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
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