Archive for October, 2016

When Turning Your Face is Good

By Kathy NickersonOctober 29th, 2016happy endings, mercyNo Comments

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One day this summer, my husband and I stopped in and offered to take my recently-widowed mother out to lunch. Or, we could bring something in if she didn’t feel like getting out. In typical fashion, she not only felt like getting out, she offered to take us to a classy new place in town. The eatery had charming, French decor in the upstairs wing of an historic building. “The only problem,” my mom said, “is we have to climb a long ramp to get there. But I think I can do it.”

And, she did. This is so typical of our mother. Three years ago, she became so ill we thought she might not live. I slept in a hospital waiting room several nights outside the intensive care unit.

At one point, Mom grew a little muddled and started thinking something treacherous was going on in the hallways. We did our best to reassure her that nothing evil was happening. Yet, her paranoia continued. I knew this was common for seriously ill people in a hospital setting. Yet, it broke my heart to see our normally optimistic mother so troubled.

One morning, I hurried in as soon as I could and asked how her night had gone. “I slept much better,” she said.

“Oh? You weren’t worried last night?”

“No,” she said. “I finally decided I would just turn my face the other way and stop looking at that doorway. Then I wouldn’t have to think about it. And that worked.”

This is our mother’s attitude toward life. A few weeks after she took us to the little French restaurant, she became seriously ill again. This time, the trip to the hospital involved a bigger city and scarier things. But she never once grew worried. She kept her face turned toward Peace. And Trust. And Faith. Faith in the God who has carried her more than eighty years, and faith in the children who have promised to fulfill her medical directives, and faith in the sweet nurse who held her hand until we got there.

She is back home again now. Weak but growing stronger. Shopping for something festive to wear for the holidays. And, as always, keeping her face turned away from the things that trouble and toward the things that calm. She does not pretend the trouble isn’t there. She just chooses not to dwell upon it.

I shall endeavor to do the same.

 

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In Case You Think My Life is Perfect

By Kathy NickersonOctober 20th, 2016happy endings, mercy, mercystreet2 Comments
(It was pretty close to perfect in this moment.)

(It was pretty close to perfect in this moment.)

Once,  during a junior high youth group retreat, one of our daughter’s admitted feeling bad for not having a “real” testimony. She thought her life had been pretty stable up until that point. Her friend stood up and said, “You have a great testimony. It proves I can have that kind of life in my own family when I grow up.”

Good stuff. We used it for years. But since then, as Eleanor told Marianne in Sense & Sensibility, “Believe me, Marianne, had I not been bound to silence I could have provided proof enough of a broken heart, even for you.”
Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

Not that we’ve been bound to silence. Our family just doesn’t always talk a lot about the hard things. And sometimes I think my Eternal Optimism might cause you, Dear Reader, to think we don’t know about the struggle.

But we know:

The Deaths – of those not-yet-born, or born too soon, or even born nearly a century ago. We still mourn each of them.

The Suffering – with addiction, and disease, and divorce. Enemies of our soul that lurk at our doorsteps every day. They require constant vigilance and prayer. Routine screenings. Bi-annual scans. Legal hassles. Relational gymnastics. Some of these will never go away this side of Heaven.

The Daily Drama – Broken promises, lost friendships, strained bank accounts, flat tires, and bankrupt businesses. We know all those.

Yet, we also know:

The Promise of Heaven – which Felicity says may just be another dimension, outside of time, right here with us even now. So Ruby and Ellery, Grandpa Boo and Jesus aren’t actually waiting for us to join them. We are with them now. We just don’t know it yet.

The Joy of Victory – which we taste in little Saturday games like ten year anniversaries of being clean or six-month celebrations of “Cancer Free!” or birthday parties where all the estranged grown-ups can smile and be the kind of friends our beautiful children believe we are.

The Daily Presence – of the Holy Spirit. He handles all the other things in life that break our hearts and test our patience. It is His presence that gives us Eternal Optimism in the face of all the rest.

Even in an election year.

God Bless,

 

 

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Why We Speak in Movie Quotes

By Kathy NickersonOctober 5th, 2016mercyNo Comments

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Our family speaks in quotes a lot. Movie lines are the most common, but we also quote a great book, a favorite preacher, or a grandparent who is long gone. We use quotes as a love language not because we are short on our own words. We are all storytellers and creatives. Poets, writers, musicians. We have lots and lots of words of our own.

But quoting a book or a movie or a sermon shares more than just the words. During a crisis, any member of our family may put on their Schwarzenegger voice and say, “It’s not a tumah!” This instantly takes us all back to the first time we sat around and laughed toghether at Kindergarten Cop. And we laughed especially hard because one of our daughters always thought every mosquito bite might be a tumor.

Then, one day, it was.

So, the line also takes us back to some of the hardest moments of our lives. And to the memory of how God and all the people we love carried us through those times. One four-word movie line can take our family full circle from laughter to terror to gratitude in a matter of seconds, no matter what crises we are facing. It is simple code for us.

That is why I love this line from Shakespear’s Much Ado About Nothing, Act 5. Scene II. My husband, Wendell, says it to me any time I face another mountain I don’t think I can climb. I instantly see Benedick soothing Margaret and telling her how to go forward after a heartbreaking day.

I go back to the season of life when we discovered the movie version of this play, and I remember the battles we’ve come through since then. And I realize again how simple and how true the advice remains. And, I feel hope.

Whether I’m dealing with the grief of my father’s death or agony over the political climate in our nation or a tangle with the insurance company that ate up way too many hours of my day, Wendell reminds me that all I really have to do are these three things:

“Serve God. Love me. And Mend.”

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Maybe the “me” in your quote is your mother, or your children, or your best friend, or your cat. But the two bookend requirements remain the same. Serve God and Mend. With love in the center. It works every time.

 

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