Archive for August, 2011

Do The Next Thing

By Kathy NickersonAugust 29th, 2011writing7 Comments

One step at a time.

Saturday was a rare Stay-Home-Day for me. (That’s what some of our grandchildren call Saturday. In my day, Saturday was called Cartoon Day, but now cartoons are on 24/7, so that doesn’t work. But, I digress.) Which is exactly what I did on Saturday!!!

For several days, I’ve been feeling these random writing projects swirling around in the atmosphere, and I had the distinct impression they were about to change trajectory and crush me like a meteor on a triceratops. (I don’t believe that theory, but I hope you get the picture.) Anyway, I woke up Saturday morning determined to conquer the swirl by lining all my projects up in order – on a legal pad – in neat columns with clear headings.

I spent the whole morning doing this. I sorted through old computer files and through stacks of notes on my desk. I researched markets. I updated my article tracker. And, I grew more miserable by the minute. By the time Wendell came home for lunch, I was on the deep purple side of depressed, and total darkness was just minutes away.

After lunch, I thought of chucking the whole thing and giving up writing all together. Again. Instead, I decided to open That One File I’ve been working on the last few weeks. I re-read what I had written, and… wait for it … the sun broke through! I loved the story. And I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. Suddenly I was a writer again.

Then, Dear Reader, I remembered the distinct nudge I get periodically during my prayer time. The nudge that says, “Stop worrying about what you should write next. Work on what you are writing now. I’ll let you know when to move on and what to do next. When the time is right.”

In other words, as they say in recovery circles, “Just do the next right thing.” Or, the next write thing in this case.

 

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Cntrl-Alt-Something Or Other

By Kathy NickersonAugust 25th, 2011The Bible3 Comments

I'm not really tech savvy, but I'm very good at snuggling.

I have used the same computer program at work for nearly six years. In the third year, I discovered I could actually ask the program to print daily charge sheets by appointment time! Before that, I’d shuffle through twenty or thirty alphabetical papers to get them in proper order for the charts.

In the fourth year, I learned I could do the opposite and ask the Payments report to print in alphabetical order! (Extremely important when one is trying to balance the books and figure out which payment one failed to post.)

Disclaimer: I have read the manual. It is not helpful.

Today, though, I marveled again over that simple drop-down window hidden at the bottom of a confusing box of commands. Report Order: By Last Name. And, I wondered how many other features I’m missing. How many other tasks are taking me a zillion times too long because I haven’t learned a simple command?

All this thinking also makes me wonder how much of my entire life is waaaaaaay more complicated than it needs to be. I could probably lower my stress level considerably if I just figured out a few more features in this thing called The Christian Life.I’ve been at it so long I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t have it all figured out. But the thing has layers, I tell ‘ya!

I think I’ll go check The Manual … because it is totally helpful.

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Designated Driver

By Kathy NickersonAugust 22nd, 2011happy endings, mercy1 Comment

Camels in the backyard aren't that unusual in our town.

My husband and I live in a small town. I’ve mentioned this before. 45minutes to the nearest Starbucks. No stoplights. Everybody knows your name (and your business). But a few things here are unique. Unlike the small towns shrinking all around us, ours is growing. It is, in fact, a relatively new town. The community sprouted about sixteen years ago when a wealthy insurance executive decided to do something to help hurting people. What he did was establish a community: farm, town, church, schools, and various businesses. (Plus, a zoo, of course.) It’s a place where people can find a fresh start and eventually establish themselves in a home, a career, and a life.

We are certainly a motley crew. And, we like it that way. We are kind of proud of the fact that the gentle, Cajun usher at the church door spent several decades in a tough southern prison. That the nurse in our office moved here and remarried her ex-husband after seeing how he had changed.  That the dad next door is cheering his son’s basketball team instead of scoring drugs in a dark city alley.

Most of the time, we take these things for granted. We go to work, buy our groceries, pump our gas, and walk our dogs without thinking about the abundant mercy exploding all around us every day. Occasionally, though, we are reminded. Like the day one of my friend’s welcomed her parents for a first-time visit. After a couple of days, the visitors walked toward their car to make the short drive from one end of town to the other.

When they reached the car, the Mrs. tossed the keys to the Mr. and said, “You drive. I’ll wave.”

Yep. It’s just that kind of a place.

 

 

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Worth the Trouble

By Kathy NickersonAugust 16th, 2011family10 Comments

Our family speaks in code. We use movie quotes from our collective memory to express big things in small words. For instance, when the last of our eighteen little campers drove off into the sunset Monday evening, the appropriate line would have been, “Well, Pilgrim, were it worth the trouble?”

The correct response would have been, “Eh, weren’t no trouble.”

We were too tired for this exchange, but I think it went through both our minds. I did wonder some during the weekend about both my sanity and whether the pay-off would be worth the effort.

When we were trying to settle everyone at various tables for a meal and make sure each child actually had something to eat and drink while also cleaning up the spills, answering a dozen questions at once, and promising that “you can have the tall stool next time”… I wondered.

When we were pinching our little fingers while struggling to unfold the cots, and arguing over who had which pillow first, and trying to sooth the ones who were sure they could not sleep or who were traumatized because I picked a stupid bedtime movie where THE MOTHER DIES!!!!… I wondered.

At 2:00 a.m. on the third day when one grandson was sleep-yelling, two were asking to move to another room, my body was aching as if I’d run a marathon, and morning seemed both imminent and an eternity away… I wondered.

On the final night, when Grandpa picked up two granddaughters and one Narnia book to carry on a tradition started when their parents were young and the children responded to his suggestion that they all suck their toes… I wondered.

But, when the story had finished and the campers began to pray… I stopped wondering. They thanked God for everything from “letting us play video games” to “all the fun we had” to “Grandpa and Grandma loving us so much that they would do all this and take care of us so we could have these days together.”

And then, I knew. They get it.

And, it weren’t no trouble.

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Countdown to Cousins’ Camp

By Kathy NickersonAugust 8th, 2011family, happy endings7 Comments

It is a big week at our house. We are moving furniture, buying groceries, and girding up our loins. On Thursday, our two-bedroom bungalow will fill up with more than a dozen grandchildren from three states. Yes, we are slightly insane. I’ve bought camp cots. And everyone has their own water bottle. And we are going to mash ourselves into this house, spill over into the garage and the yard, and basically have a relationship blast.

I came up with the idea the year the boys were born. John Michael was two when his cousin, Jesse, and his brother, Andrew, were born within three weeks of one-another. At Christmas, Peter joined the pack. Looking at those four little boys, I had the strong sense that we needed to make sure they became good friends. That together, they could impact the world even stronger than they would apart.

The feeling grew with each addition to our clan. Not that I think our grandchildren are more special than yours. (Okay. I do. But that is beside the point.) What I really think is that God loves to work through families who are devoted to Him.

The Old Testament is filled with examples, and the New Testament continues the theme. Jesus chose two sets of brothers as His first disciples. John the Baptist was his own cousin. Jesus’ brother became a great leader in the early church. Paul’s nephew once saved the apostle’s life.

I’m not sure our grandchildren will ever turn the world upside down. But I think they have a good chance of doing it. And, I know their chances are better if they can count on one another for support.

That is why I move the furniture.

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August is Our June

By Kathy NickersonAugust 4th, 2011family, happy endings7 Comments

August is a hot, dry month in Missouri. But is is all greenery and baby’s breath in my mind, because our clan obviously confused August with June. All three of our daughters were late-summer brides. Two of them had outdoor weddings on the hottest day of their particular summers. I don’t really remember the heat.

I remember Serenity walking down the aisle on our front porch. The same porch she sat on for ten summers watching Michael play in our yard, throw firecrackers under our windows, and drive by in his noisy sports car. Flowers fell from the sky like a benediction when they said, “I do.”

I remember Felicity pausing to tie all the bridal bouquets just-so before she walked down the church aisle between her dad and I. She walked toward Dan, her handsome-drummer-who-loves-God, and toward a legacy of little worshipers we could only imagine that day.

And I remember Charity, exquisite lace in a St. Joseph Park. During a season of illness and anguish for our family, Ryan and Charity brought us romance. And hope. And joy. And the reminder that sometimes even the unspoken dreams come true.

I love August.

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When You’re Sixty-Five

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

Serenity Beth is celebrating another birthday this week. If you’ve been walking this road with us, you know we don’t take such things lightly around here. Beating cancer will do that for you. And she has beaten it twice!

During the first bout, when she endured a day of scanning, poking, and prodding, I held her newborn son and prayed. And cried. Then, someone spoke the most wonderful words. The doctor was warning Serenity that the upcoming radiation could have minor side effects. He said, “You know, you might have a little arthritis in that shoulder … when you’re sixty-five.”

Sixty-five!

You are going to live to get old and decrepit just like the rest of us! What a wonderful, wonderful thought.

So, here is to another birthday on the way to sixty-five or eighty-five or one-hundred-and-five.

Let’s make them all count.

 

 

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