Archive for March, 2014

Journey to Jerusalem

By Kathy NickersonMarch 31st, 2014mercy2 Comments

Jerusalem gate

I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
And now here we are,
standing inside your gates, O Jerusalem. Psalm 11:1-2 NLT

Happy April! We are entering one of my favorite seasons in the Christian worship tradition. The Journey to Jerusalem. During the Easter season, I always re-read the gospel accounts of the last weeks of Jesus’ life. I love His interactions with people along the way and all the historical details of Jewish life in those days.I have written an entire novel around that subject,in fact. I may actually publish it one of these days.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, I hope you are prepared to go along on the trek. I’m pretty sure the next few blog posts will be devoted to the richness of the culture, relationships, and encounters surrounding Jesus’ last journey to Jerusalem.

Are you in?

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In Praise of the Motley Crew

By Kathy NickersonMarch 28th, 2014mercy2 Comments

HCC writers 1

Not the band. As in Motley Crue. I’m talking about the motley crew defined as: a gathered group of people of various backgrounds, appearance, character, etc. I sip Diet Coke with such a group once a month at the Solid Rock Cafe. (I’ve mentioned them before.) We are members of a writers group sponsored by our local Christian College. And we personify motley.

The college janitor sits with his binder of hand-written poems beside the geek with a fantasy trilogy growing on his ipad. The prophet/preacher shares table space with a recent widow. He’s developing a teaching series. She is processing grief through essays.

And amazing things are happening. Like the retired veterinarian who sometimes forgets his hearing aids and just smiles and nods through meetings. Multiple health issues have forced him out of his profession and even out of his garden. He’s been searching for things to occupy his time. But one day he thought, “I wonder what world history would look like from an angel’s perspective?” And a Work-in-Progress was born.

At our last meeting, he told me, “Some mornings now I wake up and story ideas are just racing through my mind.”

In literature and art motley crews often overcome adversity together and save the day by using their varied gifts, talents, styles, and personalities. (Think Robin Hood’s men.) I’m still not sure what this particular crew is going to accomplish. Maybe nothing earth-shaking. But we are having a great time trying. And, I’m pretty sure someone will write poems about it all.

 

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Movie Life

By Kathy NickersonMarch 23rd, 2014mercy9 Comments

www.kathynick.com_movies

Often, when we leave a friend’s house, my husband says, “Good party, no whiskey, we go home now.” He only does this at the home of really good friends. Fortunately, they all know he is quoting a favorite line from John Wayne’s classic movie McClintock. Movie lines are a love language in our family.

When one of our children had a rash on their leg and thought it might be leprosy, we used to quote Kindergarten Cop, “It’s not a Tumah!” Of course, then, one day it was. That joke isn’t so funny anymore, but we still use it. I mean, it’s not always a tumor. Serenity tells that story much more beautifully than I just did in her memoir The Thank You Room. You should read it.

When one of us thinks the world is being unfair, we say, “Life is pain, Highness…” from Princess Bride. And when someone faces a financial crises, we can always count on the papa to sing out, “Would it upset some vast eternal plan, if I were a wealthy man?” Fiddler on the Roof.

Of course, we are really saying much more in this secret, family code. We are saying, “Hey remember that time we were all snuggled in the living room on a rainy afternoon and we watched that movie and laughed really hard? Or the time we cried and then had that long talk about the meaning of life and the promises of God? Yeah. Capture that feeling and hold onto it, because we are all still there with you in our hearts.”

And, it probably isn’t a tumor.

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Not the Season I Expected

By Kathy NickersonMarch 20th, 2014mercy1 Comment

cherry blossoms, smallMy world does not look like this. The calendar promises me today is the first day of Spring. But, it snowed here three days ago. And it is cold and dark as I write this blog post.

No jonquils poking out their brave, little heads. No buds on the ornamental pear trees. Just bare, dark, Narnia-without-Aslan winter today.

Tomorrow will be different.

That is the beauty of the Midwest. If you don’t like the weather today, just stick around, it will be different tomorrow. Sometimes by forty degrees.

I’ve found seasons of my life are the same way. I don’t always get what I expected. Some days simply don’t feel like spring. In those times, I see more bare branches than buds, and I can’t even imagine fruit growing someday.

When that happens, I do what I did today. I remind myself that spring always comes. Always. It will never cease until time ends. And, in the meantime, it is still well with my soul.

Then I take advantage of the last hours of winter and spend one more evening cuddled under a blanket with a cup of tea. Every season has its perks.

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In Their Own Habitat

By Kathy NickersonMarch 13th, 2014mercy4 Comments

10003887_10152346422653128_38434332_nNormally, I see our long-distance grandchildren around holidays. Sometimes at a hotel or a gathering spot. Occasionally at our house or theirs. But, on those occasions, our relationships are compressed into specific holiday traditions and endeavors.

Our youngest daughter, Charity, used to bring her toddlers to visit sometimes just for a normal week. She wanted her children to experience life at our house in its normal cadence of work/play/eat/sleep/church.

This week, I’ve returned the favor. My excuse was a minor surgery for the youngest grandson. He sailed through and barely knew he’d been away from home. The rest of the week has been divided between Charity’s house and Felicity’s. So I’m seeing both sets of grandchildren in their natural habitats. (Yes, the two divas pictured here are wearing their every day clothes. They have style.)

I think this is a good model for other relationships in life, too. It is easy to be a work-friend or even a church-friend without ever being the kind of friend who can be seen without makeup. Or who can admit a bad mood, a serious struggle, or a desperation for something chocolate at 10:00am!

I’m loving this week. (Although it has one serious flaw. My husband had to stay home to take care of sick folks.) We are making tremendous memories that feature book reading and bike riding instead of presents under the tree.

Maybe I can translate all my relationships into their natural habitats.

 

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Things You Can’t Do in the City

By Kathy NickersonMarch 11th, 2014mercy6 Comments

IMG_1744This week I am visiting two of our daughters and their families in Omaha. As cities go, I suppose it is fairly low on the urban scale. The parts I’ve been in this week are pretty midwestern. It isn’t New York. Or even Chicago. But, it is a completely different culture for this country girl who lives forty-five minutes from the nearest Starbucks.

I’m loving all the things to do, places to go, and foods to eat. A new experience is never more than a quick car ride away. But I’m also compiling a list of “Things You Can’t Do in a City” so I don’t embarrass our girls. Here are a few:

Wave – apparently. When we are standing on the front lawn letting the grandchildren ride trikes, I have to resist the urge to wave at every vehicle driving by. At our house, if someone drives by, we know them. It would be rude not to wave. I’ve resorted to putting my hands in my pockets.

Speak to strangers – which is everyone, almost. Again on the front lawn. It is so strange to pretend the middle-aged couple strolling three feet in front of my face is invisible. Because, I obviously don’t exist in their reality. I finally broke on that one. When a junior high kid came jogging along and had to literally run a gauntlet of children and Big Wheels, I made a joke. He smiled. And he probably broke some kind of stranger-danger code by making contact with me. Oh well.

Eat Dinner before Bedtime – Oh how I used to laugh at my grandparents who ate dinner, which we called supper, at 5:00pm. Now, the only reason my husband and I don’t do that is because we are rarely home that soon. The minute we are in the door after work, though, I’m dishing up the soup. In the city, we start thinking of dinner about the time I’m normally getting in my pj’s. Then we have to decide what to eat and where to get it. Then we flip a coin, metaphorically, to decide which driver should go fetch the food. Then we wait while the loser fights traffic there and back again, as the Hobbit would say.

I hope this doesn’t sound like complaining. I am more than willing to wait for dinner when I don’t have to cook it. Especially when I get to savor it with people I only see a few times a year.

And I can keep my hands in my pocket to prevent socially unacceptable waving. I can even avoid chatting with people who pass me on the sidewalk. Mostly. Because the truth is, I love this city and the people in it. That’s why I want to wave!

 

 

 

 

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Mercy & Me

By Kathy NickersonMarch 3rd, 2014mercy5 Comments

www.kathynick_mercyincar

Arggggh. Now I have to stop making fun of all my dog-loving friends. I’ve always liked our dog. We named her Mercy because we got her at a time in life when God had shown tremendous mercy to us. It was kind of a do-over for us, a fresh start. And, so, of course, we got a dog. (Sheesh.)

Mercy is a hunting dog, though. Built to swim icy lakes and fetch ducks. My husband, Wendell, built her a luxurious kennel in the back yard with an expensive igloo of a dog house built to withstand twenty below temperatures.

She has spent much of this winter-that-will-not-end inside our garage.

Then, she got sick. The kind of sick that makes a middle aged dog stop eating and tremble when she tries to stand. On the afternoon Wendell was going to take her to the vet, I stopped in the garage to say good-bye. I thought it was probably forever.

“You’ve been a good dog to us, Mercy,” I said. “A better dog to us than we have been people to you. I’m sorry about that.” I cried most of the way to the office.

And then, she survived. One expensive surgery later, she trotted out of the vet’s clinic and tucked her head under my arm, wagging her whole body with delight. And so it began.

I don’t like her anymore. I love her. In that crazy, obsessive, pet-person way where I scramble her eggs to tempt her appetite and reach out to touch her head on my knee as I write.

I do not understand this fierce, maternal feeling toward a creature who eats out of the bathroom trash when left unsupervised. But I know this, Mercy is a really good dog. And, she is making me better people.

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