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Anniversary – 33 years and just getting started

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I browsed anniversary cards a couple of times this week and struggled to find one that fit the occasion of the June 5, 33rd anniversary of being the Mr. to the most unbelievably beautiful, gifted, compassionate Mrs. that an undeserving guy can have. My bride, Kelly, is my best friend and soul-mate, my safe harbor, the forever love of my life.

“To A Special Wife” just didn’t cut it. (Although one of my long-time terms of endearment is telling Kelly that she is “A nice girl that I know,” a play on those cheesy greeting cards that overpopulate the card-buying options).

I picked up the card that began, “When we first met …” But that wasn’t it, either. Nor was, “I remember falling in love with you.” That was a nice touch, but it just didn’t fit. Something wasn’t quite right. I finally selected, “I want to grow old loving you,” which beat out, “I love growing old with you,” because I preferred “old” used in future rather than present tense. (And it matches what our youngest, Natasha, sang when we renewed our vows in 2007 – our 25th anniversary.)

But why didn’t the other cards work for me? For us?

I figured it out.

“When we first met …” would have referred to some time in the fifth or sixth grade when I was about half as tall as my tall bride. Even when we first starting “going together” 39 years ago in the eighth grade – matched by two friends who apparently bet each other that they could find each of us a girlfriend/boyfriend – the moment wasn’t exactly accompanied by Cupid’s arrows.

When we first met. When we fell in love. They seem like such odd concepts, really. And here’s why.

It’s not uncommon, even after all these years, tears, laughter and adventures, to learn something knew about each other. You could say we’re still meeting. I can’t describe how cool that is. Oh, I know what makes Kelly tick – and what ticks her off – and she knows me even better than I know myself. Cliché, but true. But we still discover newness on a fairly regular basis. As far as “when we fell in love?”

We’re still falling in love.

My worst trait is that I sometimes withdraw with the fear of uncharted territory, finding myself so incredibly close to another person – my person, my crazy cute wife – that it’s alarming. Just being honest. It’s exhilarating yet a little bit terrifying. I’ll try to explain it this way. Suppose you were just swimming along – swimming, swimming, swimming, checking out the reefs, colorful fish, awesome little octopi and everything – then all of a sudden you’re breathing. Maybe you’ve grown gills, I don’t know, but you realize – your mind reminds you – that you shouldn’t breathe when you’re underwater. How is that possible? It’s not natural.

To a large degree we are both products of homes that did not model for us the journey we’ve been on. We went from being “forced” boyfriend/girlfriend to confidants and rescuers of each other’s hearts in a short time. Within a year of our “going together,” the marriages in our homes imploded. (Story for another day that the implosion wasn’t sudden as it seemed, but when you’re 13, that’s what it seems like).

Married two months before my 19th birthday. (Kelly, the older woman in my life, had been 19 for six weeks). Parents at 22. Two daughters at 24. While I can’t recall a time when Kelly wasn’t part of my life, it’s difficult to remember a time when we weren’t Dad and Mom to Kishia and Natasha.

So there you have it. My “Happy Anniversary” announcement to A Nice Girl That I Know, the softest and toughest, smartest and funniest person I’ve ever known. I won’t even talk about how lucky I am. If you know Kelly and you know me – well, see what I mean?

Kelly, I love loving you, growing (older) with you, and getting to know you – and loving you more – every single day of our lives. Thank you for saying “I do” and “I still do.”

Me, too. I love you.

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My buddies

Abby the Goldendoodle missed me today. Some say she's spoiled.

Abby the Goldendoodle missed me today. Some say she’s spoiled

I recently located a list from about 10 years ago that shows the 64 critters that have bitten me. I’ll share when I have a little time to update the list. Probably more by now.

 

Hey, while you’re here, be sure to check out the Author/Blog Q&A on the tab under the header.

And a praying mantis that showed up over the Labor Day weekend. Beautiful little creature. Love reptiles and praying mantises. Put a spider on my hand and I'll faint dead.

And a praying mantis that showed up over the Labor Day weekend. Beautiful little creature. Love reptiles and praying mantises. Put a spider on my hand and I’ll faint dead.

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Changing, staying the same …

… And still embracing cliches one at a time.

After helping my bride set up her WordPress page, “Ball Jar Blue,” I was inspired to make a few changes of my own – including a new blog title. The previous title was “Jackson’s Journal,” which is now the name of one of two blogs that I have for the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Anyone out there with even a rudimentary grasp of WordPress is encouraged to critique this design and make suggestions. Feedback is welcome.

The featured page headers are basically bookmarks right now. One step at a time.

Carry on, peeps.

 

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Praise You in this Storm

Casting Crowns – Praise You In This Storm (Live) from casting-crowns on GodTube.

As I mowed the back yard earlier this evening, with rain and wind picking up but not yet in drench mode, my ear buds delivered “Praise You in This Storm.”

Good stuff.

Must share.

Enjoy.

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June 9, 2014 · 11:19 pm

32 years of mystery and revelation: Married to my best friend

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Thirty-two years ago tonight – I’m writing this on the eve of anniversary No. 32 (6/5/14) – my groomsmen, a bunch of on-fire-for-Jesus evangelicals, were probably somewhere eating pizza or studying their Bibles. I would have been right there with them except for a powerful need to be by myself. I was parked at the Belle City Park, facing the lake that had positive, powerful connections to my young life.  I stared out at the darkness, strangely calm although aware that an “I do” in about 14 hours would chart a course that I was not ready to begin.

Kelly had been 19 for six weeks. I would be 19 in nine weeks. We were just kids who were in love, drawn together six years earlier – barely teenagers – at about the same time both of our homes and lives were gut-punched by the divorce of our parents.

We weren’t “ready” to be married. Yet when I say, “Kids, don’t get married when you’re 19,” we’d do it all over again. Every day is at once new and predictable, laced with a solid measure of security yet seasoned with adventure and discovery. Kelly and I are as different as night and day yet also as similar as lifelong best friends and companions should be.

But imagine changing the way it began? Any delay, any detour might have meant missing the miracles of Feb. 26, 1985, and March 13, 1987 – the births of Kishia and Natasha. Imagine …

The night before our wedding, as I stared out over the pitch-blackness of the city park lake, I asked God for a sign, some indication of whether I should be getting hitched in a few hours. It already seemed that there had not been a time when I didn’t know Kelly – we started “going together” in the eighth grade, Nov. 22, 1976 – yet the thought that overwhelmed me at that moment was to imagine like without Kelly.

There was a lot I didn’t know at the age of nine-weeks-before-19. But what I saw at that moment was life-altering and confirming. The answer was right there in my gaze toward that dark lake: Nothing. Empty. Alone.

I didn’t see what the future held, but I saw what it wouldn’t hold if I opted out of “I do.” I’m not sure if Kelly had a similar epiphany. And if she did see even the most unfocused, however brief glimpse of our future together, the very fact that she didn’t flee and get as far from me as possible is a remarkable demonstration of grace.

I’m a mess. As a writer, I filter each word, sentence and paragraph I write through perspectives that range from, “That’s really pretty good” to “That’s the worst piece of drivel ever penned by a human being.” The wiring is basically the same when it comes to husband-hood. Just when I start thinking, “Hey, I’m finally getting the hang of this,” that other voice suggests, “Dude, you don’t even have a clue.”

I love to watch Kelly. Sounds kinda creepy, maybe, but I love just watching her: talking on the phone, reading, being Grammy to our Princess Kianna, in deep thought – sleeping. Her facial expressions, her unique-to-Kelly mannerisms and speech patterns, the look on her face when she’s sweetly and intently listening to a random stranger who approached her to just spill their guts about life’s trials and troubles. (That happens more often than I can count).

Thirty-two years.

There’s still so much I don’t know. I still don’t know how it’s possible to be so comfortable, so close and so connected to someone. And just when it seems that I’ve given my bride a lifetime of reasons to pull away and withdraw, she pulls even closer and loves even more.

Thank you, God, for Kelly, for these 32 years, our lives together, and the rest of our lives being amazed by the mystery of it all.

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Something special about today

Written for Easter 2012. “The Voice.”

But first this thought. Easter, in some form of observance, is secular, pagan, Christian or simply “religious.” What is it to you? It’s easy to get side-tracked by religious ceremony, colored eggs or a special meal. For the Jacksons – for as long as I’ve been alive – no single events in all of human history are more profound than the resurrection of Jesus Christ and his violent, Self-sacrificial death on the Cross. It was the darkest, most hopeless hours ever.

Listen. He already knows your name. He knows your heart. Listen.

The Voice.

Jodie Jackson Jr. - Author

Yesteryear’s calendar …

Easter Sunday, April 11, 1982 — Preach sunrise service, Pilot Knob Baptist Church.

John 20:15-15Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

John 10:27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

That Easter sunrise service I preached 30 years ago didn’t use the text I just shared. (That morning the text was Philippians 3:7-11, focus on verse 10). But if I had an Easter message for 2012, the title, based on the above reading from the King James Version, would be something of a take-off on the…

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Wedding countdown, 14 days away: How to wreck your marriage

car wreck 1938

Wedding day, Saturday, Sept. 7, will feature a bevy of unique elements. For starters, I’m giving away the bride. On behalf of me and my bride of 11,403 days, I’ll present Natasha Jackson’s hand to Kory Myrick. Tomorrow night (Sunday) I’m taking Natasha, our youngest daughter to dinner and a movie, sort of a last father-daughter date before she becomes Mrs. Myrick.

It was really tough passing her off to her kindergarten teacher, so I’m expecting some emotions to well up, but I’m not reluctant. She will be Mrs. to my son-in-law, Kory, a solid man whom I’ve gotten to know pretty well in the last couple of months.

What else will be unique on Sept. 7? The wedding ceremony will include the couple serving communion to the attendees. The reception will have a candy bar (think salad bar, except it’s candy). And I’ve been a bit busy these past couple of weeks perfecting my origami skills to complement the decorations and to accommodate candy-eaters. Oh, and Natasha is baking about 100 cupcakes this weekend for the cupcake tree. If you know Natasha, you know that none of this seems odd. It seems so … Natasha.

Now let’s get on with the countdown theme of “How to wreck your marriage.”

Wrecking Ball No. 2 – Be a spectator of – not a participant in – your marriage.

This is great, because a spectator has no responsibility for the outcome of the game, except to jeer or curse at game officials – referees, umpires, etc. A spectator can leave at any time, arrive late, spend all his/her time doing anything other than actually watching the game. A spectator spouse is in prime position to complain about the problems and insist that someone (the other spouse, of course) do something to fix the problem. And when the problems aren’t fixed or glossed over, then it’s not your fault at all. Someone dropped the ball.

Spectators don’t drop balls. (Well, technically they can, but unless you’re a Chicago Cubs fan interfering with a ball in play, then it doesn’t matter).

Being a spectator leads to a plethora of additional wrecking balls. For instance, if you’re not invested as a participant, spending energy, time and attention with your partner battling life together, it’s much easier to let your mind and attention wander. The worst spectators – the fair-weather fans – shift allegiance and alliance to other teams without much enticement. Which team is really hot right now? Where’s the excitement?

Spectators are free to look elsewhere; participants are only looking for ways to tackle problems and enjoy successes together.

Being a spectator is about more than simply taking your spouse for granted. It’s also saying that your allegiance is directly related to his or her performance and success.

Spectators are not obligated to show grace. (Let’s go ahead and list “Don’t freely extend grace” as Wrecking Ball No. 3).

PLAYLIST

I promise not to make the wedding countdown playlist a haven for Southern Gospel or old hymns, although there’s an origami-related story there to tell. Later.

My favorite rock band ever, Styx (with Queen, Journey and Foreigner all a close second – I’m a child of the 70s, what can I say?) …

The Best of Times

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15 days ’til wedding day

June 6 was a big day for my bride and me. (I’m pausing here, anticipating Kelly’s reaction: “How could you get our anniversary date wrong?”)

Oh I didn’t forget. June 5 was anniversary No. 31. Shocking as it is that an angelic girl had stuck around with me for 31 years, it dawned on me that the next day, June 6, was the first day of Year 32. Twenty-five was a big deal (we renewed our vows and I arrived at the church on horseback, wearing an ill-fitting knight’s helmet); 30 was unbelievable (see: 31); and with each new number, I’m even more puzzled about coming up with a different answer for, “How did you do it?”

My default response, the only one with any credibility, is simple: Ask Kelly.

As the calendar progresses toward the next day, month, year and lifetime of marriage, the days are also clicking down to another set of nuptials. Fifteen days from now (Aug. 23), Kory Myrick will make our youngest daughter, Natasha, his wife.

Here’s the head-over-heels-in-love couple.

kory-tash 082313

So you’d think I’d been busy dispensing marriage advice, right? Not really. The most input I’ve given is when Natasha laughs randomly and like a little girl about something, well, random or incomprehensible. That’s when I remind Kory, “You’re marrying her.”

No, instead of telling the husband-and-wife-to-be how it’s done, I’ll be giving 15 days worth of advice on “How to wreck your marriage.” (There’s some fancy word for using negative statements to bring about positive motivation, but I’m all out of fancy words for today).

I was already pondering this mini-series of marital caution when I ran across a blog called Single Dad Laughing. It’s (mostly) funny stuff. Entirely secular, I think, but considering that all classes and sects have 50 percent divorce rates – Christians and secular humanists alike – these are undoubtedly universal truths. The ugly truth, though, is that I’ve tried some of them to varying degrees, which is why I have such trouble answering, “How did you do it?”

Wrecking ball No. 1 – Don’t just keep secrets, but let your secrets have secrets, and those secrets have secrets, and so on. And make sure that many secrets have dollar signs, and make sure you connect all of them to your own insecurities and emotional wounds. That way, secret-keeping gets easier, because you can rationalize that exposing even the tiniest keepsie (that thing you could NEVER tell anyone, especially your wife) would be more damaging than maintaining deception and dishonor.

So, sure, keep secrets. Especially secrets about YOUR money. (We’ll revisit the your money/my money/anything-t0-do-with-money theme quite a bit over the next 15 days). Things will also begin to become markedly more faith-oriented as we go, so just a heads-up to my atheist/secular/humanist pals.

I’m also building a playlist for the couple. You can expect a eclectic, seemingly random list. I recently rediscovered how Avalon’s music speaks to me. Here’s “You Were There.”

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Loneliness And Social Anxiety

I’ve gone six months without a blog post, often overcome with the sense of “does what I write really matter?” Well, of course it does. But not as much as this honest, courageous glimpse into “Loneliness and Social Anxiety.”

Adventuring With Anxiety

Edit: I’d like to thank everyone who has commented so far, and apologize for the fact that it took me this long to respond. I had no idea I was Freshly Pressed, and as I’d only received about 5 page views, 2 likes,  and  no comments in the several days I checked my stats, I never expected so many comments to get jammed up in the moderation queue.  

It occurred to me the other day that it’s been about 7 years since I’ve had someone in my life that I could hang out with, and 9 years since I’ve had a close friend. How does time get away from you like that? I can’t quite explain it, except that in my depression I’ve learned to ignore the big picture in order to survive day to day life. I tell myself Tuesday was ok because my manager talked to me…

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Our granddaughter, Kianna, will be 1 year old in 24 days. This post from the Journal archives relives the “Countdown to Kianna” and gives an insight into my first stab at fiction writing.
Incidentally, my little Princess Kianna has been terribly sick for five days but seems to be turning the corner. Some sort of nasty virus, apparently.
She knows she can call at any time and Grandpa will be there was fast as Grammy can drive, which is faster than Grandpa. And Friday morning she did call. Our Kianna was toting around her momma’s phone (our daughter, Princess Kishia) and somehow dialed the last number called. I didn’t answer in time, but I got a beautiful voice mail from sweet little Kianna. It might sound like rambling gibberish, but the translation is, “I love you, Grandpa.” Really.

Jodie Jackson Jr. - Author

First for this commercial message, Countdown to Kianna. Twenty-nine days to delivery, Feb. 19, exactly one week before Kishia’s 27th birthday. Not sure which makes me feel older: 29 days away from changing my name to Grandpa or having a 27-year-old daughter. Sunday is set aside for baking cookies for Kishia’s baby shower next Saturday. I’m also told that planning for the mother of all baby shower cakes (a la my esteemed editor and consummate cake-baker Lora Wegman) occurs tomorrow/Sunday.

Now … what about “The Fleas”?

Channel 13 in Jefferson City (KRCG) showed scary movies at 10:30 p.m. every Friday back in the day (early to mid-1970s). My buddies and I especially enjoyed Frogs,Night of the Lepus, Mothra, The Black Scorpion … it was a long list of mostly really awful  and not-all-that-scary movies. (However, “Frogs” was downright creepy and basically established the standard for the revenge-of-nature genre. And Sam Elliott is…

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