Jackson Five Friday: Another Banner Year

Hey Friends,

I don’t know if it’s trending on Twitter exactly, or what the hashtag would be. Maybe #2017sucked or #2018hasgottobebetter, but there’s a viral sentiment that 2017 has been a terrible year. I find this kind of generalization rather revolting. Wearing your ingratitude on your sleeve is cool now.  It’s a thing. 

I’m not saying that 2017 didn’t have some terrible events. It did. In fact, my own beloved mother died. But gratitude is always the answer. 

There’s a lot we can’t control in this world. However, we can decide how we’re going to think, what we are going to put in our minds. Back in the Stone Age of computer programming, I took a course in Basic. We wrote simple programs that stressed the importance of precision. I can hear my professor saying “Trash in, Trash out.”  If you feed the computer a trash program, you are not going to get the intended result. Our minds work exactly the same way. Trash in, trash out. 

Do you consistently feed your mind with things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, and excellent (Philippians 4:8)?  Do you intentionally shift the gaze of your life to Jesus? Is the praise and thanks of your lips incessant (1 Thessalonians 5:18)? Because these are my goals. 

The mommy bloggers who grouse and complain and say “Don’t Carpe Diem” have it wrong. Dead wrong. Give thanks. Fill your mind with beautiful things. Work for justice.  Give generously. Turn your eyes on Jesus. This is the formula for a banner year. Always has been.  Always will be. 

Wishing you a very Happy New Year!

With Love, 


P.S. Today is our anniversary—22 Years! I love my man and am so grateful for him. Will lives out the message of this post on a daily basis. He has an amazingly consistent routine of reading and meditating on Scripture. He keeps a long list of people that he prays for. Every day before he leaves for work, he prays over me. What a tremendous gift to wake up next to him nearly 8,000 times! 

Jackson Five Friday: Crossing the Delaware

Hey Friends,

Hope you are having a wonderful week.  Three days till Christmas — I cannot believe it!  Did you know that George Washington crossed the Delaware on Christmas in 1776?  I’m sure you can probably call up the painting in your mind’s eye.  It sounded like a brutal endeavor, didn’t it?  And the solemn-faced Washington commanding the troops continues to convey to the masses that the crossing was no small feat.

I once referenced the crossing of the Delaware in a tirade with my two older sons.  I am not terribly prone to lecture my boys.  I generally have a high tolerance for noise and nonsense, and am often amused when maybe I shouldn’t be, but even I have limits.  I will throw down a full-on lecture if I have to.  A number of years ago Dub and Nate were playing flag football in Falls Church, Virginia.  It was an unseasonably cold day in October and wonder of wonders, it snowed.  It was the only time in my almost twenty years of living in the DC area that it snowed in October.  It hardly even snows in December, much less October.  But it did.  And you would’ve thought the one hour game was going to wipe out life as we know it.  The complaining and bellyaching started to get on my very last nerve and before I knew what happened, my head popped off completely and I was giving a semi-deranged but very impassioned speech about “surely if Washington could cross the Delaware you can finish this game!”  I don’t remember their reaction.  But I’m pretty sure there was less complaining, and Will and I have had many good laughs about the incident.

But seriously, do you ever worry that we are raising a generation of softies?  My boys work very hard in school, about a hundred times harder than I ever thought of working.  They work hard in sports, and I did have them do some manual labor just today.  But still, neither Dub nor Nate, nor their generation in general, appear to be prepared to cross the Delaware on Christmas for even the best and most just of causes.  God gives us grace when we need it, and not before, and this applies to whatever kind of challenges come our way, but I still want my boys to know the satisfaction of working hard, of going to bed exhausted physically, and yet content with the work accomplished.

Proverbs says, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.”  (6:10). 
In this season of extended vacation, I am hoping that we will strike a balance of not becoming gluttonous sloths, while at the same time celebrating down time and the Birth of Our Savior.  May we savor the moment, and yet be confident that should the need for a Delaware crossing arise, we can do all things through Christ!

Merry Christmas,




Jackson Five Friday: Lunch Date, Finally 

Hi Friends,

Hope you’ve had a peaceful week, fending off the rush and enjoying this beautiful season.  I’ve had a week that’s been mostly too busy but today I had a lovely lunch date that has been long awaited: I took Popeye’s to Sam at school. So it wasn’t the food, but still a joyful milestone of sorts. You see Sam has asked me not to come to school. I’ve offered to bring him a special lunch, cupcakes for his birthday — essentially anything he could dream up. But ever since we’ve lived in Tennessee Sam has consistently acted mortified to see me at school. It was an unexpected development since I volunteered at his old school weekly and he never once acted anything but thrilled to see me. But whatever prompted the utter humiliation, it lasted two full years. Then yesterday Sam said, in a shy and confessional tone, “You know, I would actually really like for you to come have lunch with me.” 

Thankfully, outside of the hallways at school, Sam has never acted embarrassed to have me for a mother.  Instead, he is pretty great about making me feel rather adored. But stil, even though I know he loves me, it did sort of sting to be shunned. But here’s the thing, when he changed his mind I couldn’t march up to that cafeteria fast enough. I love that kid. I delight in seeing him, sharing any meal with him, and learning what lunch is like at his sweet little school. 

I’ve been thinking that this is an imperfect representation of how God loves us. He stands at the door and knocks. But He never barges in. He doesn’t insist on coming to lunch.  Yet He delights in us and loves us with an unquenchable love, whether we acknowledge Him or not. 

If we say, “God, you know, I would actually really like for you to come have lunch with me,” He always, always will.  May I never ever push my Savior, the lover of my soul, away.  

In Revelation, Jesus says: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”‬ (‭3:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬).

Praying that I will have ears to hear Him knocking, and that I will always open the door. 

With Love,


Jackson Five Friday: Advent Traditions

Hey Friends,

What are your favorite Advent traditions?  I’m always on the lookout for new ways to celebrate this beautiful season.  We’ve always enjoyed decorating our house, opening an Advent calendar, and listening to classical Christmas music.  But we’ve also started, in more recent years, to light Advent candles and now Dub and Nate read the Advent devotional that I wrote a few years ago.  When we lived in Virginia we were privileged to have two incredible events at the boys’ school — a night of Lessons and Carols and a mini concert from the President’s Own Marine Band (one of the members also had children who attended the school).  I also love opening Christmas cards and hearing how old friends are doing.  But no matter how much we anticipate the birth of our Savior, and try to appreciate the greatest gift ever given, it never seems like it’s enough.  I want to savor the lights and the beauty and the peace, but always feel like I fall short.

I think that sense that it’s never enough is inevitable.  I can’t, in my fallen state, ever truly appreciate the magnitude of Christ’s birth.  My purpose and destiny are wholly dependent on Him, but my efforts to fully recognize this in my day-to-day, moment-to-moment life are pitifully inadequate.  Still, I believe acknowledging my indebtedness includes fully embracing the gifts of this life, and they are infinite.  Two gifts that I take for granted somewhat less than others are my gift for writing and my appreciation of humor.  I learn so much from the process of writing.  I feel happier and more fulfilled having written.  Much like Eric Liddell’s famous quote from The Chariots of Fire, when I write, I feel God’s pleasure.  And the same is true when I laugh.

For Thanksgiving dinner this year, it was just the five of us, for the first time ever.  I was a little worried about how that would feel.  Dub asked, “Have I ever had a single Thanksgiving without Caitlin (my niece, his cousin)?”  If he has, it was once, more than a decade ago.  We ordered a turkey dinner from a lovely — beyond lovely — Italian market in North Palm Beach.  Then I made a few of our favorite sides.  It turned out to be a delicious, festive, happy Thanksgiving.   And so easy!  I couldn’t help smugly thinking to myself, “Nailed it!”  But, there was one misstep.  The dinner came with a quart — a quart — of cranberry sauce!  It could’ve fed 50 instead of five.  We cracked up about it.  On that Friday, I was reading on the bed and Will came rushing in, poker faced, with the leftover cranberry sauce in hand.

“C’mon, Girl,” he said, shoving a massive spoonful toward me.  “We gotta finish it!”

Yes, we are an easily amused pair!  And that may not seem like an obvious way to celebrate Christmas, but enjoying God’s gifts — using them and relishing each one — is a perfect way to embrace the season.

After all, “All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or the slightest hint of change.” (James 1:17 NET).  May we praise God for the lights, for generous giving, for every perfect gift, and for the fact that there’s never even a hint of change!

With Love,






Jackson Five Friday: Brotherly Love

Hey Friends,

We went to the beach for Thanksgiving, which we have not done since Dub was a newborn.  And I must say, it was spectacular.  We are far more likely to spend the next sixteen straight Thanksgivings at the beach than we are to wait another sixteen years before going back.

We have a longstanding tradition of running the Turkey Trot as a family.   But this year, despite the lovely temps and scenery, Sam could not race.  He dropped a metal grate from a flood drain on his toes on the Sunday before, so he was on injured reserve.  But the rest of us continued on with the tradition, and even entered our race numbers into the raffle giveaways.  In a surprising twist, Dub actually won two tickets to a Marlins spring training game which includes throwing out the first pitch.  Being the sweet, doting big brother that he is, Dub is thrilled to be able to give this fun honor to Sam.  Watching your children love each other well — and by God’s grace I have seen a lot of this lately — is one of life’s greatest gifts.

Jesus talked about the importance of not harboring anger against a brother or a sister.  He said a person who does this will be subject to judgment: “Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court.  And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”  Matthew 5:22.   Raca is a term of disdain.  It would be like telling someone they are worthless or a good-for-nothing.  After a particularly peaceful week together I am so full of gratitude.  Do my guys usually argue about sports without ceasing?  Almost.  And the competitive spirit gets into nearly every facet of life. But last week I was struck by the genuine interest they have for one another, for their mutual love and concern, for the way they crack each other up.  If you have little people who bicker and argue over toys so much that you cry uncle and buy two of everything, I want to encourage you.  I’ve been there.  We have two of every train in the Thomas series, and it was a small price for my own sanity.  But now I seen signs of deep appreciation for each other, and it’s a heartwarming development.

I’m praying today that these brothers will love each other well all their days.  And may we all be more faithful in consistently praying for ALL the relationships which surround us.

Love to you,