Archive for September, 2011

The Meaning of the Word

By Kathy NickersonSeptember 27th, 2011Friendship2 Comments

Learning some words with Grandpa

I am embarrassed to admit this. All my life, I’ve gotten the story of the prodigal son wrong.  And do you know why? Because I didn’t know the actual meaning of one little word. One adjective.

The Prodigal Son is famous in Christian history for pulling a stunt, as my pastor would say.  The young man thumbed his nose at family ties and sauntered away from home with his future inheritance stuffed in his messenger bag. After a season of wild living, in which he lost all that cash, the young man “came to his senses” and went back home, begging for a job feeding the pigs.

Preachers have pulled a zillion lessons from this one little story. Listening to these lessons, I’ve started thinking the word “prodigal” meant “wanderer.” Or something like that. I didn’t actually think this through. It is just the connotation that came to my mind.

But, I missed it. Here is what Mr. Webster says about prodigal:

adjective /ˈprädigəl/

Spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant.

Having or giving something on a lavish scale

Timothy Keller wrote a book about this subject called The Prodigal God. But that isn’t my point today. My point is this: It is important to know the real meaning of words. Knowing can change everything, including your theology. I’m thinking of this because a man I highly admire went to Heaven today. And he will be deeply missed down here. Years ago I had a chance to transcribe some letters for him. Among them was one to his nephew in grammar school.

Dow used big words in the letter. Some I didn’t even understand. I was feeling sad that he was so obviously disconnected from the young lad. Then the next sentence popped up. “I know you don’t understand some of these words,” he wrote. “But I’m including them on purpose. Go get your dictionary and look them up. It will be good for you to learn.”

It is good to learn. And, it is never to late. I think I’ll buy another dictionary in memory of Dow.


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Man Practice

By Kathy NickersonSeptember 18th, 2011family6 Comments

I’ve never been a football fan. In fact, I understand very little about the game. But Saturday night I sat for two hours in the rain to watch a fifth-grader on the field. I cheered like a crazy woman when he caught the football. And I was ridiculously happy when he knocked the other kids out of his way to “gain a couple of yards.”

When he actually crossed the invisible line and scored points in something called a two-point conversion, I almost dropped my umbrella from sheer joy.

He is one of three grandsons we have playing this year, and I’m pretty sure I’m about to become a convert. Possibly even a fanatic. After the game, we asked the young athlete if any of the hits he took hurt very bad. “Nah, not that bad,” he said. Then he raised his arm to reveal a couple of bruises. Grinning like crazy he said, “Man-marks.”

And, there you have it. Football as man-practice. Learning to take the hits, to block for your buddy, to call the plays. To gain a few yards and call it a good day.

No wonder we cheer. Even in the rain.

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Embracing the Begats

By Kathy NickersonSeptember 14th, 2011The Bible5 Comments

You probably know by now, Dear Reader, that I love the Bible. Specifically, I love the Old Testament. Pretty much all of it. Even the begats. I know lots of people skip those portions of scripture with weird names that can seem both boring and unnecessary. I’ve been known to skim them myself. But, I also know God put all that lineage into the Bible on purpose. I’m sure we haven’t figured out all the reasons yet.

We have, however, figured out some things. Several years ago, a man named Dr. Bruce Wilkerson pulled a short sentence out of that list of names, and created a phenomenon in the publishing world. If you’ve never heard about The Prayer of Jabez, check it out. About a zillion other people have.

I’m not reading the Book of Chronicles with an eye out for the next bestseller, though. I read the names because they mean something to me. They mean God cares about individual people. And He cares a whole lot about how they relate to one another, about where they fit in the bigger scheme of things.

I dare you to actually read the begats sometime. Say the names slowly, out loud. Don’t worry about how you pronounce them. Just sound them out phonetically. Then grab a Bible dictionary or topical index and investigate a few of the interesting names. You may only learn that Ammizabad was a son of Benaiah, which pretty much tells you nothing. (Except that Benaiah was one of David’s mighty men who has some pretty cool adventures.)

But, you might discover that the guy named Heman who became a singer, musician, and psalmist under King David was actually a grandson of Samuel — the prophet who anointed David as King. The same Samuel who first heard God call his name when he was just a little boy.

I see a story there…

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Things To Come

By Kathy NickersonSeptember 12th, 2011happy endings4 Comments

Talking to Daddy

When my friends and I were in junior high, we heard about this crazy, futuristic invention called a TV-telephone. In the creator’s wildest dreams, you could actually see the person you were talking to on the phone. This idea worried us. I mean, what if it rang while you had your hair in rollers? Or, even worse, what if a friend called while you were in the bathroom???!!!

You have to understand that we were only a few birthdays past the crank telephones that hung on our living room walls. Sudie Bledsoe had only recently retired from her job as switchboard operator and human answering machine. Nobody had a private line. Not even Doc Woody. If you wanted to make a call, you had to wait until all the neighbors were done chatting with one another and the line was clear. If you were in a hurry, like when my brother was asking his future wife on a first date, you yelled at the other party to Please Hang Up!

Now we have Face Time and Skype and Google Chat. Beam Me Up, Scottie may not be far behind.

My point today is this: Forty years ago, we could not imagine these wonders. They were as surreal to us as a City with streets of gold and a life that never ends. That thought comforts me when I have trouble imagining Heaven. Of course, I can’t fathom the concept. Because, I’m not there yet. When I arrive, my questions from this side of the veil will seem as silly as whether or not to answer the TV-phone in the bathroom.


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Where We Stand

By Kathy NickersonSeptember 8th, 2011The Bible2 Comments

God never wastes words. But sometimes I overlook them.

I’ve read the Book of Nehemiah in the Bible many times. And, I’ve heard some excellent preachers expound upon it. Our friend, Mauricio, did that exact thing on Wednesday night. That is when I realized I’ve been missing some words. It’s in the scene where Nehemiah opens the Book of the Law and reads the word of God to the people for the first time in generations. Mauricio made some great points from that passage. But this one thing captured my attention: Where the event took place.

The people stood in front of the Water Gate. They stood for hours while Nehemiah read. Not a person was missing from all Jerusalem. Every man, woman, and child stood at the Water Gate and drank in the Word of God for the first time in their lives.

How rich.

How poetic.

How just like God to stage it this way.

And, it makes me eager to pay more attention in my life. Because, it matters where I stand.


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Holding Tight

By Kathy NickersonSeptember 5th, 2011family, happy endings3 Comments

I grew up less than five minutes away from all my grandparents. They were part of every birthday, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Valentine’s Day and everything in between.

When Wendell and I became grandparents, we savored that same blessing. We lived a few blocks from our first three grandsons, and we saw them almost daily. Then, the transitions began. Today, half of our twelve grandchildren live too far away for a drop-in visit. In fact, it takes weeks of planning followed by a sixteen hour drive to reach our newest grandson.

At first, I worried about this. How would our grandchildren even know us if we waited months between visits? Nola was the first long-distance grandchild. We managed to drive through the night like maniacs and arrive at the hospital before she was born. (It’s amazing. Since that night, the drive has always taken five and a half hours.) During the first week of her life, I sometimes whispered into her tiny ear, “I’m your grandma. Please don’t forget me when I’m far away.”

Nola’s mom must have known my fears, because she placed a picture of Wendell and I on the nightstand and taught Nola to kiss us goodnight as part of her bedtime ritual. Still, I worried. As we drove to Nola’s first birthday party the next year, I counted how many times in her life she had actually seen me. The result was dismal. She knew the check-out lady at Target better than she knew me.

Then, we arrived. We walked to the door. The bell rang, the dog barked, and the birthday baby was just inches from our grasp.

And, then, the miracle. Nola reached out for me as if I were a long-lost love. She buried her tiny head against my shoulder and snuggled there as if to say, “Where have you been?!”

She knew.

Despite all the distance, despite all the wonderful people in her life who see her much more than I do, she knew. I am hers and she is mine. We belong.

This weekend, several grandchildren converged at our house for a wedding. Nola came, along with her new baby sister who snuggles my shoulder exactly the same way. And while they were playing and laughing and loving each other, I couldn’t tell the difference between the granddaughters who live next door and those who live five hours away.

Relationships are real. And eternal. And as mysterious as the God who designed them.

What a relief.



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