Archive for May, 2016

I Can Hear You Now

By Kathy NickersonMay 23rd, 2016family, happy endings, mercy3 Comments

Charliepraying - Version 2

We’ve had a siege of sickness at our house recently. At the worst of it, I had to drive my doctor-husband to the local emergency room with a 104 degree fever late one night.  Lots of people have been concerned about him since. (He is much better now, thank you very much.) And one of the things they often say is, “Oh, I bet he was a terrible patient.”

I understand why people say that. Because men, in general, tend to avoid becoming patients and submitting themselves to the indignities of hospital gowns and medical tests. I get that. And then, to be a doctor and submit oneself to the other side of the system? What a challenge.

But, it didn’t go that way at all. Instead, this man who fights death and disease for other people every day handled his own weakness with total grace. No complaints. No resistance. Even when the fever and infection made his brain a little goofy, he cooperated without a grumble.

We talked about it a few days later, and I thanked him for making the whole think easier for me. “Well,” he said, “I hope I have an internal value that tells me to listen to you. Or to our kids and our friends. When I was too sick to think straight, that value kicked in, and I just followed it.”

An internal value of listening to the people he loves. What a magificent trait. 

I’ve thought of that conversation many times since. I wonder how many arguments we have avoided, how many decisions we have reached, how much real joy we’ve experience all because my husband has an internal value that allows him to listen to other people.

He mentioned it as if it were no big deal, like a family trait he inherited or a personal preference for grape popsicles over cherry. But, I know better. I know this value is something he has fought hard to cultivate. It is something he continues to fight for every day.

And because of that, we both win.

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Cyrus and the Bathroom Conversation

By Kathy NickersonMay 16th, 2016mercy, The BibleNo Comments

Aunt Frankie says if you visit with people long enough, every conversation ends up in the bathroom. She must be right, because our entire nation ended up there this weekend.

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Who uses which bathroom, and who has the right to make that decision are suddenly complex problems in our nation. Although I would think world hunger, the national debt, people blowing other people to bits, and the crime rate in our cities might be slightly higher on the to-do list for our elected officials.

But, what do I know?

I know this: Someone even bigger than our government is in control of how things ultimately work out in this world. I don’t know if bathrooms are on His list. But I know He has all the answers. For instance, consider Cyrus . . .

A prophet named Isaiah first mentioned Cyrus back in about 700 b.c.. Isaiah told the people living in Jerusalem that God had called a man named Cyrus to rescue them from their captivity, bring them out of exile, and restore them back to their own land, nation, and place of worship.

Imagine that. The prophet dared to list the man by name. As if he were predicting the next presidential election. Or, more accurately, as if he were predicting the presidential election of 2116. Because, he wrote these words nearly one-hundred years before anyone in Jerusalem had been taken captive to Babylon.

Isaiah told his readers a man named Cyrus was going to fix a problem that would not even happen for more than one hundred years.

It worked exactly that way, of course. After Isaiah and most of the people alive when he was writing had died, Babylon invaded. Jerusalem fell. People suffered in exile for decades. But, eventually, a baby named Cyrus was born. When he grew up and became king, he let the people go.

When I was trying to learn a little more about this Persian king, I came across the most wonderful quote from a scholar. This one comforts me in the light of who may or may not be president next year and how we are going to choose bathrooms next week:

Rich princes do what poor prophets have foretold. Matthew Henry

That’s the way it has always been with God, Dear Reader. He isn’t just a step ahead of whatever mess we are in today, nationally or personally. He is in control.

God has ordered the solution to our problems since long before Cyrus was born. We can count on that no matter where the national conversation takes us.

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The Balloon that Never Burst

By Kathy NickersonMay 8th, 2016Friendship, happy endingsNo Comments

 

Judy & I with my sister, Martha, and some of our daughters. Judy & I are in coordinating colors, which we did not plan, of course.

Judy & I with my sister, Martha, and some of our daughters. Judy & I are in coordinating colors, which we did not plan, of course.

 

Approximately fifty-four years ago, I evidently began my career with the grammar police. I don’t actually remember that moment in Mrs. Epperson’s first grade classroom when Judy Coleen’s balloon exploded. Judy, however, remembers clearly that when she said, “Oh, it busted,” I said, “No, it burst.”

Such a compassionate friend, wasn’t I?

What we both remember is that we bonded over words as soon as we began learning them. The bond and the learning have continued for decades. Much of our friendship shows up in bits and pieces on the pages of The Secret of Serendipity. Neither of us is any one character in the book, but we are sprinkled all the way through it.

This week, I shall take Serendipity as a gift to the elementary school where Judy and I learned to read. And, she will be there. Judy has been teaching high school students to love and wrangle words for more years than either of us shall mention. But, this is her last year in our school. She is retiring now that some of her students have also become teachers. I hope she plans to go wrangle some words of her own in between other pursuits, because books should be written bearing her name.

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Judy and I don’t see one another often. In fact, months – even years – can pass between actual conversations. Yet, we pick up as if one of us just walked out of the room for a drink of water five minutes ago. We still finish one another’s sentences, and our daughters know that if we run into one another at the grocery store, there will be happy tears. (In a true-life moment of Serendipity, Judy’s daughter, Vanita, became the illustrator of this book!)

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I have no idea where I got the idea to correct Judy’s grammar decades ago. I’m pretty sure stuff “busted” in my life all the time. But, here is something interesting: The word “burst” never changes. It is the same in every tense – past, present, and future.

And isn’t that also the mark of true friendship? It is the same in every season, whether we are girls playing dress-up with our mother’s fancy shoes or grandmothers weeping together over the death of a premature baby. That kind of friendship is the balloon that never bursts.

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If you have a friend like Judy, thank God for her! Then, share this blog and tell her “thanks for sticking with me”.

If you don’t have such a friend, keep looking.

And keep learning how to become a friend. The kind someone else will want to laugh and cry with fifty years from now.

 

 

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Why I Pray

By Kathy NickersonMay 2nd, 2016happy endings, mercy, The Bible2 Comments

Questions And Answers Computer Keys Showing Support Knowledge And Wiki

I came of age in my faith at a time when the popular kids were into something we called Name-it-and-Claim-it! Or Blab-it-and-Grab-it. The theology went like this: If you want a cadillac and big house, you just start declaring, out loud, that God should give you those things. You say it loud enough and long enough, and the Good Lord will have to come through.

If you didn’t get your car, you must not have had enough faith.

This post isn’t meant as a treatise on prayer or on the finer theological points of any specific movement in the church world. I’m just writing to say this: I never got a free car.

But, I still pray.

I believe in prayer the same way I believe in my ability to breathe. I don’t understand it fully. I know that I didn’t create it, but I can control some things about it. And, I know I can’t live without it.

Prayer is both a great mystery and a perfectly normal part of my life. It is a conversation and a relationship.

If you read my novels, you will see that people in my stories pray in various ways and situations. Prayer is not a plot device in the books. It is a character trait.

This week, our nation is concentrating on a specific Day of Prayer. I think this is a good and noble thing. A taking notice of something that should be a part of our every day lives. Because sometimes we should stand on a hill, take a deep breath, and be fully aware of what we are doing.

Have I seen prayer change things? Absolutely. Have I been shocked by miraculous answers? Indeed. Have I been crushed when some of the answers to my prayers were “no”? Of course. Have I prayed some prayers for decades and seen no hint of an answer yet? Yes, to that one, too.

And, yet, I shall keep praying. Every day prayers and hilltop prayers and even some Name-it-and-Claim-it-Prayers if that is what it takes. Because prayer is relationship. And relationships grow. I am a long way from having this specific relationship with the Triune God figured out, but I trust the One to whom I am related.

So, let us pray.

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