Archive for May, 2014

On Being Brave

By Kathy NickersonMay 29th, 2014mercy1 Comment

IMG_2232Today, I went up a mountain. It was pretty much against my will. The trip to the waterfall at the base of the mountain was lovely. The daredevil drive to the Look Out, not so much. My problem with mountain driving is that it feels way too much like the ascent of a roller coaster without the knowledge that my car is actually secured to the tracks.

I can’t explain the irrational fear, because, it is irrational. But I can describe the heart-pounding, breath-sucking, almost-uncontrollable-urge to scream and beg to wait on this curve for the party to come back down.

Since we had granddaughters with us on this roller coaster, I resisted the begging to be let out part. I did, however, hide my head.

Once we reached the top, the view was beautiful, of course. And I agreed with everyone who said we’d been perfectly safe on the wide, well-maintained road. The trip back down was actually enjoyable since my side of the truck was hugging the rock instead of the precipice.

But, here is the thing. Facing my fear didn’t make me overcome it. If you offer to take me up the mountain tomorrow, I’m pretty sure I’ll react the same way. I don’t know if my crazy fear of Death from Falling will ever go away. I only know I can face it when I have to.

And, that is probably a form of overcoming after all.

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Before We Barbecue

By Kathy NickersonMay 24th, 2014mercy1 Comment

Headstone with flag

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row

So begins the famous poem by John McCrae. Most of us won’t be reciting it on Monday while we barbecue brats and celebrate the official First Holiday of Summer. But, in Arlington National Cemetery, soldiers from the United States Army’s 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment will have been on twenty-four hour patrol.

The “Old Guard” will have one task: Keep watch over the more than 260,000 small American flags decorating the graves of our fallen heros. Make sure no flag slips sideways. Keep them standing straight.

Maybe we could each ponder that and pause before we dig into the baked beans. Maybe we could say a brief prayer of thanks for those who have served and a prayer of protection for those who still are.

May we add fewer flags this year.

 

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Don’t Prune Too Soon

By Kathy NickersonMay 22nd, 2014mercy1 Comment

IMG_1829Last week, I walked by the rosebushes along my front walk and saw a depressing sight. While parts of the bushes were healthy green, about two-thirds of the canes were dry and dead. They had obviously not survived our winter-from-the-north-pole. “I’ve got to cut those back,” I said. “They look awful.” But, of course, I didn’t have time right that moment. So, I pulled a Scarlett O’hara and promised myself I’d do it tomorrow. Then, tomorrow turned into three days in which I never used our front entry. I came and went through the garage and didn’t give the dead rose bushes a thought. This morning, though, I stepped out the front door. And do you know what I found? Rose buds! Tons of them. Every single cane is dark green and covered with leaves. The dead stickery pieces are now completely alive and sprouting rose buds. I stood marveling at the sight and suddenly wondered what else I’ve given up on too soon. How often do I prune something back before its season has fully arrived? It is a subtle thing. Not something I can make a rule about, just something I’ll have to figure out in my soul. From now on, I’m going to be slower to cut. Slower to quit. Slower to discard something that looks completely dead. There might be rose buds yet.

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Three Ways to Be a Forever Friend

By Kathy NickersonMay 19th, 2014mercy4 Comments

www.kathynick.com_friends On Saturday afternoon, these two ladies stopped their chore list long enough to buzz over to the local bookstore and get a signed copy of my novel. That meant a lot to me for about a zillion reasons. But the biggest one was friendship. The three of us spent more than a decade living in the same small town, going to the same church, and sending our kids to the same church school. We were in one another’s lives every day. Sometimes twice or three times. And, we became true friends. In the past decade, though, things have changed. A lot. None of us live in that little town anymore. We don’t go to the same church. We haven’t had a sit down conversation in years. And yet, these ladies represent several who’ve remained my loyal friends despite distance and differences. Here (from First Corinthians 13) are three ways we’ve made that happen: Believe the Best You know how news spreads. I’m sure some of the details of my life in the last ten years have arrived at other doorsteps with an interesting spin. It is easy to watch a friend from cyber-distance and question why she is doing what she does. A true friend, though, believes the best. (Until she finds time to pick up the phone or dash off an email and say, ‘what the heck?’) Hope the Best Of course, you can believe the best all day long and a friend might still make what you consider a bad choice. At that point, we hope the best. (On our knees and in fervent appeal sometimes.) If we are hoping the best, we can give a genuine hug to a wandering soul when our paths cross someday. Endure all Things In other words, we never give up. I’m not sure this phrase from the Bible means we stand around while a friend slings arrows and insults. I think sometimes, in this world, we have to walk away for our sanity and health. But I do think it means we hold on, deep in our souls, for the final day of victory when all true friendships will be restored. In the meantime, let’s keep holding onto one another in our hearts. I treasure friendships like these that have endured the hard times and remained intact. So, I’m sending out cyber-hugs to each of you. (Feel free to pass it on.)

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How I Cope

By Kathy NickersonMay 15th, 2014mercy5 Comments

www.kathynick.com_Clutter

This is the sad state of my writing/administration office. While our clinic is waiting for a new building, I’ve borrowed a spot from the local college for the tasks that can’t be done in the noisy, shared space of our modular unit. It is perfectly quiet and conducive to working. But, I haven’t taken time to settle it yet. I just moved in and started writing.

 

So …

ww.kathynick.com_hidingclutter

This is how I cope. Note that when I sit at just the right angle, the lovelies on my desktop completely hide the clutter. I’ve trained my eye to focus on the cup, not the chaos.

I handle the craziness of life in much the same way. Daughter seeing a surgeon today about a possible cancer recurrence? Pray for that, then focus on the book signing we have coming up on Saturday.

This technique works well for me. It is one way I keep my eternal optimism in a world filled with wars and rumors of wars, as the Bible says.

What works for you?

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Five Lists You Should Make

By Kathy NickersonMay 12th, 2014mercy8 Comments

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Lists keep me sane. If I can lasso all the appointments, deadlines, groceries, projects, birthdays, budgets, and end-of-the-world scenarios into a list, I can face anything. So, in case of a Zombie Apocalypse or a particularly bad Tuesday, here are five lists I think we should all make and keep close at hand:

1. Where to Find the Important Stuff: The combination to the safe, the insurance papers, the bank accounts, the will, and where I hide the extra keys to the car. If I get sick and need someone to take care of things, I can just hand them a list.

2. Your passwords: Taping this list to your refrigerator is a bad idea. Hopefully, none of your houseguests will go shopping on your Amazon account, but let’s not lead anyone into temptation, okay? Maybe you want to keep this list in your safe. Or maybe you want to use one of the many online tools. Just google “Password Keepers” and you can research all the best sites.

3. The ages, grades, and shoe sizes of all your grandchildren: Or nieces and nephews. Possibly your children. Seriously, I once went to pick up Grandchild #8 at his school, and I told the secretary he was in kindergarten. Fortunately, she knew Jake and found him in the first grade room. Now, I carry a list.

4. Your medications and health history: You’d think a person would remember gall bladder surgery. Or the tape allergy that causes open wounds. But it is amazing what you can’t recall when you think you might be having a heart attack. Or when the perky new office assistant is pelting you with questions from behind her computer screen.

5. Last year’s Christmas gifts. If you buy for more than five people, chances are you will repeat yourself. Nothing is worse than standing in the checkout line and asking yourself, “Did we give Joe a Duck Dynasty mug last year, too?”

These are just my top five. I could go on. But, I’ll turn it over to you instead. Do you have a favorite list of lists?

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The Lord’s Acre

By Kathy NickersonMay 8th, 2014mercy2 Comments

cornfieldWhen you write a book, you never know where it may show up some day. One of mine went to the Lord’s Acre sale in our neighborhood last fall. In case you aren’t familiar, here is a little history:

This is a tradition of the Methodist church, especially in rural areas. When it started many years ago, farmers would actually set aside one acre of ground to the Lord. Whatever they grew in that field belonged to God. Sometimes they raised sugar cane and then made molasses to sell at the Lord’s Acre Sale. Or maybe they tended vegetables that could be canned for the sale.

Over the years, the auction has grown to include hand-made quilts, beautiful furniture, baked goods, craft items, and at least one novel by a local author. I don’t know who donated my book, but someone told me it brought about three times its retail price. That just blessed my soul!

The Lord’s Acre Sale takes tithing to a whole new level in my mind. It is so tangible. Not just a check going into the offering plate, but a cabbage that I sweated over in the July heat. Now that it is planting season in our part of the world, I’m thinking about this concept again. I’m looking around my virtual fields and watching for ways to apply my new motto: The first acre for God.

I’ve come up with a few ideas, but I’m always open for more. Any thoughts?

 

 

 

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A Man of Information

By Kathy NickersonMay 5th, 2014mercy8 Comments

dixie stampedeAfter forty years, I find it hard to come up with the perfect anniversary present for my favorite man. Wendell and I married as teenagers. Seriously. We were so young his mother had to go to the county courthouse with us and sign a permission slip for Wendell to marry me. She occasionally regretted that action, but I think she is okay with it now.

We married during the Viet Nam era, when young girls were afraid their future might march off in a uniform and never come home again. So, we grabbed the moment. Many military wives went to their senior proms alone in those years.

Wendell and I married the week before I graduated from high school. My fellow seniors went to Florida to celebrate, and I went on a honeymoon. Craziness. But so fun. We then proceeded to grow up together and have some amazing, resilient children along the way.

Somewhere in the past forty years, I discovered something about gift-giving in our relationship. I was always so bad at it. I bought him useless do-dads just because “he needs something to open.” I couldn’t figure out how to express my love without a box and a bow.

Then, one day, I woke up and realized I’m married to a Man of Information, as Jane Austen once said. Wendell loves nothing more than gathering knowledge. And, he retains it. No matter what room we are in, he can sit down and converse with people about everything from Sesame Street to the political climate in the Ukraine.

So, that is what I’ve started giving him. I can’t keep up on world events faster than he does. But, I’m on Facebook! I love catching up with him at the end of the day and telling him about the people we know and love all over the world. The social studies project Jazz created in Chicago. How fast Anna’s baby is growing in Raleigh. Where Buck is preaching. What Dennis is reading. How Scott and Michelle’s new grandbaby is doing.

You, dear readers, are the gift I’m giving my husband on this anniversary. Your stories. Your thoughts. Your latest comments on my blog…

Thanks to those of you who have been part of our story the past forty years, and welcome to those who are just joining the plot. I promise we’ll have some fun!

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Today, We Pray

By Kathy NickersonMay 1st, 2014mercy2 Comments

steeplI’m writing this on our National Day of Prayer. And I’ve deleted about a dozen snarky lines on the subject. It isn’t that I don’t believe in prayer or that I disrespect any of the people behind the project. I’m thrilled that we are praying as a nation today. I’m glad that town halls, flag poles, county courthouses, churches, schools, and factories will all be the sites of lunchtime prayers today. Really, I am.

But I’m struck by the fact that some of those same places will be off-limits tomorrow. If the local foreman of the shipping department for We-Sell-Shoes-For-Less wanted to hold a weekly prayer meeting on the loading dock, I’m pretty sure his union boss would object. Town hall has been sued more than once over opening with prayer, and we all know about schools.

Today, we have each been given national permission to pray all over the place. It’s wonderful.

But here is the really great news: We can do it tomorrow, too. Not so officially, maybe. But effectively.

I’m sure you’ve heard the old joke that nobody can outlaw prayer in school as long as kids are taking algebra tests. Corny, but true. Prayer is not illegal anywhere! You may have to do it privately, even secretly. But your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly, the Bible says.

So, let’s do it! Let’s make every day a National Day of Prayer on our jobs, in our schools, and around our towns. Nobody is stopping you from whispering a prayer for that cranky checkout lady as you walk out of Wal-Mart tomorrow. Just do it.

Who knows? We might just change the world. And… I think that is the point.

 

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