Tuesday, February 26, 2008


So, FINALLY I have started my ordination process. I decided 6 years ago to pursue ordination and lurched stop and go - on and off. Started, filled out some papers, responded to some important questions, got interviewed by a committee of other pastors. Had a baby, started again. Lost track. Had another baby. Started again. Was assigned an ancient retired pastor as my first mentor (bless his heart). Lost interest. Had another baby. Started again. Was assigned a new mentor pastor. Theeeennn, decided to move to Kansas.
Well, I invited a pastor friend over one evening for coffee. We sat on the back porch and with one question, she jump-started my laxidasical attitude toward the whole affair. She said, "Nikki, I have been praying for you and really feel like I need to push you on something. Where are you with ordination?"
Wow, how great is that? It is exactly what I needed at that moment to get going. (I could write 14 posts about why I needed a kick in the pants).

So, Sunday the 9th I have my first meeting toward the goal of completing this assignment I began so long ago.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hillary is unraveling

I have been hanging back a bit (like many of us) to see what is going to happen with Obama vs. Clinton in this race for the Demo-Nom.
Every time I turn on the radio now - all I hear is how Hillary is trying this tactic and that...desperate moves to try to trip Barack and make him fall.
It really looks like the Clinton campaign is just falling apart.
I'm calling it. Obama is going to pull ahead and bag this thing by the first of April.


I have been out of the practice of yoga (fitness yoga) since I moved to Kansas. However, I have taught my kids various poses and we practice them once or twice a week either as we start the day or before bed or to just to settle down and relax. They are getting pretty good actually. We sniff when we do downward facing dog (down dog), howl when we do upward facing dog (up dog). We do fishy noises while in the fish pose and oh, dead bug is their favorite.
At the end of our practicing, we sit in a butterfly pose, flap our wings (legs) and then take our hands to our hearts, bow to one another and say, "God Bless You". I love hearing my kids say God Bless You. A divine blessing from the mouths of children.
I have not ever taught them "namasté. Not sure why, I know it is just a similar -divine blessing- spoken as a greeting, parting phrase or gesture of respect. I'm sure my hesitation stems from the fact that this is primarily of Hindu origin, and I... well, I am not Hindu.
It literally means, "I bow to you." I have heard or read many different variations of meaning. "The divine peace in me greets the divine peace in you", "I salute the God within you", "That which is of the Divine in me greets that which is of the Divine in you", "I honor the Spirit in you which is also in me."
I love this concept of passing the peace regularly and often in community. It is respectful of others and a beautiful sign of hospitality.
My favorite interpretation is, "The Light in me honors to the Light in you."
When I first heard this, I immediately thought of 1 John 1:7 (one of Creighton's favorite verses). "If we are living in the light of God's presence, just as Christ is, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin."
We are in the light - together. Together with each other and together with Christ in the light of God's presence. A lovely picture of true community.
The reason I am even spending time on this is because in the mail today, I received the yoga for kids videos I recently ordered. We played one tonight and had such a ball. The kids love to do yoga.
However, at the end, the instructor told the children to bow to one another and say, "Namasté". So my kids did. And then they asked me what Namasté means.

I was a little nervous about the yoga lady teaching my kids a Hindu blessing. I'm too uptight sometimes!! But I played it cool and told them it was just another way to say a blessing to someone. So we bowed to one another and said, "God Bless You." And Canon bowed to everyone and said, "God Bless You". And Cosmo bowed and said, "Shesh-you." And I completely got over myself when Whitby (I kid you not) bowed to the poodles and blessed them, "Haveaniceday!"

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pro-life democrat

I guess I just have to say it like this. I am a pro-life Democrat. The ONLY thing I have a red flag about with Obama is his full-monty stance on abortion and embryonic stem cell research.
My friend asked me, "Is that not a deal-breaker for you?"
I have thought a lot about that question. Either way I answer on that one issue, is a lose. And actually there is no good answer to the abortion question (in regard to how it is legislated and by whom).
I am definitely more in line with Barack that I am with John McCain. Poverty, civil and equal rights, environment and for sure health care. The glitch is abortion.
Am I selling out?

Chasing Coyotes

Tonight I watched my husband take off across a field chasing 2 grown coyotes on foot. There are many things I enjoy about Creighton but his zeal for an impromptu adventure is so fun. Here's how the scene goes down. Creighton turns off the headlights of the car, and drives up to the varmints' suspected location. He waits - and watches - and quietly exits the car. He walks up just to the edge of some brush cover, and stands there, no movement except for the steam of his breath on this 17 degree night.
Suddenly, he spots what we assume is to be dinner for the coyotes - a cottontail. The bunny, spooked by Creighton's presence but counting the cost, runs toward Creighton rather than away.
Then he spots them, a deadly duo surrounding their prey. One creeps up toward the brush, the other tactically flanks around back.
Creighton looks at me and says, "ready?" As if he was expecting me to join the chase. "Go for it" I respond. He takes off at top speed with a he-man growl and those coyotes rocket from their positions, immediately falling out of sight. Those things can book it!
I suppose they called off the hunt for the night. I would be surprised if they did not soil themselves.
I love Creighton Alexander.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Some people just have a magic about them. Every time I watch Barack speak, I just shake my head - almost in awe of him. He has it. It's a gift. He inspires. He's approachable. He makes the listener feel cared for. He casts vision. He invites. He is articulate, and intelligent. An impressive orator and creative leader.
With his mojo rising - we continue to see more groups in more states jump in line behind him. What an extraordinary time in history. I may actually be proud to be an American!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Friday, February 15, 2008

My 3 Monkeys

Love notes - in conclusion

I conclude my Love notes segment with this. I am so tied up in my own little stuff that I find it difficult to set aside even 10 minutes to write a note to a friend - - not to mention write a note to someone who really might need some encouragement. People cross my mind all the time but I rarely do anything about it apart from throwing up a little prayer for them.
I want to work on being a better friend. Not that writing notes makes me a better friend. There is SO much more that goes into that!! But staying connected is important! Especially now that I live in the boonies...
I am inspired by my friend Wes Roberts. Even though he is frankly is a very busy man, he always makes time to send handmade notes for birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Of all the ways I hope to be like Wes, that is one of them. :)
Anyhoo, this was a nice little personal experiment.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Love notes V

Wrote to the young woman on staff with us here at KU. Katie Trinter was with me in a small group at SMU for 3 years. She is dear to my heart - one of my all-time favs. We are so blessed to have Katie join us on campus ministry staff here. She is and earthy, artsy girl with the true heart of a pastor.
I am excited to see where God leads this one.

A Home On The Range

We listed our house last week. I had a showing on Sunday and one on Wednesday. I am very excited about the possibility of selling my house.
Why are you selling your house, you ask?
Since before we moved to Kansas, I have wanted to find a place out in the country (just 5 or 10 acres) where my children can explore and catch frogs and fireflies, build bon-fires and do fireworks. Somehow I got talked into the house I am in. Don't get me wrong - my house is great. It's a blessing and I like it a lot.
But there is this desire inside, to get back to country living (reference my Thanksgiving post, "Papa's ranch" from 12-9-07), and it is not going away.
So...periodic updates will come about our progress on getting home on the range.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Love notes IV

I wrote to my friend Laura Steele. Laura was my first real - for real - best friend. We met at a summer camp at which we were both camp counselors. We talked the entire way home on the bus from Colorado and were joined at the hip ever since. She moved in with me and we shared a room, clothes, a car and practically everything else for the next two years.
We have been through everything together. We even stood next to each other in our 1995 graduating class of 800+ students at Texas Tech (Steele and Strong - the person in between us didn't show up).
This is truly someone I would trust with my life. I love her like my own soul. AND - we are so much alike in heart and style and personality. We complete each other's sentences.
Something has happened recently that has astounded me. Laura has moved to a new level in awesomness. She stopped her full-time work as a children's pastor (the absolute best children's pastor I have ever witnessed). She has gotten totally organized and on the ball. I still can not even locate my ball half the time. This girl is now home-schooling her three children (a feat which I admire and would love to attempt, but for the fear that I will totally irrevocably screw up my kids brains). And get this, she has become certified as a potential 'foster to adopt' parent and is awaiting 1,2 or 3 children to add to the mix. Adoption is something I have given lip service to since my teens. But to this point, I have not done anything about it.
Laura has inspired me toward reaching higher as a mom, a minister, a wife and a friend.

Love notes III

Man it's great - thinking and writing to friends is what I need right now because otherwise I am so self-centered!
Today I wrote a love note to my hero. My sister.
Dana Kaye Abla will forever be my favorite person on the planet (besides my husband, of course). I admire my sister so very much. She is a provider, a planner, a fighter, and a friend. Her devotion to Jesus is beautiful. Her loyalty to family is unmatched.
I literally call her about 4 times a day.
When our mom became sick, Dana stepped right up to take care of her. By default, Dana inherited the responsibility of taking care of my grandmother as well. Hospital and doctor visits, cleaning house, shopping, paying bills, cooking, etc. Dana did it all. She was large and in charge.
I flew home once a month for about a year toward the end of mom's life. Each time I was there, I felt more clueless and more helpless about how to handle everything. But I rested in the fact that my sister was there and knew what to do (and if she didn't know, she kicked doors down figuring it out). I would have felt lost without her.
Even now, I would feel lost without her. Dana is a source of security for me. She is so much like my mom.
My heart shattered when mom died. Dana doesn't even know that everyday, she goes around filling in the cracks.

Love notes II

Today I wrote a love note to my friend Heather Anne Card. Heather and I have now known each other for 15+ years. We lived together at the Lighthouse (Heather's parents are the Bakers - who are as dear as my own parents to me). Heather is an amazing woman of God. She is sensitive and strong, holy and hilarious, and impeccably detail oriented (which I totally respect because I am not detailed). Oh, and by the way she is drop-dead gorgeous at 5'9" and 120 lbs - - soft china-doll skin and thick golden-brown hair.
Heather and Jonathan have now had two lovely daughters, Ellis Anne and Seely Grace.
I admire Heather for her tenacity and loyalty. I respect her structured style, her purity and love for Jesus, her authenticity and honesty (in matters of faith and struggle), her sense of humor which includes the ability to role-play. Anyone who will role play with me on the fly is in my top-tier for sure :)
I am a better person because of Heather Anne. God has blessed me with such a rich friendship.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Love notes

What a great evening. I got to the coffee house at 5:30 today. My KU womens bible study is at 9. So I enjoyed an entire evening of alone time to study and daydream and look at books and drink coffee and surf the web - - oh, and also work some.
I perused the stationary section for about 30 minutes. Purchased some Georgia O'Keefe greeting cards which I shared with my small group tonight when they arrived. We took time at the beginning of our group to write a love-note. I do this once or twice a semester. It is important, in these busy times, to pause to remember family and friends. I encourage my groups to regularly send handwritten notes to their parents and grandparents, and to friends old and new. By doing this, we take our minds (if even momentarily) off of ourselves and onto another as we express thoughts of encouragement or thanks or just, "hey, I am thinking of you".
I wrote to my friend Rebecca (Bookout) Jackson. She grew up in a nearby town. We weren't friends in high school. I played basketball against her sister Caroline, so that made us rivals by default. Creighton knew Rebecca well in college at Texas Tech. The two of them led music for a weekly bible study called "All Greek".
Rebecca and I didn't become friends, really, until she and her husband moved to the Dallas area in 1999. Coincidentally, I was starting a worship service at Highland Park United Methodist Church and I needed a worship band. Rebecca's band all recently moved to the metroplex, so in one phone call, I had procured an entire worship band. It was great.
Even greater than that, I asked Rebecca to be my assistant. Those days were so dreamy. Not only did I have an assistant, which I have never had since, but she and I became fast friends. We got along so well. We made a great team (at least I think we did - I suppose I should ask her someday if she thinks so).
Even after we all moved on from Highland Park UMC, we remained friends.
The highlight of our friendship, was sharing something so beautiful as pregnancy. I was pregnant with Whitby and she was pregnant with Will. We had the same baby doctor; and even went to the hospital the same day.
A few short months afterward, Rebecca and Richard and baby Will moved to Nashville TN. They had their second little one over a year ago now - Julianna. We have seen the Jacksons only a few times since, but they will always remain precious to me and I will consider Rebecca one of my dearest friends.

The reason I wrote this post is because I want to do an experiment. I always tell people that when we think, speak or write things that are life-giving, it is a breath of life for our own sould. That's why writing notes and cards to people is balm for our own hearts. Sounds cheesy I know.
So here is my experiment: I am going to write one love note every day from now till Valentines Day, then assess at the end of that time, if I am a happier, healthier, nicer person. OOOORRR if I am simply full of crap.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Yes We Can

This video is inspiring and moving. I'm just sayin....
My favorite line: Yes we can heal this nation. Check it out.