Thankful Thursday...........

This week's chapter "Thanks for Everything" (in Nancy's book Choosing Gratitude) was all about getting to the point in our lives where we can honestly begin listing what we are grateful for without having to give it a lot of thought.....

beautiful sunrises

shade on a hot and sunny day

clean sheets

running water

a washing machine

And the list goes on and on and on and on of things that should cause us to stop and simply say, "Thank you, Lord."

But even deeper in our hearts than any of these items from our day-to-day lives, we should be thankful for spiritual blessings-

God's nearness

God's mercy

God's salvation

God's calling

And again, the list goes on and on and on!!!

When we begin to look at life with a thankful heart, we begin to realize that even on the toughest day in the toughest season of our journey, God has provided blessing after blessing to make that season something worth saying, "Thank you" about.

Looking back on Nick's long fight with cancer, I can recall time after time when God provided exactly what our family needed whether it was financial help, emotional help, or simply physical help in the form of a friend bringing dinner or watching our kids for a weekend while we were at the hospital.  Even in the darkest hours, God showed up.  It was almost as if He was sorry that we had to walk the road we were walking, so He was doing all He could to make it as easy as possible to bear.

I'm thankful that He ALWAYS stepped in and made Himself known even on the most difficult days.  I'm thankful for all the friends who allowed God to use them to encourage our family by organizing parades, basketball tournaments, walk-a-thons, birthday parties, and so much more in Nick's honor.

This afternoon, I subbed at the middle school here in Grayson and two kids were walking down the hall arm-in-arm after lunch and one of them said, "Mrs. Nischan, we are best friends!"  I smiled and then told them that I've always heard that, in life, if you have one true friend then you are blessed.  It was so cute, because as I kept walking towards our classroom I heard one of them who was walking behind me say, "I am blessed." 

I love kids!  I'm thankful for these tiny moments in a busy day when I feel as if I've maybe made a little difference.

Tonight, I'm thankful for a night of sleep ahead of me.

I will write soon about another book that I am reading, Unafraid-Living God's Plan on a Ladder and a Promise, by Karen Phillips Goodman.  She is doing a blog tour of her book and asked if I would do the month of April! :)  I'll add some links for her book later, too!

I'm thankful for each of you! 

Psalm 30:11-12 

You turned my wailing into dancing;
       you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
       O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.

Please have a thankful Thursday!



He was speaking in the mall......

olive hill elementary 007

If you didn't already know, Nick's favorite verse was Joshua 1:9,

"Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified.  Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

I was at the mall Saturday afternoon and walked into a store to look at the display of pictures made from photographed "letters," and this was the first one I saw!

Of course, I had to buy a small copy to place on the windowsill above my kitchen sink!!

This was just another reminder that God truly is with me WHEREVER I go!

He's with you too!

Have a wonderful day!

I'm watching a little two-year old this morning whose mom had to go out of town to be with her dad who had a heart attack last Friday, so I'm surrounded by toys and have Nick Jr. on in the background.  Please keep her dad in your prayers.

I'll write again soon.  I'd better stay focused on my "little buddy." 

Much love,



Until tonight.............

I had to take a minute to say, "GOOD MORNING!"

And "I'm praying for you all!"

Have a wonderful day.

Make someone smile!  You may be the only one who does all day. :)

Whisper a little prayer for Tim if you think of him..he's preaching in chapel today at KCU.

Until tonight,



The Power of a Rainbow.......

grief share I receive a daily devotion from a ministry called Grief Share.  If you would like to sign up for these devotions, you can click here.  This morning I had to smile as I read the devotion from yesterday about God's creation, because last night after church Olivia and I had a moment involving this exact topic! 

Here's the Grief Share devotion from yesterday:

Enjoy God's Creation
Day 290
Open your eyes today to the gift of God's creation. Make a point to look up and notice and savor what you see.
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world" (Psalm 19:1-4).
The beauty of creation is crying out daily for you to see and to worship the Creator in response. Live life on a different level today-a higher level.
Elisabeth Elliot says, "It's our human nature to fret and stew and try everything in the world to satisfy ourselves, but that is never going to be the answer. I myself have found tremendous comfort and joy in observing God's creation."
Creator God, what treasures and beauties do You have in store for me today? What new wonder is just waiting to be seen? Amen.

 

Here's what happened last night:

After church, Olivia and I ran to the grocery store to get ready for the week.  While we were in the meat department, I got a call from Brandon, one of Nick's best buddies, asking if I had seen the rainbow in the sky.  I hadn't, of course, because I had been busying trying to figure out some decent meals for this week and find the best prices on meat.  So, Olivia and I headed to the front of the store to look out the window, and OH MY GOODNESS!!!!!!!!!!!  The rainbow was amazing!  I heard other people talking about it as I approached the front of the store, so I left my cart to step outside and see a complete rainbow brightly shining from one end to the other!  It was breath-taking! 

I had to smile because I knew the Creator of this rainbow, and I knew that He longs to see us enthralled with His creation!  I tried to get the girl who was ringing up my order to step outside and look, but she didn't seem overly interested.  I did get several people around me to take a minute to soak in the beauty, and I was so thankful that Brandon had taken the time to share the rainbow with me!

So many parts of creation have different meanings to me, but a rainbow has such pronounced power!  I guess the fact that they don't happen ALL the time makes them extra-special, and the reality that the first one was given to Noah as a promise from God just gives me goose bumps!  To think that I could stand outside a grocery store in a little town in Kentucky and feel the presence of God in such a mighty way! 

My prayer for you today is that you will find a moment to soak in something beautiful from God's creation that surrounds you.  Maybe it will be a cloud or a flower or even a barren tree that is showing its first signs of spring buds....whatever it is, try to hear God speaking as His created nature "pours forth speech."

Thankful for Grief Share and thankful for God's creative ways of saying He loves us.

Blessings from my home to yours,



God Uses Our Pain..............................
When I pulled up today to pick Todd up from tennis practice, I noticed that a little guy on the team was sitting against the fence holding his racket and crying. Todd was kneeling down in front of him and I could hear the words, "You're getting better. Keep trying."

After a few minutes, Todd helped him up and off they trotted back to the court.

As I sat there reflecting on that moment in time, I knew that God was somehow redeeming the hurt in Todd's life by allowing him to reach out and help someone else who was hurting.

I just love how God works.

If only in those moments of deep pain, rejection, and hurt, we could remember that God is working to create in us a "new thing."

Isaiah 43:18-20

18 "Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.

19 See, I am doing a new thing!



Release.........
releasing

re´┐Żlease

-verb

1. to free from confinement, bondage, obligation, pain, etc.; let go: to release a prisoner; to release someone from a debt.

2. to free from anything that restrains, fastens, etc.: to release a catapult.

3. to allow to be known, issued, done, or exhibited: to release an article for publication.

4. to give up, relinquish, or surrender (a right, claim, etc.)

(www.dictionary.com)

I learned in elementary school that words like "release" are called verbs because they show action.

I guess I just never thought about the fact that actions require effort.

When Nick died I was called to release a lot of things......

dreams for Nick's future, unanswered prayers about Nick's health, anger at the thought of having to say "good bye" to a second child, and the list goes on and on....

But tonight I find myself facing a different kind of "call to release."

I believe God is calling me to release my desire to "fix" things for my children and for their friends. See, I have a son who is hurting tonight, but I know that stepping in would only make things worse.

The Bible says that the devil came to steal, kill, and destroy. I am reminded of this truth over and over again, but tonight I am so frustrated by his never-ending schemes to bring feelings of rejection and loneliness to kids who are trying to live in God's will in an attempt to steal their joy, kill their friendships, or destroy their self-esteem.

Psalm 25:14-16

The LORD confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them.

My eyes are ever on the LORD,
for only he will release my feet from the snare.

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.

Tonight I'm releasing my desire to make the world a perfect place for my son, and I'm releasing a different kind of anger while trusting God to be a different kind of healer,



Thankful Thursday....

 olive hill elementary 010 When I was asked to work with the fourth grade students at an area elementary school in the area of writing, I was so excited!

Writing and children are both passions of mine, so I felt as if God was opening a door for me to both help my family financially and do exactly what I love.

Little did I know that God had other plans for me in the walls of this school!!

I believe that one of the reasons I was drawn to this school was because God wanted me to meet Miss Fitch (pictured above)! 

I can honestly say that I have never met a more positive, thankful person in my entire life!

I know a lot of positive people.

I know a lot of thankful people. 

But Miss Fitch has moved the bar up so high in both categories that just looking at her picture makes me get tears in my eyes.

Just a few years from retirement, Miss Fitch still teaches with the energy, love, and patience of a first-year teacher.  She lives with her elderly mom who requires care around the clock, and yet she arrives at school all smiles and totally focused on the tasks ahead of her each day.  I have learned so much from her in just a few short months!

When I read the chapter in Choosing Gratitude for this week, and it was all about the importance of actually taking the time to SAY "thank you" to people either through words, cards, or letters, I was struck with the realization that Miss Fitch exemplifies this chapter in SO many ways!  She thanks everyone for the simplest acts of kindness and makes EVERY person who walks in her room feel like royalty.

As God would have it, Miss Fitch and I had a chance to talk on Tuesday and during our conversation she shared about the letter she is holding in the picture above.  One of her students from years ago had taken the time to write her a thank you note and tell her how much she had been influenced by Miss Fitch's positive, encouraging spirit!  This particular student is now a teacher in Frankfort, Kentucky, and gives Miss Fitch credit for being her inspiration even though she was never actually a student in Miss Fitch's room!  WOW!  Now that's an inspirational teacher! 

Miss Fitch had been so touched by the letter that she had framed it and now keeps it in her classroom.

As I thought of all the students Miss Fitch has had the chance to teach over the past 20 some years, it occurred to me that she could have her walls COVERED in letters if more students would have just taken the time to send her a note of appreciation.

In the very same moment I was convicted with the question, "Tammy, how many teachers have you thanked from your childhood?"

Nancy Guthrie, in this week's chapter of our book, encourages readers to send thank-you notes to ministers, neighbors, friends, and others who have impacted their lives in positive ways.

My goal for the month of April is to write at least five thank you notes every week to people who have made a difference in my life.

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!"

When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him-and he was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked,

"Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?"

Who do you need to thank...a teacher, a preacher, a mom, a dad, a neighbor, a brother, a sister, a child, someone you work with....?

Praying we'll all make the time to say "thank you" to someone today either through a phone call, letter, or card.

For tonight, I'd love to say thank you to Miss Fitch for inspiring me as a teacher and to all of you who visit my blog and for each sweet comment you leave.....I love sharing life with you..you have given me a safe place to share My Heart and His Words,

 



Thankful Thursday....

Well, I don't know about you, but my Thursdays roll around much more quickly than I can believe!

Stop by this evening and meet someone who the Lord has brought into my life to teach me about being thankful.

I'll be taking her picture today at school!

Praying all of you have a good day and thanking God for all of your prayers and love. 

Philippians 4:5-7

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.



Family...You are Part of Mine Too..

marias birthday  3--22-2010 0070 resizedMaria had a birthday this weekend!!!
We are so thankful for her!  She came into our lives exactly when we needed her.  Evan brought her to Nick's funeral, and our first hug was in the visitation line...she has been a comforter to us ever since.  We love you, Maria. marias birthday  3--22-2010 0084 resized Erich and Evan were both home this weekend.....my little boys are all grown up. I love you both so much.IMG_4304_resize Can you find Erich and Evan in this "old" picture of all the kids with Mamaw?

(Nick is right in the middle.)

marias birthday  3--22-2010 0072 resizedMallory got to come for the weekend too!  All the way from Nashville!  She brings such a bubbly fun spirit to our home and we are thankful to know that she will soon be our "daughter."  September 18th is the wedding date!

We love you, Mallory!marias birthday  3--22-2010 0019 resized Olivia started golf last week!!  I'll let you know how she does! 
This is a first for our family!!!

state tournament 007

Tim, Olivia,and I had a fun time at the state tournament!! 

We are so proud of the Raiders! 

tennis and raider socks 003

Todd spends most of his time playing tennis or running around with his friends, so I had a hard time finding a recent picture of him but I didn't want to leave him out.

Because, this is "life" at our house.

We keep pressing on.

Making memories.

Laughing.

Crying.

Sharing.

Arguing.

Fussing.

Complaining.

Things aren't always perfect here in the Nischan house.

I'd be lying if I claimed they were.

But we keep praying our way through every up and every down and trusting that God will pick us up when and where we fall short.

My friend Melanie has challenged me to pray for my family in a more fervent way, because we live in a time when the devil is doing all that he can to tear down anything built on love.

I wanted to share that challenge with you, too, and allow you to share any needs your family might have either through a comment or an email, so I can pray for your family too. 

You are not alone in whatever you are facing.

It's good for me to remind myself of that truth. 

God never leaves or forsakes us even in the toughest of times...He is there.

Grief has been weighing me down recently to a level much lower than I had ever thought I would go again, but I have learned from several friends who have walked this road before me that this is normal and that, in time, these periods of deep grief will soften......I think I fear softening in my grief,  because in some way the devil has convinced me that this pain is the only way to feel near Nick.  But somewhere deep, down inside of me I know that Nick is never far away, and I have GOT to look up for strength and comfort and hope to press forward in this life. 

Today I am determined to pull myself out of my own "pain" and pray for others, and that is what I am committing to do in the days and months ahead.

I am reminded of a poem that my roommate in college (20 years ago) had on our mirror.

"Lord, let me live from day to day

In such a self-forgetful way

That even when I kneel to pray

My prayer shall be for others."

I will regularly be scrolling over the map on the lower part of the column to the right and praying for your "hearts" represented by your visits.

Praying faithfully and lovingly  for my family and for all of you - my family through the blood of Jesus,



My Safe Place...........

marias birthday weekend 135

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,
       he leads me beside quiet waters,

he restores my soul.
       He guides me in paths of righteousness
       for his name's sake.

Even though I walk
       through the valley of the shadow of death, 
       I will fear no evil,
       for you are with me;
       your rod and your staff,
       they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
       in the presence of my enemies.
       You anoint my head with oil;
       my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and love will follow me
       all the days of my life,
       and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
       forever.

marias birthday weekend 114

I've taken our boys to a nearby state park many times in the past 20 years to catch crawdads and wade in the creek, but for some reason this year it is calling my name for an entirely different reason.

marias birthday weekend 122

I've found a safe place here. 

Beside quiet waters.

Moving steadily.

Promising that God's love never stops flowing.

Transforming rocks like He is transforming my soul.

I go here often.

He leads me to these quiet waters.

And longs to restore my soul.

And as He does I am somehow able to understand that even in the valley of the shadow of death my cup does truly overflow....

Because I am reminded that..

"Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Amen

Thankful for quiet waters and hoping you can find some refreshment in them too,



Busy Mom's Bible Review

busy mom pictures 007

I recently was asked to review a new Bible that has been placed on the market by Zondervan Publishers.

This amazing Bible arrived on a Friday that was kicking off a  weekend that involved a basketball tournament for my daughter, a band concert in another state for one of my son's, a weekend visit from my mom, and a weekend college visit from our two oldest sons and their girlfriends.

When I found the package on our front porch I was so excited!

Mom took this picture of me showing my happiness after discovering this Bible's appearance in the midst of our crazy weekend!

I LOVE THIS BIBLE!

It is small enough to carry in my purse yet contains many practical, short one-minute devotionals for those days when I am on the run and want to have a quick "spiritual lift" while waiting in the car to pick kids up or while sitting in a doctor's office waiting room.

The leather cover makes the Bible very sturdy which is also nice considering how "weathered" things can become when being carried here and there and everywhere.

As a mom who is trying to juggle many different schedules while also walking a very painful road of grief after losing my son to cancer, I find that having a Bible with me at all times is a MUST.  Knowing that I can reach in my purse and be comforted by His Word keeps me pressing on in an often very difficult "race for the finish line of life."

I also love that the devotions contained in this Bible have a one-minute option for moments when I can just take a quick break but then also offers five and ten-minute options for those times when I have the opportunity to stop, reflect, pray, and dig a little deeper.

If you would like to know more about the Busy Mom's Bible, simply click on this link.

busy mom pictures 004

A Busy Mom Trying to Stay a Balanced and God-focused Woman,



What Am I Going to Do Today??????

James 4:17 (New International Version)

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.

This verse has haunted me since I was a young girl.

Seeing a piece of trash as I am walking and not picking it up but knowing that I should....

is that sin?

Hearng that someone is sick and not visiting them or sending them a card but knowing that I should...

is that sin?

I've asked myself this question over and over in different situations in my life.

The truth is, I don't know where the boundary lies with this verse.

But last night, I saw a little "hint" of what James might have been talking about right in my own home.

One of our kids needed something and I brought it to them.  As they sat eating and watching TV, I stood with the item and waited to hand it to them.  Several things needed to be done before they could use it, and I felt as if they expected me or Tim to do "all the work" in getting things set up.

I was frustrated at their lack of effort to jump in with a "thank you" and "here let me help" and finally had to speak up.

My child's initial reaction to my irritation was "But I didn't do anything wrong," which was true.   However, my next words were the words that seemed to echo exactly the words of James in James 4:17.

I replied,

"It's not what you did that I am upset about.  It's what you didn't do."

Suddenly James' words seemed to make sense in a whole new way.

It's an attitude thing.

It's a total awareness of "good" right in front of me that I walk away from or ignore that draws me into question.

Just as I long for my children to do good when they see the need right in front of their faces, I believe God longs for us to do the same kind of good.

Not just talk about doing good or being good but actually LIVE it out.

What am I going to do today?

My prayer is that I will see the good I need to do and DO IT.

The extra mile kind-of good. 

Wondering what God will set before each of us today and praying that we will choose to step out and do the good we are called to do.

Does anyone else have thoughts on this verse?  I'd love to hear them.



Thankful Thursday...Speaking the Truth (ouch!)
glass half full

You've probably heard the idea that there are two different kinds of people in the world, "Those who see the glass half-full and those who see the glass half-empty."

I wanted to find a picture that showed this somehow, and I couldn't believe it when I found this one!  I guess because Nick was such a glass half-full kind-of kid and thumbs up were a very powerful part of his life story. 

Anyway, if there are just two kinds of people, I'm going to have to speak the truth and say that I tend to be more of a glass half-empty kind-of person by nature.  Not that I am always negative or critical, but it is often more WORK for me to see the bright side of a situation than the dark side.

As I sat here reflecting for a minute on the road the Lord has taken me on in the past two months and how he has placed me in a school where I am with a teacher every day who is not only a glass half-full kind-of person but also a glass OVERFLOWING lady, I realized that even in this small detail of my life God has been working to prepare me for writing this blog post.  I've never seen this teacher NOT oozing with happiness and contentment.  Just a few years from retirement, she still teaches and loves her students like it was her first year out of college.  God knew I needed this lady in my life at this point in time, and I am so thankful!!

So as I think about the chapter I read this week, I am convicted and inspired by the truths Nancy brings out in Choosing Gratitude, Chapter Five.

She shares six differences between people who are full of gratitude and people who are full of ingratitude.

1.  A grateful person is a humble person, while ingratitude reveals a proud heart.

2.  A grateful heart is God-centered and others-conscious, while an ungrateful heart is self-centered and self-conscious.

3.  A grateful heart is a full heart, while an ungrateful heart is an empty one.

4.  People with grateful hearts are easily contented, while ungrateful people are subject to bitterness and discontent.

5.  A grateful heart will be revealed and expressed by thankful words, while an unthankful heart will manifest itself in murmuring and complaining.

6. Thankful people are refreshing,life-giving springs, while unthankful people pull others down with them into the stagnant pools of their selfish, demanding, unhappy ways.

My new teacher friend truly is a grateful person!!!  She refreshes me and makes me smile every time I am near here.

So I walk away from this chapter on whining or worshiping with this thought:

God longs to have hearts that are full of worship and gratitude.  Just as it breaks our hearts when our kids complain and whine when we are trying so hard to make their lives as full and happy as we can, I believe God's heart breaks when we complain and grumble.

I want to make God smile. I want to refresh those around me.

I am thankful for a God who is patient and forgiving when my heart does not match my heart-Creator.

Striving to see the glass half-full and say "thank  you,"



Thankful Thursday...coming soon

I'm off to work and will write about the next chapter in Choosing Gratitude when I get home this afternoon, but for this morning I will leave you with this question (the title of the next chapter)...

 

Whiner or worshiper?

Which one are you?

 

Looking forward to sharing with you tonight. 

Love,



Saw This and Smiled........

thejump.jpg

I was looking through pictures for a few minutes and ran across this one.  I probably shared it a long time ago, but I just had to share it again..

This, to me, is what Heaven will be like.

Families reunited.

Joy that makes you jump.

Smiles that don't hold back.

Nick with us again.

The only one missing is Adrienne, and I can just see her there with us too!!!

This picture was taken by Amy (her link is to the right) the day before Nick's MRI that truly began our final nightmare in May of 2008.  Nick had already been through at least six brain surgeries before this time, but truly after this day our lives were never the same.

Nick became sicker and sicker over the next six months and went Home on November 29th of that same year.

But, I thank God even now for this memory... and this picture.

Oh, I am so thankful to have this treasure.

I'm heading to bed, but I just had to share this with all of you for some reason.  I hope it speaks joy to someone who stops by.

PHILIPPIANS 4:4 has been my favorite verse for as long as I can remember,

Rejoice in the Lord always;

again I say, Rejoice!

If Paul could write these words from a dark, cold prison cell, surely I can write them tonight.

Jumping for Joy only Because I Know Who Holds My Hand,



Todd and Olivia today......

tennis and raiders 3--15-2010 0002 resized

Todd won his first varsity tennis match this afternoon!  6 - 0!!!! 

tennis and raiders 3--15-2010 0484 resized

 tennis and raiders 3--15-2010 0486 resized Olivia spent some time tonight getting ready for spirit day tomorrow at school! 

(Our high school basketball team is going to the state tournament on Wednesday for the first time since 1986!!)



A Simple Slipper...........

As I walked through the Goodwill store in Lexington on Saturday (a favorite place for me and my friend to go together), I happened upon a stuffed animal that I'm guessing is some sort of special pillow but looks like a GIGANTIC SLIPPER.

mauras shower marias car 107 

I put it on the floor and jokingly said to Olivia, "Do you think this would fit Erich?"  As I looked down, though, and saw my foot next to the incredibly large, fluffy "dog slipper," I said to my friend Pam, "This is the shoe that grief wears."

The more I looked at it the more it spoke to the deepest part of my emotions.

See, grief is so much like this slipper.

Grief is big.

Grief makes walking difficult.

Grief doesn't match the shoe next to it.

Grief causes us to feel different in a crowd..sometimes like we just don't fit.

Grief is something that never seems comfortable or "right."

At the same time, like this fuzzy, soft, cozy slipper, grief can be a comforting emotion to curl up with on a rainy day and simply share the truth that you "feel sad or blue." 

Grief doesn't judge. 

And even when we stop walking in grief, we will always carry it with us.

Oh, I love my new slipper.  I wish I had one to mail to all of my grieving friends.

When I showed it to Tim last night and said, "This is the shoe grief wears," I think he thought I had lost my mind.

I smiled and said, "Really, I'm serious.  I'm going to wash this, and I may just sleep with it."

He smiled and said, "Ok."

I love when God works in ways that seem a little silly to the world.   He sent an enormous dog slipper to a Goodwill store in Lexington, Kentucky, for me...and I'm thankful.

God longs to make things simple...

I Corinthians 7:29-31

I do want to point out, friends, that time is of the essence. There is no time to waste, so don't complicate your lives unnecessarily. Keep it simple -in marriage, grief, joy, whatever. Even in ordinary things-your daily routines of shopping, and so on. Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This world as you see it is on its way out.

This passage speaks to me today.

Tammy, keep your grief as simple as this slipper.  Wear it and then take it off and hold it..even cuddle it... but don't become entangled in it. 

I'm thankful that God led me to this slipper.

Because......

This is the shoe that grief wears, and I needed to know what it looked like.

  It's not as scary as I had thought.

slipper and vac store 004

Trusting Him for the strength to continue to walk in a shoe that often seems too big for me to handle...Thankful that I now know I can take it off and feel safe carrying it sometimes too,

(And Happy Birthday to my sweet Adrienne...she would have been 18 today and this would have been her senior year..wow....we've been walking in this slipper of grief for a long, long time....I'm so thankful that God walks with us.)



Thankful for the Psalms...............................
Psalm 39:2-3

But when I was silent and still,
not even saying anything good,
my anguish increased.

My heart grew hot within me,
and as I meditated, the fire burned;
then I spoke with my tongue:

When I ponder these verses, I feel as if David somehow could read my mind years ago and know just how I would feel in 2010.....................

I'm thankful that God chose to place such honest words in the Scriptures.

Passages like this one help me feel normal when I find myself waffling back and forth from days of feeling and sharing my deep sadness to days where I just want to smile and share about a book report Olivia has done at school or about a mouse hiding in our closet.

Sometimes I think about taking a break from my blog once again, and I may decide I need to do that. It has been a good thing for me in the past to occasionally pull away and simply "be still."

But, like David, I sometimes feel anguish increasing inside me when I am silent for too long not even sharing anything that is good. :) So for now, I will continue to speak with my tongue (or my keyboard) when the fire does burn inside me.

Thank you, David, for being honest. You help me feel normal.

I love that the very next chapter in the Psalms begins with a passage I memorized last year:

Psalm 40

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.

2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.

3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.

Like David, I do believe that healing comes after I confess out loud what I am feeling.

Today, God has once again lifted me out of a pit.

Olivia and I are headed to Lexington to visit a friend and then to Cincinnati to attend a bridal shower for my future sister-in-law. Thank you for loving our family through the sad days and the happy ones. I love you all so much and am thankful for the promise that I will spend eternity getting to know you all better,




Thankful Thursday (Part II)..on Friday (oops!)

Life was too full yesterday to even sit at a computer and finish my thoughts on gratitude.

I have to tell you, though, that "full days" do not fix grief, and I am learning month by month that busy, for me, isn't always better.  Tim and I are both entering some new and different level of sadness right now.  I don't know if it is the changing of seasons and the fact that last spring we were so numb that makes this spring so much more difficult.  I don't know if it's the reality sinking in deeper and deeper that Nick will never walk through our home again humming or throw a football in our yard or sit at the computer and create a new piece of artwork or have a friend over or.....and on and on and on.  I just don't know.

All I know is this:

Grief is the toughest road I have ever been on and without the hope of Heaven, I would be in bed 24/7, this blog would not continue, and I would not want to live another day.

I am so thankful for I Thessalonians 4:13,

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.

So as I read the next chapter in Choosing Gratitude entitled "Why Choose Gratitude?" I was struck once again with the reality that my ability to say "thank you" even now in deep sadness continues to be a choice.

Not always an easy choice, but one I have to make daily.

Nancy gives eight reasons we should choose gratitude based on Scripture:

1. Gratitude is a matter of obedience

2. Gratitude draws us closer to God

3. Gratitude is a sure path to peace

4.  Gratitude is a gauge of the heart

5.  Gratitude is the will of God

6.  Gratitude is evidence of being filled with the Spirit

7.  Gratitude reflects Jesus' heart

8.  Gratitude gets us ready for Heaven

Knowing all of these truths are based on The Truth inspires me to choose gratitude today.

Even when many of my deeper conversations involve an unsteady voice, quivering lip, and periodic tears, I choose gratitude.

Gratitude for more than just blessings but also for pain...because I KNOW and BELIEVE that God numbers our days, uses our tears, and promises joy for eternity to those who trust in His Son.

Trusting,



Rewriting Your Story...(Thankful Thursday Part I)

Last night I had the chance to catch up with one of my dear, dear friends who moved so far from here that "visits" are impossible except over the phone.  Her son and Nick were big, big buddies from the time they were seven, so we share lots of special memories of our boys living life together.

I heard her son's voice in the background as we talked, and I was shocked at how low and deep it had become!  He was growing into a man, I could tell just through the phone.  It made me wonder what Nick's voice would sound like now, but I had to "take that thought captive" and remember that God never planned for Nick to be here now and I just can't go there or I'll go crazy.

But as we  were talking, she was sharing some counseling techniques she's been studying and one of them involved rewriting your life story in a way that turns all the bad into something good.  I loved that idea and want to learn more about it.

This morning as I was reading in Choosing Gratitude, I remembered her words and they went right along with today's chapter in the sense that we can always find a reason to be thankful if we look hard enough.

I want to write so much more, but I need to get to school.  So this afternoon we will dive into Thankful Thursday, Part II.

But for this morning, my prayer is that you will find reasons to be thankful in ALL things you face today.   The good and the bad.  It's not always easy, but it's always worth it.

Smiling in spite of sorrow,



When God Wants to Speak, You Can't Stop Him.....

Monday, I took a risk.

I actually drove to an area elementary school for my first real job interview since Nick passed away.  I already have a part-time job at another school, but when I received a call from another principal with an opportunity to work part-time on the "off days," I thought maybe this was God's way of easing me back into teaching.

The thought of sitting in front of some of my friends trying to "sell myself" or "seem worthy" of the job opening stirred all kinds of emotions inside of me.

As I drove to the interview, I remember praying, "Lord, I'm willing to do this, but if it is not Your will please close the door for me."  To be honest, though, my biggest prayer was that I would not have a meltdown in the interview.  Something about crying while trying to answer questions about "analyzing test data or teaching reading skills" just didn't seem very professional.

I at least wanted to appear as if I had some sort of grip on life.  And thankfully, I was able to get through my time with the committee with no tears.  Thank you, Lord.

Leaving the school, I really wasn't sure what to think.  I love kids and teaching, so I thought that maybe this was exactly the plan for me.  As I drove towards my next task for the day (taking my vacuum cleaner to be repaired), I wondered if my deep-rooted dreams had been too big or too silly.

See, my deep, deep passion is writing.  And my heart's desire is to help women, especially grieving women, grow in their relationship with God.  However, the reality of bills needing to be paid surfaces in my heart often and I feel great guilt for not diving back into a full-time teaching career.  My husband is my biggest cheerleader, though, and time and time again assures me that I am right where I need to be..working part-time and spending time writing and speaking when called upon to do so.

Well, while I was in Ashland, I received the call that they had chosen someone else for this part-time position.

Wow.

Here I sat.

Feeling relieved, in one sense, because I had stepped out and taken a risk but God had stepped in and said, "No, this is not where I want you right now."

And yet, feeling rejected at the very same time.  Why was I not good enough? was the question that kept dancing through my head.

Even though I had prayed for God to close the door if it was not the right one for me, I carried around a feeling of "unworthiness" most of the day.

I returned home later in the afternoon and began doing some cleaning in my kitchen.  One thing led to another and I found myself taking all of the dishes and knick-knacks off of the top shelf above my cupboards, because I discovered that every inch of this area was coated in a deep level of dust and grease. 

As I pulled things down and emptied out a few containers that had been storing odds and ends, I came across this rock that Nick had written on years ago at school.

carter caves  3--10-2010 0265 resized

Why did I decide so randomly to dive into such a huge mess as cleaning my kitchen shelves?

I believe that it was because God had something to say.

Deuteronomy 7:9

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.

I needed to know that on Monday, March 8, 2010, God was faithful.

I needed to know that He wanted me to

"KNOW that the Lord my God is God."

It is so freeing to rest in this truth.

The Lord my God is God.

He is Faithful.

He keeps His covenant of love.

He has a plan for me and for you.

Jesus knew what He was saying about His Father and His creation when He said this in Luke 19:40,

"I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."

A stone cried out to me on Monday, reminding me that the Rock of my life must be Jesus not a job.

Thankful that when God wants to speak nothing can stop Him,



Allowing God to Use You........

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (New International Version)

The God of All Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

When I read this verse, I am reminded that God says that He comforts us in "all" our trouble so that we can comfort those in "any" trouble.

To me that means that if you have ever needed the comfort of God for any reason in your life then you are qualified to be a comforter to someone else.

And if you are in a time of needing comfort right now, this verse promises that there is a God who longs to be just that for you...a Comforter.

To be honest, I think we all need a Comforter every day, don't you?  I know I do.

Praying that today you will allow God to be your best friend and Comforter.  And if you see a friend in need, help them find this same best friend and Comforter in their life,



God Must Have a Sense of Humor....

Remember the literature fair project I mentioned a couple of days ago?  The one that consumed our week and the one that God used to remind me that I need to grow up and make a daily "choice" to choose joy.

Here's some pictures from our work:

cake class and madisons baptism 3-4-2010 0080 resized  cake class and madisons baptism 3-4-2010 0083 resized cake class and madisons baptism 3-4-2010 0082 resized cake class and madisons baptism 3-4-2010 0079 resized

And here's some pictures of the finished product-a poster and diorama representing Nicholas Sparks' book The Choice, a love story set in a small waterfront town in North Carolina.cake class and madisons baptism 3-4-2010 0094 resized

       cake class and madisons baptism 093cake class and madisons baptism 3-4-2010 0087 resizedcake class and madisons baptism 3-4-2010 0086 resized

cake class and madisons baptism 092Well, today I received a text from a friend of mine who is the nurse at Olivia's school telling me that Olivia and Sarah had won first place in the fair!

YEAH!!!!  All of our hard work was being rewarded!

When I picked up Olivia, I found out that as a prize they were each able to buy something at the book fair at school! 

Well, this is where God's sense of humor jumps into the story!

I asked Olivia what book she bought, and I just had to laugh when she told me the title......especially after feeling so aware of my own need to "grow up" this week.

haircuts and book fair prize 030

You read that right, The Encyclopedia of Immaturity!  Olivia had used all of her prize money to invest in a book that teaches us all kinds of valuable information!!

Here's a few things we can now master in our spare time! 

haircuts and book fair prize 033fair prize  3-6-2010 0007 resized fair prize  3-6-2010 0012 resized fair prize  3-6-2010 0006 resized

I guess God is really trying to make His point clear! 


I need to grow up!

And until I do, I'm going to be spending my time doing some pretty pointless things in life.....like trying to hypnotize hot dogs!

Finding joy tonight in the pages of Olivia's "prize" and realizing that God longs to see us smile,



Life Does Keep Going On......

  One thing I remember vividly about that first year after Adrienne died in 1992 was that I didn't want life to go on for everyone around me in such routine, every-day ways.

I remember standing in a friend's bedroom (not long after Adrienne had died) as she put clean sheets on her bed and thinking, "How can her life be so normal?"  The last thing on my mind was clean sheets.

It struck me the other day as I was talking with a couple friends whose daughters play sports with Olivia that this past year (since losing Nick) has been a little different than that first year after losing Adrienne.  Instead of watching everyone else's life return to something normal, I turned to Nick's foundation as my way of "carrying on" and doing something productive yet not as "normal" as washing sheets..

In my conversation with my friends, though, we began talking about last year's softball season and I realized that I barely remember anything about Olivia playing softball.  I can remember sitting there and watching Olivia at bat one time.  Other than that, I don't remember much.

I realized that for a whole year, I have been going through the motions for my family's sake.

So this morning as the sun is shining so brightly on the hill behind our house and I am reminded somewhat painfully that this is my eighteenth spring without Adrienne and my second without Nick, I have to look up to God for comfort and strength. 

Why?

Because life does go on...

And without Him and without Hope, I don't think I could...

So today, I'd love to just say this to my sweet Adrienne and my precious Nick-

house cleaning 3-5-2010 0007 resized

The washer's calling, "Bring the sheets."

sheets drying 3-5-2010 0004 resized The sunshine's beaming, "I'll give heat."house cleaning 3-5-2010 0010 resized

The bedroom's shouting, "Keep me clean."

house cleaning 016 But I'm stalling, "Is this a dream?"

Do I really give a care..

for sheets and beds that at me glare?

No, I don't, if I may speak...

The truth that from my heart must leak.

But deep within I hear God say,

"Take care of what you have today."

So, normal things I'll strive to do-

Until again I live with you

Where "normal" is a long-gone word

And the splendor is something of which I've only heard.

I love you both so very much.

I long to feel your gentle touch.

Worship God with all your heart

And while I'm here I'll do my part

To show others the only way

To be where you are on this March day.

Philippians 3:14-15

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.

Striving to press on as seasons change and reality sets in once more at a deeper level,

 



When God Calls.................
If you have followed my blog for very long, you have learned that my life, probably a lot like yours, has a lot of ups and downs.


This has been an extremely busy week at our house, as well as a week full of a lot of different kinds of emotions. On top of the normal school/work/after-school activities, I've been helping Olivia and a little friend with a HUGE literature project, Todd has had some extra after school things which have kept us running here and there, and I've had some emotional decisions regarding Nick's foundation. My laundry has piled up knee-deep, things throughout the house have become cluttered, and the upstairs is simply a place I haven't ventured much at all. Last night, it all caught up with me and after helping Tim lead the marriage class at church on "conflict," I ended up being the source of conflict in our house. Forgive me, Lord.


Well, at 11 p.m. when things finally quieted down and Todd was back home from playing with the band at regionals and Erich had gone back to the dorm after stopping by the house for something to eat after a 12-hour shift at the hospital, I opened up the book Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy, not so much because I was in the mood to read but more because I remembered that when you got on my blog today you would be looking for the weekly journey through Nancy's powerful book. I wanted to have some thoughts for you this morning that would help your day and share her message from God, but as I read the chapter for this week conviction flooded my heart and soul.


The chapter was all about saying "thank you," something which just a few days ago I had shared the importance of RIGHT HERE on my blog.....


Yet this very spirit of "thankfulness" was something I was struggling to have in my personal life on this particular night.


I read about her challenge to not say anything negative to your spouse for 30 days in a row and to actually say something you admire about them and someone else in your life on each of these 30 days.

Shew.

Does God ever stop calling me to grow up?????

Here I sat. A mom who gets frustrated at the maturity level of my 16 1/2 year-old son almost daily feeling so immature herself. Honestly. Feeling convicted seems to be the norm for me lately.


I read about "Where ingratitude dies," and guess where the author's story took place in this little section of the chapter? On the streets of New Delhi, India, where a man by the name of Paul David Tripp witnessed a scene that changed his life forever. A hollow-eyed three-year old boy with flies infesting his face was standing by a cot on which his ailing mom was near death. As Paul recalled this scene, he remembered how tears came flowing down his face at the realization that this little boy had had no choice in his lot in life..........and at the same time, neither had he. Paul was immediately struck with a feeling of both sadness for this boy and gratitude for the life he had been blessed to live.


Later, when Paul was back in America, he had the chance to talk with a man who was visiting from India and he asked the man about his opinion of Americans. The man explained to him that the biggest thing he noticed about Americans was that "they had so much yet seemed to always complain."


Wow.

Here I sat in my living room, surrounded by blessing after blessing; and I was stressed because laundry filled my floor, washer, and dryer, and little piles of clutter through the house were getting on my nerves. Forgive me, Lord.


I tried to write, but I had no words.

Only regret.

Shame.

Sadness.

Once again, I had somehow been sucked back into my selfish mentality- forgetting all I had seen just less than a year ago as I traveled those very roads of New Delhi, seeing moms bathing kids on sidewalks, men crossing the road using their hands to walk because they had no legs, children begging for a morsel of food. Forgive me, Lord, once again.


But this morning.


That's when God called.


He woke me up with a start. Literally.


At 6 a.m. our house phone rang very loudly, and I jumped out of bed wondering who in the world would be calling this early. As I said "Hello," I heard a woman's voice say, "It's time to get up."

"What?" I thought to myself.

Out loud I simply said, "Thank you, but I think you have the wrong number." She began apologizing and explaining that she always calls her sister-in-law in the morning to wake her up, and as she talked, I realized that I recognized the voice as someone I use to work with several years ago but whom I never talk to on the phone.

I said, "Is this Joy?"

She answered, "Yes," and I began to laugh.

I said, "This is Tammy Nischan!"

She couldn't believe it and kept apologizing even more. I told her, "You know you live in a small town when you answer a wrong number and you know who they are!"

And then I told her, "God wanted me to have Joy this morning."

We said good-bye and I started getting ready for the day.

The more I thought about that call, the more I realized that God was seriously trying to get my attention once again and say, "Tammy, you have got to choose joy.....every morning, every day."
And then all the pieces of my week came together into a beautiful puzzle.



The book that Olivia and her friend had done their book report, display board, and art project on was a book by Nicholas Sparks called, of all things, The Choice. (I took pictures of their project last night, and I will add them later when I get the photos downloaded.)

Anyway, here I stood in the early hours of my morning, realizing that today is "Thankful Thursday" and I haven't been a thankful person and even more than that, knowing that God calls me to give thanks in all things (which definitely includes mounds of laundry, busy schedules, lack of sleep, and grief that ebbs and flows in ways I sometimes feel guilty talking about because so many others are experiencing their own level of pain)...............

And God had used my telephone to "call" me through the voice of Joy.

He had also, I believe, led the librarian at our new public library to encourage Olivia and Sarah to choose a book called The Choice as their chapter book for their project.

And He had led their teacher to choose today for the assignment due date, so that my dining room table was covered TODAY, of all days, in reminders of "the choice" that was before me.

Yes, it is thankful Thursday.

Another day that the Lord has made.

I have a shelter over my head.

I have the hope of Heaven.

Who am I to complain or get stressed about a messy house?

Again I say, "Forgive me, Lord."

And to all of you, I say, "I love you," and I pray that today you are able to "choose joy,"


Feeling fruitless................


Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

I hope the Lord can see the promise of fruit hidden deep within my branches, because I am feeling a little barren today.



More Important Than Mascara....

handwritten thank youtypewriter thank you 

Psalm 136 (The Message)


Thank God! He deserves your thanks. His love never quits.
   Thank the God of all gods,
      His love never quits.
   Thank the Lord of all lords.
      His love never quits.

Ephesians 5:19-21 (New International Version)

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Philippians 4:5-7 (New International Version)

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Sometimes it takes a child's behavior to remind me of my own shortcomings.

God longs for us to be thankful....

in all things.

I pray that you can find ways to be thankful today and maybe even say "thank you" to someone you work with or live with for what they mean to you.

Question I'm wondering about:

Can we teach someone to have a thankful heart or is it something that God has to develop?

Well, I'm running out the door to spend the day with sweet fourth graders.  Looking forward to all of your thoughts.

Please share a comment if you have time.  :)

Much, much love,



David's Prayer....

surrender

Psalm 63
A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.

        O God, you are my God,
       earnestly I seek you;
       my soul thirsts for you,
       my body longs for you,
       in a dry and weary land
       where there is no water.

I have seen you in the sanctuary
       and beheld your power and your glory.

Because your love is better than life,
       my lips will glorify you.

I will praise you as long as I live,
       and in your name I will lift up my hands.

My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
       with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

On my bed I remember you;
       I think of you through the watches of the night.

Because you are my help,
       I sing in the shadow of your wings.

My soul clings to you;
       your right hand upholds me.

Lord, help me to seek You with the same intensity that David had...

even in the desert..

even in a dry and weary land.

Father, as I pray today for Faith and for so many others who are hurting, allow my soul to be "satisfied as with the richest of foods."

In Your Son's Name I Pray, Amen.



Fasting for Faith........

faith pruden

Last week I received an email from a student who graduated from the college where my husband teaches.  She shared in the note about a precious little girl named Faith who lives near her and who was diagnosed February 19th with terminal brain cancer.  She has been given 6 months to live by her oncologist.

Tomorrow Faith begins a type of radiation that will hopefully slow down the growth of the tumor, and her mom is asking everyone who is willing to fast in prayer for her to please do so.

I have fallen in love with this little girl in one short week, and as I thought about the phrase, "Fasting for Faith," I couldn't help but think of the faith that is required when we choose to fast and pray. 

Faith in a God who cares.

Faith in a God who listens.

Faith in a God who understands.

Faith in a God who goes ahead of us making the rough places smooth.

Faith in a God who never leaves or forsakes us.

So, tonight, I'm sending out a plea to all of you.

Will you consider fasting for Faith in whatever way your health allows on Monday? 

Every time you feel hungry, whisper a prayer for this sweet little girl and her family.

I am believing that as we "fast for Faith" our own faith will grow, and I am trusting that God will hear our every prayer. 

If you click on Faith's name in the first paragraph, you will be taken to her CaringBridge site.

God bless your Monday,



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