Archive for the 'family' Category

Best Words from a Husband

By Kathy NickersonOctober 1st, 2018family, Marriage3 Comments

 

Last week, I went shopping for a black skirt and a pair of slacks. If you know me, you are aware this is a form of self-inflicted torture. I shall admit up front that I failed. Mostly because I got lost in the Christmas aisles at Hobby Lobby and used up all my time. However, I am determined to try again this week.

I did get something of great value from the trip, however. Better than the perfect skirt or a bargain on tinsel, I got the best words from any husband ever. These would be the best words from the husband of a supermodel. They are especially best from the husband of a grandmother who is trying to age gratefully, but who is failing in a few areas.

As I pulled into the parking lot at the department store, my phone dinged, and I found this text:

While you are shopping for clothes today, keep in mind when you look in the mirror you are looking at the woman I love. That woman is the most attractive woman I know. 

Yes, I swooned.  Now you understand, Dear Reader, why I am dedicating my newest novel to Wendell:

My husband, lover, partner, and friend.

Thanks for choosing me every day since 1973.

To celebrate such love, and to set a mood for this month’s soon-coming release of The Marvel House, here is a song from the famous duo of Ryan & Charity Long.

 

Read More

What’s My Job?

By Kathy NickersonJuly 24th, 2018family, happy endings, mercy6 Comments

 

I frequently forget what my job is in life. Every few weeks, I decide my job is to become a traditional grandmother who stays home, bakes cookies, and magically lives in two different cities at the same time so I can be available for every grandchild.

That is not my job.

When I see someone struggling – wrecking their friendships, stressing their marriage, unsettling their kids – I think it is my job to fix things. To point them to a better way.

But, that is not my job.

Occasionally, I think it is my job to tweet something so pithy and brilliant that it will silence all the shouting and name-calling and chaos on social media.

Thank goodness, that is not my job.

It turns out, even in the enormous pressure and amazing opportunities of life, my job is still quite simple:

To do right, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God. (Micah 6:8 NLT)

All the other things might fit into those words. Baking cookies, attending school plays, speaking truth to a friend, writing something world-changing. If so, it won’t be because those were my jobs. It will be because I’m walking humbly with my God, and He gave me the nudge.

The difference is subtle. But, it takes off all the pressure.

 

Read More

What to do when Your Groove is Gone

By Kathy NickersonJune 27th, 2018family1 Comment

Blame Summer – 

Nothing can throw off the personal and household groove like summer-lack-of-schedules. I’d call it the Summer Schedule, but we all know you can’t call something a schedule when it tosses ballgames, play dates, and late nights on the calendar at will. We don’t even have children in our house anymore, yet we sometimes get the feeling that we are on a strange planet.

This summer, our groove got lost because we decided to rearrange The Whole House. As in, turning the guest bedroom into a den. Which means emptying closets and finding new places for things in a house that is already too full. It’s been fun. I especially love the corner where I stacked forty-four years worth of loose pictures and old frames. And slides. (Not the kind you wear on your feet.) That mountain is tilting all kinds of directions in our bedroom right now. But, I am resolved that not a single shoe box shall go under a bed until I have SORTED the things.

So, what to do when everything seems as out of control as a toddler after six hours at the zoo? Here is my solution for finding my groove. (Nothing to do with Stella. Well, almost nothing.)

  1. Give yourself permission. To make sandwiches for supper. To do ten minutes on the treadmill instead of thirty. To eat homemade ice cream at the fair.
  2. Stay in the moment. Tune into your kid when she walks up to bat, and forget the laundry multiplying like loaves and fishes at home.
  3. Use shortcuts. Take those six loads of towels to the coin laundry. While they spin, read that book you meant to take to the beach.
  4. Keep perspective. Summer is short. Childhoods evaporate like puddles in July. This too shall pass. Quickly.
  5. Love the puddin’ out of your spouse. This happens to be the best marriage advice I ever received. I’m inserting it here, because everything in the world and beyond gets better when you take this piece of advice.

Now, your turn. Tell me how you stay sane during summer breaks or other seasons of structured chaos.

Read More

Three Secrets for Surviving Change

By Kathy NickersonMay 14th, 2018family, happy endings2 Comments

John read one of my favorite scriptures at baccalaureate. From Isaiah 40: “Those who wait upon the Lord shall gain new strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles.”

 

Happy Graduation Season! Mothers everywhere are trying not to cry while baby-adults are throwing off caps and dashing into the great unknown. Wendell and I have attended lots of graduations in our life together. But, this week, we enter a whole new phase with the graduation of our first grandchild. (And, those will continue until approximately 2032.)

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we can survive changes in life. Here are some of my best tips:

Pray:

My grandfather often asked God to, “Reconcile us to the changing scenes of this life.” Isn’t that beautiful? And helpful? I’ve adapted it somewhat. Occasionally, it just comes out as, “Help!” I am often more eloquent. Sometimes even repeating my grandfather’s prayer. But, I’m sure when John Michael crosses the stage on Sunday, and I send out a silent cry for help, God will answer. He will understand that my one-word prayer encompasses about a zillion things. It is for me, for my family, and especially for John as he ventures into the big, wide world.

Embrace:

My mother often reminded us through the years to enjoy every stage without longing for the one that had passed. She was right, and that has become easier every year. Do I miss the snugly babies of my youth? Of course. I even miss the toddler stage and the teenage years. But, I don’t long for those days. I love the people our children have become. And I wouldn’t trade one adult conversation with them for all the lullabies in the world. (Plus, they have given me fourteen more reasons to sing lullabies.)

Anticipate:

Now that the second generation is starting to leave home, Wendell and I are feeling our age just a bit. We could moan about the things we’ve failed to accomplish. (We do moan about getting out of bed some days.) We could be jealous of the endless opportunities ahead for our grandchildren who have strength and youth on their side. Instead, we are anticipating our next season. When our kids were teens, we started planning for our empty nest by making sure our marriage stayed strong. Now, we are planning for staying healthy, active, and available into old age. (And, keeping our marriage strong.) We expect to celebrate lots of graduations, weddings, babies, groundbreakings, debuts, promotions, and experiences we can’t even imagine today.

I will still probably cry just a bit when the baby who made me a grandmother takes his long stride across the platform. But, mostly, they will be the happiest of tears.

 

 

Read More

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.

Read More

When a Critique is Better Than Flowers

By Kathy NickersonMay 14th, 2017happy endings, Marriage4 Comments

This Guy. You might think, Dear Reader, that after forty-three years, we have one another figured out. Or that our life of working together every day and then coming home together every night to a simple routine would get boring.

You. Would Be. Wrong.

Yesterday, for example, I thought I was just a few hours away from sending my next novel off to a potential agent. It had been been through all the proper readers and edits. It just needed one, final polish.

But, my husband, Wendell, hadn’t read it yet. I asked him if he would take a look at the manuscript, specifically to make sure I hadn’t made the husband look too bad in the story. I even offered to give him a synopsis and point out the passages I wanted his opinion on so he didn’t have to read the whole thing. It is women’s fiction, after all. Not his normal genre.

Instead, he devoted himself to the manuscript. I heard him belly laugh several times. I may have seen tears. And, at the end, he nodded and said, “You did it.”

We were on the way to our daughter’s house for supper when he said, “You know, I’m not sure first-time readers jumping into this third book will really get the back story of the Glory Circle Sisters. You did a great job with Elmer and Catherine. But I’m not sure they will get Bess.You might want to go back and draw the ladies out a little better. ”

“Oh, that’s a good point. I can do that.”

He drove another quarter mile and said, “And in the chapter where Jack’s assistant kind of dissapears off the scene for a while, where did she go? I kept wondering about that. I think readers will wonder. You might want to tweak that.”

For the next forty-five minutes, Wendell drove and critiqued my masterpiece while I took notes. In case you think that hurt my feelings or made me feel discouraged, you would be wrong again, Dear Reader. I loved it.

Wendell’s insight was excellent, and his questions were helpful. If he got pulled out of the story because he wondered where Paige had disappeared to in Chapter Twenty-five, so will you. I’m going to fix that before you read it.

I think this is a beautiful example of the best part of marriage. Wendell could have left it alone. He could have signed off on the good-enough version of the novel and let someone down the editorial road bring up the issues.

But, he knew I could do better, and he knew how to help me get there.

I pray you have a person like that in your life, Dear Reader. If you don’t, I pray you set out to find one. Or to become one.

Blessings on your search.

 

 

Read More

When She’s Sixty-Four

By Kathy NickersonAugust 1st, 2016family, happy endings, mercy1 Comment
Felicity, Serenity, Charity

Serenity in the center with her sisters Felicity on the left and Charity on the right. 

Our daughter, Serenity, is celebrating a milestone birthday this year. I shan’t tell you which one, and if you try to guess you will probably miss by a mile. Oh, the stories I could tell you about this girl not wanting to grow up. But I’m saving those for when she becomes a famous author and some Big Name Magazine offers me an indecent amount of dollars for the childhood secrets.

But, in honor of this year’s achievement, I will tell you another story.

When Serenity was first diagnosed with cancer, I went into some kind of shocked denial. She says in her book The Thank You Room that I was all kinds of brave that first day. But I think I was in shock. And, mothers in shock just react and do whatever needs done to keep everyone breathing. Later, within minutes or maybe days, I faced the monster and walked all the way to the end of days with him in my mind. And, it was terrifying.

She was pregnant when we got the diagnosis. With their third son. So, for seven months we could do nothing but wait. And let our imagination do horrendous things whenever it got a chance to run ahead of us. “Don’t look this up on the Internet!” we warned one another.

But there was no need to look anything up. The specialist had given us enough horrifying facts. Like this one: “If  you need chemo and refuse it, you will die before you could deliver the baby anyway.”

Comforting words.

But, then, he decided chemo wasn’t the best course of therapy after all. So, we waited. And Jake was finally born all healthy and strong. We wept. We thanked God. We may even have danced a little for those first seven days.

Then, we went to the imaging center for the PET scans that would tell us if the cancer had traveled anywhere during those months of incubation. I fed Jake his first-ever bottle while Serenity submitted her body to the tests. It felt as if we had been holding our collective breath for seven months, praying the cancer would not spread to her lungs or her brain as it was known to do. Now, these last two hours were the longest wait of all.

When Serenity finally came out of the room, she said, “Well, the doctor didn’t say a lot. He mostly told me the radiation I’m going to have may give me a little arthritis in that shoulder when I’m in my sixties.”

Serenity in Her Sixties.

Those were the most beautiful words I had heard in the past seven months. Maybe in forever. Serenity in Her Sixties. An age that stretched far, far away on that cold, January day. And, here was a specialist telling us she could get there. She could live that long and be bothered by pesky old arthritis. What a wonderful problem to face. I wanted to kiss him.

I think about that statement every time Serenity has a birthday now. Sixty is still decades away. And she is healthy and strong and gorgeous despite a few more tussles with cancer.

And a little arthritis isn’t going to bother this girl. She has so many more stories to tell.

Happy Birthday to Serenity Beth. And may you, Dear Reader, find your own happy words to hold onto today.

 

 

Read More

Face Painting for Life

By Kathy NickersonJuly 20th, 2016family, mercy, writing4 Comments

Facepaint3

My handsome husband and I have just (mostly) survived a week with fourteen of these adorable little people in our two-bedroom home. Yes, we are crazy. No, we will never do it this way again. Cousins Camp is a tradition we started about fifteen years ago, and we haven’t held it every year. But often enough that the big kids ask for it.

When I asked the campers what their favorite memory would be from this year, Face Painting got the most votes. It even beat out riding a real horse with a real deputy sherrif. Go figure.

Children tend to be pretty me-centered, in case you haven’t noticed. But this crew spent two hours watching everyone else be transformed from regular-ole-cousin into exotic-princess or scary-tiger or whatever. When it was your turn to be painted, the event was really rather boring and torturous. You had to sit perfectly still and stop chatting while the professionals dabbed and drew gunk all over your sweaty face.

Afterwards, everyone took a couple of looks in the mirror and then ran off to play as their chosen character for the afternoon. Violet didn’t have to run back into the house every few minutes and say:

“Wait. Am I really a princess? ‘Cause I can’t see it. I can see Pax is a ninja turtle, but I can’t see that I’m a princess.”

No. She just knew. She accepted her identity because 1.) she had experienced the painting process, 2.) she had caught a glimpse in the mirror, 3.) her cousins all called her a princess.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we grown-ups could so easily accept our own identities? Maybe, if we start trusting the process, the glimpses, and the people around us, we will stop running back to the mirror and saying, “But, wait! Am I really a writer?”

No? Was that just me? Okay, insert your own area of insecurity.

Now go finish up a happy summer with the people you love. Invest in some face paint.

Read More

Still Choosing

By Kathy NickersonJuly 5th, 2016happy endings, Marriage1 Comment

11696340_10153522665308128_7854166813839356710_o

Happy 65th wedding anniversary this week to my wonderful parents. Life has changed a bit for them in the past few years. The circle of their activity has become smaller, but the sphere of their influence has grown larger as their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren spread out across the country.

We stopped in to see them a few days ago. My mother had gone out to get the biscuits & gravy my dad sometimes likes for breakfast. (Right after she checked Facebook to see what the grandchildren were doing.) I congratulated my dad on the upcoming anniversary. He doesn’t hear so well anymore, and conversations are limited. “Sixty-five years,” I said. “That’s a long time.”

“Yes,” he said. “That’s a lot of nights.”

A lot of nights. Sixty-five years of choosing, every night, to stay faithful to the woman he married for as long as they both shall live. That choosing explains a lot about the contentment in their little apartment. As the circle has grown smaller, the Center has remained the same.

And, it reminded me of the beautiful song our daughter, Charity, and her husband, Ryan, wrote during a recent song-writing challenge called the 5in5. I’m posting it here in honor of my parents and their sixty-five years. And I’m posting it as a reminder to those of us who are coming behind them. Let’s keep choosing.

Read More

It Isn’t Personal

By Kathy NickersonJune 27th, 2016happy endings, Marriage, mercy, writing4 Comments

 

My husband is a long-suffering saint when it comes to my writing career. He gave me a classy office in his clinic where I get to write between tasks at the day job.

He even put the furniture together.

And, he keeps hoping the writing will do something besides cost him money. He remains generous, supportive, and encouraging even when that ship just keeps sailing further from shore.  One thing is bothering him about my novels, though. He mentioned it the other day.

“You are always killing off the husbands,” he said. “Should I be worried?”

Apictureofmarriage

It is true that my books have a high percentage of widows among the supporting characters. Okay, and among the lead characters. But that is simply a matter of statistics. Statistically, women live longer than men, so there are more Glory Circle Sisters than brethren in most towns, real or fictional. But, I didn’t spout statistics at him. Instead, I held up my latest book and protested.

“I’m not the widow in Rose Hill Cottage,” I said, “I’m more of Flora-the-Librarian, which makes you Deke, her ever-lovin’ husband. Look, here you are on page 75 sneaking a kiss at the Fourth of July picnic.”

I’m not sure he was convinced. And, since I have at least two more books planned for the Glory Circle Series, we aren’t quite done with widows. Maybe I better take Flora’s advice and go bake my man a pie.

Or, in our case, I’d better get it from the bakery. I don’t have Flora’s skills.

 

 

at bass pro

No husbands or bears were injured in the making of this blog post.

 

Read More