January 31st, 2012
When Evan was a young boy, he was about as shy as they come.
Hiding behind my leg when people tried to talk to him, I can remember trying to pull him around to say “hi” and finally just saying, “He is very shy.”
Before he was even a teenager, he began taking piano lessons and later added guitar lessons. I often hoped that one day he would be on the worship team at church, but he never seemed to want to share his talent publicly.
I can remember vividly the moment that I came to peace with this.
I was reading, “Shepherding a Child’s Heart,” by Tedd Tripp; and in this book, Tripp challenged everything I had believed about my own motivation as a mom.
Did I want Evan to play publicly for himself or for me?
What if God had given Evan these particular gifts as a way of simply worshiping alone, much like David sang and played instruments while shepherding on a hill far away from crowds?
Could I be okay with this?
As I came to grips with the reality that deep inside I was wanting to see Evan on a stage more than he ever longed to be, I let go of these desires and allowed him to simply play for his pleasure not the world’s.
Now, Evan is a young man.
If you have read my blog for a while, you know that Evan graduated from Morehead State University last spring and moved to California in September to pursue his dream as an actor, of all things.
If I lined up all of my children and even all of their friends, I think Evan would have been one of my last guesses (based on their childhood personalities) for “Who will decide to be an actor?” But I believe God has placed this desire in Evan, because his passion for the pursuit comes from deep within him not from any of us pushing back home.
When Evan and Tim left our house, Evan had a car full of most of his earthly belongings and a place to stay temporarily (with a friend of ours son) until he found an apartment.
Five months later, I am thankful to say that Evan has found a roommate and although he sleeps on an inflatable mattress, has a Rubbermaid container for a nightstand, and needs a dresser, he is doing well.
He has signed with a modeling agency, has been hired by catering company as a waiter, delivers pizzas some evenings for Domino’s, and has a job with a fitness gym that has been under construction for the past few months. He has been taking some acting classes off and on and has auditioned for and been selected for a small part in a play.
He reads a lot about the art of acting, and we talk to him almost everyday.
I wanted to share a picture of Evan now that he is in California.
I don’t know what God’s plans are for him, but I do know this:
As long as Evan keeps God first and considers Him in all of his decisions, I believe God will lead Him to the right opportunities and set his boundaries in pleasant places.
Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
Evan has been attending a church called Ecclesia, and we are so thankful for Christians all over the world who can be there for our children when we cannot.
Here is my once-shy little guy:
You can follow Evan on Twitter: @eggsandsalsa.
He often sends out health tips and funny, random thoughts from the West Coast.
Please keep him in your prayers.
We claim this verse for all of our children:
Train up a child in the way he should go:
and when he is old,
he will not depart from it.
Evan, we love you so much. We are proud of you. We pray for you every single day. You are never far from our heart, and God is always in your heart. I told you I would not worry about you, because I have placed you in the hands of God……..and I still mean that. Whatever you do, do it for His glory and He will lead you along the right path……I believe that with every inch of my soul.
My dear blogging friends, as you pray for Charlotte, Martha, Amber, Evan, and so many more that you have on your hearts, please also say a prayer for Tim’s mom. She was hospitalized yesterday in Dallas, Texas. Martha was hospitalized yesterday, too. I will keep you posted on all of them as I receive news.
All of my love and prayers,
January 30th, 2012
I have received emails asking about my kids from time to time, so I thought I’d spend a little time catching you up on how they are all doing. This morning, I’ll share about Olivia since she is home and I have photographed her recently.
Olivia is definitely a teenage girl!
If she wrote her own update, she would not hesitate to say that she is both sweet and moody rolled into one!
She reminds me of Paul in so many ways…..
Passionate about sharing God with her friends, knowing the kind of life God longs for her to live, yet often doing the very things she doesn’t want to do.
I admire so much Olivia’s ability to regroup and move on, though. I was a teenage girl who could hang on to my moodiness for days, and I guess now is as good a time as any to say, “Thank you, mom and dad, for the grace you extended often to your daughter who could shut down and stay shut down indefinitely.”
Olivia is going to give soccer a try this spring, so I think she is both excited and nervous.
She is hoping for at least one big snow this winter. So far, we have had a Kentucky April for the month of November…rain, rain, and more rain.
Olivia still plans to be a pediatrician when she grows up. This has been her dream ever since she stopped talking about being a “petnevarian,” which is what she always called a veterinarian as a little girl. Olivia is an animal lover to the core. She can bathe three dogs in one afternoon and groom them all while humming every minute. Here she is with Dash.
Olivia is full of questions.
She wrote Tim a note during church yesterday asking about communion.
She is a deep thinker and keeps us on our toes……….challenged, inspired, and busy every day.
Nick and Olivia were big buddies, and I know she misses him as much as we do; but she presses on with the faith of Abraham. I am thankful for our gift from India. If you’ve considered adoption but been afraid, I am nudging you today to consider blessing your life and the life of a child who needs a home by stepping out and researching this option.
We went through Holt International, and they were wonderful!
I remember the night we decided to move forward.
Tim said, “If we bought a new car and made payments, five years from now we would have a used car. But if we used that same money to adopt a little girl, five years from now I know we wouldn’t regret it.”
And he was right!
I’ve always wondered if one day Olivia might decide to return to India to help others know about God.
When she was four she looked at me one afternoon and out of the blue said,
“When I grow up, I am going to go back to India and tell people about God, and Jesus, and Spirit.”
My heart was filled with both joy and fear.
Then without pausing, she looked at me with a very serious face and asked, “What is Spirit?”
I had to laugh and remember that there are a lot of years of learning ahead of Olivia before she might really think about heading across the ocean to share God’s love…..
Until then, I am cherishing every moment, thankful that God allowed us to share Him with her.
“Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God,
the faithful God Who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations
of those who love Him and keep His commandments.”
Olivia has a classmate who is in the hospital right now on a ventilator.
Her name is Amber Ripberger. She and her family need your prayers.
If you would like to send her an e-card, I know her mom would be touched by love from all over the world. Be sure to add where you are from to your note. This will make Amber smile when she can.
Here is the link to the hospital:
Also, Charlotte is still struggling and need of prayer as they await a bone marrow transplant.
Martha’s first round of chemo resulted in a very, very rough week of pain.
I know that God hears your prayers and answers in ways we may not see or understand until Heaven.
Thank you for being prayer warriors for those you do not know and those you do.
I love you all so much.
If you happen to be the reader from Iceland, I would love to talk to you. I have a friend whose daughter will be traveling there, and she needs a contact when she arrives. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Praying now for all of you,
January 27th, 2012
Life is filled with moments worthy of anxiety.
Stressful home situations, stressful jobs, health problems………….
I’ve had many anxiety-filled seasons in my life.
Seasons that seemed as if they would last forever.
I remember vividly the hours spent in different doctor’s offices and hospitals with Nick waiting for news, waiting for surgeries to begin and end, waiting for chemo to start.
I remember clearly the feelings inside me as I sat by the phone waiting for a doctor or Tim to call with an update.
I remember Nick’s last few weeks of life and can still see images in my mind that bring back memories so painful that I have to immediately think of something else or the anxiety rises again.
I also have present-day reasons for anxiety.
Not as severe, not as personal, but still difficult.
Parental anxiety, teacher anxiety, and the list goes on and on………..
Even the anxiety of my friends and students can cause me to feel anxious as I long to help them but often have no easy solution for their problem.
Life has a way of handing us challenge after challenge.
What do we do when we feel anxious?
I am so thankful that God included the word “anxiety” in the Bible and that He knew it was an emotion we WOULD experience.
I Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
This verse is one I carried in my purse in a notebook throughout Nick’s journey with cancer.
I still cling to it today in my grief and in my day-to-day life.
I love to envision a fisherman fastening all of his anxiety onto a hook and casting the line far out into the sea.
Then, instead of reeling it back in, simply letting go of the pole and allowing the water to carry his anxiety away.
Today, if you are feeling anxious.
Don’t feel guilty,
as if your faith is weak.
Simply know that God understands and He cares for you.
Cast your anxiety to Him.
Allow Him to carry it for you.
Lean back in His loving arms and know that He can handle all the things you cannot handle alone.
Praying for you all today,
January 26th, 2012
In times of trouble, may the LORD answer your cry.
May the name of the God of Jacob keep you safe from all harm.
May he send you help from his sanctuary
and strengthen you from Jerusalem.
May he remember all your gifts
and look favorably on your burnt offerings.
May he grant your heart’s desires
and make all your plans succeed.
May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory
and raise a victory banner in the name of our God.
May the LORD answer all your prayers.
Now I know that the LORD rescues his anointed king.
He will answer him from his holy heaven
and rescue him by his great power.
Some nations boast of their chariots and horses,
but we boast in the name of the LORD our God.
Those nations will fall down and collapse,
but we will rise up and stand firm.
Give victory to our king, O LORD!
Answer our cry for help.
Praying for you this morning,
January 25th, 2012
As a teacher, I’m more than happy to help a student……
if I know they need help.
As a mom, I’m thrilled to be there for my kids……..
if I know they need something.
God knows everything already, but I think He longs to “hear” our needs straight from our mouths too.
He wants to share life with us not just be Lord over us.
When perfection began, it began in a garden.
God walking with Adam and Eve, talking and sharing life together.
The devil must have hated this intimacy, and I think one of his primary goals for tempting Eve was to place a wall between God and His creation.
Do you ever feel a wall between you and God?
Do you ever feel that your foot is slipping?
Do you ever feel anxiety rising up in you?
Just say it out loud.
Tell God how you are feeling.
He longs to break through the wall and support you with His love.
He longs to bring joy to your soul.
I’ve had many foot-slipping, anxious days.
I am so thankful for a Father who listens, cares, and comforts.
When I said, “My foot is slipping, your love, O Lord, supported me.”
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.
January 24th, 2012
Job sat in ashes, covered in boils.
His children gone.
Everything he worked for years to earn swept away.
With a wife saying, “Curse God and die,” and friends surrounding him,
Job listened to their desperate attempts to make sense of his pain as they listed every possible thing he could have done to make God so angry.
And yet, Job looked up.
He knew that even if God seemed to have abandoned him, there had to be more to his tragic life story.
He knew that in spite of all of his agony, ONE DAY all the sorrow would be washed away in a minute.
He didn’t understand his suffering.
Deep inside he felt unjustly punished.
He was the poster child for the saying,
“Life is not fair.”
But Job still looked up.
Last night, I ran to pick up Olivia from a basketball game.
As I stepped into our driveway, I happened to notice how clear the sky appeared.
Every star sparkling in such vivid detail.
Stars I hadn’t noticed in a long time.
I stopped for a second and just looked up.
These stars all shone in the same positions I had remembered them in a season where I looked up often.
I remember after Nick’s death looking up almost every night, as if somehow I could see Nick in the expanse of the sky.
I knew he was there in the heavens, and I still believe that today.
I knew that the God of the Universe who created every sparkling dot in the sky still loved me and that He held Nick in the palm of His hand.
But life gets busy and looking up at the sky hasn’t been a nightly occurrence for me for some time.
It felt surreal to stand in my drive way last night and see the wonder of the sky anew.
It was as if three years of grief were swallowed up in a moment’s time as I slipped back in time to that early pain and felt the same peace I felt as I trusted God through those first few months of deep sadness.
Today, I’m sensing someone is brokenhearted and needs to know that God loves them deeply even when “life is not fair.”
I am praying for you today, and I want you to know that no matter how uncertain, how painful, how difficult your earthly situation there is one thing that remains forever true,
“Your Redeemer lives and one day He will stand upon the earth at last.”
And when He does, all of our heartache will be washed away……….leaving a cloudless night filled with the wonder of a starry sky.
Keep looking up.
“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
and he will stand upon the earth at last.
And after my body has decayed,
yet in my body I will see God!
I will see him for myself.
Yes, I will see him with my own eyes.
I am overwhelmed at the thought!
January 23rd, 2012
First, thank you for the emails, texts, and comments in response to Saturday’s post. I am taking your advice and trying many of your recommendations. I love you all so much. You make me laugh, remind me I’m normal, and give me hope!!
Second, I awoke this morning to the sound of a downpour outside. I knew bad weather was headed our way last night when my mom texted and said “Check your weather before heading to bed. Bad storms are coming.”
Thunder and lightning arrived just an hour or so after her text, and I’m guessing it’s been raining all night long.
Today, we are in a wind advisory, with more storms possible, and I’m thinking, “This is odd weather for January.” The 10-day forecast shows no signs of cold temperatures or snow. No, it’s more like an April forecast. Have we somehow missed winter?
It occurred to me, as I was thinking about our strange weather, that often in life we “expect” certain seasons at certain times and when these seasons become jumbled we grasp for understanding.
I’m reading from Job right now, and I’m struck with the “mixed-up seasons” in Job’s life and how he and his friends are grasping for some type of sense in all of his agony.
His friends ramble and guess and speculate as they sit with Job and try to bringing meaning to his countless tragedies.
Even Job gets caught up in trying to make sense of his losses, his pain, his illness.
But he can’t.
And if your life is anything like mine, I’m just guessing there are moments when things just don’t make sense to you either.
There are thunderstorms and January, and we are left wondering, ‘Why?’
Late last night I received word that a college friend’s wife had died unexpectedly yesterday afternoon.
The most tragic part of this news was that our college friend died several years ago leaving her a widow with a young daughter. There is now an 8 year old little girl who has lost both of her parents in the wrong season of life.
Thunderstorms in January.
I fell to sleep last night to the sound of thunder and with this sweet little girl on my heart.
Life does not make sense sometimes.
What do we do in this mixed-up seasons?
I think there’s only one answer.
We go to Him who created winter, spring, summer, and fall, and we simply say, “Be enough, Lord.”
Be enough when flowers bloom, when leaves turn and fall, when ice and snow appear, and when blossoms reappear.
Be enough even in those seasons when it feels as if one thing should be happening (like snow falling), yet we are facing something unexpected (like a thunderstorm).
“Be enough, Creator of the Seasons.”
Paul struggled with a weakness in his flesh that he did not understand. He begged for healing. He begged for this “thorn in the flesh” to be taken away. And yet, God replied,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
II Cor. 12;9
I don’t know what you are facing on this Monday morning in January.
Maybe there is beautiful, white snow falling in your life and everything feels “right” for winter.
Maybe you’re not sure what today will even hold.
And maybe, just maybe, you are hearing thunder and it doesn’t make sense.
Whatever the case, please remember,
God is enough. He is sufficient. He will carry you through the snow and the storms….no matter the season.
January 21st, 2012
Although a health issue like needing to find a new deodorant is not my usual topic choice, I feel the need this afternoon to share that I am definitely in search of some new magic formula. I realized this morning that you know your Saturday is somewhat “free” when that is one of the top things on your list of “things to do” after finishing lesson plans and straightening the house.
There’s something about having a faint odor that brings back memories of your grandpa after he’s had a hard day of work on the farm that makes you realize something is “just not right.” Especially when the toughest thing I’ve done today is clean up a few puppy accidents around the house.
Which brings me to another concern at the Nischan house.
Somehow I have exchanged the hectic schedule of running five kids all over the world for a somewhat quiet house filled with dogs!
While Snoopy and Peppy are quite old and honestly not a lot of trouble (except that they smell almost as offensive as I do at times, and they seem to need to come inside and/or go outside at the same time I decide to get comfortable with a cup of coffee and a book), Dash and Domino are struggling to understand the idea of potty training.
Mom and Dad were here for Christmas; and when Dad saw the puppy pad in the laundry room, his comment was, “So, you’re training them to go on the floor.” I laughed and said, “Actually, I think you’re right.” And you know what? He is right!
Here’s the problem:
Our back yard does have a fence, but it goes up to the top of our hill where there must be small places to escape, so taking the puppies outside EVERY TIME they need to do their little thing is very stressful. Seeing the pups disappear up into the trees and then wondering whether or not they will return is a little more than I can take three or four or one hundred times a day, depending on how often they need attention.
So, we are trying puppy pads, but I am about to give up on this style even if it’s winter and even if it means multiple adrenaline rushes every single day as I hope the puppies will return after a little potty outing.
The main reason I believe it is time to try something else is this:
I had a dream this week that was way too real and left me feeling a little rattled.
I am going to share this dream at the risk of losing you all as friends (if sharing my need for new deodorant or my rant with my kids yesterday about wearing their retainers wasn’t enough- by the way, I never had the nerve to ask my kids to read that post, so I am counting on God to lead them here, I guess).
Before I share the dream, let me give a little background on my mental state.
I am reading a book with my class right now called Hunger Games. Maybe you have heard of it. I’ve never seen a book take a high school age group by storm in such a powerful way as this book is doing. Kids have been asking for the sequels for Christmas and birthday gifts from their parents. They have been sneaking and reading ahead and talking about the book in conversations as if it’s part of their normal life to have book discussions.
The reality, though, is that this book is fairly violent. Much more violent than anything I’ve ever read. I’m not a scary movie person. I’m not a thriller-book person. In fact, my son Evan has said several times, “I just can’t believe you like that book, Mom. It doesn’t seem like you at all.”
I think it’s seeing the kids so “into” a novel that has made me love the book. It is well-written and has lots of suspense. But, again, it is violent and my mind doesn’t do violence very well.
At the same time, a house with four dogs is more than crazy; and at school I often think of our house and kind-of shutter as I realize that as I walk in, I will one again be greeted by a stinky laundry room that needs a deep clean..in spite of the glorious puppy pad protection.
I say all of that to say this, “I think (hope) my dream stemmed from a combination of a violent book and a house that is putting me over the edge.”
Cy, please don’t hate me, because honestly, Peppy is my biggest buddy. He’s sleeping at my feet right this minute. He follows me everywhere I go and whimpers until he is right by my side in the chair.
But in my dream, we were playing a board game and on each person’s turn they had to do something. On my turn, and I cringe as I say this, “I shot Peppy.” Yes, I shot my dog. It was awful. I woke up and saw Peppy and felt so guilty, so evil, so warped.
This dream has been haunting me, along with my need for new hygiene supplies, and I decided this morning that writing it all out of my system might be my only escape from my thoughts.
So, I am going to click “publish,” and then I am going to sit back and cringe and hope that I still have at least one friend.
I am also going to hope that someone gives me a suggestion for a favorite antiperspirant-deodorant and/or a puppy-training secret.
If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.
I John 1:8-10
For now I am going to embrace the freedom that follows confession and try to enjoy my Saturday,
January 20th, 2012
In four years of blogging, I have never used my forum to speak to my children. However, this morning I felt this nudge to say something to all four of them publicly that I believe has a lesson in it for all of us. So, I write this not so much for the “retainer” lesson but more for the “spiritual lesson” entwined within it. Honestly, teeth are such a small issue on the scale of life………but our soul……………..that is no small issue.
So, bear with me for just a few minutes as I write as a desperate mom.
Erich, Evan, Todd, and Olivia,
I know that you have grown weary of me asking you if you are wearing your retainers. I know that many times your answer is “no,” and I tend to seem a little ruffled and disappointed. I also know that in the scheme of life, wearing your retainers isn’t the most important aspect of successful living. Believe me, I would much rather know you are reading your Bible, sharing your heart with God, and putting Him first in every decision you make.
However, I do feel a sense of passion about your retainers and here is why:
Your dad and I made monthly payments for YEARS so that you could have straight teeth. We could have chosen a new car, a driveway that isn’t crumbling, a fence without termites, but we chose YOUR TEETH instead and we are happy with our decision…….until we hear you’re not wearing your retainers!
Your dad and I spent hours on the road driving back and forth to the dentist, sitting in waiting rooms so that you would not miss any of your every 6-week appointments. We took days off of work to keep these appointments, and we are thankful for every minute with you……..until we hear you’re not wearing your retainers!
But the biggest reason I am begging you is this:
I have met too many adults who have said to me, “I wish I would have listened to my parents and dentist and worn my retainers, because my teeth have moved and now I can’t get my retainers on anymore.”
So, after I call each of you and for the first time ever ask you to read my blog, I am officially done asking (I hope I can keep this promise.). You are on your own to live with the consequences of choosing NOT to wear the simple device that keeps your teeth aligned. I hope that every night as you crawl into bed there will be a nagging voice (mine) somewhere in the recesses of your memory asking you the question for me, “Are you wearing your retainers?” I hope the voice haunts you; and if you forget to wear your retainers for just two or three nights, I hope it hurts a bit when you put them back on so that you will realize how quickly your teeth can move out of line. I hope this pain is a warning not to forget again. I love you all so much. More than words could ever express. I’m proud of you. I pray for you every single day more than once. I want you all to live FULL God-filled lives where you bring Him glory in everything you do. I want you to feel a purpose every morning when you wake up, and I want you to feel God’s presence on the good days and the bad. But, as a shallow mom, I also want you to wear your retainers. Please.
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I want to say this to my kids and to all of you who stop by to read today.
God, as our Father, left us with retainers.
His Words and the Holy Spirit.
He left them so that we would have a guide, something and Someone to keep us on the straight and narrow.
If we keep our Bible on a shelf or nightstand, it is just as effective as my kids’ retainers are in their case.
We have to open it, read it, apply it, pray over it, love it, live by it………..
God sacrificed so much so that we could have the message of Hope that comes from His Word.
I think it has to hurt Him when we don’t choose to spend time learning more about Him and turning to Him for guidance and direction.
I am guilty often, and, believe me, I have felt the pain of trying to live without Him as my daily guide.
I don’t want that for any of you.
Today, we may not need physical retainers in our life, but I do believe we all need spiritual retainers.
Please don’t forget to wear them!
I guide you in the way of wisdom
and lead you along straight paths.
When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
when you run, you will not stumble.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Praying for all of you today,
January 19th, 2012
There’s nothing new about the reality the statement that “every minute matters,” but some mornings the clock ticks in a way that makes you keenly aware of this truth.
How long you take drying your hair, how long it takes to pick out clothes, routine tasks become stealers of minutes that often pass unnoticed.
Unexpected things like a missing PD certification form that sent me hunting online for thirty minutes until I could recover it pushed my morning ahead quickly, causing me to move in a robotic fast motion, a speed I lived in for way too long and a speed I do not miss.
Now, the clock is screaming, “You need to be on the road in 12 minutes, heading to your appointment in Ashland. Don’t be late.”
And I breathe and think, “WAIT!”
I refuse to let these few minutes slip by wastefully.
So I wanted to share a little something I discovered this morning when reading in Genesis.
I was caught by the words that Jacob said to Joseph on his death bed. He requested that his body be taken back to Canaan to be buried after he died and told Joseph of the great sorrow he had experienced when he had been forced to bury Rachel on the road to Ephrath (which is Bethlehem).
My mind is fascinated with the thought that Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, was right there in the midst of all of these Old Testament stories. I wonder if Mary and Joseph ever told the story of their ancestors to Jesus and said, “And Rachel was buried very near your birthplace.”
I wonder if Jesus grinned as he heard them talk about Canaan and how important it was to the Israelites. How it was their Promised Land.
And I just wonder if he ever talked to Mary and explained things more clearly so that she understood a little bit more about what was going to happen in the future than we get to read in Scriptures.
Today, we are all on a journey to the Promised Land, aren’t we?
Christmas is a wonderful time, but let’s don’t die near Bethlehem, simply embracing the story of Jesus’ birth.
Let’s push on toward Easter and grasp the power of the resurrection!
Today, let every minute matter.
Each of them leads us forward toward Canaan.
Thankful for each of you,