Jackson Five Friday: Two Rules

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Friends,

The picture above is one I snapped this morning from the passenger seat while my son did a practice run drive to school.  In a stunning and inexplicable turn of events he turns 16 on Sunday.  When you have a child who looked five when he was two and has towered over me for years, you’d think maybe I’d have seen this day coming.  But it feels like yesterday that I couldn’t bring myself to correct him when he called all animals “doggy.”  It was just so funny when he pointed to the bird in the sky, the fish in tank, and the squirrel scrambling up a tree — all were “Doggy!”  Doggies everywhere has given me more than a decade of laughs.  That beautiful boy is now a 6’5″ inch man with the same exact face and same sweet spirit, and can legally drive next week.

I did eventually, begrudgingly, teach him a few proper animal names, and I’ve tried to teach him some other useful stuff along the way.  But the very most important thing I could ever, ever teach him is that Jesus is the answer.  Nothing could ever be in the same universe of importance, obviously.  But, I do think it is of great value to learn to laugh at yourself too.

Rule #1  Jesus is the Answer

It doesn’t matter what problem you point to in this world, Jesus has and is the answer.  Facing something hard? Read the Gospels.  Be humbled by what Jesus did for you and embrace the forgiveness Jesus offers.  The one who has been forgiven, loves.  The one who loves, obeys.  It’s really that simple.  No one is beyond redemption!  No problem could ever be as big as He is.  Trust Him.  Listen to Him.  Do what He says.  Jesus is always the answer.

Rule #2  Never Lose Your Sense of Humor

My mom embodied this truth so well.  She made very funny observations and enjoyed funny stories even just hours before she died.  So I am confident that she’d think it was highly amusing that I fell in her grave.  Yes, unbelievably that is a true statement.

This is how it happened.  We had a lovely visitation at the funeral home on Sunday night.  Then Monday was the funeral, and the service was perfect.  Then we went to the cemetery and had a very brief ceremony, followed by a child and grandchild-only final few moments next to my mom.  We chose not to be there for the actual internment.  Understandably, Sam (10), had quite a few questions, having never been to a funeral.  He asked, “Now, where will she be buried?”

The grave itself was just steps away.  It had been dug and covered with plywood-type panels of wood.  I took Sam’s hand and led him closer.  I pointed to my brother Craig’s grave, “See, that is where Uncle Craig is buried.  And here,” I said, using my best flight attendant aisle-way motion, “is where my dad is buried.”

Before I could finish my explanation, about my mom being buried between them, the ground beneath my feet began to give way.  I promise I wasn’t even that close to the edge!  I mean, truly, I was at least a foot away from the plywood.  But down I went!  Before I knew it the whole right side of my body was in the grave.  I do not know if angels had me on a harness and yanked me up, or if adrenaline kicked in and I was momentarily Wonder Woman, or what.  But in 0.18 seconds I got myself — seemingly unassisted — out of that grave.

People rushed over to help brush the dirt off and make sure I was alright.  I’m the least flexible person in the world.  I don’t know how I managed to do it totally unscathed.  It seems like at the very least I would’ve dislocated something.  But amazingly, by God’s grace, I was fine.

A little later, my cousin, Stephen, made two perfect observations: (1) Craig may have never stopped laughing had he witnessed it; and (2) It’s unreal that I did not lose my right shoe (which was a black, three-inch high, patent-leather pump).  The amount of dirt I poured out of it was stunning.  And what would I have done had it come off?  I guess leave it, but I’m glad I didn’t have to explain why I only had one shoe.  God glued it to my foot even with a pound or more of dirt inside it.

Of course, I’ve cracked up many times reliving this moment already.  Have you ever heard of anything like it in your entire life?  It’s really pretty hilarious!

Praise God that Solomon was right, there really is a time for everything under the sun.  Praise Him too that the time to to laugh and the time to mourn can be surprisingly close together.

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

     a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
     a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,

  Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

With Love,

Kristie

 

 

Jackson Five Friday: Concert Going 

Hey Friends, 

First of all, I appreciate the continued outpouring of love and support in response to my mom’s passing two weeks ago.  I will never get over the urge to call her and give her the full lowdown.  When I’ve been with Will and the boys it has struck me that I really don’t need my phone.  Now, there is no one that I check in with daily.  

And I’ve been blessed by specific conversations that pay tribute to my mom. My cousin called me yesterday and told me about how a decision she made that morning was inspired by my mom. And I love seeing traces of my mom in my boys. My eldest shares my mom’s preferences for many things from the spicy chicken nuggets at Wendy’s to politics to worship format.  He can sound just like her about a topic I know they never actually discussed. 

This past Sunday we were in Florida and visited a church very different from our own. At our church we sing from hymnals and the acoustics of our beautiful sanctuary are astounding.  Although my mom was never well enough to visit, I know she would’ve been nuts for our church.  She was not fond of overly loud worship music, nor drums, to say the least.  So I found it pretty amusing that the church debrief on Sunday included this statement from my son: “I don’t think worship should be like that — people acting like they’re at a concert.” 

Little Jude. 

But I told my son something I never talked about with my mom. I said, “I can appreciate different styles even if that’s not what I choose for every week. But I want you to know something really important. The people in that church are not acting like concert-goers. They are not imitating concert-goers. It’s actually the other way around. Concert-goers are trying to fill a void in their life. We are made to worship. The ‘worship’ at concerts imitates the church.”

Praying today that all three of my sons can appreciate this truth even a teeny tiny bit. Because at fifteen I never would’ve grasped that the striving of the world reflects a human longing fulfilled only in Jesus. I didn’t have eyes to see that my own longings could all be met in Him.  How great would it be to see that earlier in life!

Hebrews 12:28-29 says, “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”

May I live a life of reverence and awe. May my days be marked by worship. May the longings of my heart lead me continually to the Cross. May my peace in the unshakability of the Kingdom be evident. Those are my prayers for you as well. 

Hope you have a wonderful weekend! 

With Love,

Kristie 

Jackson Five Friday: “Second!!”

 

 

 

Friends,

First of all, thank you for the many texts, emails, meals, offer for meals, cards, flowers, calls and thoughtful expressions of sympathy.  As of yet, I’ve responded to only a handful, but please know that I’ll get there and that every one has been deeply appreciated.

At the funeral for my mom on Monday many wonderful things were shared.  My brother and niece pointed out how very good she was at relationships, making each person feel special.  My sister shared about what an intent listener my mom always was.  Everyone talked about how fun and funny she was, how her faith, despite all her heartache, was rock solid.

But it was my nephew, Dane, who somewhat inadvertently summarized my mom in three little words.  I don’t think he even knows how Spirit-inspired his words were.  I doubt he knows the little story I’m about to tell you.

My mom, Judy, was three years younger than her sister, Janet.  When they were little, like many young children, being first was a privilege.  Coming in from playing outside, it was a race to use the bathroom.  “First!” Janet would yell out.  Washing hands for dinner?  Again, Janet claimed first.  She claimed being first so often that my darling little mom started automatically yelling out “Second!!” even when no one was there to be first.  My grandparents delighted over their contented, adorable Judy, joyfully resigned to be second.   They loved telling this story even when little Judy was in her sixties.

But back to Dane.  He talked about how in high school his friends would be hanging out after baseball practice, but Dane chose instead to be with “the girl” he liked — his Gramma.  He loved her company that much.  At one point Dane held up his arm and explained, “I wear this little bracelet and I’ve been wearing it for a while, and it says, ‘I am second.’  It’s a reminder to put God above myself and family above myself.”

Choking back tears, Dane said, “My Gramma didn’t need to wear this, because she lived it.  She always put herself second.”

Matthew 22:36-40 says this:

 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Praying today that I’ll have even a hint of that sweet contented, other-centeredness of my wonderful mama.  No matter the circumstances, may my spirit joyfully cry out: “Second!!”

Love to you,

Kristie

P.S. The “I am second” testimonies are amazing.  You should click here and check them out.  I used the Josh Hamilton one here on my blog many years ago and I still am moved to just think about it.  Plus, you could easily order a bracelet like Dane’s.

 

Jackson Five Friday: Heartbroken

Friends,

I do not know how those who mourn without hope are able to function.  The desperation of the heartache must be unbearable.  My mom met Jesus on Wednesday, and even though I know I will spend eternity with her, I’m utterly heartbroken.  Since my dad died in 1999, I have called my mom every single day.  In the early years, I never missed a day.  More recently, I’ve let a few days here and there slip by, but that was the exception.  She knew about the day-to-day details of all five of us.  She’d listen and guide and pray over issues at Will’s work, the boys sports and activities, Sammy’s intense hatred of fourth grade and any and everything in between.  She prayed specifically — knowing how I love to laugh — that I’d find a funny friend in Tennessee.  The week before she died I called her while in the car with my very funny friend, Ana.  She said, “Are you with your funny friend?”  Yes, I told her.  When we hung up, I told Ana how my mom had prayed her into my life.  My house has horrible cell phone reception.  The best place to not drop calls every other second is on the front porch.  I cannot tell you the hours I’ve spent chatting and laughing with my mom on this little bench.  The sight of it breaks my heart.

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I called her whenever I was out running errands too.  I can hear her laughing saying, “Costco again!?”  But as much as I’ll never ever get over not seeing her or talking to her again, I’m so happy for my mom.  She’s not struggling to breathe anymore, and she’s with Jesus and all of the many loved ones we’ve lost.

I could tell you a thousand different qualities that made my mom special, but instead I’ll paint a picture of just one aspect of her.  I flew to Michigan on Sunday evening, knowing my mom was not doing well.  That night she slept in her recliner, where she felt she could breathe easiest.  I slept on the couch across from her.  All I had to do to check on her was open my eyes.  On Monday, we had a hospital bed delivered and she slept peacefully there, and I slept in the recliner beside her.  But in the morning, she said she liked the chair better.  So that night, she slept in her recliner again and I slept in the hospital bed beside her.  Every night, as we played musical beds, she’d tell me who we needed to call the next day.  She was too weak to talk much but she wanted to call people and tell them that she loved them.  She wanted them to be sure to know how much they had meant to her.  In her last moments, her priority was loving others.  I’d call and put the phone on speaker and together we had the most incredible conversations.  Even in the middle of her last night, she called out to me names to add to the list.

On Wednesday she woke up with a stronger voice and we had coffee together.  For a few minutes, she seemed to be alright and then she suddenly took a dramatic turn.  My sister Laurie was in the other room, so I went and woke her.  My brother was on a flight to Detroit and she desperately wanted to see him.  He walked in just minutes before she passed into an unconscious state.  Looking up at Jeff as he bent down to kiss her was the last thing she saw.  God was undeniably in the details.  We live in three different states, but we were there with our cherished, incredible mom when she passed peacefully into the arms of Jesus.

Today I am filled with gratitude that I am the daughter of Judy Huber — what a privilege.  Humbled to know that I am also the daughter of the One True King, and that we will live together forever in eternity.  Praising Him from Whom all blessings flow, and cherishing the promises of His Word.

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.    1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

May we all be ready for the trumpet to sound!

With Love,

Kristie

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Jackson Five Friday: Life Pillars

IMG_9236Hey All,

Do you ever see a quote on Facebook or Instagram, or really anywhere, that just speaks to you?  You think, “Ain’t that the truth!”  I’m always struck by how these little a-ha lines can invariably be traced back to the wisdom of the Bible.  Solomon was right: there is nothing new under the sun!  Try to find one that isn’t at least implied in Scripture.  I bet you can’t.

This morning I was folding laundry and came across this awesome shirt.  The five pillars of Coach Tony Bennett’s basketball team: Thankfulness, Humility, Passion, Unity, and Servanthood.  What great principles to live by!  What a perfect way to summarize the admirable goals of Bennett’s team.  But aren’t these great pillars for life, too?

Thankfulness

  • “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18.
  • “The feeling of [true] joy begins in the action of thanksgiving.” Ann Voskamp

Humility

  • “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”  Romans 12:3
  • “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” Rick Warren

Passion

  • “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24
  • “If people knew how hard I worked to achieve my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful after all.”  Michelangelo
  • “Maybe it’s my fault.  Maybe I led you to believe it was easy when it wasn’t.  Maybe I made you think my highlights started at the free throw line, and not in the gym.  Maybe I made you think that every shot I took was a game winner.  That my game was built on flash, and not fire.  Maybe it’s my fault that you didn’t see that failure gave me strength; that my pain was my motivation.  Maybe I led you to believe that basketball was a God given gift, and not something I worked for every single day of my life.  Maybe I destroyed the game.  Or maybe you’re just making excuses.”  Michael Jordan

Unity

  • “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”  Ephesians 4:2-3
  • “To me, teamwork is the beauty of our sport, where you have five acting as one. You become selfless.”  Mike Krzyzewski

Servanthood

  • “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10
  • “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” -Winston Churchill

Praying this morning that I’ll live by these pillars, teach them to my sons, and give God all the glory.  And hey, if one of my sons ends up playing at UVa for Coach Bennett then I’m good with that too.  Real good.  Go HOOS!

Love to YOU,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: All I Need


Hi Friends,
Do you ever know deep in your soul that God has orchestrated certain details to show you He loves you? I hope so. It’s a kind of knowing that is invariably cheapened by sharing, and yet the compulsion to share is overwhelming. You might tell your friend or spouse, “This amazing thing happened…”  And yet you know despite sincere efforts to appreciate all that you convey, it’s just not possible. The symphony of events and thoughts and words and scenery were for you and you alone.  It’s in those kinds of moments I know Jesus truly is my best friend.  Because He gets it.  I don’t have to explain it. Or give any kind of disclaimer like, “I know this might sound like I’m reading into this…” He knows I’m not. He is the author of the symphony and He delights in my recognition and appreciation of it. 

Yesterday I had a day drenched in sacred little moments. But I’ll tell you only about one of them. I tagged along on a business trip to D.C. with Will.  As an aside, if at all possible, always fight through the feelings of “this couldn’t possibly be worth it” and arrange the 6 Billion details of leaving.  We walked around the National Mall at sunrise and then he went to his conference. I grabbed coffee and my Bible and sat in a beautiful courtyard.  I read a few Psalms and wrote in my journal. Then I read a devotional published by The C.S. Lewis Institute called Reflections.  Here is the link but in summary Lewis convincingly argues that a failure to praise God results not just in missing out on life’s greatest experience, but ultimately our ability to enjoy any blessing is diminished.  A failure to praise Him means we miss out on everything. 

I packed up my stuff and headed back out walking. On the steps behind the Lincoln Memorial, I opened my Bible again and read Psalm 116.  Then I headed for the National Gallery of Art, straight up Constitution Avenue.  But the sidewalk was closed.  The detour took me right beside David’s Tent.  I had looked for it near the Washington Monument where it had been when I left the D.C. area in 2015. I was stunned that this detour caused me to stumble upon its new location. 

If you’ve never heard of it, it is a tent where Christians praise God through worship music 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  They have Bibles and people to pray with you as well.  I don’t know exactly how long I stayed but it was more than just a few minutes.  I kept thinking, “I’ll leave after this song.”  But then I’d love the next song too. I could not make myself leave. 

Then the musician leading worship began strumming a song I knew but somehow didn’t expect to hear.  Years ago the song was used in various churches as the inspiration for a drama, but I’ve never sang it as a congregation, never sang it with anyone besides my brothers and sisters in Christ at David’s Tent. 

The song?  Everything by Lifehouse. 

We sang only this selection of the lyrics: 

And how can I stand here with you? And not be moved by you?  Would you tell me, how can it be? Any better than this? ‘Cause You’re all I want, You’re all I need. You’re everything, everything.

It just doesn’t get any better than that.  He’s all I want. He’s all I need. He’s everything. Everything. 

Praying as I fly home to my sweet boys that you have even the tiniest appreciation for this symphony of grace God gave me yesterday and that you recognize and give thanks for the symphony of grace He is orchestrating for YOU today. 

Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord! Psalm 117

Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: More Hard Things 

Hey Friends,

The world seems to be spinning out of control, even more than usual.  I was hanging with my mom this morning watching news and it was almost as if they didn’t have time to cover everything going on. I kept thinking, “When are they going to mention the earthquake in Mexico?”

It’s a mess.  Human efforts to make the world a better place should never be abandoned — we have God-given roles to fill.  We are stewards of God’s creation and can play vital roles in terms of redemption, and we see lots of beautiful stories pouring out of Texas and Florida.  Yet at the same time it’s inane to ignore the simple fact that we live in a fallen world.  Jesus was unambiguous when He said “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John‬ ‭16:33‬ ‭NIV‬‬

These are words to live by during these dark days.  None of these storms or quakes or fires have caught God off guard.  He knows the troubles we face.  He knows how many hairs are on your worried little head, and mine too. But take heart!  This life isn’t all there is. Jesus has overcome the world. He’s gone on to prepare a place for those of us who have given our lives to Him.  This whole life — whether hard and full of sorrow or privileged and marked by ease — is a blip on the screen of eternity. The whole goal is to know Him, praise Him and give Him glory — to reflect Light in the darkness as best we can. 

Praying today that just like the children’s song, no matter what my circumstance, that I’ll be faithful to let my light shine. Let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine. 

Love to all,

Kristie