Archive for July, 2012

Walking Backwards

By Kathy NickersonJuly 30th, 2012happy endings7 Comments

Take a look back before you close the door

Our four children shared one bathroom all their growing-up years. For my loft-dwelling city friends, a two-bathroom house may sound like a luxury. (It should have felt that way to me, since we didn’t even have one bathroom in our house until I was ten years old.) But I quickly joined the children in being annoyed at the turf wars of a shared bathroom.

Nothing starts the day worse than stepping on another person’s soggy towel. Except maybe their glob of toothpaste on the sink or their dirty clothes dropped in a straight line from the door to the shower. After listening to complaints for a few weeks, I finally hit upon a solution. Or maybe it was their father’s idea. I don’t really remember. I just remember we established a new rule in our house:

Everyone walks out of the bathroom backwards.

The change was amazing. Suddenly everyone could see their own mess, which generally translated to cleaning it up. Eventually, we all discovered the pleasure of walking out of a clean room and seeing that we’d done our part for family harmony and world peace.

The principle works well for life in general. Walking backwards out of a day, a season, or a simple conversation brings great perspective. Sometimes it is good to just pause, look back, and survey the scene for damage before moving on. And, sometimes, what we see is a glistening sink, a spotless floor, and a perky vase of flowers on the shelf.

I hope you have that kind of a week.

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Who is Kate Adair?

By Kathy NickersonJuly 26th, 2012writing4 Comments

The short story: She is me. Here is the longer version:

In elementary school, when I first learned that Samuel Clemons was Mark Twain, I started thinking about pen names. I thought I should dream one up in case I needed it someday. I didn’t actually settle on one until a couple of years ago, though. I’d written a rather personal story about marriage, and my editor offered me the option of a pen name to protect my identity. Or, rather to protect the identities of our adult children who might not enjoy being linked to a story about their parents’ (ahem) private life.

I’d been twirling the name around in my head for a while. One of the men I admire most in life was my grandfather, J. Bryan Adair. He had been not only my grandpa, but my pastor. The man who baptized me when I was thirteen years old and never said a word about the neon-striped mini-skirt I wore into the frigid pond that November day.

He also called me Kate. My real name isn’t some longer version of itself such as Katherine or Kathleen. It is Kathy. Straight up and simple. Yet, he managed to shorten it even more as a term of endearment. (And partly because the only television show he ever enjoyed was The Real McCoys. Thus, my brother and I became Luke and Kate.)

I didn’t actually use Kate Adair on that story after all. The editor convinced me that publishing under my own name would be better for my career. “And besides,” she told me, “Your children know how they got here by now.” (Unfortunately, I forgot to change my husband’s name back in the final draft. Our grandchildren may wonder someday when I was married to a guy named Allen.)

The name stuck, though, and I have used it occasionally. So, dear reader, if you come across an article or a book or a brilliant screenplay someday by the little-known author, Kate Adair, you will know who she is. Just a girl who loved her grandfather and was honored to use his name.

 

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Good Company

By Kathy NickersonJuly 23rd, 2012Friendship1 Comment

I wasn’t able to go to the funeral on Friday, and, I regret that now. Although Sister Betty hadn’t been an active part of my life during the past thirty years, she remains a powerful part of my heritage. And I wish I’d gone to honor her and to reconnect for just a moment with all the other people who shared that legacy. (Note to self: take time for funerals in the future. They matter.)

No one  writes sonnets or screenplays about the quiet life of a country preacher’s wife. But, they should. It is a high calling and a worthy pursuit.  Someone did write a couple of phrases that remind me of Sister Betty, though. The apostle Paul was writing to a young preacher named Timothy about how to take care of widows in the newly-formed church. Sister Betty was not a widow-in-need, but I think this description fits her so well. Paul told Timothy to put a widow on the list for care if she had:

…been the wife of one man. Well reported of for good works; if she had brought up children, if she had lodged strangers, if she had washed the saints’ feet, if she havd relieved the afflicted, if she had diligently followed every good work.First Timothy 5:9-10, KJV

I think Sister Betty did all that. In the circle of small, country churches where I grew up, our preachers traveled a circuit and preached in four different churches each month. So, every few weeks it would be my parents’ turn to host Brother Raymond and Sister Betty overnight.

Occasionally, I would call my mother on a Sunday morning when that happened, and she would always say, “Yes, we had Brother Raymond’s here last night and we’re all getting ready for church. Sister Betty jumped up and started washing the breakfast dishes. She is always good company.”

If you’ve ever been called upon to have the preacher and his wife over for dinner at your house, you know what a high compliment my mother gave. It is so true of Sister Betty. She was good company here on earth. And I know Heaven is glad to have her.

 

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To Tweet or Not to Tweet

By Kathy NickersonJuly 19th, 2012writing7 Comments

One of my favorite authors to follow @serenitylive

Does tweeting make one a twit, do you suppose? Sometimes I think so. Every week or so I think I’ll just give up on that particular element of social media. I don’t really use it well. I forget to check-in. I rarely enter an actual conversation because I’m such a slow texter the crowd has moved on to another subject while I’m still on character #13 of the previous trend.

But this week, while updating my website info, I actually visited my own site. Or page. Or whatever my Twitter address signifies. And what I found there was a lovely time-capsule of the past year captured in 140 characters or less every week or two. It was like a shorthand diary with no need of a lock and key. The brevity alone forces one to find the bare bones of a sentiment. The tiny nugget of hope, joy, fear, or fun in something as mundane as Daylight Savings Time or as epic as the birth of another grandchild.

I don’t suppose I’ll be a much better twit this week. I’m sure I’ll forget to check-in, and I’ll fail to follow someone I truly admire. But I believe I’ll keep trying. It seems worth the effort if for no other reason than the abbreviated historical record captured a few characters at a time on the page. #andthenwehadcake.

What say you, my friends? To tweet, or not to tweet? That is today’s question.

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Coming Soon to a City Near You

By Kathy NickersonJuly 16th, 2012Uncategorized4 Comments

A few of my favorite munchkins

I just watched the trailer for  Oz:The Great and Powerful, coming out next spring. It inspired my title for this post but has absolutely nothing to do with what I’m about to say. Well, except for this: there is one breathless line in the trailer that basically says, “Are you the One we’ve been waiting for?”

That line kills, doesn’t it? The universal cry for rescue. For some majestic Other who has a cosmic plan that makes sense of our world filled with flying monkeys and wicked witches.

And, here is the kicker: We know Him! The One who is greater even than Oz! Man, I wish I could somehow introduce the whole weary world to Him.

That thought does lead me into where I was heading in the first place. I’m in the process of re-designing my website. Or actually, Jaymes of Scribbles & Scribes fame is in the process. I’m just shooting him whiny emails that say things like, “I think the red is too orange. No, wait. Now it’s too pink. And can you make the straight lines rounder and take about twenty pounds off my face?”

The site may be down for a few days eventually while Jaymes does his magic. (Once he gets home from his current missions trip to Moldova). When it comes back up, be ready to sign-up for the newsletter I’ll be launching this fall. Don’t worry, it’s free. I don’t suppose I’ll manage to introduce the whole world to Jesus, but I hope to encourage a few souls along the way. So, put on your ruby red slippers or jump in your hot-air balloon, and let’s launch this new adventure together!

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Telling Stories

By Kathy NickersonJuly 8th, 2012family, The Bible3 Comments

I’ve reached that stage in life where I catch myself repeating stories to the same people. (mostly our grown children) I catch myself, but I rarely stop myself, because family stories are important and are worthy of repetition. Plus, you never know when some important detail will emerge that had been skimmed over in previous tellings.

Some of my reverence for story comes from those boring begats in the Bible. Eber begat Peleg; Peleg begat Reu; and Reu begat Serug. Those lists.

If you read that particular list closely (and with a calculator), you will discover this interesting fact: Abraham was forty-nine years old before his many-greats-grandfather Noah died. Can you imagine? The most famous children’s story in history – Noah and the Ark – alive and breathing around the picnic table at family reunions?

Maybe they didn’t even know each other, of course. Maybe they lived at opposite ends of Mesopotamia and never traveled the same trade routes. But surely Abraham knew the stories. Surely someone in his lineage told him about how God talked to old Noah and allowed him to become the father of a new civilization.

If I’m right about that, it doesn’t seem too big a jump to think that Abraham who believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness learned some of that lesson from a relative named Noah who was the only righteous man in his day.

My stories are not quite as dramatic as Noah’s, but I’m going to keep on telling them.  Feel free to tell me if you’ve heard this one before. But, I’m telling it anyway.

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Doing All Things

By Kathy NickersonJuly 2nd, 2012mercy, The Bible4 Comments

In the Biblical trinket shops of the world, Ephesians 4 is a favorite scripture. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. We find it on coffee cups, wall plaques, tote bags, and tee shirts. And the verse always sounds victorious in that setting. You can picture a body-builder in the tee shirt hefting a couple of small ponies over his head and shouting, “I can do ALL things.”  That kind of thing, you know?

But, in truth, the verse is about suffering. Paul is telling his friends how to face trouble in this world, how to be content even when they are hungry. Very, very hungry.

This weekend, I experienced the verse. One of our granddaughters had emergency surgery while on vacation six hours away from home. We drove through the night to be there, and then lived at the children’s hospital for a while. I did manage to email several circles of friends to get prayer started. But I mostly did that because I was pretty sure my own prayers would be incoherent. I know my Father sees into my heart, so He can understand that when I whisper. “oh, God; oh God; oh, God” I mean, “please help the doctors find the problem with this brain shunt and successfully repair it with no complications,” and so forth. Even so, I wanted some people to actually pray those prayers.

The surgery went well. The recovery was a little painful, but she was improving when we finally left town. No one was pumping spiritual iron, though. None of us were bumping fists and saying, “Way to go, I knew we could do it.” We were sighing. And nodding. And hugging one another gently. I think we were all saying to ourselves, “man, that was hard.”

Because sometimes doing all things simply means to suffer well.

And, we did.

 

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