Archive for October, 2014

Why I Wore Blue

By Kathy NickersonOctober 30th, 2014mercy5 Comments

Bliss

Yesterday, I wore a new blue sweater to my husband’s hospital room. (He had surgery. It went well. He will be fine after a longer-than-we-like recovery.) One of the nurses asked if I was wearing blue in support of the Royals being in the World Series. I wasn’t.

Nothing against baseball, but the game was not on my mind yesterday. I was more interested in the logistics of pain control and travel arrangements for the two-hour drive home with my favorite invalid.

I wore blue because my grandmother told me to. Not blue exactly, but my grandmother used to say one should always wear something colorful when visiting a hospital room. All the surroundings, especially back in her day, were so drab and stark. A splash of color in a visitor’s blouse became a living bouquet walking through the door.

I think of that every, single time I visit a hospital room. Actually, I think of it lots of other times, too. Because I know what a difference the little things can make. A blue sweater on a beige day. A kind word. A real smile. A glass of Diet Coke with the good ice and a bendy straw.

This world can be a tough place, Dear Reader. Let’s bring some color where we can.

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And, Sometimes I Can’t Pray

By Kathy NickersonOctober 28th, 2014mercy8 Comments

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Yesterday was Cancer Check-Up Day for Serenity. (Cancer loses again!!!! Wahooo!!) And I couldn’t really pray. Unless you count those “groanings too deep for utterance” the Holy Spirit helps us with. Mine kind of came out like, “Arrrrggggghhhhhhhh, I hate cancer.” Or, “Why can’t I get the top off this bottle? The whole world hates me! Everything is falling apart! I hope Jesus comes back soon.”

Overreact much?

Mostly, I just tried to occupy my mind while we waited for the all-clear. But I didn’t worry about the lack of prayer, for two reasons. 1.) I do pray for Serenity. Frequently. I just couldn’t form an articulate thought yesterday. 2.) Other people pray for us. A lot.

Every time our family goes through a crises or a concern, we get tons of emails and phone calls from people we love. Like yesterday. I was waiting for Serenity to text with news, good or bad. And I was also packing, cleaning, and prepping to drive out of town for Wendell’s back surgery the next day.

Stress much?

The office phone rang for the seventy-fifth time in an hour, and I answered while I finished typing something into the schedule. So I wasn’t immediately prepared for the sound of our friend Peter’s voice. Peter from Romania, who still speaks with his beautiful, distinctive accent. Peter who lived in our neighborhood with his family for a decade but has recently moved away. I couldn’t even fathom how he knew about the surgery but he said, “You tell the Doctor that Stela and I and our boys, we are praying for him. We love him very much, and we will pray. That’s all. Good-bye.”

And they will.

So, while I sit in the waiting room of the hospital with my muddled mind and my bad coffee, I’m not going to worry about being unable to pray anything more articulate than, “Help us, Jesus.” Because I know Peter and the rest of you have us covered.

Thank you for that.

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Sometimes I Forget

By Kathy NickersonOctober 24th, 2014mercy11 Comments

I was in the middle of a Thursday afternoon messy desk when someone in our waiting room picked up Serenity’s memoir. The woman read the back jacket blurb and then flipped through several pages. Finally, she looked up at me and said, “Is this girl still alive?”

“Why, yes,” I said. “She’s our daughter, actually. She’s had three or four bouts of cancer since that book. But she is quite healthy and happy now.”

Then I went back to my messy desk while the reader kept flipping pages. A few minutes later, she looked up again and said quietly, “Did she get to have the baby?”

Oh. My. Heart.

How soon I’ve forgotten those desperate days when we didn’t know the ending of this story. How quickly I have moved from, “Dear God, let them live,” to “What time is the ballgame Friday night?”.

Yet, it hasn’t been quick at all. It’s just that the wonderful parts of the past ten years have overshadowed the frightening parts, and sometimes I forget. At least for a minute or two.

I shoved all the Very Important Papers to the back of my desk and walked out into the waiting room. “Yes,” I told the lady. “She had that baby, and here he is today.” Then I showed her this picture.

Jake

Sometimes, it’s okay to give away the ending of the book.

 

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Just Keep Breathing

By Kathy NickersonOctober 20th, 2014mercy4 Comments

With John's hand. Day one

If you’ve ever given birth, you know that stage just before you hit transition when you come to the firm conclusion that all future children shall be adopted. That is usually the moment when I looked at my husband and said, “I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to do this.”

He was always really helpful right then. “Too bad, Baby,” he would say. “You’re committed.” (After I shot him the death glare for that bit of humor, he always managed to say exactly the right thing to get me back in control. Then he would pray, and within minutes, we had a baby!)

Childbirth isn’t the only time I’ve felt that way, either. I’m in the “I can’t do it stage” of a few writing projects and a couple of business issues and some plain-old-life stuff right now. But I keep hearing a phrase from the Book of Acts.

As the time of the promise drew near…

A promise draws near! So hopeful, so comforting. The thing is, I know what the rest of that story says. Steven is telling the entire history of the Jewish people, and he has just reached the place where a ruler rises up who never knew Joseph. Slowly, the place of refuge in Egypt becomes a place of slavery for the descendants of Abraham. Just as the time of the promise for a nation from his loins drew near, things get waaaaaaaay worse.

And that is the part that comforts me. Things are getting worse? Oh, the promise must be drawing near! The pain is stealing my breath? Oh, the baby is about to be born.

I don’t know about you, but those thoughts help me. Of course, promises in the Bible had a way of taking centuries to arrive, but that’s another story. For today, I’m just holding onto the drawing near part. This painful, confusing, scary time is simply transition. The promise is drawing near.

All I have to do is keep breathing.

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The Grandparent Season

By Kathy NickersonOctober 17th, 2014mercy4 Comments

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Fifteen years ago today, we became grandparents for the first time. If you are a member of that Club, you know the feeling. Words really do fail, even for a writer. But John Michael (who never goes by his full name anymore) actually took our entire clan into a new season. We didn’t know it at the time, but his birth started the subtle shift that soon became a landslide into separate family identities.

The first few months of his life, John Michael was simply Our Baby. He belonged to our family in a communal kind of way. (He still does, if you want to know the truth of it. Tonight, when he steps onto the field as the freshman starting quarterback in a varsity football game, people will be cheering from three states away.) But that first winter, he was a magical addition to our tight-knit, Sunday-dinners, lets-hang-out-on-short-notice, college and young adult family.

But, the world was changing. And we could feel it. John Michael was followed in a short time by Jesse, Andrew, Peter, et al. (Thirteen of them, so far.)All the babies and their parents began to form their own units and establish their own lives.We couldn’t hang out on short notice anymore. In fact, we couldn’t even find a date to have Christmas together some years.

For a traditionalist like me, you would think those losses would matter. But they don’t. Not even a little bit. Do I miss having the clan flopped around the living room on Sunday afternoon watching a movie, eating popcorn, and solving all the problems of the world? Of course I do.

But I love snuggling alone with the man who started this clan. And, I’m totally content knowing everyone else is busy in other cities where other neighbors, churches, schools, and football teams can benefit from hanging out with them, too.

As long as I get the occasional visit, a frequent email, and now and then a Friday night seat in the stands, I’m totally happy. Because John Michael started something wonderful fifteen years ago today. It’s a brand new season. And I love it.

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When Tuesday has a Monday Attitude

By Kathy NickersonOctober 7th, 2014mercy4 Comments

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Sometimes, Tuesdays are hard. You survived Monday with all its post-weekend pile-up, and you feel like you should get some kind of award for simply getting everyone back home, fed, homeworked, bathed, and to bed. But no one applauds.

Instead, you wake up on Tuesday and realize you have to do it all over again. What’s more, Monday probably has some left-overs waiting on your desk. Or in your laundry room. Or both.

And, quite possibly, you are facing something much larger than bills or quarterly reviews. Something more devastating than your daughter’s unfinished math problems. Maybe you are facing a Tuesday with problems so big you can’t imagine any scenario that includes a happy ending.

For whatever Tuesday is bringing you today, I offer this age-old proverb: This too shall pass.

Lame? I know. It is. What’s more, it isn’t even scripture. I always think that one is in the Bible, but it isn’t actually. Not in those words. The concept, though, is not only in the Bible, it is better. Try this actual solid, gold promise from God through the words of His man, Paul:

2 Corinthians 4: 17-18 NLTFor our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.  Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever.  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.  For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Definitely not lame. I can’t imagine something that vastly outweighs my troubles and will last forever. But, I believe.

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Three Cheers for October

By Kathy NickersonOctober 3rd, 2014mercy10 Comments

Ry & Char

The holiday season has begun! I don’t know why October feels that way to me, but it does. All things bright & beautiful, all things Currier & Ives, seem to start with October and the promise of turning leaves. Here is the hilarious part. I don’t do any of the stuff that makes fall festive.

I don’t bake pies or put up jam. I don’t think I’ve ever actually raked a leaf. No carving of pumpkins; no decorating with gourds. I don’t even browse Pinterest for interesting wreath ideas. I do put a small display on the dining room table, but it doesn’t take much creativity. And, unlike pumpkin carving, it is zero clean-up.

About the only autumn tradition I have is seeing if I can beat my friend, Anna, to the draw when it comes to dropping off a jar of candy corn and peanuts for the office. Nope. She totally beat me this year. (and we’ve all been gratefully munching).

The truth is, I just love the sense of fall. The gathering-in. The promise of cozy. The folding away of another year and the tallying up of the harvest of good things it brought in our lives. I love the snuggle of it all.

Then, of course, I also love that October is the very threshold of Christmas! But, that is another story.

What do you love about fall?

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