC, and will be tutoring this fall.

So I don’t know if crazy, huge changes sound terrifying to you, or indeed most welcome.  All I know is that a LOT can happen in a year and that God has a plan for all of it.

“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.”

Jeremiah 29:11-13

May we seek Him and find Him in every season, whether it be a season of change or not.



Jackson Five Friday: Back to Reality 

Hi Friends,

Today is the last day of our vacation and my bones are aching to rest in their own bed.  I feel like I’ve been fueled up, even topped off, with many good things — from solid biblical teaching to amazing sunsets, from solitary walks on an inexplicably empty beach to celebrating my son’s birthday with a festive throng.  But the best thing about this vacation has  been the people. In the last two weeks I’ve spent time with some of my very favorites — my mom, my cousin Cassie, my sister and her husband, my niece Caitlin, my friend Melissa, my beach buddies Kelly and Pearl — it’s been a social extravaganza and more needful than most years. I’ve met so many wonderful people in Tennessee, but deep, abiding friendships do not happen overnight. 

Not long ago a friend from Virginia sent me this link, which is a sermon on friendship by Tim Keller. It’s fabulous and in it Keller says, “It’s your community that shapes you.”  It’s such a simple statement but truly profound at the same time. In large part, you are who you are because of your community.  Grapple with that for a minute.  Is your community edifying?  Adequately challenging? Does your community continually point you to Christ and the truth of His Word?  Does your community encourage you to do ALL things well for His glory? 

I hope you have some incredible friends who faithfully spur you on.  I do, but most of them live hundreds of miles away. This morning I sent a vital email about joining a small group at church.  I know this is what Will and I need.  I am praying that God will provide the perfect group for us to join. 

As summer draws to a close, is there something you need to do to ensure that the community that shapes you is the right one? 

“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.”

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:24-25‬ ‭NIV‬

Thanks for reading and may God bless you and yours with loving, kingdom-minded communities. 



Jackson Five Friday: The Weirdest News Ever

Hi Friends, 

I’ve been in Michigan this week, spending time with my mom. It’s always wonderful to be with her — she is not in the best of health, to say the least, but she remains one of the easiest-going, least-complaining, most grateful souls on earth. If you know and love my mom, I would so appreciate your prayers for her. She asked my boys to pray specifically that she’d just feel well enough to do a little cooking and things around the house. See, even her prayer requests are humble and sweet. 

She actually just downsized and in her new place she has the Game Show Network, and for the first time, a DVR. My boys and mom have rewound many a silly game show moment this week.  I love just listening to the four of them laughing together. 

I had a great laugh this week too, and it wasn’t game show-related.  The boys and I were just arriving back to my mom’s condo and the cable guy, there to relocate her modem, happened to arrive at the same time. My mom and I went back to the bedroom with him to talk through the best placement. Then Sam came in too, almost pale with alarm. 

“Mom,” he said. “I have the weirdest news ever.”

I tried to brush him off, and return my attention to the cable guy. But Sam was not deterred.  “Mom!” Sam persisted. “I opened the mix and it WASN’T mix!”

It’s important to know that Snack Mix, or “mix” as Sam has long called it, is Sam’s favorite food on earth. Cake? Ice cream? Pizza? Reese’s?  Nope. Not even close. According to Sam the tastiest thing in the universe is Cheez-It Snack Mix. And he’s eaten it in mind boggling quantities since the age of two. 

Imagine his despair when he tore open the box, mouth already watering, only to find a bag of pasta instead of his beloved mix! 

I had purchased the box the day before at the Plymouth Kmart, which I am pretty sure I had not entered in over thirty years but smells exactly as it did in the late 70’s. And Sam swears it was sealed as it usually is. I have no idea how it happened, but it sure gave me a good laugh to receive “the weirdest news ever.”

Truly though I hope you and yours know the best news ever. Because life can be aimless without it, sorrow unbearable. When your chest is tight with hurt, and you fight off a deluge of tears, I hope you can cling to the truth that is the best news ever. 

A faultless man volunteered to pay the price for all your wrongdoing. You’ve been pardoned, ransomed even. Your account — and believe me you have one. whether you acknowledge it or not — has been settled. You face no judgement, it’s paid in full, assuming you accept the offer.  And who wouldn’t?  It’d be crazy not to. It may be a little weird, but it’s also the best news ever, ever, ever! 

Praying tonight that I’ll be faithful in sharing the best news ever and that you live by it!

With Love,


Happy Birthday, Sienna!

Greetings from Dayton, Ohio!  Hope you’ve been having a lovely summer. We’ve reached that odd stage when — even though I pretty much wish summer would never end — we would benefit from some outside structure. Of course, it’s all sort of irrelevant now. We are headed to vacation in Michigan (hence the stop in Dayton) and as soon as we get back the boys go straight to school.  It goes faster and faster with each passing year. 

You might be wondering, “Who on earth is Sienna?”  Well, she’s my swagger wagon, my Toyoya Sienna, and yesterday she turned one.  Poor girl wasn’t babied or broken in gently. Oh no. She was brand spanking new with 8 miles on the odometer on July 31. 2015. But I took this pic last night. 

And yes that says 24.328 miles. That’s not just a heck of a lot of miles (a personal record even though I log a lot every year), it’s a great deal of time.  If I averaged 45 mph for all those miles that would be 540 hours spent in the car, or 22.5 solid days. And there’s no way I could average 45 miles per hour.  It’s not terribly infrequent that I get behind someone coming down the mountain who is seriously freaked by the descent and averages about ten miles per hour.  But no matter how the numbers are crunched, suffice it to say that I’ve spent an absurd amount of time in the car this past year. 

From Philadelphia to Palm Beach, from Mackinaw City, Michigan to Sandestin, Florida, Nashville to Fripp Island, South Carolina, from Wilmington, Delaware to Fkorence, Alabama and many points in between, the minivan has faithfully carted us near and far. We’ve listened to many a tune, from practically every genre. I’ve listened to sermon upon sermon and book after book. We’ve shared stories galore and played hours and hours of family feud.  We’ve traveled for pure pleasure, part business, for baseball and basketball tourneys, for a swim meet, a wedding and to relocate.  In sum, sweet Sienna has seen twelve states. 

All those miles have also afforded me time to think too. Time to relive memories and dream big dreams, time to make mental to-do lists and time to think through lots of decisions.

What I haven’t done as much as I should have is pray. Yesterday I was listening to the book on prayer recommended by the pastor I heard earlier that morning (ahh, technology).   The author, E.M. Bounds, said, “The most important lesson we can learn is how to pray.”  I spent a few miles analyzing that strong statement, and I’m not convinced it’s not a tiny bit of an overstatement. But I’ll concede that learning to pray is certainly one of the most important lessons we can learn. 

Jesus was a prayer warrior, frequently retreating by himself for fervent prayer.  That simple fact is mind boggling.  My sinless Savior who was God incarnate needed to pray?  That alone says volumes about my need of it!  Paul wrote we that we should pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17). The darling Mrs. Nunery (my newly married niece) use to keep a prayer list hanging from her rear view mirror. I wonder what she’ll do now as a NYC pedestrian?  But the point is, even though I seriously doubt I’ll rack up 24K miles again this year, I’m still going to drive a fair number, including 180 later this morning. 

So I’ll start today by spending more time praying in the car. If I really believe prayer mysteriously changes the course of the world, and I do, then how cannot I not devote more time to it?

Also I just happened–you know just coincidentally–to pack these books before I headed to church yesterday. 

I mean it’s not like my life is divinely orchestrated or something!  Ha. Right!

Abundant blessings on your last days of summer. May they be full of joy and drenched in prayer.  I plan for mine to be. 

With Love,


“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:18‬ ‭NIV‬‬