December 4th, 2017
Jesus saw the look in the eyes of His disciples as the storm raged all around them and spoke the words,
“Peace. Be still.”
Suddenly, with no jet stream movement required,
the storm was gone.
All that remained was Jesus, the Son of God, and smooth sailing.
This morning, Jesus is speaking the same words to me,
“Peace. Be still.”
I’m feeling the to-do lists fade and the hours ahead of me at work feel much less daunting,
because He is there.
He has every Monday,
and every day that follows wrapped snuggly in His arms.
And what day can’t be handled when hugged by the Savior of the world?
The Nischan house is overflowing with wedding decorations, borrowed and bought.
But it’s also overflowing with joy and thanksgiving.
God is so very good,
and He has a way of filling every gap in my weak human flesh with His presence…………..
which means I’m overflowing too.
When I am weak, He is strong.
He promises this in His Word.
So there’s two things I know with confidence on this already busy Monday morning.
When Jesus sees storms, He speaks peace and peace appears.
When God sees weakness, He speaks strength and strength appears.
So this morning, as I venture out to give my all to my job for eight hours,
I’m trusting God and His Son to give their all to me………………
and boldly speak into every part of my life that feels stormy or weak..
That’s truly all I need to know to have a perfect Monday.
I hope you’ll know it too and feel the presence of God and His Son in a mighty way.
I love you all.
November 3rd, 2017
It’s funny how God works.
I remember playing “teacher” as a little girl,
and I remember the day my sister and I created our own school library by gluing notebook-paper pockets in the front
of all of our books so they could have their very own “library card.”
I eventually became a real teacher and fell in love with my students every single year.
But after Nick died……………
I was a different person.
I couldn’t handle many of the things I had dove into wholeheartedly before he passed away.
And even though I tried a different kind of role in the world of academics,
I knew something had to give or I was going to crumble.
So off to college I went (again) in search of a new chapter…………….
and wouldn’t you know?
God took the very world I had walked away from and gave it right back to me…………..
in a whole new way.
I now spend my weekdays in schools as a therapist instead of a teacher,
and I couldn’t be more thankful.
But as I walk the halls and see so many of my friends
who are still in the teaching field
dealing with so many different kinds of stressful things every single day,
my heart is overwhelmed with thankfulness for each of them.
They are heroes to me.
And this morning I just want them to know.
You are noticed.
You are loved.
You are appreciated.
You are needed.
You are changing the world…………..
one classroom at a time.
Thank you for your daily smiles………………
you amaze and inspire me!!!
This is for you……………from me.
“Praise to the Teacher”
Praise to the teacher
who doesn’t feel imprisoned by words like “early duty,”
“lunch duty,” or “after school bus duty,”
but instead rises above her duties
and see the souls encircling her
and smiles anyway…………
Because she knows her job
transcends her own lifetime,
isn’t truly measured by data or
limited to core content.
And in many cases extends far beyond teacher to
and most of all
Praise to the teacher who keeps on giving when she has nothing left to give
and who inspires her students to do the same.
Praise to the teacher
who never stops learning because she creates a classroom
full of young instructors
who teach her new things every single day.
Praise to the teacher who is pulled in a hundred different directions
but smiles anyway.
You are so loved.
October 25th, 2017
Cropping out the world’s distractions and filling every corner of her life with joy,
she giggles as she runs
My niece always brings to mind Jesus’ words,
“Unless you become like a child….”
I need time with this little girl often,
because I’ve felt a little old lately.
Not in a real-world “I can’t believe I’m 52 kind-of way,”
but in a spiritual sense.
I want to grow up in Christ.
I just don’t ever want to grow old in Him.
And maybe that’s what Jesus meant.
“Crop out the distractions, Tammy.”
“Giggle as you run.”
“Focus on me.”
Is staying young this simple?
I think it just might be.
Just before his death, Sir Isaac Newton made this remark:
“I do not know what I may appear to the world;
but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore,
and diverting myself by now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary,
while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me”
– Brewster’s Life of Newton, pp. 300, 301. Ed. New York, 1832.
Maybe it was the joy of finding a smooth pebble or a pretty shell that kept him young.
Maybe it was knowing there was an ocean of truth undiscovered all around him but not feeling like he had to know it all
or do it all
or be it all
in order to live big.
I see tired moms, busy running here and there with their children and wonder………..
“Do they realize the treasure of this insane moment?”
The running ahead, giggling child that seems to ignore her words,
may be teaching her to seize the day not simply trod through it.
The endless questions at bedtime……………..in hopes of a few more minutes awake.
Maybe children are trying to teach us to wonder again.
Oh, to have that chance to hear my kids’ sweet, little voices at bedtime.
They want to know more.
And I don’t ever want to stop knowing more either.
I can’t turn back time,
but I can turn back my heart.
I can find my youthful soul again.
And I’m working on it.
I’m okay with growing up,
but I’ll never be okay with growing old.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Praying you’ll find a smooth pebble, a pretty shell, or a surprise heart along your way today.
<3 I’d love to see it if you do. <3
October 9th, 2017
It’s Monday morning and the big picture for this week is overwhelming.
Between busy days at work and evenings filled with to-do lists that could easily get the best of me,
it’s easy to feel tired before I even start getting ready for the day.
But this picture……..
It caught my eye this morning and reminded me there’s something very powerful about looking close.
Seeing every tiny branch on a great big tree.
Noticing the beauty in the detail of every little moment in the middle of a hundred huge ones.
Leaning in to every single day,
every single hour,
every single minute……….
rather than being overwhelmed by a super busy week.
That’s what God’s asking me to do.
The world is big and noisy and life can feel big and noisy too,
but when we lean in real close to the people around us and savor every second of the one life we’ve been given………..
everything else fades away and suddenly we’re right where we’re supposed to be.
Every single time.
One tiny branch on a great big tree.
That’s what I want to see today.
I want to see the eyes of each person in front of me.
I want to see beyond their words and into their heart.
I want to feel connected one by one to whoever is on my path,
rather than feeling bombarded by a multitude of voices all at the same time.
I don’t want to miss one moment.
That’s my prayer this morning.
Pull me in, Lord.
Help me focus.
Thank you for reminding me that your presence is promised in the smallest of gatherings if I’ll simply invite you there.
And you’re cordially invited into my day.
One branch at a time.
I’m leaning in,
because that’s where You are.
“For where two or three are gathered in my name,
there am I among them.”
September 27th, 2017
Nick loved the American flag.
I wish I had time this morning to dig through old photos,
because I know I have memories showing his deep love for the red, white, and blue.
Nick loved football too.
Even when he could no longer walk,
we made our annual trip to Walmart for the newest version of Madden Football for XBox.
He counted down the days until its release every single summer.
I still find old notebooks around the house filled with football plays drawn up by Nick just for fun.
He loved everything about this sport.
Thanks to a dear high school friend and her husband (We love you, Mike and Carol!),
Nick was able to attend several Titans’ games.
He even had the privilege of siting on the field for an up-close view of the players at the very last game he attended.
I didn’t have time this morning to find great quality pics of these memories,
but I don’t care.
I have something on my heart ,
and I want to share it before heading out the door to work.
America needs to wake up.
We’re so busy ranting and raving
or standing in silence
or sitting in protest
that we’re missing the bigger picture.
I believe Nick represents what we’re missing.
We’re missing the fact that children are watching.
The sidelines of our adult lives are filled with children,
longing for examples,
needing great role models,
hoping for a future filled with love not hate.
How do we stop this craziness?
Yes, we should have the freedom to choose whether we stand or sit………….anywhere.
That’s a free gift in this country.
The flag and our national anthem celebrate this gift, though,
so we need to think long and hard about how we choose to make our point.
I can truly see both sides of this battle,
and I don’t know enough to have a long and arduous debate with anyone about it.
But as the mom of a football-loving child who lost his fight to cancer,
leaving our family with only autographed football helmets and jerseys from several kindhearted teams,
I am begging our country to do one thing:
I’m also saying, “Stop!” to all parents who are so busy worrying about their own freedom and happiness that they’re missing the lives of the little ones right in front of their faces.
Look around you.
We’re surrounded by children in need of love.
Children who desperately long for adults who will settle down, sit down, and share quality time.
I wish I could have one more day with Nick.
One more hug.
One more conversation.
One more chance to throw a football in our front yard.
One more anything……………………
So, if you read this and have any connection with children,
please stop whatever you’re doing or fighting for
and fully embrace your time with them.
Now that’s a freedom worth fighting for.
September 18th, 2017
It gets the best of me so often.
The signs up ahead I can’t quite see.
Foggy mornings scare me.
So does walking by faith.
Take me out of the driver’s seat and everything gets worse.
There’s something about gripping the wheel that at least gives me the false allusion that I have a little control over the unknown.
And a false allusion can carry me pretty far.
God must know I need a lesson now and then.
A reminder of just how little I control.
I scoot down low and close my eyes,
thinking if I block my view,
keep myself from seeing the scary unknown right in front of me………
then maybe it will all go away.
I peek often, though, and breathe deep.
And it’s still there.
All the things I do not know.
How does my husband keep moving so calmly into the unknown while I grip the door and fight the urge to scream, “Stop!”
Driving in fog and walking by faith
They’re both so scary.
But I’m slowly learning………………
it’s not about how fast you move from here to there along the foggy way
but how you act as you face one unknown curve after another.
And that’s where my foggy faith so easily fails.
Anxiety scoots me low.
The unknown becomes my focus,
and I miss the beauty of the road right in front of me.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for
and assurance about what we do not see.
If I have one desire this morning,
it is this:
To stop allowing fear to keep me from embracing the wonder of a foggy road.
Because life really is a beautiful foggy journey.
And faith means releasing my grip from the wheel.
And trusting the One who’s driving.
September 14th, 2017
I knew I had a choice.
Dive all the way in or run far, far away.
There was no half-way about the decision in front of me.
And sometimes a “T” in the road feels so scary……………
because either way has a cost.
But this particular moment of decision didn’t feel quite like my own.
God had opened doors so strategically that I knew deep inside one option for turning had been blocked with a “Road Closed” sign,
so I walked in…………..
the day after crying most of the morning………..
and determined that if God had brought me to it,
He would surely see me through it.
So I dove in.
Moving furniture and throwing away things left by other people,
I slowly made this little corner of the world my own.
And as I picked up the cleaner to begin wiping down the shelves,
I had no idea I would be hearing the sound of metal clinking metal as a penny fell from somewhere above and landed right in front of me.
A bookshelf seems like an odd place for a coin……….
and as I picked it up and read the year, “1991,” I couldn’t help but think of that year in my own life……….
the year before Adrienne was born………
and then died.
The year before my marriage had felt anguish.
The year before my young self had known such personal loss.
The year before our two oldest boys would stand by their sister’s grave and say, “Bye for now.”
I felt God whispering,
“I’m just as present with you today as I was then. Be strong. Lean on me. You’ve been through such bigger life changes.”
I smiled quietly to myself and thought, “Adrienne is cheering me on,” and that was enough to keep me going; and I slipped the penny into a pocket of my purse.
Feeling the presence of God so much closer than I had just minutes before, I turned
to dust off my desk. My heart stopped, though, as I looked to the floor.
It was as if Nick tugged on my sleeve and said, “I’m cheering too, Mom. You’ve got this!!”
I slowly picked up this new little piece of copper and read the year……….
Nick was with us in that year.
Life was good………..again.
Grief still walked with us in 2000, but eight years had passed since Adrienne was suddenly taken from our home and there’s something about time that changes sorrow into hope if you keep your eyes on the cross.
It’s now been eight years since we said good bye to Nick.
Is that what this penny and Nick were trying to say to me?
“It’s okay to be happy. It’s okay to live big again, Mom. Life is worth living!”
As I slid this penny into my purse right next to the other one, I felt a strange peace come over me.
God had transformed this new and scary world into a sanctuary.
He was there.
God was with me.
Why did I ever feel alone?
Thinking my encounter was over, I opened the drawer to see what supplies were already there…………..
and saw this.
How much more did I need??
Why did God choose to speak so loudly??
How could I be so blessed?
Two pennies and a cross…………
and then the unbelievable happened.
Last night as I was sitting in a friend’s living room talking about our days, I received a text from my son in Japan.
All it said was to watch a second-long clip of a spoken-word video he had attached.
He gave me the exact time in the video, so I went straight there, thinking I may see a clip he made while doing mission work.
When I got there, though, my mouth dropped as I watched Nick jump from a diving board…………….
arms wide open
splashing his way back into life after having his pic line removed and his first long cancer treatment series completed.
Telling Todd eight years later that the answer to the question,
“Why is life worth living?”
jumping high and jumping brave with no hair and pale skin.
Isn’t that what we all need to hear?
Living big isn’t wealth or fame or money or anything we can touch or spend or own…………….
it’s jumping high and brave when our hair is gone and skin is pale.
It’s living every moment as if it’s our last and even if it is we know it’s okay……..because we lived strong and hard and full and deep until God said,
but not a second before that did we ever say,
Thank you, Levi the Poet, for writing such powerful words.
Thank you, Todd, for answering his question with such a powerful moment from one of the hardest chapters in our family’s life.
So what will I do today?
How will I live?
How will I face more training and more stretching?
I will face it big and brave!!!
Because every breath is a gift from Him who loves me most.
And I’m forever thankful!!
I’m praying your day is transformed into a place of Holy encounters as you praise Him while you have your being.
And if there’s a “T” in your road,
turn toward God.
Don’t run the other way.
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
September 13th, 2017
I remember family vacations that included Sundays.
No matter where we were, from a campground to a parking lot,
dad would pull out a bottle of grape juice and a box of crackers.
And right there in the middle of who-knows-what-kind-of-moods we were in at the time,
we would stop everything long enough to eat one broken piece of a Saltine and sip one little gulp of Welch’s.
I remember feeling sort-of embarrassed as the juice bottle and cracker box sat on the hood of our car and dad read a verse about Jesus dying on the cross out loud to us.
“Who else does this?
“Why can’t we just wait and do this next week at church?”
I would often think to my teenage self.
Looking back on this image of our classic 70s family, clothes and all, and remembering what a moody, difficult girl I could be at times,
I am forever thankful.
I learned then what I didn’t really appreciate until now.
This tiny meal sustained my family.
And it still sustains me today.
Every week as I pick up the little piece of bread,
I’m reminded of His body.
Broken just for me.
I am often overwhelmed by the feeling of this cracker being crushed by my teeth, sticking in my throat as it goes down.
It’s hard to swallow the fact that someone willingly died so I could live.
If I could just wash this down…………………remove the pieces of this memory.
And then I remember, I can.
I hold the tiny cup to my lips and I’m thankful for a way to rinse the dry feeling of the cracker from my throat,
but as the liquid goes down I’m reminded of His blood, the blood that washes away my sin.
Only God would choose something red to make something white.
Jesus died for me.
He paid the price for everything I’ve thought, said, or done.
And every single week He’s provided a way for me to remember.
A way for me to reflect on and regroup from every stumbling step I took since the last time I met Him here…………….at the table.
I need this meal more than any other.
I need this tiny cracker and this miniature cup.
They convict me.
They refresh me.
But most of all,
they remind me.
They take me back to a place I’ve never actually been to experience a moment in history that changed our calendar from B.C. to A.D. and changed our future from despair to hope.
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
It’s only Wednesday, and I’m already hungry.
Maybe that’s what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 5:6 when He said,
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.“
I need this meal weekly.
And I’m thankful my parents did too – long before I really understood why.