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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011 and a Happy 2012

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope 2011 was a year of Blessings and Peace in your household. Cannot believe another year is gone. It seems like the Seasons of Life are flying before our eyes and seems like last week, I was putting together last year’s  "Christmas Letter.”   When the Fall Season comes around the calendar again, I always start to ponder the year that is coming to an end, what we can share with family and friends, which will speak volumes about life, not so much about the Nicholson’s life, about the “One” who gives us life. We hope our words, are “words” that do not “point” to us, but hopefully point the reader to the true meaning of Christmas.   
 Our Lord has been faithful in 2011, many changes, adjustments and new challenges have been the norm for our household this year.  Jeanine has brought new meaning to the word, ‘empty nesters’ this year and a lifestyle that is as foreign as the Hebrew language is to Jim and Julie. Jeanine is on a journey that will most likely become a lifetime journey of serving her Lord as an Olivetan Benedictine Sister in Jonesboro, Arkansas. When we married three decades plus 6 years ago, we were raising our first child, before our first year of marriage was to be celebrated. So in reality this is the first time we have come to the understanding “the two of us.” We have felt so blessed to have kept Jeanine under our roof as long as we did and rejoice with her in the decision she has made.
When pondering over this year’s events and what to write this year in our Christmas Letter, my mind wondered to our humble beginnings as parents and all the joys, trials, challenges, disappointments, victories and etc. we got to experience as a family of four. How all these things have shaped our faith at times and how all these things have even challenged our faith. How we have many times just wanted to give up as parents and run away. I truly believe God gives us children to show us what “unconditional love” really means, to teach us about His love for us and that His love is truly unconditional. He never gives up on us, even when we want to give up on ourselves and sometimes others in our lives. There is no place in the Bible that tells why God loves us. From Genesis to Revelation you will find no such passages. Do we deserve His love? No! Did we earn His love? No! However, we all put conditions on who we love. As a parent our Lord taught us through our children what God’s “unconditional love” really means for us all.  
Our two children brought us challenges as their parents in many ways. We can remember a time when some of our friends decided to divorce and were fighting over who would get the kids. Jim and I looked at each other and said “if our marriage were ever to end in divorce, we would be fighting over “who had to take the kids.” We knew parenting was hard and wanted the best for our kids. The sacrifice single parents make can truly be a big challenge. Well, we did it, we raised them and we are still together. Miracles still happen today with God’s help.
Pondering this year’s events and finding closure in Jeanine’s decision to open her heart to the religious life had me reminisce about all she has taught me, especially about God’s love. And this will be the Christmas message or meaning I want to leave everyone with this year, as we celebrate our Lord Jesus Christ’s Birthday.
Some of you who get this Christmas letter have become friends of ours only lately, others might have know us a few years, then there might be those who have known us 10 plus years, 20 plus years and those who are family and friends that have know us from the time of our humble beginnings. If you are those from our “humble beginnings” you know the whole story about our daughter Jeanine. Where do I start?
Oh!  Jeanine you have taught us so much as parents. What a wonderful, loving child and now loving grown women you have become. Then there has been the other side of the coin. For all of you who have known our daughter and the struggles she had to deal with in learning things that were simple to others. Diagnosed at a very young age with ADHD and auditory processing difficulties she never gave up, never got mad, never held a grudge and kept on keeping on. We call her our “late bloomer” because in her time she finally found her talents and purpose and that is all that matters in this temporary world. She graduated from Southern Arkansas University Tech 2008 with an Associate Degree in Office Systems Technology and certified as a Software Specialist. This year she graduated from Southern Arkansas Community College with a Technical Certificate in Medical Coding and a Certificate of Proficiency in Medical Coding.  
Jeanine was a challenge and to slow her mind down, to get her to focus, to listen is the key” to this story. She always loved going to church, youth group, and youth camp and loved singing in the choir to her Lord. As a “young ‘n” She was like a bull in the china closet in church and out…. “Slow down Jeanine, focus, think before you speak!” Fidget was her middle name. I finally found a way to make her focus and sit still in church. She was required to take notes and in time this became not a chore, but something that became very personal between her and Jesus. We had a hard time getting her to focus, listen to us, process information and “express” the information without changing it all up. In her note taking and later her journaling, it is clear she is hearing His voice, is listening for the first time, focused and her auditory processing excellent. We have moved so many times and in some of our moves we have lost some of the notebooks she had written in. After she left for Jonesboro while cleaning and organizing her old room I found some of her talks….prayers to her Jesus. In reading them it has given me peace in knowing the Lord has been preparing her for some time in this journey, in which she has chosen to follow her heart. The puzzle of so many pieces has come together. Who would have ever thought 10 years ago the Lord would lead us to the Catholic Church? It was not even on our radar. One beautiful thing we have learned about Nuns and Brothers who chose to serve our Lord in the Religious Orders of the Catholic Church, is the fact they pray. I mean they truly are committed to a life of PRAYER. I heard one Nun say, (actually she is Mother Angelica founder of EWTN) “We pray for those who will not pray for themselves.” After finding Jeanine’s writings I see she has been doing this for some time now.  With her permission I share with you her Jesus. All daily prayers and writings are a page long and I tried to pick out a few “blurbs” that could build on the journey she is now pursuing. I could write a book if I gathered them all together. It is amazing the list of folks she knew and folks she personally did not know at all, that she has continued to lift up in prayer over the years.
June 14, 1995             Pastor Sims 2 Timothy 1: 7-12
We need to fan in the flame of the Spirit.
Verse 7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but of power, of love and of self-disciplining. Be bold for Jesus!!!!! Spirit of love. We need a super natural love to be a Christian. Fan the Flame.
Psalm 1: 1-6           1996
 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked, Nor standeth in the way of sinners, Nor sitteth in the seat of scoffers: But his delight is in the law of Jehovah; And on his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the streams of water, That bringeth forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also doth not wither; And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The wicked are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the wicked shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For Jehovah knoweth the way of the righteous; But the way of the wicked shall perish. What is the Lord saying to me? Meditate on His word. Like having a Bible Study all by myself and also go witness to people that do not know the Lord. I witnessed to Teresa my best friend, she already knows the Lord, but tried to help her know Him even better. Still trying to show her that God loves her everyday.
Summer 1997
Dear Lord, Thank-you for this beautiful Sunday that you gave us. Please help Jill, Mike, Austin and Hayden have a safe trip from Texas. Let them have a good time up here while they visit us. Love, Your Best Friend, Jeanine
Dear Lord, Thank-you for this beautiful day you gave us. I thank you that Jill, Mike had a good time here with us and that they had a safe trip back to Texas. I pray that you will bring rain so corn can grow for the cows. I pray for Josh when he starts in a new work environment tomorrow. I pray for our church that you will bring new people to worship with us. Love, Your Best Friend, Jeanine
Dear Lord, Thank-you for this beautiful day you gave us. I think you for the little rain you gave us. I thank you for letting Josh have a safe white water rafting trip. I pray you will bring him home safe. I pray you help my dad through school and make it go quick for him. Love, Your best Friend, Jeanine
Dear Lord, Thank-you for these beautiful days in the couple of weeks. I pray that you will help Josh and Dad get through school, every day. I pray that when Josh graduates that all our family and relatives will have a safe trip here. I pray for Josh when he goes to college that you will help him get the grades he needs. I pray he has a safe football season. I pray that Josh will earn enough money this summer for college. AMEN Love, Your best Friend, Jeanine
Jeanine started feeling the tug on her heart the fall of 2009 to learn more about the Religious Life of the Catholic Church.  This tug prompted her to send an “inquires postcard” off to a place that helps those who are considering discerning a Vocation in Religious life.  Early 2010 she started receiving information from Religious Orders all over the USA. Wow! The ministries they are a part of throughout the world are truly amazing. They are serving the poor, the sick, the orphans, the homeless and the list goes on. They are teachers, nurses, doctors, administrators and again the list goes on. Jeanine sorted through ones that interested her, narrowed it down to four places she wanted to visit and never made it to the fourth place. She felt the third place was where the Lord was calling her to follow her heart.
Friday, Sept 3, 2010
Jesus, I believe you make all things new. Help me to step into that new life today. Let me taste the new wine of the Holy Spirit, so I can take hold of your gifts and use them in your kingdom today. Jesus makes all things new!! So seek out His new life. Don’t limit your Christian life to one of simply trying to be good and avoiding sin. God has so much he wants to give me. He has so much He wants me to accomplish in His name. Go ahead and open the door wide.
Tuesday Sept. 7, 2010
My God stands by me, all my trust is in Him.
When God chose me he also equips me. He never fails to give us all the grace we need to carry out His call.
Lord, you have called me and I answer: Here I am! I trust that you will make up in me all that I lack.
Tuesday Sept. 21, 2010
Dear Jesus, Help me to better understand my vocation. I pray that you will be with me when I travel to several Convents and discern my call. Help me decide if I am to be a Nun and if so where? I pray that you help protect Dad and me as we travel to DFW. If it is your will let me know if you want me to tell others about this, especially Grandma and the others. I pray these things in your Name. Amen
Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010
Lord, let me know clearly the work which you are calling me to do in life. Grant me every grace I need to answer your call with courage, love and lasting dedication to your will. Amen
Thursday, Sept 30, 2010
God teach me discernment and knowledge for I trust in your commands. Lord help me understand my discernment process and also help me find my vocation. Thank-you for letting Father Hart be my Spiritual Director. Lord, help me in the coming weeks as I travel to places to discern. Lord let your Holy Spirit speak to me of what vocation you want me to do. If it is your will for a vocation provide a way.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Lord, Thank-you for this beautiful day you gave us. I thank-you for letting me have a good flight to Peoria, IL. I pray that you will show me my vocation and that you will help me understand it. I pray that if you want me to be here, let me know.  I pray that you will let me have a good time when I am here. I pray for Heather Chandler as they are doing test on her to see if her cancer has returned or if it is just scar tissue. I pray you will comfort her and her family. I pray that you will help me get the rest I need so I can start tomorrow. I pray these things in Your name. Amen
Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010
Dear Lord, Thank-you for this beautiful Sunday morning to worship you. I pray that you will speak to my heart, that you will want me to be a Sister here. I pray for my vocation and my discernment process. I pray for the Olivetan Benedictine Sisters, especially those in the infirmary. I pray that you will anoint the Priest that is doing the Mass.  I pray for my Parish this morning and also the RCIA Participants.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Dear Lord, Thank-you for this beautiful Sunday morning of serving you. I pray that you will let me have a good “Adoration” with you. I pray your Holy Spirit will speak to me and that you want me to be a Sister here. If not I know you will close the door. I pray for the Bible Study this morning, I pray that the Holy Spirit will be with each participant. I pray for the Mittelmier’s, I know they are struggling in many ways. I pray Mom and Dad will be a shining light for them and that they will see their faith in them. I pray for all my unsaved family, I pray that we will have a great Mass and that the Holy Spirit will anoint Father Udo. I pray to the Holy Spirit, you know that the upcoming election for a new Prioress is coming up. I pray that you will anoint the Sisters with your wisdom to which Sister they should elect. I pray these things in Your name.
Tuesday, May 18, 2011
Sorry Lord that I have not written in my journal lately. I am just now trying to catch up. I have been going everywhere and helping the Sisters. Thank-you for speaking to me the other day, that you do want me to join Holy Angels Convent in August. Lord continue to speak to me. I pray for the Mittelmier’s visit this week-end that they will have a great time visiting Mom and Dad while I am in Jonesboro. I pray that Mom and Dad will be a witness to them and will be able to share their faith in You. I pray for Sister Marie Christi as she is traveling back home to the Convent from Indiana this Saturday. I pray also for Sister Mary Clare for traveling mercies. I thank-you Lord for this beautiful day, that you gave us at the Convent. I pray that I will get a restful night. I pray these things in your name. AMEN
May 20, 2011 @ 6:00am
Dear Lord, like it said in the Gospel this morning; Jesus said I am going to prepare a place for you. Lord I know you are preparing me a place at Holy Angels Convent. I will follow whatever your will is for me. I thank-you for this beautiful day you gave us. I pray that all the Sisters have a good day at work and then bring them home safe. I pray for my unsaved family and friends that they will know you. I pray for Grandma next month as she is having surgery. I pray for me and Sister Gloria this morning when we go to Mass. Help us to hear a good message in the homily. I pray these things in Your Name. Amen
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!                       
Jim and Julie