Jackson Five Friday: Live Like on Hospice

Friends,

Every summer I take a month off of social media.  I used to do August, but now that I live in a place where school is in full swing by mid-August, July is a better fit for staying out of the loop. And so tonight I will delete Facebook and Instagram from my phone and not check them again until August.  It is amazing how this practice has been a blessing to me.  I feel more present in many ways.  Still, I miss the connection I have with friends, I miss seeing all the fun pictures, I miss blogging, and I miss the security of knowing if something happens to someone I connect with mostly through social media, I’ll know.

Last summer I did not learn of a tragedy until much later.  A beautiful former babysitter of mine, Jessica, died on July 6, 2016.  I felt so sick to hear about it after so much time had passed.  But even though she babysat for us many times, Jessica and I weren’t close enough where anybody would’ve reached out to tell me.  I don’t know if the cause of death was confirmed or not, but it was sudden and details appeared consistent with an accidental overdose, the frequency of which is absolutely terrifying.  I knew her life wasn’t staying course in a way that seemed typical or particularly healthy,  Even five years ago, I saw a few signs that gave me pause and my husband insisted that I tell her that if she ever needed anything to please come to us (he’s the master of crucial conversations — I sheepishly avoid).  And I am grateful that I at least told her, “Listen, if you need anything, you can call me,” but I wish I could’ve done something tangible.  I wish someone could’ve reached her.  It’s an epidemic in our society that I feel like isn’t talked about nearly enough.

It’s interesting how a death, any death, or even the thought of death, can be so grounding; it immediately realigns our priorities.  My mom came home from the hospital on hospice in May and has done remarkably well since then.  She has had many visitors, in addition to her faithful regulars.  I think people must hear the words “hospice” and “Judy” in the same sentence and think that they need to hightail it over there and spend some time with my fun, sweet, faith-filled mom.

On Wednesday I was sitting by the pool catching up with a friend and she asked about my mom.  I told her how well she’s been doing, and how lovely it’s been to have so many friends and relatives come spend time with her.

This friend is an incredibly sweet southern mama and with her angelic, deliberate accent she said, “You know, we should all live like we’re on hospice.”

She’s right.  We do not know our day nor hour.  We should also live like the people we love are on hospice.  It puts so much into perspective.  This life is not all there is.  It is fleeting.  We should make the most of every minute.  Not by living like hedonists, but by loving and forgiving with reckless abandon.

 

As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children—
 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.  

Psalm 103: 13-18

Have a wonderful July living according to these beautiful verses.  And if you need me, please email, text or call me.

With Love,

Kristie

P.S. This is really random, but I’m hoping to return to work in some capacity this fall, so if you know of a position for which I might be a good fit, I’d love to hear about it!

 

 

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