Archive for September, 2017

A Tale of Two Festivals

By Kathy NickersonSeptember 23rd, 2017mercy8 Comments


I know it’s fall, because it is festival time in our area. We celebrate the harvest with things like a Soybean Festival, a Corn Festival, and a Sheep Festival. You can attend the Old Thresher’s Reunion, Farmers Days, or simply The Name-of-My-Town Homecoming.

This might seem like a small town phenomenon. We do these kinds of things quite well. But, this year, I celebrated fall with festivals in both a small town (population 1,112) and a city (population 446,970)

I discovered some interesting things:

High school marching bands are not the Rose Parade. But, they make grandmothers everywhere believe otherwise.

City kids dive for candy just like country kids.

Small town festivals have a coming-home, reunion feel. City festivals have a nice-to-meet-you, let’s-build-a-community feel. Both give me hope for our nation.

Both festivals had street vendors and food trucks. Pretty much the same. Both had local eateries in the neighborhood for families who wanted to sit down in air conditioning.

The small town spots, however, could not say that Warren Buffet and Sir Paul McCartney had once dropped into their place for ice cream. I did have to give some points to the city simply for atmosphere.

However, after walking the length of the city streets and back again, we did make one astonishing discovering that caused Dundee Days to drop into second place behind the CornFest despite its Beatles cool factor. There was an astonishing lack of funnel cakes.

Happy autumn, Dear Reader! May all your harvests be festive!




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This is How We Welcome Fall

By Kathy NickersonSeptember 20th, 2017mercy2 Comments




Not by hanging from a tree. Though, you are welcome to do so if you wish. But, I prefer the Mike Herron method of celbrating autumn.

Mike visited us here in the Midwest several years ago. I think he might have been living in Texas at the time. Maybe the Northwest. Mike is an amazingly talented guy. A worship leaders’ worship leader. This year, he took one of his original songs and recorded it with the¬†Czech Symphony recording Orchestra in Prague. Yes, Prague.

Plus, he is pretty much personal friends with the Pope. I’m not making that up. And, he isn’t Catholic.

I tell you all that not to puff him up or make him a big deal. I tell you that to let you know that Mike Herron could have reasons to be puffed up, but, he has perspective. On that trip to the Midwest a few years ago, another one of our friends took him for a drive. We don’t have a lot of tourist attractions out here in farm country, but we do have trees. And, for about two weeks in the fall, they are gorgeous.

Yet, I’d never appreciated them the way Mike did. Every time the car approached a particularly beautiful tree, Mike broke into applause. He clapped and clapped and clapped. For a tree. It couldn’t make music. Couldn’t even take a bow. But, Mike clapped.

I didn’t even see this happen. I only heard about it after the fact. But, I ‘ve been so impressed by the concept. The master musician clapping for the golden tree, whose leaves were simply dying. But with spectacular grace.

Someday, the Bible tells us, all the trees of the field will clap their hands. I’m not sure when it will happen. Maybe in the time of the New Earth, when Jesus has set all things right and we finally live the way God intended all along. But, until then, I think we should clap for the trees. And for the Maker who gives them a little of His glory in the fall.

Thanks for the lesson, Mike.

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2,977 Reasons to Stop Yelling at Each Other

By Kathy NickersonSeptember 11th, 2017mercy1 Comment


2,753 at the World Trade Center.

184 at the Pentagon.

40 in a quiet field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

I don’t write about politics or social justice. Although, I would still be interested if we ever develop a cabinet office for National Mother. I’d send more than a few people to their rooms without supper.

And today, when grandchildren and mothers and strong brothers who rarely weep are reading names at the memorial in New York City, I would like to tell everyone else to be quiet.

To stop shouting. To stop ranting.

To listen.

And to work together for whatever good is left in this world. To be the kind of people who run into the building, no matter who is struggling down the stairs.

I think we can rise above the meanness and remember how to be our better selves.



We did that, you know, once upon a time.

Let’s do it again.

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Why We Work

By Kathy NickersonSeptember 5th, 2017mercyNo Comments


Labor Day made me think again of one of my favorite books, God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life, by Gene Edward Veith, Jr. I know that may sound stuffy, but I promise you the pages contain some sparkling gems. Like this one:

“We often speak of ‘serving God,’ and this is a worthy goal, but strictly speaking, in the spritual realm, it is God who serves us.”

The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28

The author then goes on to truly show us how every job on earth, from planting potatoes to creating beautiful art is a vocation given by God.

And, to what end? What good is all our labor under the sun, as Ecclesiastes puts it? Mr. Vieth has an answer to that, too.

“The purpose of vocation is to love and serve one’s neighbor.”

Ahhhhh. Doesn’t that make a difference? Isn’t it easier to get up each Monday and go to the factory if we remember that the widget we are making is to serve our neighbor? Granted, some of us may have to think a bit harder than others to make the connection. It is easy in my desk job at a medical clinic to see how everyone here is part of serving our neighbors. It is simple for me to see that service in the garbage collector who drove down our street this morning and in the safety officer who works next door.

I see it in the farm crew cutting hay, in the teachers at the school, and in the clerk who sold me groceries yesterday.

Maybe, if we all start looking at our work that way, we can ever-so-slightly shift the national narrative. Wouldn’t that be lovely?


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