Archive for July, 2011

A House That is a Home

By Kathy NickersonJuly 28th, 2011family, Friendship, happy endings4 Comments

Cousins Jesse and Peter after being baptized in our community lake

We are preparing to break ground for a new church building. This week, our ushers handed every adult a survey to fill out so we can help choose whether we have carpet or hardwood, traditional columns or contemporary sculptures, and a whole host of things in between. This isn’t a committee decision. It’s a family consensus.

I love this for a variety of reasons. One is this: we live in an intentional community designed to help hurting people get a fresh start in life. So, probably one third of the people voicing these opinions are folks in one of the recovery centers. We represent an amazing cross-section of cultures, backgrounds, and experiences. Agreeing on which light fixtures to use could be interesting.

The second thing is this: The survey reminded all of us that the building is not the church. We are.

The church buildings of my childhood were all white-sided structures set off the road in a grove of trees. They were plain on purpose. And when the old saints talked about one of those buildings, they always called it The Church House. They understood the church was made of people. And people need a house.

This particular group of people may come up with some design ideas I don’t love. But, I don’t care. Because all of us working together is what will eventually make this house our home.

 

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Are You Smarter than a Pharisee?

By Kathy NickersonJuly 25th, 2011The Bible6 Comments

Fifth graders can beat me at math and history. I’d never make it on their game show. But this morning I wondered if I’m any smarter than a Pharisee. It is easy to read the Bible now and say, “those guys were so religious. Everybody knows the junk in your heart causes more trouble than what you eat.” Or whatever.

But, I wonder what traditions I embrace as doctrine when they are really just… traditions. In an effort to overcome that weakness years ago, we started throwing out things we branded as religious. Buildings with steeples had to go, replaced by storefronts. Thick hymnals were stacked in closets and huge screens were tacked to sanctuary walls. Three piece suits became the stuff of weddings and funerals. The preacher wore Dockers and Polos while the rest of us sported jeans.

As I’ve aged, though, I find myself missing the old hymns. And, the sight of a steeple in the countryside comforts me. It is like an arrow on a 3-D map pointing to a place of refuge in a crazy world.

This morning I remembered what Jesus said to the Pharisees about tithing. He said they tithed (gave an offering of ten percent of their income) on the tiniest herb in their garden. Then they ignored the important stuff in life like taking care of widows and orphans. My generation had a tendency to throw out the mint and cummin in favor of social justice and “free” worship. But the scripture actually says to do both. Jesus didn’t say “stop paying tithes on everything.” He said to do that AND take care of the widows and orphans.

It is possible that our jeans and tee shirts, Dockers and Polos simply became the Pharisaical robes of our own day. I am pretty sure we don’t have the gospel all figured out yet. I know I’m probably just as blind in some areas as those ancient teachers of the Law.

Maybe I should ask a fifth grader.

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How We Know

By Kathy NickersonJuly 21st, 2011happy endings, The Bible3 Comments

When I read the Bible, I like to ask myself reporter questions. Who wrote this? Where did it happen? When did it take place? That sort of thing. The questions help me remember the Bible is an actual account of true events. It isn’t a fairy tale. These questions often lead me to astounding truths.

This morning I was reading about Jesus coming back to life, specifically the part where the soldiers guarding the tomb are bribed to keep quiet about it. In fact, they are bribed to lie and say the disciples came in the night and stole Jesus’ body. The next line says this rumor was spread all over town.

Suddenly I asked myself, “How do we know what the officials¬† said to the soldiers?” We know about the rumor, because lots of folks heard that. We know the truth, because several other witnesses recorded it. But how do we know the actual conversation that transpired somewhere in a darkened room filled with quaking soldiers and jangling coins?

The soldiers should have died. Death was the penalty for letting a live prisoner escape. Letting a dead one get away would be even more humiliating. But to kill the guards would be to admit what happened. A cover-up was the only recourse. So, how do we know about it?

Somebody told. Somewhere in the years ahead, at least one person in that room finally told the truth. One of the soldiers, maybe. Or a government official. Or even a servant who slipped into the room with the bag of money and slipped out again not quite quickly enough to miss the details. Someone encountered the Living God and turned his allegiance from Rome to the Savior. Someone encountered Mercy, and he could not keep quiet about that.

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A Great Day

By Kathy NickersonJuly 17th, 2011family2 Comments

Celebrating my dad's 85th birthday at the Solid Rock Cafe

Wendell and I spent the weekend at a vacation resort. Doctors are required by the state licensing board to attend a certain number of educational courses every year. Evidently, the only way to force doctors to actually comply with this law is to host those courses at expensive resorts where people can party between classes. Or, in the case of this resort, shop till they drop in the 95 degree heat.

It is always a nice change of pace to get away like this. Wendell goes to school and I stay in our expensive hotel room and write. And read. And think. Occasionally, we venture out for food.

These days have been lovely, and I’m grateful for them. But I also had one truly great day just before we left town. My mother got sick (which is bad), and she agreed to let me come pick her and my dad up and drive them to our town so Wendell could fix her. (which was good.)

It happened to be my father’s 85th birthday. (which was very, very good.) We drove through the green countryside, and my dad commented on everybody’s crops. He told stories about when he used to haul loads of rock or lime to farmers on some of these back roads. And then the local crop duster swooped across a field just ahead of us in his yellow bi-plane. He treated us to a few dippity-do’s before landing on his air-strip right beside the road.

Later, we had a birthday lunch with various members of our happy clan. Then I drove my parents home through a thunder storm of Biblical proportions! There we were in our 55th year together, making a new (and slightly frightening) memory.

All-in-all, it was the perfect kind of day. One you can’t buy at a fancy resort.

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A Way Provided

By Kathy NickersonJuly 14th, 2011happy endings, mercy8 Comments

I’ve been thinking of Goliath’s sword lately. As in, Goliath the giant Philistine who challenged the people of God and was taken out with one stone from the sling of a little shepherd boy named David. A few years later, David found himself in a world of hurt. His king was determined to kill him and had taken to throwing spears in his direction.

David ran. For his life. And, he didn’t have time to go back home and gather provisions. So, he stopped by the Tent of Meeting (the church building of his day) and asked if the priests had any supplies he could use. (There is an entire sermon in that question, by the way.) The priest offered him some consecrated bread which was past its use-by date. And then David asked this strange question, “Any chance you have a sword?”

The Bible had already told us Israel was suffering a weapons shortage. It seems unlikely the church would have any extras lying around. But, the priest said, “In fact, there is. The sword of Goliath the Philistine is here.The one you took from him and used to cut off his head. It has been wrapped and stored in a holy place until this moment. You are welcome to take it.”

The moral of the story? If you ever kill a giant, don’t sell his sword on e-bay.

And, God may be storing up today’s actions for tomorrow’s provisions. Make them count.

 

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Blue Rug Monday

By Kathy NickersonJuly 11th, 2011happy endings8 Comments

This weekend, I spent $15.00 on new scatter rugs for my kitchen. They replaced $15.00 worth of rugs that had been on my floor for more than eight years. In case you don’t know, eight years is about 6.5 years beyond the normal lifespan of a $5.00 rug. I’ve been practically giddy all weekend. I woke up this morning, walked into my bright, sparkly kitchen and actually smiled at myself.

This is such a small thing. I wonder why I didn’t do it before. Why have I walked on grungy rugs all these years? And, I wonder what other worn-out things in my life are silently irritating me. Which attitudes, actions, or thoughts do I need to throw out and replace with something new and spot-free?

What could you change this week that will make you smile next Monday?

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A Better Estate

By Kathy NickersonJuly 7th, 2011happy endings, Uncategorized3 Comments

Sharing my quilt with a few grandchildren.

Wendell and I don’t own a house anymore. This still feels strange to me, even after several years. We bought our first home together before we were married, and we’ve owned six homes since then. Some of my friends still live in the homes where they reared their children. They now welcome grandchildren to yards with mature shade trees and houses with spare bedrooms. Occasionally, I envy this.

Right now, I am planning our upcoming Cousins’ Camp, wherein a dozen grandchildren and some of their parents will come stay with us for three days. I’m having a bit of trouble figuring out where to put them in our two-bedroom house with the cottage-sized living room.

Mostly, I love our snug home. It is perfect for the two of us. But during Cousins’ Camp, or Christmas, or most Sunday afternoons I briefly long for the five-bedroom house with the wrap-around porch that we left behind when we came to this little town.

I don’t linger in that frame, though. Instead, I remember that living here – in this community devoted to helping people – lets me enjoy other perks. For instance: sitting on a quilt beside a quiet lake while more than sixty people are baptized. Including two of our grandsons.

Maybe I can’t give the grandchildren a family estate. But, I can give them this.

 

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Sixty Years of Mercy

By Kathy NickersonJuly 3rd, 2011mercy, Uncategorized3 Comments

“When I thank God for His tender mercies each night, you are on the list.” That is a paraphrase from a movie line. It is also a truth in my life. Among the many tender mercies God has granted me, being born to this handsome couple probably tops them all. My parents, Clifford and Virginia Grubbs, are celebrating their 60th Wedding Anniversary this week.

Sixtieth. Six decades.

It is impossible to sum up their life  a few words. It includes four children, eleven grandchildren, and eighteen great-grands. So far.

It also includes countless episodes of illness, struggle, uncertainty, and fatigue balanced by seasons of joy and prosperity in every way. But, most of all, it includes my father’s quiet steadiness and my mother’s faithful optimism.

She taught us to embrace every stage of life as the best one yet. Watching her and our dad together these days, I honestly believe it is true.

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