Archive for February, 2015

Some Financial Advice Experts Won’t Tell You

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 26th, 2015Friendship, Marriage, Money, work6 Comments

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One of my friends, who shall remain nameless in this post, gave me this wonderful financial advice years ago:

We take all the bills each payday, toss them down the staircase, and whatever lands right-side-up, we pay. Everything else has to wait.

I  think she was joking. Maybe. But it does feel like a good option some days, doesn’t it? If your family budget is like ours, it occasionally runs out of money before month. I know Dave Ramsey would be disappointed in my lack of financial planning when that happens. But seriously, life doesn’t always follow the flow-chart.

I know if we had adopted the plan and set aside six-months of living expenses years ago, then six-weeks of no-income-after-surgery this year would not have led to the Staircase Method of Budgeting. But, alas.

This week, we were shopping for a desk for my husband’s new office. He has been waiting thirteen years for an actual office in his medical practice. He deserves a desk. We not only found one we liked, but the sales person turned out to be the grown-up child of friends we haven’t seen in ages. Hugs ensued.

Since the office budget is in worse shape than the family budget, we didn’t actually buy that day. Instead we walked away saying to each other, “We should probably shop around to see if we can save a few dollars.”

At supper I suddenly said, “No way. I’m not shopping around. You love that desk, and we love that girl. I want to buy from her and give her the commission. Maybe we could save a few dollars down the road, but people are more important than money.”

My husband grinned at me and said, “That philosophy is probably one of our financial problems.”

He is right. I could suddenly see that pattern through our whole lives. Sometimes those decisions were foolish, like putting Christmas on a credit card. And sometimes they were compassionate, like writing off the bad debt of a struggling family with sick children. I waited for him to explain to me how we needed to change our attitude. Instead, he said. “Go buy the desk.”

It may not be the smartest decision according to the spreadsheet. But it is the best decision concerning relationships. And those we take to Heaven.

So that is my financial advice, Dear Reader: Whenever possible, people before money. (And stay away from the staircase.)

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If You are Waiting for an Oscar

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 21st, 2015mercy, The Bible, work, writing7 Comments

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We writers tend to measure our worth by our audience. How many Facebook followers we have. How many books we sold. How many speaking engagements we have lined up. And, of course, the answer is always, “Never enough.” We are always waiting for the Big Break that will change our statistics.

I used to think that creatives were the only people who thought this way. Writers, painters, musicians. But I imagine accountants wonder sometimes why Wall Street hasn’t noticed the great spread sheet they created. I expect every person who is endeavoring to do something in the world wonders, ever so secretly, why they have not been given an Oscar for their performance.

Here is one of the reasons: We aren’t there yet. Some of us will never get anything like an Oscar. But we will have points of arrival. Points where we say, “Wow, I think I was born to do this.”

And sometimes the waiting feels aimless. We start to feel like the Children of Israel wandering in the desert, going around in circles when we know the Promised Land is just north of us a little ways!

But do you know what the Bible commentator Matthew Henry says about that? (Thanks for pointing this out, Julian)He said God needed to build a relationship with the Israelites before He could take them into their destiny. And, He had to use the desert, because it was the only prayer closet big enough for that many people.

What a perspective! I’m looking around at some things in my life and saying, “Wait a minute. This isn’t a desert. It’s a prayer closet! God is about to get some things done if I will just cooperate a little.”

Who needs an Oscar when you have that?

Okay, I’d still like an Oscar for a screenplay. But you get the point. Now, back to the prayer closet of life.

 

 

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No More. Forever.

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 16th, 2015mercy5 Comments

IMG_1343You might think current world events would be enough to bring down even an eternal optimist. You would be wrong.

It isn’t that I’n not bothered by horrific things happening in the Middle East. I’m aghast at man’s brutality to man. And to child. I take seriously the scary statistics about how soon people with these radical lifestyles could actually become the majority in many nations.

I consider these things, and I pray about them. And, I try to make good decisions in the day-to-day scariness of normal life. But, I am not depressed about the state of the world or the outlook of our future.

Because, I know how the story ends. I don’t know when. And I don’t know how. But I know someday God really will remove all evil. He will take out all the bad guys and leave behind only those who want to live in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Then, “man who is of the earth will cause terror no more.” Psalm 10:18

God gave us a foreshadowing of this when the people of Israel found themselves trapped between a deep sea and a raging army. No way out. No hope of escape. But God told them to “stand still and watch.” Because He was about to wipe out the enemy in one giant wave.

“And you will see them no more forever.”

Maybe He won’t drown all the suicide bombers or ISIS fighters. Maybe He will convert them. But, either way, God will win.

And we will see the bad guys no more. Forever.

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A Few Things You Should Ignore

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 10th, 2015Friendship, Marriage, mercy, Money6 Comments

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My husband, Wendell, and I are celebrating our 42nd Valentine’s Day together this week. I still remember the first card he gave me (and I hope his feet still haven’t touched the ground). But I’ve forgotten lots of other things. And frankly, you should, too.

If you hope to have a long and healthy relationship with your spouse, your parents, your friends, your boss, or even the neighbor across the street, here are a few things you should simply ignore:

1. Socks that miss the hamper.

Easy for me to say, because Wendell’s never do. But dirty-socks-on-the-floor represent those irritating habits of a person who shares your space. Especially the habits that force you to carry more of the load. The coworker who never cleans up her coffee mess in the break room. The neighbor who leaves his trash can on your side of the driveway. You can waste a lot of time being irritated, or you can just pick up the socks. Move the can. Wipe the counter. And thank God for the people in your life who are still alive to make messes!

2. Budgets that get busted.

Or, budgets that burst. My friend, Judy, might remind me to correct myself. (Inside joke from first grade.) I spent years steaming over a few dollars that I considered misspent every month. Today, I couldn’t tell you where any of them went. Well, maybe a few. But, the point is, I worried so much about what I considered my husband’s over-spending, that I couldn’t even enjoy flowers on Valentine’s Day for fear of how much they cost. (I’m way over that, Baby. Way over.) That is all earth stuff. Our relationships are eternal. So what if your roommate isn’t coughing up her half of the grocery money and is still eating all the Little Debbie’s you stashed in a back drawer? You can talk about that when you feel calm and collected someday. But don’t fret. And certainly don’t let it change your friendship. It. Is. Just. Money. It isn’t even paper anymore. It’s mostly virtual. So, get over it.

3. Unpleasant Words

We are frail, human beings with wiggly tongues, and we say unkind or unwise things way too often in this life. Or, is that just me? It isn’t easy to ignore those verbal sticks and stones, but life is better when we do. I take a key from the Apostle Paul’s counsel these days and simply try to “always believe the best.” Maybe your boss had indigestion and that’s why he grouched at you in front of the entire staff. Maybe it really wasn’t personal. Or, maybe it was. Forgive him either way. And take this advice from one of my good friends: “Never get stuck in the moment.” If you replay the words all day long, their power will grow. If you shut them down and move on, the power dies.

I have not perfected these three things in my life and relationships yet, but I’m working on all of them. And that is part of the secret, of course. Never giving up. Always working it out. Forever loving and enjoying one another. Even with socks on the floor.

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Here is Your Award

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 5th, 2015mercy2 Comments

winning-trophyLast weekend, my husband, Wendell, was given a Lifetime Member award at a medical society luncheon. He told me it was “no big deal.” Several other doctors were recognized in the same way. In fact, he said, it just meant that he was old and that he had paid a whole lot of dues to that organization over the last thirty years.

The second part is true. But I think it means a lot more. In our society, not a lot of people stick with something for thirty years. Not a career. Not a wife. Not a dream. And Wendell has stuck with all three. We are kind of bundled together, in fact. His calling as a doctor and his calling in the Kingdom of God are intertwined. And I get to twine myself right in there amongst them, thank you very much.

It made me think about how many of you have been paying the dues and showing up for the job lots of years without any recognition at all. You probably have no idea what kind of impact you are having in the world just by being consistent. Reliable. Present.

You may think your job has no big spiritual implications, but you underestimate the power of a life lived with integrity. You never know who is watching you punch that clock and give an honest day’s work every day.

So, here’s to you today, Dear Reader.

To each of you who are still doing the work, serving the call, loving the people, getting things done. I don’t have a ribbon or a plaque or a monetary reward to send you. So, I’ll just say thanks for your service.

And, I’ll see you again tomorrow.

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A Little Help from Ben the Cow

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 2nd, 2015happy endings, mercy, writing4 Comments

 

 

Do you know what happens when you write an article titled “Depression is not the Boss of Me” and then watch it spread around on social media for a couple of days? You probably guessed it. Depression gets bossy.

Maybe the emotions got stirred simply from talking about the subject with so many people. Or maybe it was just from sleeping in a strange bed and eating too much rich food at my husband’s medical convention. But, by Saturday morning, my soul felt as gray as the weather.

I knew I had to fight the battle. For myself. For my husband, who did not deserve a grumpy traveling companion. And for all the people who had responded to the article where I had claimed victory. So, I asked God for help. I read a great Psalm. I listened to some good music. But nothing seemed to get beyond my knowing into my feeling. I knew what was right. But I couldn’t feel it.

Feelings aren’t everything. We can live a long time without good feelings. But yucky feelings aren’t a great place to stay. Finally, I asked God one more time to give me something to hold onto. Suddenly, I heard Ben the Cow singing in my head. (Which is a little freaky since I probably haven’t seen that animated movie in a decade.) But I pictured him strumming his guitar and singing:

Oh, I won’t back down. No, I won’t back down. You can stand me up at the gates of Hell, but I won’t back down.

The song made me feel bold. And the thought of a singing cow made me smile. And pretty soon I remembered my own advice and set out to do some things to lift my dark feelings. (Thanks to Courtney, Piersen, and Valerie for lunch at the Crayola Cafe. You were my tonic!)

Piersen at Crayola

I’m still not sure if this was a spiritual battle or a biological response or both. But I was deeply relieved when it broke. And I’m glad to know once again that the truth is still true.

So, I’m standing with Ben the Cow today, and we won’t back down. Want to join me?

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