I’m a Finalist!

I’m enjoying some good news I received this month. If you follow me on social media or receive newsletters from Oregon Christian Writers, you probably heard I’m a finalist in the Cascade Contest. The winner will be announced at the summer conference on August 22.

2018 Finalist

My entry, currently titled Memoir of a Living Doll, traces the roles dolls played in my growing up. I learned from Chatty Cathy, the pre-owned doll who arrived with marks and scrapes, to see the value of loving imperfect people. This translated later into becoming a foster parent. And Raggedy Ann, who wasn’t crafted for the purpose of merely adorning my bed. She taught me the importance of releasing the ones I love to fulfill their missions in life.

I’m still knitting, pulling out stitches, and reworking my story so I’m sure I’ll discover more surprises along the way. For now, I’m excited my concept and sample pages pleased the preliminary judges. Thank you, Cascade staff, volunteers, and OCW!

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Here’s a scene I’m working on:

It didn’t matter if Chatty Cathy couldn’t speak well. She didn’t have to tell me what happened to her before she came to my house. I wanted only to care for her and be a friend. However, over time Chatty’s fraying string became more resistant to my tugs. I feared it might break with the next pull, stealing her speech forever.

“It’s okay, you don’t have to say anything.” I laid my hand over her chest, feeling the ridges in the grill covering her voice box. “I’ll talk for you.”

I positioned Chatty’s legs and seated her on my hip, the way Mom carries Baby Sister. It had to be uncomfortable, but when I pulled her string again she didn’t complain.

Chatty never complained, but I understood about putting a smile on your face while still carrying hurts inside. And she didn’t always say the phrase I expected. Sometimes I couldn’t say what weighed in my heart, too.

“Te-te-tell me a story.”

“Here’s my brother’s favorite book.” I squeezed her close. “It’s called Go, Dog, Go. Let me tell you about the funny dogs.”

We both needed a good story. (end of excerpt)

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A few months ago one of my critique partners, Wanda Fisher, gave me her Betsy McCall doll to express her love and support. How thankful I am for the encouragement and reminder that Betsy also has a story to tell.

Hopefully, my book will help others tell their stories, too.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

An Oregon Hike and Making New Friends – John 15:9-12

I raced ahead, hopping over tree roots and dancing at the end of the path. Sahalie Falls, one of our favorite destinations on hot summer days, sprayed my face with its cool mist as I waited for my family. Soon my brother, sister and Mom caught up. Dad followed with my baby sister on his shoulders.

Jerry.Kathy.Sahalie Falls.5-2018

Last weekend Mom and Dad, now in their eighties, stayed home. And this time I took my turn bringing up the rear.

It was great to make new friends with international students and watch their exuberance in an Oregon forest. Jerry bonded with the younger guys, and I engaged with the girl gang as we made dozens of stops to pose for photos, admire the wild dogwood trees, and swirl our hands in the icy water.

Thanks to several long-term lifestyle changes and encouragement from medical professionals I pushed my legs to work like they haven’t been able to for a while. One of the students, Anna, stayed by my side the whole time to help me on tough stretches and insist I rest. She treated me as an honored mother, oh so kindly.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:9-12 NIV).

I attempted the hike to strengthen my legs and to learn more about people from other parts of the world. The kindness and respect I received as an older, weaker-but-getting-stronger person, however, was priceless.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

Multiplying blessings – Psalm 103:1-5

I’m slowly being buried in blessings I don’t want, mostly because of my daughter’s wedding.

Frank & Amy Barbera

Amy moved home to save her rent money for wedding preparations last year. Within weeks boxes from Amazon began piling up by our front door. It felt like Christmas, only instead of celebrating the coming of a Savior we anticipated the emergence of the newest branch in our family tree.

Frank joined our family in May, a true blessing.

While Amy was here I started finding clothing and bridal catalogs in the mailbox. After the wedding I ordered some items myself, and that’s when the floodgates opened.

Tuesday seven catalogs assaulted my home in one day. Most of them filled with “blessings” I have no use for.

And the subscriptions keep multiplying.

“Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:1-5 NIV).

Here are blessings I need, desire, and should never forget.

  • forgiveness
  • healing
  • redemption
  • love
  • compassion
  • satisfaction
  • renewal

Until I figure out how to stop adding junk mail to the landfill, I’ll use it to remind me of God’s greater blessings in my life.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

Writing Tip – Finding the Right Words

When do you think the word cool became so “cool”? Ever wonder how long popular expressions have been used?

In a 1930s-era movie I heard an actress use the word swell to express her agreement with another’s plan. I think it was Follow the Fleet with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

As I remember, the line was “that would be swell,”  and it shocked me to hear it’s use in such an old film.

Before the 60s swell was how ocean waves behaved, but using it to show agreement or joy had been invented by my peers, according to my superior knowledge of such things. It’s typical, isn’t it, how each generation tends to think we’ve come up with something never before known?

My more accurate education came by way of Google’s Ngram Viewer.

In the viewer you can type in any word to see where in history it shows up, and when it rose or fell in popularity.

It’s especially valuable for writers who want an accurate tool for historical research. Here, try it out.

There are advanced features that hurt my head, but may prove valuable in the future when I might wish to increase my smartness. With a little study it’s possible to search with different languages, alternate spellings, compare verbs and nouns, and so much more.

How I would have loved playing with the Ngram Viewer when I was in seventh grade and had only my grandmother’s hefty dictionary and the  phone book to satisfy my hunger for words.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

Improving Relationships, and the World – John 13:34-35

Choosing to love someone over the long haul–that’s real love. My husband and I attended his cousin’s memorial service last weekend, where we enjoyed a deeper level of unity in the family than we’d experienced before.

It happened at my 40th high school reunion, too. I cared more about my classmates and less about the dumb things that divided us when we were teens. I guess sometimes it takes decades to realize we don’t have to all think the same way, and we can have hundreds of friends.

An acquaintance becomes a friend

If we remembered that, we’d be more careful how we treat each other. The person we see as an enemy may become a good friend one day, if we don’t burn down bridges that connect us and forgive as we are forgiven.

Jesus said,
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35 ESV).

How far are you willing to go?

I grew up in a large extended family, and we did a lot of traveling. My first adventure was as a 6-week-old infant when we drove 2,578 miles to visit my grandparents. Before starting first grade I’d logged more than 21k miles on long distance road trips.

By the time my third sibling was old enough to sit upright, we were committed to almost yearly family reunions halfway across the continent.

Love means more than going an extra mile. The results of our prayers and efforts might not be evident immediately. Sometimes love means traveling great distances and waiting decades.

We need to think about this when we’re tempted to trash somebody online, pronounce accusations against other drivers on the road, or judge anyone as being less than us. Even those we may not choose for next door neighbors.

Listen . . .

Three of Jesus’s disciples recorded in the Gospels that God spoke audibly. You won’t see many accounts in Scripture of God doing this, so his message must be extremely important.

God said, “This is my . . . Son . . . Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:51, Mark 9:7, and Luke 9:35 ESV).

What do we hear Jesus say? “Love one another . . .”

by Kathy Sheldon Davis