Archive for June, 2014

On Violets and Other Fragile Things

By Kathy NickersonJune 30th, 2014mercyNo Comments

African violet

I bought this sweet violet the other day on a whim. It reminded me of one Wendell bought me thirty-five years ago when Mother’s Day and our anniversary fell on the same weekend. Once I reached the car, though, I remembered that I would be going away the next morning for what could turn out to be a very long stay at a hospital bedside. I wouldn’t even have time to put the flower in a decent pot.

“Oh well,” I thought. “The violet will make me happy for a few hours. It was worth the price just for that.”

Nearly two weeks later, I came home again. The patient was mending, but I felt slightly ragged from the ordeal. When I walked into the kitchen and dropped my bags on the counter, I saw the violet. Still perky. Still vibrant. Still perfectly alive and healthy despite heat, neglect, and dry air.

And suddenly I remembered that not everything in life is as fragile as it seems. That is very good news, my friends.

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Three Rituals that Keep Me Sane

By Kathy NickersonJune 24th, 2014mercy2 Comments

I’ve spent 23 of the last 29 days aways from home. Since I’m not normally a world traveler, this is a huge deal for me. And, it wasn’t even a book tour! A bit of it was for vacation. Wahoooo! Lots of it was sitting in hospital rooms watching people I love suffer. Boo, hiss.KU

But, if you are reading this, it means we escaped. Both patients are improving, and #Cancerloses again today!

So, here are three rituals I try to keep intact no matter where I am our what I’m doing. These are my little sanity tricks. I’m sure you have your own.

1. Find a beat. I derive great comfort from having routine. So, at the hotel by the hospital, I gave myself a little morning ritual around how I ate breakfast. I sat in the same corner, had the same raison toast, and chatted with the same desk clerk every day. She almost hugged me when I left.

2. Move your Feet. Those exercise endorphins are real, and it doesn’t take much to make them kick in. At one hospital, where I slept in a chair a few nights, I managed to walk laps in empty halls each day. I took the stairs on the way back from the cafeteria occasionally. In the second hospital, I walked the two blocks back and forth from my hotel each day. I felt like part of the neighborhood by the time we went home.

3. Post and Tweet. Technology saved my life. I called, texted, emailed, and messaged family and friends several times a day. Note to self: Don’t send a private message to your husband late at night on day 28 and accidentally send it to a group chat instead. 

I scrolled through social media to keep up with all the happenings in our community at home. And, in the most important connection of all, I opened my Bible each day and breathed in a few sacred words. They carried me, as did your prayers, dear friends.

Thanks for that.

Now it’s your turn. What are your travel tricks?

 

 

 

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If You are Ever in a Well

By Kathy NickersonJune 19th, 2014mercyNo Comments

well

Hello, Dear Reader. Here is my prayer for you today: If you are ever thrown down a muddy well and left to die, may you have an Ebed-melech in your life.

I was reading about the amazing Jeremiah the prophet and came across that episode where the officials toss him into a well to die. They don’t like his prophetic words about rebellion against God leading to disaster. So, they tossed him.

He wasn’t young when it happened. Food was already scarce, so he was probably malnourished. Chances are, Jeremiah would not have lasted long. But Ebed-melech, an Ethiopian eunuch who served the king, pleaded for Jeremiah’s life. We don’t know why. We only know he did.

Then, once he got permission to mount a rescue, Ebed-melech went one step further. He gathered old rags and tossed them down into the well. “Put these under your arms,” he told Jeremiah, “so the rescue ropes won’t hurt you.”

I love that detail! The writer could have left out the part about the rags. An editor crunched for space might have cut those lines. But the Holy Spirit is a pro at “show don’t tell.” We would never have seen the depths of Ebed-melech’s kindness without the rags.

I’ve spent much of the last three weeks sitting in hospitals watching people I love suffer. And Ebed-melech has visited those rooms a number of times. Sometimes he pushes the housekeeper’s broom. Other times he comes as a nurse or a doctor or a dietician wearing a butler’s tie. I pray each of them will receive the same blessing the original benefactor did. God promised to rescue Ebed-melech when the disaster finally came.  

So, that is my prayer for you today. I don’t know what kind of well you might fall into one of these days. But may Ebed-melech always be nearby with rags and ropes.

 

 

 

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Why I Believe I Can Do Anything

By Kathy NickersonJune 16th, 2014mercy1 Comment

IMG_0054

Well, maybe not anything. I probably can’t win the Gold for figure skating at this stage in my life. Especially since I’ve never skated. But… as Lady Catherine de Bourgh says about the pianoforte in Pride & Prejudice, “I’d have been a great proficient if I’d ever learned.”

You may wonder where I came by this bold confidence and almost-over-the-edge optimism. I think it started with the purple coat.

We were driving through downtown Kansas City this week, and I had a sudden flashback. I was fourteen years old, wandering outside the convention center with my fellow Future Homemakers of America. We had escaped from the annual Home Show where we discovered futuristic inventions like a bed filled with water. The waves made it appear to be breathing!

Eventually, we found ourselves up an escalator in a fine department store. And I was face-to-face with the most glamourous piece of clothing I could ever imagine. Purple paisley crushed velvet with a black fur collar and cuffs. The coat looked like something girls wore in London or New York City. It cost $200 at a time when we paid $2.00 for the fabric to make a nice dress.

“Try it on.” The voice shocked me, because it didn’t belong to any of my giggly girlfriends. It was my mother, the wise trip chaperone who had followed us at a discreet distance. She knew a bunch of little farm girls should not be turned loose in Macy’s.

“I can’t try it on,” I whispered. “Did you see the price tag?’

“Of course you can try it on,” she said. “There’s no reason you can’t.”

I’m pretty sure I can still feel the weight of that coat on my shoulders, the satiny lining against my arms. I feel it every time I start a new writing project and wonder if I’ll ever write to the end of the book. I feel it when I navigate a new city or explore a new friendship. When I face new technology or birth a fresh idea.

I feel the purple coat in those situations and I hear, “Of course you can try it on. See how it fits. See how it feels. You have every right to this experience. And you might even buy such a coat someday, because, really, you can do anything you want.”

That’s what I heard in Macy’s a million years ago.

I hope you are hearing the same thing today.

 

 

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Five Ways to Discipline Your Art This Summer

By Kathy NickersonJune 12th, 2014mercy4 Comments

IMG_1333I used to tell our creative children to “discipline their art,” which meant they should write, paint, dance, sing, or sew even when they didn’t feel inspired. Now that they have grown into authors, poets, singers, and policemen, I’m telling their children that same thing. Three grandchildren are currently sending me drafts of their works in progress.

So, if you are looking for ways to discipline your own art (whatever that may be), here are five tips for the summer months.

1. Take a class – You can find them online, at your local library, in community colleges, or through various organizations. Even Home Depot offers classes in things like Tile & Grout in case your art tends toward the home improvement variety.

2. Find a mentor – my sister-in-law once saw a lady making jewelry at a flea market. She offered to pay for a few lessons and soon developed a thriving business of her own. Consider high school teachers who might be off for the summer and could tutor you in writing essays or playing piano.

3. Join a group – If you can’t find an artists’ colony or a writers’ critique group in your neighborhood, start your own. Check out Dan White’s annual 5in5 songwriting challenge for a great idea how to begin. (Dan takes disciplining your art to a ninja level during this week.)

4. Enter a contest – Grow a pumpkin for the county fair. Google “writing contests” or check the back of Writer’s Digest magazine. Plan to invest a nominal fee and have a good time.

5. Tell someone – The best way to procrastinate on a project is to keep it a secret. If you tell your office buddies you are crocheting a baby afghan this summer, they are going to ask to see the yarn at break time. In fact, you can start right now.

Use the Comments Section to tell us about your summer project. Then, discipline your art!

 

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Choosing Titles

By Kathy NickersonJune 9th, 2014mercy3 Comments

SONY DSC

Here are some titles I deleted for today’s column:

• Three Tips for Hospital Sitting

• The Best Positions for Chair Sleeping in a Waiting Room

• How to Apply Makeup in a Public Restroom

• Five Things Your Coworkers Should Know About Covering Your Job.

• Why Texting Your Husband Is No Substitute for a Goodnight Kiss

No matter what the experts say, sometimes you should not write what you know. At least, not when you are needing a shower, a nap, and food that doesn’t come from a cafeteria. Instead, you should wait until time and distance bring some clarity and, hopefully, some universal truth that dazzles the soul. Or, at least until the gritty truth becomes nicely blurry.

We all suffer these times of trouble. It is part of our human condition in a fallen world. So, here are some more titles I had for today:

• How Sibling Unity Can Save the Day

• True Friends Know What to Say

• A Diet Coke with Extra Ice is the Elixir of Life

• A Text from your Husband at 10:00pm can Keep You Going

Stay tuned for the dazzling truth. I’m sure it is coming.

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A Peek at Book Two

By Kathy NickersonJune 6th, 2014mercy7 Comments

Pink Rose

Recently, several people have asked me about The Next Book. So, I thought I’d tell you. It is simmering right along, thank you very much. The first draft is nearly done, and would have been had I not gotten sidetracked by driving with my husband and three of our granddaughters across the state of Nebraska and back again. (There is surely a reward for such bravery. I think it might have been their giggles. Or their awe over the mountains. Or possibly the goodnight hugs.)

Anyway, Book Two is underway. It won’t be a sequel to Thirty Days to Glory, because I believe that story has been told. But a few characters shall reappear. And I think you will love Mavis at the C-store, Flora the Librarian, Deputy Dawson, and the fellow from Clarion Electric as much as we loved Elmer, Madge, Emily, and Pastor Cleveland.

Our heroine will be younger than Catherine was. And troubled by different problems. I’ll trust you to cheer her on as she grapples with the issues of life and the cast of characters she discovers along the way.

And now, Dear Reader, I’ll stop chatting with you and get back to it. I think I hear Flora calling…

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What I Know

By Kathy NickersonJune 3rd, 2014mercy11 Comments

 

IMG_2200I don’t know about your life, but mine sometimes encounters an obstacle. It might be small. A delayed payment from an insurance company that makes it hard to meet payroll in our clinic. Or, it might be huge. Like a daughter fighting cancer. Again.

No matter what I’m facing, though, I’ve found real comfort in a few, small words. These are not words to tack on my Pinterest Board and decorate with flowers. These are power words. Life words. Words that do battle in places unseen but quite real.

For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. First Timothy 1:12 KJV

 

I know Him …

                                He is able …

                                                              I’m persuaded …

I am counting on that as Serenity goes back for more surgery this month. And I am grateful for your prayers.

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