Archive for November, 2015

Why I Cried Over Jingle Bells

By Kathy NickersonNovember 30th, 2015family, writing1 Comment

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I cried several times over the weekend. Mostly happy-cry. But sometimes it was that cry where everything gets jumbled up together, and you aren’t sure which emotion is actually pouring down your face and making your nose turn red.

It started with, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Our daughter, Charity, and our son-in-law, Dan, had just released a Christmas album. (shameless plug). So Charity’s husband, Ryan, offered to play a little snippet while I snuggled a baby at their house.

Maybe you aren’t familiar with this particular Christmas carol, Dear Reader, but “Bells” will grip your soul. Especially in light of things like bombs exploding in Paris these days. Ryan wisely noticed that I was about to slip over the brink from silent weeping to actual sobs at the end of that song, so he said, “Hey, let’s follow up with something lighter. How about ‘Jingle Bells?'”

Poor Ryan. Maybe he doesn’t know me well yet. Or, maybe he didn’t take into account the fact that Charity and Dan had innocently tucked into the center of Jingle Bells a chorus of “Up on the Housetop.”

So, there I sat in the kitchen, rocking my fourth baby’s fourth baby, feeling all emotional, and suddenly Charity is belting out the lyrics to a song my mom sang to me every year at Christmas.

In an instant, I was six-years old again wearing candy-striped pajamas with a matching night cap, clutching my new Christmas doll. And, I was crying harder. Because I missed my mom, who was five hours away. But I was so happy to be with my grandchildren, who I miss all the normal days of the year. And it all just swirled together. If you are a girl, you know exactly what I mean.

Then, I glanced up through my tears and saw Ryan looking around the room as if to say, “I. Don’t. Know. What. Button. I. Pushed. But. Somebody. Turn. It. Off.”

Poor guy. He’s a great musician, a fantastic writer, a wonderful husband and father. But hand him a blubbering mother-in-law, and he is truly out of his league. So, of course, then I was laughing.

Eventually, I gained enough control to promise Ryan he hadn’t done anything wrong. I even managed to calm the baby who had joined in my tears. Then I promised Charity I’d just download the CD and listen to the whole thing on my own.

And, I did. With tissues on the side.

 

 

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In Case You Aren’t Going to Norman Rockwell’s House This Week

By Kathy NickersonNovember 25th, 2015family, happy endings, The BibleNo Comments

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People sometimes ask me how I came up with a character like Elmer Grigsby in my novel Thirty Days to Glory. In my obviously perfect, Hallmark-movie life, how did I dream up a WWII vet who survives on cheap booze and canned meat? Whose only companion is his cat. Who lives in a garage, for goodness sake. Well, Dear Reader, I know people.

I am people.

If you pull away the soft lighting, the well-staged Thanksgiving table, the nice music in the background, we are all empty, broken, hopeless, people. But the Norman Rockwell painting is not a lie.

It is a promise.

If your Thanksgiving table doesn’t match the picture this year, please don’t despair. Your family may be fractured. Your budget may be more hotdogs than turkey. You may not even have a table to gather around. But I know the One who promises to make all things new.

It might not be today. Or even tomorrow. But someday. Someday. We will all gather at a banquet greater than any of us could ever imagine. If we put our hope in Jesus today, He will save us a place at that table, and we’ll be surrounded by a multitude of people we love.

Norman Rockwell couldn’t do justice to that one, because nobody could paint that Light.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll find your place at a smaller table here in earth time. They are probably scattered somewhere in your neighborhood among people we call The Church. Come, pull up a chair.

 

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Seeing My Words

By Kathy NickersonNovember 23rd, 2015mercy2 Comments

My Words 2015

I’ve eaten my words more often than I’d like. They are never tasty. So, when Facebook offered to let me see the words I’d used most often in 2015, I didn’t immediately jump at the offer. What if the words I use most often are grumpy? Or self-centered? What if my word cloud actually comes out with raindrops and lighting bolts?

You may laugh at my angst, Dear Reader, but you are not inside my head on a typical Monday morning. Or Tuesday, or Wednesday, or… you get the picture.

Finally, my techie friends told me I could test the cloud without actually revealing it to the public. Oh, joy! Isn’t that just like the grace of God in our lives? Thank goodness He so often deals with us in private instead of splashing our foolishness up on the big screen for everyone to see.

So, I tried it. And wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles as the tailor sings in Fiddler on the Roof: I was Happy! In fact, you could sort of read the message as, “Happy today I am” in Yoda-speak.

I don’t think I always attained that goal. (The word “me” is fairly large in the cloud) But the overall picture is much better than I expected. I wouldn’t want this app to follow me around all day and collect the words I didn’t curate on purpose for public consumption. (I do try to be purposeful on social media.) But this little experiment reminded me that Someone is collecting my words.

It made me think more about those words and about the heart from which they spring. Because lots of someones are listening every time I speak. The clouds I leave in their minds are the ones that actually matter.

 

 

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Hello, Sixty

By Kathy NickersonNovember 16th, 2015Uncategorized5 Comments

 

 

 

blue dining room

 

Decades are such a nice, neat measurement. I remember learning to count by tens. I can still see the worksheet with bundles of sticks tied neatly with cords. Math was such a mystery to me. I loved the sensible, clear, obvious steps of ten.

And, I remember turning ten. I got a baby brother for my birthday that year. Best. Gift. Ever.

As the decades move on, we aren’t always so happy to greet them, of course. Thirty is always a scary one for people. Such a grown-up place to go. And fifty sometimes sounds a bit decrepit. AARP starts sending out reminders. Certain eateries offer discounts. These things can be offensive to those among us who are especially sensitive.

Sixty, however, sounds marvelous to me. It sounds like the perfect combination of fully-grown yet full of opportunity. By sixty, we have pretty much made up our minds who we want to be, and we have some idea how to get there. We haven’t yet arrived, of course. We still have a long way to go. And some of us are even thinking of starting over. A second career. An artistic pursuit. Further education. Travel.

Sixty sounds like a delightful decade to me. I’m looking forward to greeting it in a few days, and I may do all the things I just described. I plan to savor this particular season of life.

And, I shall start by eating cake. Want to join me?

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Welcome to the Story

By Kathy NickersonNovember 13th, 2015mercy12 Comments

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Welcome to stop #10 on the CrossRiver Author Hunt today. This is a Cyber Scavenger Hunt, in case you didn’t know. It’s just like knocking on your neighbor’s door and asking for a paper clip or a clothes pin before dashing across the street to ask for something green. Only this is better, because you can do it in your pajamas. Well, you can do a normal scavenger hunt that way, but people might complain.

You don’t even have to start at the beginning if you didn’t know we were playing. You can start here! If you are a first-time visitor to my site, I hope you’ll stick around a bit and get acquainted.

After you read my blog post, feel free to wander around my site and get to know me a bit, then enter the giveaway at the bottom of the blog post. Sign up for my free e-newsletter for a chance to win. Plus, you will receive a small thank you gift: Three Steps Toward a Happy Life (complete with a check-list to see how you’re doing!)

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Before you head over to the next stop, collect the clue at the bottom of this post. You’ll need it to enter the drawing for CrossRiver Media’s giveaway.

Grand prize: One winner will receive a Kindle loaded with CrossRiver books! Winner will be chosen randomly from among those who enter the correct phrase.

Other prizes: Four winners will receive hard copies of 3 different CrossRiver books, signed by the author!

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Now, On to the Story…

A few months ago, I had an editorial conference call with the folks at CrossRiver about my novel, Rose Hill Cottage, which comes out this summer. If you aren’t a writer, just imagine you are meeting with the school principle and your child’s teacher about math grades. You don’t know whether you’ll get a gold star for your great parenting skills or if you might end up standing in the corner for that one spitball you put on the ceiling in seventh grade. (Because obviously it is still up there just waiting to snare you). That pretty much describes my level of trepidation before the call.

Now, this is craziness. My editor is a wonderful woman who can point out a dangling participle with such grace she makes you want to dangle another one just to hear her correct you. Okay. Maybe not. But she is extremely kind in her revisions. And my publisher is equally generous. Yet, I took the call and closed my eyes; as if they could see me from hundreds of miles away and closing my eyes would help me hide.

We talked for several minutes before my editor mentioned how much she appreciated the sense of community in the book. I stopped being nervous and even missed whatever she said next, because the statement shocked me. This wasn’t the story of a community. It was the story of a lonely woman. I finally came back to the conversation and managed to pay attention to details for the next hour.

Afterwards, I thought about the book and let scenes play in my head like movie clips. Sure enough. Community showed up everywhere. In the local library. At the convenience store. During the Fourth of July picnic and even when people met one another on the street. I suddenly realized I can’t help it. I’ll always write about community no matter what theme I pursue. Because that is how I live. It is who I am.

I think we are all designed for community. For relationships. We are meant to connect first to God and then to one another, now and forever. The Bible describes those connections in the Garden of Eden.

That is why we spend hours on social media. Why we follow sports teams. Why we drive a zillion hours one way to spend Thanksgiving at our grandmother’s house. And that is why a break in our relationships is so painful, so tragic, and so desperately in need of a Healer. Thank Heaven (for real), we have One. But that is another story.

For today, I’m grateful to have this little blogging community. And I’m grateful that you, Dear Reader, have joined us if even for just one day. Who knows where this story might take us?

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To celebrate the scavenger hunt, I’m giving away a copy of an EP titled Love More Perfect. Just sign up for my newsletter for a chance to win. The winner will be chosen at random. Relationship Disclaimer: I gave birth to the amazing artist who sings on this album.

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Thank you for stopping by during the CrossRiver Author Hunt! Before you go to the next stop collect your clue below. You’ll need this to enter the giveaway on the CrossRiver website.

“with God and inspires”

Next stop on the CrossRiver Author Hunt: Nancy Kay Grace!

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Have you stumbled onto the Author Hunt or forgotten what you’re supposed to do next? Here’s a quick review:

~Visit every author’s site that is a part of the hunt.

~Collect the clue provided at each author blog.

~Sign up for each author’s email list/newsletter for extra chances at fun giveaways.

~Stop back at the CrossRiver Media’s website after you visit the last blog in the hunt and enter your clues for a chance to win the grand prize.

~Click here for a complete list of the rules.

Happy hunting!

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A Journey to Courage

By Kathy NickersonNovember 9th, 2015mercy1 Comment

Vintage ford steering wheel

 

Mona and I raised teenage daughters together. If you have shared that bond with anyone, you already know how much I treasure this lady. We also taught in the same school, attended the same church, and shared several highs and lows of womanhood. We should have grown old sharing stories of our grandchildren, but that isn’t going to happen now.

My mother taught me never to use the word “hate.” But, if I were going to use it, I would hate Alzheimer’s Disease.

One of the things I have always loved about Mona is her ability to speak the truth in a way that is both kind and take-no-prisoners blunt at the same time. It is a rare gift. If people are dancing around a subject, she can stop the music with a well-turned phrase, and suddenly the truth is just standing there like the last kid in a game of musical chairs. It is out, Baby. But it is also grinning.

Since her diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s, Mona has been losing the ability to communicate as clearly as she once did. And the world is less for it. Not long ago, when her prince-of-a-husband visited her in the safe place she now lives, Mona reached out to reassure him. That is also typical of her.

She could no longer sing in her beautiful voice or recite something lovely to him. She could no longer tell a great story with a twinkle in her eye even brighter than her words. Instead, she gave him these brave, brilliant words:

“I’m not going to baby,” she said. “I’m going to courage.”

Oh, my Heavens. I want to put that on a tee shirt and wear it every day, don’t you? Dear Reader, if you need to remember not to baby as badly as I do, please hop over to the amazing blog Mona’s husband has started. You will laugh and cry and believe in the power of love all over again. Scott and Mona are on a remarkable journey, and they have graciously invited us along. I’m so grateful. And, I’m going to courage.

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