Jackson Five Friday: Adventure Time

Hey Friends,

In 2013 the five of us spent one night at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond. There were a number of things that made that short little trip memorable. I had forgotten my wallet, Nate got sick at a restaurant, and then we happened on one of those cartoons that is not intended for children. It was called Adventure Time. It’s probably a pretty inappropriate show, but the one and only episode we watched was hilarious. Eight years later we still regularly reference one scene from it which involved a character named “Party Pat.”

I hope you have random family experiences that are often remembered. I hope even more that you are taking new adventures.

I witnessed two brave adventurers in the last week.

I was walking on the Riverwalk path and in the distance saw a man running with a woman. From far away it looked like he had her on a leash. I thought, “No, that can’t be right. He can’t have her on a leash.” But he did. You know why? Maybe you are smarter than me and realized immediately why. She was blind. She was probably about sixty years old. She was out running on a hot day. What an adventurer!

Then we were in Nashville for baseball. Accessing the diamond from the parking lot was a little tricky. There were steps and a grassy hill to navigate. We ended up talking to an elderly gentleman escorted by his wife and daughter. He had just had back surgery and shoulder surgery. But he was determined to see his grandson play baseball. He clearly had an adventurous spirit. Do you?

I think the last year has normalized what should not be normal. It should not be normal to try to control how other people live. It should not be normal to consult “experts” about what you should and should not do. It should not be normal to binge on Netflix day after day. It should not be normal to stay home, or to learn via zoom. It should not be normal for people to ask about or even volunteer private health information. It should never be normal to live in fear.

We are all going to die. That fact should make us live more courageously, knowing our time is limited. Yet our toxic culture has attempted to persuade us that we can cheat death by cowering in our homes. Avoid death by not living? The irony!

The truth is every day is an adventure if we have the right mindset. The right mindset is to know that our life is in Christ.

Jesus said, “A thief comes to steal and kill and destroy; But I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10.

The blind runner and the determined fan were living abundantly. It’s inspiring to see what others can overcome. On the other hand, it’s kind of depressing to see what holds some people back. I want to be in the first group, and I have no excuse not to be.

I was reading through some commentary on the abundant life. There are too many facets to unpack here, but this is a good summation.

Life is a matter of degrees. Some have life, but it flickers like a dying candle, and is indistinct as the fire in the smoking flax; others are full of life, and are bright and vehement, like the fire upon the blacksmith’s forge when the bellows are in full blast. Christ has come that his people may have life in all its fullness.

Charles Spurgeon

May we all embrace life in all its fullness and not flicker like dying candles. Have a fabulously abundant weekend!

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Normalcy

Hey Friends,

I hope you’ve had an excellent week. I’m overjoyed by signs of normalcy. Two experiences in particular have made me smile with deep satisfaction these last few days.

Our church is now offering a fully masked service and a mask-optional service. Will and I attended the masked service so that we could teach Sunday school during the mask-optional hour. I’m the kind who rips the mask off the very second I can. I do not take two steps outside with it on.

However, my husband was unintentionally still wearing his mask fifteen full strides from the church door. We passed by a woman on the sidewalk who is in her eighties. We’ve met her, but do not know her well.

“Good morning,” Will said, cheerfully.

The woman’s eyes danced with amusement, and maybe even a hint of disdain. “Look at this guy,” she said, meeting my gaze. She was low key ripping him for wearing a mask. Her lack of fear made my day.

But Wednesday night was even better. We went to a small outdoor concert and nary a trace of fear was in the air. No one mentioned the vaccine or masks or acted nervous in any sense. It was all smiles and pure joy to soak up live music with strangers. Nothing about it felt different than a spring concert in 2019.

The last sixteen months have made me realize I’m pro many things, and anti many things. On some other issues, I just don’t have strong feelings one way or the other. But one aspect has become crystal clear: I’m vehemently anti-fear!

Maybe it’s because the Bible tells me to be. In fact, “fear not” is one of the central teachings of Scripture. A simple online search will yield a plethora of encouraging verses like this one:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
‭‭Joshua‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

But the Bible has a pro side of fear too. It tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. We sometimes trip up on this concept. Yet a lack of reverence and awe for the Person who spoke creation into existence would be idiocy. How could you hope to have wisdom if you couldn’t even get over that tiny hurdle? We fear Him because He is in control and all-powerful. But wisdom convinces us that He loves, that He wants to give us good things, including peace. And we know that perfect love casts out fear. When you take a few minutes to reason through it, you recognize that it’s all a process that begins with fear of the Lord.

How can you apply God’s Word to be strong and courageous in your own life? How can you help those around you to overcome fear?

As Sinclair Ferguson summarized it so beautifully: “There is a fear that can deliver us from all other fears.”

Praying today that you know that fear. Have a fabulous weekend!

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: 10 Months, Trials

Hey Friends,

I hope you were either showered with love and appreciation for Mother’s Day, or did the showering. I had a wonderful weekend, other than missing our firstborn. But we got to have lunch with him yesterday and snag this scenic pic.

I’ve been pondering this season of motherhood when he is away at college. It struck me that it is a lot like the first season of mothering. The growth is so rapid. We brought Baby Dub home — my mother gave him that nickname in the hospital because she so despised my plan of calling him Wills — and right away there were a few bumps. That perfect looking baby with the mop of blonde hair literally started twitching on the ride home. It was disconcerting to say the least, and he continued to do it for months. Even with neurological tests they never figured out why. He also turned highlighter yellow from being so jaundiced. I stupidly thought he might just have my yellow-toned skin. Nope, that wasn’t it.

Yet ten months later he was walking, saying a word or two, and feeding himself cheerios. The rate of growth is mind boggling.

In a not dissimilar way, the last ten-ish months have also been a season of tremendous growth. On August 11th, as he and I rode together to Knoxville, we deleted him from Life360. He wouldn’t have access to my credit card. I wouldn’t have access to his driving speed or whereabouts. And there were bumps. He was quarantined four separate times. The first quarantine was imposed within 24 hours of arrival. He’d worked hard to be in shape for the start of his college swimming career and instead he spent his first ten days of college in his dorm room.

This spring he happened to rub his eyes one time when we were FaceTiming.

“Have you been taking your allergy medicine?” I asked, innocently.

“MOTHER!” he said. I understood. He had this. He grocery shopped and cleaned and studied and missed two weeks of class to travel with the swim team during championship season. In ten short months he learned to juggle it all, and keep his academic scholarship.

Then this morning he swam such a fast 200 freestyle at an Atlanta meet that he qualified to go to the Olympic Trials next month in Omaha.

If I let myself, I could sob just as hard as I did when we dropped him off in August — but these would happy, proud tears, instead of devastated ones grieving the end of a beloved era.

A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?

Proverbs 20:24 NIV

We can try to control our lives or the lives of other people, but the truth is our steps are directed by the Lord. The key is to trust His good, pleasing and perfect plan when you encounter trials like a twitching newborn and when that baby grows up and goes to Olympic Trials.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Dream Killer

Hey Friends,

My youngest son, Sam, turned fourteen in March. Since he has long talked about being a pilot, we decided to give him a “discovery flight” for his birthday. You go up in a small plane with a flight instructor and you get a feel for what it would be like to take lessons. You can even take the controls while you are up there. It sounded fantastic, and I booked it for his birthday. But two sad things happened. First, the weather on his birthday was terrible, so we finally did it just last week, over a month late. The other sad part was that you are allowed to bring a passenger and that passenger was me.

We climbed into the little plane, donned the microphone headsets, buckled up, and then the instructor handed Sam the key. He has never even cranked a car engine, mind you. Our cars are push button, and the golf cart, which he does frequently drive, is electric. I was surprised that the ignition and the primary on/off buttons were on the student side of the plane. The instructor remarked on the length of Sam’s legs, and that he’d need to be mindful to not bump his knees into the flight controls. In addition, the backseat is angled down in such a way that you cannot see over the dashboard. None of this made me feel relaxed. Then we taxied out and took off. The instructor warned us that even though it was a majestic day with a light breeze, that it would be a little choppy. Once airborne we began bumping our way for the city. The plan was to fly over the boys’ school.

We’d only been up there a couple minutes when the instructor handed over the controls. Almost immediately, we angled abruptly to the left. The instructor calmly told Sam that he’d need to keep the plane level using the gauge that depicted the horizon. I wanted to issue a reminder that despite being a good six inches taller than the instructor, Sam is just 14 and had never to my knowledge even flown a plane in a video game. I kept silent though, at least for a few minutes. But my heart was racing and I was making anxious noises like a neurotic old woman. I love roller coasters. I have no fear of heights or of flying. But those facts did not matter when I was up there with my baby boy at the controls. Finally, I did the ruinous thing. Into my microphone I asked the instructor, “Can you please take the controls back now?” After ten days I think Sam has forgiven me for wrecking his birthday present, but I hope I have not killed his dream. I have solemnly promised to never again go on a training flight, and honestly it’s an easy promise to keep.

Last week I wrote about how in my daily devotional from Paul David Tripp I have the simple reminder in all caps that God is my “CREATOR, REDEEMER, COMPANION.” This week when I was flipping through, I saw that I also have more words written underneath: “His grace rescues, empowers, transforms.” That’s a lot of theology in just 8 words. I am so grateful to be able to so easily remind myself of these truths. But the word that stuck out this week was empower.

In Philippians 4, Paul tells us: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” And in John 15, Jesus himself says: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

This same truth is framed more poetically in Psalm 121:1-2

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

All of these verses point to the fact that it is God who empowers. I cannot empower Sam to wake up in the morning, much less to be a pilot. But I can give him opportunities to learn and I can refrain from sabotaging his lesson.

Elizabeth Elliot said a little girl who listened to her radio broadcast wrote to her and said, “You make me brave.” Elliot said it was one of the nicest things she ever heard.

Who are you making brave? Who are you pointing to the One who rescues, empowers and transforms?

With Love,

Kristie

P.S. Happy Mother’s Day to all the sweet mamas I know, and make sure you tell the women who invest in you as a mother-like figure thank you as well.

P.S.S. When we were leaving the little airport, the flight instructor told a very ticked-off Sam, “You did great despite your passenger.”