Jackson Five Friday: Emotional Support Humans

Friends,

Hope you had a lovely Christmas. Our church service Christmas Eve was one of my all-time favorites. The tradition is for high school seniors to do all the scripture reading on Christmas Eve which is really sweet, especially when you have a senior. Plus, I just loved the message.

And now we are just days away from a whole new decade. The last decade has ushered in all kinds of changes, one being the prevalence of dogs in airports. Have you noticed this? Recently I witnessed something I wish I had a delete button for. The owner was pulling her reluctant stiff-legged dog by the leash, sliding the dog down the terminal hallway. But the dog had decided “now is the time, this is the place.” I averted my eyes but I’m just going to assume that the attractive, well-heeled twenty-something came prepared with a baggie and some means of detoxing. But dogs are everywhere in airports — on leashes, in cages, in strollers, in laps — only a few of which are service animals. Once in a while you see the emotional support animal vest. Of course, the emotional support animal prevalence deserves its own mention. Suddenly, they are ubiquitous.

I can envision having my own emotional support doggy if I ever grow old and am alone. Except my 90-year-old knees and eyes don’t exactly bode well for reaching old age, and when is the last time you saw a six-foot old woman? But here’s the thing: every time I see an emotional support animal I feel like that little vest begs a question. The question is: Where are your emotional support humans? It feels like the need for emotional support animals highlights our failure to love one another well. Can’t we do better? Do we need to start donning little vests that signify, “Emotional Support Human.” The fine print could say, “I will stop and listen to you. I will do my best to help you. I will point you to your Creator and the Lover of your soul.”

Last month I was in Florida. I have moved around a lot in life, but have vacationed on the same little stretch of beach with fair frequency since I was ten. Will and I got engaged there, and many of life’s happiest memories have been made on that sand. Anyway, I was walking along the beach one morning and noticed a crowd gathered. It looked like some kind of a ceremony so I asked a gentleman standing nearby what was going on.

“A turtle is being released,” he said.

I was pumped. All these years of coming to this beach I’d never seen a turtle released. I’ve been to the turtle hospital many, many times. I’ve watched turtles come out of the ocean at night and lay their eggs, but I have not seen a turtle from the hospital released back into the ocean. I walked over and joined the throng. It was 9:45 a.m. and the crowd was already quite large. I stood there for a while, but then I learned that the ceremony didn’t start until 11:00 a.m. I had things to do and couldn’t justify standing there that long.

As I walked away I thought about how you never see a throng like that for a person coming out of rehab. I mean, that’s essentially what it is. The turtle has been rehabbed, and is being released back into the world. If we were emotional support humans maybe we’d line up to celebrate rehab releases. We’d madly cheer and be filled with hope that they would succeed back in the big blue sea of life.

I am praying today that this next decade, the 2020’s, will be filled with clarity of vision to recognize the needs of others, to care about them, and to live aware — as C.S. Lewis said — that we never do meet mere mortals.

Praying too that when humans fail me and you that we will turn to the One who never fails and who always understands.

Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭7:26-28‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Jesus offered himself and is our High Priest. He truly meets our needs and is perfect forever. Amen.

Happy New Year! Happy New Decade too! May it be ten years of loving each other well, emulating the perfect love of Jesus.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: The Right Priority

Hey Friends,

Hope you’ve had a wonderful week. Mine started out with church, teaching our second grade Sunday school class, and a lovely Christmas concert. I was filled up and rested for Monday, but it’s been another hectic week and our Advent calendar has been wholly neglected. The magnetic manger figures hiding behind the dates represent my own lack of quiet contemplation and reflection — gifts available but sadly unopened. I’m not ready for Christmas by any measure, inwardly or outwardly, and now it’s apparent I am just not getting it together like I’d hoped.

Not all is lost. In the last two weeks I’ve spent six days and nights out of town for sporting events. Mid-December seems an odd time to do that, but what a gift that my sons get to make such fun memories, and that I get to be a small part of it. Between trips I tried to strike a balance between the accountability mom and the nurturing mom: “This is the final push of the semester, FOCUS!!” and then a little later, “I baked you cookies.” I am far from the ideal mother or wife. I am a worse friend and sibling. But I know for sure that people are the right priority. Always.

I wish my house was spotless. I wish our gifts were thoughtfully wrapped with ribbons and bows. I wish those cookies that I made were not break and bake. I wish I had read more and prayed more this season. I wish I had watched more Christmas movies. I wish my decorations had a little more oomph to them. I wish I had played more Christmas music and had more well-planned meals. I wish I had Christmas cards ready to mail.

But I’m trying to be grateful that I have at least made lasting memories with my people, and plan to do more of it before we ring in 2020.

I hope you have had a peaceful Advent season thus far, that it has felt slow and contemplative. But I also hope that you have had time to just love on your people.

God has the capacity to love the whole world, but we do not. Instead, we are called to love one another. After all, Jesus says that’s how we’ll be known.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John‬ ‭13:35‬ ‭NIV‬‬

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: It Isn’t Worth It

Hey Friends,

On Wednesday I woke up and did not know where I was. Has that ever happened to you? I didn’t have a drop of alcohol on Tuesday night, and had not run into any pillars lately, but it took me a few seconds to know where I was. Finally, I remembered — a Courtyard Marriott in Atlanta, but that was the third place in three days. On Sunday night Will and I were in Nashville for a concert, on Monday I was at home, and on Tuesday night I was in Atlanta for a swim meet. I hope it’s not an early sign of dementia, but maybe it is.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, as it always is after Thanksgiving. Will bought us tickets to Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God at The Ryman months ago, but as the date approached I considered giving them away. I’m so glad we made the effort to go. Even just one night away with my man is invariably a gift, and we’ve seen Peterson three times now, but he’s so talented, and the show features other incredible musicians as well.

I actually bought three CDs at the concert. Not that I listen to CDs super often, seems almost antiquated, but I figure it’s a good way to support the artists. And as I drove back from the swim meet today I listened to Jess Ray’s Parallels + Meridians. It’s lovely, but one song in particular, one she played on Sunday night, is really worth your time: Humble Heart. Here is a link to the full lyrics, but the line “Because pride, it isn’t worth it” is my favorite.

After my dad died my mom would tell me that in retrospect no argument was worth it. My parents had a wonderful marriage, but the memory of even the infrequent spat made her sad. It made her sad because Jess Ray is right: “Because pride, it isn’t worth it.” It’s not worth it in marriage. It’s not worth it in any relationship. Where can you apply this wisdom from Jess Ray in your life? Where are you letting pride get in the way?

Paul writes so beautifully on the topic:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

May we not keep any record of wrongs. May we be patient and loving in our relationships, and as the Humble Heart song later states, may we cling to the eternal truth that “it’ll all be alright over bread and wine.”

Have a wonderful weekend loving your people!

Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Dappled with Dark

Hey Friends,

A number of years ago I was introduced to the poem, Night’s Lodging, by Luci Shaw. It is a unique and tender take on the birth of Jesus, and I highly recommend it. To describe the night sky, Shaw uses the phrase, “dappled with dark.” I’m not sure if the poet intends for the reader to get caught up on that phrase or not, but I do. It strikes me that more than just the night sky is dappled with dark.

Beautiful and artful Christmas cards have started to arrive, and there is joyful music everywhere you go. But all the lights and the tinsel cannot fully mask that every life is still dappled with dark. In a sense that’s what Christmas is about. No life is free of darkness. No one has mastered sin. We can try with all the focus and good intentions we can muster, but in the end we still need a Savior. We may not have expected Him to be born in a stable to a virgin teen. We may not have envisioned His first visitor to be a shepherd. The story is just not how we would’ve written it. But we are not God, and His ways are above our ways. Thankfully, the story is better than any we could ever dream up and offers hope for the hurting world.

Praying today that we’ll have eyes to see those around us who are suffering, those whose warm smile is an act of the will. I’ve been reminded this week how we cannot know what others are facing. I want to be a listening ear and an attentive friend, but I find myself often making assumptions about people that denies they too are dappled with dark. Why I am so prone to this mistake I do not know, but this season I want to do better. Praying that I’ll enjoy all of the lights but have better perception about the darkness that still pervades our fallen world.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” Isaiah‬ ‭9:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for being the great light and for coming to earth as that tiny helpless baby to save me. Amen

With Love,

Kristie