Archive for March, 2013

The Last Detail

By Kathy NickersonMarch 28th, 2013mercy4 Comments

crossAt Easter, I love reading the gospel accounts of the Passion Week from the varies writers. Each one brings his unique version of events to the page. Matthew tells us the almost-unbelievable tale of dead men walking from their graves as the victory is won.

Mark reports like a journalist scribbling notes in the field. He even includes the scene of the young man losing his nightshirt and fleeing naked from the Garden. (Many scholars believe he was talking about himself.)

Luke, the beloved physician, shows the compassion of Jesus as Savior. He records among many things these words of mercy from the cross, “Father forgive them. For they know not what they do.”

But it is John, the Disciple whom Jesus Loved, who captures the most personal moment in this epic story. John has been standing with Jesus since that first day beside the sea. He was close enough to share the secret of Judas’ betrayal at supper, close enough to hear the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. And now he is close enough to hear the words from the cross. He is close enough to know that Jesus uses one of His last breaths on earth to take care of relationships.

“John, take care care of my mother. And, mother, take care of John.”

 

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A Divine Distraction

By Kathy NickersonMarch 24th, 2013mercy4 Comments

Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to die. He knew this, of course. He friends walking beside Him were still a bit clueless, but they surely tasted the destiny in their trip. It hovered over every conversation in every village along the way.

When they cam to Jericho, a certain blind man sat begging beside the road. I love how the Bible points out this was a certain blind man. Not one of the dozen or so who gathered at the gates every day. But, a certain one.

Evidently, the thing that was special about Bartimaeus was his faith. When someone told him Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, this Son of Timaeus started shouting. He didn’t call Jesus Rabbi or Teacher. Instead he shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”Shadow

It’s as if he was saying, “I know who I am. A blind beggar, the son of a poor man. But I also know who you are! You are the Son of David, the promised Messiah. The One who the prophets told us would come!”

And Jesus, who was on His way to save the world, stopped. One man, alone in darkness, became the most important person of the day. Scribes and Pharisees could wait. Cleansing the Temple, eating with Lazarus, standing before Pilate, and suffocating on a cross would have their day. But, in this moment, Jesus, the Son of David, bent low to touch Bartimaeus.

The Bible says when the blind man received his sight, he immediately started following Jesus. Bartimaues would soon witness the most important days in the world’s history. And all because Jesus paused on His journey to answer the call of relationship.

And I think I’m too busy for coffee?

 

 

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The Bigger Picture

By Kathy NickersonMarch 21st, 2013mercyNo Comments

detail

I am too picky about The Bible. No, not the authorized version on my nightstand. I mean the television series on The History Channel. I’ve loved some parts of it. Like the butt-kicking angels in the Sodom & Gomorah scene.

But I catch myself saying things like, “Samuel didn’t anoint Saul with a horn! He used a flask! He only used a horn for David!”

Ummm. Yeah. I’m a detail snob.

So, I had a little talk with myself. Sometimes the details are vital. If I’m talking about the difference between being chosen by God and being appointed by man, the horn and flask detail might matter.

But if I’m trying to tell a 10,000 year epic in twenty hours, horns and flasks might be interchangeable. (I couldn’t even nail down that detail, for goodness sakes. Everyone has a different time span from Genesis to John the Revelator.)

In truth, I should be cheerleading for this mini-series. I complain all the time because too many people don’t know the Bible as the history of a people. We see it as chopped up Sunday School stories with no connection except in the coloring sheets and crafts.

So far, this series is giving us the big picture of God’s people. It has connected Adam and Noah, Sampson and David, and several people in between. It may succeed in showing us the Bible as our story, our family history, in one big, epic sweep. Minus a few details.

And it might send a few people back to read the book-the-movie-is-based-on. I’m good with that.

 

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And So it Goes

By Kathy NickersonMarch 17th, 2013mercy4 Comments

walking in woods

This is pretty much the picture of parenthood. From the minute they learn to crawl, our children are always moving away from us. And that is a good thing. We want them to grow and learn and, well, leave. (Have I mentioned we love our empty nest?)

But, here is another thing about parenthood: It never ends. No matter how independent and successful our children become, it only takes one set-back to bring us running. Last week, we ran to Kansas City when one of our daughter had surgery. She is a grown woman with a husband, a job, three kids, a house, and a literary agent.

None of that mattered in the moment, though. She was just our girl.

So there I sat in the ICU waiting room. A grandmother of twelve with a husband, a job, a house, and a novel coming out this year. And do you know what I did?

I called my mother.

If you still have small children clinging to your legs and tracking you down in the bathroom, I hope you take comfort in this: They will grow up and give your life back.

But, don’t worry, they will need you forever.

 

 

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And the Oscar Goes to…

By Kathy NickersonMarch 14th, 2013mercy2 Comments

 

 

 

This tweet grabbed my attention recently:

You are one of the lead characters in the story of what God wants to do in the people around you. Michael Minot

I confess, I’m more apt to think of myself as the leading lady in my life than as the supporting actress for someone else. It was a horrible discovery, honestly. I didn’t realize I was so narcissistic. I often think of life as an artist would: In scenes and chapters, flashbacks and foreshadowing. I believe we are all living an epic story and our role is vital. No one else can play our part.

Me and LicYet, this phrase shifted my focus. I had lost sight of how important my little role is for the success of other people. It is easy to see that in my role as wife and mother. Those babies would have died if I hadn’t taken care of them in the early days. And, we spent the next eighteen years preparing them to emerge on the Stage of Life in their own right.

As for marriage, my husband and I both enjoy playing supporting roles for one another. He deserves the Oscar, of course.

Now, though, I am challenged to look at the remaining cast around me in a new light. I am listening for stage directions from Heaven so I know when to act, what to say, and where to stand for the sake of someone else. What can I do at the office today that makes Aimee shine? Where can I stand so the light of God’s face falls on Lenna?

I’m accepting this challenge, and I’m grateful to Sue Brage for the tweet. And, I’d like to thank the Academy…

 

 

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Finding Comfort

By Kathy NickersonMarch 10th, 2013familyNo Comments

As a child, my biggest fears were thunderstorms and nukes. The thunder is obvious, of course. But I also grew up in the sixties when every school child knew the Russians would obliterate us one of these days. When a new subdivision went up, one of my friends whispered that every house included a bomb shelter! (Today, we call them basements.)

These fears were real and choking. At night, I thought I would die from fear if thunder rattled my window one more time. But I also knew the secret weapon. My mother. If I could just get the courage to call her name, and if she would just crawl from her warm, comfy bed and come stand in my room for two seconds, the thunder would be defeated. It worked every time. (thanks, mom)

I learned about the second weapon from Walter Cronkite. One night, after he described some new and terrifying threat to life-as-we-know-it, he mentioned our missile defense system. I pieced together  that we had radar stations on every corner of the United States. Nobody could get a nuke passed these guys. They would blow it out of the sky way out over the ocean. We were saved!

I held onto the hope of my mother’s voice and our missile defense system for several years.

Eventually I realized, of course, that storms do kill people, even mothers. And no early-warning system can help when bad guys turn airplanes into bombs. But, by then, I’d found a more permanent weapon against fear. Faith.

Faith doesn’t make all the thunder go away, of course. I still tremble a bit sometimes, and I face lots of situations I don’t understand. But faith tells me that, eventually, things are going to be okay. Better than okay. Things are going to be grand in The End. Even if a missile gets all the way through. 

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Can You Hear Me Now?

By Kathy NickersonMarch 7th, 2013mercy2 Comments

 

 

snowy fence

 

I’m going to sound like a grandmother now. One of those women who walked to school as a child — ten miles, uphill both ways.

This latest snowstorm has reminded me of the one we had back in ’72. Nineteen-seventy-two, in case you are wondering. It was back when we had weathermen on television instead of meteorologists,  and no one predicted the blizzard. In fact, some of us went to school without coats that day. No one had boots.

Just after lunch, officials decided to dismiss school because it was snowing pretty hard. By the time we loaded the busses, you could no longer see the houses down the street, and we barely made it home before the roads drifted shut.

Out in the country, none of our telephone lines were underground, and the heavy snow snapped them early in the day. We had no way to communicate with anyone outside our snow-bound houses. (And then we tied a rope from the house to the barn… Oh, wait, that is another story.)

Through the afternoon and evening, we all strained to hear the sound of our father’s car chugging up the hill on his way home from work. But, he didn’t come. We did have electricity, so we turned on the television after supper as a distraction. Suddenly, the station began interrupting its nightly programs with announcements like this: “Mrs. Grubbs, your husband called. He is safe and will spend the night with friends in town.”

The first time it happened, I was shocked. This was television. Beverly Hillbillies, Gunsmoke, The Monkees. And now suddenly, Don’t worry. Joe Schmoe is sleeping at the store tonight.

I can’t remember if we actually heard from my dad that way or if our phones came back on sometime in the evening. But I remember those bulletins. That amazing sense of connection in an unsettling time.

I thought of that storm last week when we were snowed in at our snug house on Mercy Street. Every few minutes, I opened my computer, clicked on Facebook, and checked to see how my friends and relatives were passing their snow day. The postings were much less dramatic, much more “having another cup of hot chocolate” than “can’t make it home, I’ll stay with kind strangers.” But the point of connection was exactly the same.

Whether it be heavy snow, dark nights, or tough times, we all want to know one thing. We want to know someone is out there. And listening. Can you hear me now?

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A Cup of Water

By Kathy NickersonMarch 3rd, 2013mercyNo Comments

This week our church is hosting more than one-hundred missionaries from a dozen countries for our annual missions conference. Our goal is to give them a few days of rest and refreshment, a few hours of peace and quiet, and a good dose of friendship and support away from the pressure of their normal lives.

And I’ll tell you the truth, these people make me embarrassed to call myself a Christian sometimes. Our friends Tass and Karen, for instance, left their comfy Midwestern home to live in the Gaza Strip a few years ago. They currently live near Jericho where they are building schools, businesses, and community centers to serve their neighbors.

Marc and Ruth feed, educate, and love the street children of Brazil. Bobby and Noemi carry food into refugee camps in the Philippines. The Cobbs distribute forbidden Bibles in Asia, and the Pavlovskis bring Kingdom culture to Eastern Europe. The list goes on and on.

I, on the other hand, drop a few dollars into the missions offering on Wednesday nights.

Being with these people also encourages me, though. Before the week is over, they will remind me that the part I play is vital, too. I don’t think God has ever asked me to go to the uttermost parts of the earth. But he has asked me to be mindful of those who do. To pray for them. To welcome them. And, to help support them through the abundance I’ve been given.

In the end, I  may not carry the water to a thirsty child recovering from an earthquake in the Philippines. But, I can provide the cup.

 

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