Archive for April, 2012

Let Us Pray

By Kathy NickersonApril 29th, 2012The Bible2 Comments

I tried to count how many times I’ve heard that phrase in my lifetime, but I got lost trying to cover this year. We make this statement at the end of church services, weddings, funerals, and graduations from Christians schools. We use it to quiet the family before dinner and even to open new sessions of Congress.

In all those contexts, the phrase is gentle. Inviting. Even, benign.

But, I’m not hearing it that way today.

This Thursday is the National Day of Prayer, and I’d like to suggest we use the phrase in a slightly more militant tone. I think we should stand up, look our culture in the face, and say, “Let. Us. Pray!”

Do you remember the movie It’s a Wonderful Life? The young George Bailey faces a terrifying situation when Mr. Gower accidentally fills capsules with poison and demands that George deliver them to a family fighting diptheria. George knows it’s a terrible mistake, but he doesn’t know what to do about it. So, he rushes out to find his father. He runs up the steps, slams through the door of his dad’s office, and ignores mean old Mr. Potter who is sitting in the room.

I think we should be that way, too. Our Father has the answer to all the mess in this world. He is the only one who knows what to do about all the distraught Mr. Gowers, the corrupt Mr. Potters, and the sick-almost-to-death families. As His children, we have every right to crash through the door of political correctness and seek an audience with Him.

And, we better do it. We better gather around school flag poles and on courthouse lawns. We better take a moment in office break rooms, factory parking lots , neighborhood cafes, and local coffee shops. While we still have the privilege many of our international brethren don’t share, we better exercise this right out loud.

This Thursday, and every other day, we better say to the world, Let. Us. Pray!

And then, we better do it.

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Neatly Folded

By Kathy NickersonApril 26th, 2012happy endings6 Comments

A neat line can make all the difference in life.

Recently, I took a vacation day to clean our closet. This may seem like an extravagant use of a vacation day, but it has yielded great rewards. Our closet is the first thing I see in the mornings when I stumble from our bed to put on my work-out clothes. See is a relative term, since my eyes are not fully open most days. And, work-out clothes should more appropriately be called slow-stroll-on-the-treadmill-with-a-Hallmark-movie clothes. But, I digress from the closet.

This morning when I stepped inside, I smiled. Instead of a jumbled mess, I saw order. Sweaters actually folded on shelves. Shoes actually tucked into cubbies. I didn’t trip over a single thing in my stupor!

A few minutes later, I settled into my prayer chair. Which might be more appropriately labeled my whining chair, or my list-recitation prayer, or my can’t-keep-my-eyes-open-today chair — depending on the morning. No matter what frame of mind I carry with me to that chair, I find it serves the same purpose as my vacation day. Maybe I should call it my Sorting Chair. Because this is often the place where the Holy Spirit takes the chaos of my messy life and sorts it into neat stacks of Keep, Clean-up, or Throw Away.

I always come out of the experience neater. Just like my closet. Now, if I can keep us both that way with some daily maintenance!

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Life to My Days

By Kathy NickersonApril 23rd, 2012happy endings, mercyNo Comments

This week, I heard an add for a local  Hospice program: Adding life to days when adding days to life isn’t possible.

Isn’t that beautiful?

Unfortunately, it is flawed. Adding days to life is never possible. The only person who ever tried it came to a very bad end. On his deathbed, Hezekiah convinced God to relent and give him fifteen more years of life. Unfortunately, he sold his legacy into bondage during those last years.

So, don’t try it. Don’t think you can bargain with God and promise to be a missionary if he’ll let you live another fifty years in good health. That’s like promising you’ll build orphanages around the world if you win the lottery. You know you’ll blow it on cars and clothes and Caribbean cruises.

I’ve always sort of known this concept about life. The Bible has several passages about all our days being numbered. But that slogan grabbed my attention and made me wonder where I’d been frittering away my allotted days.

That is why I took a long drive after work Saturday afternoon. I was pretty sure laundry, groceries, and bill-paying wouldn’t add any life to my days. But a granddaughter’s piano recital? Oh, yeah.

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Sometimes We See Eagles

By Kathy NickersonApril 20th, 2012happy endings5 Comments

I saw an eagle on the lake today. It’s one of the perks of living Forty-Five minutes from Anywhere. We may not have a Starbucks, but sometimes we see eagles.

It had been a tough day around here. Our intentional community in the middle of a cornfield is all about helping troubled souls. They come from all over the place. I have no idea how so many of them hear about us. They come battered, broken, and abused by life without God. Our job is to point them toward reconciliation with Him through Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit does the rest. Leaving it up to Him, though, can be an emotional task.

Some people start getting healed within days. Lives are restored. Hope is renewed, and eventually the restored soul is leading a business or a choir or a family.

But, other days, three high-school seniors walk off down the road (literally) five weeks before graduation because the boarding school rules are too hard. We cry when they go. We plead. We promise, that if they’ll stick it out just a little longer, they will be so glad they did. But, they walk anyway. So fast that they don’t take their shoes.

That happened today. And we cried. I felt a special heart-tug for one of the girls. I’ll call her Julie. I always saw such promise in her eyes, and I couldn’t believe she had thrown away her future and gone off to inherit the wind.

I prayed for the girls, and I prayed for all of us, and then I took a deep breath and went back to work. It’s all I could do. Just before lunch,  I checked email and found this beautiful note : Julie came back.

It can be hard out here in the Middle of Nowhere with all these troubled souls. It can be completely heartbreaking on occasion and seem like we are miles away from hopeful. But, sometimes we see eagles.

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Pleasant Places

By Kathy NickersonApril 15th, 2012The BibleNo Comments

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places… Psalm 16:6.

King David wrote those words, but we don’t know when. Maybe when he was a shepherd boy fighting lions and bears or when he was composing worship songs on his harp.

Maybe when he was a fugitive living in a cave or when he was pretending to be a double agent working for the Philistines. Or, maybe, he wrote this verse when he was living in Hebron surrounded by wives and children and stepping into his call. Maybe in Jerusalem, when all the people had crowned him king and worship had exploded in his city.

The thing is, he could have written these words at any time or any place. Because the words before it say, “Lord, You are my portion and my cup.” David didn’t get to pick a city and choose a career path. He didn’t make a pro’s and con’s list for which college to attend. David just chose God. After that, anywhere the boundary lines fell for him was pleasant.

I’m pretty sure there’s a lesson here…

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The Pay-Off

By Kathy NickersonApril 12th, 2012family, happy endings1 Comment

Our Treasures

One of the [few] things Wendell and I have consistently done right in life [I think] has to do with giving. We have tried to always be faithful in tithing and in offerings and in alms.

Even when we couldn’t pay all the bills we had wracked up from poor choices and impulsive spending, we gave. I don’t tell you that to brag or to allow my left hand to high-five my right. I have a point.

One day, years ago, we found ourselves in a dire financial condition [again]. I think it was about the time I got my first copy of Quicken. I plugged all our financial data into the debt-calculator and punched the button for results. I got this: Warning: You will NEVER be out of debt. [I’m not kidding. It said that.]

Anyway, Wendell was bemoaning this fact to a friend. “We always give back to God,” he said. “We believe all the money is His anyway, and so we never cheat Him on our tithe. Don’t you think He will honor that?”

Our friend resisted the urge to point out the obvious. If we really believed all our money belonged to God we wouldn’t be blowing the other 90% on things that got us into debt in the first place!

Instead, he said something that rocked our socks. “Oh, yes. God will honor your generosity. But it might not be in the way you think. Maybe you will never be rich or even out of debt. Maybe you will always struggle financially. But maybe your kids will  turn out great.”

[Selah]

And, they have.

 

 

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The Thank You Room

By Kathy NickersonApril 9th, 2012family, writing3 Comments

Sisters: Charity, Serenity, and Felicity

 

One of the beautiful things about my family is that we are not afraid to show we take things in by how they pertain to us.

Serenity Bohon, The Thank You Room

 

This quote is so true of us. Which is why I can’t even pretend I wasn’t eager to read the”Mom” chapter in Serenity‘s new book.  (Don’t worry, I’ll tell you how to get the book so you can see if you are in it, too.)

This is the story of a journey our family took all the way to the edge of death and back again. Serenity was diagnosed with cancer at the same time she discovered she was pregnant with their third child. But this isn’t so much a book about cancer as a book about people. Relationships. Eternity set in our hearts.

And Serenity has captured that in both her book and her life. Whether it is the bond she shares with her sisters or the brief encounter she had with her anesthesiologist, Serenity reminds us that people are the most important thing of all.

To be honest, she gives me way more credit in the book than I deserve. She thought I was brave. And full of faith. And determined to never let her panic. The last one was true. The first two, not so much. Mostly, I was terrified and holding on by the thinest thread of the quietest prayer uttered by all our faithful friends.

And, that is probably why I love this book so much. Because even though Serenity wrote it, The Thank You Room is really a letter  to all the people who have loved us so well. (and who still do). If you want to learn something about relationships, or about how to get through hard times, or if you just want a good cry and a good laugh in the same paragraph, go get your copy here: The Thank You Room

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Miracle Moments

By Kathy NickersonApril 5th, 2012The Bible1 Comment

I love thinking about the things Jesus did the week before He died. The triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The cleansing of the Temple. The Last Supper, the prayer in Gethsemane, and the  trial before Pilate.  In retrospect, we know those were epic moments. But  at the time, these were just ordinary days with the King of the Universe.

Even Jesus seemed to be treating the season as routine. On the way to Jerusalem, where He knew He would die, Jesus paused to heal a blind man and to get a tax-collector out of a tree. He mediated a dispute when James and John started calling shotgun for seats in glory. He told them plainly that He was going to be beaten bloody, and then He would die. But they must have thought it was a parable He would explain to them later.

I’m sure it was years before they could look back at that week and fully comprehend the miracles they had seen. And, isn’t that true for us, too? We are generally busy being blind, up a tree, or in a race for the best chair, and we forget that these moments of life are miraculous.

I’m trying to pay attention.

 

 

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Enough Goats Milk

By Kathy NickersonApril 2nd, 2012mercy3 Comments

I didn’t wake up Saturday morning six-hudred and forty million dollars richer. That could be because I didn’t buy a lottery ticket in the mega-millions sweepstakes. One reason I didn’t buy a ticket is because I read that I’m nine times more likely to have a t.v. fall on my head and kill me this year than win the lottery. And I thought, “Sheesh, if that happened, who would spend all the money?” (I know the answer, Felic, in case you are about to raise your hand.)

Anyway, I didn’t buy a ticket. (Disclaimer: my husband still sends in Publisher’s Clearinghouse faithfully, and I’m cool with that. I’m willing to gamble a stamp.)

I’m also content with getting money the old-fashioned way: earning and investing.

Evidently, my husband’s seventeen-year-old-self was all about freedom from greed. I’ve heard the taped radio broadcast where he was interviewed as a high-school senior and said, “I want to be a doctor. But it isn’t about the money. I just want to go some place where people really need help and then make a difference in their lives. I don’t care about making money.”

And, thus, I was cursed before I ever met the man.

That’s exactly what we have done, of course. Wendell has always practiced rural medicine, which doesn’t bring in the kind of money most physicians make. But, we are still wealthy compared to many of our patients. Plus, we make bushels of friends. And, hopefully, some amount of difference.

Six years ago, when I was trying to decide if I should give up my job and go to work in Wendell’s clinic, I pondered these things. Should we put all our theoretical eggs in that basket which had a few gaping holes at the time?

Here is the answer I found one morning in Proverbs 27:

Know the state of your flocks,
and put your heart into caring for your herds,
24 for riches don’t last forever,
and the crown might not be passed to the next generation.
25 After the hay is harvested and the new crop appears
and the mountain grasses are gathered in,
26 your sheep will provide wool for clothing,
and your goats will provide the price of a field.
27 And you will have enough goats’ milk for yourself,
your family, and your servant girls.

 

I resigned that day. And now Wendell and I work together, which is a dream fulfilled from our first date. And there has always been plenty of goats milk for us, our family , and our faithful staff.

So, I guess that’s the real reason I didn’t buy a lottery ticket. I know the state of my flocks. And I trust the provision of my Shepherd.

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