So Glad You’re Here!


2015 Headshot 3
I’m so glad you popped by.

This website is a work-in-progress, but I trust that in the days ahead I will give you more and more reasons to visit regularly.

I’d also love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter @StephBethNickel

Also, I invite you to pop by my blog and check it out.

Photo Credit: Stephen G. Woo

Do Not Read this Blog Post

“Why not?” you ask.

As much as I love words—both writing and reading them—sometimes the noise gets to be too much.

So maybe instead of reading one more blog post, I need to do something else.

Here are a half dozen things on my wish list. I hope they’ inspire you to create your own list and walk away from the computer—at least for a little while. Your tablet, smartphone, and video game console as well.

Do More Chair Dancing

I’ve rediscovered the power of music. Combine motivating lyrics and a great beat and I can’t sit still. Thus, the chair dancing. I’m a little more reserved in the office at church, but not so much in my home office and the car. Among others, I’ve grown very fond of TobyMac.

Just try to sit still while listening to this song—or join me for a little chair dancing of your own.

Go for a Photo-Walk

It has been far too long since I grabbed my camera and went for a walk in search of the wonder that is all around. I’m a huge fan of macro photography. I like getting “up close and personal.” Granted, to use the word “walk” is generous since I need only move an inch or two and it’s a time to take another picture.

Get to the Gym

Yes, I joined a gym right down the street from work. Yes, I had (and have) great intentions. Yes, I actually like to exercise. But alas, I allow busyness and myriad other excuses get in my way. I MUST DO BETTER.

Hang Out at the Library

Specifically in the children’s section surrounded by the wonder that is hundreds of well-written picture books. Yes, they require reading—well, most of them do—but they’re such a quick read and convey so much in so few words. Picture books are among my vfavourites.

Take a Hike

My daughter and her BFF have been doing a lot of hiking lately. I’m thoroughly impressed. My hubby and i really should hit the trails as well. An evening stroll around the neighbourhood is all well and good, but it’s just not the same.

Clean, Organize, Declutter

This may seem like an odd thing to add to the list, but you need only take a peek inside my house and you’ll understand completely. It’s not that I don’t like a clean, tidy, well-organized house. It’s just I give my attention to so many other things, including TV, Facebook, and chair dancing—oh yeah, that’s a good thing.

So if you read all the way to the end, let me ask you, “What would appear on your list?”


Re-Post of Horrible Housekeeper Quiz

Question Marks HeaderI first shared this here in January 2012. I first wrote it for my Horrible Housekeeper blog before that.

It’s just a little tongue-in-cheek humour going into the weekend. Enjoy!

Instead of vacuuming, washing dishes, or doing laundry, you can take this quiz. (If you rush to do those things—or if you’ve already done them today—I can tell you now, you are NOT a horrible housekeeper.)

For each A, you score 3 points. For each B, 2 points. And for each C, 1 point. (You can keep track on that scrap of paper that is sure to be within arms length – if you really are an HH.)

1. How often do you vacuum? A. I don’t know where my vacuum is. B. At least once a month. C. When I’m having company.

2. How about dusting? A. I’m getting a jump start on my Halloween decorating. B. Who needs to dust? There are no flat surfaces visible anyway. C. When I’m having company.

3. When do you consider the dishes “done”? A. When there are no more left to put food on. B. When they’re in the kitchen. C. When they’re soaking in dishwater.

4. Describe your ironing habits. A. I don’t understand the question. B. I do it so rarely, my family is afraid of the ironing board. C. If I’m attending a wedding, I might iron my outfit. Okay, so if I’m in the wedding, I might iron my outfit.

5. Finish this old adage: A place for everything … A. … but I have no idea where that is. B. … and nothing in its place. C. … and that would be stuffed in the spare room.

6. Where do you keep your off-season clothes? A. The same place they’ve always been – the floor, the laundry basket, etc. B. Stuffed in a drawer. C. I shove them to the back of the closet.

7. What’s the first thing you do when you bring the groceries home? A. Debate whether it’s cold enough to leave them in the car. B. Collapse on the couch while someone else brings them in and puts them away. C. Take them to the kitchen and put away the perishables.

8. How do you organize your books? A. Remember what I said about no available flat surfaces? B. The ones I’m not currently reading are on the shelf. The ones I am reading could be anywhere. C. They’re on the shelves—in no particular order.

9. Thinking ahead, what is on your Spring Cleaning To Do list? A. Make a list. B. Hire a maid. C. Dust and vacuum.

10. At what point do you look around and let out a big sigh of relief? A. When quizzes like this are over. B. When you go back to thinking about anything except housework. C. When you find a chair to collapse into in your living room.

If you score 25-30, you get to join the ranks of Truly Horrible Housekeepers.

If you score 20-24, you earn the title of Horrible Housekeeper. Keep trying—or is that stop trying—and you can improve your score.

If you score from 10-19, there’s still hope.

If you score under 10, I graciously thank you for reading this post even though it is clearly not about you in the least.

Thanks to Pixabay for the header. That way I didn’t have to share a shot of my own horrible housekeeping.

To Be Read in 2016

Book & LilacsHere are some of the books I’d love to read in 2016:

Christian Living / Self-Improvement

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Daily Wisdom for Women (January) ~ devotional

How to Speed Read by John Connelly

Humble, Hungry, Hustle by Brad Lomenick and Mark Burnett

Live Uncaged by Mary DeMuth

Never Ever Be the Same by Kathy Collard Miller

The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst

The Life Ready Woman by Shaunti Feldhahn

When They Turn Away by Rob Reinow


Fit for Life by Kimberley Payne

The Busy Woman’s Guide to Total Fitness by Laurette Willis

The Power of Positive Fitness by John M. Rowley

What’s Age Got to Do with It? by Robin McGraw


Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

List Building for Authors by D’vorah Lansky

Pen on Fire by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett

The First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke

Wild Women, Wild Voices by Judy Reeves ~ reading for a Facebook book club

Woe is I by Patricia T. O’Conner

Writing Success by Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young (and other authors)

Pregnancy and Childbirth

Redeeming Childbirth by Angie Tolpin and Ann Dunagan

The Christian Mama’s Guide to Having a Baby by  Erin MacPherson


Without Proof by Janet Sketchley (100% complete … except the bonus material)

The Language of Sparrows by Rachel Phifer (58% complete)

A.D. 30 by Ted Dekker

Hive by Rachel Starr Thomson (I’ve read this book before, but I’d like to re-read it so I can get a “running start” at the series.)

The End Begins by Sara Davison

Sandra Orchard’s new novel, coming in the spring

Cathy West’s new novel, coming in the summer

What’s on your TBR pile this year?

Too Busy to Exercise?

Woman and BarbellLike many of you, one of my goals for 2016 is to live a healthier lifestyle.

This post first appeared on Kimberley Payne’s blog on June 18, 2015. I have been guest posting on Kimberley’s site for a few years now.

Have you ever been of the mindset “I know I should, but . . .”? That’s where I am.

Are you busy?

“Who isn’t?” you may ask.

There’s your day job, your family, your volunteer responsibilities. The list goes on and on. The thought of adding exercise to your agenda may be too much even to consider.

But did you know . . .

Regular exercise releases endorphins and makes you feel more positive. And a positive outlook goes a long way to facing—and conquering—that To Do list.

Those same hormones will make it easier to deal with the people and situations in your life that you find challenging—and will help you fight the temptation to snap at your spouse and children for no apparent reason.

Physical activity gets your blood pumping. That blood carries much-needed oxygen to every part of your body, including your brain. We all need to think clearly to accomplish our daily tasks.

Not only will you think more clearly, but you’ll also be able to work more quickly and more efficiently. Bonus!

Commitment and follow-through in this area can also help you eat better. How? Well, if you’re busy running from one task to the next, you may be tempted to grab fast food at the drive-through or pop packaged, processed food in the oven or microwave. And if you spend endless hours in front of your computer, it’s easy to keep less-than-healthy foods handy so you can keep working.

On the other hand, if you stick with a regular exercise schedule, you will be less tempted to gravitate to these “easier” choices. After all, if you’re working hard, you won’t want to negate your efforts at your next meal.

Regular physical activity is connected to the prevention of many illnesses and diseases. Although exercise is not a guarantee that you won’t get sick, it is your responsibility to do what you can. (I’ve noticed lately that there are times my diminished lung capacity—I’m asthmatic—has made itself known. I rarely need medication, and for the most part, I don’t even notice it, but that doesn’t mean I can afford to neglect my need for cardio exercise.)

There are many things that can disrupt one’s sleep, but exercise has been shown to help in this area as well.

And one last thing . . .

There are those who depend on you. The tasks on your To Do list may, indeed, be important, but so is setting a good example for those who are watching, those who count on you. And if you can do something together—walking, biking, swimming, playing tennis, jumping on the trampoline, whatever—all the better.

Have a Happy and Healthy New Year!


The Path Before You

Treelined PathA variation of the following post first appeared on Christian Editing Services [dot] com on December 22, 2014.

Putting away the Christmas decorations. Getting together with friends and family. Setting goals for 2016.

It’s a busy time of year. But we must remember the Saviour came to direct our steps. And as we look ahead to the new year, we must focus on the path He has set before us.

Here are a few suggestions on how to do just that:

Commit each project to Him.

As Christians, it’s important to keep our eyes on the Lord. Colossians 3:17 instructs us to do everything in His name. In all we do, our primary motivation should be to honour God.

Keep an eye out for unexpected opportunities.

When we focus on the Lord, we may be blown away by the opportunities He brings our way. I know I am. I encourage you to be on the lookout for what He has in store for you this coming year.

Diligently develop your skills.

Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced professional, there is always more to learn. My personal library is extensive and I have access to a plethora of information online. I intend to spend many hours reading in the days and months ahead. Why not aim to read a skills development book each month? Just think of all the new knowledge you will have acquired by this time next year.

Apply what you learn as you learn it.

Knowledge isn’t particularly beneficial unless we put it into practice. As you learn something new, either apply it to something you’re working on or keep it in mind for future endeavours. If you’re anything like me, you’ll need to make note of it and review it often or the knowledge will slip away.

Be faithful in “the little things.”

As we learn from the story of the faithful servant in Matthew 25, those who are faithful with little will be given more responsibility. This biblical principle applies to many areas of our lives. And remember “little things” is not synonymous with “unimportant things.”

Dream big.

Yes, we are to be faithful in little things, but it’s alright to dream big. Just be prepared to work hard to see these dreams come true. And be prepared to be redirected. God has big plans for you, but they may be different than yours.

May 2016 overflow with rich and abundant blessings!

Nickel Family News 2015


Top Story of the Year

What a joy to share Nathanial and Laura’s special day! They were married beside Loch Earn on September 5. Talk about a destination wedding! From there we traveled to the Isle of Skye, where Dave’s ancestors came from. Castles. Ruins. Single-track roads. Sheep. Highland cows. And the scenery …! And sharing it with the whole family … well, as the TV commercial puts it, priceless!

Needless to say, this whirlwind trip will be a treasured memory for many, many years to come. (A special thank you to Laura’s folks, Alan and Frances. They were so gracious. It was such a joy getting to know them.)

In Other News

Sarah has been working at Elgin Pet for several months … and loving it. This job is a perfect fit for her. Her most recent illustrating project, Sally Meadow’s Beneath That Star, is getting lots of press. In her spare time, Sarah keeps busy drawing, writing, and hanging out with her BFF.

Joshua is now coaching gymnastics six hours each week and unofficially interning at his church in Nipawin, Saskatchewan. He again built grain bins in the summer and then worked with a contractor in the fall. He is exploring several exciting possibilities for the future.

Laura, the newest member of our family, is a saddle fitter and travels all over Scotland. She also has a shop in Paisley, where she and Nathanial live. Busy lady!

Nathanial has been cleaning a mall parking lot in the wee hours of the morning but began working in a watch repair shop mid-November. He and Laura love to travel and do so as often as possible.

A special thank you to Nathanial and Laura for being such wonderful hosts for our first visit across the Pond.

Dave is still busy working for the housing corporation and he and Stephanie have recently taken on the position of custodians at Eastwood, their home church of over 30 years. Dave also teaches a few music students each week, something he especially loves.

Stephanie is as eclectically involved as always. Editing. Writing and recording for HopeStreamRadio. Blogging. Drinking in the teaching at COMPEL Training, a division of Proverbs 31 Ministries. Attending the occasional birth. She loves her life and is thankful for family and friends.

Below is one of the 1,000+ pictures I took in Scotland …


“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2 ESV).

‘Twas the Day Before Christmas

Sleeping BabyI had the privilege of sharing this poem at our evening service last night. I wrote it a few years ago for our church’s midweek children’s program.

’Twas the day before Christmas and all through the land,
The people were traveling, some hand in hand,
No stockings were hung, no chimneys in sight,
Just walking – keep walking – until it is night.

Some people were nestled all snug in their beds
While others had nowhere to lay down their heads,
And Mary was slowly plodding along,
Not knowing the angels were prepping a song.

Then up ahead they saw the bright lights,
The small town of Bethlehem coming in sight,
“Ah, now at last, a place we can rest,
“Perhaps they have room at the inn for a guest.”

But, no, the inn’s full; the owner is sad,
He knows Mary’s tired; he feels really bad,
But he offers a stable and freshly strewn hay,
“I hope it’s enough” is all he could say.

The smiles on their faces touched the man’s heart,
Surely he wanted to do a small part
To make the babe welcome whose coming was near,
The baby whose coming would drive away fear.

Now Mary and Joseph, their Sweet Baby Boy
Whose coming would bring oh so much joy,
A tiny young fam’ly on top of the world,
Such glory and wonder around them was curled!

And out in the pasture, where shepherds kept sheep,
Talking and working, not falling asleep,
A strange thing did happen; they trembled in fear,
A voice from the heavens boomed very near.

It was an angel sent from above,
To speak of God’s glory, to speak of His love,
To send them to town, away from their lambs,
“Leave behind ewes and leave behind rams.

“For something most wondrous has happened this night,
“Go now to Bethlehem; do what is right,
“The Promise of Ages has come now to you,
“The Saviour, Messiah, is born; it is true.

“He’s dressed not in splendour or a king’s royal cloth,
“He’s just wrapped in swaddling, and that is enough,
“But go now and worship your Lamb and your King,
“And as you will journey, all heaven will sing.”

Their eyes how they twinkled and glistened with tears,
For the One that they spoke of had been promised for years,
And now they would see Him and give Him their praise,
This surely would prove the most glorious of days.

Their staffs they would carry, gripped firm in their hand,
The best gift of all had come to their land,
And they got to see Him, simple shepherds no less,
They saw the new Saviour; they were so blessed.

Maybe chubby and plump, snuggled in hay,
Wonder of wonders, what a great day!
The shepherds were awestruck, the babe’s family too,
The Promise of Heaven had that night come true.

He spoke not a word but went straight to their hearts,
His work lay before Him; the truth He’d impart,
He’d come down from heaven, left angels behind,
Entrusted to shepherds, this message we find.

They sprang from their knees, went out from that place,
Sharing the news of God’s goodness and grace,
We hear them exclaim to this very day,
“The Saviour has come; now walk in His way.”