Barn Boots and Blessings

A different kind of Christmas card


Who is waiting to hear from you? 

by Donna Frischknecht Jackson


On my desk sits an index card with the initial “R” written on it in blue marker. I have thrown this index card into the garbage at least three times so far and, so far, I have reached three times into the waste paper basket to retrieve it. 

I am struggling with this index card with the initial “R” on it. I don’t want to see it for it reminds me of something I don’t want to be reminded of. And yet I can’t seem to free myself of it and just throw it out. How can an innocent white index card with “R” written on it cause such turmoil in my heart?

It all began at a weekly youth group breakfast at the little rural church I serve. One of the adult leaders invited the teens to write an initial of someone they knew who needed a friend to stand up for them, a confidant to confide in, a brother or sister in Christ to let them know they are not alone. The teens were invited to write the initial of someone in which they can show the love of Christ to this Christmas.

As they scribbled the initials on their index cards, I sat there staring off into space not wanting to write out the initial I had in my heart. I just didn’t want the beginning of his name to materialize onto the card.  I fought back the tears that began sneaking up behind my eyes, forcing them away with every stinging blink I took.

“I am not going to cry,” I kept saying. “No, I am not going to cry.” Hesitantly my hand began to write “R.”

The youth leader instructed the teens to hang on to their cards as a reminder of the task they had before them as they went about their day: Be Christ to the one in need, be a friend to the one who is friendless, a light to the one walking in darkness.

I threw “R” into my bag and went on with my day. When I got home, and emptied out the contents within, out came “R.” And that is when the waste paper basket game of throwing out and retrieving began.  

I have decided, though, to stop the game. I have decided to keep the index card and let it remind me of what I rather not be reminded of. That is, there is someone in my life who needs to know he is worthy, he is special, he is cared about greatly. There is someone who needs more of my time that I claim I don’t have. There is someone I can be Christ to this Christmas.

“R” is my older brother with special needs, who throughout his 50-plus years has been a lost soul in a system that has just never knew what to do with him. He sits in darkness, waiting for light to shine in his life. And yet as he waits, he doesn’t realize the light he is shining in this world. For my brother has given me a tremendous gift. He has opened my eyes to see the least in this world and to question how it is we tend to define “normal.”  Now I just need to find the strength and guidance to give back to him.

Whose initial do you need to write down on an index card this Christmas?

Rev. Donna Frischknecht Jackson, interim editor of Presbyterians Today, is a former NYC magazine editor who traded in her heels for a good pair of barn boots when she was called to serve First United Presbyterian Church in rural Salem, New York. The little village sits on the Vermont border. She hopes to get chickens and goats one of these days. Till then, she writes, edits, preaches shares the amazing God moments that come with being a rural pastor on her blog  Drop her a note at