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2008 Christmas Short Story
Merry Christmas!
Christmas 2007 we did not get a letter or even a Christmas card out. We apologize and thank you for sending one our way. We enjoy hearing from all our distant friends and family and even those who live close. We enjoy hearing about what each year brings to each family. The sharing of weddings, graduations and births speak of joys in your life and shows us we are all getting older.
 Christmas 2008 I want to share a story with you about a project we started in August 2007 (reason for no letter last year). I hope in this writing the true meaning of Christmas touches your spirit.

My parents were from a small little town in northern Louisiana called Vivian. One of the local residents in the early 60’s became a much loved poet of Vivian. Her name was Willie Richardson and she became a published author of a book of poems called “The Soul of The Pen”.  Her poetry of life, faith & love was birthed from her life experiences. She lived a simple small town life and through her poetry I learned of her joys, sorrows, hardships, loss and abiding love and strength of her faith.  One of her poems I memorized many years ago (as a child) was called
To Believe
Knee Deep in a crimson clover in a field
Of young spring corn
I saw a flaming cardinal
A small fawn being born
I watched a seed of some kind
As it popped up from the sod
And wonder how anyone not believe in God
Her stories in poetry inspired a little girl to see God in everything. In our Christmas letters that I have written over the years, “I hope you see our family’s love of our Savior”.  Our joys in life and even our failures and losses are shared with our friends and families Christmas past & today as a reminder to us and you “How Anyone Not Believe In God ?”  To witness our Lord’s hands in our everyday affairs is resting in his sovereign care. Not always doing it perfectly, though trying. “ Hebrews 12:2  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter  of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”.  

2008 Christmas Short Story

July 2007 while searching the classified section of the local paper for nothing particular, I noticed an ad in the “for sale” section.  It read: For sale chicken house tin $5.00 a sheet. Humm, this sounds like something to check into. Knowing we needed to build something to park Jim’s old truck under and getting the boat out of the barn would help the situation with the donkeys and the horse trailer. That evening when Jim arrived after work I told him about the tin and he called the number. The man he spoke with informed us the tin was from commercial chicken coops being torn down, he then invited us to look at the tin and we were soon on the road. The tin was located about 15 miles from our place in a small community called Marysville. When arriving at the location the young man introduced himself as “Tim” (we affectionately referred to him as Tim the Tin Man). Tim then insisted we get in his truck because the tin was back in the woods. As he pointed down this not so visible dirt road, my eyes squinted to see any signs of a commercial chicken coop. The Arkansas forest of large pines, oaks, and ash, walnut and thicket was all I could see. We then got in the truck and proceeded down this dirt road that had been obscured with time from the trees & thicket growth that was well aged. Bouncing and dodging trees we finally arrived at the old abandoned commercial chicken coops. There were three coops standing in this overgrowth of forest. It looked as if many years had gone by since a human had even visited this place. Broken branches and years of pine straw and leaves littered the place along with remnants of feeders and old glass watering containers scattered everywhere.  Mosquitoes, redbugs and chiggers attacked us as we got out of the truck and I was ready to get back in, but we came this far and we might as well keep going. Trekking through the terrain toward the coops I could hear the sounds of the birds and our steps as we crunched fallen branches and sticks. Stepping over this and that, keeping our balance for fear of falling and also looking out for snakes, spiders or anything else that lived among this abandoned woods was now becoming my priority.  We finally arrived at one of the coops where the process of tearing it down had begun. Tim showed us a very large pile of tin that had been torn off the coop, stacked and was ready to sell. The tin looked good and just what we needed to build a pole shed behind the greenhouse. The price was right. We discussed the amount we needed and asked if he could deliver it to our home. “Sure”, was Tin Man’s reply. We then turned toward the opening of the eastern end of this coop where the tearing down process started. Looking up, we scoped out the entire inside of this old abandoned coop from where we stood. It was huge and about a half a football field long. As Jim and I gazed together at this building not saying a word, our eyes finally met. Our hearts were jumping with joy. What our eyes had beheld was an old chicken coop built out of solid oak wood. Oh My God! Jim finally asked Tin Man, “What are you going to do with all this wood?” Tim relied, “nobody would want this wood”.  It’s old, dirty, dusty oak and it’s hard. I am going to take it out back and burn it”.  Jim soon corrected him and said, “This nobody would want it”!  Tim being stunned that anyone would want the old lumber then said, “What would you pay me for it?” Jim replied “make me a deal I can’t refuse.”  The Deal: 1x4’s or 1x6’s cost $1.00, 2x4’s cost $2.00, and 3x7 beams $3.00. Start tearing it down, load it and keep bringing it until we say stop. End of July 2007 Tin Man became a regular every Saturday morning, delivering the old oak wood by the trailer load. We would stack it in the barn in piles of 1x’s, 2x’s, and 3x’s.  The wood was littered with 150 pounds of old rusty nails (we pulled them, weighed them and sold them for scrap), dust, dirt and grime.
A few weeks into filling the barn with this old worn out wood, I had a visitor. The visitor was a young girl I mentor at the Hannah Medical Center (crisis pregnancy center). I volunteer at the Hannah Center and coordinate the Mom’s and Mentor program.  This young girl had been participating for a few months now. She was 19 when she arrived at the center pregnant. Her live-in boyfriend wanted her to abort the baby and she wanted to keep her child. Her life up to this point was not so good. Running away from home from a father who abused drugs, she had pretty much raised herself. Her boyfriend gave her a safe place to lay her head at night in exchange for a relationship with no commitment. She had dropped out of school when she was 16 and moved in with this older 20 year old. This pregnancy was not her first, she had miscarried twins a year earlier and was still mourning their death. This one day in late October when she came out to our home she saw all that wood in the barn.  We had just started building a screened in outdoor room (plans were to use the building to entertain, cook-outs, or just relax outdoors) with the old oak. She looked at me in amazement and said, “It’s old, filthy, crooked and loaded with old rusty nails.  I do not see how that could ever be made into anything.”
She gave birth to a beautiful baby girl the fall of 2007 and was forced by the boyfriend and his parents to give her up for adoption.
The old wood from the Chicken Coop we learned was cut down in 1957 and milled locally. It had been a family chicken business until 1975 when the owners retired. The buildings had been neglected for over 30 years and in time, even the old road to the coops that once carried trucks filled with eggs going to market had deteriorated with no signs it had once flourished.
We continued for many months after my little friends visit; Jim, Jeanine and I pulling out the rusty nails, cleaning up the wood and continued to build our outdoor room. It took 10 intense months of labor to build this oak building. Many steps to complete this project with many silent moments, and as I worked I would think of my little friend and her words about the wood. If only she could see or understand the beauty we saw in this wood that had been neglected.  In time, with a little work, it would be more splendid than it ever was. The work to restore this forgotten wood became a reminder to me of the Lord’s love for us. We are never forgotten by Him, He sees beyond the dust and grime. How many of us (answer is all) have made wrong choices in life and the results have brought pain? How the Lord can take that pain and restore it, if we would only let Him. Restoration is a lot of work, though it is worth the time spent to see and experience the beauty when finished.  Isn’t this what Christmas is all about? “Christ the Restorer is born and lives today”!
I have seen my little friend on a few occasions after the birth. Though her story is still in the making, we will not give up on her and we will continue to keep her in our prayers. She confesses to know Christ as her Savior; though she has not fully grasped the understanding  “ He is her Restorer”.  The old rusty nails that pierced Christ hands & feet when He hung on that old rugged cross reminds me of my little friend seeing our old dusty wood with rusty old nail and not seeing the value of oak restored. Our Lord sees the value in all of us, even if we see our self’s as broken sinners. Psalms 23:3; He restores my soul. The nails, the wooden cross restored our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Christ did the work of restoration for us all. The beauty I see in my little friend and the beauty our Lord sees in her will be revealed to her someday. Luke 1:37 “Nothing is impossible with God.” This Christmas say a prayer for my little friend.

Update on the happenings of the family.  August 2008, our late bloomer “Jeanine” finished her Associate Degree in Office Systems Technologies and is certified as a software specialist. She graduated from Southern Arkansas University Tech and this fall enrolled at South Arkansas Community College to become certified in Medical Coding. It is a year program and she is hoping to be working with a hospital or nursing home before next Christmas. Josh we lost to Tampa, Florida few years back. He loves it there and we love that he lives there. The last 4 years we have had a wonderful 14 days Christmas vacation in Josh’s front yard (that’s where we park the RV). He is still working as a Project Manager in the construction of commercial buildings and developments. June 2008 Josh started dating Melanie Godley after they met on a mission’s trip to Peru. They have attended the same church for a few years, though it took a mission trip to finally meet. Melanie is an RN with Tampa General Hospital, working in the adult transplant unit. They seem to have much in common; they love mission trips and are both runners. She attended our family reunion & Jeanine’s graduation party Labor Day weekend with over 30 family members attending. Guess we did not scare her too much.  We wish them the best in their relationship. Jim is still in rockets and hopefully our new President will not do away with his job. If he does, I think Congress needs to bail out the rocket industry. What about you? For myself I still work occasionally in dentistry. I fill in at a few dental offices when they need me. I also volunteer at the Hanna Center and started a Garden Show in our community to help raise money for an historical four-room school house next to our property. The event is the first Saturday in April if you want to come. This will be our 3rd Garden Show in 2009.
We lost two family members this year. Mandi Bear our Saint Bernard died in August and her little friend Nick (little black dog) died in March. Nick was 18 years old and Mandi was 11. Who would have ever thought they would die so close together. Josh gave us his dog “CJ” last Christmas when he no longer could take care of him, due to traveling so much. CJ is a Bull Mastiff and has settled into the farm life well. We did have to get him a playmate and her name is “Daisy”. Daisy needed a home. She is part Schnauzer and something else, very sweet, small, loving dog.
Well, this is wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed 2009.

In Jesus Christ Our Lord


                                                           December 2010
Greetings from  Magnolia
Two years of no Christmas letter was not going to happen this year. To be honest with you, I fought and rationalized with myself all year in sitting down to compose a Christmas letter and the quiet small voice who continued to challenge me to go for it “WON.” Much has happened the last two years in our lives and many of you who get this letter know bits and pieces that unfolded in our family the last two years.
Highlights for 2009:
End of April- May 2009 we took a family trip out to Pagosa Springs, Colorado in our motor home and stayed at my childhood friend’s (Kim) mini ranch for 10 days. Her place sits surrounded by a National Forest with views of the Rocky Mountains. What a view and the rare beauty of natural forests, streams and rock formations. We got to horseback ride up a mountain and I have never prayed so hard in all my life. The horses were awesome and did all the work. My job was to sit back and enjoy the ride, but when you are looking down at the river several hundred feet below and you and the horse are on a 3 foot wide ledge it is hard not to worry. We also took a train trip (old steam locomotive) through the mountains. We left Durango and it took us all the way up to the mountain tops to Silverton, Colorado. We did this the first week in May and arrived in a blizzard. The fun part was traveling back down a mountain by bus in a blizzard. My favorite part of the trip was sitting around in the outdoor kitchen with the fireplace blazing, eating wonderful home cooked meals and spending precious time sitting in front of the fire (solving the world problems) with my family and my childhood friend, who knows me well and still loves me. I also enjoyed our (Kim and Julie) long walks, up then down the mountain roads. We finished the trip with a day stop in Santa Fe, Mexico. What a beautiful historical town. I hope to go back soon and spend more time there. We did get to visit a few historical churches there. Each one had a story to tell and was grand. Actually the oldest church in America is located in Santa Fe and we toured its splendor and discovered its historical past.
 Wedding bells rang November 14th 2009 in Lutz, Florida. Yes, Josh finally found his soul mate, a native Floridian Melanie Godley. It was a beautiful wedding day with many friends and family who came to celebrate the day with them. An historical country church was the setting with an outdoor reception at Melanie’s parent’s beautiful lakefront home.

The couple announced in May 2009 they were to be wed in November. Much planning and work immediately took place in Florida for the big day. Back here 1,000 miles away we at first thought the distance would create a helpless feeling of not being able to participate and be a part of the planning. That changed a few days after the news broke. Josh and his bride-to-be asked us to help make the day special. My job was to make the gifts for the guest to take home, which included homemade jelly, salsa and pickled jalapeƱo. After making 150 jars of canned products I felt like I was part of the wedding. Jim was assigned a bigger project and with the help of Jeanine was able to meet their request. Jim inherited a 1963 Volvo from his dad soon after his death. His dad bought the car brand new in 1963 and drove it (like he hated it) into the early 90’s. He then parked the car and it sat until Josh and Melanie requested the car be restored for the getaway car for the wedding. The challenge was great and he accomplished the restoration only minutes before they said “I do.”
We have been greatly blessed by a wonderful daughter-in-law and her precious parents Steve and Kathy Godley. Do they know how to throw a wedding! As I look back and remember the 2009 wedding, the memories come to life of two special people that gave themselves in Holy Matrimony in front of God and the many loved ones who gathered and witnessed their special day. We will never forget the awesome reception where we ate, drank and danced the night away (Thank-You Steve )                                                               
Did I tell you, or did you learn through the grapevine that three years ago my Christian faith carried me into the Catholic Church? This journey was one which was hard for this lifelong Protestant to do. This is another long story which I hope to share with you some other day. All I can say to make a long story short; ten years of reading about the 2,000 year history of the Christian faith led me to the Catholic Church. Then it took a few years to finally surrender to step into a Catholic Church. Once in the door; three years of studying what the faith teaches and does it line up with the Bible, then another year of study to finally say “yes” to this ancient faith that started at the foot of the cross. Jeanine and I said “yes” three years this coming Easter 2011 to journey into this Christian faith and we have found a huge treasure. This treasure chest will take a lifetime to touch each jewel it contains. Jim loves the liturgical order of worship at the Catholic Church, has grown in his Christian faith and worships with us every Sunday. He is happy where he is and has not made the full plunge “yet” to become Catholic.         
2010 Highlights:
Jeanine finished her Associate Degree in Office Systems in August 08 and has almost completed her Certificate in Medical Coding (one class to go). She worked for a year as Administrator and Coordinator for Care-Net and went part-time to school. Her job was helping the elderly find rides to doctor appointments and helping them with areas they need help to stay independent.  Her job ended this August due to government cut backs and made her rethink what she really wanted to do with her life. Since becoming Catholic she has been in awe of the Religious Orders of the church and started a journey this fall in discerning if she is being called to follow into the steps that many have been called. Visiting several Monasteries and Orders has been a great education for her and us as well. The middle of January 2011 will be the last place she visits and hopefully make her decision. Each time she returns from a visit she is glowing and talks without ceasing about her experiences. You cannot take becoming a Nun lightly. She understands the calling and is ready to take the next step. The question now is which Order she will decide to choose. It takes five years before you take your final vow. During those five years if you decide this is not for you, you can leave at anytime. Who knows what the Lord is doing in her life? Jeanine has always been a giver and not a taker. She has always flourished in having a servant’s heart. Who knows this might be the calling which will give her the joy she loves in serving the needs of others for her Lord. We will have to wait and see what this next year brings.  
2010 has been a year of staying close to home and catching our breath. I have traveled a little with Jim on business trips. We are all planning to visit Josh and Melanie for Christmas, staying in Tampa for almost 2 weeks. We have not seen them since we all partook in the annual Blossom Festival World Championship Steak Cook-off here in Magnolia this past May. It was a family affair and the In-law-Out-laws cooked a pretty mean steak. Jim and his brothers in-law, Mike and Ron, were the chefs. His sisters Jenny and Jill, along with me, Jeanine and the Tampa Nicholson’s cheered them on. We did not win, though the experience we gained could help us win in the future (that’s if we muster enough strength to do it again). It was fun….. but a lot of work. We had to cook 80 steaks.
A sad note to 2010 was the loss of my sister-in-law Shelia. She was 46 years old and died the day after Labor Day.  She leaves behind my brother Jamey and we will all miss her very much. She had not been ill and died of a heart infection that took her quickly.
My last Christmas letter was written in 2008 and I do not know where the time went. My focal points in previous Christmas letters is to catch you up on “what’s going on with the Nicholson’s” and trying to incorporate the true meaning of the Christmas season. With the commercial aspect of Christmas in our society today, we miss the true meaning of what the season is suppose to be about. It saddens me that today some children’s only reality to the meaning of Christmas is Santa Claus and receiving gifts. Not knowing the true gift that God gave us all, the gift of the Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord, the Christ child. If it were not for His birth there would have never been a reason for the season “Christmas.”
So what message can I share with you that will give glory and honor to Him? A message that lives and is real and not built on commercial fantasies for the present day consumers. A Christmas message that will challenge you and me to understand the real meaning of what Christmas is all about. What is the reason for the season?
Two scriptures that I have pondered for a few years now and wondered what do they really mean?  Actually it was 10 years ago I started pondering its meaning and what it meant in the realm of being a Christian. I’ve taken these two scriptures to heart in the last three years and try to apply them to my life. I want to share the areas in which they have encouraged me in my faith journey.
Matthew 18:18 Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Matthew 16:19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
I challenge you to read a little ahead of each scripture as well as a few words after. This I quoted is the meat of the meal. Both scriptures have fundamental Catholic theology tied to them and in the whole realm of things, I won’t go there.
The Christmas message here is: if you cannot forgive here on earth; you will bind it in heaven, if you cannot love your neighbor, your family, anyone that lives and breathes, you will take that hatred to heaven. If you have injured someone, you will take it to heaven and the list goes on. But if you give it over to our Lord and let Him take it from you; you will loose many things on earth that could be bound forever. We are only here for such a short time when we compare it to eternity. PEACE ON EARTH GOOD WILL TO ALL. This Christmas choose to live the message brought to this world by the baby Jesus our Lord and Redeemer.  Live the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount; Matthew chapters 6 -7 which ends with a promise in verse 24: “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock” (Jesus).
God’s Blessing in 2011                      Jim and Julie    

     CHRISTMAS STORY 1999  ( I think this is when I first started writing Christmas letters)
Merry Christmas! This year instead of a card I (Julie) decided with the approval of my family to write a Christmas Story. Why? Because so many parts of our life are a Christmas story, and this is the true meaning of Christmas.
This is our fifth year in Pennsylvania, and if we make it to Oct. 2000, this will be the longest place we have ever lived since Jim and I were married. We celebrate 24 years of marriage this year. We started out in the Dallas-Ft Worth area. Our first six months of marriage we lived in a apartment in Arlington, Texas, then off to our first home in Euless, Texas for two years. Then we up-scaled to another home for a little over a year in Keller, Texas. We then temporarily stayed in a rented house in Hurst, Texas for six months. Then we were off to the country, on a lake in Alvarado, Texas. Many fond memories there as our two children were toddlers and we managed to acquire a little mini farm. We had a pony, two ferrets, one dog, several chickens, four goats and two pigs. We as a family during our stay in Alvarado found the greatest thing that has ever impacted our lives, then and now. We came to know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and our life has never been the same. Our faith in Him and a new outlook on life in general, led us to make the most important decision Jim and myself have ever made in our entire marriage, The decision was fro Jim to go back to school and pursue a Bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineering. We had pondered the idea for many years, but we were scared, with two small children, and financially we could not see how to do it. Our faith in our Lord showed us we were not alone and He would provide if we would just trust.
We sold all we owned, paid off our debts, paid cash for a trailer to live in while in school, and the little money left over was put into savings to hold us over until I found a job. Then off we went to the bottom of Texas, 500 miles from home to a small town called Kingsville, Texas. We arrived there August 1983 and Jim finished a four year engineering degree in three years with a wife, two kids and a dog. Upon arriving and getting settled in our new adventure, Jim got busy with a full load at school and I got busy finding a job. Kingsville is a small town and not many jobs to be found. My main reference was a local newspaper. Not many to choose from and the ones I checked into always lead me to a dead end. One week passed, then two, then three and the next thing I knew we were at week eight. I was really beginning to doubt what we had gotten ourselves into. In desperation I finally reached my panic point. Not only could I not find a job, but being cooped up with two small children, and a dog for eight weeks was not my idea of fun. Here I was in a strange town, no friends or family to turn too and I was at the end of my ropes. I had no place to go except to my knees. The only place to escape from the madness of my world was our small , little, little, very tiny bathroom. I locked the door, and told the Lord, "OK you brought us here, now look, here I am, no job, what are we to do?" ..... I prayed, I cried, I pleaded and then I prayed, I cried and I pleaded again and again. As time passed in my little bathroom, I finally came away with a peace, and a direction. I know this direction came from Him. I didn't hear an audible voice, but a encouraging voice in my spirit saying, "O.K. what have you done as far as work?" I thought to myself, well I've worked for Blue Cross Blue Shields as a microfilm clerk and clerk carrier, and I've worked a short time for a dentist and an assistant in training, my dad was a dentist, and I was around it all my (short) life in a sense. I really enjoyed the short time I did work for that dentist. Then as I pondered all those thoughts, I know with all my heart and soul, the Lord said, (not in a audible voice but deep in my spirit) "Get a piece of paper, type a resume and drop them off at all the dental offices in Kingsville," So, I begin to put together a meager, small work experience on paper. It took five minutes, then I took the phone book and copied the addresses of all the local dentists. It was around 4:00pm by then and I knew the offices would be closing soon. With Jim and the kids in tow I headed for our first office.
Jim and the kids waited in the car. The first office to drop my resume, I entered the small waiting room, I was greeted by a nice lady at the front desk. I told her my name, and proceeded to tell her I was looking for a job, and here is my resume, She glanced at the resume, looked at me and said, "wait here a second." She then left the room for a few seconds and came back to inform me, that indeed they were looking for someone and if I could wait  the doctor would talk to me in a few minutes. I was laughing inside at her question, "if I could wait? wait, wait oh yes I could wait". If she only knew. A few minutes passed and a dentist entered the room. He greeted me with a hand shake, and introduced himself. He invited me into a back waiting room. There he questioned me about my work experience. The little I had to offer did not take long to discuss. Then he begin asking me questions about my family and what brought us to Kingsville? I shared, my husband saw the importance of a college education and was going back to get it. We choose Kingsville, because of Texas A&I and their Mechanical Engineering program. I told him about my two small children, and then I said, "I really need a job!" He looked at me in the eyes, and with a kind sincere voice said, "There is one thing I need to tell you about myself. I am a Christian and I love the Lord with all my heart. And if I want to , or feel led to share my faith in Jesus Christ with my patients, I do so. I don't want you to feel uncomfortable with me doing that." With that statement, my heart leaped for joy. I wanted to get on my feet and do one of those charismatic jigs. But, holding back in a calm voice, I replied, " I am a Christian also and I would not mind that at all. With that statement, he replied, "Will give you a try." God answered my prayers, not only did he answered my prayers He placed me in the care of a brother in Christ. As Jim and I look back, if it was not for this Godly man the Lord sent us too, we would not have been able to obtain our dreams. Well, we could have, with God's help, but it would not have been as easy. I loved going to work everyday. He allowed me to work as many hours as I needed and there were times when things were tight financially . Then out of the blue a bonus would come and we would make ends meet. Back then I told everyone I just want to close my eyes, and wake me up when this is over. I was working 60 hours a week, Jim taking a full load at school year round, part time jobs here or there, two kids and a dog. When we were in those moments, time seemed to move very, very slow. Now I look back in our lives, it is just a speck. They were good time and the Lord provided.
In beginning travels after Kingsville, the first stop was McGregor, Texas. We were there for three years, then a good job offer came our way from Huntsville, AL. Our move to Huntsville was one of finally making it in this world. Our lives had become very busy in other forms, other than work. We had worked so hard to get where we were. It was nice to relax, have a good time and take it easy. Our focus was us now and somewhere along the way we put our faith on the back burner. Then we realized something was missing and it was the fact that our hard work had paid off, but our relationship with God had suffered greatly. There was no peace. Slowly we started back to church and in time rebuilt the relationship we once had with our Lord. Our five years in Huntsville was one of growth. Spiritual growth, as well as growth in our relationship as a family through His teachings. At times the growth was like basking in the sun and then other times it was painful. He was always there to help us through the difficult times. Jim's job comes to an end in Huntsville and we are off to Orrstown, PA (pop. 200). Our life travels after school could be another Christmas story in itself. We've been in the valleys and on the peaks. But through it all our Lord has been faithful. One of my favorite songs is called, He's Been Faithful. The chorus goes:
In my own doubts and fears
Through every pain every tear
There's a God who's been faithful to me
When my strength was all gone when my heart had no song
Still in love He's been faithful to me
Every word He's promised is true
What I thought was impossible, I've seen my God do.
Many of you have walked with us in our journey from the beginning, Then their are many of you we have got to know along the way. This Christmas we want to share the importance that the Little Baby Jesus has made in our lives through the years, with one of the many stories in how He has been faithful in our lives.
Update of where we are now. Just in case you haven't heard. Jim completed his Master of Business Administration summer of 1998 and plans to get his PE in 2000. He is working for a company called Pangborn as Senior Engineer. Jeanine works for a local grocery store chain in the deli department. She's been there for over 2 years. She loves her job and probably has more money in the bank (401K, CD, Money Market) than the rest of us. Josh is very poor, broke sophomore in college. He is studying Architectural Engineering at Penn State University. As for me, I work 2 days at a dental office as an assistant just to keep a foot in the door. The rest of the time I am busy at home with my two year old Saint Bernard, Mandi and enjoying our home in Penn. Our Christmas wish and prayer for you this season is to see the true meaning of Christmas and live it daily. You will not regret it. Merry Christmas! Jim, Julie, Jeanine and Josh


Greeting’s from our household this holiday season. It’s been two years of silence from our home to yours, but we appreciated the news from your home to ours. It’s always nice to hear from relatives and old friends during the Christmas season. The last two years have been challenging to our faith and many changes have taken place in our walk. October 2003 my (Julie’s) cousin Kassie lost her husband Gary in Fallujah, Iraq in the war.  He left behind two precious children and a big impression on our family during Christmas 2003. That is one reason you did not hear from us that year. We were speechless and Christmas was a time of reflection and one of feeling helpless. This holiday season we want to encourage everyone to remember our service men & women, and the sacrifice they have given for our freedoms. Also, remember their families’ sacrifice to serve along side them as they serve our country. On our Lord and Savior’s birthday, remember to offer up a prayer for our country’s military families.

The year 2004 brought us to a new place in our life, along with being”homeless” on Christmas day.  Jim prefers the word, “sojourners”. Webster’s defines the word: to reside or dwell temporarily; abide for a time. Look up sojourner in the dictionary and you will see a picture of The Nicholson’s. Yes, we have moved again! Without even looking or wanting to change jobs, an opportunity came available that was hard to turn down.

Jim is now working for a company called Aerojet as a Program Manager.  They manufacture solid propellant rocket motors for the military in East Camden; AR. Jim started his new job in August 2004. We sold our home in Bellville, TX the day before Thanksgiving (our anniversary) last year. It took us 7 months to find a home in AR and that is why we were homeless last Christmas. Our new home is in Magnolia, AR – 58 miles from the Texas border and 80 miles from Shreveport, LA. Yes, we have moved a bunch, been blessed to live in many parts of the good ole USA and been blessed by the friends we met along the way. Many of you know about our journey from the beginning, some of you know bits and pieces of it.

I do not know how many times we have said, “This is our last move”.  It is a phrase we do not use anymore. Who knows where life will take us, only the Lord knows.  It’s a God thing and prophetic in our eyes, but many years ago when Jim and I were new Christians and trying to seek the Lord for direction, the Lord brought a lady into our lives to mentor us to press forward. She encouraged us with:

Exodus 6 verses 2-8. God also said to Moses, I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they lived as sojourners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving and I have remembered my covenant. Therefore, say to the Israelites;  I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians, I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outreached arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know I am the Lord your God, who brought you from out of the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hands to give to Abraham to Isaac and Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.               
This lady is now with the Lord and we look back to see a servant’s heart. She shared that scripture with us as it reads today. She added nothing to it and took nothing away from it and gave no interpretation - she left that to us and the Lord. At that time in our life, we had two small children, struggling financially and the list goes on. When we read that scripture, this is, what we knew the Lord was saying to us. “I appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Now I am appearing to Jim & Julie. I hear your groaning (prayers) and know you have been enslaved by wrong decisions and directions. If you trust Me as your God and look to Me, I promise I will remove you from this place in your life and take you to the promise land filled with milk and honey.” Looking back at this moment in our life, I see the Lord’s hand encouraging two young people to surrender their will to His divine plan. We were sojourners lost in a foreign land. Through the years, we have been in many temporary places; geographical, physical and spiritual. The Lord’s milk and honey or the promise land has become the peace we have in knowing He is with us every step of the way, good and bad. HE is our God, as He promised. Life is not fair and we all have our struggles. Our testimony in our journey thus far is the faithfulness we have in our Father. He did deliver us from the bondage of our destructive path. At times, we still try to wander to that old road, but He is still faithful. We hope this scripture encourages you and your family as it has us through the years. This promise is for all who believe. This holiday season let, us remember and give thanks to our Heavenly Father’s faithfulness in our lives; His free gift of His Son Jesus Christ for eternal life for all who call on His name.

Our new home in Arkansas has taken us to a new place, a different season with new challenges, friends and memories to be made. Our time here in Magnolia is in His hands, whatever it may be. Until we retire or relocate, we are sure of one thing - it is temporary in the big plan. We found a place about 5 miles outside the town of Magnolia. It’s located in a small community called Calhoun. We are in the country, but have neighbors in all directions. In all our travels, I think Arkansas is on the top of the list for neighbors that make you feel at home. Our home sits on 7 acres with a pond, a barn and a green house. This spring a neighbor tilled 1/8 of an acre for our vegetable garden. We had a hard time keeping up with the bounty, but managed to can, freeze and give away. We plan to buy a few steers and raise our own beef and chickens for eggs. (To my good friend Susan Beall in Shippensburg, PA: Can you believe it?)

Jeanine moved with us leaving a good job with benefits, and decided she was ready to go back to school. She attends South Arkansas Tech and is majoring in Office Systems. She has really enjoying going back to school. Her first semester was January 2005 and she went full time this summer as well. She is maintaining an A average and received a full scholarship for the duration as long as she keeps her grades up. So far, she is finishing this semester with a 3.5….

Josh moved to Tampa, FL in the spring of 2003 after finishing at Penn State. He is working as a Project Manager for a construction management company called Solutions. He loves Florida and at present has no reason (or plans) to leave. He missed all the hurricanes this year and last. We are planning a trip to his place this Christmas. We are looking forward to him doing all the cooking and picking our clothes off the floor. Ha! Ha!

This has been a good year for me (Julie), have enjoyed decorating and fixing our home to our liking. Last spring, Jim bought me a zero-turn mower that will travel 12 miles an hour.  Boy, can I cut some grass with it and golf course pretty too. I enjoyed observing the wonders of all the plants & flowers that the previous owner planted and left just for me. I spent many hours working in my vegetable garden & putting the produce up for the winter.  The wild birds are in abundance on our property & I have enjoyed watching them build nests, have babies & feed on my feeders early in the morning and late in the evenings. A glimpse of a deer walking through our property or a frog jumping in the pond, it’s a season I am enjoying. As you can see it’s been a blessing this year for me to finally be a country girl.

In closing Numbers 27:12 -  Then the Lord said to Moses, Go up this mountain in the Abarim range and see the land I have given the Israelites. Abarim was a mountain range of highlands on the east of the Jordan, in the land of Moab, facing Jericho, and forming the eastern wall of the Jordan valley at Mount Nebo. There at the top of Pisgah, Moses viewed the completion of God’s plan for him.

Hope you all have a very Blessed Christmas and Happy 2006
Come see us in Arkansas! God Bless,
Jim, Julie, Jeanine & Josh in Tampa

                                                   Merry Christmas 2002

Merry Christmas from our family! This year I (Julie) have the time to catch you up on what is going on with our lives in Bellville, TX. Last year I had to persuade Jim to put together the Christmas letter because I was so busy putting together our town's annual event, Small Town Christmas. It was a chore for him, he is one who hates to write and he is much relieved I am free to compose it this year. As of Oct. 6th I am no longer working for the Chamber of Commerce. It was getting to be the only thing I had time for in my life and the rest of my walk was suffering. This Christmas letter I want to share a little bit about my chamber experience to show how faithful our Lord is in the little things of life and that He is always teaching us about His unconditional love. And that is the true meaning of Christmas, The Chamber was an answer to prayer for me when we moved to Bellville two years ago. I was worn out from our many moves, concerning the area of starting over in finding new friends and relationships. We were all excited about moving back home in the south close to family, but we were in a new town & new chapter in our lives again. As I look back in our moves I can always see our Lord's hand in them. We never planned to move so many times. We would have all been happy staying every place the Lord planted us. It was always an adventure to move to our new place in life. Finding where to shop, eat out, schools, points of interest in our community, finding a church and making new relationships with new faces. Along the way we have been touched by so many people and have learned from many of them lessons on friendships. God planted us for a time in each place to grow. Each move was harder than the next because we were always leaving relationships of loved friends left behind. So when we finally got moved back to Texas closer to family and old friends, we were excited. But, I was also worn out in making new relationships and I knew it would be hard since we no longer had kids in school and sports. And this is why I say the Chamber was an answer to prayers. I was not looking for a job and I was not even pursuing finding new relationships in our new town. I was worn out in effort in doing so and my prayer was Lord you will have to bring then to me because I have no ambition anymore. I had shared my lack of not wanting to go forth with my Aunt Penny. She, being a real estate agent, suggested seeing if there was a newcomers club in Bellville by contacting the Chamber of Commerce. She kept on & on until I finally decided to look it up on the Internet and write the chamber a question, do you have a newcomers club in town? The chamber is a block from our house so you can see how uninterested I really was in finding a newcomers club. In doing as she requested I soon got a reply. I could sense from the response a loving, caring person had replied. This person informed me that there was not a newcomers club in Bellville, but she encouraged me to come up to the Chamber office because she wanted to meet me. So, I did. She was a Christian lady and we had so much in common. Next thing I knew, I have a new friend and I am volunteering my time at the Chamber. Then she asked if I would like to work part-time and then she informs me she is giving up her position (she is moving) and it is available if I want it? We moved to Bellville, October 2000 and by May 2001, I was the Bellville Chamber of Commerce Administrator running the workings of this small little town's business and tourism endeavors. I know everyone in town from the mayor all the way to the janitor. It amazes me as I look back to this move and my state of mind and how the Lord worked out this move as well. Psalms 37: 4 says, He will give you the desires of your heart. Many of the citizens have grown up here and have had relationships from childhood. I know many of you who receive this letter have never moved and maybe never have known the trials of starting new friendships. In working at the chamber, I had many people come in that were new in Bellville and it was their first move in life. They were discouraged in making new friends in Bellville. Some even felt Bellville was cold to newcomers. I encouraged them with the fact that Bellville has some wonderful friendly people, but they are from here and never had the need for new friends and really did not know or have the skills to meet new people. My advice to them was they had to get involved with the chamber, church, school and the community and in time friendships would grow. This holiday season I want to challenge you to make a new friend in 2003. I also want to challenge you to take this advice to your church. There are many people out there and they are looking for answers in life. Jesus is the answer and if you are not there to love them at the door of the church and take the next step to love them at your home, you are missing many blessings from ordained friendships in the Lord. There is nothing so great in life as a friendship made in Christ Jesus our Lord. Proverb 17:17 states a true friend loves us even when. That's how Christ's love is for us even when we were sinners (Roman 5:8). Our prayer for you and your family this Christmas is to live Christmas everyday and to love your family, new friends and old as Christ loves you at all times!
Update on what else is going on in Bellville, Jim is still at Stewart & Stevenson and hopefully is there until we retire (God willing). Jeanine is still working at HEB (food store) and her past time is NASCAR (she and Jim went to Texas Motor Speedway for the Bush & Winston Cup races in April), and when she can attends football & baseball games and fishing. Josh has 6 more months of school left graduating May 16th 2003 from Penn State. We are counting down the days. He has had several interviews for jobs and is just waiting to see which one the Lord places him in. As for myself I still do not know what I want to be when I grow up. Enjoying not working for now, volunteering and taking care of home and family. We are planning a family cruise to Mexico and Honduras in March during Josh's spring break. We finally bought a boat this year and are enjoying fishing and skiing when we have time. Hopefully our ( Jim and I ) bodies can endure skiing for a few more years. In May we are going to State College, PA for that very special day. So, PA friends look out we are coming your way and hopefully get to see each one of you. On a sadder note, Jim's father went to be with the Lord in May and will be greatly missed by his family and friends.
In closing we want to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Great 2003.
Remember to pray for our service men, leaders and our country, as we need solutions for peace in our daily walk. Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born; to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and PRINCE OF PEACE!
JIM, JULIE, JEANINE, JOSH   P.S. Celebrate & Live Christmas Everyday!

                                            December 2000

Dear Family and Friends,
Merry Christmas! Hope you all had a great year. Many things took place in our household after our last letter.After putting last year's Christmas letter in the mail we got news that my (Julie) mother, was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was like two days after I mailed them. I had to fly home to Shreveport, LA to be with her. Jim and the kids had too much going on to make the trip. I was there for almost a month, coming back home too PA, December 31st. We all thank the Lord for the doctors, the early diagnosis, and the support we all got from family and friends. My Mother surgery Dec. 12th, in which they removed cancerous tumor from her upper left lobe. She then followed up with radiation for a few months. The cancer was found in Nov. while having a routine physical. The nurse made a mistake in ordering a chest x-ray. Mother had one taken two years ago and it was not time for another one. The nurse even got in trouble from the doctor for making the mistake. Well, we thank the nurse for that mistake, because the x-ray found the cancer in it's beginning stages. To us this nurse was an angel sent by the Lord. My Mom has recovered well and is doing great. She has had several check-ups and all is well. The doctors said after her surgery, " if she makes it another 5 years she will then be declared cancer free." She has made it one, another four to go. We thank the Lord for His hand in the healing.

If you remember last year's letter, we reminisced about our journey the Lord had set before us. I made the statement, "if we made it until Oct. 2000 in our home in PA, it would be the longest place we had ever lived." Well, we made it!!! But, the movers came Oct 2nd and packed all of our belongings and moved us again. We knew PA, was going to be temporary place for us, as most of you knew. Jim signed on with United Defense to build a series of M109 A6 Howitzers the Army had ordered. We bought a 100-year old home that needed a lot of work in a town of 240 people. It was nestled in a quaint rural part of PA. We lived among the Amish, and many beautiful farms that had been in their families for years. We all worked together as a family and restored that old house. I was a great learning experience and though it was hard at times we all came to love that old house. When we arrived in PA., we had never lived pass, or should I say "above" the Mason-Dixon Line. We really never thought much about it being any different than the south. Well, let me tell you in so many ways we were foreigners in a different land. Our accent gave us away and we never could hide it, though the kids started picking up some of the PA talk in the end. From our old house in PA, with the cultural differences, the cold winters, and all the ice and snow, we left PA thanking our Lord for the wonderful experience. Nothing could replace the time we had in PA. The Lord taught us so much in our time there. We came to love the people and its land.

When Jim's job ended with United Defense, July 1999 he got a job in our area with a company called Pangborn. We had become comfortable in our home, Jeanine had a good job and Josh busy in school. Pangborn became a nightmare for Jim. They had terrible union trouble. The company lied to Jim from the start. The day he started there, was the day he started looking for another job. He sent resumes to everyone in our area. There was always a dead-end. We finally got to a point, that just maybe the Lord is closing the door for PA. Jim continued to work for Pangborn and we finally surrendered it to the Lord. Our prayers were, whatever your will is Lord, help us to understand it and find peace. Jim even surrendered to the idea that just maybe Pangborn was God's will. Well, we learned Pangborn was the Lord's will for one year. We thank the Lord for that job in so many ways. It provided financially and met our needs during a time of waiting. It also taught Jim some lessons in life that only comes from above. During this time, or families started to pray for the Lord to bring us back to the south. Some even wanted us to pack our bags and just come. We knew we had to wait. Then in March a friend Jim had worked with at United Defense sent him a job listing in Texas. Jim sent his resume and the company called for an interview. He was interviewed the weekend of his birthday. They finally offered him a job in June, and he started July 10th. We put our house on the market in PA. and it sold in Sept. Jeanine and I moved to join Jim in Texas, Oct 10th.
Jim's new job is with a company called Stewart & Stevenson. It is a Houston based company that has several places throughout the United States. He works for a facility in Sealy, Texas. They build military trucks for the army. The work looks promising and we are hopeful this will be our last move. We are home now and it feels so good to be within driving distance from family and old friends. We bought a restored older home that is one block from the Town Square of Bellville, Texas. pop. 4,000. Lots of antique shops, neat craft stores and restaurants line the square in their turn of the century buildings. We truly believe the Lord closed the door in PA to get us back home. We thank Him for the adventures we have had over the years. We learned something new every place we have lived. But, as Dorthy said, "There's no place like home."
Since moving to Bellville, Jeanine has gotten a great job with good pay and better benefits than PA. We thank the Lord for that. I have been dragging my feet. I still do not know what I want to be when I grow up. Maybe I will know next year. Josh is still in PA, at Penn State. He's still a poor college student in his 3rd year of a five year degree (Architectural Engineering). Two and a half to go. He says he will be heading south as soon as he gets his degree. He has already made some good contacts with some companies for an internship this summer in Texas. Hopefully that will happen. He needs that Texas experience to work on his accent. If he doesn't get time down here, that Yankee accent might be hard to hide among the Texas locals.
We want to thank each and every one of you who lifted us up in prayer during these last few months. We also want to thank you for the prayers and concerns for my mother during this time. And last we want to tell all our PA friends, "thank you for your friendship and all the memories we now have in our family history book." We want to invite everyone, to come visit us in our new home (but not all at once). The door is always open.
This holiday season we wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and a great New Year. And we pray a very special Blessing for all of you to know Him and rest in Him daily. Jim, Julie Jeanine & Josh 

                                                              CHRISTMAS 2006
"Greetings from our family." Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Several years ago at our church, we played a trivia game concerning the Christmas story, Everyone was given a questionnaire about the birth of the Christ Child, and the Bible was to be used to check for the correct answers. We all played with great enthusiasm knowing we would all score high or perfect marks. We all knew the Christmas story, having been taught the story since childhood. We sang the Christmas story with hymns, & songs. We participated in plays at church & school in annual Christmas programs. We were read to by others and have read the Christmas story ourselves, from children's books written & published through the ages. We were educated so well on this subject. Wrong! Through the ages, human imagination ushered in many myths mixed with factual happenings in telling the story about the birth of Christ. This mixture of myth and fact became our modern Christmas tradition. Using avenues of music, drama and literature, the Christ child birth, death and resurrection has filled more volumes than any subject in history/ After completing the Christmas story quiz we all realized how uneducated we were concerning the true story. Even the pastor & staff were not well versed in the subject matter. It showed us that our education on the subject was a tradition that man has composed. Though man had composed the truth in some tradition, we did not know fact from myth. We could not argue with the wrong answer as we turned to scripture and saw the truth. I kept a copy of the questions and answers and we have shared it through the years with gatherings of friends and family during the holiday season. It is always the same outcome of tradition verses truth,. This brings me to the reason for sharing this little story with you this holiday season.

Point to Ponder:
Isaiah 40 verse 8: The grass withers, the flowers fall, But the Word of our God stands forever.

II Timothy 3:16 All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness,

John chapter 1 verse 1-5" In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

There has been no time in history, like today where we are bombarded daily with information on every subject imaginable to man. The Internet, radio, books, television, newspaper, magazines, Hollywood, media, politicians, and the list goes on. Do we take the information we hear and see everyday and process it as we have learned the Christmas story from tradition? I know I am guilty. I have been told many times that there are many roads to Rome. If this is true, then why did God go to all the trouble to send His only Son to be born as a baby in the manager, be crucified on the cross and then raise from the dead? Why do we celebrate Christmas and Easter? Is it tradition or is it celebrating Christmas, in knowing the facts from the inspired Word of God?
2006 has not been too shabby for our family/ We have not moved again, which is good. Still enjoying our home and property. Finally finished all the cosmetic changes we wanted in our home this summer. 2007 our goal (Julie's goal) is to turn the property into a mini farm. We have a little bit of fencing to complete before the animals arrive. Our first new member of our family will be Moe, a one year old donkey. We then get a few goats to keep Moe company. Build a chicken house & get some chickens (for eggs), maybe a few ducks for the pond, two calves to raise for beef and just maybe a horse.
2006 Jim is still working at Aerojet as Project Manager. Julie kept him busy at home with the cosmetic changes and a few other projects. 2007 Jim hopes Julie's projects will be short in supply (except for chicken house) so he can work on his own personal project of rebuilding his Dad's 1963 Volvo.
2006 Julie worked occasionally as a temp for a few dental offices and enjoyed keeping her skill in tune. Working in the garden and canning this summer was an on going event for a while. She won two 1st place ribbons at the Columbia County fair for her pickles & jalapeno jelly. In 2007 Julie will be trying to figure out how to complete her mini farm project when Jim will be working on his 1st time only, "please leave me alone", "I don't ask much" car project. There is not enough time in the day!
2006 Jeanine is still working hard as a full time student and still on the honor roll. She is planning to finish her Associate Degree in Office System Technologies Spring 2008. Jeanine applied and was accepted into the Disney College program this coming semester. She will be working for Disneyland in Orlando, FL and taking a tourism management course while there. She is excited and cannot wait to get there.

2006 Josh is still in Tampa, Florida and loving it. Bought his first home and moved into it in March. If Josh is not working he is always training for the next triathlon, competed in several in 2006. He changed companies in November this year. Still in construction management but into the consulting side of things now.

We all enjoyed last Christmas in Florida and are planning to do the same this Christmas. Enjoyed going to Miami for the 2006 Orange Bowl. Penn State beat Florida State (3 OT'S). We tailgated for the first time in our bus and cooked crawfish bisque for everyone.. Some of those Penn State'ers were a little scared of the Canjun cooking. This year it looks like Penn State will be in the Outback Bowl, New Year's Day in Tampa. So here we go again... (no OT Please!)

Our Love and Prayers go to you and yours this Christmas and hope 2007 brings many blessing your way. Take care and celebrate with tradition based on the truth of Christmas this year.. God Bless, Jim, Julie, Jeanine and Josh