3 Ways to Stay Above the OnLine Fray
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I remember when social media became a thing. I was working on air as a spokesperson for QVC. “Become friends with the world” is what it felt like.  I hated the word, “friends.” It felt so disingenuous. These weren’t my friends. They didn’t even know me. 

Then I finally caught a vision for what the world of social platforms could be.  Ahhhh….the modern marketplace, one column writer called it. And I was set. I love the marketplace! I get the marketplace. I can do this after all. But I discovered online wasn’t only the marketplace, it was harassed and tired Christians. And strong, loving people mixed in, too.

Here’s the truth about social media and me: 

It wasn’t just QVC telling me to build a platform. It’s the whole Christian speaking world. I discovered that literary agents, publishers and speaking agents wanted to see my platforms. The idea that God had called me and I could just get out there and speak was unrealistic. “Show us your platforms.”

With that constant request, I’ve had a mind and heart shift, and you can, too:

People are not my platform. My platform is Christ alone.

My job is to love the person right in front of me, whether in person or online. My joy is to cut through the crap that’s out there - the taunting, the lies, the sizzle, the smoke and mirrors, the nasty - and point you, me, us all to the God who loves us and calls us to life. 

I’ve never been one to shy away from the hard places. Please. Have you met Jesus? Do you know where He spent His time? If you’re like me, let’s keep our wits about us. Let’s stay clear on what these online platforms are for. Here are three ways to help with that:

1.   Dedicate your media platforms to God. Hand them over to Him. Every one of them.

2.   Love one person at a time. Actually engage with people honestly and lovingly. One by one. (But not everyone or you’ll crash and burn.)

3.   Resolve to be an ambassador for God in any hard place, including (if you’re able), online platforms. As Jonathan Edwards once said, “Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.

I’m real because God is so real.

~ Nancy 

CALLING

Make your social platforms an offering to God. Move toward the electronic wild, wild, west confidently knowing why you’re there.

 

 

 

 

Nancy Hicks
Humbled: Bill Hybels

 “Genuine confidence and excellence link arms with humility. Together they crush pride. True confidence, excellence, and humility are not oppositional. They’re friends. But there is no genuine confidence and excellence without true humility.” - Meant to Live: Living in Light of the Good News

Lately, there’s been deep sadness caused by high profile Christian leaders that have fallen miserably from leadership positions or walked away from their faith. News about Willow Creek Community Church’s founding pastor Bill Hybels’ sexual abuse allegations (now confirmed) have been, to say the very least, distressing.

I have these thoughts as I consider the man and the situation:

1. As the ministry grew, I’m sure Hybels believed he had safeguards in place to keep grounded. What happened? For example, was he too high profile, too authoritative or persuasive to actually empower people around him who would say, “I see this in your life, Bill. What’s going on here?”  

2. I now know first-hand the pressure that’s on you when you’re in full-time paid ministry. Building a ministry is tough! No longer can you just sit with God without the Scripture you’re reading turning into a lesson you want to teach, or spark an idea for some great talk. That’s a very real tension. Then there’s the tension of standing up to speak about God’s faithfulness and calling people back to the Church when you know with 100% certainty they’ll be hurt again, and when you yourself sometimes feel so low. When the pressure was way high, how exactly did Hybels handle it? (Forget the platitudes and textbook answers. How did he really handle it?)

3. It takes confidence to work through your issues with God and a few people you can depend on. It takes humility to say, “I know people see me like this, but my interior world is sliding. I’m off-kilter.”

 It seemed Bill Hybels had the excellence down: Willow Creek Community Church has been used by God as a resource to the global Church for decades. Behind Christ, Hybels was at the helm. I’m so grateful for them! But, good Lord, if we don’t infuse our excellence with genuine confidence that only comes when it’s draped in and infused with humility, this Christian celebrity craze, this lack of confrontation before it’s too late, this want of ownership for a life of holiness and honor - is going to take down anyone called by God to do “greater things.”

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” - Micah 6:8 

I’m real because God is so real.

 ~ Nancy

CALLING:

Where do you fall on the humility scale? With 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, how genuine is your own humility? Do you have someone in your life that keeps you grounded? If not, ask God to give you someone.

I discuss this topic in my first book, Meant to Live: Living in Light of the Good News. It’s available here on Amazon.

 

Nancy Hicks
Thank God for Titus!
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Happy Thanksgiving! Canadian Thanksgiving, that is. Over the 20 Thanksgivings I’ve spent in the U.S., people have often asked me:

Are Canadian Thanksgivings the same as American?

Yes and no.  Yes, we eat turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings. Yes, we gather together. But it’s not the same time of year. Canadian Thanksgiving is this coming Monday, what Americans call “Columbus Day.” American Thanksgiving is at the end of November and kicks off the holiday season. And Americans celebrate the Mayflower voyage and pioneer entrance to America, while Canadians celebrate the harvest.

But one thing we definitely have in common when it comes to Thanksgiving is that we give thanks.

This year I’m giving thanks for the people God has put around me in ministry. I’m just learning a bit of what the Apostle Paul experienced when he wrote,

“Thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative.” - 2 Corinthians 8:16,17

Paul commended Titus to the Corinthians. In fact, Titus was so important to Paul that earlier in this same letter he wrote,

“Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said goodbye to them and went on to Macedonia.” - 2 Corinthians 2:12,13

 Now that’s partnership in ministry and in life.

So for the men and women who’ve worked beside me over the last four years in building this ministry, I give thanks. They’ve challenged me. Prayed with me. Guided and worked alongside me. They, like Titus and Paul, responded to what God put on their hearts. They’ve cared about women here and around the world. They, like Titus, have enthusiasm and take initiative and jump in with both feet.

I, like Paul, understand that if I didn’t have these incredible people, I may as well pack it in and move on. I’m thankful beyond measure for God’s provision in His people.

I’m real because God is so real.

~ Nancy

CALLING:

What about you? Who are your partners in whatever God has called you to? Whatever you do, make sure you have some. And then whatever you do, make sure they know you love them and couldn’t do it without them. Give thanks to God for them!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my family and friends back home in Canada.

 

Nancy Hicks
A Hallmark Moment
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A couple weeks ago, I flew to Los Angeles, California to be interviewed for my book on the Hallmark Channel. 

This was a big deal since my new book, Meant to Live, is an overtly Christian book. And Hallmark is not a Christian channel. I wanted to be careful not to step in it, to be who I was and carry the message I have, but to obviously consider my audience and those who were trusting me with them. They’d coached me in my pre-interview interview: “Steer clear of Bible references and too much talk of Jesus.” Hmmmm….

The day of the interview was totally cool. They picked me up in a limo and drove me through the back lot of Universal Studios. I rode through all the studios where our favorite TV shows and movies like Jurassic Park and Home Alone were filmed. The whole time, I thought: “Wow, God, you place us where you will.” We arrived at my trailer, which felt RIDICULOUS to me (celebrities do the trailer thing. I’m a Christian Speaker.), then off to make-up and onto the set. In a way, it felt like QVC days, but in another way, so not.

But all the while, moving through my mind was this:

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12) High or low. Rich or poor. In or out. Up or down. Moment by moment, whatever God allows.

I also thought of what we’ve always told our sons, David and Aaron: “Your whole life long you need to know how to love, enjoy, be confident and humble with kings and janitors. Don’t ever forget it: kings and janitors and everyone in between, my sons.”

God will place you where He will. Your job is to do your job. To be about the business of the kingdom of God in the moment. At this very moment.

While someone’s standing on your toe.

While someone’s overlooking you.

While someone in need, needs a minute of your time.

While you’re in places of humility and places of honor.

 Big and little moments. Take every one of them.

 I’m real because God is so real.

~ Nancy

P.S. - You can watch the interview here on Facebook or Instagram. Enjoy! 

 

 

Nancy Hicks
Kissing Christianity Goodbye
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Little insight: My first book emerged over years of being a leader in the Church and often seeing a lack of life. Little vigor. Lack of excellence. Proprietary issues (“my” ministry). Traps that Christians get caught in, which I’m calling “camps” in the book. By that I mean Christians camping out in the lowlands. For example, my “Untapped” camp has this nagging feeling they don’t have much to offer. They have a gnawing sense of unworthiness.

Josh Harris’ book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, that put him on the map, has now also planted a goodbye kiss on Christianity.  

Hillsong’s Marty Samson, who has written worship songs and led worship for several years, also informed us all that he has walked away from his Christian faith. 

These are two prominent Christians with huge followings. And this has a serious impact on us all.

With all my heart, I believe the solution lies in going back to the most basic of all things: Living in Light of the Good News.

The Good News is The Gospel.  

It’s the Gospel, settled one time and then revisited again and again, that makes all the difference! We need to be anchored in our need of a savior and Jesus being that savior as our starting, continuing and ending place. 

Why? Because of the cause and effect of the Gospel on our lives. 

The Cause: What God has given and done in Christ. He removed the barriers that kept me from Him, kicked the hell out of sin and death, made me alive in Him. He gave me a royal identity and empowered me by His Spirit.   

The Effect: Gratitude. Absolute gratitude and love poured out to God and to all. I’m alive! I’m free! Free to love and live. 

Are we so grounded in who God is and who we are in Him that we can grapple with our deepest faith issues?

“God are you who I always thought you were?”

“God, the Scriptures say this about homosexuality (gay), but there are compelling interpretations and realities today that I hadn’t considered.”

“I thought I had my theology figured out, but I don’t know anymore!”

Are we so grounded in the Gospel that despite what’s going on around us - in the Church or beyond - we look up, up, up and see God’s heart full of love and compassion? Are we so grounded in the truth of the Gospel that we’re not thrown when people or the enemy come at us? Do we instead see God strengthening us and cheering us on?

If we can return to the Life God offers that’s found in Christ, I do believe we can reverse the trend of lack of life in the Church. And not only reverse it, but call that mighty River of Life to cascade through our nations again!

I’m real because God is so very, very real.

~ Nancy

CALLING

Don’t write these guys off or any other person struggling with their faith. Pray for them! Pray that God would move them to “work out their salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that it is indeed God who works in them to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose in them.” (Philippians 2:12,13)

And while you’re at it, pray for those who’ve been impacted by their current story. 

Nancy Hicks
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
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The Book’s Here! 

After months of working with our publisher, PR, social media groups, and my NancyHicksLive teams, we’re celebrating: Meant to Live is released everywhere!

And after all this work, this is where I hang my hat:

“The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works.” - Psalm 145:9 

Thank you for your support of me in every way, my friends. Your prayer, emails, comments on social media, notes and hugs have made this book possible. 

The women on my team have worked tirelessly, diligently, with honor and excellence. As volunteers, they bring their gifts to the building of deep, unending LIFE into women all around the world. I just love them!

Where to buy: You can pick up Meant to Live at major book retailers everywhere or snag one on Amazon

Media coverage: I’ve been having media interviews with radio/TV, print and podcasters. You can keep up on media like Sarah Young’s “Jesus Calling” podcast or Hallmark’s Faith Channel on my Facebook or Instagram. There we’ll keep you up to speed on all media coverage. 

Enjoy the message of LIFE in this, my first book. Woot! Woot! And here’s to genuine LIFE found only in the love of God through Jesus Christ! 

I’m real because God is so real.

~ Nancy 

Calling

Come alive! What will it take to bring vigor and life into your soul, dear one? Do you know the God of Life? Even if you do, do you need to face some truths about yourself? Are there emotional vampires around you—people sucking the life right out of you? Get the book and work through the barriers that hinder the Life God has generously offered.

Nancy Hicks
A Call to Life

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” - Paul, Romans 8:18

I recently reviewed the tragedy that hit the U.S. on 9/11. I scrolled articles and watched YouTube footage of that fateful day. 9/11 happened just months after our family moved to the midwestern USA from Canada. I remember where I was when I heard the news. So do you.

In my first book, I wrote:

“The resurrection of Jesus Christ that secured unending life for all is built into the fabric of everyday living.

The cross is the pinnacle and symbol of this great paradox: death brings life…

[So] Every time you see a cross, remember this: death brings life. It’s not what you or I would have chosen, but it is the way life works.”
- (Meant to Live: Living in Light of the Good News)

I hear you begging, “But why? Why? Well, I don’t like the way life works. And God’s in charge, so what’s the deal with that?”

No one wants lofty platitudes when they’re in the middle of suffering. Save your breath, it’s just not the time.

But there does come a time when this very real paradox, that death brings life, is realized. Winter does eventually yield to spring. And there is a time when these difficult issues can be genuinely considered. We certainly don’t want to waste our suffering.

Death is a call to life. 9/11 was a call to look above the ashes and rubble, and rise. And rise we did.

In some of the media interviews I’ve had lately for the launch of my book, I’ve made this statement:

“If the message of this book isn’t true for a woman living in Tiberias, Israel, with eight children around her table demanding every bit of strength she can muster, or true when life throws you a wicked curve ball, then it’s not true at all.”

God is not the author of sin or evil. But He will steer it. And in it all, God will use these moments of death to stretch us to a more glorified life.

I’m real because God is so real.

CALLING

Sit with God and remember where you were when you heard the news of September 11, 2001. Pray for this and every nation that has suffered. Pray that we would all look up and live.

 Meant to Live. September 17th. Releases everywhere

 

Nancy Hicks
Did Someone Say, September?
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In the past, September meant back to school, launch of Bible classes, well into fall fashion at QVC, and a flurry of other perennial fall initiatives. But this September—this September 2019—it’s about my first book.

Meant to Live: Living in Light of the Good News is less than two weeks away from its release! It feels like I’m having a baby. Due date: September 17.

If you haven’t snagged an e-copy yet, here’s the essence of the book:

The Church in North America has not done a good job reflecting the life that comes from the Gospel. Instead, many Christians have become preoccupied with their “camps”—their cynicism, or their passion for a specific cause—at the expense of their Gospel-given life.

Meant to Live is a call to the Church to snap out of it! It inspires vision and hope for all people regarding what is possible when the Gospel is actually embraced.

With all that’s involved with a book release (and trust me, I had NO IDEA what all was involved) I must admit: I’m feeling a little overwhelmed right now. My own words are staring me in the face:

“Busy isn’t the mark of excellence, it’s the mark of the frenzied, groping for meaning and glory.” - Meant to Live: Living in Light of the Good News.

Ouch! Now, this is in the context of being so busy that you have little time to bring your A-game to the Church. “I’m busy” is your hiding place and badge of honor.

And that’s not where I am. But I do have to be careful of a busy that can be frenzied and groping and sways me from my original intention. Lord, have mercy!

Maybe you relate. Maybe you don’t have a book coming out, but everything’s starting up for the kids (with all the paperwork for all their activities you could write a book!). Or maybe a new job, new home, new friends, marriage, or pet. Any NEW thing that could be a little overwhelming for you this September, let’s together remember:

“He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.” - Paul, Colossians 1:17

I’m real because God is so real.

 ~ Nancy

 CALLING

Would you pray for a steadiness for me right now? I need God to keep my team and me steady and grounded in Him. I’m praying for you, too!

Nancy Hicks
Don’t Make Me Go to Church
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There’s a rapid decline in the church in the West. The church in North America is way down (congregation size and number of them) and showing no sign of change. You may be one of the ones who understand this first-hand.

Maybe the thought of going to church, or finding one AGAIN, makes your shoulders tense up.

Or maybe you have good intentions (you have a relationship with God), but somehow something always seems to bump out weekly worship.  

You want God, but not His people.

I get this. I really do. In fact, my first book, Meant to Live: Living in Light of the Good News, which releases this September, deals with this exact issue.  

But the Spirit of God through the apostle Paul wrote,

[do] not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching. - Hebrews 10:25

God didn’t give us the option of a solo versus ensemble Christian experience. If you self-identify as a Christian, you belong to a new family: the family of God – a.k.a., the Church. For better or for worse, you can’t have God without having His children. We come as a package deal. 

So, we’ve got to figure this out. 

Here are three thoughts to help you reconsider re-engaging the Church:

1. Pray. “Give me a desire to be with your people, ‘cause I’ve been hurt,” OR, “I find them weird,” OR “I can’t figure it all out.” Ask God for help.

2. Show Up. Knowing you belong, make a commitment of attending one church for a few weeks. Don’t hop around like you’re shopping for some kickin' heels. Show up with your hurts and all, and stay a while. If after a couple of months it’s just not right, then try another Christian community.

3. Ditch the Perfect Church Idea. You know as well as I: there is no such thing as the perfect church. Expect to be disappointed. Don’t be so surprised and outraged (righteously indignant) when you hear of failings. Be angry. Be sad, of course, but let it drive you to Jesus!

I’m not talking about being a downer or having a fatalistic attitude, but you’ve got to get over your desire (or demand) for any congregation to be everything to you.
It’s not and will never be. You and I are there with our glorious gifts… and our gory stories. This is life. And as we press on together, we will be an encouragement to the people of God.

Finally, I sincerely hope and pray with all my heart that my book is a helpful offering to the Church and to the precious people who are watching us and wondering: what’s going on here? Meant to Live releases September 17th, but get your digital copy now on Amazon.

 I’m real because God is so real.

 ~ Nancy

 

Nancy Hicks
How Kids Shape Your Life
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“You can’t give your kids what you don’t have.”

Do you agree with that statement?  

My friend, Dianne, told me that a woman once said that to her when it came to being friends with Jesus, in essence:

“You want your son or daughter to know and love God, but you don’t have the assurance of that relationship for yourself.”

Maybe you feel it’s too late for you, so:

  • “I want my kids to go to a Christian school to learn good values.”

  • “I want my kids to go to church to learn about God, ‘cause I sure can’t teach them these things. My track record isn’t great. I don’t know the Bible, and I really only pray when I’m in trouble.”

  • “In the end my kids have to make these decisions for themselves anyway.”

I’ve heard these comments for years. And it may work out because God can do anything and use any means to draw us to Himself. And He can do that with or without your help.

But what about you?

If you’re not university educated, can you give your kids a university education? Sure you can. So, in some ways, the statement I made at the beginning of this devotional is not true.

But think about this: if you could, wouldn’t you want to be able to give out of what you have? Or to relate to them about university? About their experience there?  

If sharing an experience deepens your relationship with your child, wouldn’t you want that? After all, isn’t everything—absolutely everything in this world—about relationship?  

God wants a relationship with you. A real one. 

Maybe you have a boatload of questions when it comes to a relationship with God. Good. You should have a boatload of questions! Some of which can be answered, others really can’t. At least not in a way that fully satisfies. But ask your questions, any and all of them. Wrestle them through.

And know this: God loves you. He’s not mad at you. His heart is warm toward you, not cold. 

If you desire this for your child, you want to figure out why you don’t desire it for yourself.

They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household." - Acts 16:31

Next time, let’s talk about what may be keeping you from church. 

I’m real because God is so real.

~ Nancy

Nancy Hicks
How to Help Shape Your Kids’ Church Experience
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Praise the LORD! Blessed is the [wo]man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments!  His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. - Psalm 112:1,2.

You are the most important person in your child’s life. You, as the parent are the one that gives your child the first and most lasting impression of who God is and what God is like. Don’t freak out. Let it warm your heart and cause you to sit taller.

But it’s not all you. We parents need help. We need a community to support our faithful efforts. We want our kids to have a positive church experience.  

Here are 4 ways to help shape your child’s church experience.

1. Take Your Children to Church. Don’t drop them off. Take them. Find a church where there are other children if at all possible. Take them to worship with you. If your kids are in the service with you, even better! The book that helped us when my boys were young was Robbie Castleman’s, Parenting in the Pew.
Here’s her updated edition:  Parenting in the Pew

2. Help Them Get Plugged In. Let those little gems gather, have fun and grow together! Make space for them to go to some kind of Christian kids gathering (AWANA, kids clubs, VBS, Sunday School, Kids Church, whatever).

 Don’t overdo it, but get them to something on Sabbath and during the week. You want your kids to grow up having a positive community experience. (NOT an issue-free experience, of course. NOT possible.)  

3. Avoid Silos. Let your child have some independence in the church community, but stay involved. Don’t be overbearing. Discuss what they’re learning in the car ride home or over lunch. Ask questions like, “Oh, tell me what that was all about,” or “I love this picture! What story does that come from?” Then, “Let me tell you how I felt in the church when we sang…” or “I got so excited when I saw…” Back and forth it goes to break down those silos!

4. Get to Bed. Seriously. You’re getting up (depending on what time you go to worship) to join a rich tradition of worshiping with the people of God. Moreover, you’re helping your child have a positive experience. Even more, you’re invited to a royal engagement to meet with GOD! Don’t set your child up for failure by not getting a healthy sleep.

5. Be in Charge. What is it today about parents giving their kids so much power? It’s terrible for them and you. As parents, you get to choose the boundaries. Or maybe they just get to make decisions about things that aren’t the priority, because let’s be honest, do you let them opt out of school? “Mom, I don’t want to go to school. Like ever!” Of course you don’t. Education’s a priority. Help them understand that meeting with the people of God to worship Him is as well.

Now, if it’s not, ask yourself “Why? Why is this not a priority for me or our family?" I’ll pick that up next week. 

I’m real because God is so real.

~ Nancy

Nancy Hicks
So She Did
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But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. - Jeremiah 17:7 

It takes a great man to be with a strong woman. It takes a great man to get behind and stand beside a strong woman. Today’s my darling, Cam’s birthday. Happy Birthday, babe! A BIG shout-out to you on your big day. You’ve been radically supportive of me in every way, and let’s face it, for a married woman, it really does make a difference. Thank you, honey.  xo 

That reality makes the following story even more special.

Once upon a time a young woman loved God. She loved God so much all she wanted to do was follow Him around.

So she did.

Next thing you know, He’s like: “Hey, sweetie, I know you love your life, but I also know, things are about to change BIG time. You ready for that?”

“Sure. I’m game!” said the woman.

She heard from God clearly three times in one year: “You’re going to spend the rest of your life preaching and telling everyone how much I love them.”

“Oh, I’d love that!” Her eyes lit up.

It seemed everything the girl had ever done—singing, teaching, television, leading in the church—had been building to the point of God’s tapping her on the shoulder and saying, “Come here, I’ve got some work for you to do.”

God called her to go. So she did.

God directed her to study in seminary. So she did.

But, here’s what she discovered:

Though she had loads of experience in doing the work, NO ONE knew who she was.

So EVERYONE told her:

You have to put yourself out there! Build a website. Build a social media community. Call up churches. Write a book.

Write a book?

Hmmm….write a book. 

So she did.

I’m pinching myself that you can now get Meant to Live: Living in Light of the Good News in e-version now.  Meant to Live and paperback hits the markets everywhere September 17th!

I’m a real woman doing her thing because God’s real and doing His thing.

~ Nancy

Nancy Hicks
4 Ways To Find the Funny this Summer
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A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.  Proverbs 17:22

When Cam and I were around year seven in our marriage (oh, a few years ago), we were struggling. So we saw a marriage counselor.

After meeting with the counselor a few times, he said to us, “I’ve really never had to say this to a couple before, but you guys over analyze everything. You over communicate. You’re working so hard on all your stuff and frankly, you two need to just go out and have some fun! Climb a tree or something.”

So we did. We got in our car, headed down to the lakeshore in Burlington, Ontario where we lived at the time, got out and held hands as we walked along in search of a good climbing tree.

Life can be hard and draining. But God has all kinds of medicine up His sleeve! Laughter is one of them.

Maybe you’re struggling like we are in our family with health issues. Maybe the diagnosis wasn’t what you’d hoped it’d be. Maybe the kids are driving you nuts. Maybe your vacation wasn’t close to relaxing, and the hotel room you spent way too much for was a bust. Maybe God isn’t speaking to you the way you thought He would. Maybe, just maybe you feel a bit jaded by it all.

Of course we have to engage with the pain of life. Yes, cry. Yes, run to God and pour out your achy heart. Yes, get to a counselor if your marriage is really stuck.

AND laugh. Do not neglect the power of a good belly laugh!

Here are four ways to help lift the burden of life, by finding the funny:

1.   Break Conformity. When you shop for whatever you shop for, let your child (or husband, or yourself) get something unexpected. Impractical. Just see what happens when you break conformity. Say you’re going to an event like a wedding or a shower, I know we tend to be all concerned about fitting it to what everyone else will be wearing. Don’t. Buy something that’s YOU, not what’s everyone else. And wink at yourself and God as you catch yourself in the mirror here and there.

Let the child wear the tiara and sparkly shoes to church!

2.   Tell the Stories. Share funny stories about you as a kid around the dinner table or picnic blanket, or campfire.

3.   Find the Funny. Find a fun family photo and text it to your family and say, “Caption contest. Go.”

4.   Play the Music - LOUD! And dance. Just dance.

It won’t change everything. But apparently God doesn’t want us indulging in our pain and turning into dry, decrepit, creatures who’ve forgotten we’re alive, until we’re not. 

Find the funny, friend. 

I’m real because God is so real.

~ Nancy

Nancy Hicks
I’m Home!
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I’m home!

It’s good to be back on North American soil. I love that you’ve kept up with me along the way on Facebook or Instagram. Camels and canyons and maps, oh, my!

You may remember that going away for five weeks wasn’t the easiest thing for me in light of our son David’s diagnosis. But through friends and family’s love and provision (and Facetime), we did just great.

Speaking of my David:

He started chemotherapy. In fact, yesterday was his second treatment in a six-month, twelve-treatment plan. Next to God using this trial to drive David’s soul deeper into God’s heart, one of our biggest prayers is that David will have what it takes, by God’s grace, to start law school in the fall. As in all things, we’ll work our tails off and prepare… and submit to God. “As you wish, Abba,” I pray after I’ve poured out my heart and desires.

Though we’re just beginning this journey with David, overall I think the sadness of the situation - not despair or hopelessness, but very real sadness for me - is present, but not ruling. I cry quite a bit. I did in Israel, sitting at the Western Wall, in bed at night, sitting beside Herod’s palace wall outside the university. Now, for what it’s worth, at least I’m here at home when I cry.

While in Israel, God seemed pretty quiet. I sensed His presence here and there, but it wasn’t like times I’ve had where God speaks so clearly and decisively, or profoundly or amazingly, just tying it all together. You know how sometimes He gives deep understanding to some clumsy piece of your life?

“What’s that puzzle piece doing in my box? That doesn’t belong to this picture. It belongs somewhere else.” And God just makes it all so clear.

Not this time.

While away in this wonderful land where the pages of Scripture were crafted centuries ago, I came to realize there’s nothing magical about Israel. In a way, it’s as normal as London, Ontario. God is everywhere. God moves and speaks and transforms lives everywhere. I loved being there, for sure. It’s built into me and will be unpacked for you and for me as the years unfold. But you don’t have to go to Israel to have a “special” encounter with God.

But in my life, for this period of time, I really wanted some deep, spiritual insight. In prayer recently, I said, “I love God so much, and I know He loves me, but right now this love hurts.” It hurts.

Still, I’m so glad to be home and adapting to having David living with us for the summer while receiving treatment, and having Aaron and Rachel living in town (they bought a house nearby and are doing so well!), and of course, there’s my book that comes out this September 17th.

September 17th - YIKES!

So I, like you, am moving through the ups and downs, ins and outs, joys and sadness of life.

It is well with my soul.

I’m real because God is so real.

~ Nancy

Nancy Hicks
What’s Normal?
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I live in Pennsylvania. What’s normal in PA is the Philadelphia Eagles!

I brisk walk Valley Forge National Park on a regular basis. I know the trails and where George Washington lived for a time. Normal.

If you ask me about a favorite treat that’s unique to our area, I’d tell you it’s water ice. Very common. And delicious!

These are common elements that make a normal life just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In Israel, I walk along the Nazareth Ridge. To my left, a drop. Looking beyond the ridge to the horizon, I see Mount Tabor, the easiest landmark for me to get my bearings across the Jezreel Valley. This is a common view for Jesus.

Jesus was a kid on this ridge. He ran along this route, and his mama told him to slow down and be careful. Joseph pushed back, “Let him be. He’s a boy!”

“Yes, and I’d like to see him become a man. Slow down, Jesus!”

He toddled around learning from his father the characteristics of basalt stone.

He scuffed His knee and was teased.

Jesus sweat and accidentally tore his tunic.  

All normal.

We know Jesus didn’t come primarily to be a model, but instead to be our savior, but my point is one of those realities that falls into the “Jesus as model” category.

 I can’t help but wonder how many people we have right under our noses, doing very normal things, whom God has called and commissioned to light up the world!

We’re not talking Messiah here. We’re talking about transferring the first-century normal to today:

 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” (Matthew 13:55)

“Can any good thing come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46)

“Jesus?…our Jesus?”

I wonder how many normal people around us will set the world on fire?

They have acne. They argue about women in ministry. They come from broken homes. They go on vacations and give up careers, and puke and sing and sweat.

I pray we open our eyes, stay alert and be ready to speak life into any “normal” man or woman who, though apparently average members of our families, our congregations, and communities, show glimpses of an inner flame. The ones for whom God takes what’s normal and makes it extraordinary.

I’m real because God is so real.

~ Nancy

Nancy Hicks
Believe It…or Not.
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“Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” (1 Kings 19:11-13)

At the time of this encounter with God, some wonder if Elijah was burned out. Maybe even struggling with doubt.

I heard a couple of young seminary guys discussing this story on the bus last week. It seems having doubt about faith to some people isn’t an option. Or, as one of the guys said, “some wear their doubt as a badge of honor and even dismiss those who do not struggle in that way.”

Good point. I do see that sometimes.

Still, the account of Elijah—a pillar of power and emblem of obedience in the Bible—is one that shows the raw realities of walking with the living God, this God who rules nature and personally whispers our name.

I feel intensely certain that doubt is the twin of great faith. Not in and of itself, but as a byproduct of simply living on this messy earth.

For Elijah—faced with the likes of Jezebel and a host of armies and prophets of Baal to confront (See 1Kings 18 and 19)—his shock, or relief, or ever-growing amazement with God, all fit a man who—has an authentic, vibrant, vital relationship with the living, active God.

Walking with God in power and authority is not the absence of unbelief. In that case, check your emotions at the door! While you’re at it, include your brain and throw away the key!

No, take doubt and use it. Here’s are some thoughts on how:

  • Let doubt open you up to God showing Himself to you in a new way.

  • Let doubt cause you to release what must be. Fall on God. Just release yourself into Him.

  • Allow yourself to be ok with doubt. You’re ok. God can handle this.

When doubt turns, and God does reveal Himself, you’ll discover He’s not what you expected, but bigger, and more amazing and closer than you ever dreamed.

An aside: My son, David started chemotherapy last Friday. And so it begins…

I’m real because God is so real.

~ Nancy

Nancy Hicks
Digging Deeper

Over the last couple of days, I’ve asked several people in my three week course here in Israel: has this class awakened a desire/passion to want to dive into more archeology, more literal digging, or has this class satisfied you and confirmed: great experience, so grateful for it, AND, I don’t have a hankering for archeology and digging? I loved the responses: Some were in the “keep digging” camp. Others, like me, in the “grateful, but actual dirt, stones and artifacts are not my thing.”

It’s nice to know your bent.

And geography.

Though I’m not a map girl—

(fine motor skills are not my thing—embroidery, Kay Arthur’s Precepts course, defining routes on maps, surgery, whatever, makes me crazy. I’d much rather engage in gross motor activities that allow me to stretch out my body!)

—preparing and studying the maps of Israel have been tremendously valuable.

No kidding.

Like when I studied music theory, dictation, and a host of other mathematical components of music, (also not my thing). But these obligatory courses fill out and inform your ability to be an intelligent performer. Then you’ve got more freedom and flexibility to go wider and higher and deeper.

So I’m beyond grateful for God’s gift of opportunity, tenacity, and discipline to take a course like this, regardless of my bent and preference.

AND, here’s what’s hit me with all this fine-motor-map-coloring, geography studying discipline:

Israel has a small footprint, but it’s got radical depth. You can’t exhaust its roots and deepness. They go way, way down: thousands of years of calling, trauma, dysfunction, community, passion, suffering, horror and beauty.

Like the cocktail that makes up alluvial soil in its Jordan Valley—it’s all wrapped into the history of Israel’s land and people and God.

So, all our life long, we just keep digging.

Sort of like with the scriptures…and, well, God.

~ Nancy

Nancy Hicks
Simpler Days
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My window’s open. The breeze is kindly cool, and beyond my window on the Jerusalem University College campus, across the Hinnom Valley… music. The Israeli Opera Company is performing Nabucco—how perfect.

(Quick synopsis: Nabucco is the Jewish account of the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, who leads the destruction of the Temple and subsequent Jewish enslavement in 586 BC.)

Seriously. How perfect. A marriage of so much of who I am right outside my window! These mercies are not lost on me.

Today, as I walked through the En Gedi, right near the Dead Sea, I kept muttering one of my favorite psalms that was read - Psalm 63:

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.

And on it goes. You, you, you is repeated over and over again in that Psalm by King David who’s running from his son, Absalom, who’s trying to take his throne.

Nothing like the actual ancient location to drive home a point—dry, weary land, literally and figuratively speaking.

I haven’t sung for over four months. My hope was to come to Israel, continue to rest my voice and begin vocalizing when I return to the U.S. in a few weeks, to, by God’s grace, restore my voice. There’ve only been a couple of times on this trip where I actually felt the acoustics and location combined lent themselves to try out my voice (though feeling timid). Today in the En Gedi was one of them.

Why? As in the psalm:

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 food,

With singing lips my mouth will praise you.

I wonder if when King David was running from Absalom, he was taken back to the place in his life when he remembered the core of who he was. The core of who he was was a worshiper of God.

Being without my singing voice these last months has reminded me of how the simplicity of just singing - not necessarily opera or cutting loose into the stratosphere—is core to who I am. I, like David, am, at my core, a worshiper.

Music touches the deepest part of who I am, and takes me back to a childlike love and need of, and connection with God. Sort of like David going back to first things, like singing to God while serenading sheep.

Building a speaking ministry is heavy, complicated, demanding stuff. (Not as heavy as David’s being a ruler who’s son is usurping his throne, but still, heavy.) These things in life can sometimes cause you to misplace the very things that make up the core and basis of who you are.

For me, that’s worship. Music kinda worship.

Thanks for the psalm, Abba.

Oh, and thanks for the free opera through my window, too.

I’m real because God is so real.

~ Nancy

Nancy Hicks
Rock Solid
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All across Old City Jerusalem is this monochromatic, light, sandy-blond colored landscape comprised of this elegant, uniform limestone. I’ve never been anywhere in the world with so much rock—beautiful, light, limestone rock.

Soft on the eye, but tough, hard Cenomanian limestone. It’s everywhere. Every road. Every building. Every step. Every thing is this solid rock.

I stood beneath one enormous wall of Herod the Great’s grand second Temple structure. Massive. The Temple steps, walls, ritual baths and cisterns are all varying dimensions of this rock.

Another example: earlier today, I stood gawking at more rocks at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. These rocks were discovered and preserved by Constantine’s mama (Helena). The rocks? The authentic quarry that made up Golgotha, that is to say, Mount Calvary where Jesus was crucified. These are no ordinary rocks.

For me, the historical and theological contexts are fusing nicely. I don’t know about you, but I have no desire to build anything of mine on sludge and slop. I need rugged. I need tough. I need to jump up and down and know what’s beneath the weight of all I am - my junk, my dreams, my issues, my passions, my might—is solid and strong.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, build on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. - Ephesians 2:19-22.

This limestone, this very tangible, natural resource that is utterly ubiquitous in Jerusalem—the epicenter of our faith—holds a powerful, theological reality:

Rock. Solid. Foundation.

Not of limestone, baby, but of the legacy and lineage of the people of God.

And of God Himself.

Shalom from Israel,

~ Nancy

Nancy Hicks
Israel: Waiting Here For You
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Hi from the Holy Land. 

Late Friday night, I hugged Cam good-bye at the airport and off I went. It was an easy flight from Newark, New Jersey to Tel Aviv.

A few days before I left home, it occurred to me that God’s got me in an interesting place right now. Actually, the perfect place in my life—a place of weakness. A place of attention, of listening, of waiting.

 I told my family, “I think I’m in a perfect place to go to Israel right now. I’m weak and just waiting to hear from God.”

Here’s what I mean: A few months ago my singing voice was damaged (another story for another time). But suffice to say I haven’t sung in about four months. Like I said in a recent post, worship is my heart language, my mother-tongue, so no singing is tough.

In worship over the last four months, my hands have been high, my heart has been full, full, full, but I’ve been mouthing the words. No audible singing flows out.

Add to this my David’s diagnosis of colon cancer. No mother imagines or wants to face this. (You’ve heard a lot about this lately, so enough said for now.)

So, I reiterate—I’m in a good place. The biggest prayer of my heart over the next few weeks, while tracing the steps of God and His people, is to meet with that same, living, speaking, strong, ever-present, faithful God.

Like I said, I’m in a good place.

I’m real because God is so real.

~ Nancy

CALLING

Listen to this Christy Nockels song I love. Hope it truly encourages you.

Waiting Here For You

Nancy Hicks