Archive for February, 2010

And So We Wait

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 26th, 2010Uncategorized2 Comments

I think people who love God make good writers. For all the obvious reasons, of course. But I wasn’t thinking about being messengers for real world peace or ambassadors of reconciliation. I was just thinking of this: We are very good at waiting.

We’ve been waiting two-thousand years for Jesus to come back and get us, after all.
We wait for answered prayers, and for promises to be fulfilled.
We wait for the fruits of the Spirit to show up in our lives and for the power of the Spirit to perfect us.
We wait every day in a multitude of ways.

One theory of creation says God’s days were actually a million years long. That would explain a lot about creation. Although I don’t subscribe to that particular theory, I think it may have been adopted by some folks in the writing world. “I’ll get back to you in a couple of weeks on this query” often translates into two months. Or three. Or four. And we are still waiting.

Jesus had some advice for the friends He left behind. “Occupy until I come,” He said. To occupy means to have an occupation (other than clicking on the Inbox three times per hour). He expects us to be busy doing whatever He has called us to do. For a writer, that means getting back in the chair, putting fingers on keys, and starting the next article, blog, or book. And, of course, promoting world peace at the same time.

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The Man with the Purple Socks

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 24th, 2010happy endings, writing5 Comments

Randall Atcheson is a concert pianist. Not just any old concert pianist, either. He is a Steinway Artist. Wherever he performs, anywhere in the world, the Steinway company delivers a full-sized grand piano and tunes it before he plays.He performs at Carnegie Hall, buys his shoes in Paris, and wears colorful socks even when he dons his best tie and tails.

He was the Resident Musician during Writing for the Soul and led us in worship before each session. One evening, he gave us a full concert that started with Chopin and ended with Great Balls of Fire (after he kicked off his shoes and put his purple-stockinged feet to the pedals).

And, if that weren’t enough to blow me away. The man carries his own luggage.

I was standing outside in the snow on Sunday afternoon, waiting for a cab back to the airport when the great artist emerged from the lobby. The driver of his town car leaped out and hurried over to take his matching set of luggage (probably also from Paris.) But! The driver was a lady. She wasn’t just a cute, young thing. She was a woman of a certain age, possibly working her way through a late-in-life decision to go to college or something. And she reached out for his luggage with a smile.

But, the concert pianist would have none of that. “You don’t have to carry my bags,” he said, “I can do it.” When she insisted, he finally handed over his briefcase. Then he pulled the remaining cases across the drive and loaded them into the trunk of the car.

I wish we’d given him a standing ovation for that.

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Traveling Mercies

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 21st, 2010Uncategorized4 Comments

Here is a confession: I am 54 years old, and until this week I had never traveled more than three hours away from home on my own. In this era when business women fly from coast to coast every week, I realize that is unusual. So, I felt like flying to Denver on my own was something I needed to do. Everybody told me I could do it, but I needed to prove that to myself.

The trip was amazing. I made my way through the Kansas City airport, did not die on take-off, enjoyed every moment of the writing conference, and found my way back through the maze to my departing gate in Denver. Then the trouble started. A snowstorm delayed take-off by nearly an hour. And, when we landed in Kansas City, the weather was worse. I got in-flight messages from my husband and children telling me to stay put and not try to make the three hour drive home.

I had anticipated this problem. After all, I am traveling in the Midwest in February!! I had packed for the possibility of spending an extra night in Kansas City. I had not anticipated the long-term parking lot. I’d planned to pay the premium price to park in the covered lot near the terminal. I had not counted on it being full.

So, I found myself Sunday evening standing in the remote parking lot, after dark, digging my car out of a snow drift with an ice scraper. And, I succeeded. Unfortunately, I had no idea where I was when I finally wound my way out of the lot. I looked at all the road signs, and none of them said, “This way home.” I couldn’t even tell what direction I was facing.

But, I felt completely calm. Which is not my normal behavior in such settings. I just took a deep breath and said, “Okay, Lord. I’m going to turn right, because I can’t really see the road anyway, and that seems easiest. I’m going to take the first exit with a hotel and figure out where I am in the morning.”

And off we went. Me, the Holy Spirit, and what must have been an entire squadron of angels. Because within a few minutes I was pulling into the parking lot of the Holiday Inn Express I had originally hoped to find! I could have kissed the ground. Except it was covered with several inches of ice and snow.

I’m not sure when the roads are going to clear enough for me to go home. But I’m not worried about that either. The same traveling mercies that brought me here will take me there. Amen.

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Max Lucado and Me

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 19th, 2010Uncategorized3 Comments

Last night I had the amazing privilege of hearing Max Lucado speak at the Writing for the Soul Conference. He did not disappoint. Occasionally, I’ve heard a favorite author speak and been sorely let down because all they did was retell stories from their books. But not this time.

And, get this: he had never attended a writers’ conference before. He said he wished something like this had been around for him two decades ago. But I think he did pretty well for himself without it. The other mind-boggling thing was this: He had never spoken publicly about writing before. Except in “sidewalk conversations.”

So, there I sat in a room of a few hundred people hearing a debut message from America’s favorite pastor. It really was as if he had written a brand new book just for us, and then he read it to us. Yet, at the same time, it seemed like the poetic phrases were just springing straight from his heart in casual conversation.

I came away encouraged and inspired about life, writing, and serving God. Not necessarily in that order. Here is one of the things that touched me the most: Max Lucado got his start writing the church bulletin.

We’re in good company, Anna.

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On My Way to Denver

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 17th, 2010writing1 Comment

If Jesus doesn’t come back for us before this entry posts on Wednesday, I’ll be on my way to Kansas City to catch a plane to Denver. I’m finally attending the Christian Writers Guild conference called Writing for the Soul. I’ve attended several writing conferences, but this is the first time I’ve made this one. And I’m jazzed.

Here is something that bothers me about writers, though. Especially those of us who are also Christians. We tend to think our call or talent or gift is all we need to earn national attention. Many of us seem to think our desire to write should be enough to get us a big advance, a three-book deal, and a spot on Oprah. Or, in my case, a seat on the curvy couch with Fox & Friends.

No other professional makes that assumption. Everybody else recognizes the need for training. Obviously a good writer doesn’t have to earn a degree, though that’s not a bad idea. (Go, Felicity!) We can all learn more about our craft, though. We can read books, attend conferences, take a class at a local college, or even sign up for courses online.

So, I’m making the invest this week in both in time and money. I’ve done my homework, so I’m prepped to meet with agents and editors, and I plan to suck the marrow out of every day.

Then, when I get home, I plan to put all my new training to work as I write and write and write. Because that is the real secret of success.

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Better is One Day in Your Courts

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 15th, 2010family, The Bible3 Comments

A couple of our grandsons did a little interpretive worship the other night at church. We were on the back row in the far corner. It is an easy place to check out, especially if you are too short to see over the mob of heads in front of us. So, Jesse and Peter decided to make up actions to all the songs. We were doing the one about one day in God’s courts being better than a thousand elsewhere.

I recognized the House they made with their arms every time we sang, “Better is one day in your House.” But I couldn’t figure out the action for “Better is one day in your courts.” I admit I got distracted from worship while I tried to decipher their sign language. Suddenly, I figured out the boys were banging imaginary gavels. They had no clue about God’s courts having anything to do with an ancient Temple or even a King’s palace. To them, court is the place people go to stand before a judge.

And I think the song is much richer that way. Because I would rather throw myself on the mercy of His court than trust in any earthly system. One day in His courts really is better than a thousand elsewhere.

Thanks, guys.

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What I Love about Valentine’s Day

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 12th, 2010Uncategorized3 Comments

Chocolate. Need I say more?

Construction paper hearts with paper doily centers.

“You Rock Like a Mock” and other messages from my grandchildren.

A chance to be mushy in the office. (with my boss, who is also my husband)

Flowers (and the frantic men lined up three-deep at the checkout counter to buy them)

And most of all, the deep satisfaction of having and holding in sickness and health in poverty and wealth from this day forward as long as we both shall live.

Amen.

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Time to Dig a Little More

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 10th, 2010Uncategorized5 Comments

Reuben has come home from New York. Catherine and Elmer have returned from Austin. And none of them found a home in those places. They aren’t actually relatives of mine, but they might as well be. They are characters in two of my novels. They have been a part of my life and my thoughts for so long I almost forget they aren’t real people.

It is always disappointing to get a “No thank you” letter from an editor or an agent. (Sometimes referred to more crudely as a rejection.) And it is sometimes tempting to stick both manuscripts in a drawer and try to be a normal person who doesn’t have alternate realities living in her head. I was thinking of that this week and suddenly remembered the parable of the man who owned a fig tree. The tree had failed to produce fruit for three years, and the owner got fed up and said, “Just cut the thing down!”

But, one of the workers had another idea. He said ,”leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it.┬áIf it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’ “Luke 13:8-9

So, I’ve decided to dig around these two plots a little more. I’ll fertilize and water and tweak. Then I’ll push “Send” another time or two — or three — or fifty and see if anything bears fruit.

I wonder if Catherine would enjoy California?

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A First Response

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 8th, 2010mercy, The Bible4 Comments

Picture this: the long-awaited Messiah has been walking through the country side healing diseases, casting out demons, raising the dead, and calming the storms for three years. Finally, He sits down with his friends one night at the greatest Feast of the year. The Passover is a time rich with history and poignant with destiny. The men were probably expecting Jesus to announce His plans for world domination with a spectacle of some kind the next day.

Instead, He looked around the table and said, “One of you is about to turn on Me.”

I’m pretty sure how I would have reacted in that moment. I would have looked across the table and thought, “I bet it’s Matthew. You can never trust a tax-collector. Or maybe Philip. He’s such a doubter. Of course, Peter has pulled some real stunts this year. Not John, I suppose. He’s Jesus’ favorite. What about James? Could he do something like that?”

That isn’t how it went around the Passover table, though. Instead, each man in turn looked at Jesus and said, “Is it me, Lord?”

Now that is the first response of a person who has touched Mercy.

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Calling all Eight Year Olds

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 3rd, 2010Uncategorized12 Comments

Josiah was eight years old when he became king of Israel. He is famous for being a great king who brought revival to the land. That part didn’t actually happen until he was twenty-six. But, some kind of foundation must have been laid in the eight-year-old that made him eager to embrace the word of God. When one of his construction workers found an ancient Bible in the Temple, King Josiah started a national movement back to God.

Scholars think Samuel was probably about eight years old when God first spoke to him. He had never heard God’s voice before and didn’t even recognize it. Even after he gave the amazing prophetic word to Eli, it doesn’t seem like he figured out exactly what was going on. He eventually grew up to be a great prophet and leader in Israel where “not one of his words fell to the ground.”

When my husband was eight years old, he devoured a series of books called The Sugar Creek Gang. Sometime in his late forties, he discovered one of the books among his mother’s possessions. He flipped to a random section and began reading to me. In the passage he chose, the boys were taking a break from their summer adventures to attend a revival meeting. One little boy’s father was at the altar leading another little boy’s alcoholic father to the cross. The narrator said,(and I paraphrase) “Right then I knew. When I grow up I want to be a doctor just like my dad. The kind of doctor who takes care of people when they are sick and then leads them to Jesus.”

We both caught our breath. Because you know what my husband grew up to become? Yep. The kind of doctor who takes care of people when they are sick and then leads them to Jesus.

If you currently have an eight year old boy in your life, pay attention. If not, go find one and make sure he has everything he needs to hear God and succeed!

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