Archive for January, 2012

Sounds of Silence

By Kathy NickersonJanuary 30th, 2012family, Friendship, writing5 Comments

Life is just better with friends

Like most writers, I daydream about a writing retreat where I can create for hours, undisturbed by the mundane cares of daily life. I often think  could complete a true masterpiece if I only had the time. And the silence. And the space.

Wrong.

I spent all day Friday and Saturday shut up in a hotel room so far removed from civilization I couldn’t even hear the elevator ding down the hallway. The room was pleasant, the desk chair was comfy, and the light was mostly adequate. I managed to fill the first day with research and covered stacks of note cards with valuable information which might someday appear in a book. Or not.

The second day, I stared at my computer screen. Then I checked my mail. Even my peeps were silent. I stared some more. Then I checked my project tracker to see how many articles I currently have in circulation. A dismal number. I stared some more. I read for a while and then wandered around the room looking for inspiration. That is when I remembered the secret.

My writing inspiration comes from life. From living. With people. Noisy, sometimes needy, often disruptive, people. Just remembering that unlocked me a bit, and I managed to crank out an entire article and send it off into cyber-space.  I treasured those last few hours of silence, and reminded myself I’d be begging for them again in a few days.

But I hope I’ll remember when I get back home that a life without people isn’t worth writing about at all.

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Witty Inventions

By Kathy NickersonJanuary 26th, 2012Uncategorized2 Comments

I remember when my high school friends and I heard about futuristic telephones with built-in t.v. screens. “That will never happen,” we said. “What if someone called while your hair was in rollers? Or when you were in the bathroom?!”

I also remember the first time my husband and I saw an episode of Star Trek: Next Generation where Wesley was reading his textbook on an electronic tablet. We laughed. “That will never catch on,” we said. ” It’s about as realistic as ‘beam me up, Scottie.'”

Today, life before Apps seems as archaic as using leeches to cure pneumonia.

So, here’s hoping that this time next decade, we’ll be saying, “Man, remember how we used to fight cancer by pumping toxic chemicals into people’s bodies instead of … ?(insert miracle technology here.)

Because I think that’s what technology is. Miraculous. I think all the *witty inventions that make life better here on earth are a direct result of the **speech pouring forth from Heaven day by day.

I think it all originates from God, whether we acknowledge that our not. So, let’s acknowledge it.

* Proverbs 8:12

** Psalm 19:1-3

 

 

 

 

 

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Still My Word

By Kathy NickersonJanuary 22nd, 2012happy endings1 Comment

People I love have been picking a Word for the Year. I’m impressed by some of their choices, and, frankly, rather intimidated by the thought of choosing a word myself. It seems like sort of a mixture of New Year’s Resolution and prophetic insight. Both carry responsibility, and that is the part that scares me. If I pick Joy for instance, will I be forced to live up to that even on a grumpy day? Or, what if I choose Gumption, and then mine fails miserably when the new Medicare billing platform completely befuddles me and leaves our cash flow strapped for months. (Yep, already happening.)

Instead, I’m choosing to grasp again a word I’ve carried for eight years. That year probably qualifies as the toughest in our lives. The death of a  tiny granddaughter and the struggle of her twin sister to live. The debilitating illness of my strong husband. The devastating loss of a twenty-year friendship and the shaking of many others. The death of three people we loved, two of them in their twenties.

For Christmas that year, Wendell managed to go up to the gift shop in our little town and pick out this heirloom picture frame. I thanked him with a kiss, and then he told me the real gift was inside the drawer. He pulled it open, revealing this slip of yellow note paper and said, “What I really want to give you this year is Hope.”

We tucked a picture of one-year-old Claire into the frame. The expression on her face seemed to say, “I may have come into the world at less than a pound and a half, but I plan to take this place by storm.” And, she has.

Hope has never let me down. Not because things have always gone smoothly or all endings have been happy. But because what Wendell really gave me that year was the reminder of where my Hope comes from. Beyond this veil. Beyond this world of trouble. Beyond even the greatest joys of these temporary days.

Hope is from Heaven. And it never fails. What a great word.

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Wells of My Father

By Kathy NickersonJanuary 15th, 2012mercy4 Comments

It has been more than thirty years since I was part of a church where we used song books and sang hymns. Back in the eighties, we decided we were too enlightened for that. It was all overhead projectors and praise choruses complete with clapping, shouting, and the Holy-Ghost-Shuffle. (Okay, I’m over-reacting. We had some great worship services in those days.) But, I regret that we threw out the hymns for so many years.

Although, we never really threw them out. When my grandmother was dying of cancer, and my heart was breaking for the loss, I sang hymns. Years later, when my granddaughter was struggling for life in the neonatal unit, I sang them again. And I’ve sung them almost every day in between. When I’m sad, or scared, or thrilled, or excited. Anytime I can’t find the words to express my heart, I go to the hymns of my childhood. And lately, I’ve been singing them more.

The Bible talks about a time when Isaac dug again the wells of his father Abraham. The Philistines had filled the wells with desert sand and made them useless. But, Isaac knew sweet water still flowed down deep. So he dug in the same places. And he called the wells by the same names.

I think that’s is what I’ve been doing. I’m digging again the wells of “Amazing Grace,” and “Come, Thou Fount” and Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine.”

What wells are you digging?

 

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It’s Farther than you Think

By Kathy NickersonJanuary 10th, 2012mercy4 Comments

As I’ve mentioned before, I am directionally challenged. I know the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, but I’m often surprised to see it doing one of those things in a direction I thought was south. One of the psalmists described the amazing mercy of God toward us by saying that is how far God has removed our sins from us. As far as the east is from the west.

I generally think of those words as two opposite points on the map. They are very, very far apart. And, too often, I think of my former sin-self that same way. Not obliterated. Just far away.

But… I’ve been wrong. Here is how far the east is from the west:  If you get in your car this morning and start driving east, you will never, ever, ever reach west. (You will fall off into the ocean once you reach New York, but if you land on a ferry, you will keep going east.)

East is forever east. It never touches west. And my old sin-self is that far away from my new-creature-self.

Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way, of course. Sometimes it feels like the east and west are about to crash into one another and become something called ewst. But they can’t do that anymore than the sun can set in the south.

Thank God.

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Even Numbers

By Kathy NickersonJanuary 5th, 2012happy endings1 Comment

2012 just looks good, doesn’t it? Printed on a calendar, splashed across an add, scribbled on a yellow legal pad. The numerals themselves just seem strong to me. I’ve always been partial to even numbers, of course. I didn’t mind turning forty because thirty-nine just felt so odd. (I’m not telling you how long ago that happened.)

But, I don’t think it is the evenly divisible 12 at the end of this Year of Our Lord. Something about this year feels so hopeful to me. I have no idea why. Certainly the state of the economy, the climate of politics, the turmoil in families, and the alarming number of registered Christians who aren’t so sure the Bible is true anymore gives me no reason to expect a happy outcome.

Yet, I do.

Maybe it is because, as my faithful husband always reminds me, we’ve read the end of The Book. Or maybe it is because our family isn’t starting the year in the chemo pod or the recovery center. Or, maybe it is simply because our Missouri winter hasn’t set in yet. To tell you the truth, I don’t really care what is responsible for this suscpicion of hope in my soul. I like it. And I plan to tend it, guard it, and help it grow.

Which brings me back to my original thought. 2012 just looks good, doesn’t it?

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Jeremiah Bought a Field

By Kathy NickersonJanuary 2nd, 2012mercy3 Comments

It is hard to see the future, even with a great monocular.

I am struck on this New Year’s Day by the fact that we never know what a year (or a moment) may hold. No one dancing at midnight when 1940 became 1941 anticipated bombs falling on Hawaii before they danced again.

Other years have given us a hint of things to come. Our family welcomed 2011 bravely even though we knew it would bring chemo for Serenity. But it also brought us another grandchild, and the return of all our soldiers from Iraq. (No matter what you think of that from a strategic standpoint, it’s great to have them home.)

While I was thinking about this today, I remembered the prophet Jeremiah. He KNEW without a doubt that God was about to exile his people to a foreign land. Death and destruction were much more certain than the financial collapse we think might be on the way. So, what did Jeremiah do? Did he lament and weep. (nope, that came later) Did he crawl in a hole somewhere and hope to survive until the worst was over? Nope. Not that either.

Instead, he bought a field. Right in the middle of the land he knew God would soon destroy, Jeremiah bought a piece of land. He called for witnesses when he signed the deed, and he paid top dollar for the parcel. Then he sealed the deed in a jar and put it away in a safe place. Because He knew the same God who was about to pass out judgment also held a boatload of mercy.He knew Jerusalem would flourish again.

Jeremiah knew the most important secret about new years and new days and next moments. He knew God is in charge. And, we can trust Him.

 

 

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