Archive for the 'happy endings' Category

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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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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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.

 

 

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Still Choosing

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

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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.

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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.

 

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You are Welcome

By Kathy NickersonJune 20th, 2016family, happy endings, mercy3 Comments

Here is a little story for those of you who are considering something today that doesn’t add up in the pro’s and con’s balance sheet. A job change. A move. A leap at love. Or an artistic endeavor that may never be seen by anyone but you. Maybe you should do it anyway …

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I remember how desperately I wanted that fourth baby. The urge hit me about the same time our toddler son left footprints in cornstarch on the kitchen counter before breakfast. It was probably one of the same days I couldn’t figure out how to get his two sisters to pre-school and still operate our home daycare. And, did I mention their father was in the middle of medical school?

My husband, saint though he is, explained that my timing was poor.

One afternoon, I snatched a few minutes for prayer and asked God to please take this desire away from me or show me how to cope with the emotion. Instead, I got one of those strong, clear thoughts that I knew didn’t come from me. These days I’m careful not to label very many things as a “God said”. But, that day, He did. I suddenly understood I wasn’t just experiencing Baby Fever. I was homesick for one of our children the same way I would be if Felicity, Serenity, or Joseph were miles away and I could not reach them.

I can’t remember anything about the conversation Wendell and I had when he came home from school. I’m pretty sure it was short and sweet. All I remember is that I was my typical, whiny self during the pregancy. Toward the last, I ended up in the hospital for a few days and then was ordered to bedrest. We celebrated our anniversary with burgers and fries and three kids on the bed. Friends cleaned our house. And both grandmothers pitched in on a regular basis. All those reasons not to have another baby had been true.

And then, the grandmothers stood in the hallway outside the delivery room while sweet Charity was birthed. And do you know what she did after I begged to conceive her, carried her for nine months and two weeks, and labored for hours to bring her forth? She grinned at her father. A huge, gorgeous, real grin at her dad.

“You’re welcome!” I wanted to yell. But I was grinning, too.

And, I’ve pretty much wanted to say, “You’re welcome” to the world ever since. You’re welcome for this fourth child who came at a time when we could not afford her, when I was too tired to carry her, and when we were too busy to take enough pictures to record her.

Because I’m pretty sure that is what God says to me every day when I thank Him for sending her.

Happy Birthday, Charity.

You are welcome Ryan, Nola, Violet, Roman, Remington, Lifegate Worship, and the Rest of the World.12144811_10153089015011516_3951295267294137910_n

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I Can Hear You Now

By Kathy NickersonMay 23rd, 2016family, happy endings, mercy3 Comments

Charliepraying - Version 2

We’ve had a siege of sickness at our house recently. At the worst of it, I had to drive my doctor-husband to the local emergency room with a 104 degree fever late one night.  Lots of people have been concerned about him since. (He is much better now, thank you very much.) And one of the things they often say is, “Oh, I bet he was a terrible patient.”

I understand why people say that. Because men, in general, tend to avoid becoming patients and submitting themselves to the indignities of hospital gowns and medical tests. I get that. And then, to be a doctor and submit oneself to the other side of the system? What a challenge.

But, it didn’t go that way at all. Instead, this man who fights death and disease for other people every day handled his own weakness with total grace. No complaints. No resistance. Even when the fever and infection made his brain a little goofy, he cooperated without a grumble.

We talked about it a few days later, and I thanked him for making the whole think easier for me. “Well,” he said, “I hope I have an internal value that tells me to listen to you. Or to our kids and our friends. When I was too sick to think straight, that value kicked in, and I just followed it.”

An internal value of listening to the people he loves. What a magificent trait. 

I’ve thought of that conversation many times since. I wonder how many arguments we have avoided, how many decisions we have reached, how much real joy we’ve experience all because my husband has an internal value that allows him to listen to other people.

He mentioned it as if it were no big deal, like a family trait he inherited or a personal preference for grape popsicles over cherry. But, I know better. I know this value is something he has fought hard to cultivate. It is something he continues to fight for every day.

And because of that, we both win.

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