Archive for August, 2017

Three Things I Learned from the Cloudy Eclipse

By Kathy NickersonAugust 21st, 2017mercyNo Comments

We live in a 98% zone for the eclipse that happened this week. My husband and I assumed that would be “almost as good” as the total eclipse. We might have been wrong about that. Plus, we had clouds in our little village, so we only got one peek at the phenomenon before the gray clouds covered up the show. However, we had a fantastic time! Let me tell you what I learned.

People Make the Party. My husband, Wendell, and I sat in the back parking lot of our clinic to watch the eclipse We shared lawn chairs with some of my best friends, who happen to also make up our nursing staff. We had a party going long before the clouds rolled in. Wendell told stories. We talked and laughed and felt the excitement building even when we knew we were going to have rain. Some of our other friends dropped by to compare notes. “Did you catch that glimpse before the clouds came in?” “We did! So awesome.”

Being Happy for Someone Else Makes me Happy. Our friend, Scott, watched the total eclipse from the roof of his church in Casper, Wyoming, nine-hundred miles away from us. And, I watched it through his commentary on social media. Scott’s enthusiasm was so vivid that I almost felt I was there. Friends from Oregon and Nebraska also posted, and it felt like they were all saying, “This is the coolest thing ever, and here it comes toward you! Get ready.” I knew we wouldn’t see what they had seen, but I felt so happy for them that I couldn’t stay sad about our clouds.

Sometimes, the Big Thing isn’t the Only Thing. We didn’t actually see the moon cover the sun. But, we felt it. Evening insects started to sing. The atmosphere around us grew soft and heavy. Street lights came on. And everything felt still for one, brief minute or two. I had a real urge to hug everyone in our little circle because the world is just so completely wonderful.

I’ve had some profound moments watching films or stage plays. Those special effects simply wow me. But there was something completely different and powerful about this event. It was real. Alive. And orchestrated by a Creator who bends low to hear me when I pray. That, Dear Reader, is amazing.

 

 

 

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How to Read More Books This Fall

By Kathy NickersonAugust 16th, 2017mercyNo Comments

 

Reading is magical. We all know it. Even folks who don’t profess to love reading have to admit that nothing else can take us out of the world quite like a book. Movies have their own magic. But that is another post.

Books take us on adventures, open our minds to possibilities, and teach us things even when we aren’t trying to learn. Some of my sacred habits for the past many decades came from reading a novel. Not a book on spiritual formation. A novel. Make believe characters taught me how to center the day.

Life feels so busy these days that actually reading an entire book seems impossible sometimes. Or we feel guilty for indulging in a story when the world is crumbling around us and the laundry is piling up.

But, even storybooks can change the world. If you don’t believe that, do a little research about the impact of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. She may not have actually started a Civil War. But she influenced national and international thought.

So, how do we get more books into our busy days? Here are some ideas that might help:

  1. Get a library card. Real or virtual. You can actually borrow electronic books from many large libraries or from places like Amazon. A real card gives you the added sensory detail of seeing and touching books. Plus, you might make a friend there.
  2. Keep a book with you at all times. Download the free Kindle app on your phone, or tuck a paperback into your bag. When you are tempted to surf Facebook while waiting at the dentist’s office, read a chapter instead.
  3. Read fifteen minutes before bed. Experts say turning off electronics before trying to sleep will tell your brain to get sleepy. Something scientific about the blue light effect. Make sure the book on your bedside table is something relaxing. Although if you are reading a mystery, you might solve it while you are sleeping. Our brains are amazing.
  4. Establish a “Drop Everything and Read” game in your home. Make sure every family member has access to something they are reading for pleasure. Then declare a reading time-out in the middle of folding laundry. Or right after the kitchen has been cleaned. Switch it up every few days or establish a pattern.
  5. Read on your lunch hour. Pick a day of the week, and instead of running errands or catching up on emails, spend a few minutes with a good book.

I’ve found that I have to give myself permission to do these things. Deep reading has gotten lost in my life, and I sometimes feel guilty about stopping other important stuff just to read. But then I remember that God created the entire world with a few words. I never know what a new arrangement of our twenty-six letters might reveal in my life. So, I pause and “let there be” another adventure. And, it is good.

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A Couple of Things We Need

By Kathy NickersonAugust 7th, 2017mercyNo Comments

The Humming-bird Watch

 

I’ve decided I need a couple of simple things in my life that will make things so much better. Forever. I’m going to describe them here, because I suspect, Dear Reader, that you have similar needs. The first one requires an inventor. So all you gadgety, geeky people listen up . We need a navigation device that says, “well-done.” 

My husband first pointed this out. How much better the long drive would be if Siri or her sisters would say, “Good job! You made that left turn across traffic exactly like I told you, even though I barely gave you six seconds to switch lanes.”

The GPS lady is so bossy. And, sometimes quite wrong. That was a lovely neighborhood, Siri, but did you notice the other road went straight to our destination without the tour of cul-de-sacs? But, I digress. I’m just saying the GPS never gives us credit when we get it right. I’d like a little electronic applause, please. And, while you’re at it, could we switch to a Sam Elliot voice?

The other thing I need is an arrow like the one on maps at amusement parks. It would float around above my head all day and periodically poke me with the reminder that “You Are Here!” I find I’m having trouble remaining present. I’m three days ahead making schedules. Or two years ahead planning a book tour for the manuscript I haven’t sold yet. Sometimes I’m only a few hours ahead, but I’m fretting so much about whatever is coming that I can’t pay attention to  the moment I’m living. This, Dear Reader, creates stress.

I need a reminder to breathe.

This isn’t something my inventor friends can create, of course. I’m going to need to find it inside myself. In that place where I have stored up beautiful verses about not worrying about tomorrow. About resting in a Father whose thoughts are higher than mine. And the arrow I need is simply the nudge of the Holy Spirit. He is faithful to remind me if I’ll listen.

This morning, I backed out of the garage in a hurry, twelve things on my mind. Suddenly a humming-bird lit on our feeder beside the roses. And I stopped. I pulled forward, rolled down the window, and watched the little fellow drink. I remained there, present, just long enough to feel the peace of the moment. And I came to work in a much better frame of mind. It is Monday, and the pressure could be intense. But so far, I’ve managed to just be here today. Present on this Monday morning in August for whatever the Holy Spirit has at hand.

(I’m probably gonna need that arrow by noon.)

 

 

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Three Ways I Fight the Blues

By Kathy NickersonAugust 1st, 2017mercy4 Comments

I’m not talking about music here. I’m not a fan of those blues, but I don’t protest them. I’m talking about that edge of depression that sometimes sneaks in at night when I’m sleeping and then waits for me in the kitchen the next morning. occasionally, the blues climb into my car and ride with me to work. Or church. Or even vacation.

I hope you don’t know what I’m talking about.

The blues can come from huge events (like the first anniversary of your father’s death), or from daily angst (like waiting forever to hear back from an agent on your latest manuscript), or from things that surprise you in their level of agony (like the death of your husband’s hunting dog).

But, no matter how they come, remember this: The blues don’t have to stay.

Here are three ways I fight them:

  1. I walk. Experts say thirty minutes a day, outside in fresh air and sunlight, is optimal. But those guys don’t know that depression glues your tennies to the floor. I’ve discovered ten minutes on my treadmill will actually get enough endorphins flowing to burst the blues. I know it isn’t the best. But when I’m fighting off my enemy, it is enough.
  2. I talk. To my husband, my friends at work, my daughters, my mom. To God. I don’t need a deep counseling session to break the blues. I only need to say the dark things a little bit out loud. That always lets the light come rushing in.
  3. I rock. In my favorite chair in the corner of our quiet house. I give myself permission to rest, to read, to write, to restore. And, in my rocking chair, I pray. because the Holy Spirit is actually my secret weapon against the blues. He gives me the power to walk, to talk, and to breathe. Without Him, I’m not sure I could do any of the others. But with Him, the sun always eventually breaks through.

 

(Disclaimer: sometimes depression is more than the blues. Please, please talk to your doctor if yours don’t go away. Our brains are organs, and sometimes their chemicals get out of balance and they malfunction just like our pancreas or our thyroid. Medication can be a miracle.)

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