Saturday, December 24, 2016


Tomorrow morning, people all over will gather, open their Bibles, and turn to Luke chapter 2.  Most of our Christmas mornings begin with these words…
“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered… And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
I spent the month of December anticipating the Coming, the birth of our rescuer, Jesus Christ.  Christmas is all about His birth.  Easter is all about His death.  But I find that reflecting on His death, His sacrifice, and His life, heightens my anticipation of His birth.  It actually changes Christmas.

The birth of Jesus was the start of a 33 year journey
that ended on a Friday that we call Good.

A baby, placed in a wooden box.
A man, nailed to a wooden cross.

I've spent the last couple of weeks in this non-traditional Christmas passage...

Jesus stood before Pilate, the governor, who asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”  Jesus answered, “Yes, that’s right.”  Then, when the leading priests and the older Jewish leaders made their accusations against Jesus, he said nothing.  So Pilate said to him, “Don’t you hear all these charges they are making against you? Why don’t you answer?”  But Jesus did not say anything, and this really surprised the governor.  Every year at Passover time the governor would free one prisoner—whichever one the people wanted him to free.  At that time there was a man in prison who was known to be very bad. His name was Barabbas.  When a crowd gathered, Pilate said to them, “I will free one man for you.  Which one do you want me to free: Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?”  Pilate knew that they had handed Jesus over to him because they were jealous of him.  While Pilate was sitting there in the place for judging, his wife sent a message to him.  It said, “Don’t do anything with that man.  He is not guilty.  Last night I had a dream about him, and it troubled me very much.”  But the leading priests and older Jewish leaders told the people to ask for Barabbas to be set free and for Jesus to be killed. Pilate said, “I have Barabbas and Jesus.  Which one do you want me to set free for you?”  The people answered, “Barabbas!”  Pilate asked, “So what should I do with Jesus, the one called the Messiah?”  All the people said, “Kill him on a cross!”  Pilate asked, “Why do you want me to kill him? What wrong has he done?”  But they shouted louder, “Kill him on a cross!”  Pilate saw that there was nothing he could do to make the people change.  In fact, it looked as if there would be a riot.  So he took some water and washed his hands in front of them all.  He said, “I am not guilty of this man’s death.  You are the ones who are doing it!”  The people answered, “We will take full responsibility for his death.  You can blame us and even our children!”  Then Pilate set Barabbas free.  And he told some soldiers to beat Jesus with whips. Then he handed him over to the soldiers to be killed on a cross.  {Matthew 27:11-26}
This Christmas, my thoughts keep going to the one who lived.
The one who was set free.

A thief.  A murder.
An all around bad guy.

The murderer lived.
The Messiah died.

I find myself dreaming of what became of Barabbas.
How did this guilty man feel when he was set free?
Did that moment change him?  Give him purpose?
I so want to know that Barabbas didn’t, for one second, waste his pardon.
I so want to hear that Barabbas spent the rest of his life preaching the Gospel of grace.  But I don't think that's what happened.

And as I'm feeling frustrated and disappointed in a man I don't even know,
God quietly whispered to my heart...
Did that moment change you?  Did it give you purpose?
My cross was your cross, Jackie.  Are you wasting your pardon?
I took your place so you could live.  Who are you living for?

And that has messed up my Christmas.

We spend so much time making Christmas into something that it was never meant to be.  The world wants Christmas to be about a baby, and presents, and Santa, and an elf.  The world wants us to make Christmas about us.  But when you remove the distractions and set time aside to focus on the Coming, it messes you up.  When you take time to remember the humble birth ended in a violent death because of my sins and your sins, it changes you.  When I picture myself as Barabbas, standing next to Jesus, and guilty me gets to go free, it's just too much.

Christmas is love.
Christmas is grace.
Christmas is Jesus.

His birth, His life, His death.

They are all connected.
They are all important.
And they were all motivated my love.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
{Philippians 2:5-8}

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


Photo Credit
Today is the day.

Today I will detour from my normal, I will exercise my freedom and my rights, and I will stand and speak without saying a word.

Today I will cast my vote.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016, I will vote for the person I would like to see step into the position that only 44 other people in the history of America have held.  I can’t even begin to imagine what it is like to be THAT person.  To be the President of the States that only Unite in the midst of tragedy, then turn on each other again.

The top candidates names and faces are on every street corner and sprinkled in yards all over the country.  We are divided into red states and blue states and the media is working hard to provide info and sound bites that help us make the decision THEY think is best.  The one thing we seem to be united on is our overall disappointment in our choices.

Living in America is an honor and privilege.
The freedom to have a voice and a vote is a gift.

But my hope and salvation is not found in an election, but they are found in the person of Jesus Christ and His finished work on the Cross.

We are a broken humanity choosing broken people to run a broken country.

But God.
He specializes in taking broken people and making them whole.
He often uses our brokenness as a vessel for His glory to shine.

What if we allowed our brokenness and our differences to be the things that actually connect us to each other?  We can’t be diverse if we aren’t different and if we aren’t different there would be no reason to unite.  So today, my vote might not be the same as yours and my voice might not speak the same message, but I pray that these States will unite behind the person elected to be number 45.  I pray that our own brokenness opens the door for us to extend grace to each other this year and it brings healing to our hearts, our hurts, and our land.  

“Every kingdom that is divided against itself will be destroyed. And any city or family that is divided against itself will not survive.”
[Matthew 12:25]

Friday, August 19, 2016


We have lived in five different states and eleven different houses and saying goodbye is always hard.  But this is different.

Today, we said goodbye to 790 Clinton Circle, the place we’ve called home for the last seven years.  It is the longest we have ever lived in one house and it has been the most trying seven years of my life.

As I filled in holes, touched up paint and cleaned the house for the last time, I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I was wiping away and covering up all evidence of how hard life has been the last seven years.

We moved in a family of three, in the middle of the adoption process.
We moved in not knowing how that adoption would change our lives.

I moved in the me before Miles and 790 Clinton Circle would be the place God would break me of me. 

790 Clinton Circle became a place of isolation.  A prison of sorts.  Miles couldn’t handle real life and I couldn’t handle Miles.  We stayed locked away inside because keeping Miles safe was hard and important and a full-time job.  The walls concealed the cries and screams of a broken desperate mama and it often felt more like a battlefield than a home.

790 Clinton Circle became a place of refuge.  In my desperation, God showed up.  He knocked on the door, entered my mess, and leaned in.  He reached down, grabbed my hand, and slowly pulled me out of the pit I found myself in.
Grace upon grace.

790 Clinton Circle was a great place for our family to land for a season, but we knew it was time to move on.  Our neighborhood is defined as a carefully planned, multi-use community that brings out the best in humanity, and for the most part, that’s probably true.  But the downfall of living in an area where covenants keep houses and yards nice and neat is that assume the people in those homes have it all together.  No mess, no weeds, no junk.  And when their grass gets a little too high and the landscape starts to look unkempt, you can quickly find yourself more concerned about the look of their home instead of the people inside.

So when God moved us out to the lake, I fell in love.  The neighborhood is a more accurate reflection of me.  It’s a little messy, it’s not fancy, and it’s not trying to impress anyone.   The view from our house is breathtaking, but the view I fell in love with first was the perfectly imperfect neighborhood that we now call home.  Cars are on blocks in front yards, several homes have mini junk yards around back, and weeds surround vans that haven’t been moved in a long time.  Children run and play in the streets speaking languages I don’t speak and I can’t wait to learn all of their names.

790 Clinton Circle prepared us for this day, for this season, and for this neighborhood.  Our new home is our new mission field.  It is the place that we pray will have a massive impact for eternity.  I am so grateful that He trusted us with a space that, every time we come and go, we see needs.  Physical needs that we can meet that will prayerfully open doors for us to share Jesus.

Clinton Circle, you served us well.  You blessed us with sweet neighbors who became friends and memories that will last a lifetime.  And tonight, we say a tearful goodbye.

“There is a season for everything
and a time for every delight and
event or purpose under heaven-“

{Ecclesiastes 3:1}

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


I met the sweetest baby boy seventeen years ago today and I have been smitten ever since.  Alex Harmon entered my world and stole my heart.

He was so patient with this mama, who had no idea what she was doing.
He was always so quick to love and so quick to forgive.

Oh how I wish I could go back and be the mom I am today for that sweet little boy.  If anyone deserves the mom I get to be to Miles it’s him.

I cared too much what people thought of me.
It affected my rules, my words, and my actions.

Alex deserved a mom whose identity was grounded and anchored in Christ, and not in her role as a wife and mom.  He deserved a mom who knew the God of the Bible and trusted that He was indeed a good, good Father.  He deserved a mom who desired to connect to his heart before correcting his behavior.

But God.
And Grace.

He didn’t get what I think he deserved,
but instead he got messy imperfect me.

He got to witness what it looks like to be broken.
He got to watch what it looks like to walk the path of healing.
He got to see God put the pieces of my shattered heart back together.

No, Alex Harmon didn’t get what he deserved, but God kept His word and worked all things together for good.

Alex doesn’t need broken, messy me.
Alex doesn’t need put together me.
Alex needs me to willing to empty myself of me so that Jesus can shine.  That’s how I can love him and forgive him and serve him without abandon and without regret.  That’s how I can live love.  That’s all he needs.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God
is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
{Romans 6:23}

Thank you, Jesus, for taking our place on the cross so that none of us have to get what we deserve.  Thank you for modeling what it looks like for a human to be fully connected to God.  I pray what was said of you in Luke 2 will be true of Alex Harmon, that he “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.”

Henry Varley said, "The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him."  Alex, I challenge you to be that man.  I have told you since you were little that God was going to use you to change your world and I believe that with all of my heart.  Jesus says over and over in scripture that He came to do the will of His Father.  Make that your mission.  In John 13, an all-powerful Jesus demonstrated His power by taking off his robe, tying a towel around his waist, and serving.  He served those He loved and those who did not deserve His love.  He took their filthy, dirty feet and washed them clean.  Clothe yourself in humility.  If anyone deserved to be praised and honored, it’s Jesus.  And yet, He humbled himself, gave up all rights and all power, and became human.  And obeyed.  And served.  I pray that it bothers you, that it messes with your head, that it stirs your soul, that Jesus was more humble than you and than me.  May it never be!

Alex Harmon,  you are a joy and gift I don't deserve.  You are sweet, kind and you make life fun.  I simply adore you and am absolutely crazy about you!  You are so very loved and I hope that you have the best day ever!  Happy 17th Birthday, sweet boy! 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


There are over 1,025,109 words in the English language.
Over one million words and yet I am struggling to find the perfect ones.

What words do I string together to accurately describe the last 20 years?
What words do I use to express how absolutely crazy I am about my man?

I became Mrs. Keith Harmon 7,305 days ago and yet it seems like yesterday.

We stood side by side at the altar and listened as our Pastor spoke these words…

“Keith, never sacrifice your marriage on the altar of ministry.  Although ministry is important, it’s not more important than your marriage.  Jackie, in ministry, your husband is going to face adversity.  Your tendency is going to be to defend him.  Don’t.  Your job is not to defend him but to pray for him.”

We took those words to heart, passed them along to our friends in ministry, and 20 years later, those words are just as important today as they were then.

It’s amazing.
It’s hard.

We have lived a lot of life in the last 20 years.
We have experienced great joys and great sorrows.
We have walked through the happiest of days and the darkest of days.

It’s important.
It’s worth it.

I have spent this week asking myself two questions…
(1)  Is my marriage a marriage worth duplicating?
(2)  Does my marriage accurately display the love of Jesus Christ to the world?

If not, what do I need to change and work on?
How does my answer to those questions reflect my walk with the Lord?

Marriage can be tough, but it was all God's idea and He had a specific purpose and plan when He designed it.

My marriage to Keith is suppose to make me look more like Jesus.
My marriage to Keith is meant to display love, forgiveness, grace and mercy.
My marriage to Keith is designed to point people to Jesus and bring glory to God.

It's a serious commitment.
It's suppose to be forever.

Today and everyday, I choose you.
Happy 20th Anniversary!

Thursday, July 7, 2016


I have two sons.
One white.
One black.

I am a white mom with a black son and days like today, with news of black men being shot for being 'just black in the wrong place', I forget that I’m white.  I feel things that I never felt as a mom of a white son.

I feel rage.
I feel scared.
I feel sad.

I feel the need to take a stand, to protect my son, to fight back.
And then I remember, I’m not black.

I don't have your personal experience, but I desire to understand.
I don't pretend to know how you feel, but I join you in taking a stand.

I am a white mom with a black son who has Autism, and that combination worries me.  If he finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, he’s in real danger because he looks completely normal, but doesn’t respond to basic commands.

He won’t listen.
He won’t obey.
He won’t comply.

He won’t know he’s in danger and will even run and turn his back.
He won’t know to be afraid because he doesn’t know he’s black.

I am a white mom with a black son and my heart grieves.  I am mommy to a little black boy who will grow up to be a young black man and unless something in our system changes, that thought frightens me.

So today, I stand.

I stand for unity.
I stand for love.
I stand for you.
I stand for us.

"Since the gospel of grace removes the wall between all ethnicities and races, His death on the cross has made us one in Jesus Christ.  It is time for the walls of racism and injustice to come down!... When grace is experienced personally and collectively, love will be demonstrated loudly and consistently."  {Ronnie W. Floyd}

Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed.
Carry [endure, bear, share] their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that
[to important to condescend to shoulder another's load],
you are badly deceived.
{Galatians 6:2-3}

Thursday, June 30, 2016


Expedition Everest @ Animal Kingdom
Walt Disney World

I love roller coasters.

When we lived to Orlando, we lived equal distance from the Disney parks and Universal Studios.  We could be at either place in about 10 minutes and it was not unusual for us to be at a park several times a week.

One morning, after dropping off Alex at school, I was driving home and I decided to take a little detour.  Since my to-do list that day included laundry and cleaning, I thought a little excitement before my boring day would be nice.  I ran into Islands of Adventure and the plan was to ride The Incredible Hulk a couple of times before heading home.  There was no line because it was off-season, so I hopped on and rode the roller coaster.  When the ride was over, I decided to go again.  And again.  And again.  And again.  I ended up riding The Hulk five times in a row... with no wait in-between.

And I got sick.
And I was reminded that I'm old.

I walked to my car, drove home and was sick the rest of the day.

I told that rather embarrassing story to our Small Group a couple of weeks ago.
We were finishing up our journey through the book of James and talking about some of our takeaways and ended up talking about trials.

James shows us the lens from which we are to view trials….

“Count it all joy when we face trials of many kinds.”
{James 1:2-3}

Jesus warns that we will face many trials…

"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.
But take heart, because I have overcome the world."
{John 16:33}

Peter tells us how to respond to trials…

"So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold— though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trialsit will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world."
{1 Peter 1:6-7}

Joy in trials?
Gladness in suffering?

I was thinking this morning about some of the past trials in my life and how God has used them to mold me and shape me into the person He has purposed me to be.

Each trial was difficult.
Each trial was different.
Each trial demanded something of me.

One thing that helps me in a trial is I assign it a roller coaster.
I’m weird.  I know.

Some trials come into your life like Doctor Doom’s Fearfall.  You are minding your own business and before you know it, 3-2-1-ZERO.  You are “rocketed skyward 185 feet into the air then hurled back down faster than the force of gravity itself.”  It is a lot at once, but as quickly as it came into your life, it’s over. 

Some trials start out nice and smooth like Expedition Everest, but on the ride, a lot of unexpected things happen and you think this ride might just be the end of you.  Just when you think you are about to fall off a cliff, the ride starts going backwards.  You can’t see where you’re going.  You feel kind of sick.  The enemy jumps out at you a few times to fill you with terror.  And then it’s over.  And you are amazed and find yourself telling people about the ride because it forever changed you and it was so worth it!

Some trials keep you in the dark like Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  The trial comes on fast and you find yourself spiraling in the dark.  You can’t see where you are going.  It feels lonely and isolating.  But 3 inversions, 2 rollover loops and 1 corkscrew later, you see light and you come to a stop.  You made it.  You survived and you can’t imagine your life before that experience.

I could literally walk you through all of my favorite roller coasters.

Each ride costs me something.
Each ride makes me feel alive.
Each ride allows me see the world through different eyes.

I can remember the first time I rode each and every one.  And when I ride them now, I get on with great anticipation of what is to come and of what I will experience.

I think that's the way we are suppose to approach trials.

“Count it all joy, my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
{James 1:2-4}

Grace recognized.

The testing of a man’s integrity, character, virtue, consistency.

“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.”
{Malachi 3:3}

To refine silver, a silversmith holds the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames are the hottest to burn away all the impurities.  The silversmith has to sit there in front of the fire the whole time and keep constant watch because if the silver is left too long, it will be destroyed.

So when Malachi tells us that God sits as a refiner and purifier of silver, he means that He sits, keeping constant watch of you.  He holds you in the hottest part of the fire to refine and purify you, but He doesn't leave you and never takes His eyes off of you.

That feels so incredibly safe.
I want to be anywhere that God sits looks intently, eyes fixed on me.

But how does God know when you are refined?
The same way a silversmith knows when the silver is fully refined.
He can see His image in it.

Trials are God testing you, refining you, purifying you, so He can look down and see His reflection.  His goal for you and for me is to be a reflection of His son, Jesus.

So when you find yourself in the middle of trial, a roller coaster, remember that God has taken His place right beside you.  He has strapped Himself in and is along for the entire ride, watching you the entire time.

The ride will never be longer that it needs to be.
The ride will never be the end of you.

So sit back, buckle yourself in, acknowledge that God is with you, and enjoy the ride.

“…we rejoice in our sufferings,
knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance
produces character, and character produces hope"
{Romans 5:3-4}

Saturday, June 25, 2016


Today, my friend buried his bride of 9 short years.
Today, two small children said goodbye to their mommy.
Today, the world lost a Jesus-girl who honored her husband, loved her children, and was faithful to her Lord and Savior.
The Shippey Family
Chris, Christina, Malakhi, Brooklyn

Last week, my friend buried her husband of 28 years.
Last week, three children said goodbye to their hero.
Last week, the world lost a mighty warrior who ran to the hurting, the broken, and the forgotten all around the world with the goal of pouring out love and spreading the Gospel by being the hands and feet of Jesus.

Craig Miller

This morning, my heart is heavy.
This morning, the tears flow freely.
This morning, I am sad that my friends have to grieve so deeply.

I can't imagine the pain involved when your spouse, your person, the one whom your soul is mingled, passes from life to death and leaves you behind.  Jesus, how does a broken one-flesh heart heal from that without having an intimate relationship with You?

You tell us in Psalm 34:18 that You are near the brokenhearted.
You tell us in Isaiah 41:10 that You will strengthen and help us.
You tell us in Psalm 147:3 that You heal the brokenhearted and bind up wounds.

God, I pray that you will envelope the deepest places of their hurting hearts today.  I pray you will be their refuge and their strength.  I ask you to bind up their wounds and lead them along the path of healing.  Jesus, I pray today that as they face dark days ahead, that you will be near.  Jesus, please be near!

These two giants, these two friends, they left a mark on the world.  My human brain can not even begin to understand how calling them home instead of leaving them here was the right decision.

Their lives brought You glory.
Their journeys pointed people to You.

Even though I am sad and confused, I echo Isaiah and declare that my thoughts are not Your thoughts and my ways are not Your ways. Your ways and thoughts are higher than mine and I stand on that truth and I trust that You know best.

To the Shippey family and the Miller family, I am so deeply sorry for your loss.  Keith and I dearly love you and would do anything for you and your children.  Christina and Craig hold a special place in our hearts and we are committed to praying for you in the days and months ahead.  

“Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will likely be your darkest days - when your heart is broken, when you feel abandoned, when you are out of options, when the pain is great – and you turn to God alone.”
{Rick Warren}