Power in Small Things – Isaiah 55:10-11

Seeking His Presence: 30 Devotions Featuring the Timeless Art of Warner Sallman, is available at Warner Press and on Amazon.com.

My second book was released in September 2022 but since I’d taken a break from my writing I failed to make a big to-do about it.

Seeking His Presence: 30 Devotions Featuring the Timeless Art of Warner Sallman makes an excellent gift book with its historic art that will be familiar to people from many denominations. His Head of Christ, the artist’s most well-known work (*see publisher’s note below), hung in my family’s home through most of my childhood, reminding me daily that Jesus is with me.

My contribution to the book is related to Mr. Sallman’s rendition of the morning of the resurrection. In it I explore the depths of the women’s grief as they approach the tomb to care for their dead rabbi’s body moments before their mind-boggling encounter.

If you’d like more book release hoopla you can watch my publishing announcement video on my Facebook Writer page. It will also be pinned for a time to the top of the feed on my personal profile.

My first assignment as a devotional writer involved creating an uplifting scriptural meditation in 150 words or less (Thankfully, in Seeking His Presence I was given a higher word count). I soon lost track of the thousands of words I cut during the process, much like I did as I attacked the weeds in our flower bed last spring, my head down and arms flailing.

This before photo shows weeds that were higher than my head.

If you read my last post , where I mentioned my intent to try managing pain by strengthening my back, you might remember how wimpy my early attempts were. Sitting on a low stool to turn the soil and pull the weeds, I could only clear a small patch of ground inches at a time before requiring a break. A small beginning indeed.

I kept at it, however, and soon found myself able to increase my workload. That meant other tasks had to be laid aside, including my writing, which explains why I neglected to announce the release of Seeking His Presence and to fulfill my self-challenge to post daily updates about my progress. Isn’t it true that in all work there’s the need to let some things go? In our work yes, but not in God’s.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

Isaiah 55:10-11 ESV
This after photo shows a row of healthy tomato plants, space for the next planting, and no weeds.

A trowel is pushed into the earth and a garden is born, or a pinch of seeds is sprinkled and sprouts lift their heads. Dirt gets pressed down over the tubers and blooms appear. That’s idealist talk, I know, but even when life doesn’t always happen in my garden as I hope, the time and effort I invest works wonders in me.

What God speaks always brings the outcome he expects. How delightful that he enables me to share his words with others and often allows me to see fruit from it.

*Quote from the publisher of Seeking His Presence, taken from its Amazon listing: Artist Warner Sallman’s Head of Christ is likely the most widely recognized image of Jesus in the world, reproduced hundreds of millions of times in various forms all over the globe. It has brought comfort in war zones, on death beds, and in everyday trials. Art has great power, and Sallman’s art speaks to us in a language only our souls can comprehend. For the first time, thirty of Sallman’s best loved works―from Christ at Heart’s Door and Head of Christ to The Lord is My Shepherd and Christ, Our Pilot―are paired with meaningful devotions that speak to the message behind each painting.

Starting My Garden With a Little Faith -Romans 12:3

I got a late start on my garden this year. You might say five years late. That’s about how long it has been since I gave up working hard because of my bad back. But there are new things happening now, after years of different therapies and such that I’ve tried.

And today, after removing weeds bit by bit and preparing a small space for the off chance I might be able to maintain a few plants, there are beans and tomatoes and dahlias growing in my flower beds.

Which has helped me get a little stronger. And increased strength has motivated me to tackle the entire flower bed, which has also encouraged me to adopt more plants and tubers to stretch myself even further.

Today’s photo is of a sprig from a bean plant reaching for the sun.

Here’s a closer shot. See it there, crawling up the wire? In today’s Verse of the Day, which I receive in my email, we are admonished to assess ourselves reasonably. The little bean seed wasn’t likely aware that the result of its growing and struggling and reaching would have an impact on feeding a couple of hungry humans. It’s just doing what God assigned it to do. And what I’m trying to help it accomplish.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”

Romans 12:3 ESV

And also today, I realize that what started with what I thought might be my last solo date to the dahlia farm last Fall (driving was excruciating) and potentially wasting money ordering five lovely tubers that I might not be able to maintain, is an expression of my faith. In taking that step, I expressed hope that months later I might reach a new level of strength and productivity, and have beautiful flowers to bring into my home.

It’s okay to reach, to struggle, to try. And then rest and reach again. But if you’re worried you might think of yourself “more highly” than you ought, I suggest you visit the scriptures more frequently. That can definitely help keep things in proper perspective.

This month my goal is publishing a blog post every weekday from the Verse of the Day. Think I’ll succeed? I’m flexing my muscles and getting ready. May we both be blessed by God’s words.

Here’s where you can sign up to receive the Verse of the Day from Bible Gateway

When the Holiday Season is Hard – Proverbs 3:5-8

The transition from fall to winter is a gloomy time for some. In addition to the pressure of navigating the holidays, seasonal weather patterns also can make life challenging, especially for those who miss the sunshine.

For me, gray, overcast days don’t have a negative effect. I’ve loved clouds since I was a little girl, even to the point of getting excited during thunderstorms. What does mess with my emotions, though, is preparing for family events. That can make me a wreck!

Why do we repeat the cycles of past holidays when we make plans, raise expectations, anticipate joy, dread discomfort, and crash when it’s all over?

I have other struggles during this season when I find it easier to feel down. Pain that limits what I can do. The struggle for sleep – only four hours then I’m awake. Why? And a course change, once again, with my writing work.

My mother died the day after Christmas in 2019. Both blessing and hurt roll over me when I think about her passing. Family members came from miles away to comfort and support each other – I miss that. And Mom, my dearest friend, is out of reach.

There’s a lot I don’t like about this season of my life, but here’s the truth. I will trust God.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

Proverbs 3:5-8 ESV

As I do any other time of the year, I put (notice the next word) all my trust in God. This requires some serious self talk on my part, rehearsing the truth of how big he is, how thoroughly he has proved his love, and how devoted he is to saving all of us.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God . . .

Psalm 42:5-6 ESV

And in all (there’s that word again) the steps I take, I acknowledge him. I do this because, more than anything, I want to always (in all my ways) be aware that he is with me.

Then, instead of staying in the hurt, I think of my mother as she delivered what was probably her final joke.  We were gathered around her deathbed when someone mentioned Christmas gifts. In her sweet, understated way she offered,

“Well, you don’t have to get me anything.”

During my mother’s last days with us, as far as I could tell, she didn’t become stressed out about anything. She had long practiced putting her trust in God, and that was enough.

This post is to be published on New Year’s Day 2022, so instead of wishing you a happy new year (because happiness may take its time coming around), I ask God to bless you with the healing and refreshment mentioned in Proverbs 3 as you trust him in the days ahead.

Kathy Sheldon Davis