Archive for May, 2012

When I’m Ninety-Two

By Kathy NickersonMay 31st, 2012family2 Comments

Maybe the Beatles couldn’t imagine living into their nineties back in the era where we didn’t trust anyone over thirty. So they wrote a song about growing old together at sixty-four. Knitting sweaters, puttering in the garden, bouncing grandchildren on their knees. I’m pretty sure Sir Paul sees the golden years differently now since he is still selling out concerts and turning seventy this year.

I’m thinking of the song because I’ve just spent four days with my ninety-two year old mother-in-law. I rather hope Jesus will have returned to earth and made all things new before I reach that milestone. But, in case He doesn’t, here are a few things on my list of what I hope for when I’m ninety-two

• I hope I’m still interested in things. Like the hierarchy of hummingbirds and the migration habits of the Ruby Red-Throated ones. The kinds of things one must look up in a book kept beside the dining room table.

• I hope I’m still teachable about technology. So I can chat with my great- grandchildren on Facebook and read books by new authors like Serenity Bohon on my Kindle.

• I hope I still wear pierced earrings, soft make-up, and colorful clothes.

• I hope I still love singing in church.

• And most of all, I hope I will have built strong relationships. The kind that guarantee someone will love me enough to come running each time I ring my little, china bell.

(And I’m ringing it, people, get prepared.)

What do you hope for when you turn ninety-two?

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Far From Home

By Kathy NickersonMay 27th, 2012mercy1 Comment

The Veteran's Parade at Silver Dollar City

When my father and his friends marched off to war, few of them had been farther from home than the state fair. I think we forget that sometimes. In our global society, we connect with friends across the sea as easily as we chat with neighbors across the back yard fence.

But for my dad’s generation, Europe might as well have been another planet. I can’t imagine what it required to go to war. The bravery, the sacrifice, the determination. I only know it was very, very far from home for those Macon County farm boys.

May God bless all those who have marched away from home on our behalf. And protect those who continue to do so.

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Help from Haggai

By Kathy NickersonMay 23rd, 2012The Bible, Uncategorized5 Comments

Sometimes (Okay, lots of times) I worry that I haven’t done enough as a writer. That by this season of life I should have written several novels of enduring value. Or at least a few dozen more magazine articles. I wonder if my piddly contribution to the vast library of the world even matters.

But today I read Haggai.

He is one of the minor prophets in the Bible. The ones who are hard to find without an index. And, he only rates two chapters. If The Complete Works of Haggai the Prophet was listed on Amazon, it would only include four essays of  a few paragraphs each.

But, what a difference those words made.

After seventy years in exile, a small band of Jews had been allowed to go back to Jerusalem from Babylon. Their task was to rebuild the holy city, and they started by laying again the foundation of the magnificent Temple. But the bad guys hassled them so much they quit building. Sixteen years passed, and nobody lifted a stone.

Then, Haggai stood up and spoke. His words  ignited vision, renewed strength, and put an entire culture back on track. Today, those words are captured in two short chapters of a sixty-six book collection.

Reading Haggai today made me grateful. It also made me wonder what my few words might do in the earth.

What about yours?

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Nesting

By Kathy NickersonMay 20th, 2012family5 Comments

Shaking legs and patting heads with Grandpa and Elmo.

I love our empty nest. Seriously love it. I thrive on the consistency of morning rituals and the respite of quiet evenings. I often smile when I walk through our tidy living room, and I thank God out loud for clean kitchen counters.

We married young and had babies right away, so we always looked forward to this season of just-you-and-me. At nineteen, we were quoting Browning, “Grow old along with me; the best is best to be.” And, we were right.

But…

Some days our little birds flit back to the nest and bring their babies along for a visit. Then I love stepping over tiny shoes on the living room floor. I treasure sippy cups on kitchen counters and stuffed animals on every chair.

Most of all, I love giving up my favorite spot on the arm of my husband’s chair so someone else can snuggle there.

I love sharing life with them. And, after they go home, I find the empty nest feels even sweeter.

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Connecting Points

By Kathy NickersonMay 17th, 2012mercy4 Comments

I can tell you that my dad didn’t hear one word of the conversation in this picture. Great-grandson Jake was intent on telling him something about this year’s Easter Egg Hunt. My dad listened with full attention. Then he probably smiled, and nodded, and told Jake to hunt a little more. Between the slight breeze, the chattering people all around, and the softness of a six-year old voice, the words were certainly lost for my hard-of-hearing father.

But that didn’t matter. My dad isn’t bothered because he can’t hear the details of a conversations. He just loves the connection.

I’m pretty sure I sound like a six-year-old speaking against the wind when I talk to God sometimes. He isn’t the least bit deaf, of course. But my words are probably as useless as Jake’s were that day. And I think God smiles. And nods. And tells me to just keep on tramping along through life. Avoid the weedy patches. Walk where the grass has been mown. And keep my eyes open for a splash of color hidden beneath the edge of an overturned rock or discarded tire.

Sometimes, the words simply don’t matter as much as the connection.

 

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In the Moment

By Kathy NickersonMay 14th, 2012happy endings1 Comment

I don't want to miss these moments.

Saturday morning, I caught myself practically hyperventilating over my calendar. I pulled it up just to check about a detail for Monday. But that led to Tuesday, and then Wednesday, and then the first two weeks of June, and then it was August and school was starting again!

I invest way too much time planning the future. Not big plans like a trip to Europe for our 40th wedding anniversary or more savings in our retirement account. No, I ignore those. I obsess over two weeks from Thursday when I need to go stay with my mother-in-law for a few days and how I’ll manage to do the grocery shopping, banking, and laundry that week to keep things running while I’m gone. Two weeks away. Two. And I’m obsessing.

Not only do I fail to live in the moment some days, but other times I get trapped there. You know the scenario. A conversation goes badly or someone makes an offhand remark that slaps your face. The next thing you know, that moment has done a mind-meld with your brain, and you can’t stop thinking about it!

So, I was wondering how to live in the moment without being trapped there when suddenly I thought of a scripture. In Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28)

Maybe that is the secret. Staying in Him (and Him in me) will keep me from running ahead to the moments I don’t yet have the grace for. And it will free me from staying tangled in the past, beating my fists against a situation that will not change.

Instead, I will live. And move. And be in every sacred moment.

In Him.

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Stitches in the Night

By Kathy NickersonMay 10th, 2012family6 Comments

One of the great family heirlooms in our clan is a crocheted bedspread made by my husband’s grandmother. It was on the bed in his mother’s guest room for several years, but I don’t even know who has possession of it anymore. Nor does that matter very much to me. I simply love the story.

Many long years ago, when Grandma-Great was a small girl named Cora, she learned to crochet. After making a few doilies, I suppose, she decided to take on a larger project. Maybe a bedspread. And so she set to work. I have no idea how many weeks or months or even years it must have taken to spin the thread into the delicate swirls and curls that eventually created the masterpiece. It was a marvel. Especially when you consider it was crocheted by such a novice.

I do know that years and years and years passed before little Cora became a wife and mother and learned the rest of the story. Her own mother knew Cora had taken on a project much too large for her skill set. She also knew the effort itself would be good practice. By the time Cora finished the spread, she would probably have become pretty good with her needle, and the last half of it would be perfect.

But, the first half would be a disaster. Cora’s mother considered what a blow that lopsided bedspread would be. Then she made a decision. Every night, after Cora fell asleep, her mother sat down and unraveled the day’s work. Then she crocheted every stitch back into its right place. As the days went by, she unraveled less and less. Eventually, she only corrected small errors. And, in the end, Cora finished the spread on her own.

Today, our family has a beautiful crocheted spread somewhere. But more importantly, we have a heritage. We have a long line of mothers who know when to stand back, when to step forward, and when to to replace stitches in the night so dreams don’t come out lopsided.

Happy Mother’s Day to us all.

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Seeing Sunshine

By Kathy NickersonMay 4th, 2012mercy4 Comments

It rained on the day we were married, thirty-eight years ago this week. A gully-washer as we used to say. But I don’t remember that. When someone mentioned it nearly twenty years later, I argued. In my memory the day was sunny, birds were singing, and rose petals were floating from the sky.

When I scoffed at the rain story, Wendell started reminding me of details. How it stormed so badly his big brother could barely see the road while driving us away from the church. I have no memory of that. How we snuck back to our little house to spend the first night and then shivered for hours because we didn’t have any matches to light the heating stove. Oh, yes. I do remember that. Maybe it had stormed after all.

And it has gone on like that for years. When I look back over our sickness and health, richer or poorer, till-death-do-us-part-and-it-might-be-today, I mostly see sunshine and bluebirds. If I concentrate, I can conjure up the details of darker days. I can hear the thunder of old arguments and see the lightning of great loss. But I never actually feel the rain.

I think mercy does that. Forgiving others as we ourselves have been forgiven keeps us living in the sunshine here on Mercy Street.

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