Jackson Five Friday: Season-Ending Injury

Hey Friends,

The last twenty-four hours have not been the best.  Since Sam did not have school yesterday — his fourth day off in a row — I took him skiing to a cute little place in Mentone, Alabama.  Skiing in Sweet Home Alabama.  Who knew?  We started out a little rough.  It was harder than he remembered.  Unlike his brothers, Sam has skied very little and not in 3+ years.   The place is just one hill and is served only by a tow rope.  Exiting the rope was not mastered by Sam in the first ten minutes. Despite my firm instructions he kept pointing his skis down the hill as he tried to get up.  I resorted to some tough love.  You can’t even begin to fathom how grateful I am that this was not when he got injured.

He was a little slow to warm, but definitely made huge progress.  The lift guy and others were high-fiving him and giving him knuckles galore.  We took a break and hilariously Sam sipped his Coke a la Elf with the “syrup coffee” in the mailroom.  It cracked me up so much that I had to have him do it again so I could record it and send it to his cousin who shares his affinity for Elf culture.  Sam has this magic about him where he consistently makes everything about a thousand times more fun than you’d ever expect it to be.

We headed out again and he said, “Let’s ski down holding hands.”  He said this not because he needed help.  He didn’t.  He just thought it’d be fun.  And it was.

After we’d spent a good chunk of the day there, my boots started to hurt.

“I think I’m going to be done, Sam.  You can go two more times and I’ll watch you.”

“How about five?” Sam asked.

“Okay,” I said, thrilled on the inside that he was enjoying himself.  I think it was his third trip up when his leg got twisted and yet he somehow kept holding on to the rope.  This caused a very unnatural leg rotation — a gruesome to watch rotation, a trip to the ER, a fractured tibia and the end of basketball season before his first game.  Basketball is his favorite.  Unless you are our neighbor and hear the constant pounding of the ball on the pavement, you can’t possibly appreciate how much this kid loves basketball.

I don’t know why God allowed this to happen.  But here’s what I am praying.  First that Sam will draw near to God.  The Psalmist wrote: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (34;18).  And James tells us: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (4:8).  Sam, despite his comedic genius and gargantuan size, is still just ten years old, so I know this is a big prayer.  But please join me in asking God to help Sam turn to Him in the difficulty and sadness of the days to come.

Second, I’m praying that our entire family will learn all that God has for us in this season.  May all five of us have ears to hear all that we need to.  May these next couple months, which will look much different than we would’ve thought, be reminders that we are not in control, that God is always good, that we can trust Him even when we don’t understand our circumstances.  May I draw near to God on the mountaintops of life and in the valleys, and that is my prayer for you as well.

With Gratitude for Your Prayers,

Kristie

 

Jackson Five Friday: Blessed


Hey Friends, 

Hope you are well.  I think I’ve mentioned before that Will and I are not the best at “date night.”  With three athletic sons that consume many evenings, a home we love to hang out in, and a fairly consistent habit of meeting for lunch, I don’t exactly feel like we’re falling short. Still, it was lovely to have a pretty hot date last night. The food and ambiance were perfect — the vibe is only somewhat revealed by the picture above. 

On the way to the restaurant we encountered a woman trying to attach a basket to her motorized wheelchair. Seeing her struggle, Will said, “Can I help you with that?”  

“That would be great,” she said. “Thank you!” And Will fixed the basket. A few minutes later we saw that she had dropped a little cosmetic-type bag. I picked it up and took it to her before she motored too far. 

“Oh!” she exclaimed, “I love you!  Thank you!  Thank you so much!”

She had a lovely spirit about her, willing and grateful to accept help. 

Can the same be said of you?  Because I’m not at all sure that it would ever be said of me. I think instead I may exude an “I got this”ness.  Sadly.  

In my Bible study we are about to kick off a series covering the Sermon on the Mount. I’ve been thinking about the beatitudes. What does it mean even to be “blessed?” The very first beatitude says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬.   Was the woman we encountered in the wheelchair “poor in spirit”?  She did appear uncommonly comfortable with joyfully accepting help.  Is this admirable resignation born out of brokenness?  Could part of the blessing of God’s kingdom, that we sometimes miss, possibly be accepting our limitations?  Our utter and complete dependence on God?  I’m not sure what it means for the poor in spirit to be blessed. But I intend to prayerfully keep seeking an answer. In the meantime, I want to joyfully, and with a heart of genuine gratitude, accept help. 

How about you?  How about making 2018 the year you say “Oh, I love you” to the one who offers to help?

With Love,

Kristie 

Jackson Five Friday: Dealing with Disappointment

Hey Friends,

To close out our trip to Florida, Nate, Sam and I went to see the Orlando Magic take on the Houston Rockets.  Will and Dub had driven home on Tuesday, and so the three of us caught the game Wednesday night and flew home Thursday morning.

An old buddy of Will’s set us up with amazing seats.  We were ecstatic to surprise Sam with seeing his favorite player, the star of the Rockets, James Harden.  We do not know why exactly Sam decided to follow Harden in the first place, but he’s a huge fan. For years now Sam has checked Harden’s stats on a daily basis. He knows when the Rockets will be on TV weeks in advance. A life-sized Fathead poster of Harden in action greets visitors to our playroom. 

About a week before the game, we started giving Sam hints about the big surprise.  He’s not exactly a bookworm, but we try to motivate him.

“Read a chapter, get a hint,” we told him.  He started tearing through his book, so excited to try to solve the mystery.  One of my hints was facial hair.  Nate told him it had something to do with outer space.  But Sam soon tired of the hints and just wanted to know.  His smile and utter delight were worth a million bucks.

You may have an idea of where this is going.  Guess who pulled a hamstring?  Yep.  Sam’s beloved James Harden didn’t even travel to Orlando.  We had seats ridiculously close to the Houston bench, but Harden was never on it.

It’s an absurdly privileged problem to have. But watching your child navigate disappointment, no matter how First World it may be, is never pleasant.  I try to remind myself that if I controlled the universe I’d churn out monsters. Never facing disappointments or challenges or true heart aches means you simply do not grow. I know that. I know it first hand and yet I’m somehow able to perpetually forget that when it comes to parenting.

Praise God that He knows best, that for Christians, He uses all life’s experiences for our good and His glory.  I may or may not see the fruit produced by Harden’s torn hammy, or from any disappointment, big or small. But I don’t need to. What I need is to trust these words from Romans. 

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:3-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬


As an aside, just as Sam was holding up this sign in Orlando, my niece Caitlin was in labor NYC. Caitlin and her husband, Cam, welcomed a healthy baby boy just seconds after tip-off.  Needless to say, I’m elated to have a new baby to love.  I find the rhythm of life is often divinely orchestrated. Babies not only have a way of demanding that we march on in life, but that we appreciate every little thing. I’m excited to smell him, to cuddle with him, to watch him be easily awed and entertained by bubbles and birdies and balls.  One of my goals in 2018 is to maximize my exposure to baby belly laughs.  

So, today I’m praising God for suffering and disappointments of any and every magnitude, knowing that this is how we grow.   And I’m praising God for new life and the joy that babies bring!  Praying that you too can embrace the necessity of suffering and the hope of new life. 

With Love,

Kristie 

Jackson Five Friday: Another Banner Year

Hey Friends,

I don’t know if it’s trending on Twitter exactly, or what the hashtag would be. Maybe #2017sucked or #2018hasgottobebetter, but there’s a viral sentiment that 2017 has been a terrible year. I find this kind of generalization rather revolting. Wearing your ingratitude on your sleeve is cool now.  It’s a thing. 

I’m not saying that 2017 didn’t have some terrible events. It did. In fact, my own beloved mother died. But gratitude is always the answer. 

There’s a lot we can’t control in this world. However, we can decide how we’re going to think, what we are going to put in our minds. Back in the Stone Age of computer programming, I took a course in Basic. We wrote simple programs that stressed the importance of precision. I can hear my professor saying “Trash in, Trash out.”  If you feed the computer a trash program, you are not going to get the intended result. Our minds work exactly the same way. Trash in, trash out. 

Do you consistently feed your mind with things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, and excellent (Philippians 4:8)?  Do you intentionally shift the gaze of your life to Jesus? Is the praise and thanks of your lips incessant (1 Thessalonians 5:18)? Because these are my goals. 

The mommy bloggers who grouse and complain and say “Don’t Carpe Diem” have it wrong. Dead wrong. Give thanks. Fill your mind with beautiful things. Work for justice.  Give generously. Turn your eyes on Jesus. This is the formula for a banner year. Always has been.  Always will be. 

Wishing you a very Happy New Year!

With Love, 

Kristie 

P.S. Today is our anniversary—22 Years! I love my man and am so grateful for him. Will lives out the message of this post on a daily basis. He has an amazingly consistent routine of reading and meditating on Scripture. He keeps a long list of people that he prays for. Every day before he leaves for work, he prays over me. What a tremendous gift to wake up next to him nearly 8,000 times! 

Jackson Five Friday: Crossing the Delaware

Hey Friends,

Hope you are having a wonderful week.  Three days till Christmas — I cannot believe it!  Did you know that George Washington crossed the Delaware on Christmas in 1776?  I’m sure you can probably call up the painting in your mind’s eye.  It sounded like a brutal endeavor, didn’t it?  And the solemn-faced Washington commanding the troops continues to convey to the masses that the crossing was no small feat.

I once referenced the crossing of the Delaware in a tirade with my two older sons.  I am not terribly prone to lecture my boys.  I generally have a high tolerance for noise and nonsense, and am often amused when maybe I shouldn’t be, but even I have limits.  I will throw down a full-on lecture if I have to.  A number of years ago Dub and Nate were playing flag football in Falls Church, Virginia.  It was an unseasonably cold day in October and wonder of wonders, it snowed.  It was the only time in my almost twenty years of living in the DC area that it snowed in October.  It hardly even snows in December, much less October.  But it did.  And you would’ve thought the one hour game was going to wipe out life as we know it.  The complaining and bellyaching started to get on my very last nerve and before I knew what happened, my head popped off completely and I was giving a semi-deranged but very impassioned speech about “surely if Washington could cross the Delaware you can finish this game!”  I don’t remember their reaction.  But I’m pretty sure there was less complaining, and Will and I have had many good laughs about the incident.

But seriously, do you ever worry that we are raising a generation of softies?  My boys work very hard in school, about a hundred times harder than I ever thought of working.  They work hard in sports, and I did have them do some manual labor just today.  But still, neither Dub nor Nate, nor their generation in general, appear to be prepared to cross the Delaware on Christmas for even the best and most just of causes.  God gives us grace when we need it, and not before, and this applies to whatever kind of challenges come our way, but I still want my boys to know the satisfaction of working hard, of going to bed exhausted physically, and yet content with the work accomplished.

Proverbs says, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.”  (6:10). 
In this season of extended vacation, I am hoping that we will strike a balance of not becoming gluttonous sloths, while at the same time celebrating down time and the Birth of Our Savior.  May we savor the moment, and yet be confident that should the need for a Delaware crossing arise, we can do all things through Christ!

Merry Christmas,

Kristie

 

 

Jackson Five Friday: Lunch Date, Finally 

Hi Friends,

Hope you’ve had a peaceful week, fending off the rush and enjoying this beautiful season.  I’ve had a week that’s been mostly too busy but today I had a lovely lunch date that has been long awaited: I took Popeye’s to Sam at school. So it wasn’t the food, but still a joyful milestone of sorts. You see Sam has asked me not to come to school. I’ve offered to bring him a special lunch, cupcakes for his birthday — essentially anything he could dream up. But ever since we’ve lived in Tennessee Sam has consistently acted mortified to see me at school. It was an unexpected development since I volunteered at his old school weekly and he never once acted anything but thrilled to see me. But whatever prompted the utter humiliation, it lasted two full years. Then yesterday Sam said, in a shy and confessional tone, “You know, I would actually really like for you to come have lunch with me.” 

Thankfully, outside of the hallways at school, Sam has never acted embarrassed to have me for a mother.  Instead, he is pretty great about making me feel rather adored. But stil, even though I know he loves me, it did sort of sting to be shunned. But here’s the thing, when he changed his mind I couldn’t march up to that cafeteria fast enough. I love that kid. I delight in seeing him, sharing any meal with him, and learning what lunch is like at his sweet little school. 

I’ve been thinking that this is an imperfect representation of how God loves us. He stands at the door and knocks. But He never barges in. He doesn’t insist on coming to lunch.  Yet He delights in us and loves us with an unquenchable love, whether we acknowledge Him or not. 

If we say, “God, you know, I would actually really like for you to come have lunch with me,” He always, always will.  May I never ever push my Savior, the lover of my soul, away.  

In Revelation, Jesus says: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”‬ (‭3:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬).

Praying that I will have ears to hear Him knocking, and that I will always open the door. 

With Love,

Kristie 

Jackson Five Friday: Advent Traditions

Hey Friends,

What are your favorite Advent traditions?  I’m always on the lookout for new ways to celebrate this beautiful season.  We’ve always enjoyed decorating our house, opening an Advent calendar, and listening to classical Christmas music.  But we’ve also started, in more recent years, to light Advent candles and now Dub and Nate read the Advent devotional that I wrote a few years ago.  When we lived in Virginia we were privileged to have two incredible events at the boys’ school — a night of Lessons and Carols and a mini concert from the President’s Own Marine Band (one of the members also had children who attended the school).  I also love opening Christmas cards and hearing how old friends are doing.  But no matter how much we anticipate the birth of our Savior, and try to appreciate the greatest gift ever given, it never seems like it’s enough.  I want to savor the lights and the beauty and the peace, but always feel like I fall short.

I think that sense that it’s never enough is inevitable.  I can’t, in my fallen state, ever truly appreciate the magnitude of Christ’s birth.  My purpose and destiny are wholly dependent on Him, but my efforts to fully recognize this in my day-to-day, moment-to-moment life are pitifully inadequate.  Still, I believe acknowledging my indebtedness includes fully embracing the gifts of this life, and they are infinite.  Two gifts that I take for granted somewhat less than others are my gift for writing and my appreciation of humor.  I learn so much from the process of writing.  I feel happier and more fulfilled having written.  Much like Eric Liddell’s famous quote from The Chariots of Fire, when I write, I feel God’s pleasure.  And the same is true when I laugh.

For Thanksgiving dinner this year, it was just the five of us, for the first time ever.  I was a little worried about how that would feel.  Dub asked, “Have I ever had a single Thanksgiving without Caitlin (my niece, his cousin)?”  If he has, it was once, more than a decade ago.  We ordered a turkey dinner from a lovely — beyond lovely — Italian market in North Palm Beach.  Then I made a few of our favorite sides.  It turned out to be a delicious, festive, happy Thanksgiving.   And so easy!  I couldn’t help smugly thinking to myself, “Nailed it!”  But, there was one misstep.  The dinner came with a quart — a quart — of cranberry sauce!  It could’ve fed 50 instead of five.  We cracked up about it.  On that Friday, I was reading on the bed and Will came rushing in, poker faced, with the leftover cranberry sauce in hand.

“C’mon, Girl,” he said, shoving a massive spoonful toward me.  “We gotta finish it!”

Yes, we are an easily amused pair!  And that may not seem like an obvious way to celebrate Christmas, but enjoying God’s gifts — using them and relishing each one — is a perfect way to embrace the season.

After all, “All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or the slightest hint of change.” (James 1:17 NET).  May we praise God for the lights, for generous giving, for every perfect gift, and for the fact that there’s never even a hint of change!

With Love,

Kristie