Jackson Five Friday: One Hope

Friends,

I skipped posting last week because I had the opportunity to spend a three-day weekend with my family.  No sporting events or other obligations, just the five of us hanging out.  I try to not take those times for granted.  I know my boys will soon be grown, and I’ll never regret any time I focus just on us.

But I have been thinking about all the events in the news too, from school shootings to the passing of Billy Graham.  It hasn’t been a very uplifting stretch.  Then last night I got horrific call.  A dear friend of mine in Virginia is facing unbelievable heartache.

The sorrows feel unrelenting, the waves of heartache bunched together like never before.  Where are the still waters?  Where are the green pastures?  I can tell you where they are not.  They are not in the news.  They are not in the laws.  No person, wise and old, or young and idealistic, can lead you there.  Why continue looking to anything in this world for answers?  It’s never provided any peace, any hope, not a single green pasture.  Apart from God, the bent of this world is utter devastation and destruction.  No one looking at facts could possibly deny it.

There is only one hope: Jesus.  His peace passes all understanding, both for this life and for the eternity that awaits.  His life gives ours purpose and direction.  His death marks our pathway to eternity with Him.  He is the Light of the World.  What sense does it make to reject Him and then rage at the darkness?  It’s an absurdity.  The Light was given for you and for me.  May we invite Jesus in to every dark corner of our hearts.  May our lives be just as Jesus described, like a city on a hill, shining brightly and undeniably for Him.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:14-16

With Love,

Kristie

 

Jackson Five Friday: Torn ACL Blessing

Hey All,

Nope, no new injuries in the Jackson household. Praise God!! But I recently met a man who told me about how his torn ACL was a blessing. This gentleman was a Div I basketball player, and he told me how he needed this injury. He said it was vital that God humble him. At first, he said, he was angry. But that the injury ended up changing his whole outlook on life. Now, everyday he wakes up, he is full of gratitude. The obvious sincerity of this man brought tears to my eyes. I want to exude joy the way he does.

And I’d give anything for my boys to have this kind of never-ending gratitude. But can I be honest? They don’t. Not even close. Not a one of them. The thing is I feel like I’m not nearly as influential (for good or bad) as I thought I’d be as a mother. Let me give you an example. My sixteen-year-old has never ever, in his over 100 days of driving, said the following: “Have you seen my keys?” Nor has he ever, even momentarily, misplaced his phone. With me for a mother, how is that even possible? If there is anything at all I’ve been consistent about, it is showing him how to lose these personal items multiple times a day.

And then this weekend (hence the late post), the handsome, organized little devil went and swam his heart out at the Tennessee State Meet. He finished 5th and 6th in his individual events and both his relays were 2nd in the state. As you might imagine, I am bursting with pride. But I’m also just in awe of how much work and dedication and focus such a feat requires. Again, one may wonder if he is indeed mine.

But even for personality traits that I might like to give him, like a bent towards optimism, it’s the same story. I think mainly all three of my sons were born with certain dispositions and the influence of nurture is pretty limited. I should rephrase that. Parental nurture is pretty limited. Godly nurture, as the former Div I athlete illustrates, is limitless.

So parenting involves more prayer, more loosening of my own grip, more yieldedness to God’s will and means, than I ever could have imagined. A sense of peace comes not from knowing I’m doing a good job as a mother, but knowing that God has a plan. In fact, His plan is good, pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2).

May I seek first His Kingdom. May I offer myself to God as a living sacrifice. May I never be conformed to the patten of this world, but renew my mind. Then I will know His good, pleasing and perfect will. May I live each moment yielded to the Lover of my soul.

Praying the same for all of you.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Praying Away Traffic

Friends,

I used to be in a hurry all the time.  I constantly cut it close, almost always arriving late.  I have honestly gotten much better.  God has thoroughly shown me over and over and over again that “hurry hurry has no blessings,” or in Swahili “haraka haraka haina baraka.”  Of course, I said better.  I’m not cured.  This week Sam and I were in a situation where I cut it way too close, and it was absolutely vital that we arrive on time.  When we were about ten miles away from our destination, the map on my phone turned red.  The route had some kind major incident and being that we were in the middle of nowhere we had no alternative route.  We were supposed to be 12 minutes out but the phone suddenly said 24 minutes.

Sam started to get really worried.  I was trying not to reveal how utterly sick I felt about creating this stressful situation.  Here was my inner dialogue.  “We should pray about this.  But shoot, I know Sam will act weird about it.  Maybe I shouldn’t even tell him that I’m praying about it.  What?  What are you saying?  Of course, you should pray about it with him!

I grabbed his perpetually warm little hand.

“Sam,” I said.  “We need to pray about this.”  And so I did.  I prayed aloud that God would please, please clear a path.

I know how trite this sounds, but when I looked at the map again, the red was gone.  The traffic, which seemed to be caused by a temporary, one-way flag situation — based on the fact that no cars had been passing in the opposite direction and then a whole slew did — was suddenly moving at full speed.  We never saw what caused the slowdown.  And yes, the path could have been about to clear anyway, but we’ll never know for sure because we did pray about it.  The most logical answer is that God answered our prayer, even though I do not deserve to have such self-inflicted stress relieved.  God heard our prayer and the traffic cleared.  Those are really the only two pertinent facts.

I am not advocating treating God like a genie in the bottle.  But I don’t just cry out to God in times of need.  I talked to Him a lot.  I tell Him how grateful I am.  I tell Him how much I love His creation.  I tell Him how much I need Him.  I beg Him for mercy and for wisdom.  I need to do this even more.  The Bible says, “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Someone once said, and I wish I could find the exact quote, that they talked to God more than they talked to anyone else.  That’s a telling statement.  With each passing day, may it be more and more true of me.

A.W Tozer said, “We please God most, not by frantically trying to make ourselves good, but by throwing ourselves into His arms.”

May we all throw ourselves into His arms!  It’s the best place to be.

With Love,

Kristie

 

Jackson Five Friday: Tibia Lessons

Friends,

Last week my son, Sam, broke his tibia skiing.  It’s a spiral fracture so I’ve learned that the x-ray view is of great importance.  From one view it looks like there’s a small horizontal crack in his bone, but the x-ray shot from above reveals the crack spirals down the inner part of the bone.  It’s amazing what you can learn in eight short day, and not just about tibias and x-rays.

For one thing, I’ve learned that I’ve been lacking in empathy.  Three of my five nephews have broken a bone in their leg or foot in the last year.  Did I feel terrible for them?  Of course.  Did I have any appreciation for what this actually meant for them or their caretaker?  Uhh, no.    True empathy is always a good thing.

Secondly, it’s been a good reminder that despite my plans to go here and do that, and “tear down this barn and build a new one,” the truth is I cannot guarantee that I will live another day.  Instead, I want to live my life taking nothing  for granted.

Third, I’ve witnessed my son rally and mature this week in ways I could not have predicted.  When things seem terrible, it’s a great life lesson to know they don’t stay that way forever, or in this case, for very long at all. There can be times when the fallen state of the world weighs heavy on your soul.  I have been praying this week about some truly heavy things for some friends. But even in dark days, it’s good to remember that it won’t always be like that.  There’s a song I used to sing a lot with my mom about this. Here are the lyrics.

Someone said that in each life some rain is bound to fall

And each one sheds his share of tears

And trouble troubles us all

But the hurt can’t hurt forever

And the tears are sure to dry


And it won’t rain always

The clouds will soon be gone

The sun that they’ve been hiding has been there all along


And it won’t rain always

God’s promises are true

The sun’s gonna shine in His own good time

And He will see you through

 

Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.”  But He didn’t say it would be ALL trouble. Plus, He told us that He loves us and would never forsake us.

 “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,

 

In the midst of sorrow or on life’s mountaintop, Jesus is always there. I hope you take heart in that!

Peace,

Kristie

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