Archive for June, 2017

Four Ways to Thrive This Summer

By Kathy NickersonJune 21st, 2017mercyNo Comments

At first, I planned to call this post “Three Ways to Survive the Summer of Seventeen.” But that sounded terribly pessimistic for someone who is all about hope. I do have hope, and here are some of the ways I hold onto it in the midst of a less-than-hopeful-world.

I Breathe – In and out. In and out. When I do it consciously, it calms and centers me. But the beautiful part is that I do it automatically all day. And then, when I sleep at night, I keep right on breathing without any effort on my part at all. I wake up reminded that Someone much bigger and beyond is holding me. I can rest in that and just breathe. No matter what the world is doing.

 

I Tune In – to my husband, to our children and grandchildren. To our friends, our family, and the interesting people we meet along the way. Recently, I sat in the dining room with one of our daughters and her teenage son. I was about to kiss everyone good-bye and go grocery shopping when a casual comment opened a stream of conversation. I leaned in and forgot about groceries. Who needs to eat when your grandson is talking about Life?

I Tune Out – the ugliness. Some people I love are simply not good on social media. I’ve stopped following them. We can talk face-to-face if we want to stay in touch. My nephew, who is an IT specialist, recently told me that his Facebook feed is “well-curated.” I love that line. It made me feel peaceful just to think about it. If you don’t know how to manage your social media to hide things that interfere with your peace, just Google it. There are tricks. Or better yet, call in a neighboring teenager.

I Rest – You may not be familiar with this term, Dear Reader. It is what we used to do before 24-hour Internet connections kept our brains working long after we clocked out for the day. Before softball, soccer, and piano lessons all stacked up on the same evenings. This summer, I’m going to sit on my swing now and then and admire my flowers. I’m going to snuggle my husband of 43 years and watch something on television that we will end up quoting to one another like our own secret language. I’m going to read for fun instead of education and walk for pleasure instead of exercise. I’m going to rest my heart, my brain, and my body at least once a day. At least once a week. And I may keep it up all the way into the winter!

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How to Celebrate Father’s Day When Life isn’t Normal

By Kathy NickersonJune 12th, 2017mercy4 Comments

 

Just in case you ever thought our family was normal … a few of us posed for this picture.

Secret #1: Nobody can define normal anyway, so relax.

When I wrote the novel Rose Hill Cottage, I included an awkward scene at a card display where one character asks another if she sent her father a card for Father’s Day. Instead of just saying, “no,” the girl says, “My dad died.”

Man, aren’t you glad you’ve never asked a dumb question like that? Right. Me either. When I wrote the book, I didn’t know that I would become the second character so soon. After rushing to the store at the last minute on the third Saturday in June for more than forty years, I suddenly find myself with no one on the receiving end of a Father’s Day card. My father-in-law died several years ago and my father just last summer.

The world feels strange without them.

You might be in the same position. Or maybe you are the single dad of children who aren’t actually old enough to get the point that you deserve to be celebrated next Sunday. (And every minute of every day. A round of applause for single parents, please.)

Maybe your dad is a jerk. Or you never knew him. Or he is emotionally absent, and you’ve never been able to connect. Whatever your form of abnormal is, please find a way to celebrate this weekend, because …

Secret #2: We all live some version of bizzaro family life. (So, we might as well enjoy ourselves.)

Try these ideas:

Celebrate Someone: A favorite uncle, the neighbor who shovels your walk, your pastor, your boss (if that isn’t weird), the basketball coach who taught your son to make free-throws and to stop throwing fits when he got called on a foul. Send one of those people a card of thanks.

Invest in Someone: Find a young man in your life and invest in his future. Buy him a book. Take him to a movie and talk about it over pizza afterwards. Tell him a family story that connects him to a larger purpose. Ask about his dreams, and then put a few bucks in his college fund. Pray for him, and tell him that you’ll keep it up.

Remember Someone: Your father, your grandfather, your best friend’s dad, your elementary music teacher. Someone! Think of something you learned from that person. Give thanks. And then pass it on.

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3 Tips for Busy Grandparents

By Kathy NickersonJune 3rd, 2017familyNo Comments

Three of our four children happen to live in the same city. This helps us. Becaus the city is approximately six hours away from our home. The fourth child kindly remained close enough that we can occassionally drop in for lunch.

Recently, I drove to the city to visit the long-distance children. I daydreamed on the way about having a family meal with everyone gathered around the table. I thought of long chats and warm hugs to make up for all the time we miss when we are so far away. But you know what happened, right? On my second night in town, four of the grandchildren had concerts in three different schools. At the same time. (A fifth grandchild was performing back home.)

This is typical, of course. Life is full, and everyone has a calendar of their own. We really wouldn’t want it any other way. We do, however, want to find ways to connect to this generation of amazing young people. So, here are three ways we stay connected to our fourteen grandchildren:

  1. Get Techie. – We will never catch up with them. I still feel like my granddaughters are speaking a different launguage when they talk to their friends on Instagram. But, I’m in the conversation. I can ask about their friends when we are together. And, I can send a quick message to the girls now and then.

I text our grandsons to tell them we are cheering before football games, marching band performances, or drama debuts. (Note: your mom commeting on social media that you look good in your uniform is embarrassing. Your grandmother saying so makes all the girls go, “Ahhhh, that’s so sweet.”)

FaceTime, Skype, and other video conferencing options are the stuff of our sci-fi dreams in junior high. Now, they let us read stories to our grandchildren over breakfast.

2. Stay Flexible – We tend to like our routines as we age. But, a plan is only useful if it allows you to pivot quickly when the need arises. Recently, we planned a weekend trip to the city with specific things in mind. Places to go, people to see, things to do. At the last minute, one of our local grandsons asked if he could ride along to see the cousins. Instead of listening to an audio book as we drove, we heard a glossary of Fantastic Beasts from the amazing voice of our favorite 11-year-old. Our routines changed dramatically. And we were so much richer for it.

 

3. Invest Wisely – We are a few, scary-short years from retirement age. It is tempting to work harder and work longer right now to try and position ourselves better financially for the years when we may not have the strength to work. But, we’ve never been all about the money. Why start now? Instead, we decided to close the office an hour early on Friday’s this summer. We want to try and take in a ballgame with the grandsons now and them. Maybe drive out to the city for an extra birthday visit. Or just go sit on the deck and listen to our eldest grandson talk before he heads off to college this time next year. We think that is investing wisely.

The Bible says in the Book of Proverbs that children’s children are the crown of old men. We think that is true for old women, too. And we plan to enjoy the wealth. Even if we have to do it through our smart phones.

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