Jackson Five Friday: Love the Cowards

Hey Friends,

On road trips, are you an uptight passenger? I’m the worst. This summer I have confidently driven around both South Dakota and Texas. I love exploring the unknown for pure pleasure or for college visits. It’s a gift to spend one-on-one time with our children. And it’s also a gift to drive a rental that requires drivers to be at least 25 years old. At least that’s a gift to me.

However, even a short trip down the mountain in the passenger seat can stress me out. Then, last week, we were all five in the car with Will driving on a unknown street and hit a bump so fast that we were momentarily airborne. We were only on that street because of a missed turn. Hilariously a few hours later, after dinner, Will missed the turn again. Fortunately, the second time around we did not get air. One “Duke Boy” demonstration annually is enough.

It’s torture for my sons to drive, but my eyes are just too dang old to do really long stretches. Sometimes I have to use them, and then my “pro tips” hardly cease.

Set the cruise for 72 and don’t touch it…Well, don’t sit next to this truck…slow down for this curve…get past this nitwit…don’t touch the radio…don’t look at your watch…now it’s sprinkling, 72 is too fast.

I’m insufferable. Thankfully, I have often told my sons we are to love everybody always. Maybe that’s how they stay sane. Maybe in their mind they are just meditating on “Love everybody always,” and that’s how they mostly keep from lashing out at me.

Since fear isn’t necessarily predictable, I have no fear of flying. Other than maybe the first few days of “15 days to slow the spread,” I also have enjoyed a sense of peace about Covid. It’s not that I don’t think I could die on a plane or from Covid — more that I like my chances. If I’m in that statistically unlikely group destined to die, well then “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”

Why can’t I have that peace in the passenger seat? I guess partly it’s that I don’t like my chances as much. The other part is that my sense of control is outsized. It’s almost as if I believe that if I’m behind the wheel I can ensure safety. It’s silly. Downright stupid really.

What’s worse is that I struggle with feelings of disdain for the silliness of others. I need to be more sympathetic for those who are terrified by the media or of cancel mobs, or just of death in general.

The truth is that, in my heart of hearts, I know it is the Lord who orders our steps. It is the Lord who numbers our days. Why I systematically forget when I climb into the passenger seat, I cannot explain. I need, by God’s mercy, to do better. I’ve got to.

Where are you pretending to be in control? How can you live more surrendered?

“A man’s steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way?”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭20:24‬ ‭

Have a wonderful weekend, trusting that our steps are from the Lord.

With Love,


Jackson Five Friday: Rudderless Living, Platinum Edition

Hey Friends,

I hope you’ve had an excellent week. Mine has been full of blessings, one of which is that I had one of the best laughs of my life. Do you have some experiences that just bring a smile to your face every time you think of it? I hope so. Praise God for the life-giving balm of a good laugh.

Since the unraveling world seems to top itself day after day, I think we need to treasure light-hearted joys all the more. Do you wake up each day stunned by the new heights of absurdity reached overnight? Are we living in some weird Truman Show where the producers are betting when we will all cry uncle?

It’s an odd time to be alive. Do you think every generation feels this way? Maybe to some degree, but ours does appear to be a uniquely rudderless era. Moral convictions for many are based on popular opinion. Leaders put a finger to the wind to decide what they think. Focus groups and polls determine policy. Congruence and logic are painfully absent.

I recently read that some now argue — and I’m not making this up —that the Golden Rule should be replaced by the Platinum Rule. Can you guess what it means? I’ll give you a hint: much of Covid hysteria was based on it. That’s right, instead of treating others as you would want to be treated, the platinum rule would require you treat others how they would want to be treated.

It’s pretty amusing to consider the possible conclusions of this flawed logic. If someone wants to be beaten senseless and called names, do I need to comply?

But as insane as our world sometimes feels, at its root, it is the same old story. It’s just the Serpent planting his predictable seeds of doubt: “Did God really say?” His efforts to subtly twist truth are relentless. We should remind ourselves often that we know his tactics. Where in your life do you see truths being twisted?

May we not live rudderless, but confident that our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. May we live knowing that Jesus’ words can guide us each day, and that He spoke with abundant clarity and simplicity about how we are to treat others.

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

With Love,


Jackson Five Friday: “It’s Forbidden”

Hey Friends,

Do you remember the Beauty and the Beast scene where Belle is told by The Beast not to enter the West Wing? “It’s forbidden!” he says, fiercely. Well, I had houseguests a few week ago, guests I’ve been begging to visit me for more than five years now. But somehow, even with lots of notice and a burning to desire to make everything inviting, I somehow had not gotten around to cleaning my room. I spoke as viciously as I could: “It’s forbidden.” I had piled papers and laundry in my bedroom to create the illusion in other places of organized simplicity. Well, kind of. I also had to forbid the laundry room. And I had to explain away the absurdly overbooked shelves. But most of the house was quite presentable.

Since these guests of mine are dearly loved and I knew my disaster area would not actually impact our relationship, I did let them see my room before they left, embarrassing as that was for me. After all, healthy relationships do require being our real selves. My real self is not a great housekeeper, and we’ve never had success with cleaning services. My husband is OCD about his stuff, not because he appears to be impeccably organized, but because in reality he has a precise routine and knows exactly where everything is at all times. I’ve never been able to convince any cleaning service how much I truly mean, “Do not touch this area.” I also equate a good cleaning with perfect floors. Every single time I find stuff on the floor that is missed. So, we’ve tried many times, but having our house cleaned is just not something that works for us. You might think after twenty-five years this means I’ve become an expert cleaner. Nope. Instead I go with “It’s forbidden.”

Of course if you don’t love someone warts and all, then that’s not really love. True love requires acknowledgement of truth and the truth is everyone is heavily warted. Hiding faults only exacerbates the imposter syndrome we all have to one degree or another. Where in your life are you fearful of being exposed as a fraud? Even if you start with a thing as shallow as revealing your domestic disorganization, I encourage you to be real with your friends. Don’t you want to be loved for who you are and not who you aim to project?

On Tuesday I listened to this excellent sermon on friendship. It’s based on Mark 2:1-12, which is the familiar story of the paralyzed man being lowered through the roof by his friends to Jesus. It’s such a beautiful picture of friendship.

One time a girlfriend and I taught that passage to three-year-olds. We built a cardboard house with a flat roof and used playmobil toy people to act out the man being lowered down. It cemented in my mind the loving effort of these good friends, but this sermon drives home the point even better.

The pinnacle of friendship is bringing your friends to Jesus. It almost certainly will not look like a hole in a flat roof, but in what ways are you bringing your friends to Him? How can you acknowledge and thank your friends who have done so for you?

2 Corinthians 2:15a says, “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved…”

May our aromas be sweet and pure like gardenias, ever drawing others to Christ.

With Love,


Jackson Five Friday: Patriot Series, Part IV

Hey Friends,

I hope you’ve had a wonderful week, and have some fun Independence Day plans. We have decided to stay home this year, but that means we can easily watch fireworks blasted off the side of the mountain, which is pretty great.

Did you know that it was actually today, July 2, 1776, that the Continental Congress declared its freedom from Great Britain? Richard Henry Lee wrote the resolution: “That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and Independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown…” The full Declaration of Independence was approved two days later, but the initial freedom vote was today. So let your festivities begin!

Sadly, in 2021 our culture undervalues freedom and consistently fails to consider the alternatives. This chronic willful ignorance of alternatives can be seen everywhere. There are also Americans—many of them—who expect the government to provide for them. When the government provides, the government controls. That is not freedom.

Other Americans are obsessed with wealth. Keeping up with the Joneses is joy-robbing bondage. People who make amassing wealth their goal are not free. People who focus on gaining power over others are not free.

The Founding Fathers had many faults, but it is a mark of silly naïveté to suggest that slavery and racial disparity were or are uniquely American. When we declared our freedom from the Crown, William Wilberforce, the British abolitionist, hadn’t yet become a Christian. In 1785, he gave his life to Christ, and began working with anti-slave-trade activists in 1787. It was 20 years of work, before the Slave Trade Act of 1807 was passed. The gradual abolition of slavery around the world is documented here. But unfortunately racial bias continues to thrive around the world, and there remains pockets of slavery. The fight for universal recognition that every single person is made in the image of God and is worthy of dignity and respect will continue until Jesus returns.

But back to our Founding Fathers, many of whom were Christians. It is heartbreaking and mind boggling that they could fail to see that enslaving fellow human beings was a disgusting and unbiblical practice. Still, I believe every person, while an image-bearer of God, is also steeped in sin at birth and capable of atrocity. I honestly have a hard time relating to people who say, “I could never …”

There’s a dark corner of my heart. There’s a dark corner in yours too. Can we really be sure if we were in a different era and culture that we’d have the same clarity about evil practices we have today? Because it strikes me as a bit pompous and hubristic.

What I know for sure though is that God created us to be free. And as counterintuitive as it may be, the greatest freedom we can taste in this life is to be fully surrendered to Him.

This weekend we’ll fly our American flag on our porch and in our hearts we’ll wave a white flag to the Creator and Lover of our souls. He doesn’t have a dark corner. He doesn’t lie or cheat. He is perfect justice. He never disappoints. I hope you know Him.

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

With Love,