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,


3 thoughts on “Jackson Five Friday: Best Summer Ever?

  1. Mary Gearhart says:

    So nice you’ve had such a well-traveled summer with your guys! Appreciate your grateful heart and intentional parenting. You always make me smile, Kristie.

    Our summer has been more full of people, than travel, though we made it to our oldest grandson’s graduation in SC and enjoyed some respite at our beloved Lake Michigan in a quaint B&B to celebrate our 70th birthdays (2 years apart).

    Our youngest grandson was our most recent visitor. He turns two next month. His good nature and wordless communication kept us in laughter and wonder all three days. We didn’t tell his parents, but he hardly noticed their absence. Grands are so much fun.

    Early spring my MIL’s dementia took a nosedive. She spent the night with us hours after her neighbor alerted us to problems. Hallucinations kept her from returning home. After 6 weeks, we knew we couldn’t provide the around the clock care she needs. Doc thinks it’s Sundowner’s. Now that she is in memory care, emptying her condo has been somewhat a full-time venture. So much stuff. So many memories.

    Though if feels like we are erasing Mom’s life preparing for an estate sale we know her possessions were not her. We can’t erase her loving imprint on our lives. As the sole survivor of her family, the poor woman assimilated the possessions of a single aunt, her sister with no children and her own parents. And she did it with grace, mostly alone, Dad left us in 1992.

    As a child of the Depression, she threw little away. Decades of bills, cards & letters were tucked back inside their envelopes. As I made the trip to her hometown to donate her wedding clothes to its museum I wondered what her world was like when she wed her wartime sweetheart in 1947. She often mentioned the changes in her nine decades.

    I woke early today, 3:00 am, my brain in overdrive. Isaac Watts’ hymn came to mind when I couldn’t sleep. “Time, like an ever-rolling stream bears all its sons away. They fly forgotten as a dream dies at the opening day.” So glad he went on to write “O God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, be thou our guide while life shall last, and our eternal home.”

    Don’t know why I’m sharing this, Kristie. Just felt the need to write in this morning dark. Perhaps now that your summer of travel is done, you have time to read some rambling thoughts from your Mom’s cousin.

    I enjoy hearing about your world. Always refreshing. Challenging. Thank you for opening your heart to others. I appreciate your fresh perspectives.

    • Mary, so grateful to read these sweet words again this morning and to realize that I never even responded. Although the boys are all still just teenagers — oldest turns 20 next month — I am already looking forward to the “laughter and wonder” that you so aptly describe. The mere anticipation of one day holding my grand baby gives me joy! And I am sorry to hear about your MIL. You sound like such a loving and attentive daughter to her. Yes, things are just things but prompt so many memories. I hope your job (a big one) of going through her many things allows for time to enjoy the most meaningful tidbits. And I love that hymn. Hope our paths cross again before our eternal home. Love to YOU!

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