Jackson Five Friday: The Lost Art

Hey Friends,

How many texts do you get a day? I just scrolled through mine, and even with nothing on my calendar, there are quite a few daily threads. It is such an efficient way to communicate and I am grateful for how it allows checking in with friends near and far. But, don’t you miss good old-fashioned letter writing? My dad wrote to me pretty faithfully when I went away to college, and my husband and I wrote many letters during the long-distance periods of dating. But I hardly ever get a letter anymore. Oddly, this week, without any special occasion, I received three handwritten notes in the mail, two of which were from teenagers to whom I am not related, one girl, one boy. Teenagers writing thoughtful, handwritten notes in the year 2020. What a hopeful sign!

Last week I quoted Elisabeth Elliot in my blog which prompted me to flip through The Shaping of a Christian Family. In the book, “Betty,” as my 93 year-old friend/trainer knew her, talks about the legacy of letter writing within her family.

Of the tangible legacies my parents left us, nothing seems to me more remarkable than their letters—both the number and the content…Mother began to write to Phil and me twice a week in 1941 when we went away to school. I am sure there was never a week in her life from September of 1941 until she began to lose her mental powers in the mid-1980’s that she did not write to her children.

Elisabeth Elliot

When Jim Elliot was killed, Elisabeth’s mother sent a string of letters. One letter contained these words:

Bets, my darling, perhaps even TODAY you will be with your dear one! May the hope of His coming be wonderfully precious and strengthening to us all. I can only say with Job, “The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away — BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD.” He has promised that we “shall know hereafter” what He is doing, but till then let us “love Him, trust Him, praise Him”…

Katharine Gillingham Howard (Elisabeth’s mother)

Can you imagine reading that letter after your husband of only two years had just been murdered? Mrs. Howard was clearly heartbroken for her daughter but she did not shy away from pointing her darling “Bets” to the truth. I wonder if this too is a lost art? I think maybe it is.

And as it happens my wonderful firstborn son came in my bedroom just a few minutes ago to tell me he was done with his last class. High school is over. He’ll head off to college this fall. I hope I can be one tenth the letter writer that Mrs. Howard was. I fully realize that food will need to be included with my letters to get them read. But whatever it takes, right?

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 ESV

We know all about sitting in the house, walking by the way, and lying down. That’s kind of the definition of my recent life. I hope my reminders from these days have planted seeds, because now is the time for my oldest to rise up. Praying that even when my daily proddings dwindle to a few texts, calls and letters that he’ll choose to love God with all his heart, soul and might.

Who can you sit down and write a note to today? Who might benefit from the reminder that “the hope of His coming [can] be wonderfully precious and strengthening to us all?” May we love Him, trust Him, and praise Him today and every day!

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Beware the Outdated List

Hey Friends,

I am excited to go back to my blogging roots, to return to that which is really the backbone of this twelve-year endeavor. After all, very few people on this earth are as skilled as I am at humiliating themselves. And since God is so so good, He gave me a humbling yet somehow still delightful experience just this week.

I spent the first two weeks of Zoom school with the boys at the beach in Florida. Since it was still foggy and rainy at home, the sunshine and ocean breeze did us a lot of good. Will was working especially long hours and had the peace of knowing he wasn’t bringing any illness home to us. I got to walk along the beach (the sidewalk never closed) each morning, and ride bikes with Sam at lunchtime. But we missed our man, and came home just in time for “spring break.”

Fortunately by the time we came home, the fog had cleared out and I started walking almost daily at a local park.  The playground is closed but the walking path has remained open. It is the only flat place to walk on the mountain and a loop is just less than a quarter mile.

A few weeks ago I was admiring the determination of a tall, older gentleman walking the same loop in the opposite direction. Even though we passed each other many times, we never spoke. He just kept pounding out the miles. I was in awe. “Well,” I told myself, “I certainly can’t leave before he does.” So I followed his lead, and kept going. I don’t count laps but roughly keep track of time. We were there for a long while. Finally, the gentleman left. I did one more lap and headed to my car.

As I approached my car, I realized the gentleman was still sitting in his car with the window rolled down.

“How far did you go?” he called out. I sheepishly admitted my only goal was to keep up with him. We chatted for a few minutes —socially distanced of course— made brief introductions and realized that we attend the same church. He also mentioned that he is 93 years old and always walks three miles!

That night I told Will about how I made a new, 93 year old friend: Addison Soltau.

Will is a pretty heroic pray-er. He gets up early in the morning and reads his Bible and prays. Not sometimes. Not oftentimes. Every single day. On the rare occasions I stumble out of bed early, I often find him on his knees praying. He keeps a list in his car that he also takes to the gym. But since the gym has been closed he’s been using a prayer list on our treadmill.

When I told Will about Addison Soltau, he said, “Oh, I pray for a Roselynne Soltau.”

A few weeks passed and I saw Mr. Soltau a few more times. I loved chatting with him, and would always tell Will that I got to see my new friend again.

“Well,” Will said, “I’m praying for Roselynne everyday.”

So that’s all background for the mortifying moment that happened on Monday. Mr. Soltau and I were at the park walking and I decided to tell him about Will praying for Roselynne.

“Tell me who Roselynne is,” I said, certain she was related but unsure how. Mr. Soltau’s face was expressionless. “My husband prays for Roselynne every day,” I continued. Still, there was a confused look upon Mr. Soltau’s face. “She’s on the LMPC prayer list,” I added nervously, questioning if two unrelated families could have the same uncommon name.

“I hope not,” Mr. Soltau answered with a wry smile. “Roselynne was my wife but she died last August. I think she’s now probably praying for him.”

I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or cry, but I did know I wanted to kill my husband. I apologized profusely, but winsome Mr. Soltau just told me about his dear wife of almost seventy years like nothing out of the ordinary had transpired.

Do you think people in heaven pray for those on earth?  Most of my life I have not believed this to be true. But I changed my mind in 2017.  Just a day or two after my mother passed away a friend sent me a devotional that referenced how Elisabeth Elliot believed her mother in heaven prayed for her.  Elliot explained, “Since I know that Mother talked to Jesus about me all the time while she was here on earth, why should I think she’d stop doing this now that she is with Him face-to face?”  

How can you argue with that?

So maybe Mrs. Soltau does pray for Will, but I’m certain she prays for dear Mr. Soltau. Perhaps his lovely demeanor itself is answered prayer.

E.M Bounds wrote, “God shapes the world by prayer. Prayers are deathless. They outlive the lives of those who uttered them.”

If I believed deep down that God uses my prayers to shape the world, that my prayers will even survive my earthly death, then how much more of my extra time at home would I use to pray?

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” ‭‭

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV

And do make sure, should you choose to use a prayer list from your church, that it’s NOT currently dated July 28! I can testify that praying from very outdated lists can result in extremely embarrassing exchanges.

Have a fabulous weekend!

With Love, 

Kristie

P.S. Almost unbelievably when I emailed this to Mr. Soltau to review, I learned that he went to school with Jim and “Betty” Elliot. In fact, even before that Mr. Soltau’s father and Elisabeth Elliot’s father were friends. In His loving kindness God often reminds me that the world is indeed very small and that He orchestrates it all.

Jackson Five Friday: My Last Testament

Hey Friends,

I hope you’ve had a lovely week. A glimmer of normalcy occurred at our house last night with some intense sports arguing over the NFL draft. Sports arguing was a hallmark of our daily existence pre-COVID, and honestly I can’t say I’ve really missed it. Sports cheering? Yes! Sports playing? Oh my yes! But I’ve not been longing for the perpetual and sometimes heated debate over the worth of every athlete in every sport.

So, yes, this is my last testament, not in a morbid personal sense, but in terms of the pandemic. I’m promising myself, and you, sweet faithful reader, that this will be the last time I sound off about the pandemic. I’ve written about it for all of March and all of April, but next Friday will be May. Spur will therefore be a no COVID-19 zone. However, since this is the last time I’m letting myself weigh in, this post is longer than usual.

Mourning with those who mourn is a foundational tenet of the Christian life (this is a great article on it). Sadly, it is not a practice consistently on display in today’s culture. I mean sometimes it’s easy to sympathize: the case of that gorgeous little five-year-old who died in Detroit. Her parents are both first responders and she was their only child. It’s a heartbreaking story. Who wouldn’t mourn with them?

But a different set of facts played out in Ohio. A guy doubted the severity of the disease on Twitter and then died from it. The response was stunning: “karma is a B*%#H” and “got what he deserved” were representative. The poor family was planning to livestream his virtual funeral for friends and family, but all the mean-spirited condemnation made them change their minds. Fortunately, there is a cure for self-righteous hard-heartedness: “I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel‬ ‭11:19‬ ‭NIV‬‬. Hallelujah, God can change heart‬‬s. I can’t. I tried to soften a hateful Facebook friend just this week. It’s futile. I can’t change a single heart, even in my own home. Why do I so often forget that only God can do that? We need to be praying for revival.

More than a month ago, when it looked like we would have major and widespread shortages of ventilators, I wrote about how important it is to have end-of-life discussions. If I were seventy-five or older, my preference would be to die at home. An increased use of “home care” was also the strong recommendation of a group of Italian doctors in a March 21, 2020 NEJM Catalyst article. But I am not at all convinced such options are being thoughtfully analyzed.

I volunteer at my local hospital holding NICU babies. Obviously that program is suspended right now, but when I was training to do the NICU program they showcased another volunteer opportunity. They have volunteers who sit with people who are dying and would otherwise be alone. Can’t we do something like that with people who already have coronavirus antibodies? Chattanooga has not yet experienced a surge, by God’s grace, but can’t New York City hospitals implement something?

It just seems crazy to me to have so many old people hooked up to ventilators, alone, when one study suggests only 12% will survive. Are families able to make educated and informed decisions? The default to extend life no matter what is not a philosophy to which I ascribe, and I worry that some of the horrific aspects to this whole situation could be avoided if we engaged in candid conversations. It’s not PC to talk about how we’d like to die, but in years gone by pneumonia was even described as old man’s friend. Emotionally charged discussions are counterproductive. I am praying that families will have wisdom in looking at the reality of death in a loving and honest way. Let’s not live in denial and let’s pray for revival. May droves of people open the doors of their hearts to Jesus who stands there knocking. After all, as Frederick Buechner so aptly quips, for the Christian, “The end is life.”

Loving your neighbor is, of course, an even more foundational Christian belief than “mourning with those who mourn.” I have been thinking about what this looks like in the midst of a highly contagious viral outbreak. It would be terrible to knowingly or even negligently expose others to the coronavirus, but the discussion of the unknowing, non-negligent transmission has gone off the rails. I’m sure you’ve seen the vitriol of those who condemn leaving the house for any reason.

If I get behind the wheel of my car tanked that is reckless endangerment, and clearly not loving my neighbor. If I get behind the wheel of my car sober, it is nevertheless possible that I could kill someone. Having no such history, I could still stroke or seize and plow into a pedestrian. It’s unlikely, but it’s possible. Still, it is not unloving or even inconsiderate for me to drive. We need to soberly analyze the rate at which we might be infecting others. There are loud voices who would have you believe that living your life is akin to driving drunk, that it is reckless endangerment to society. Again, highly charged emotional discussions are not remotely helpful. Using common sense and thinking through the potential impact of our actions are part of loving others. We may hold those who intentionally or negligently transmit the virus legally liable, but people are going to have to start living again at their own risk. It won’t look the same for everybody, just like not everybody chooses to swim at an unguarded beach. I’d love to know of someone who’s written on this more extensively from a Christian ethics perspective. I will certainly keep thinking about it, but I promise I won’t post about it again!

The bottom line is life has never been and will never be safe. God numbers our days and directs our steps. We can’t ever take “every precaution,” but we can take some, so we should be discerning about which ones. And on a macro scale, it’s no longer really debatable if completely shutting down the economy was the most neighbor-loving thing to do. It wasn’t. The resultant suffering is already enormous. I am praying that leaders will right our course and be wise, openly weighing unintended consequences. It is hard to even imagine that being the reality, but I am praying for it regardless.

Heavenly Father, help us all to number our days aright, that we may gain hearts of wisdom (Psalm 90:12). Help us to rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15), and may we love our neighbors as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18). In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: “You Seem to Be!”

Hey Friends,

I started out the week resolved to be of good cheer, thanks to this webinar, but the school cancellation news brought me to a whole new quarantine low. People who look at actual data and are not making a living off of fear mongering seem to draw a consistent conclusion: “Strategies focusing specifically on protecting high-risk elderly individuals should be considered in managing the pandemic. But evidence is evidently irrelevant. What matters are snippets of misleading information and hyperbolic headlines.

Did you know there is research that suggests the way we are intentionally prolonging the duration of the virus could potentially raise the death rate by 50%? Obviously, flattening the curve is another way of saying elongating the curve. The goal being not to directly save lives — it’s not a cure for the virus after all. The goal is to make it last longer so that there are enough ICU beds to go around. As an aside, I was talking to a young mom recently and she told me she thinks most Americans understand “flattening the curve” to be a means by which we save lives directly. I don’t know how anyone could look at the graph and not see that it is only changing the duration, but she was convinced that people don’t understand. I really hope she’s wrong. People don’t think flattening the curve itself saves lives, do they? How would that even work? What would be the mechanism? We’d have to wait for a cure or vaccine. No one thinks we could actually do that, do they? What would the unemployment number be by then? Of course, I am still praying that God will make it just disappear one day. And who knows, He may. I so want us all shaking our heads in wonder saying, “Only God!”

But back to the way in which we are attempting, at the direction of experts, to artificially manipulate the curve. This manipulation could result in a peak in winter, which could cause the death rate to increase dramatically. I’m not suggesting this would happen. But I am very much in favor of potential unintended consequences being part of the discussion. Instead, we march forward without any pushback or questions for fear of being labeled uncaring. It’s disturbing, to say the least.

And, for me, the worst thing about it is the self-loathing.

I don’t know how many iterations there were of Candid Camera, but when I was in law school twenty-ish years ago, it was my favorite show. I think the intensity of studying lowered my threshold for hilarity, and it’s always been pretty low. Anyway, an episode from that era is one that Will and I still quote with fair frequency.

The joke was set up like this: a man, who has swam laps every morning for decades, arrives at the pool one day to find out that a new policy had been implemented. All of the lap swimmers were now required to wear life jackets. The man is infuriated, and explains that the policy is absurd, that he has been swimming laps at that very pool for years and years. The Candid Camera guy deadpans and explains nevertheless that’s the policy. He hands the swimmer a clumsy-looking orange life jacket, like you’d be issued on a cruise ship.

The swimmer, while strapping on the life jacket says, “I am NOT cooperating!”

And the Candid Camera guy perfectly and nonchalantly quips, “Well, you seem to be.”

It’s absolutely hilarious. Or it was, till 2020 arrived and I realized I am that guy. I feel like in my spirit I am fighting decision-making based on fear instead of evidence, but at the same time I’m strapping on the life jacket. It is so shameful.

I want to rip the life jacket off and set it ablaze.

Literally the worst thing that could happen to me as a follower of Christ is to meet my Savior face to face. And really that’s not even right. The worst thing that could happen is I meet my Savior face to face a few years earlier than I otherwise would have. Uhhh, okay! Sounds good to me. Sounds real good to me. May I die embracing truth and living courageously. May I never ever live in fear.

I honestly don’t even know how we got on this track. Why in the world would we voluntarily destroy the future of our children to pretend that we are avoiding deaths? If Whitney were still alive maybe she could use that unreal talent to remind us that the children are indeed our future. And there is no avoiding death. I’m gonna die. You are gonna die. Healthy young people are at essentially zero risk from the coronavirus. Why on earth would we be forcing them to stay home? It’s a course of action that is guaranteed to cause human suffering. Meanwhile both the models and the experts are proving to be tragically wrong, and to an utterly mind-boggling degree. The nosedive of civilization makes time of the essence. We are in desperate need of truth-tellers. We need courageous decision-makers. Where the heck are they?

Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me. For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue. Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you. But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield. Psalm 5:8-12 ESV

Psalm 5:8-12 ESV

Sadly some of the loudest voices in our culture are those with open grave throats. Be sure to avoid them, and seek refuge with the Lord. He is our faithful shield. He is where we can sing for joy.

Rejoicing that this life isn’t all there is, and praising God that He loves me even in my most unlovable moments, like when I strap on the lemming’s lifejacket instead of cling to Him.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: More Than a Watchman

Friends,

It’s a breezy, cool, spectacular day on my mountain, which really doesn’t seem fitting at all for Good Friday. It’s the one day of the year where dark and dreary seem appropriate. The only sad thing about the landscape is that there are now more cherry blossoms on my path than on my tree. Its glory is so short-lived.

I wish that the pandemic had the lifespan of the cherry blossoms. In another week’s time the tree will have no evidence it ever blossomed at all.

Please Lord let us have that kind of recovery, one that is undeniably due to Your mercy alone. And in the meantime, may we all marinate more on Your Word than on the headlines. May we be sober-minded in evaluating data and not influenced by those who peddling fear and drama. Let us be like the Psalmist who said, My soul waits for the Lord, more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.

My skill set is limited and does not include being a lookout. I know this not because I have ever been a watchwoman, but because I require a lot of sleep and cannot even stay up late. My husband used to work many overnight shifts. A decade ago he did many 7pm to 7am shifts per month as a teleICU physician. He’d call to check on me and the boys before we went to bed, and I would invariably yawn my head off. Not only could I not stay up all night if my life depended on it, I couldn’t manage to not make it worse for the person actually living the watchmen life.

Nevertheless, I love the imagery. Can you imagine how hard the watchman looks for the first hint of morning light? How intently he surveys the horizon? How elated he is when dawn breaks? This is how we should feel on Good Friday. We know, just as the watchman knows, what is coming, but we should be waiting for Sunday, with an intense longing.

After all today is a reminder of how we short we fall. James Boice wrote, “We need to recover a sense of sin. We need to discover how desperate our condition is apart from God. We need to know that God’s wrath is not an outmoded theological construct but a terrible and impending reality.”

Today is the day we recognize that Jesus paid the price for all our sins, that he bore the wrath of that terrible and impending reality. We stand waiting for the Lord, knowing that Sunday is coming. But before we turn to one another and once again proclaim, “He is risen,” may we embody these words of Jesus more than ever before:

Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven — for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.

Luke 7:47

May we love much because we have the tiniest glimpse of what we’ve been forgiven.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: An Easy Thing

Hey Friends,

I hope wherever you are that things are springing up and blooming and bringing you encouragement. Isn’t it awesome that after even the darkest, foggiest, gloomiest winter days, spring always comes every single year, without fail? This cherry blossom with the sun rising in the background this morning lifted my spirits immensely.

And yesterday I got a sweet text from a friend and in it she said the simplest thing, but such an important truism, especially for the COVID era: “Grace for the moment — one day at a time.” Are you living one day at a time? Are you focusing on the grace of moment? It’s perfect advice. Find the most fantastic time of the day to capture a fabulous scene in your own yard. Savor the sound of your offspring laughing. Enjoy the simplest of pleasures like eating and walking with a purposeful spirit. Read the Psalms and contemplate God’s love and faithfulness. Grace for the moment —one day at a time. As A.W. Tozer said, faith is the gaze of the heart at God. Isn’t this exactly what we should be doing?

Now, if faith is the gaze of the heart at God, and if this gaze is but the raising of the inward eyes to meet the all-seeing eyes of God, then it follows that it is one of the easiest things possible to do. It would be like God to make the most vital thing easy.

A.W. Tozer

It is easy, and yet we often prefer to fret than to raise our inward eyes. No matter how spiritually mature we are, or aren’t, raising our eyes is never our default mode. We must choose to lift our eyes, just like the Psalmist.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

Psalm 121:1-4

Praying you are keeping the faith and raising your eyes up to the hills. And may you know that your hope comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

With Love,

Kristie


‭‭

Jackson Five Friday: The Myth of Safe

Hey Friends,

Well, we certainly can’t say time flies anymore can we? Time drags is our new reality. But it is Friday again, and so that feels like a victory. My guys are blessed to have a very interactive, robust virtual school day, but staring at a screen for hours is still a challenge. Sam and I have been going for bike rides during lunch and this sweet time is certainly a treasure.

I have lots of time to just pray, read and reflect. I spend most of my time doing the latter, honestly. And during this time of reflection it has occurred to me that life is never safe. It never has been and it never will be. We may live in denial, pretending that we are in control, but we never are. A few years ago I heard about a freak accident that happened at home. A sober, perfectly healthy dad and husband somehow fell down the stairs in his own home. His head injury was fatal. We are never safe, and we might as well start by acknowledging that is never our standard.

I should look back and see what percentage of blogs over these twelve years have mentioned a Pixar movie. So many lessons can be pulled from those delightful films. Do you remember when Marlin tells Dory that he promised nothing would ever happen to Nemo? Do you remember what Dory said?

You can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him.

Dory in Finding Nemo

I’m a little worried that the panic is creating a nation of Marlins. Because let’s be clear we are not eliminating viruses. We are always going to have people dying of them. Illnesses like Zika, Ebola, H1N1 pop up every now and then. Is this response now the standard? I honestly just don’t understand. Life isn’t safe. We say, “better safe than sorry” but we actually apply the spirit of this, not the law. We use common sense, not a legalistic mandate that is really just a platitude. I mean think about it, we could always be MORE safe than sorry. We risk being sorry all the time. We risk being sorry when we take ski vacations or swim in the ocean. We risk being sorry literally every time we leave the house, and even when we stay home, whether we acknowledge it or not, our risk is never zero.

Most of the analysis I come across is fatally flawed due to two false assumptions: (1) we can prevent death; and (2) we can make life safe. Honestly, I’d really like to hear this from some talking head:

Obviously, we are all going to die, and sadly the aged are statistically closer to dying. We also need to be ever-mindful that we can never make life safe for anyone, only God can do that. Given these realities, let’s look at our best projections…

Expert

Would that be refreshing or what?

In essence it is a spiritual problem: a stubborn defiance trying to control what only God can control.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Proverbs 19:21 NIV

I need to daily surrender my life. That’s actually not any more true now than it was in 2019, or at any other time. I am not in control and when I try to wrap my little fist around my life I only make myself miserable. I miss the peace that God wants for me. I have lived long enough to know that there is no security in hanging on tight. There is only peace in letting go, trusting Him that He has good things in store for me.

Praying that we will all live with eyes wide open to truth. We are going to die. We can never ensure our safety. And most importantly our loving God and Father is always on the Throne of Grace.

Do you long for intimate communion with the Father? Are you eager to experience God’s grace in all its glorious aspects? Do you desire to truly walk by the Spirit, not giving in to the pull of the world and the flesh? Do you yearn for God’s balm to heal the wounds of the past ? Would you like to face each day with quiet confidence and bold faith, fully prepared to cope with whatever it brings? All this and more — all the abundance of life promised by Christ —comes with surrender, my friend.

Kay Arthur, Lord, I Give You This Day

It’s true, my friends, all the abundance of life comes with surrender. Praying you know that.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Every Precaution?

Hey Friends,

I’ve been thinking about my go-to emotion. If some stranger were to yell at me, you know purely hypothetically, I would not cry or act hurt. I am much more likely to turn as mean as a snake and tear their head off verbally. Anger is my go-to emotion. About a week ago something happened that I don’t think has ever happened in my life. I woke up from what seemed a peaceful slumber as mad a hornet.

I’m not mad about the fact that we could all die. That was already a certainty. I’m mad about society’s reaction to it all. I feel disappointed that there are not many brave voices. The best piece I’ve read this week is this letter written by the president of Wake Forest. It is a wonderful letter and worth your time, but in it he says, “Every precaution needs to be taken.” And of course that’s just not true. I am desperate for some societal influencer to call a spade a spade. We never take every precaution. If we did, we’d always show up at the airport in hazmat suits, but I don’t know how we’d get there because if we took every precaution we’d ban automobiles. If we took every precaution we’d never have playdates or preschool, because as many as 600 children die of the flu every year.

The public shaming and condemnation of people willing to speak truth has wreaked havoc on our ability to thoughtfully engage about important topics. I have not heard one person point out that a century ago ventilators, even the “iron lung” model, did not yet exist. But in 2020 we have even the wisest among us say things like we need to take every precaution. With that logic, we need to have the capacity to intubate every American, and we need to irrevocably trash our economy to ensure we die of something other than COVID-19. And this is the course we are taking without meaningful debate. In fact, we simply cannot have meaningful debate because people are too afraid of being accused of being heartless. Once you pretend that we take every precaution, then there is nothing we will not do to save a single life.

The best antidote to my anger for almost thirty years is Will Jackson. He is steady as a rock, so intellectually thoughtful, and hilariously funny. He tempers all my frustrations with reasoned analysis and every single day he prays for me and makes me laugh. He’s been at the hospital every single day, working tireless hours, preparing for the worst, and he still exudes peace. We have almost three decades worth of inside jokes, and we are skilled at applying them to any situation that arises. Laughing with him is medicine for my soul. God was so so so good to give him to me. Prayers for his protection are greatly appreciated. I wish the world had a lot more like him. His courage, sacrifice and sense of duty are awe-inspiring. I so love that man.

This morning Will texted me a quote from My Utmost for His Highest:

The life of faith is not a life of mounting up with wings, but a life of walking and not fainting…[Abraham’s was the kind of faith] that has been tried and proved and has stood the test…a tried faith built on a real God. Abraham believed God.

Oswald Chambers

Do you have a tried faith built on a real God? Are you, by God’s grace, walking and not fainting? I am praying this morning that the Christ-followers across the world will believe God. I’ve thought that my tombstone, should I have one, would say, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” But maybe what would be better is: “Kristie believed God.”

Lord Jesus, please help this to be true. Help me to believe You. Help me to be strong and courageous. Help me to love others and know that you are the only Person who never disappoints. Help me not to feel angry about how disappointing people are. Help me to be ever-mindful instead of how disappointing I am. Thank you for loving me even in my very worst moments. Forgive my unbelief, and may I be salt and light in our fearful world. Amen.

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.”

Psalm 91: 14-15 NIV

May we BELIEVE GOD today and every day, knowing He is with us in times of trouble, and always, even to the end of the age.

With Love,

Kristie

P.S. Another antidote for anger (or fear if that’s your go-to emotion) is singing hymns. I do this quite a bit using the website hymnal.net. A favorite of mine is Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross. Highly recommend.

Cowards, Drama Addicts and Solutions

Hey Friends,

I don’t usually post on a Wednesday but I have some thoughts to share amidst the hysteria.  But first I want to talk about some old people I love.

Lord willing my Uncle Jack will turn 90 in October.  He’s a stud. Just like my dad he was both an engineer and a fighter pilot.  He’s been a faithful church member, caring for others, his whole life. My Uncle Jack and Aunt Ruth were our first family members to visit us at our new home in Tennessee four years ago.  He cracked up that I was worried about him driving up the mountain. He also told me how he was repairing something under his lake house. I don’t know if you have an 80-something uncle who crawls under structures to make repairs, but I find it both stunning and inspiring.  But can I be honest? Uncle Jack is going to die, and probably that won’t be too far in the future. I love him. I am in awe of him. But he’s going to die. Just like everyone else on this earth. We do not know the day or the hour, but we are all one day closer to death than we were yesterday.  Make sure you know Jesus, and proceed with life. That is always, always, always THE answer.

Where I vacation I have a next door neighbor in her 80’s. She’s the cutest most delightful person I know. I don’t mean cute and delightful for an 80-year-old. I mean she is literally THE cutest, MOST delightful person I know. Would I hug her right now? Of course not. Would I ride in the elevator with her? Nope. I could drop supplies off at her door, but I will not get close to her because I will not risk getting her sick. We all know by now that a lot of transmissions of coronavirus are from people who have no symptoms.

So here’s the deal people: Be ready to die, and proceed with life. Use common sense and be respectful of those most vulnerable.

All that said, the shutdown of life strikes me as irrational and short-sighted. Old smokers from Italy are dropping like flies and somehow this translates into shutting down schools across America. Wait, what? How do you figure?

Let’s use some perspective. We all die. There is no way to avoid death. People literally die every day. I realize that’s a ridiculous statement but we are living in world that denies reality. We need to be reminded of the most basic of truths. No measures taken by society, however draconian, will prevent death. Think about all the ways people die. There are over 38,000 automobile fatalities a year. That’s 104 per day. Almost 4000 Americans were murdered in 2019. Heart disease kills 647,000 Americans per year, or more than 1,700 per day. There were over 70,000 fatalities from drug overdoses in 2017 in the U.S., and we all know how that’s trending. Obesity related deaths total 300,000 per year. In the last ten months there have been more than 60 vaping deaths. In 2009, an estimated 18,000 Americans died of H1N1. That pandemic didn’t tank the markets or life as we know it, and it wasn’t because people weren’t dying. How and when did this nonsense that we can avoid death take root? How can we witness deaths from so many causes, and yet be utterly obsessed with this one cause?

Mr. Rogers said his mother would encourage him in the midst of something scary to look for the helpers. And that’s great advice. There are always helpers. Unfortunately there are also always cowards and drama addicts. Look for them too and avoid them like the actual plague. Do not let their voices speak into your life. Pray for them. Have compassion on them — not easy for me, at all. Honestly I feel a lot of disdain for the cowards and the drama addicts, but I am trying.

I’ve been thinking about what someone like C.S. Lewis would say.  We’ve probably all seen his sage advice about living in the age of the atomic bomb.  I’m not sure what he’d say now, but I know he wouldn’t fall in line like a lemming.  He’d have a few insights that we’d all be like, “Wow, now that you’ve said that, it seems so obvious.”  And it wouldn’t be anything that’s been said before.

I wonder too what my dad would say.  Roy Huber was the most solution-minded person I’ve ever known.  He wouldn’t panic or complain. He’d be ready to die and he’d spend his quarantine time brainstorming about what might help.  I had an idea that I think is kinda Roy-like. That’s the most boastful thing I’ve ever said in my life, but hear me out. You know how there’s a Do Not Call National Registry?  I think we should start a different kind of registry. It would require that Americans 75 and over register for a Do Everything List. If you do not register for the Do Everything List, then we will assume you are DNI (Do Not Intubate).  I think that immediately solves the care rationing problem, faster than ordering more respirators. If it doesn’t, then we lower the age. I think a lot of older Americans — who are educated about what being intubated would be like — will thoughtfully and selflessly choose not to be on the Do Everything List.  If it gets bad enough, I am happy to be DNI so that some youngster can live.  

I’m 48 years old.  I’ve lived more than half my life.  It has been a life of blessing upon blessing, grace upon grace, and enough sorrow to help me not take it for granted.  If the most pessimistic among us are the ones who get this right, by all means please save the youngster. I’d like to finish raising my sons and maybe see Israel or something, but truly, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  If you know the Creator of the world, who is the One who loves you more than anyone on this earth ever could, then what do you have to fear?

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Philippians 1:21 NIV

With Love, 

Kristie 

DISCLAIMER: THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THIS POST ARE MY OWN AND IN NO WAY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF ANY HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL I MAY KNOW, INTIMATELY OR OTHERWISE.

P.S. Read and meditate on the Psalms, especially 46 and 91.

P.S.S. Praise God for the brilliance of scientists working on the vaccine and pray that they complete their work in record time. The H1N1 vaccine was available just a few months after it reared its ugly head — which is so encouraging!

P.S.S.S Please take time to read this article. I have been saying that once the cat is out of the bag, testing would need to be universal and daily. This author wisely points out that we just need truly random testing. Maybe test by randomly chosen social security number? Bottom line is we need better information, and once you understand that cruise ship scenario you understand that testing more people with symptoms won’t reveal much at all. https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/17/a-fiasco-in-the-making-as-the-coronavirus-pandemic-takes-hold-we-are-making-decisions-without-reliable-data/

Jackson Five Friday: COVID-19

Hey Friends,

Well, the bottom fell out of regular life this week. Last Saturday night, Will and I saw Jim Breuer in concert and laughed till our faces hurt. Sunday we went to church, taught Sunday school, and went to Nate’s basketball banquet. Monday we went to Nate’s first baseball game. Tuesday we went to Sam’s band concert — he plays the trumpet. Wednesday we went to Dub’s last high school swim banquet, and then I led my high school girls’ small group. Guess what? Not one of those things can occur in our new reality. Not one. No school. No sports. No small groups. No concerts. Life will be different than it’s ever been in our lifetimes. Of course none of this means that even now I can run out of things for which to give thanks, and I bet you can’t either.

Besides always giving thanks for our innumerable blessings, we know that God is still in control. And the best thing we can do is unchanged: stand strong in the Lord and earnestly seek Him.

The great need of the hour among persons spiritually hungry is twofold: first, to know the Scriptures, apart from which no saving truth will be vouchsafed by our Lord; the second, to be enlightened by the Spirit, apart from whom the Scriptures will not be understood.

A.W. Tozer

May the result of extra time be knowing Scripture better and being more enlightened by the Spirit. I am praying that many, including me, will emerge from this time closer to the steadfast, unchangeable Lover of our souls.

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.

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1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV

With Love,

Kristie