Jackson Five Friday: Underdog Love

Hey Friends,

I’m pretty sure March Madness is more anticipated than Christmas for the teenagers in our house. They love this season and are faithful to decorate with brackets constantly strewn about. Plus, we all fell madly in love with UVA when Will went there for his MBA nearly a decade ago. However, given a very unusual string of events, all five of us went to bed at halftime of that wretched game. I was in Florida with the boys, where Dub was swimming in a national meet (can’t stay up till all hours and swim well), and Will was at a board retreat for work, with Saturday meetings all that next day. Even though I normally love underdogs, it wasn’t terribly joy-inducing to wake up to that twenty point loss. What in the world?!?

But I am totally loving Sister and her Final-Four-bound Ramblers. I love how the players hug her after each win. I love how remarkably well spoken she is. I love how the coach claims the glory belongs to God.

Tomorrow, churches around the world celebrate a high point for an underdog. Jesus, who was rejected by his own hometown, was paraded into Jerusalem like a king on Palm Sunday. Yet not a single person present at the triumphal entry could’ve guessed how the week would play out. The praise and adoration turned quickly to chants of “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

But maybe we crave the underdog victory, in part, because it’s a reflection of ultimate truth. The humble man on the cross, who was born in a stable and lived a modest life? Yeah, He conquered death! And I know what an undeserving piece of work I am. But I am loved beyond measure and am not only cared for in this life, but I get to spend eternity with the Lover of my soul. It’s incredible news for an underachieving, sinning underdog like me.

For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans‬ ‭6:23‬ ‭

Free is good, especially when you have no shot at earning it. I hope you too cling to this amazing victory!

Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Missing the Obvious

Friends,

It’s been an unusual week. I spent most of the last seven days at a swim meet with my oldest son. Since the meet draws swimmers from all over the nation, we saw many kids from the DC area, both former teammates and rivals. When I saw the name of one favorite teammate and carpool buddy up on the scoreboard, I realized he was swimming in the lane almost directly below me. I snapped a picture of him and texted it to his mom. I’d guess that the majority of swimmers travel with just the team and coaches — no parents. So it seemed reasonable to me to think this young man, Adam, was there without his parents.

“Go Adam!” I said in the text.

But here’s the hilarious part: the picture is of the back of both parents’ heads. These are longstanding friends of ours, but I was so focused on getting a shot of Adam that I didn’t even notice. I cracked up when my friend texted me back and told me. There they were, plain as day.

I feel like this is a spiritual reality for many in the modern era. People look at the skies and fail to see a maker, behold the ocean and deny its glory. They read the Bible and reject its plain message. How am I guilty of this? Where am I missing the obvious? It’s a disconcerting thought.

But I know the solution. I need to seek God with all my heart and pray for wisdom. I need to soak in and meditate on Scripture.

Praying now for the week ahead. May I devote myself to seeking, praying and meditating. I know then I’ll never miss what’s truly important.

Call to me and I will answer you, and tell you of great and hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:3

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Learning from Lament

Hey Friends,

Hope you are all well.  It’s been a relatively quiet week in our house, which is kind of nice because I am traveling again this coming week.  My oldest son is missing a full week of school to participate in a national swim meet in Orlando.  It’s rough having to chaperone and all, but I think I’ll make the most of it reading poolside between events!  Seriously, although I wish our whole family could go, I’m super excited about this meet.  For the first time since we’ve moved to Tennessee, Dub will swim alongside former teammates from the DC area.  I love the rare instance where our new and old worlds collide.

Anyway, this week I’ve been thinking about how vital it is to know that God’s mercies are new every morning.  I’ve watched all three of my sons experience discouragement in different areas this week.  For Dub it was a challenging class at school, for Nate it was baseball, for Sam it was broken leg related (as an aside please pray he gets a boot at his appointment on Tuesday).  But I think no matter what the hard thing is, the lesson is the same.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22-23

The world can feel so dark.  It wants us to believe that things will never be better — that tomorrow will be just like today.  But if you follow Christ, everything is working together for good, and you should boldly claim each day as a new beginning.  Yes, learn from your mistakes, but live in the freedom of knowing His steadfast love NEVER ceases.  His mercies never, ever end.  Embrace every new day as a gift, as a chance to do it right, praising God for His faithfulness.

When my sons are grown, when I’m not even alive anymore, I hope they’ll cling to the truth that God’s mercies are new every morning.

So when you see the sun rise this week, when you hear the birds begin to chirp, take a minute to thank God for the clean slate of a brand new day!

With Love,

Kristie

 

Jackson Five Friday: Karma

Hey Friends,

It’s been a heavy week. Any week you attend a funeral for a forty-eight year old is, by definition. But it wasn’t just that. So, I’ve needed a good laugh. And I got one at my own expense, as usual.

In October, the five of us spent a few days in New York City. It started out with just Nate, Sam and me tagging along on Will’s work trip. But then Dub’s swim team training trip to Florida was cancelled at the last minute because of a hurricane. He ended up flying up alone to Newark and navigating his way to meet up with me at Penn Station. As an aside, I think it’s fantastic to give kids — he was still fifteen at the time — a chance to do something that feels intimidating. I generally have a can-do attitude and I desperately want my boys to have confident independence when it comes to travel. Plus, can you imagine my 6 foot 5 inch son being an unaccompanied minor delivered at the gate by a flight attendant? How absurd is that? I was telling my brother, Jeff, one time about the airline regulations governing travel of a minor.

He could not stop laughing. He said, “I can just see Dub being walked out, hand in hand with the flight attendant. ‘Do you see your Mommy?'”

Hilarious, but no thanks!

Anyway, he made it and the four of us used the subway to dart all over the city. It’s a dirty way to go, but you can’t beat the ease and efficiency. The only problem was Nate. Somehow every time we went through the turnstiles he had an issue. He went too slow or somehow got jumbled up. The three of us were dumbfounded by how he could have an issue with something so simple.

“NATE!!” We gasped.

“What on earth? Nate!!!!”

I bet it’s obvious where this is going. Yep, I was briefly back in NYC this week to meet my grandnephew who will be two months tomorrow. After spending time cuddling with him, and delighting over his adorable dimples that he flashes constantly, it was time to go.

Wednesday morning we strolled with Baby to a local bagel place and then I ducked down the stairs to the Subway. I had a rolling suitcase and a shoulder bag. It was just before 9am so there were quite a few people flying effortlessly through the turnstiles. But my can-do attitude failed me. Somehow I got my suitcase handle stuck on the turnstile. It locked in place, my suitcase dangling from its steel arm. I tried to slide it off, yank it off. Nothing worked. The busy New Yorkers behind me were thrilled by my ineptitude. I pulled so hard that it bent the suitcase handle. Now it requires immense force to collapse into its slot, or to pull it up. I honestly don’t even know how I broke free. I just know after fighting with the stubborn turnstile for what felt like a very long time, it cried uncle and gave me back my battered suitcase.

Needless to say, our repeated, “NATE!!!”s were immediately cued up in my inner dialogue. I laughed all the way to Penn Station.

I got home that night at 12:15a. Nate had called me when I was maybe an hour away. I told him to go to bed. He begged to stay up.

“I just want to talk to you,” he said. “I just want to hear about everything.”

When I walked in, he’d not only waited up but cleaned up. The family room in particular was spotless. I plopped down and told him all about his new cousin, all about the funeral and he cracked up about how the turnstiles had taken revenge on his behalf.

I’ve been praying about connecting with this middle child who is sometimes lost in the busy mix. It’s amazing to me how faithful God is to answer my prayers. A number of sweet things have happened since I started praying specifically about it. Is there some interpersonal relationship you should be praying about more?

Jeremiah 29:12-13 says, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

He listens. May I seek Him with all my heart. Praying the same for you.

With Love,

Kristie

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