Archive for January, 2011

This Explains Everything

By Kathy NickersonJanuary 31st, 2011Uncategorized4 Comments

If you have been reading your daily horoscope for years and still haven’t found health, happiness, and that “unexpected opportunity that leads to great advancement” … maybe you aren’t really a Sagittarius after all.

According to news reports last week, it turns out the astrological signs are off. The charts were set some 2000 years ago. And, sometime between now and then, the earth wobbled. (I’m pretty sure it happened one Sunday afternoon in February of 1973. I felt the earth move at Pizza Hut that day when I met a guy named Wendell and he played “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road” on the jukebox.)

Anyway, the earth wobbled and threw off the entire astrological scheme of things. Now the dates have changed. Surely this explains the divorce rate. All those people seeking their perfect star-mate paired off under the wrong signs. Maybe this also explains why the Age of Aquarius ended up being marked by riots and war instead of love and peace.

In fact, the whole world feels pretty wobbly these days. Wars and rumors of wars are everywhere. Terrorists, earthquakes, famine, and disease. In the midst of all this worldwide unrest and the trials and tests of mundane daily life, I’m really glad about one thing.

I don’t have to pin my hope on the arrangement of the stars. I’m trusting in the One who hung them.

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Walking on Water

By Kathy NickersonJanuary 21st, 2011happy endings, mercy, The Bible6 Comments

One step at a time.

A few decades ago, Wendell and I were facing some hard things in life. To tell you the truth, I don’t remember all the details about that season. It had to do with money and jobs and poor health and transitions.  I took a walk one summer day and asked God, “How am I going to get through this?”

When I say that God answered, I hope you don’t think I heard an audible voice. I’m not that holy. Instead, I heard a clear, distinct thought in my mind. “Just put one foot in front of the other.”

That seemed simple and reassuring. So, I started concentrating on one step at a time. Get up. Fix breakfast. Take the kids to school. Do your job. Pay whichever bills are most pressing. Pray. Worship. Love.

And … things got worse.

I went back to God a second time. I held up the unpaid bills and the strain of a sick husband and the loneliness of trying to hold life together, and I said, “I’m not sure what is happening here. I keep walking, but life is getting harder. I thought You told me all I had to do is put one foot in front of the other.”

Again, the distinct voice came in my mind, and the answer has defined my life since that day.

“Ah. Yes,” God said, “But, I meant on water.”

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Worth Our Salt

By Kathy NickersonJanuary 17th, 2011mercy6 Comments

I live an hour away from the nearest Starbucks. I think I’ve mentioned that before. But, this winter I’ve become even more aware of how far we are from such things. Between me and the nearest latte are miles and miles of curving blacktop roads. Plus several small towns, a couple of creeks, and a loooooooong bridge across the Mighty Mississippi River. It’s a good think I don’t really like coffee.

I probably wouldn’t go to Starbucks often even if it were next door. Some days, I’d like to have the option, though. Don’t get me wrong. I love where we live. We chose to move to this intentional community in the middle of the cornfield because we hoped to make a difference in troubled lives. Most of the time, I love the quiet. The lack of traffic. The ability to walk just about anywhere I need to go. (If I’m so inclined.)

But then, the economy tanked. I listen to Fox News every morning, so I know the nation is in trouble. I know people are out of jobs, losing homes, and worried about how to put a meal on the table. I have empathy for that, and I pray for solutions. I didn’t really feel the crunch personally, though.

Until we lost our salt. Budget cuts in our state mean the road crews are no longer salting the secondary roads when a snowstorm hits. Have I mentioned we are surrounded by secondary roads? We have to take at least two secondaries to reach a Primary, if there is such a thing.

It is amazing how this impacts my life. In the past, we might stay home on the first day of a storm while the roads were being cleared. But, by Day Two, we could go anywhere we pleased. Not this year. Seven days after the last storm, the roads were still so nasty I drove below the speed limit all the way to the bank thirty miles away. And I gave up the idea of a Friday night out-of-town date with my husband.

I was tempted to be annoyed by this issue. And then I realized how ludicrous that is. How entitled my mentality has become. Nobody owes me any salt. I don’t have a fundamental right to clear roads or expensive coffee. In fact, it is probably quite healthy for me to be reminded that I’m not entitled to any of the things I take for granted.

So, I’m stocking up at the local convenience store for the predicted ice storm this week. And, I’m reveling in my cozy home. And I’m concentrating on the scripture that says to be grateful if you have food and clothes.

Because, that’s enough.

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How We Get Through

By Kathy NickersonJanuary 11th, 2011family, Friendship, happy endings6 Comments

Life is a little messy in our extended family right now. Chemotherapy for one branch, walking pneumonia in another. Two year olds with attitude, snowstorms, head-lice. All the normal stuff that most families face. And, it is always the little things that put me over the top.

Having to drag the trash can through the snow this morning seemed harder than watching Serenity go through chemo. It isn’t harder, of course, but it was lonelier. I feel all the prayers holding me up on chemo day. Nobody was praying me through the snow drifts. (Note about husbands: Mine normally takes out the trash. I just beat him to it on purpose this morning because he is the guy with walking pneumonia, and I didn’t want him to waste what little breath he has today on that task.)

Anyway, the point I was trying to make was about how we, as a family, get through things. And it is simply this: We get through by hanging on.

To God.

To each other.

To hope.

To faith.

To you.

Thanks for being there.

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Taking Down Christmas

By Kathy NickersonJanuary 1st, 2011family, happy endings2 Comments

Putting away the lights is never as much fun and getting them out. Yet, I find a strange solace it wrapping the nativity pieces one-by-one and tucking them into their box. I’m comforted knowing they will be waiting for me next year, no matter what. (Okay, unless the house burns down, but let’s not borrow trouble. We have enough of that.)

Next I take down the sparkly ornaments and let each  dangle in the light one last minute. I think again of where it came from or what it means.

When I put away the Christmas village this year, I made a startling discovery. The snow was grey on the rooftops! I hadn’t noticed that in the dim glow of Christmas tree lights this month. But now, in the brilliance of the New Year, I noticed that City Hall is as covered with sooty grime as it might have been in the real world of Charles Dickens and Mr. Scrooge.

So, I scrubbed. And, that bought me a few more minutes to remember the Christmas our children gave me Town Hall. It was symbolic of our prayers for the little town where we lived, our desire for God to bless and prosper the place. I offered another prayer, even though we haven’t lived there in more than a decade. Because, I still love the town.

Finally, before I closed the last box, I pressed the center of the star my mother-in-law crocheted twenty-some years ago. It still plays a Christmas song on demand. (We wish our cell phones had a battery like that.) And it reminds me of the years when all our children were home and my in-laws lived in our backyard and Christmas was overflowing with noise and chaos, and beauty.

I would not trade all our sons-and-daughters-in-law or our tremendous grandchildren to get those days back, of course. And, I’ve learned to love the quiet Christmas of a nest populated by two. But, even so, I’m glad the star still sings.

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