Handling Stress and other Bumps in the Road – Psalm 25:1-5

The yearly writing conference I attend is next week, and things haven’t come together as I’d hoped. My budget is stretched because of rising costs, and it looks like I’ll be stuck without a roommate.

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I examine my motives and pray, but it’s still not settled in my mind. Isn’t it too much, Lord? Should I just stay home? Does my husband truly agree on the value of my attendance?

I’m at a point now where I’m struggling in prayer during the night.

Don’t worry, it’s just a bump in the road

We took a road trip from Oregon to my uncle’s home in Kansas when I was a child, and I was amazed at the Midwest’s wide, flat landscape. My uncle had instructed Dad to take a right after the hill to reach our destination. We drove for miles before Dad realized we weren’t going to see any hills, because my uncle’s definition of a hill wasn’t the same as his. Dad joked that he didn’t even feel the Kansan “hills” when he’d driven over them.

In the overall scope of things, my frustrated plans for the conference are just an inconvenience. Next month I probably won’t even remember it was such a big deal.

The up side

Perhaps I’ll be surprised with the miraculous appearance of a roommate as I’m checking in at the hotel. Or maybe this bump is actually a take-off point that will launch me into full flight—or something wonderful like that.

It’s also possible that being alone in a hotel room is what’s best for me. It certainly would help me get quality rest, and that would facilitate the learning, serving, and socializing I intend to do. It might help me think more clearly and listen more closely after lots of good sleep.

I can learn, I suppose, to stifle my frugal nature and give right-of-way to some much desired focus time. Why, the quiet nights could even enhance my writing!

“In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame . . . Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long” (Psalm 25:1-4 NIV).

I’m doing what I can. Now I need to trust God to work out the rest.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

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UPDATE: I have a roommate! God bless her.

How Not to Prepare for a Writers Conference

van load .free. jackmac34 pixabaySome of the most embarrassing moments of my life came as we followed our pastor through airports on our mission trip, carrying and dragging our bags of dumb, unnecessary stuff. Pastor Jon clipped along with his rolling carry-on containing an extra pair of shoes, a change of clothes, his Bible, a jacket, and his shaving kit.

He even had room to spare in that one small bag so he could take a gift home for his wife.

Our luggage consisted of the maximum number of pieces and poundage allowed on a plane, including a large container of hot cocoa powder mix, extra bedding, and far more clothing than I needed.

And our luggage had to be lugged. None of it had wheels. It was crazy!

I learned my lesson

I comforted myself with the promise to give a bunch of our things away before our return flight. Surely I could find someone in India with a hankering for Swiss Miss.

Getting ready for a conference

We packed too much for India because I trusted some questionable advice and didn’t do my homework. Now I plan for trips more carefully.

The most important things on my list for my next conference:

  • Stay on course. I committed myself once again to keeping my focus on following Jesus. Silly me, I’ve been worried about what I hoped to gain instead of doing his will! Instead, I’ll pursue knowing and trusting him, preparing thoughtfully, and working hard to learn all I can.
  • Give and receive. I bring home a treasure chest full of valuable relationships and insights when I follow the “love your neighbor as yourself” rule. I try to stretch the bounds of my comfort level every day by starting conversations with strangers and looking for ways to be helpful. It always pays off.
  • Don’t forget to love your closest neighbor as yourself. It’s not easy on the husband I leave behind. Sure, he may say he’s happy with chili dogs for dinner every night, but it keeps the sparks sparking if I find creative ways to love him during the time I’m gone. For me, this has to be set up before I leave – or it won’t get done!

For the Oregon Christian Writers summer conference this year, I’m taking the essentials and one quirky item, my little box fan. It helps me sleep, and getting good sleep helps me take better notes. It also gives me clearer thinking for the editor, agent, and mentor appointments I  plan to sign up for.

I’m certain I won’t need to take extra bedding.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

Sheltering a Lost Soul – Psalm 68:5-6

The caseworker, working after-hours, sat at a large corner desk while a small boy played at her feet. The drive to Corvallis had taken me longer than expected, and when she introduced me to our new foster child, he looked at me with quiet, sad eyes.

What had he seen unfold before him today, bringing him to this difficult place away from his mother who doted on him and family who was always nearby? I may never know, but we took him home and loved him as best we knew how.

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Juan Marcos* stayed with us only a week, but before he left I’d met his mother, aunt, and grandmother, all who expressed gratitude to me for caring for their precious boy. For them, I was a lifesaver.

What does love cost?

It wasn’t a great sacrifice to have Juan in our home. He was easy to look after, and a delightful playmate for the other children. Keeping him was a joyful work, a mirror of God’s work.

“Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land” (Psalm 68:5-6 ESV).

It was a privilege to have him in our family, and I hope, like I do for everyone in my path, to see him in God’s kingdom one day.

We’re camping

A couple weeks ago Jerry and I camped at Waldo Lake with our son and his family which currently includes two foster children. Liam* likes calling me grandma, just like my grandsons. Right now, I’m the only grandma he has. He is 4 years old, and he wasn’t thinking much about the family he loves but doesn’t have nearby. For this time we are his other family, and we’re camping.

My husband gently instructed Liam in how to aim his arrow safely. Liam scrunched up his face and let the arrow fly, hitting his target dead on. He immediately turned my direction to flash a proud grin.

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In my years as foster mom I’ve learned I can’t expect to understand everything a displaced child goes through. I don’t know all they suffer, and I can’t always help. Maybe Liam doesn’t need me to fix anything, anyway. He just wants to know a grandma saw him hit his target and thinks he’s pretty special.

There’s a young man I care about who’s experiencing a lot of trouble. He called me from jail, and I gave him all the time and support I could. He doesn’t need me to fix anything. I couldn’t anyway, but you can bet I was in court to show him there’s an older lady who thinks he’s awfully special.

Sometimes it seems our problems will never be resolved, like it does to a child languishing in foster care. That’s when we need to borrow a parent, a family, or maybe a grandma or friend, for loving support while God leads us to better days.

And sometimes, loving each other is all the answer we need for now.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

*names have been changed to protect children’s privacy