Archive for September, 2009

I Think I’d Like To…

By Kathy NickersonSeptember 29th, 2009Uncategorized2 Comments

I heard another great story last week at a church conference. One of our friends from Great Britain talked about a teacher in their Christian school who lost both of his elderly parents and his elderly in-laws in a short period of time. Afterwards, he came to his pastor and said, “Out of this experience, I think the Lord is really stirring my heart about a ministry with the bereaved. I’d like to take some funerals.” (That’s the British way to say “preach” some funerals.)

The pastor couldn’t imagine a more depressing ministry, but he and the leadership team were happy to bless the teacher and encouraged him to go out and see what he could do.

The teacher came back a little later and said, “Well, I’ve gone to the undertakers and made myself available for families who have no one to conduct their services. But the undertakers tell me they can’t use me unless I’m ordained.”

And the leaders said, “Okay. We’ll ordain you.” And they did.

Now the school teacher has discovered a new calling. He ministers to people who find themselves in desperate need of comfort but who have never met The Comforter.  He is happy as a clam in this unusual ministry. He found the place he fit.

The world might be a better place if we all stepped back, looked around our busy lives, and then said to God and our pastors, “You know, I think I’d like to…”

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The Price of Gold

By Kathy NickersonSeptember 26th, 2009work1 Comment

This story would really be better if you could hear it in the delightful accent of the eighty-year old Amish gentleman who told it in our office last week. Try to imagine. He told me this:
Last Saturday after our song service, we were standing around, visiting, and we got to talking about the economy. And I said, “Ya. It is bad. Gold has dropped below $1000.00.”
And everyone said, ‘Ach! Has it got that bad then?'”

The gentleman leaned a little farther across my desk at this point and told me he remembered when gold was only $32, but nobody could even buy it then. So, this is worse. Then, he went on:

I began to see mental distress come on all their faces. They were thinking about the price of gold and the state of things and they were suffering real, mental distress.

So, I said, “Ahhhhhh, but, boys! I’ve read of a place where the streets are paved with gold!”

Our Amish patient told me a collective sigh of relief went up at that moment. The same thing happened to me right in the middle of my busy morning. The phone was ringing, people were waiting, and the price of gold was still dropping. But, I, too, had read of a place…

If you are suffering any mental distress today, just think of those streets. And breathe a sigh of relief.

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Where Everybody Knows Your Name

By Kathy NickersonSeptember 23rd, 2009Friendship, happy endings4 Comments

Several years ago when Wendell was doing his internship in a distant city, we made a lifetime decision from the opening tune of a television show. It was the eighties, and the show was about a bar. Not that spiritual. Yet, the catchy tune gripped our hearts with something eternal. We were tired and homesick and lonely. Flipping the channels one night, we heard the lyrics about going to a place where everybody knows your name. A place where folks are always glad you came.

And, suddenly, we knew we had to live that way. We had to rear our children in such a place. Not a bar (in case I’ve lost you already.) We wanted to live in a place where everybody is always glad we came AND where they are sober and in their right minds. A place where people have a common purpose bigger than our individual lives.

Within another year, we had managed to move “home.” We returned to the local church we had helped establish a few years before. Life was never perfect. Sometimes it was completely flawed — and sometimes we didn’t figure that out until decades later. But, it was a magnificent obsession, and we’ve never regretted the move.

Life changed, of course. Many of those original friends (including us) now live in different cities and even different nations. We don’t always do church exactly the same way anymore, and we probably differ on some points we once thought were absolute.

But, here is the thing. This week many of us will reconnect again at a church conference like we do almost every year. And I know when we walk in the door and see those faces, our hearts are going to leap. I’ll probably have a few happy-tears mixed up with a few sad ones for the faces that are missing or for the hard times we’ve all endured.

We will hug necks and slap backs and tease one another about the color of our hair or the lacking thereof. And, somewhere in the background, I’m sure I’ll hear the tinkle of a bar tune playing in my head.

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Welcome to Mercy Street- New and Improved

By Kathy NickersonSeptember 19th, 2009Friendship, happy endings, mercy, writing6 Comments
If you found yourself here from my previous blog site, then I’m probably about to bore you. Feel free to click on over to the social-networking-site of your choice and check on your peeps instead of reading further.
I’m not offended. Plus, I’ll never really know. So, feel free.
If, however, you are new to this site, please hold up your hand and wave it in the air while we all applaud you. The ushers will now hand you a little Visitor Packet to fill out… Oh, wait, we’re not at church.
Consider yourself welcomed, just the same.
Thanks to my tremendously talented and tirelessly patient son-in-law for taking time away from his Band to help me get this site up and going.
I really do live on Mercy Street, both literally and figuratively. After thirty-some years of marriage, my husband and I hit a speed bump that pretty much wrecked the car. The story of our recovery from that experience is a story of great Mercy – both God’s toward us and ours toward one another. You are sure to learn a little more about that if you hang around here. As we continue to walk through life together, Wendell and I celebrate the miracle and the process of recovery every single day.
Welcome to our journey.

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To Love Mercy

By Kathy NickersonSeptember 16th, 2009The Bible2 Comments

I’ve been trying to figure out life today. A small task for a September morning. I’m feeling a little moody and a little restless and a little unsure about how to shake myself out of it and get back to my normal Pollyanna self.

In the midst of this momentary crises, I crave the solid and the simple. I look for words that echo with the wisdom and the comfort of the Ancient of Days. Words that tell me all is well, no matter how I feel. And I find this:

He has showed you, O man, what is good.

And what does the LORD require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy

and to walk humbly with your God.Micah 6:8

Ah. That is it. The only thing I have to do to find my Center again. It is so simple. Not easy, mind you, but simple. Just do what is right. Shower folks with mercy. And keep a right perspective of who I am and who God is.

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A Time To Edit

By Kathy NickersonSeptember 15th, 2009writingNo Comments

A Time to Edit isn’t listed in the beautiful Biblical passage where the writer tells us there is a time for every season under Heaven. Editing and rewriting are probably the least fun but most rewarding parts of our craft as writers. It takes focus, determination, and a willingness to slash entire paragraphs we once considered brilliant. So, I’m preparing to tackle that project by doing what I always do at deadline time. Clean the garage.

Okay, I’m not actually cleaning the garage. It is a metaphor at our house. A writer once told me when he gets a new book assignment, he goes straight to his garage and starts sorting all the loose bolts into baby food jars. By the time he quits procrastinating, he has the best-organized garage on the block.
I have the same tendency. When I finished the rough draft, I gave myself a couple of days to breathe and then set a deadline for when to start the revision process. As the deadline approached, so did my urge to clean the garage. But, I managed to persevere. Now I’m half-way through the first stage of the process, and it has been relatively painless so far. I’m not fooled, though. I remember the Biblical passage says a time to plant and a time to root up what was planted. Or something like that.
This week comes the rooting up stage. I hope the book and I both survive.

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Beauty for Ashes

By Kathy NickersonSeptember 11th, 2009family, happy endings1 Comment

September 11th is a sad day in our national memory. A day filled with ashes.

It is also a day of great celebration in our family. A day filled with Beauty.
Happy Birthday, Elena Rochelle.

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Unofficial Cousins’ Camp

By Kathy NickersonSeptember 9th, 2009family2 Comments

We didn’t manage to have a complete cousins’ camp this summer. Partly because some of the cousins moved an entire time zone away and partly because some of the cousins played on three different baseball teams all summer and partly because of my own lack of planning.

We did get two sets of cousins together last weekend, though. All their parents needed to be out of town at the same time, and we took advantage of the moment. There were only seven cousins, but they ranged in age from two to ten, so that kept things interesting.
By the time they went home, Grandpa and I were pretty much exhausted. But we made some great memories! (That’s what people say when the memory of a thing is much nicer than the thing itself. ) That isn’t entirely true. It is probably more accurate to say that in the midst of the activity, we had trouble concentrating on anything except the tasks at hand. Afterwards, we could replay events in a more lesuiely fashion and remember how wonderful it was.
They have only been gone a few hours, and I’m already planning for next year. (I have a brilliant idea for bringing in more grandparents!!!) Felicity wisely pointed out it will become harder to pull off a Cousin’s Camp the older they all get. So, I’m not letting a summer slip away again. At least not if I can round them all up and hold them still long enough to get one good group hug. And a picture.

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Things I Don’t Want to Take for Granted

By Kathy NickersonSeptember 6th, 2009family, happy endings1 Comment
1. The words “all clear” from Serenity’s cancer doctor. (again)
2. Public hugs from middle school grandsons.
3. A job I enjoy.
4. A job, at all.
5. Lunch with my parents.
6. The magical internet that lets me know what my children had for breakfast seconds after it pops up in their toaster.
7. Silence.
8. Safety.
9. Salvation. (not in that order)
10. Someone to share it all.

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The Things We Don’t Know

By Kathy NickersonSeptember 1st, 2009family, Friendship4 Comments

Today, I went to the funeral of my dearest childhood friend’s father. He was ninety years old and lived a good, honest, faithful life. My memories of him go back as far as memories go, and I could have told you much about him. I could have described his humor and some of his little idiosyncrasies. Like the fact that he started running for his health way back when nobody ran unless someone was chasing them.

I could have told you he was kind. And gentle. My mother reminded me he often came into the house from his farm chores just to sit for a little while and watch us play with our dolls. I could have told you lots of details. But today I learned something I’d never known. He was a hero.
Well, I knew he was a hero the way all fathers are heroes to their little girls (and to their little girls’ friends). I didn’t know that among other things, he earned seven bronze stars during battles in World War II. Seven. That is a lot of stars for one young man from a small farm in Missouri. When that information was read in the obituary today, I felt a swell of pride. I was proud to have known a man with that kind of valor. Proud to have sat at his kitchen table, to have slept under his roof, and to have played in his yard.
So, tonight, when I heard the latest war reports on the national news and considered the state of our troubled nation. I thought about Kermit Bane. And I wished I could see him one more time just to tell him, “I’m proud I knew you.”

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