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

Why I Attend Writers Conferences – Hebrews 10:23-25

Here we are with the Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference 2017 only a week away. This conference is the biggest event of my writing year, so let me attempt to explain why.

The down side

Conferences are expensive.

They’re time-consuming.

Being in a room full of strangers is taxing.

I may not measure up, my work will be rejected, or I’ll otherwise discover I’m the worst writer ever.

It’s an indulgence. I feel guilty about laying aside other responsibilities to immerse myself in something I enjoy so completely.

Why I go

  1. It’s a refresher course. I gain knowledge that helps me understand current changes in the publishing industry.
  2. It’s energizing on many levels. Encountering writers and industry professionals from all walks of life charges my creative batteries.
  3. It’s worth it. It just is. I haven’t met a writer who doesn’t want to improve. The benefits of rubbing shoulders with less-than and more-than seasoned writers are immeasurable. And I just said I’m not comfortable in crowds?
  4. It’s give and take. It’s amazing how much inspiration I receive as I’m helping other writers on their path.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:23-25 ESV).

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

#amwriting #keepwriting #ocwsummerconf2017 #goodforme

The Value of Work – Genesis 2:5-18

A short time before Kathy, an older woman in our church, passed away, she told a friend she wouldn’t be worried about her children any longer. She felt she had fulfilled her purpose, that God was pleased, and now she could rest.

After God had created a bunch of amazing things like planets, the fireball of a sun, a moon for a nightlight, oceans and mountains, you’d think he’d be ready for time off, too. But unlike my friend nearing the end of her life, God wasn’t done with his work. He wanted a garden.

God’s great works

“When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground—then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

hand-dirty-hans-free-pixabay

“And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’

“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him’ ” (Genesis 2:5-18 ESV).

He gave us an assignment

I hadn’t seen it before, but the scripture says that God made the man, then planted the garden and put him in it. It’s apparent Adam watched God work and learned from him how to care for the garden. This is consistent with what we understand of God as a good Father, teaching his children to do well in work and in life, and to avoid the hazards along the way.

And isn’t it interesting that God demonstrated a work ethic and gave humans tasks to do before there was hunger or lack. The fall into sin, and subsequently the separation from our Creator, hadn’t occurred yet. Work was good, and relational, and mirrored the power of the Maker of all things.

Can you imagine God lounging on the patio with a cool drink, Adam and Eve on either side of him, surveying the outcome of their week’s work? Maybe that’s what my friend Kathy is enjoying right now.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

Aiming for the Prize – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

My birthday falls smack dab in the middle of hunting season, and this year I decided to celebrate it in the Malheur National Forest with my husband and his hunting buddy. I knew I wouldn’t exactly be with them, though. I’d touch base with them before they’d crash after a long day’s hunt and a meal. I was warned it would be hunt, sleep, and eat, and then more of the same.

I could handle that

I relished the idea of exploring a new landscape, spending hours on end writing and reading and praying. I’m sure they expected me to ditch camp and head home after the weekend, but I was determined to stick it out the full ten days.

kd-campmama-9-2016

My poor little beige Camry didn’t know what to do in the middle of a parade of dusty trucks bouncing by camp. I didn’t either, feeling out of place having no encounters with another woman for days. How weird to discover I’d miss that.

On Day Three we moved to a campground south of Prairie City, hopeful we’d run into elk there.

It’s been a test of my endurance, to see how I might manage without most of my favorite things: My bed, my food, my friends, my chair, my thermostat. There’s no shower. No cell coverage. No internet.

Just me and Jesus

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV).

kd-prairie-city-9-2016

I feel like I’m testing myself by giving up some comforts for a while. The prize I hope for is a walk with God from a more trusting heart which will bring me clearer direction on my journey.

One perk I’ve enjoyed is talking to God out loud, or singing, or humming when I feel like it. Sometimes solitude is wonderful.

Today, on day seven, I drove into Prairie City to find internet access in order to post my blog. I’m at Roan’s Decor & Gift Shop sipping a hot, creamy Chai latte. How fun to walk into town a stranger and leave with a hat full of new friends.

I also got caught up on email and social media. You know, those vital things. Soon I’ll  head back to camp, start the fire and cook a good meal. Sleep, eat, hunt, you know.

I hope they let me come back next year.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

New Life Comes from Cutting Back – John 15:1-2

I killed our apple tree this winter when I pruned it. Ducking under its lopped stubs, I hung the long-handled cutting tool on its pegs. How could the poor tree survive that, I wondered.

Apple Bloom 4-2016

It’s happened before, when I worried I went too far in my efforts to improve a plant’s productivity. But what I’ve seen is that a season of severe pruning often foreshadows a wonderful change coming, like when I prepared to give birth to my firstborn son.

Houseplants, beware of pregnant women

My nesting instinct kicked into overdrive. All morning I worked at getting my house in order. I clipped away at my leggy, overgrown potted plant until the last few leaves begged for mercy. Later, as I surveyed the damage, I feared for its life.

“I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15:1-2 NIV).

I must have known, somewhere in my deepest being, that labor would begin that day. The plant suffered under the coming tide of birthing hormones, and I struggled later under childbirth pain, but the outcomes of both were very much worth it.

Months later, hugging my squirming toddler, I admired the healthier, stronger plant flourishing in its pot.

Spring came, mostly

The trees flowered all over the valley, waving in the wind like a bunch of ladies in their new dresses, but for the longest time my apple tree stood stark naked. It had to be dead, displaying only short, broken sticks.

I waited, and the blossoms on many of the neighborhood trees turned brown. Then, a springtime miracle. Popping out from the mass of spikes was one little dainty pink blossom.

One.

“See! The winter is past, the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth, the season of singing has come.” (Song of Solomon 2:11-12).

Even though my husband teased that we would only get one apple this year, I still hummed a happy tune. That one blossom proved there was still life happening, and hope for more fruit in the future.

However, I’ve got to learn to be more careful.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis