Archive for November, 2009

I Wonder What Would Happen…

By Kathy NickersonNovember 30th, 2009Uncategorized3 Comments

If we declared a Year of Jubilee in the whole world. Imagine Moses standing on a rock, leaning on his staff. He is surrounded by kids who grew up in the desert and have never eaten any food except Manna. After forty years, they are about to actually cross into their Promised Land and start all over again. Moses spends three days telling them how to build a godly society. (That is the whole context of the book of Deuteronomy.) In chapter 25, he tells them how to handle their money. “At the end of seven years, cancel all debts.”

Whoa! What if we did that? What if, on January 1st 2011, every nation was forgiven their trillions, every state its billions, every bank its millions, every credit card holder their thousands, every mother-in-law her hundreds, and every paper boy his twenties? I suppose the economy would totally crash. (As if the cable on that roller coaster isn’t frayed most of the way through, anyway.)

And, I suppose we wouldn’t learn our lesson. Instead of taking a deep breath and then dancing in the streets, most of us would probably prance right down to the Mega-Mall and pick up a flat screen t.v. I’m afraid we still wouldn’t get it.

But, the economy aside, what if we just decided this Christmas to cancel all the other debts in our lives? Those tiny little grudges we still hold against the boss who did us wrong. The right-to-pout-when-you-ignore-me card we hold over our spouses. Even the smidge of envy we feel when our neighbor pulls into the drive with his new car.

Maybe we could declare that kind of Year of Jubilee. I’m pretty sure it would be worth some dancing in the streets.

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Because Dad Said So

By Kathy NickersonNovember 23rd, 2009family, mercy, The BibleNo Comments

You don’t have to be a Bible scholar to know Solomon was the wisest man in the world. He is legendary. References to his wisdom have come up in literature for centuries and you find references to him in modern culture through movies, music, and casual conversation. We hear a little less, though, about how Solomon got so wise. It seems to have been a two step process. The second step can be found in First Kings 3 when the Lord appears to Solomon in a dream. The Lord tells the new king to ask for anything in the world and He will grant it. Solomon asks for wisdom and discernment to lead the people. This pleases God.

But, Solomon didn’t come up with this request on the spur of the moment. It goes way back to Step One when Solomon was just a little boy. In Proverbs 4, Solomon tells us where his hunger for wisdom came from:

When I was a boy in my father’s house,
still tender, and an only child of my mother,
he taught me and said,
“Lay hold of my words with all your heart;
keep my commands and you will live.
Get wisdom, get understanding;
do not forget my words or swerve from them.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.
Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Esteem her, and she will exalt you;
embrace her, and she will honor you.
She will set a garland of grace on your head
and present you with a crown of splendor.” Proverbs 4:3-9

This admonition came from a man who hadn’t always been so wise. King David learned this lesson through horribly bad decisions with tragic consequences. Only God’s mercy could redeem a man who committed adultery and then murdered one of his best friends to cover it up. David knew something about what the lack of wisdom can do.

So, when Solomon faced this epic question, the answer was easy. He knew he should ask for wisdom. Because Dad said so.

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A Happy Day for Me

By Kathy NickersonNovember 20th, 2009Uncategorized5 Comments

It’s my birthday today. I’m so glad to be 54. I prefer the nice, even numbers for some reason. It just feels more balanced to be an even number. Plus, I’m just so grateful to be alive and healthy — to be loved and forgiven.This particular birthday is making me especially grateful for some of the specific mercies of God that allowed me to even exist. I’m grateful for…
The little church where my maternal grandparents met.
The buggy ride that convinced my paternal grandmother to marry my grandfather. (instead of the other guy)
The miracle that brought my mother through rheumatic fever — twice.
The lost paperwork that delayed my dad’s induction into the army and kept him stateside while his buddies went to war.
The wedding of my Uncle Roscoe and Aunt Lila where my mother first saw my handsome soldier father.
The basketball tournament where my mother served the soldier coffee until he nearly floated away.
The decision they made to have and to hold from this day forward nearly sixty years ago.
The providence of God that allowed me to be born into such a family as this one fine November day.

I’m blessed.

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When the end Wasn’t The End

By Kathy NickersonNovember 16th, 2009Uncategorized6 Comments

march 2009 snow 008
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
Selah Psalm 46:1-3

I love this psalm. But I got totally distracted one day when I was reading along and suddenly remembered the heading of the passage. A psalm of the Sons of Korah. The sons of Korah? Wait a second. He is the guy who rebelled against Moses (and therefore God) in the wilderness. The earth opened up and swallowed him along with all his followers and all their families according to the account in the Old Testament. So, how could sons of Korah write a bunch of psalms several generations later?

And that question led me to one of the great Mercy Moments in the Bible. In the Book of Numbers, the writer describes the day the earth opened up and swallowed the rebellious men and their families including Korah and 250 of his followers. Then, almost as an afterthought, the writer tells us, “However, the sons of Korah did not die that day.” Numbers 16:10-11

The Bible doesn’t tell us how or why. But I have a theory. Maybe, in His mercy, God left a remnant alive so they could tell the story to their children and to their children’s children. So, one day thousands of years later, when I face a hard time, the sons of Korah can remind me, “No, seriously. We have seen the the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. But even that was not The End. God was still our refuge and our very present help in times of trouble.”


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Once Upon a Time

By Kathy NickersonNovember 11th, 2009family, happy endings18 Comments

Claire - Day One

Once there was a woman who had two granddaughters. They were identical in every way. Even before they were born, she loved them exactly the same.

Things started going wrong in Week Twenty-Two. The twins were more than three months shy of their target birthday marked on the countdown calendar. They were tiny and frail, and – according to the neonatal specialists – “not viable” at that age.
The grandmother prayed. The other grandparents prayed. The aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, friends, doctors, and nurses all prayed. And the twins held on. The specialists said they were “in no distress.” Lovely words for the grandmother to hear. Hopeful words. Full of comfort.
Two weeks passed. Weeks in which the chances of survival for Claire Felicity and Ellery Blythe went from zero to fifty-percent. Not great odds. But still no distress. No reason to panic. Just a matter of bed rest for a few weeks. The grandparents could leave their vigil in the waiting room down the hall. The aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends could go back about their lives. The babies just needed some time to grow.
But ultrasounds and specialists didn’t know what the babies seemed to know. Things were not going so well for them. And so, on a Tuesday afternoon in November, they decided to be born. The twins probably didn’t realize their mother was all alone that day. They didn’t know the twenty people who had been with them day and night for two weeks had all chosen that specific day to go home. They would never have picked that moment to enter the world had they known their mother would need to hold the hand of a stranger while she gave them the gift of life. They just knew it was time to leave the deteriorating womb and hope for the best.
And they had the best.
Their little fourteen inch bodies were swaddled and swabbed, poked and pampered. The girls threw every bit of their one pound nine ounces into struggling for life, and the doctors and nurses threw every miracle known to science back at them.
And the grandmother prayed. The other grandparents prayed. The aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and probably the hospital custodians all prayed. And that is where the story takes a strange little turn. Everything was the same for the twins. Same parents. Same womb. Same fuzzy blonde hair and perfect little faces. Same prayers going up with fasting and tears. No. That is not true. The prayers were probably more fervent for Ellery Blythe, because she was not doing so well.
If faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen, then the twins were both covered that day. Their little cubicles were crowded with praying saints and passionate physicians. But the substance of their lives was in the hand of God. The grandmother’s faith could not change that.
Before the night had ended, The Creator of all lives opened a portal to glory in one room. Ellery Blythe slipped through. The grandmother wanted to accept it with dignity, to bow to His will in peace. But deep down she wished that she lived in the Middle East instead of the Midwest. She wished she could drop down on the hospital room floor and howl and wail at the top of her lungs so the agony inside could find some escape.
Instead, she prayed. She prayed that the God who raised Jesus from the dead and lifted Lazarus from the tomb would walk through the halls of University Hospital. Three times in the next hours she asked Him to raise Ellery Blythe from the dead. And, finally, after the third time, she found peace. Her faith had gone as far as it could go. There had been no lacking there. No lack of prayer, no lack of love, no lack of anything on this side.
God had simply chosen.
Claire is seven years old today. She runs, and laughs, and reads books with a passion. She plays and fights with her brother, Jesse, and her sisters, Ada and Macy. And she sparks a smile in everyone she meets.
The grandmother smiles most easily of all. No. That is not true. It only feels that way because the smile is always waiting in her soul. Anything can bring it out. The sight of a fuzzy caterpillar in the fall. The sound of Grandpa coming home at night. The smell of another new grandbaby in her arms. And the memory of Ellery Blythe, who has gone on ahead and is waiting to meet her some day.
Sometimes, the grandmother thinks about faith. The substance of things hoped for. The evidence of things not seen. Faith worked miracles for the twins. She has no doubt about that. The evidence is in her soul. The substance? Well some of it is here on earth, dancing in a pink tutu and flashing a brave face at the world. And some of it is in Heaven, where what we shall become has yet to be revealed.

Claire - Day 2555, approximately

Claire - Day 2555, approximately

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A Little off Broadway

By Kathy NickersonNovember 11th, 2009Uncategorized3 Comments

"Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters..."We have officially launched the holiday season at our house by taking in a Broadway production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. The show was touring in Omaha, which is more than a little off Broadway. It provided plenty of dazzle, including a thrilling performance by Lorna Luft, who happens to be Judy Garland’s daughter. I seriously thought I was going to cry when she glided out on the stage with her hands held out at the sides just the way her mother used to do it in the movies.

Before that moment, though, I almost ruined the entire night for everyone. The Orpheum theater is grand and gorgeous. I was in awe as we climbed the stairs and crossed the hall to find our seats. Then, we found them, and I panicked. I’m slightly height challenged. Or maybe it is spatially challenged. I don’t do well seated two stories above the stage, overlooking a dark chasm that ends in the orchestra pit.

I got dizzy, and my chest felt tight, and my stomach threatened to be completely embarrassing. And, everyone could tell. I wanted desperately to be all right. Or, to be on flat ground. One of the two. But mostly I wanted to relax so everyone else could enjoy the great seats instead of worrying about me.

I prayed. I took calming breaths. I tried to focus on the head in front of me. But the sense of panic got worse. I glanced at the wings and wondered if I could make it to the exit without falling to my death. Then, as if reading my mind, my husband leaned over and said, “Hold onto my arm. I won’t let you fall.”

So, I did. And the world immediately righted itself. The panic faded as the curtain rose. I managed to release my death grip on Wendell’s arm to applaud every song. And, I didn’t stop smiling all night.

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The Things We Do For Love

By Kathy NickersonNovember 9th, 2009Uncategorized7 Comments

We do lots of things for love, of course. Things to get it; things to keep it; things to celebrate it. I’m thinking here of certain things we would do, though, only for the sake of someone we love. You know, the sacrificial kind of things – like childbirth.

Or, nursery duty at church – on a weeknight – when we know the service is going to go late.

Or, that most famous of all sacrificial statements: Daring to wear a tutu at a granddaughter’s first birthday party right alongside one’s svelte daughters and daughter-in-law. I post the picture here (from a favorable angle) as proof of my undying love, and my sense of humor.

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Road Trip

By Kathy NickersonNovember 6th, 2009Uncategorized1 Comment

IMG_3336 (1)In about ten minutes, I’m climbing into the van with two of our daughters and three of our grandchildren for a Road Trip!! We are headed to Omaha to celebrate the first birthday of grandchild Number Ten, Nola Serenity Long. It is a huge event. We will evidently be wearing tutu’s and top hats. I’ll post pictures. At least pictures of my tall, slender daughters and my sweet little granddaughters. I’m feeling a little like Miss Piggy on Pointe, but we shall see.

On the five and half hour trip, the girls and I will solve all the problems of the world and compose about half a dozen novels in our conversations. Do you wonder why Wendell is following in a separate vehicle? (Because, he has errands to run along the way. No, really.)

Tonight, we will leave the birthday baby home in her bed while we grownups (and a few grandchildren) take in a Broadway production of White Christmas at the Orpheum Theater in Omaha. That is the closest I’ll get to New York this year, so I am pumped!

But, the truth is, I’d be eager to jump in the car today if we were going somewhere no more exotic than the grocery store. I’m about to spend time with some of my favorite people in the world. Life doesn’t get much better.

See you in a bit, Charity Lynn!

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Confusing My Realities

By Kathy NickersonNovember 2nd, 2009work3 Comments

The other day at lunch, someone made a comment about current affairs, and I started to say how relieved I was when the president rescued the sailors trapped in the submarine off the coast of North Korea. Seriously. I started to say it. I caught myself at the last moment when I realized I was remembering something from the t.v. show Commander in Chief, which I had watched while walking on the treadmill that morning.

Maybe it is because I watch the show in the dark, before I’m fully awake. Or, maybe the writing really is so good that it sucks me into another reality and makes me think I live there. I don’t know which is true, but I do know it makes the 43 minutes on the treadmill whiz by. Thank goodness.

I discovered another amazing fact about myself as I’ve been watching this show. I don’t want to be president. I used to think I might like to get into politics. At one time I even toyed with the idea and played out the scenarios in my mind. Now, I watch the show (and the alternate reality of our actual political process) and realize I don’t really want to be part of that.

I could, however, really get into the role of First Grandmother of the White House. I could bake cookies for the president and remind her to eat in the middle of a crises. I’d be good really good at that.

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