Jackson Five Friday: Ask It Forward

Hey Friends,

On Wednesday I went to a dinner party with ladies from my church.  I was late, embarrassingly late.  Plus, I am fighting off my first case of poison ivy.  My failure to properly empathize is now apparent.  Golly, it’s really quite unpleasant.  I was pulling weeds with gloves so my hands are fine, but evidently I like to touch my face a lot while weeding.  It’s all around my lips and it hurts to eat and to laugh, not that the frequency of nor enthusiasm for either has diminished.

But I am so grateful that I was craving fellowship enough to overlook my own appearance and tardiness – it was a delicious and delightful evening.  It did my soul so much good.  Sweet stories were told, connections were made, and there were many laughs.

But the best laugh of the night was one I’ve replayed over and over in my mind.

The hostess told a story about Anna Blair, the daughter of one of the guests, Beth.  Anna Blair is now a senior in high school, but when she was in third grade she attended a gathering at the beautiful home of the hostess.  The children were having a fabulous time zip lining across a creek on the property.  But then sweet Anna Blair got stung by a yellow jacket and came running up to the house crying hysterically.

When the hostess tried to console her, Anna Blair looked up, right in the midst of sobbing, and asked, “How’s y’all’s family doing?”

I could picture the scene perfectly and this little one’s unusual response.  How darling!

But the story got even better when Beth explained that she required her three young children to ask at least one question any time they interacted with adults.  In the grocery store, at the park, anywhere they came into contact with an adult, they couldn’t just sit there passively.  Beth taught them to take the initiative to ask at least one question.  Is that the most brilliant parenting tip you’ve ever heard?

Anna Blair was rightfully devastated to have her zip-lining fun cut short by a painful sting, but that didn’t stop her from trying to do as her wise mama taught her.  She bravely sniffed and took the focus off herself: “How’s y’all’s family doing?”

Of course, it’s not merely about being a good conversationalist, Anna Blair and her siblings were implicitly taught the truth of Scripture.  Philippians 2:3-4 says, ”Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

May we emulate this precious little girl by taking the focus off ourselves – even in the midst of pain – and instead willfully and thoughtfully engage those around us.  May we teach our children to pay attention, to look others in the eye, and to ask questions.  May we be willing, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to set aside our own interests and put others first.  What a world-changing concept!

With Love,



Jackson Five Friday: Standing

Hey Friends,

I had a friend start law school this week.  In fact, he is a student at my alma mater George Mason.  Soon he will learn the legal definition of “standing” if he doesn’t know it already, which he probably does because he’s a pretty smart guy.  But anyway the general concept is this:  in order to bring a lawsuit, you need to be the one aggrieved. There’s no vicarious suing.  Even when class action suits are brought, you have to round up the real people who were harmed.

I’ve been thinking this week about standing more generally.  I don’t have standing to weigh in on race relations because I’ve not been aggrieved.  On the other hand, Will and I have given to organizations that specifically aim to address the imbalance of privilege.  I’d be curious to know how many of the vast number of opinions I’ve read and heard over the last week have been coupled with investment of time or money.  Talk may be better than silence, but talk is still cheap.  Do something.  Here are two organizations Will and I believe are making a difference: Hope for the Inner City and By the Hand.  Chattanooga and Chicago may not be areas that you want to invest in.  Find something local.  Spend some time researching and find out who is doing the best work. 1 John 3:18 says: “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”  Praying that I will more fully live out this important truth and that all followers of Christ will love with actions and in truth.

But there’s another aspect of standing and this is the best news ever.  Guess who has standing to go before the One True King?  I do.  I am a sinner.  I can’t go more than a few minutes without messing up.  But the Creator of the Universe loves me with an unquenchable love.  I did not earn this standing.  I have neither been aggrieved, nor have I given to His work and therefore secured such right.  No, Jesus paid the price for all my sins and invites me into His presence.  The terrible thing is that sometimes He stands at the door and knocks and I fail to answer.  Praying tonight that I will answer, that the United States will answer, that the world will answer, and that YOU will answer.

With Love,


Jackson Five Friday: Honeycomb Spheres

Happy Friday, Friends!

For the twelvth summer since 2004, my family spent a week at Maranatha – a modest yet delightful Bible camp that sits directly on Lake Michigan.  You can see from the two pictures above that this is an incredibly beautiful spot.  The weather is so perfect that half the time you can relax on the beach without breaking a sweat, other days a quick dip in the cold lake is required.  But even more restorative than lounging on this peaceful beach, is sitting under godly teaching all week.  There are no televisions in the rooms and cell coverage is spotty.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.

There were two main themes that emerged from our week.  The first was the Lordship and diety of Christ, maybe I’ll flesh that out next week, because the teaching was spectacular and it’s a been a long-time favorite topic of mine anyway.  But the second theme was about influence.  Bill Crowder, one of the two speakers, devoted a morning to it, but it was also prominent from the very first night.

Each week kicks off on a Saturday night with a concert.  Our week was Andrew Peterson.  If I knew that when I made our reservation in August of 2016, I had forgotten.  Will walked over for the start of the concert, but I had stayed a little while longer with my mom so I was still driving across the state.  When I was maybe thirty minutes away, Will texted me from the concert, “This guy wrote your What the Promise is For song.”  I couldn’t get there fast enough.

The song from 2010 which Will was referencing is called Dancing in the Minefields and commemorates Peterson’s fifteen years of marriage.  The refrain “that’s what the promise is for” is talking about when marriage is hard: that’s what the promise is for.  I love that song.  I played it for Will on our 20th anniversary even though I thought he’d probably say something like, “Yeah, it’s ok.”  And that’s exactly what he did.  Of course, hearing it live gave him a fuller appreciation.  He’s now a fan of the Peterson and the song.

When I finally made it to the concert, it was already half over.  But by God’s abundant grace, I was there for the most important part.  Andrew Peterson’s Doxology closes each night of services at Maranatha, and has for probably the last eight or so years.  The words are from Romans 11, but the music was written by Peterson and only recorded as a bootleg version.  Years ago I tried to find a copy.  I loved singing it at Maranatha, but I wasn’t satisfied with only singing it one or two weeks a yeaer.  It wasn’t on iTunes, Peterson’s website or anywhere else.  Of course, I hadn’t tried tracking the song down in a few years so I couldn’t have predicted the story Peterson was about to tell.

Before singing the song, Peterson explained that when he had given a concert at Maranatha in 2012, he had one of the most moving experiences he’s ever had as a performer.  He said he’d written Doxology ten years before and had almost forgotten about it.  It never made it onto an album, so very few people had ever heard it.  One person who had heard it was the worship leader at Maranatha, a talented muscian named Charlie.   Charlie was the one who had started the tradition of closing each night of services with the beautiful, little-known modern hymn.

When Peterson performed Doxology at Maranatha in 2012, having nearly forgotten the song existed, he was joined by 600 voices that knew the song like the back of their hands.  Is that the coolest thing?  You can imagine how emotionally gripping that must have been for Peterson!  It also prompted him to officially record the song, so you can now find it on iTunes as Romans 11 (Doxology)!

But here’s the point: only God knows the impact your words and actions are having.  Every single person has a sphere of influence, big or small, and we should take seriously that we are bringing people closer to Christ or pushing them away every minute of every day.  Sometimes you will see the fruit of your endeavors a la Peterson, but most of the time you won’t.  Still, this world needs the love of Christ and disciples who consistently point others to Him.

Bill Crowder told a tear-jerker of a story about when he fell off a thirty-foot high bridge as a young, man.  He inexplicably survived and while he was in traction, a woman he did not know told him, “God has a plan for your life.”  Kind, encouraging words from a total stranger can change the course of history, and for Crowder they did just that. 

Proverbs says, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”  (16:24 ESV).  Praying this morning that my sphere of influence will be like a honeycomb, full or gracious words that both provide sweetness and faithfully point to Christ.

With Love,



Jackson Five Friday: Generational Poetry Slam

Hi Friends,

Last week the boys and I were in the middle of spending a few days with my mom.  Nate had just gotten over strep throat, and so I made the boys keep their distance from Gramma who cannot be exposed to extra germs in her compromised state.  But my sweet mom could hardly stand it.  She instituted handshakes with them just so she could feel their soft warm skin.  This didn’t strike me as the best idea from a germ perspective, yet I knew their sweet, loving touch was meaningful to her.

The new handshake ritual with Sam is two handed, lasts more than just a few seconds, and involves vigorous shaking and much laughter.  When they wrapped up one round of handshaking I said, “Sam, why don’t you recite a poem for Gramma.”  In fourth grade, Sam memorized a poem each month and his ability to recite them, even months later, is pretty impressive.  He started with Shel Silverstein’s, Sick, but quickly got distracted.

Then my mom said, “You know, right after Daddy died,” referring to my dad who passed away in November of 1999, “I wrote a poem.”

“You did?” I said, surprised that this was the first I was hearing of it.  “Well, where is it?”

“It’s in my head,” she said.  And then without reservation, with the four of us sitting in stunned silence, she recited all of the following poem:

Enough Love for a Lifetime

By Judith M. Huber

When first you said you loved me and vowed that you’d be true

You promised me a lifetime of love, if I’d only follow you

So I placed my hand in yours and trusted that you’d be

Everything you promised and you’ve surely given me

Enough love for a lifetime, enough to see me through

Enough love for a lifetime, that’s why I followed you

You gave me precious babies I could cuddle and adore

And days so filled with happiness, I couldn’t ask for more

Our lives were filled with laughter, adventures bright and new

And through it all I’m thankful, I chose to follow you

Then one day God called you home, and I was left on earth alone

How could I be without you? The one that I adore

I followed in your footsteps for 40 years and more

I felt the awful sadness was more than I could bear

Then I remembered what you promised, your love, it still was there

Enough love for a lifetime

Enough to see me through

Enough love for a lifetime

Till I can follow you.


It helps to know that my mom was seventeen when she married my dad, who was twenty-six.  They were next door neighbors in Plymouth, Michigan but when they married, my dad was a busy engineer and fighter pilot living in Syracuse, New York.  She bravely followed him, child as she was, what probably felt like halfway around the world.  Four kids and forty years of love and adventure was the result.

A little while later, it was just me and my mom.  “I wrote a poem too, just a couple weeks ago,” I said.

“Well, let’s hear it,” she said.

I grabbed my computer and read her my poem inspired by this sunrise in Juno Beach, Florida on July 8, 2017.

Accidental Glory

by Kristie E. Jackson

Gleaming beams of pink color the water

Accidental Glory?

A stupefying story

Denying truth makes it no less true

But living lies makes you less you

The heavens declare it day after day

In your heart you know

Signs woven high and low

Denying truth makes it no less true

But living lies makes you less you

The knock at the door may go unanswered

Ears may numb to the persistent sound

Still, Love never ceases to abound

Denying truth makes it no less true

But living lies makes you less you

Standing before Him, the aim of the proud

Fierce is the fight and rejecting aloud

Yet, bent is every knee in the crowd

Denying truth makes it no less true

But living lies makes you less you


I don’t know if you are likely to have a three-generation-spanning poetry slam anytime soon, but I hope you are vulnerable with others you love.  After all, Romans 12:6 says, “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.”

Are you using your gifts for God’s glory?  Do you live your life knowing that the ultimate goal is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever?  I hope so.

With Love,