Jackson Five Friday: Know Your Circle

Hey Friends,

I’m sure there are sometimes strangers who happen to read my blog. Some might even subscribe and read it regularly. I really don’t know. But I do have at least some sense of the traffic, and the vast majority of the readers are friends of mine — people I actually know in the flesh. I have never attempted to monetize the blog or appeal to a large audience. Even the brief interactions I’ve had with readers that were purely digital acquaintances have not been edifying. For thirteen years I’ve used this blog as a devotional (reminders of truth for myself most of all), and also as a way to share and document stories and illustrations. Still, it is a bit ironic for me to write the following: we are not made to live in a social media world.

I’m more convinced of this every day. We don’t have the capacity to carry all those burdens or even to celebrate all those joys. We are made in God’s image, but we do not share His omniscience. Our capacities are limited. We used to just live almost exclusively in tight-knit communities, but now have access to updates on the whole world. With technological advances we can instantly know about injustices or tragedies on every continent. We can know about them but we can’t solve them. And I find myself spending too much time on social media, too much time just knowing. I need to spend more time doing, even if it’s just in my little circle.

How well are you loving your little circle?

Jesus said: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35. Social media can keep us connected and informed, but mostly we need to love one another in the flesh. It’s how we demonstrate we are Jesus’ disciples.

Hope you get to love on your circle this weekend.

With Love,

Kristie

P.S. We give to various ministries and have three Compassion kids. I am not suggesting that we can do nothing about needs and injustices around the world. I am just saying that I need to focus more of my time on my in-the-flesh community.

Jackson Five Friday: Blog Karma

Hey Friends,

I hope you’ve had a great week. Last week on the blog I bemoaned a stressful 10-hour drive home from Florida. I even said next time I’d be flying. Well, next time has already come and gone, but it wasn’t exactly a superior experience.

I have a friend from Chattanooga who is moving to Wyoming next month. I thought it would be nice to spend a couple days at the beach with her before she heads west. We had a lovely time. The weather was fantastic, and the food was yummy. We read, exercised and relaxed. The flights home were uneventful and on-time.

However, getting there involved some bumps. I swung by her house at 11:15a on Sunday. We sailed through security and had no issues on the flight to Atlanta. But the delays began before we ever exited the jetway. Our flight to Palm Beach was delayed for two hours. Oh well, we thought. Now we have time for a leisurely meal at P.F. Changs. After lunch, we sat at the gate, naively optimistic that our troubles were behind us. But weather in Florida was severe, and there were more delays and then our flight was cancelled. I was automatically re-booked on the 10:14p flight, but my sweet friend was re-booked for the next day. Discouraged, we debated just throwing in the towel and taking the shuttle back to Chattanooga, but ultimately we got her a confirmed seat on my flight. Another sit down meal in the airport and a few more hours at the gate and we were ready. Then the 10:14p flight was delayed. Exhausted passengers were laying on the airport floor just like the good old days. After lots of updates from the gate agent, and a stark warning from the pilot that our trip would be rough, we landed in Palm Beach at 2:30a. Do you know what’s hard to get at 2:30a? A ride. No Ubers. No Lyfts. No taxis. No rental cars. We stood on the curb for 45 minutes before we finally landed an Uber. I wanted to hug our driver like you would a solider returning from war: “Thank you for your service!”

Do you believe in karma? I mean it is kind of amusing that I’d complain about my ten-hour car trip, choose to fly, and then have that same trip take more than 17 hours door-to-door. It does have a ring of poetic justice, doesn’t it? But thankfully my worldview is grace-based. I would hate to think that I reside in a universe where I’ll get mine. Because I am under no delusion that I deserve any good thing. I am instead reminded daily that I am loved beyond measure and I constantly see evidence of being rescued and redeemed despite my inherent unworthiness. The bumps in the road, even deep sorrows, can serve as reminders to give thanks. I have never been so grateful for an Uber driver, but there were lots of other reasons to be grateful.

On the beach I read these words from Deuteronomy 18:12: “Rejoice before the Lord in everything you do.” Not some things. Not some of the time. Not when things go as planned. Not when life is marked by smooth sailing. We are called to rejoice in everything. Deuteronomy is not my typical beach read, but I’ve been falling way behind on my Bible reading plan. So you can call it karma that I read those precise words on the beach after that trip, but I call it grace upon grace.

Hope you have a fabulous weekend rejoicing in everything before the Lord.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Answer the Call

Hey Friends,

Hope you have had a wonderful couple of weeks. I wish I could say I missed posting last week because I spent Holy Week in deep contemplation, that my Good Friday was entirely too reverent for blogging. But alas the truth is nothing of the sort. Last week I ran around like a chicken. I spent nine days in Florida and while that was mostly relaxing and restorative, the ten-hour rat race back nullified some of the serenity. The Babylon Bee recently did a bit about a wife holding on for dear life when her husband fails to respond to brake lights…five miles ahead. Sadly this is quite accurate. My husband’s driving has bothered me for more than 30 years now, but the older I get the more I freak out. Needless to say a 700 mile trip is exhausting on many levels for both of us. Yes, we have many laughs and enjoy each other’s company immensely, but I should probably drive the first leg and then drink cocktails the rest of the way. We pulled in late Thursday night after a wild trek through Atlanta, dodging mind-blowing backups by changing interstates and then hopping in the Peach Pass lanes, which late at night look like you are going head-on into oncoming traffic for 10-15 miles. It also whips up and down and around like some kind of roller coaster. When we finally started the last little leg up the mountain we came within inches of hitting a deer. Obviously my next trip will be by air!

But now the boys are back to school and sports, and I’ve had some girlfriend time and a desperately needed lunch-date with my man. I filed our taxes and have mostly caught up with the mail pile. On Wednesday, I opened a note from my first new friend of the pandemic. I guess he must be 94 now. I hate it that his kind note sat there for more than two weeks without being acknowledged. I feel like such a loser when I clean out my fridge and throw away copious amounts of food, but I feel even worse when I fail relationally. Honestly, I drop a lot of balls and the ones with social impact are the most unloving and shameful.

I benefit from reminders to answer texts and to return calls. Sometimes I miss important emails, even from my own husband. I should leave a sticky note on my rear view mirror: do not move this car before you answer at least one text, call or email. Truly I think I’d be a better person if I did this.

But you know Who never leaves you hanging? The Lord God Almighty. It matters not whether your distress is caused by the brokenness of this world or your own sin, He always answers. This week I studied Psalm 107, which is a beautiful reminder that God continually rescues and redeems us. We are never beyond the reach of His steadfast love.

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble and he delivered them from their distress…Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the LORD.

Psalm 107: 13, 43

May I answer communications in a timely way and always know Who I need to communicate with the most. May I cry out to the Lord more than to friends and ever be mindful of His steadfast love. Praying the same for you. Have a fabulous weekend.

Love,

Kristie

P.S. As an aside, you might be wondering after having a vacation (Will was only there for half of it), and lots of time together over the weekend, why would a lunch date be desperately needed? I will tell you that my sweet husband knows when I am discouraged by the world, which since March 2020 has been pretty often actually. He also knows how much my cup is filled by sweet time with him in a restaurant where no one asks me to do anything. If he senses I am discouraged, even a little bit, he will make room for some kind of date. He also likes to put things on the calendar to look forward to. Before the world unraveled, we almost always had some concert or special event secured every few months. This week I sent him dates for an artist we like who is doing backyard concerts this spring. Ten seconds later he called: “Buy those tickets for May.” How do you and your spouse make sure you are spending cup-filling, quantity time? I’m certain you know “quality time” is a concept straight from hell.