Archive for December, 2012

Quiet Christmas

By Kathy NickersonDecember 24th, 2012mercy1 Comment
Sometimes, our nest is quite full.

Sometimes, our nest is quite full.

I expect you will find this hard to believe, but I love an empty-nest on Christmas Day. Yes, I know. Those of you who will be surrounded by children in Christmas jammies, mounds of wrapping paper, and squeals of delight doubt my honesty here. Especially if some of those children are my grands.

But picture this: We awaken when we please, not before dawn. We sit in front of our Christmas tree with coffee in hand, watching the fire, listening to the carols, and remembering why we love each other so much. Later in the day, we might connect with people. But the best part of the day will be spent together, just us.

We will remember the Christmases of our childhoods, when snow was taller than the house and bicycles appeared like magic under the tree. And we’ll talk about the times our own house filled with college-age children and several of their friends. Nearly-grown people creeping down the stairs on Christmas morning, hoping they hadn’t outgrown the promise of Santa-filled stockings and presents under the tree.

Before the day is over, we’re sure to watch a Christmas movie. Or two. And we might even hop in the car and go off on a date. It is a different sort of Christmas when the nest is bare of chicks. But the truth is, our nest is never empty. It is as full as our hearts, and it constantly overflows.

I hope yours does, too.

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Maybe It Went This Way

By Kathy NickersonDecember 20th, 2012mercyNo Comments

And [the shepherds] came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. Luke 2:16-20

Wait! Where did the shepherds go after Bethlehem? They made known abroad what the angels said. Where was abroad?

And, in verse 20, they returned praising God. Returned from where?

I can’t say I know the answers to these questions. But I have read some interesting theories. Maybe these were no ordinary shepherds. Maybe they were actually shepherds keeping watch over special flocks destined for sacrifice in the Temple.

And, since some scholars think Jesus was actually born in the spring, maybe these shepherds were on their way to Jerusalem with passover lambs. Wouldn’t that be poetic of God?

I don’t know if it is true, but I love contemplating all that would mean. And, of course, I’m writing a novel about it.

I pray that you, like the shepherds, will come with haste this week and find Jesus — not lying in a manger, but reigning on a throne. And yet, at home in your heart.

Merry Christmas

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Comfort

By Kathy NickersonDecember 16th, 2012mercyNo Comments

Our family is spread across three states and nine-hundred miles. So we developed an email group with regular updates to keep everyone connected. We call it the Breakfast Club, and everyone’s subject line is supposed to be what they had for breakfast that morning. It almost fools us into thinking we are in the same town.

Here is a glimpse into the Breakfast Club last Friday:

Email #1 (While I was checking in at my desk)

Someone say something to remind us God is still on the throne, please. I’m so heartbroken about the elementary school shooting in Connecticut. What is wrong with people?! Deep breath. Dad, you read The End. Remind us what happens.

Char

Email #2 (Moments later)

Char, I was about to send the same email. Trying not to ugly cry right now. Trying to remain calm and hold myself back from going to the school to bring my children home and never send them back or to any other public place…

Chelle

 Email #3 (Before I had time to tell their Dad they were begging for help)

This is from the end of the book

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Revelation 21:1-8

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea no longer existed. I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.

Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity,

and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them

and be their God.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

Death will no longer exist;

Grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.

Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.” …

Joe 

 

Hope this helps you today, too.

Love, The Breakfast Club

 

 

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Pass the Red Punch

By Kathy NickersonDecember 13th, 2012mercy1 Comment

I’ve never been to one of those cool Christmas parties where everyone wears sparkly clothes and stands around in ambient light, surrounded by exotic ‘hor devours and Christmas decor worthy of a Macy’s window.

We are more the little-smokies and chunky sweaters kind of crowd.

But I rather envy those other folks. It seems like Christmas should be celebrated with the absolute best of everything. Best crystal. Best china. Best friends…

Oh, wait, I can do that last one! Maybe you are in the Crystal Crowd, or perhaps you are one of the Paper Plate People. I like to think we can all gather around the virtual table and celebrate this season.

I’ll go first by offering up a cup of my mother’s famous slushy Christmas punch. Let’s clink our cups through cyber-space and say something appropriate like, “Merry Christmas” or “Joy to the World” or “God bless us everyone!”

Okay, it’s your turn now. Just leave a toast in the comment section so we know you are at the party, too. “Merry Christmas” will do.

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Life is Wonderful

By Kathy NickersonDecember 10th, 2012mercyNo Comments

Have you seen the movie It’s a Wonderful Life? If not, stop reading right now. Go straight to Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime or your favorite Tivo/DVR system and hit “Search.” Get to know George Bailey et al, and then come back. We’ll wait for you.

It is aptly named, don’t you think? Truly wonderful, as in filled-with-wonder. Here is the part I like best: This movie started out as a Christmas card.

It was a short story Philip Van Doren Stern wrote and couldn’t get published. Since BookBaby hadn’t been invented yet, he turned it into a Christmas card and sent it out to 200 of his friends and family in December of 1943. You can fill in the blanks for the rest of the story. Or, you can Google it if you want to read the entire history.

My point is this: You never know where your writing will lead. So take care what you say in that annual letter summarizing the highs and lows of the previous year. (And be sure to send me one. I LOVE Christmas letters.)

And, don’t despair if your writing (or your life) isn’t going where you want it to go just yet. If you are faithful in the little things, you might see your work on the silver screen someday. Or, you might discover that no man is a failure who has friends.

Either way, it really is a wonderful life.

 

 

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Where is the Chocolate?

By Kathy NickersonDecember 6th, 2012mercy10 Comments

When our children were college-age, I started a new tradition. I bought white paper lunch sacks – one for each day in December. Then I dropped a surprise into each bag and tied them shut with red ribbons. The gift might be a piece of fine chocolate or a package of specialty cocoa or a Christmas trinket.

The game started with five children, but they have multiplied. This year it included thirty-nine people. (and certain co-workers are still lobbying to get in on the fun.) Over the years, I’ve tried to come up with new ideas every year, but some things are standard. Like chocolate. There must be chocolate.

Last year, one of the recipients ( a mother of four little girls) was caught squeezing the bags. When the girls asked what she was doing, she ‘fessed up. “I’m trying to figure out which day is orange slices.”

When she admitted this later, one of the siblings said, “Christie, you do know you are a grown-up, right? You can buy orange slices at the store.”

This will become a standard family joke. But it also illustrates an interesting truth about our family. The last couple of years, we have marched out and bought ourselves some orange slices instead of waiting for someone to hand them to us.

We have published a book, produced an EP, gone back to school, made short films, moved to new cities, launched new careers, and taken some big risks for our futures.

I still love the thrill of a secret tucked inside a white bag. But I’m intrigued by the possibilities of orange slices in the New Year. I think I’ll go out and get some.

How about you?

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Writing in Paradise

By Kathy NickersonDecember 3rd, 2012mercy7 Comments

Almost every December, my husband attends a medical conference in Branson, Missouri. These continuing medical education courses are required by the state for a doctor to keep his license. I love that rule.

Partly because I want doctors to always be learning the latest and greatest. (Or at least to sit through the old and boring and get credit for being there.) But mostly because it guarantees me a few good days of writing retreats every year. Usually, I learn something useful for my job as office manager, too, just by visting with other wives/staffers at these things.

A couple of years ago, I sat in the room pictured here and outlined a novel I called Thirty Days to Glory. I wrote my little heart out that weekend about Catherine Benson, the aging widow, who wanted to do One Great Thing before she died. About her granddaughter, Beth, struggling to find her way. About the Glory Circle Sisters who challenge Catherine to pray and her housekeeper Emily who challenges her to stay in out of the cold. About Elmer Grigsby, who just wants to stay seriously drunk until he slips out of the world unnoticed. And about his uncomfortable knowledge that he was once a better man.

It was easy to write about these folks from the comfort of the roaring fire. The task grew harder when I went home and could only squeeze in twenty-minutes each day before work. Extra on weekends. But, I kept at it. A quick conversation with Catherine after breakfast. A task for Emily the next day. Glimpses of Christmas Past and the the scent of Ivory Soap for Elmer on Saturday afternoon.

This summer, I introduced the whole clan to my new best friends at CrossRiver Media Group, and the relationship took. Thirty Days to Glory is schedule to be published next year, and all these people in my head will get a life. Sort of.

The point of my post is this: It is great fun to write books (or rear children, or wrangle accounts, or draft lesson plans) under the spell of Christmas dazzle. It is much harder to do so in the glare of January snow. But, really, it is January that makes the difference.

Whatever you have conceived in the glow of this Christmas season, I pray you see it through. All the way to spring and beyond.

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