Archive for February, 2013

Visiting the Cottage

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 28th, 2013mercy5 Comments

Cottage

I love how my husband knows me. We were sitting in the living room, recovering from a long day at work, and I said, “I think you’re going to need to take me to upstate New York  this summer to research my next novel.”

“Nooooooo,” he said, “Why are those people taking you there?”

This should tell you two things about my husband: He believes crossing the Mississippi River takes him too far east. And, he accepts the reality of the characters in my head.

I don’t know if he merely humors me in this or if he actually believes it. But he understands that I found Nora in New York. I can’t move her. I have to visit her in the little cottage she rents for the summer if I want to tell her story.

He has grown accustomed to extra people in our lives when I’m writing a book. He knows they live with me and may pop into a conversation at any given time. He accepts the distraction of my dual universe and even asks good questions about their lives, their motives, and the probability of their surviving the editorial cuts.

This may not be what the Biblical writer had in mind when he said a man should live with his wife with understanding. I only know it works.

I’m signing off now. I have to Google Cottage Rentals in Upstate New York.

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On Finishing Well

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 23rd, 2013mercy4 Comments

IMG_1348I am reading Billy Graham’s new book Nearing Home — Life, Faith, and Finishing Well. Several years ago I read his autobiography, which was 837 pages loooooong. This book is 180 pages.

And it feels much heavier to me.

The message is one I think we have skipped in Christendom and life in general. How to finish well. Mr. Graham says, “All my life I was taught how to die as a Christian, but no one ever taught me how I ought to live in the years before I die.”

Old age has always fascinated me. Even as young lovers, my husband and I used to talk about the seasoning that would come to our marriage when we were old. Now that we are obviously passed middle-age (unless we plan on living to 120) I find that is true. Mostly. We are far from old age, yet the foreshadowing of those days whispers to us now and then.

Maybe those conversations from our twenty-something years are the reason my novels all involve old people. People who still have much to contribute after their bodies, and even their minds, stop functioning at full vigor. Or maybe the interest comes from the relationships I’ve had with amazing people who overcome the infirmities of age to remain witty, and brave, and flexible.

They are the people described in Psalm 92 as being planted in the house of the Lord. People who will:

Flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still yield fruit in old age;
They shall be full of sap and very green,

I want to be a sappy old lady someday. So, I’m grateful to Mr. Graham for being brave and honest enough to write this book. I’m grateful to his publishing house for producing it. And, I am grateful to Tamara at CrossRiver Media for ignoring the publishing world’s theory that “nobody will buy a novel about old people.”

I look forward to the release of Thirty Days to Glory this year, when Catherine Benson and her friends, the Glory Circle Sisters, prove that old people still have a lot to say.

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Whatever Happened to What’s-His-Name?

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 21st, 2013mercy2 Comments

This week I read about the last roll of dice in the Bible.

Some people have a real problem with this “casting of lots” our forefathers did in Bible times. I don’t want to minimize the problem of modern-day gambling. It can wreck lives, tear up families, and get people killed. But back in the day, God often talked to people with some form of dice-rolling. Eventually, the Holy Spirit exploded into the world, and all God’s children suddenly had Face Time. Or, whatever.

Anyway, the last recorded roll of the dice was done by the Disciples-turned-Apostles to pick a replacement for Judas. We aren’t sure why they felt the need to replace him. Scholars have several views which all relate to Jewish customs, laws, and traditions involving a specific number of people required for certain transactions.

When the guys got together to sort this out, they came up with two names: Matthias and Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus). The lot fell to Matthias. He was welcomed into the Circle of The Twelve and probably went on to do great feats even though they aren’t recorded in the Bible. And even though many scholars think Paul was the twelfth man and the apostles got ahead of the Holy Spirit. But that is not today’s story.

Today’s story is this: Whatever happened to Joseph/Barsabbas/Justus? Well, I’ll tell you what I hope. I hope he went right on doing exactly what had gotten him chosen for the lottery in the first place. I hope he loved Jesus. And served the needy. I hope he prayed for the sick, worshipped in the Temple, paid his alms, and maybe even raised the dead a time or two.

Because Joseph/Barsabbas/Justus reminds me that getting my name on the Bestseller List (or the corner office)  is not the Main Thing in life.

The Main Thing is to love Jesus. Because the only place my name really needs to be written is in His Book of Life.

 

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My Leap Year

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 17th, 2013mercy6 Comments

I have decided to join the One Word tribe this year. Thanks mostly to a nudge from writer/editor/conference speaker/and friend Sue Brage. Choosing just one word to live by is daunting. I had narrowed it down to a theme. But one word? I’m a wordy person. One seemed like a tough challenge. Especially when you think of that quote from Mark Twain.

Ligtning 2

The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter–it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.
– Letter to George Bainton, 10/15/1888

Sheesh. So much pressure. I had an impression of where I want to focus this year. A general idea that I wanted to be braver. That I wanted to take some risks without making a “what-if” list first. The word I finally hit upon was Leap.

The Bible is filled with leaping. King David leaped with wild abandon when he brought the presence of God to Jerusalem. John leaped in his mother’s womb when Mary greeted Elizabeth. The crippled man leaped to his feet in Lystra when Paul called upon God to heal him.

But the leap that inspires me was Peter’s.

When he and John look up from their fishing boat and see Jesus on the shore, Peter can’t wait. He leaps from the boat and splashes toward Jesus without a thought for the fish, the nets, or the people who will think he is crazy. I want to leap like that. It isn’t a leap off a cliff, which would be foolish. It is a leap toward the goal of Jesus and all He has asked me to do in this life.

It is a leap of faith.

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Top Ten Romantic Moves

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 14th, 2013mercyNo Comments

RosesIn honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m posting the Top Ten Most Romantic Things my husband has done in the forty years I’ve known him.

10. Flowers – Really, they never fail. The African violet he gave me for our 3rd anniversary. The two bouquets he brought when he came home from recovery because he didn’t know which one I’d like best. The long-stemmed rose he handed me tonight…

9. Handmade cards – like the classic version he once made from a paper bag after I’d gone to bed mad.

8. Jewelry – The ID bracelet when we were dating with our code word for “I love you” engraved on the back.

7. Trips – We used to travel to get away from the kids. Now we travel to get to them.

6. Jane Austen – Letting me watch Pride and Prejudice instead of Duck Dynasty, and never complaining.

5. Computers – From the first chunky Apple to my current Mac Air, all the machines he’s gift-wrapped for the writer-to-be.

4. Smooth sheets – on the bed he makes every morning without fail.

3. Loving my mother.

2. Honoring my dad.

1. Worshiping God.

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Giving it Up

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 10th, 2013mercyNo Comments

churchDid you know Lent comes from a word that means “Spring”? Seriously, I thought it had to do with sack cloth and ashes. The whole “giving it up for Lent” thing gives the word a bad connotation. But, the word simply refers to a season. The one that gives us Easter, in fact. My source for this wisdom is Father Jonathan Morris whom I know from Fox News. He has a great Lenten Challenge guide on his website if you are interested in “doing something for Lent” this year.

Being of a different faith expression than Father Jonathan, I’ve never participated in Lenten traditions. But something in my soul does yearn for an orderly, spiritual pursuit. Our church is reading the Bible together this year. Two chapters a day. Lots of our members are new converts who have never been churched before. So this is an amazing journey for them. It is pretty amazing for those of us who’ve read the Bible several times, too, because the Word is always fresh and because we are doing it together.

Last year, our daughter, Felicity, and her family did a Lenten fast that changed their entire lifestyle. It was a huge undertaking for a family with two carees four kids and a dog. But even their four-year-old caught the spirit of it.

I’m probably not going to eat beans for Lent like Felicity did. But I do like Father Jonathan’s plan to give something up and add something in its place.

Maybe I’ll give up grumbling and add gratitude.

Maybe I’ll give up worry and and faith.

Maybe I’ll give up gossip and add encouragement.

And, then, maybe I’ll keep it up longer than 46 days.

How about you?

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By Kathy NickersonFebruary 7th, 2013mercy3 Comments

IMG_0190When I’d been dating my future husband only a few months, he took me to his parents’ house for supper. They both worked night shifts, so supper was kind of the first meal of their day. No one talked much, but the food was delicious.

When the last potato had been scooped from the bowl, Wendell’s mom walked over to the cabinet and pulled out an angel food cake. With no frosting. She plopped it down in front of Wendell’s dad and said, “Happy 60th, Pop.”

And that was it. No brass band. No stack of presents. No other guests at the table. I’m pretty sure I hadn’t even been invited specifically for the occasion. This was shocking to me. At our house, birthdays were weeks in the making. Family members from both sides would attend. Gifts would be given. Songs would be sung. And the Person of Birth would be celebrated and congratulated for gracing the earth another year.

Fast forward about forty years. It is a rainy Thursday morning. The man of my dreams emerges from the bedroom squinting from the remains of a migraine headache. He gropes his way into the kitchen and passes me where I sit at my computer. I say, “Happy (not quite 60th), Babe. Do you want me to cook you some breakfast?”

“Thanks,” he says, “I’m not really hungry yet.” And, that is it. No songs. No balloons. No presents.

I am not particularly proud of this slacking on my part. No matter how many times he tells me he doesn’t care about such things, I always feel a tad guilty for not hiring a brass band. Or at least cooking breakfast.

But marriage has a way of melding two cultures into one. Ours doesn’t look exactly like either of the families from which we came. Nor like the ones that sprouted from us. But it is ours. And we love it, rainy birthday Thursdays and all.

Happy Birthday, Babe.

 

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