Jackson Five Friday: “That’s Pretty Good”

Hey Friends,

Last week I mentioned that Will and I can get a lot of mileage out of tiny tidbits. For example, a phrase that we work into conversation once or twice a year stems from subtitles at a gym we belonged to in Virginia. It was a typical morning with all the televisions on but mostly ignored by the gym patrons. Some were on ESPN, CNN, and MSNBC. One channel was turned to FOX and what caught Will’s eye was that the subtitle feature just kept saying “That’s pretty good.” It didn’t matter if the topic was a raging wildfire or the price of gas, the subtitle just again repeated, “That’s pretty good.”

I feel like this subtitle glitch kind of paints the picture of my week. “That’s pretty good” has aptly and sincerely applied. I got some pretty good news. The weather has been perfect. I got some de-cluttering done and fixed a window that hasn’t closed properly for years. One afternoon I read a book by the pool, alone. I got to see some old friends from Virginia I’ve been meaning to see since they moved to Alabama last year. We got to catch up and hang out on their boat. I mean, “that’s pretty good,” right?

But on the other hand, our world is unraveling in heartwrenching ways and it almost feels like we’re watching leaders try and say “That’s pretty good.” The truth is it’s awful. The spinning of it all is callous and anything but empathetic. The tension of all of it feels especially tight, and in a sense it is. We can watch live feeds of death, destruction and despair from every corner of earth. We can even watch the moons of Jupiter pass the big red spot in high definition (how I ended up watching that this week I do not know, but it’s pretty amazing). Our capacity to know and to view is almost limitless, but our capacity to process and to do is not. The Bible is clear about our calling to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn” but the smartphone access leaves us all exhausted by the overload. Yesterday was the day I spent boating with friends. I did not know about the tragedy in Kabul until later. On January 6th I went on a jet ski tour with Nate and Sam in the Florida Keys. I missed both events in real time because I was making memories with people I love. Are you getting time away from your phone and constant updates? If your capacity to mourn with those who mourn feels stretched, maybe it’s time to tighten your circle and unplug.

Jesus offered an unusual method for addressing anxiety. Here’s his recommendation: “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!” Luke 12:27-28.

So whether you are in a place where “That’s pretty good” is truly descriptive or is more akin to calloused spinning, we can all benefit from stopping to consider the lilies. When did you last examine the plants and trees that flourish around you? This glory is a reminder that God’s loving attention to the temporary doesn’t compare to the attention He pays to you and to me.

Even in C.S. Lewis’s day, which we might not suspect would feel so overloaded, he wrote, “We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.”

Are you starving for solitude, silence, private, mediation or true friendship? Praying, by God’s abundant grace, you find all of these things in the days ahead.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Ugh

Hey Friends,

I hope you are well. I wrote last week about I had the best summer of my entire life. Well, summer is over. And I’ve had a week of frustrations and disappointments to kick off this next season. Thankfully all my boys are well. I am trusting they will have an excellent school year — that is certainly my prayer. And Will and I had the kind of laugh fest on Wednesday night that results in a sore face. Mostly it was over the most hilarious voicemail I’ve ever received. We played it over and over again. Nate and Sam thought it was funny too, but their interest waned by the fifth or sixth playing. Not us, I don’t even know how many times we listened to it and died laughing all over again. I think our shared ability to get serious mileage out small tidbits is a theme in our marriage, and a saving grace.

It seems like I can be mostly optimistic that the tide is going to turn on the direction of world, but then other times that naive optimism leaves me vulnerable to appalling realities. This week I feel like I’m in some kind of mental boxing match and I can’t get my paws up to protect myself. Plus, lots of dreary weather. That never helps.

But I’ve been thinking about how the Bible never asks us to pretend. The Psalmist pours out sorrows and doubts and desperate pleas with the most raw emotion. There’s no pretending.

When Paul discusses the meat eaters and the veggies-only people in Romans 14, he doesn’t say “Meat eaters, when you are with the vegetarians, pretend you are a vegetarian too.” No, we can accommodate others by forgoing things. Don’t eat steak in front of a vegetarian who’s offended by it. But there’s no need to lie and say you never eat steak. The Bible never recommends pretending; in fact, it condemns it. Ephesians 4:25 says, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”

Sometimes I tell my sons to look at the world through different lenses or questions. God is a God of order, I tell them – Where do you see disorder? God has not given us a spirit of fear – Where do you see fear manifested in our world? God is a God of truth – Where do you see the world asking you to pretend something is true? Sadly, these lenses clarify a great deal about our world today. So much disorder. So much fear. So much pretending. It wears me out.

You are probably worn out too. Praise God that His mercies are new every morning.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Best Summer Ever?

Hey Friends,

I hope you’ve had an excellent summer.

I have visited both Mount Rushmore and the Badlands. I saw the buffalo roam, fed wild donkeys, and watched prairie dogs pop like whack-a-moles. I checked off Nebraska as a new state, and walked over to Iowa — first new state I’ve entered on foot. I rode an electric bike, which felt particularly refreshing since the heat was oppressive and the terrain unexpectedly hilly. I hosted friends from Michigan I’ve known for more than 35 years. I learned to play pickleball and became somewhat obsessed with the mineral water, Topo Chico — something about using a bottle opener on a glass bottle. I visited Austin, Texas and attended a legislative session. My hotel room in Austin had a record player and the lobby an impressive selection of vinyl to borrow from. In Fort Worth I had creamy jalapeño and cilantro soup — game changer. I stayed a couple nights on beautiful Kiawah Island, South Carolina. I sat under the shade of a Shabumi instead of an umbrella. I went deep sea fishing. I snorkeled Alligator Reef in the Keys.

I made ceviche with freshly caught mahi. I dropped my son off for college without shedding a single tear. I got to play with my darling grandniece — we scooped play ice cream for a solid half hour. I pondered that I’ve never met a little boy who would find it entertaining to methodically build a triple scoop and exclaim, “Nice” over and over. I had the queso of Tex-Mex dreams in both Texas and oddly, Kentucky.

This might seem like a random stream of consciousness. But the truth is everything on this list I did for the very first time. Summer 2021 was chock full of brand new experiences. But that’s not at all what made my summer great. The great thing was the people. It’s always the people.

I got to see friends and family that I dearly love, but I also got to spend the sweetest one-on-one time with my guys. It was particularly awesome to make some really fun memories with Nate. As the middle child, he is the one I’ve had all to myself the very least. He and I had some big Texas fun in July, but we also did a couple day trips for college tours. God was so good to give us some hilarious experiences because there’s no one I’d rather laugh with.

Even if you stayed close to home all summer, and didn’t have any out-of-town guests, I hope you’ve had lots of opportunities to love on your people — to enjoy the simplicity of stories told over dinner, or laughs shared amidst games like Scattegories.

C.S. Lewis said, “It is when we are doing things together that friendship springs up — painting, sailing ships, praying, philosophizing, fighting shoulder to shoulder. Friends look in the same direction.”

This cherished season of building many side-by-side memories is coming to a screeching halt. Next week all the boys will be back in school. In some ways, it’s totally time. We are ready. But I still think it’s good to look back and give thanks for all the ways these relationships were bolstered this summer.

After all only two things last forever: people (as Lewis said you’ve never met a mere mortal) and God’s Word.

May knowing this help us rightly order our lives.

“The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” 1 Peter‬ ‭1:24-25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: “Here’s Dugby” AKA “Dud”

Hey Friends,

I hope you’ve had a wonderful week. On Wednesday, I dropped my eldest son off for his sophomore year of college. After Olympic Trials in June, he’s mostly been home, and I will miss him immensely.

My mom used to say that when she had little kids, people told her, “oh wait till they’re teenagers” with a sense of dread.

“I never felt that way,” she said. “I loved the teenage phase.” I’m with her. I’ve loved every phase from infancy to today and can’t believe that my firstborn will cease to be a teen in a couple months. His eagerness to help me has been a constant blessing. When he was six he insisted on pushing and loading the heavy Costco cart. The other day when I asked him to vacuum he immediately stopped what he was doing and did it. Being both helpful and a sweet, fun companion is just part of his identity.

Speaking of his identity, twice it’s been mistaken in ways that I’ll laugh about until I die. Although he is William Jackson III, my mother gave him the nickname “Dub” before we left the hospital. Perhaps predictably this turned into Dubby. Baby Dubby was the sweetest little guy you could imagine and we never ever called him Will or William until he started school.

When he was a toddler we went to a mega church. Hence the nursery workers were almost always strangers. When you checked your child in, you passed them over the half-door, put a name tag on their back, and got matching identity bracelets with a security number. One time when my husband Will had written out the name tag, that first “b” in Dubby evidently looked like a “g.”

When we picked him up after church, he was passed to us back over the door with a Johnny Carson type declaration, “Here’s Dugby!!”

It is no less funny to me today than the moment it happened. Hopefully the second mistaken identity will stay as fresh.

To close out the summer, we spent a few days in Florida. One day we went deep sea fishing. It was just the boat captain, Chris, and the five of us. We caught mahi, and got to snorkel on the way back. It was pretty amazing and different from anything we’ve done before. But the most fabulous part was when Dub reeled in our first catch.

Chris exclaimed, “Well, they may call you ‘Dud’ but you’re not one!”

Can you imagine calling your son “Dud”? Yep, he went to Olympic Trials and is the sweetest, most helpful guy around, but he’s a dud. So, so hilarious!

But you know who is incapable of misunderstanding who you are? Your Heavenly Father. He knit you together in your mother’s womb. He knows you better than you know yourself. He has a specific calling for your life and He loves you beyond measure.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139:1-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

He made you. He loves you. He hems you in.

What more do we need?

With Love,

Kristie