Did I turn on my Christmas lights??

I wear my camping headlamp to bed. It’s true, every night; I tuck under the covers and click on the bright white light strapped around my noggin. I use it to see the pages of the book read. It works better than a nightstand lamp. I can use it laying on my back, my side or propped stomach-down on a pile of pillows. This kind of reading, really helps me sleep, and it’s the best way I’ve found to do it.

That’s just one practical use for my headlamp, when I’m not camping.

This week, I took on some more tasks at our restaurant. I was ordering a bunch of supplies. I decided that wearing the head mounted flashlight would be a good way for me to see our inventory. It lit up the many places we have cans and boxes stashed and stacked all around our back room, storage and freezer areas. It worked brilliantly.

The thing helped because I didn’t have to turn on all the lights in the whole place. Also, it brightly illuminated the exact areas where I needed to see. I could count easily, quickly and confidently, when I could read the labels or see inside of the boxes of plasticware.

I probably looked silly to someone watching me work. My view however was perfectly vibrant and I was happy to see so clearly.

One time, several years ago, I personally asked Jesus, to come into my heart. The invitation was as sincere as it was uneducated. I didn’t have any idea of the challenges and the highlights that would come from that moment. I am constantly now aware of a whole new world of truth that I was previously blind to. I enjoyed the Christmas family time back then, but didn’t really feel that profound appreciation of the birth of the Christ child.

I now have a spiritual headlamp that illuminates the world in new ways to me all the time. When I don’t forget to turn to Him, my travels and interactions in the darkness have a special clarity and glow. I probably look weird to the observer. Why does a person ‘need’ to be a Jesus-freak, or Churchy or a Bible-banger? I don’t know why for sure.

I know that I have tried to navigate the inky midnight fog with my natural abilities. I know that I used to have eyesight adjusted to seeing the subtlety of black on black. Constant bumps and bruises were just part of life, it happened all the time, before Jesus answered my request.

This morning He arrives. In the darkest hour, among the weathered wood and musty hay, the antithesis of worldly power arrives in Bethlehem. A tiny babe, a savior that will turn the entire world upside down, begins his journey in the most counter-intuitive way.

The change that happens, when a person asks Emmanuel into their heart, is nothing short of amazing. A transformation occurs that can look absolutely ridiculous to the casual observer. At the same time, it restores pure vision. Honest and absolute love washes through. We can continue in our broken sinful ways. We aren’t fixed, but we have restoration and repair now and forever available.

I can wear my camping headlamp, at any time that it seems to help me out. I don’t care whether or not, I look silly doing it. The light of the Savior of the World, works much the same way. I hope, this Christmas that I can remember, more often, more creatively, and more completely, that Jesus is here, right now, for me and for you unequivocally.

May the love and wonder of the miracle of Christmas be yours today, and forever. My friends, I love you.


Aaron Nichols

Look Who’s Talking!

I’m glad my baby girl can’t talk yet. Although she is growing waaay to fast, she hasn’t begun to master the English language. I am completely fine with it. I want her to stay a wittle wittle guwrl as long as possible!

She does communicate to me. I can tell when she is happy and giggly. It is easy to hear when she is mad. Her sounds and facial expressions are always showing me the story of how she feels. I’m sure her mother is even better than I am, at reading the information she is passing along about what she wants next.

I know at some point she will learn to ‘use her words’ and just speak out a request, that is plain to understand from my point of view. She won’t learn mandarin Chinese, or Swahili as her primary language, because that wouldn’t get her what she wants, from us as quickly as English would.

Every once in awhile, I do wish she could just tell me what it is, that’s bothering her. She may be fussing and I have tried all of my usual tricks. If those don’t bring calm, then I feel stuck and wondering what to try next.

Isn’t our baby Joella, just like most people we meet? Isn’t it obvious to an observer how we are feeling most of the time? Other than very subtle variations on the theme, we can tell just by being around someone, if they are happy or sad or angry or bored or (especially with me) hungry? It isn’t only brain scientists or rocket surgeons that are able to pick up on clues about how we are feeling at any given moment.

Some of us can hide the origins of our pain or pretend to exist in an alternate emotional state than we are experiencing inside, but overall even these attempts can be seen through fairly easily. I think that as a neighborly citizen of my local universe, I typically do not try to act upon these inferences of someone’s apparent inner needs. Usually, I would only act, in the direct request, made verbally by that person.

So here we are, a bunch of babies, walking around. We can express ourselves in all kinds of ways, but I find that I rarely speak directly, in a commonly understood language about exactly what my needs are. Dang, no wonder that inner-personal relationships can be so tough sometimes. Nope, I usually resort to passive-aggressive ignoring, or maybe round-about gossip, or at worst, a complete shutdown, leading to massive explosion!

God sees our needs, right? God knows our hearts and our inner-most desires, right? God surely has omnipotent access to the tiniest kernel of our thought and emotional life…

But, what if God, wants things to be made plain, just like we do? What if God is aware of our uncomfortable-ness, or our general malaise or anger or jealousy or nagging desires? Does that mean God won’t act and help us out? Does God desire our suffering or soreness? I doubt it.

I wonder if God is just like our loving parent, who is patiently waiting for us to learn to come to Him in a language that he understands best. I wonder if silent meditative and contemplative prayer, can be one way that our communication with God is most clearly transmitted. Just like my our little daughter, or a co-worker, or a family member or friend, I wonder if God, just like us, is always willing to respond to a clear and direct request.

I know that if someone actually speaks out loud, an invitation or appeal or even a demand, I am almost always willing to fulfill that. I know that casual remarks or insinuations, rarely get my full attention and almost never, my actions.

Today, I want to remind myself that I don’t want to be the fussy baby, failing to ‘use my words’ and just plainly ask a person, in confident and considerate English for what I need. I want to sit quietly and open door to my heart, while I talk with God, about using His will to make my life and work more effective in this world.

I want to use all these little gifts of ideas that I learn from my very typical and plain, amazing baby girl JoJo.

Have a wonderful week, leading up to the birth of Christ.

Take Care, and God Bless!


Aaron Nichols


Anticipation not constipation

My recent moment of pure elation did arrive while I was in the bathroom on Tuesday afternoon. It lasted just a quick second, but complete appreciation washed over me, while I looked in the mirror. The water rushed over my sudsy hands, and I noticed that I was feeling an invigorated but absolute peace with life.

I am not describing an extraordinary personal movement here, (ahem…). But I do think it is important to record the little places in our everyday lives, where happiness can appear.

At that moment, I was in gleeful anticipation. I was about to leave the house, and it was early afternoon. I had returned early from Ottawa, purposely because I needed to pick up my wife, after her school day had ended at 3:45. I stopped by the house quickly, on my way to first pick up our little (4-month-old) girl, Joella, from the sitter.

I was excited because I was going to surprise Lindsay, by bringing her little bundle of joy to her. I knew that she would be happy to see her. Probably more happy seeing her, than me, but what the heck, she is super cute!

So there I was, anticipating seeing my precious daughter. Then I was imagining delivering her to her mother, my wife, who I adore. I just stopped myself and soaked up this little but magical moment on a bland ‘ol Tuesday afternoon. It is the stuff of dreams actually.

We had a new set of tires installed on Lindsay’s car, so that was the reason for the extra running around. We got to be together more, because of the inconvenience of dropping off and picking up a vehicle. It was a wonderful family day.

I can’t remember exactly, but it seems that once we got together, there were little hiccups and snags in our plans. I know that the tire job was in progress when we arrived at the station, it wasn’t complete. I know that we drove around a small town that had seen better days. I know that we visited a furniture store with beautiful items, waaay out of our price range.

All that stuff was okay, but the moment before I even left the house was mesmerizing. I loved that anticipation of the good times to come ahead. I was absolutely thrilled with possibility of seeing my two beauties smiling together.

This moment of the Christmas season is quite similar; we are in electric anticipation of holiday ahead. We want the family times, and the good food. We want to see the light in the eyes of a receiver of a gift. We want to open something fun too ourselves. We even take time to appreciate the greatest gift of all, the Christ child, Immanuel. I know that this mystery is incomprehensible, but we attempt. We give thanks and worship and wonder at the miraculous.

I hope I find myself awestruck again. I want to relive over and over again, the awareness of the gifts in my life. I want to constantly reawaken to that gleeful anticipation of beauty and of family and happiness. I want to see it in my mind, before it appears in real life.

The Christmas miracle is coming. Wherever we are, in a tiny real-life moment at church, or driving the car, or eating a quick lunch downtown, let’s stop and appreciate it. Once the day gets here, there may be challenges. We may not always be prepared to roll with the constant changes of direction. We may find disappointments, and get discouraged. A life in Christ is certainly not without its problems. In fact, we may be attracting more, when we align ourselves with the King, born to a virgin, in a lowly cattle shed, go figure.

Proper anticipation, the Advent time, is healthy for us. We want to fertilize our minds with appreciation and enthusiasm for the upcoming celebrations. We want to train our brains to expect and forsee beauty and goodness and real-life miracles. The more we can practice the awareness of our gratitude, the more we will experience it in life.

I am happy to think I will ‘see’ you here again next week, my beautiful friends. Thank You, each of you is important to me


Aaron Nichols



Chubby Dancin’!

So even though, I was absolutely wrong about Mr. Chubby Checkers’ dance move breakthrough, I am going to write about it anyway. So there.

I remember hearing radio interviews of Mr. Checker and his emphatic insistence that he was the one who introduced the world to the concept of ‘Dancing apart to the beat.’ His contention seemed to be that he never really received his credit due. He wanted the listeners to know that he personally changed the Rock’N Roll universe with his dance moves, including but not limited to, the ‘Twist’.

Up until a couple minutes ago, I took this idea to mean that the dancer was moving ‘apart from the beat.’ Meaning that the person could shimmy or dip or twist or gyrate, regardless of the timing and the rhythm of the song…

Okay, it appears that I was wrong about that. I did some quick research, and I see know that dancing ‘apart to the beat’ means two dancers together, but not touching or holding each other, moving to the music as a pair…

Fine… anyway…

The thing that caught my attention in the last few days about this concept of ‘dancing apart from the beat’, (my original understanding) is how helpful it could be in everyday life.

What kind of ‘beats’ or rhythms or music score plays along as we navigate our daily routine. What is the melody of our work life, or our recreation, or our personal relationships? Do we hear harmonies with lively measures, delicate and intricate tickling our ears? Do we enjoy the experience of these energetic sound waves in our souls? Or do we painfully endure the constant crashing of cymbals backed by low-toned-static of thunderous bass lines, one overlapping the twenty before?

What if we reason that there are ‘beats’ and a natural orchestral soundtrack to the world we live in? Our life then is an opportunity to dance and to move with it. What then, do we do, when the music we seem to be hearing isn’t something that inspires us at all?

Well, that is the concept, that I thought Chubby, was talking about. I thought he was trying to teach me to dance apart from the beat. I must’ve wanted to hear that it is possible to detach, to release the tight grip of the ‘beat’ of my life, and just dance however I want to anyway. Not only do I want to learn to really trust and follow through with this idea, but I want to expand it.

The dance metaphor is fine enough, but what about a clearer version. Maybe we can learn to ‘think apart from the beat,’ or ‘react apart from the beat,’ or ‘give apart from the beat,’ or ‘love apart from the beat ’or even ‘forgive apart from the beat.’ Wow, now those ‘dances’ could get tricky.

The beat is the circumstances, good or bad, we see before us. The beat can be a situation caused by other people. It can be the results of choices we made in the past. The beat, can literally beat us down if we let it.

Just like any dance, the first few attempts are bound to be clumsy. Practice and practice and more practice will smooth out our moves.

Dancing apart from the beat, seems to be a challenge that God has laid on my heart this week. If it was easy, it wouldn’t have come from Him.

I wish all of you a great week of inspiring music in your soul. If it happens to be not playing today, dance like it is anyway. 🙂

Until next week,


Aaron Nichols