Jackson Five Friday: The Anger Epidemic

Hey Friends,

Is it just me or is the world just getting angrier and angrier with each passing day? I’ve been thinking about this. Where does the anger come from? Is it from unmet expectations? Is it focusing too much on how we’ve been aggrieved? Is anger contagious, like it’s just being passed around again and again like a bad cold? Or is it we somehow have come to believe that people are superhuman — that they won’t let us down?

Surely there are many factors, but I think there are some basic truths that should help us fend off the nastiness.

Here are two:

  1. We are ALL sinners. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” When you angrily look down on someone, giving them grace is not really an option. But “a person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11).
  2. This life isn’t all there is. Justice and mercy met on the cross. The assurance of the Christian is that justice will be done. Have you been wronged? Take heart, Jesus has overcome the world, and eternal justice awaits. Of course we should be instruments of His grace and peace, and we should seek justice in this world. Justice for all should be continuously sought. However, if you are determined to be angry unless perfect justice is attained, then you are going to live a bitter existence.

Ann Voskamp said, “Anger is the lid that suffocates joy.” I want to rid my life of all such lids, don’t you? I want to live with a heart of gratitude, joyfully celebrating small victories, and trusting wholly that God has it all figured out. I need to be clay in His hands, willing always to play my part but never suckered into thinking I could ever figure it all out.

So Happy Friday friends! Praise God that the weight of straightening out the world does not rest on your shoulders or mine. May we be malleable in God’s infinitely wise hands and confident that He will guide us to just the right role in His redemptive plan.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Endless Wonders

Hey Friends,

When was the last time you were nearly undone by the beauty of creation? Do you know right where you were? Can you pull the image up in your mind’s eye? Maybe you even have a picture that falls far short of doing justice to the moment. Do you remember how you felt? Perhaps you felt humble, but not alone, awestruck but not anxious. Because something about beholding glory makes me feel fully alive and wholly content.

One night this summer I was with my family in Northern Michigan. We had dinner and watched the sunset, which is where I snapped the picture above. But then, since we had heard that there would be a vivid meteor shower, we laid on those lounge chairs on the edge of Lake Michigan, chatting until the sky turned dark. The boys were jumping between stargazing and teasing each other, but Will and I both had our eyes glued to the sky when a humongous meteor streaked by.

“Oh my gosh!! Did you see that!” we both yelled out.

I had never in my entire life seen anything even close to it. It was unreal. And all three of our sons had missed it!

A few months ago I read this devotional by one of my favorite writers. In it the author makes the point that when Jesus said “consider the lilies” as part of His instruction on not worrying, it’s not merely a comparison. Jesus is not just saying, “Listen, the flowers don’t worry, you don’t need to either.” Instead Jesus is saying, literally, consider the lilies, this is what you need to do; taking time to truly appreciate the lilies, this will help you.

But maybe it’s even more universal. Maybe taking time to consider whatever the wonder of the moment is will be a blessing. I looked up the origin of the word “consider.” Evidently, “consider” comes from the Latin “contemplate” and a literal translation is “to observe the stars.” When my family was hanging together on the shore of Lake Michigan staring up at the stars, contemplating the wonder of a meteor shower, especially that one unreal streak, the least descriptive word for my state-of-mind would be worried. Do you think that’s a coincidence? I don’t.

G.K. Chesterton said, “The world will never starve for want of wonders, but only for want of wonder.” Combine that with Jesus’ message in Matthew 6:28-34 and it’s abundantly clear what we need to do.

And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

We need to behold the wonder of creation, stop fretting and live in the moment.

Praying that you and I will both do exactly that this weekend!

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Laughs Needed?

Friends,

Hope you are well and not too terribly discouraged about the rapid dissolution of civil society.  Of course you will be if your identity is found in politics or victimhood or success, or anything at all apart from Christ.  If this life is all there is then surely the weight of its undoing is heavy indeed.  But as for me, I find comfort in knowing that this is NOT all there is, that my Savior loves me and has a plan for me, and I do not need to flail about fretting over every little thing.  In fact, for the last eight or so months, a verse that has been on repeat in my mind is this: “Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.” (Psalm 37:8).  I need to remind myself daily to embrace the peace of Christ and observe just how often fretting leads to evil.  Surely I’ve read Psalm 37 before but it has taken a tough 2018 for it to sink in.

One hard thing this year, that I blame squarely on the stress of the other hard things, was having a detached retina this summer.  It is alarming to have your field of vision begin to close, almost like a shade is slowly being pulled over your eye.  But more than the surgery, more than the vision loss, the thing that really freaked me out was being told that I had to lie face-down for six days.  I would be able to get up and use the bathroom, but I would need to keep my head down.  No upright position for six days.  The doctor stressed that re-detachment was not uncommon and that keeping my head down was imperative. Stunned, I asked if being comatose for those six days was an option, but it wasn’t.  In retrospect, it doesn’t sound so horrible.  But on the front end I felt like I just could NOT do it.

You are probably wondering if I’m ever going to get to anything funny.  Surely a detached retina is far from being inherently hilarious.  Lying face down for 144 hours doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs either.  Ah, but you doubt the goodness of my God.

He gave me something hysterical to delight over.  I cannot tell you how much of that face-down time I spent laughing.  The thought of it still brings a smile to my face.

So here’s how it all began.  Sweet friends delivered and set up their massage table while I was still in surgery.  When I got home I was able to lie face down and breathe comfortably through the u-shaped head rest.  My eye was covered with a plastic shield and tape, but every few hours we had to untape it to put drops in.  The taping and untaping tore up the thin skin under my eye in no time.  A bloody, inflamed eyeball with two sets of visible stitches topped off with a translucent bubble proved to be a really great look! Then the pitiful skin around my eye began to look ninety and angry. Poor Sammy would lay down on the floor to look up and talk to me through the hole in the massage table. But he was horrified by how I looked. I tried scooting my face over so he could only see my good eye. But even my good eye puffed up from being in that position so long.

Within the first twenty-four hours I noticed a little crack on the pleather of the massage table.  Dub had been there when it was set up, so I asked him, horrified, “Dub was this crack there before?”

“I don’t think so,” he said.

Then a little while later I woke up and peeled my face off the table.  Some of the table came with me!  Right then a friend delivered some soup and I tried to brush off the black debris imbedded in my sticky, irritated skin, but there was too much.  I had to accept the delivery with the speckling of pleather still there.

Pretty soon there were many cracks and the black dust like substance from the table was getting everywhere.  I even worried it would get in my eye. I’d shake out the sheet I was lying on, but a little while later it would be riddled with table soot again.

By Day 3 the previously pristine table was utterly destroyed!

How incredibly embarrassing!  I laid there laughing a bit to myself, but then with nothing but time on my hands, I started texting pics to family.

Then I started envisioning letting the thoughtful, unsuspecting owners pick up the table with no explanation whatsoever. “Thanks so much,” I’d say. Their faces filled with shock and awe.

It looks as if I turned cat-like and used it as a scratching post. The idea that simply lying on the table could wreak such destruction seems impossible.

I mean, look at it! Is it not hilarious?

The thing is this is not at all uncommon. Even in hard moments, if you have an eternal perspective, there are often some humorous nuggets. Mr. Rogers is often quoted as saying, when scary things happen, “Look for the helpers.” It’s great advice. Relatedly, when you’re in the midst of something hard, be on the lookout for the hilarious elements. My life has been a testament to the truth that some of life’s very best laughs are in the midst of the darkest hours.

Last week marked the one year anniversary of my mom’s passing. Even in her last couple days, my mom and I shared numerous soul-sustaining laughs.

Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything — a time to laugh, as well as a time to cry — don’t doubt that the two can overlap. I can tell you that laughing while prostrate makes the hours pass much more quickly than Netflix or solitaire!

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”

‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1,4 NIV‬‬

Praying for some good laughs and maybe even some dancing for YOU this weekend!

Love,

Kristie