Tuesday, December 20, 2011
As the sole surviving son of a sole surviving son, the importance of my family name and the mortality of it have been ever-present companions that have served as major sources of motivation compelling me to live my life with the greatest degree of honor and righteousness possible. From my earliest days, the name “Jackson” has provided the heartbeat of my identity, the soundtrack of my daily stride and the backbone of resilience I have often needed when facing the toughest circumstances of my life. Of course, my faith in the Jesus Christ and living for the glory of His Name ultimately define me and shape all I am and all I do. Nevertheless, in His sovereignty, He gave me the heritage of the name Jackson and I have done my best to advance and protect it!
Then I became the father of daughters – only daughters. With that great blessing and tremendous responsibility I knew that I would have to live beyond the superficiality of the syllables of my name, because the name in which I took such pride in cultivating, guarding and promoting would die. Instead, I had to focus on the Foundation under the name, the Power behind the name and the Substance that actually made the name a source of beauty, honor and goodness. I had to live a life before my wife, daughters and the world that demonstrated what the Bible calls the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control”. In other words, I had to live for God to bring glory to His Name realizing that there is no glory apart from Him. I had to let “Jackson” go. BUT GOD…
God had a surprise in store for me! What an unimaginable blessing it was to learn that the daughter of my heart, the daughter of the love of my life’s flesh, the little girl Luz and I raised together who is now a godly, honorable, strong woman navigating the course of life God has appointed for her was bearing our first grandchild. What an unexpected honor it was to learn that she and our son through marriage, Mike, had decided to give their son a name that would serve to carry on the legacy of our family name to the next generation!
It is with the utmost joy, and almost uncontainable pride that I share with you the name of our first-born grandchild:
JACKSON BRANDON COHODES!
God is truly good regardless of our circumstances! I thank Him for His mercy in giving us such wonderful gifts in our children who have internalized and actualized the values we have shared and who are now blessing us by passing the baton of our heritage to the next generation! Go get ‘em Jackson! You’ve got a great name with which to live and the Greatest Name with whom to walk! Your adventure has now begun! Until Next time…
Monday, December 19, 2011
On a hot December afternoon at the Balut Base of Youth With a Mission, Philippines, I expressed my love and devotion for Maria-Luz Bautista de Jackson y Roda to the entire world and took her to be my lawfully wedded wife. The emotions of the day are powerfully etched in my mind, though some of the details are blurred together as the enormity of the commitment I was making blended events, sights and sounds into a giant collage that makes details difficult to distinguish years later. Nevertheless, I clearly remember the beauty of my bride, the innocence of my children and my eagerness to live with and love my new family for as long as the Lord allowed me to live.
The 22 years that have followed have been sweet and blessed. Of course, we as a family have experienced the full span of human drama and challenge that life in this world brings. Nevertheless, we have seen the faithfulness of the Lord in every circumstance and trial and count ourselves blessed to have experienced much deliverance and mercy through the hands of our friends. It is in the context of community that our marriage has been able to grow, mature and endure. We are not islands unto ourselves neither as individuals nor as families. We need friends and loved ones to encourage us, to rally us and to lift us up so that we can face life’s challenges with confidence and courage.
It is for that reason as Luz and I celebrate 22 years of marriage, we want to especially celebrate your friendship us. We thank you for standing with us, standing for us, and cheering us on as our family continues to grow and as we press on in the service of the Lord. We give God the glory and praise for 22 years of marriage and we salute you for helping to make such a celebration possible through your love! We prayerfully look forward to more years of walking with you and glorifying God together in all of life’s celebrations and challenges! What would we do without you! Thank you for being our friends! Until next time….
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Almost exactly 7 years ago to the very minute I find myself recording this precious memory, our youngest daughter, Victoria, was born prematurely at St. John Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. She weighed in at a tiny 1lb, 13ounces and with the loudest cry she could muster, let out a victorious squeak to announce her arrival to the world. We were comforted by the confidence and skill of an amazing NICU unit and by an ultimate confidence in Our Lord who would see us through this challenge whatever the outcome might be. As we gazed on our newest family member, Luz and I were full of awe at her tiny, yet beautiful frame and looked on with wonder that someone so small could survive such an ordeal. After her first day of life, the reality of the situation was made clear to us. We were warned to not necessarily expect a great outcome. We were briefed on a number of complications that might cling to her for life - if she continued to live. The bleak news was not really news to us as we suffered the loss of another daughter under similar circumstances less than two years before. After having our parade of joy thoroughly soaked with the rain of troubling news and the reality of a painful past what could we do? We did the only thing that was possible and sensible for us to do - we trusted in the Lord. We would cherish this victory for as long as possible and in the midst of great angst, we would somehow enjoin His comfort and presence according to the admonition of Philippians 4:6,7
...do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Jesus had proven Himself faithful to us in every situation we had ever faced - horrible and wonderful - and we were compelled by the knowledge of His faithfulness to trust in Him and walk in His peace regardless of outcomes or circumstances. We hurled ourselves in our weakness on the Everlasting Arms, and experienced the Lord's strength and sustenance over a 3-month period that saw Victoria venture perilously near Death's Door and that saw us exposed in our helplessness, fearfulness and complete powerlessness over our circumstances. God does not help those who help themselves, but rather delights in upholding those who realize they bring nothing to "the table" – His strength perfected in our weakness.
At one point of our struggle, we were running on “emotional empty” and we were the absolute portrait of pitiful. Luz was confined to a wheelchair in her healing process as I bumped her along on crutches having severely sprained my ankle trying to blow off some steam on a short run. As we made our way to the NICU, eyes dropped and the pity people felt towards us was almost tangible. I thought to myself, "I know there are lower lows, but this situation feels absolutely subterranean." Yet somehow, as we watched our brave little soldier fight on for her life, the power of God was manifested in her struggle and we became comforted and encouraged.
The battle would rage for 3 long months. There would be highs and lows, setbacks and gains, and most frightfully a condition that nearly killed our lovely Victoria in a pitched, 72-hour fight for life. In the end, our Savior prevailed and mercifully pulled her through. One surgery and a short period of healing later, the Victory was won! We were beside ourselves with praise and thanksgiving! We had felt an undeniable urge to see God's Victory in this most challenging situation and the Lord had mercifully extended His grace to us and given us the blessing and benefit of bringing our Victoria home!
I have shared this story many times, but feel compelled it share it over and over again. When I'm tempted to feel as if nothing is going my way, I'm forced to remember this monumental God-moment in my life. I can’t help it – He’s so good!
Some of you walked with us during those trying and terrifying days. Many of you have only heard us recount the story of our youngest miracle. In whichever category you are, I thank you for standing with us! Your love and support then and now through new adventures of faith will never be forgotten! Nevertheless, I challenge you to take the time to remember all that God has done for you and to give Him the glory while you still have breath. Furthermore, I urge you to thank those who have walked with you in the tough times and challenge you to make the effort to walk alongside others who need to experience the comfort you yourself have received. As for me, I cannot help but cry out with gratitude: Thank you, Lord, for 7 years of Victoria and for the living testimony she provides of your mercy, faithfulness and love. Thank you for faithful friends who shave stood by us, prayed for us and walked with us through every trial. Thank you, Lord, for your loving presence when all else fails and when even our best friends seem nowhere to be found. Lord, I thank you for everything! To You Lord, be the Glory! Blessings on you my friends! Let’s just praise the Lord! Until next time...