Anne Unfiltered

Anne has very little ability to filter her own thoughts. This results in her complimenting strangers and interrupting conversations. Most of the time, she is delightful, but then there are episodes like today…

This morning, I started a new adventure in our new church – teaching a 5th grade leadership/discipleship class. My experienced co-leader warned me that this year’s class could be the biggest EVER. Kate and Anne – both being 5th graders – get to have me as their teacher. Lucky them ;)

Anne, Kate and I arrived early to church to welcome the 5th graders to class. Imagine my surprise when TWENTY NINE crazy kids showed up. Consequently, I decided to begin the year with a serious talk about behavior expectations ;) As I began my spiel, literally, as if she had planned it, Anne began SCREAMING at me. Seriously. Screaming. “Stupid, mom! I want a snack!!” Kate tried to calm her down which only made Anne madder…”KATE, STOP. I HATE YOU KATE!”

There I was – with 29 pairs of eyes staring at me – right in the middle of me trying to act all strict when my own daughter started yelling. This is what “No Filters” looks like sometimes.

I made a silly quip about how Anne was demonstrating how “Not To Behave” and gave her one of my mean “mom” looks. Miraculously, Anne calmed down. Just a few minutes later, Anne raised her hand when I asked why we needed to show respect to others. She said, “Because if you disrespect others, you are not obeying the Holy Spirit which lives inside of you and helps you to follow God.” Wow. Good Answer. This is also what “No Filters” looks like sometimes.

We survived church and had a relatively quiet Sunday. But tonight, as I was getting her ready for a bath, Anne said,

“Jesus has a good plan for my brain injury. When things are at their darkest that’s when I have to believe the most.”

This profound thought was sandwiched between excitement over new bath toys and wondering whether she had to go to school the next day. Just another thought in an unfiltered day.

I wonder what I would look like “unfiltered.” That is a very scary thought! Most of my thoughts center around myself or are critical of others. I have small moments of thankfulness and/or God-focused thoughts – but not as many as Anne.

In some ways, I believe Anne’s brain injury is an asset. She’s not self-absorbed or bound by the fear of what others will think of her. In other words, she is not encumbered by self-consciousness.

I think Anne’s secret to an unfiltered life is that there’s less of herself to get in God’s way. He works through her more powerfully, because she surrenders herself so effortlessly. I get to see ALL of her joy, sadness, anger, wonder, disappointment and excitement. It is beautiful to me – because she is wrapped in the fragrance of Jesus.

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Anne and Mary Lou

I want to tell the story of my friend Mary Lou and how God has weaved her story together with Anne’s…in the most beautiful way.

To introduce you to her, I have to go back almost 9 years – to when Anne was an infant. Mary Lou was in charge of our church’s women’s retreat, and somehow I ended up helping her with many of the last-minute details. Because I was helping her, we rode down to the retreat site together, with Anne strapped in an infant car seat in the back of Mary Lou’s car.

Mary Lou was broken.

Continue reading

A more meaningful Easter

Our family wheeled Anne through the crowded sanctuary. We hadn’t gotten there as early as we had planned. Our usual spot was taken over by the crowds on Easter. We were forced to the front. As we filled the empty chairs, Anne squealed, “Miss Debbie! Miss Debbie!”

Other than family, Miss Debbie is one of the few constants in Anne’s life. Their relationship is the same as it was before the accident when Anne was in her 3-year-old Sunday school class. We haven’t seen Miss Debbie in months. But God let us find her today. Continue reading

Lost December

I’m just tired of being sad. This December, I sorta went into an apathetic shell. Thinking back, I think I was just protecting myself from the grief that comes around the holidays. But that shell just got sandblasted. I just need to learn that it is okay to be sad during December.

In 30 short minutes, a new year will be here, and I feel a bit sad. But I’ll say that sadness is a notch better than apathetic, because at least I’m feeling something :-)

But don’t worry. God is here. He always is.

May Anne continue to make progress in 2013! And here is my list of “gratefuls” for 2012.

Key Lime Pie
Good neighbors
Anne’s crooked smile
Eric’s job
Canon’s enthusiasm
Special time with Kate
Therasuit Therapy
Erin and Stacy at church
French Horns… (I love the melancholy tone of a french horn)
Late night movie watching with Eric
My Wednesday bible study group
Mrs. Bush (Anne’s para-pro)
my new iPhone

and finally… the story of Joseph (from the Bible).

God is good. Happy New Year.

High Five!

Anne’s been struggling lately with feeling… in her words, “useless.”

She sees her brother and sister work together to clean up after dinner and she says, “I’m not a help. I’m useless.”

She compares herself to her peers and says, “I’m not good at anything. I’m useless.”

As you can imagine, Eric and I immediately tell her otherwise and we list all the ways she’s valuable. And we’ve noticed a trend. Her worth is in bringing others joy. She’s good at encouraging others, connecting with others, making others laugh.

A great example happened in church this morning… For the first time since the accident, Anne was able to participate in children’s choir. The children helped lead worship this morning, and after they finished singing their few songs, Anne (who was especially proud of herself) reached her hand out to her teacher and said loudly (so that everyone in the congregation could hear), “High Five!”

Do you know how many people commented to me about Anne’s “High Five” after church? Well… several. She’s a delight to others. And if you have a chance to tell her yourself – be sure to encourage her that she is not useless. She is a joy! At least we think so :)

Photo courtesy of Bobbi Jo Brooks Photography

Photo courtesy of Bobbi Jo Brooks Photography

Born to Last

In my former life, I wanted to be a rock star.

And then I started singing in front of people and quickly concluded that my mediocrity would never cut it! But, I still love music and every now and then I pull out my guitar and get inspired to write a song.

A year ago, I sat down with my guitar and had a vision of writing a fun, upbeat song about Anne, but I didn’t want to sugar-coat our circumstances. I wanted it to be real. So, after I finished writing it, I thought, “this might actually be good.”

Last night at one of our church’s Arts events, I had the opportunity to sing Anne’s song with our church’s house band. It was so much fun! Eric took a rough video. The words are below if you want to follow along… (Note: the recording starts half-way through the 1st verse…)

Born to Last
by K. Jackson

Verse 1
I have a picture of her in the garden skippin’
Hair blowing blonde in the sun kissed grass.
She was a wild star blazing, and a sweet song singing.
She’s her Daddy and her Momma’s little sassafrass.

Verse 2
Well. One fine mornin’ we were cookin in the kitchen
and we headed out for errands in the family van.
One wrong turn, and our lives were shattered.
Now she’s fightin’ for her life just as best as she can.

Chorus:
All of that heartache just fades to memory
in the broken girl that God’s made her now.
And we work to love her. And we’re blessed to know her.
She’s a living, breathing picture that was born to last.

Verse 3
Now she struggles with the simplest task. And she asks,
“Mama, why’d God make my life so hard?”
I say, “Jesus says He has a good plan for ya.”
But it hurts to see your girl with an old man’s scars. (Chorus)

Bridge
She wasn’t born to be an athlete or a beautiful lady in a magazine. No.
She was born to show the love that Jesus has for broken people like you and me.

Verse 4
She’s a broken vessel tired and worn.
Only seven years old, yet she’s pressin’ on.
Well, I have a feeling – when we get to heaven,
She’ll be singing, spinning dancing at the front of the line.
Singing, Spinning, Dancing at the front of the line!

We’ve moved.

I am so tired.

We have been surrounded and supported by myriads of people during this entire process. Let’s see… So many guys have helped Eric get our “new” house ready. They’ve done plumbing, electrical and carpentry work. It’s been amazing! 12 different people have helped me pack up our old house. Men from our church came last night to move boxes. Family and friends have helped with the kiddos, and Eric’s brother is coming on Saturday to help some more. With a lot of help, we are finally moved!

I am so grateful. And now I’m going to bed!

Back in the saddle…

Well, I’m teaching bible study tomorrow morning. It’s been a while since I’ve taught… so we’ll see how things go tomorrow.

I’m giving an overview of Biblical World View, Covenant Theology, the Church AND Biblical Womanhood. I told the gal who asked me to do this… “Yeah, all of that should take me about 10 minutes, and then I can teach everyone how to line dance the last hour or so.” I was kidding. I think it’s nuts to try to cover all of that in one lesson, but hey, I’m just doing what I was asked to do ;-)

There was one interesting point I stumbled upon while studying… Have you ever noticed that in the very beginning – when God created man and woman – and gave them jobs to do… (man – go work and keep the garden – and woman, you be a helper suitable for him) – that after they sinned, God cursed them with the exact opposite of their original good design. Woman will have desire for man (or desire to be over or control the man). And man will have toil all the days of his life – and in the end, he will return to dust. And what do women struggle with? Submission. And what do men struggle with? Toil-filled work and and a sense of purposelessness. No wonder life is hard. The curse of sin put in our hearts is the very opposite of what we were created and called to be! …And when did Jesus say He was coming back??? Oh yeah. He didn’t :-)

Thank you Jesus for reversing the power of sin and providing a way for us to draw near to you. Thank you for giving us the strength to persevere until that glorious day when you will come again!!

Ragamuffins

I went to my bible study at church for the first time in over a year this morning. The study has changed a lot since the time of Anne’s accident – all for good…

I was struck by the diversity of the women sitting around the table – and also by the openness… One widow who has a broken relationship with her son. A newlywed realizing that life is not a fairytale. Another newlywed – who is also a widow – experiencing a season of respite after many years of suffering. A woman celebrating her anniversary and the miracle of three adopted children. Another woman thankful for her 46 years of marriage. One expecting her first child. Another celebrating the marriage of her stepson, but still remembering the tragic death of her step daughter. And then there’s me… Absentminded mom to three – and one of those three happens to have a brain injury.

For all our differences, we have one interesting trait in common. We are all ragamuffins, broken vessels, tarnished daughters – but daughters, none the less! I’m more comfortable with others’ brokenness and scars than before the accident.

I think about the kind of people with whom Jesus spent time… Those tax collectors and sinners – the scandalous sort that religious folk avoided. This morning, as I listened to the stories of the women around the table, I thought, “we’re the kind of scandalous folk Jesus would like to hang out with.” Not pretentious. No walls of religious superiority. Just our broken selves, around a table, sharing a meal. It felt good to be at bible study again :-)

I love words!

This past Sunday, I sang in our church’s ensemble. We sang a paraphrased version of Psalm 42 set to an Appalachian folk melody. It was beautiful. Way too high for me to sing well, but beautiful:-) One of the members of the ensemble noted that two words were flipped in the third verse. As I studied the text, I disagreed with him and we started a discussion that continued on and off throughout the morning (and that we both relished).

See what you think. Here’s the text… (emphasis mine)

As longs the hart for flowing streams
So longs my soul for You, O God;
My soul does thirst for the living God.
When shall I come to see Your face?

My tears have fed me day and night
While men have said, “Where is your God?”
But I recall as my soul pours dry
The days of praise within Your house.

Why do I mourn and toil within,
When is it mine to hope in God?

I shall again sing praise to Him,
He is my help, He is my God.

My friend thought the text should read: “Why do I mourn and toil within, when it is mine to hope in God?” In other words, “Why do I mourn when my hope is in this amazing God?” His view is theologically sound… But I agreed with the text as written. The Psalmist asks two questions… “Why do I mourn and toil within? When will I be able to hope in God again?” He encourages himself with the truth that he “shall again sing praise to Him, He is my help, He is my God.”

I fought back tears as I thought about this text. I know how it feels to mourn and toil and wonder if I will ever have hope again. I know how it feels to encourage myself with the truth that this season of grief will pass and I will again sing praise to Him, because He is my help and my God. I know (like so many others) all. too. well.

What’s interesting is the portion of Psalm 42 this text is based on… Check this out:

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God (Psalm 42:11).

I would suggest that neither of our interpretations is correct! The Psalmist (David) is indeed mourning, but he doesn’t ask when he will be able to hope in God again, and he doesn’t claim to already have hope in God. No, he tells himself to hope in God because He is his salvation! A subtle difference, but so important.

My friend’s interpretation focused more on God’s character and failed to give adequate weight to the psalmist’s mourning. My interpretation was too focused on the toil within. David got it right. His soul is downcast. What is the answer? God (period).

I love words!