Jackson Five Friday: Praising Him in the Storm

Hey Friends,

I’m wondering if I should order a stash of earplugs for our house guests. Yes, I live with some crazed sports fans who regularly hoot and holler over televised events, but I’m actually referring to our bird issue. Each morning when I wake up it sounds like my bed has been transported to some kind of arboretum. It’s not a bird or two, it’s a vast chorus of songs. It sounds like an avian competition for the earliest, loudest song in history. I’ve kind of gotten used to it, but I do feel bad for our guests.

This week we had a brief but lovely visit from NoVA friends. The birds were at it early, chirping and singing loud and proud. Then a storm blew in. Even with lightning and booming thunder, they kept at it.

“Mmhh,” I thought to myself, “I’ll praise you in this storm.” A few beats of the Casting Crowns song played in my head, then, hoping my guests weren’t awakened, I rolled over and went back to sleep. But it’s interesting how song lyrics are so deeply imbedded in our minds. It’s a good reminder to me to listen to more Christian music.

Because the song in its entirety is great, but the best part is the refrain that quotes Psalm 121:1-2:

I lift my eyes unto the hills — where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord. The maker of heaven and earth.

I do not know what storms you are facing right now but my prayer is that you’ll lift your eyes up to the hills and know deep in your soul where your help comes from.

With Love,


P.S. On Friday, I looked up to my favorite “hill” and saw the moon setting over it. You see it?

Jackson Five Friday: Stay Humble, or Stumble

Hey Friends,

Do you sometimes feel like the same message just pops up everywhere you go? Lately, the message for me has been about humility. Two Sundays ago we were out of town and visited a church, where the pastor preached from Philippians 2. He used the following quote: “Be humble, or you will stumble.” This morning I tried to get my boys to reason through whether that applied in anyway to the NBA Finals. I asked if maybe the Warriors were particularly proud. What little I know about KD and Curry I like, but I was curious what my boys would say. They were quite emphatic that no team in the NBA is humble.

Yet stumbling — being injured and facing hardship — reliably humbles us. We can’t guarantee another healthy step, or even another breath. Sometimes when life is sailing along, we grow complacent.

Last week we were back home, and our pastor preached on the same exact text. I also just read Philippians in my daily reading. And yet, no matter how many times this bombards me, it never comes easy.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Philippians 2:3

Counting others as more significant is not only counter-cultural, it goes against our nature. Our nature is to look out for our own interests.

Interestingly, the two pastors at these two vastly different churches applied the passage in a similar way.

One said, “You should look at the person next to you, and consider that their interests should come before yours.”

The other said, “How often do you consider yourself the least important person in the room?”

Perhaps the embarrassed humility I feel every time I consider these thoughts, will be a good first step.

Help me Lord Jesus to have even one pure thought or motive. Help me to count those I encounter as more significant than me. Lord, you know my heart. Please let Your love change it.

With Love,


Jackson Five Friday: “It’s Going Down!”

Hey Friends,

Last week, right here on the blog, I resolved not to run around like a chicken this summer. My silly optimism can be so pitiful sometimes. On Thursday night we had a rainy swim meet in Chattanooga, when it finally ended, Dub and I drove to Atlanta for a long-course meet at Georgia Tech. We rolled in about 11pm, but I couldn’t get to sleep because I drank coffee to be alert on the drive.

Then yesterday morning I watched a few of his events, trying to walk the campus a bit in between his races. Then I drove back to our hotel near Suntrust Park to shower, and then to the other end of Atlanta at Georgia State for a basketball tournament Nate was playing in. When Nate finished, he and I sped back to hotel to meet up with the rest of the Jacksons. Then Will, Dub and I went back to to the meet, while Nate and Sam created a basketball game in the hotel pool, inventively using a medicine ball and a hamper. By the time Dub raced in three finals it was much later than I’d hoped. We ended up arriving to the yummy restaurant recommendation from a friend at 8:45p. Not only had I run around like a mad chicken, I’d run around like a mad chicken in Atlanta, which is really taking it up a notch. Oh and it was raining cats and dogs for portions of the day.

I had a headache and may have been just a touch hangry. I’m not sure I fully appreciated the delicious food and lovely conversation. Sadly, I am just too old to run around that much. Near the end of our meal, a grandmother was being guided out of the restaurant by a couple of attentive granddaughters. They had her by the elbow, but the elder was concerned about walking down the ramp adjacent to our booth.

“It’s going down!” she said, in a loud voice. “It’s going DOWN!”

All three of us could not help but pay attention.

After she was out of earshot, my funny husband said, “Was she talking about life? Or just the ramp?”

Because in many respects life is going down. Getting old is not fun. I don’t like looking in the mirror and seeing the stark evidence. I don’t like having inexplicable aches and pains on an almost daily basis. Yet I think it’s lamentable when people live in denial of truth. The ardent search for a fountain of youth is foolish. You are going to die. I’m going to die. Unless, you die early you are going to look and feel old. I strongly prefer the look of a wrinkled old woman than a stretched and puffed one. The latter strikes me as a thousand times sadder. Sure, super-stretched is an absurd look, but it also evidences a disconnect with reality. It’s like they’re wearing propaganda on their face: “It’s not going down!” Sorry, despite the Botox and the fillers and the stretching, it is indeed going down.

Still, there’s something deep in us that wants to reject degeneration and decay. Where did that longing come from? It came from God. He planted the idea of eternity in our hearts. He promises to meet our every need, even the longing to make all things new. But it’s not in this life. In this life we are called to trust God’s plan, “resting on the pillow of God’s sovereignty” (an expression recently used by one of my pastor’s that’s quickly become my new favorite metaphor), and to keep pressing on toward the prize.

Trust. Rest. And press on.

May I do all three of these things much much better in the days to come.

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10 ESV

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14 ESV.

With Love,