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
Gift: Heading to Israel
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“What do you want for your birthday, honey?” Cam asked me last February.

It was a big birthday, and I knew this would be an extra special gift. 

“Well, I’ve been thinking about that. And actually, I know just what I’d like. I’d like to study in Jerusalem.”

Obviously being a Christian speaker, like being a counselor or teacher or many other occupations, requires ongoing learning. Continuing education in this field is a big deal. But this was a big ask.

Not everyone who works in full-time paid ministry goes to seminary. That’s a gift.

Not everyone who preaches Jesus gets to go to Israel. Oh, sure, many do, and have several times. Some of you lead tours to Israel and have studied there for years. But that’s not everyone’s experience. That’s a gift.

I tell you this because my gift begins this week. I’ll be leaving for Israel to study for the next three weeks at Jerusalem University College. Then my husband, Cam joins me for two additional weeks. 

Of course, the biggest issue for me is not packing and figuring out the home front. It’s my son, David. I really needed to pray and discuss with the family to figure out if the whole Israel thing was off. But I really am sensing I’m good to go. Tough for this mamma! But it really is ok. David will be doing his own thing throughout June: Home base is Philly for rest, and a bit of travel for him to get in some fun before chemotherapy for stage three colon cancer begins in July. I’m grateful for family and friends who will surround my David while I’m away.

Question: What will I be studying there?

Answer: I’ll be studying the geography of Israel (intensive three-week course), which means I’ll be traveling around.

That’s where you come in! Over the next three weeks, as God leads me, I’ll be posting videos, teaching and writing these devotionals for you. I pray as God allows me to just soak in who He is in this old/new place for me, I’ll just receive His gifts and do some re-gifting.

Stick with me on Facebook and Instagram over the next few weeks and let me share my birthday gift with you! In the meantime, the next time I write will be from the Holy Land. I’m incredibly grateful.

I’m real because God is so real.

~ Nancy 

CALLING

What’s one gift you received that you love to share? (That gift that just keeps on giving.)

 

Nancy Hicks
Songs My Mother Taught Me: A Place for Every “Thing”
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“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” - 1 Corinthians 14:33

Now that I’m a mother-in-law, I really appreciate how gracious Cam’s mom was with me. I’m sure I wasn’t exactly who she’d imagined for her Cam.  Our relationship looked a little like this:

Mom Hicks: “Nancy, you’re one of the most impractical people I know.”

Me: “I know!” (With laughs)

And we learned from each other. Here’s an oldie but goodie that comes to mind:

“A place for everything and everything in its place.”  

Carole Hicks lived this out her whole life. Even when I walked through her home the day after she died, every one of her buttoned-down shirts was perfectly ironed and with uniform hangers, lined neatly across her closet.  

I opened the drawer by her landline phone. Neat as a pin. Address book. Notepad. Pen. She went to the hospital unexpectedly. No time to get things in order. Things were just always well placed. 

A couple of years before she died, we were on the phone one day and she warmly said, “Nancy, you really are a Mary and I am a Martha. It’s just so clear and I really do appreciate our differences.” We didn’t always feel that way, but we grew to appreciate each other.

Today, you can say what Mom taught me about “a place for everything and everything in its place” has in fact taken deep root in me. Not the part about my home being in order (though that did help). And it’s partly me, but kicked up again by the son who she groomed and trained (Cam’s sock and underwear drawers are way neater than mine). 

But I’ve integrated her principle on a whole other level, too. Her words ring true to me in the CALLING God has over my life for every person I serve:  

There’s a place for every person. And we all must take our place. 

Thanks, Mom Hicks, you orderly, practical, beautiful woman.

I’m real because God is so real. 

~ Nancy

CALLING 

Where does God want some order in your life? Who can help you with that? If you are orderly, make sure you don’t let “things” being in their place, trump you and the people you love being in their God-ordained places. 

 

Nancy Hicks
Songs My Mother Taught Me:  Back in You Go
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“May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance.” - 2 Thessalonians 3:5 

I visited Nova Scotia for the first time when I was about 10 years old. Mom wanted us to go back to her home province to meet some friends and experience life beyond the city of Toronto.

That summer in Nova Scotia was free and easy. Picking green beans, potatoes, and other veggies from the garden for dinners, bike riding, treks and swimming. We swam in secret swimming spots tucked away amidst giant Nova Scotian cedars and pines.   

Though Mom didn’t spend money on cookies and fast food, she made sure we had the obligatory skating (Canadian, eh?) and swimming lessons.  I was confident in the water. 

But there was one swim that visit that was more than I bargained for. 

A small handful of kids splashed around while the parents sat on the rocks on the bank drinking in the sun. Having a ball, the boy I was swimming with that day suddenly took a step that had him in way over his head.  He thrashed and yelled and held onto me, pulling me under. Over and over, he used me for a life preserver.  I couldn’t get away.

In a flash, Mom shot into the water, tore us apart and dragged us both out of the pond.  

I sat in my mother’s arms heaving, sputtering and sobbing.  

“It’s okay. You’re okay. I’ve got you. You’re alright, honey.” 

“I almost drowned! He almost killed me!” I blubbered.

After some time, I settled down. Then Mom - loving but firmly - informed me, “Now, back in the water you go.”

“No way! I’m not going in there. I’m not!” 

“Nancy, take all the time you need, but you are getting back in that water. “

And after much resistance, back in I went.

And this is exactly how Mom raised me. 

“Oh, honey, I’m so sorry you fell down. Let’s wipe off that knee. Now get up and move on.”

“Oh, child that must be so painful. You failed miserably. Back up you go.”

“You learned the wrong song for the competition and have only two days to learn the correct solo? You’ll get it. Get going.” 

Back in you go.

Thank you, God, for my relentless, wonderful mother.

I’m real because God is so real.

~ Nancy

CALLING

Notice if you tend to step back each time life hits. Think about it: just how many steps forward over the years have you relinquished? Pick something you care about, and get back in there!

 

Nancy Hicks
Songs My Mother Taught Me:  Lift Up Your Head
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“Heads high, girls.”

Ah, the command of my mother.

She took her responsibility to remind us of who we were very seriously: 

“You don’t have a father. I’m sorry, but let’s not use that as an excuse to be dumpy and pitiful. Stand up. Heads up. Eyes up.” 

Meant to Live, my first book coming this September, expresses the main idea of the Gospel, the Good News of God’s love for you, which noticeably has us utterly saturated in the glory of God.

Now, if you really take that in - deep inside where it melds into the bones and marrow of all you are - it changes you.  Does it get distorted and tainted, too? Of course, but so does everything good. Still, don’t hold back. Take it in.

“Shoulders wide, tummies in, shorten your steps, chin up,” Mom would coach us. 

“Lift up your heads oh, ye gates and be lifted up that the king of glory may come in. Who is He the King of glory? The LORD Almighty, He is the King of Glory,” - Psalm 24:7,10. 

Take all your glory that is for God and from God through God and to God and raise it up. It may take the form of simply lifting that chin from:

- Shame

- Insignificance

- Low living or

- Depression

OR raising that head up high, as the magnificent structure of the ancient gates - which were astounding! - to a whole new level.

Absolutely no slouching, glorious one! (I do believe I’m sounding like my mother!)

I’m real because God is so real.

~ Nancy

CALLING 

Look at yourself in the mirror. If there’s a genuine reason you cannot stand up tall like some with infirmities that keep them slouched over, that’s different. Still, deep inside, imagine Jesus Christ lifting up your beautiful head. But if you’re physically able, my dear friend, lift up your head. And make sure you teach your children to do the same.

 

 

 

Nancy Hicks
Songs My Mother Taught Me:  Be There
Songs My Mother Taught Me: Be There

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” - Deuteronomy 6:6,7.

I was a latchkey kid.

There was no choice. My Dad left my Mom and her three girls and took the income, houses and savings.  No child support. No nothing. So Mom had to work.  

I remember coming home during my elementary school years and eating my lunch while watching one episode of The Flintstones. When it ended, it was time to head back to school.  Thanks for keeping me company, Fred and Wilma.

But here’s the thing: I don’t lament that. (I have absolutely grieved the whole situation at times in my life.) But, I’m sensitive to single moms or moms who just can’t stay at home with their children for whatever the reasons. 

I’m a huge advocate of moms and dads being present and available to our children. If you’re going to have them, be there and love them well. They need us - badly! 

But being there doesn’t necessarily look like what you think it “should.” 

For example, though Mom worked full time, I always remember her praying with me before she left for work. I actually do remember her preparing and eating breakfast with us. (I know not cooking or sitting down to meals is like a badge of honor to some women today, but I’m grateful Mom actually did cook and sit. It was never fancy, but it was healthy and we were together over that meal.)  

For years we had family devotions around a book, “Little Visits With God” and the Bible. She embedded in her girls: God is with us. Continually modeling and holding out God’s presence before us.

Mom came home from work, got dinner on the table and was ours in the evenings. She’d chauffeur us around, or sit and watch game shows or Little House on the Prairie over popcorn. Mom sacrificed other things she may have preferred to do, to make sure her girls got her evenings and weekends. She was a single mom and I’m grateful she took that role very seriously.

You don’t need to hover over your kids’ every move. They don’t need to have you in their face at every turn, but be there.  

I’m real because God is so real. 

~ Nancy

CALLING 

We get our first impressions of who God is and what God is like from our parents. Oh, it’s not always good, for sure. But, it’s not all bad. How did God show Himself as Immanuel (God with us) through your mom?

 

 

 

Nancy Hicks
Songs My Mother Taught Me: Deferred Gratification
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Over the month of May, I’ll be sharing golden nuggets my mom taught me that make my life sing. These are principles that made their way deep into my soul and made me the woman I am today.

Now, this series is not only about my mom (though I want to honor that precious woman). It’s about honoring all moms. And if you’re not a mom, then we’re honoring your mother. 

So, here we go with the first “song” my mother taught me:

Deferred Gratification.

We live in a world that’s moving faster than any time in history.  The increasing speed of information and technology has what would have taken 100 years in the past, now taking only five years. I’m grateful for my mom’s insistence on deferred gratification.

When my dad left, Mom raised us on just a little money. I remember Mom saying, “No, we’re not going to McDonald’s, but with the money I would have spent on that kind of food, once a month, I’ll take you somewhere nice.” Mom taught us etiquette in sit-down, napkin-in-lap restaurants, which she wanted for her three girls.

Another case in point:

Don’t buy a lot of stuff. Save up and go to a better store and buy one nice thing. (A skirt, a dress, a top usually found on the sale rack of a “nice” store.) Save and get something nice. Don’t get a bunch of junk!

I’m still like that today. Mom drilled it in so deep. 

And don’t for a moment think this deferred gratification isn’t built into everything God’s about: Wait for it. Wait for it. 

So like God.

“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” - Hebrews 6:12.

I’m real because God is so real.

~ Nancy

CALLING

Try holding off on something you feel you need. If you have children, do it deliberately with them. Help them with this now. No matter how much money they have, they’ll need this biblical principle all their lives.

Nancy Hicks
The Power of the Cross
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“God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, and got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.” — Colossians 1:13-14, The Message

 We’re still living in the reverberation of this and the very first Easter. I don’t know about you but I not only want to constantly live in the reverberation of Easter, but the reality of it!

 Stop and really think about what has been secured through the cross of Jesus Christ. Life. Power. Peace. And so much more. And ultimately these “things” we so long for are found in God. He is Life. He is Power. He is Peace.

I snagged this snapshot from my book, Meant to Live, which you’ll be able to hold in your hot hands this September:

“Look at the cross. As we live aware of distance between God’s perfection and our own, we get desperate until we realize that’s precisely why Christ came—to bridge that gap! The awareness of the divide habitually connects us to our need.

Remember the lyric from ‘Amazing Grace’: ‘’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear (the gift of our awareness of sin), and grace my fears relieved’? (God’s gift of the cross!)”

This. This is the power of the cross!

“As we’re honest about our sin, and about who God is in His unrivaled glory, the cross increases more and more. It’s not actually enlarging. It’s already full size. Its work is full and complete. But as we continue to access it in our lives, we realize more of its power.

When you get this, it’s what makes you throw up your hands in worship: ‘Hallelujah!’ That’s the power of the cross!

My former pastor, the late Rich Craven, would often say, ‘For every one look you take at yourself, take nine at the cross.’ That ratio keeps God and His saving power always front and center.”  (Meant to Live by Nancy Hicks)

 You, my dear friend, can have the power of the cross in everything— absolutely everything you think, say, and do.

 The power of the risen Christ in you is not a nice idea. It’s real.

 And it can be a reality in your life today.

I’m real because God is so real.

 ~ Nancy

 CALLING

 Where are you seeing a rut in your life? A relationship? A rotten habit or attitude? See it. Name it. Then ask God to breathe resurrection power into that situation.

Come, Lord Jesus, come here and now.

Nancy Hicks
I Know That My Redeemer Lives
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In 2013, Cam and our two sons, David and Aaron, headed into Philly just days after Christmas to hear Handel’s Messiah. Christmas and Easter are the times for that fabulous musical work. 

I’d sung the soprano repertoire for years, including of course: 

“I Know that My Redeemer Liveth.”  

I can honestly tell you that solo in 2013 meant more to me than any other time in my life.

My mom had just died—two weeks before Christmas.

Just before the four of us entered the Kimmel Center in Center City Philadelphia, a woman stopped me and asked for money. I looked at her and felt deep compassion. We chatted for a bit, and I have no idea what I said, but what I do remember was that whatever she said to me just before my family and I left the sidewalk and mounted the steps into the concert hall, had the two of us - this woman and I - crying in each others’ arms. 

“I know,” I remember saying, “Life can be so sad. So hard. So disheartening. I’m just so sorry.” We hugged and cried for maybe a minute. I gave her the money, then joined my family who stood back to give me some space with her.

An hour later and well into this most beloved oratorio, the soprano sang like an angel:

I know that my redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand upon the earth.

And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God…  
— Job 19:20

Sitting there, wrapped in the fresh warmth of two hearts honestly grieving the sometimes harsh realities of this life, mixed with the beauty of the music and God’s holy, reliable, timely Word, I never believed that truth more.

I know Jesus Christ lives. And because He lives, we, too, will live! I mean really, really live. 

Thank you Jesus!

I’m real because God is so real.

~ Nancy

CALLING

Easter’s message is that this great God is alive! He’s not dead. And dear friend, because He lives—in all things and then when we breathe our last—we, too, will live! Do you believe this? If not, why not?

Nancy Hicks
How Unexpected
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Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!

Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!

See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious,

lowly and riding on a donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

— Zechariah 9:9

I love the fact that this prophecy, spoken approximately 500 years before Jesus walked planet Earth, was directed to a people who: 

  • Were in big trouble (they were in exile after the decimation of the Temple)

  • Had demanded they be like the other nations and have a king. (Boy, was that trouble throughout their history.)

  • Had their expectations turned upside down, ultimately with a very different kind of King. 

At the time this prophecy was lived out—a time we now call Palm Sunday—you’d think they’d be putting two and two together:

“Oh, look at this! A king. A humble, lowly king. Yep, he’s riding on a donkey. This could be the guy!” (Oh, they knew their prophecies.)

And I wonder: How often do I have set in my mind just how God’s going to be? How often does God lay things right out before me, but I just will not let go of what I assume and demand? Listen, I have my expectations of this great king.

But this Palm Sunday, 

  • I’m rejoicing greatly that this king is rarely what I expect. 

  • I’m rejoicing greatly because that humble king cared for the likes of me.

  • I’m rejoicing greatly because I flat out adore Him! 

King of Kings. King of the universe, WOW! Should be on a royal steed!

And…

King of my heart. 

That’s donkey talk. How unexpected.

I’m real because God is so real.

~ Nancy

CALLING

In what ways have you demanded or had expectations of God lately? Ask God to help you keep an open mind, knowing this King knows no box and no bound.

Nancy Hicks
Grace: Unmerited, Undeserved Favor
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There but by God’s grace, go I.

I’ve gotten really good at saying that. It may not always be out loud.  Sometimes I say it under my breath. Sometimes a silent nod to my incredible God who knows me so well.

There but by God’s grace, go I.

When I hear of an affair. …by God’s grace go I.

A stupid comment that makes another feel cut down...by God’s grace go I.

A remark cloaked in humility, but is intended to elicit a compliment…by God’s grace go I.

I think this way whenever I hear of some horrible thing someone’s done - those who have “fallen from grace.” And make no mistake, it’s not like I’m doing the false humility thing.

I just really believe I’m capable of that and far worse.

Look back at the Last Supper for a moment:

When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, He said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.” They were saddened, and one by one they said to Him, “Surely you don’t mean me?” - Mark 14:17-19.

Actually, he meant all of them. Yes, Judas would betray Him overtly.

And Peter, with all his manly fisherman strength and chutzpa - “Even if all fall away, I will not!”  - would have to lock eyes with Jesus and hear the plain truth: “Today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”

Peter—like I, and all the others close to Jesus—can’t stand it and insisted emphatically,

“Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” - Mark 14:27-31

But Peter did. They all did.

Until we’re able to see ourselves as the betrayer, the cheat, the liar, the gossip, the murderer, the adulterer, the racist, the hypocrite, the arrogant, the self-centered, the oppressor—all that and so much more—we will never—NEVER—see our need of a Savior. So, we will never be truly amazed by God’s grace.

God’s grace reveals this truth to us. And God’s grace deals with it at the cross.

I hope you, like I this Easter, are clinging, actually clinging to God’s amazing grace.

I’m real because God is so real.

~ Nancy

CALLING

Can you be brutally honest about the stuff you see in yourself that maybe no one else sees? Be amazed and flat out grateful for God’s unmerited, undeserved favor on your life.

Nancy Hicks
Always Winter, Never Christmas

Today’s blog is written by my friend Leslie Eichhorn is married to her college sweetheart, Christian, and is mom to 3 little ones who always keep life interesting.  In her spare time, you can find her nose in a book or her eye behind a camera.

______

In The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, one of the children meets a fawn named Mr. Tumnus when she first enters Narnia.  Mr. Tumnus tells her about the reign of the White Witch (the current ruler in Narnia):

“Why, it is she that has got all Narnia under her thumb.  It’s she that makes it always winter.  Always winter and never Christmas; think of that!”

As I read this to my five-year-old daughter, she was shocked.  

“Mommy, if there’s no Christmas, then Jesus can’t be born!  Then there can’t be Easter.  And if there’s no Jesus…we’re lost.”  My heart both swelled and ached at my little one’s insight.

As I write, it is almost the end of February.  Winter has long overstayed its welcome.  I look out my window and see grey and brown trees, a grey sky, and brown grass.  No signs of life.

Then…

Just when I think winter will never end, spring creeps in – crocuses break through the frozen ground.  Buds on the trees bloom.  Birds sing, bees buzz and the world comes back to life, just as our Savior Jesus did.  Praise God!

When Narnia’s savior, Aslan the Lion, returns to Narnia, everyone notices the snow melting and spring returns.  “Aslan’s on the move!” announces Mr. Beaver.

And so is Jesus. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” - John 3:16

~ Leslie

CALLING

If you’re a follower of Jesus, think back to a time before you followed Him.  How different would your life be today without Him? Thank Him for His great love!  If you don’t follow Jesus yet, think through why that might be the case. Pick up a Bible, and ask God to show you who He is and how much He loves you.

Nancy Hicks
Meant to Live - Update!
Meant to Live Coming Soon

Dear Friend,

It’s always our pleasure to serve you! I hope you’re enjoying - and stretching your heart, mind and body because of - the weekly devotionals we send out.

Today, we have some exciting news:

Meant to Live is on Amazon!

Meant to Live: Living in Light of the Good News is my first book. It took a while to navigate the world of writing and publishing, but we pushed through and now the book’s a living reality. (Well, almost.)

Here’s the scoop as seen on Amazon:

“Meant to Live unpacks how Christians can live in the power and glory of the Gospel―the Good News of Jesus Christ―and celebrate God’s glory in themselves, and the Church and beyond.

Inspirational communicator Nancy Hicks describes four ‘camps’ of Christians who wallow in the bad news (our fallen-ness), while disgruntled Christians and non-Christians alike are watching and thinking: If that’s what it means to be a Christian, no thanks! Frankly, these versions of the Gospel aren’t good. So, those watching are left wondering: How are we to live?

Meant to Live offers a vision on humanity’s calling and a way to live a genuine life gloriously into the Good News! Nancy combines personal stories with biblical wisdom and offers a revisit of the Gospel. She offers a fresh view on humanity’s glory as seen in the Gospel and an honest diagnosis of the four main “camps” often found in the Church. Nancy also helps readers identify an honest assessment of self. Meant to Live is a practical guide to living in light of the Gospel and is an inspired and energized focus on the core calling in our lives.”

Meant to Live will come out in e-version this June, then in paperback this September.

BIG time celebration will ensue. (Hear the soaring firecrackers, the cymbals and cheering and trumpets.)

Thank you for any and every part you’ve played in encouraging me - financially supporting, ordering the book, praying, you name it - in the ongoing life of this ministry.

I’m over-the-moon grateful for you, dear friend!

~Nancy

P.S. That’s the timeline, but you can get a jump on things and pre-order on Amazon now if you like.

Nancy Hicks
Women: Zero-Sum Game
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“No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this,
Never so much as imagined anything quite like it—
What God has arranged for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 The Message

It’s funny to me to think about the zero-sum game when it comes to men and women, let’s say in the Church.

Right at the outset, let me inform or remind you that I have a very strong husband and two alpha-male sons. I adore and celebrate all three of these extraordinary men.

Now, back to the matter.

The idea that there’s a finite amount of pie to go around is absurd!

That if you have some said portion of pie it leaves only so much for me.

Now, if we’re talking actual dessert pie, this is true:

“Hey, you have more pie! That leaves less for me!”

But not in God’s world of infinite pie. Think about the kingdom of God. Only so much pie to go around when it comes to work, impact and influence? Impossible!

A friend of mine, a male leader in the Church, told me:

“My mother always said, ‘If the women lead, the men leave.’”

To which I responded, “Well, your mother was wrong.”

I said it as lovingly and respectfully as I could, though I’m sure there was a glint in my eye.

Genuine leadership (and let’s just use leadership as a euphemism for confident, impact-playing individual) sees the riches in people and calls them out. We give space for people to flourish. Being threatened, and so protective of turf or jealous for fear of losing, alerts you that you’ve bought into the zero-sum game.

There is room for all in the space appointed us by God. There’s a freedom and effervescence that exudes from anyone who understands, as you are called up, we are all the better for it.

Men rise. Women rise.

We all rise.

~Nancy

I’m real because God is so real.

CALLING

If you’re a man, what woman can you strengthen in a practical way? Ask her if something doesn’t come to mind.

If you’re a woman, remember: the zero-sum game can be worse among women. Go easy, women.

Nancy Hicks
Women’s Freedom
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So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36

These words of Jesus were said to people - religious people - who were in a match with Jesus about what makes you, and whether or not you are - free.

On multiple levels this applies to us as we look ahead to International Women’s Day.

There’s a lot of responsibility to keep free that which Jesus has made free.

My husband works in HR. As a Human Resource leader, his role is to develop leadership and drive sound ethics across his company. Cam does this. And he does it well.

He’s also a senior leader at our church, just outside of Philadelphia, PA, in the U.S. As a white man, he’s constantly growing in his awareness of the issues of power and privilege. The male/female thing is just one of those issues. (Have I mentioned we’re in a complementarian church? Meaning, women cannot hold roles such as preacher/pastor/elder.)

As Cam’s wife, I’d be lax in not bringing up the topic of Jesus and His declaration of what makes us free. Jesus quite clearly states: I declare who is free.

International Women’s Day is Friday.

If you’re a man, take your freedom and use it to understand and generate freedom. Get out in front of the issue of women’s freedom.

Ask God what that may mean for your church, your work place and your home.

Because “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” means more than a spirit-filled life that will guarantee heaven. Genuine freedom as granted by Christ Jesus has immediate and obvious outcomes now. It’s agreeing and cooperating with what Jesus has said and done.

Let me wrap up this week’s devotional with a great suggestion from psychiatrist Viktor Frankl:

“I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.”

What a great idea.

~Nancy

I’m real because God is so real.

CALLING

Do you see your freedom as coupled with responsibility? Ask a woman you know and love how she feels around the issue of freedom in the church.

Nancy Hicks
Arizona - Lift Off
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I’m writing from the airport in Phoenix, Arizona here in the U.S. I was in Arizona with a group of women from across the U.S. who want to take their gift of speaking to the next level. Danielle Strickland, a total powerhouse preacher, spearheaded this Women’s Speaker’s Collective. Her vision? A Boot Camp to equip and encourage female preachers. She’s been a preacher for over twenty years.

I was there for two reasons: 

  1. To take my own speaking to the next level and 

  2. To teach and coach other women

Having this time to hone the craft of speaking, to discuss the pitfalls of what’s become the Christian Speaking “industry” (Lord, help us), to figure out this whole thing with loads of advice and hands-on experience, was a trip. 

Now post Arizona Boot Camp, I’m sitting at the airport and I should be on a high. But truth is, I’m not. I’m conflicted and a bit sad.

There are some reasons for that:

  1. Plenty of women still feel so small and scared in forums like this. They shared their stories. They shared their fears. Some still stayed noticeably quiet. And yet, they were there.

  2. There’s still a lot of weird “woman” stuff, like comparison and competition, which makes me sad for us all. Danielle shared it may not be as much of an innate female thing as much as it is a systemic social issue that sets us up. (I wondered why? Only so much time, men, room, space, etc. to go around, perhaps?)

  3. Here we are in 2019 and we’re still having the conversations about how to navigate our places as female preachers. 

Stuff like this still gets in the way of allowing us all to soar. 

So for every woman who still struggles for lift-off:

“I constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness, and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you and you in him…” ~(2 Thes. 1:11,12)


“May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thes. 3:5)


Gotta go.

I’m about to take off.

Nancy

I’m real because God is so real.


CALLING

As a woman, what hinders you from lift-off? As a man, if there’s a woman in your life - daughter, sister, wife - who’s held back, what do you think may be grounding her?





 

Nancy Hicks
What Message Do You Have For Me, God?
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“Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” ~Joshua 5:14b

This portion of scripture depicts a scene during a time of battle. Joshua led the people of God across the Jordan River and into the land promised to them. They were claiming it. And this was a time of bloody war.

Of course, it’s not easy to take something that’s yours if someone’s occupying it.

“Uh, excuse me, you’re in my seat. Look, see my ticket.” Fine when it’s assigned seating, but this was occupied land. And the Canaanites weren’t just standing on the land, they were living in it.

Joshua and the tribes of Israel went day by day, month by month, year by year over the course of many years battling to take what God had promised them.

Life can be like that, don’t you think?

A war to simply live in what’s already been given, but feels like you can’t quite own it. Like your life, for example.

It’s February. That’s a month where - depending on where you live and your disposition to cold weather - you may easily feel defeated. Down. Heavy. Like you’re in the middle of a cold war.

Ok, while you’re down there on your back, roll over. Put your face to the ground like the great warrior Joshua and inquire of the LORD.

Is there a message for me? This is hard. I’m struggling. What would you have me do? Where do I go from here? I submit myself to you. I submit my will. My temper. My attitude. I submit my deepest desires, my dreams, my all to you, O LORD.

Out of reverence for God, in a world that barely acknowledges Him, let alone is astonished and worships Him, ask God: what message do you have for me this day, dear God?

Help me hear and obey.

Nancy

I’m real because God is so real.

CALLING

If you’re in a place of gloom, do what I share above. Don’t just read about it. Do it. And if you know someone who desperately needs to hear from God, send them this devotional with my love.

Nancy Hicks
This I Call to Mind
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“… this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” Lamentations 3:21,22

When I was first married, I made the mistake of not being as gracious as I could be in receiving gifts.

Poor Cam hated shopping and when he did, he didn’t shop at the stores I liked. So trying to get something for me - and feel like he got it “right” - was stressful.

We’ve had to work through that lovely little mind-maze over the years. The demonstration of our love and gratitude through gifts got a little bent.

Think about when you’ve tried to express your love and it fell flat:

  • Maybe the friend didn’t appreciate the effort you went to to be there. To show up.

  • Maybe your spouse took your availability for granted.

  • Maybe you tried to do something really nice for your son or daughter and they whipped in, then whipped out with barely a “thank you.”

  • Maybe you gave your all, and your parents picked out the one thing you didn’t think of: Not. Quite. Right.

  • You weren’t feeling the love.

And so, with the people of God as recorded in the book of Lamentations, we “lament” the situation. But just for a moment. Don’t indulge, dear one.

Go for the hope!

Call to mind the great love of God. Call to mind the love that consumes every disappointment (Chocolate? Doesn’t he know I’m on a diet? Ugh. Carnations. Why would he bring me carnations? All the way to: Right. I wish I had a love in my life to bring me chocolate or flowers. )

We are not consumed by any of it. Why? Because we’re filled by the boundless, never failing love of the Great Lover.

Happy Valentine’s Day, dear friend.

~Nancy

I’m real because God is so real.

CALLING

Be grateful for any effort made to celebrate love. If there is no effort made by another toward you, then you, being filled with the love and hope of God, demonstrate love to someone today.

Nancy Hicks
Bambi Legs
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Any time Cam and I have a situation where one of us is learning to become the person the other’s been praying for and helping (okay, fighting) to become, we have this little phrase we use:

“I’m doing my Bambi-leg thing.”

You may not know who Bambi is. Bambi’s a Walt Disney baby deer character. When he’s born all the forest creatures come out to welcome this new prince.

Then we all watch the little guy with the long, lanky legs try to get up. He’s awkward. His legs wobble and vary in angles and positions. Whoa, he teeters and nearly falls.

Cam and I call our getting used to something that’s not comfortable or familiar to us “getting up on our Bambi legs.”

When either of us says this, immediately we’re both softened. We smile and there’s a deep understanding:

I’m trying here. I know it’s not yet pretty, but give me time, and lots of grace, please.

That’s what we’re all doing when it comes to, well, just about anything that’s new, foreign and unfamiliar. It’s not graceful and elegant. It’s awkward and messy. For both of us.

For those daring to get up on those Bambi legs, regardless of the issues - well done! Keep going. It takes grace to admit you’re the one with the Bambi legs.

For those who’ve waited patiently for the one to finally see, never mind to actually do something - be patient. Be an encourager. It takes grace to embrace the process.

Extra grace is required on both ends.

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16

~ Nancy

I’m real because God is so real.

CALLING

If you don’t have a phrase or symbol to diffuse a potentially volatile or isolating situation in your marriage, or in particular relationships that are deeply meaningful to you, try ours. “Bambi legs.” Maybe Bambi’s outdated. But the concept isn’t.

Nancy Hicks