A Snapshot of Gratefulness – Philippians 4:6-7

I played outside with my family this week. My husband, sons, and grandson shot basketballs in a game of PIG while two other grandchildren sped by on their bikes, launching themselves off the ramp. The youngest sat in the grass.

A couple of times I stopped the ball from escaping, kicking it back into the game. I also offered a lot of verbal support, withdrawing from the ruckus since my chronic pain insists I live more gently. That’s when I remembered that the day our third son, Seth, was born, we thought he might never play with the family.

There’d been concerns during labor. A specialist was called in. Jerry held my hand as I clung to peace by quoting from Psalm 121 between contractions.

“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 . . . The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life” (Psalm 121:1-2 and 7 ESV).

The hospital tests hadn’t provided answers. One concern was his color, which they described as ashen. He was lethargic. They decided to keep him another day for observation, and I went home with an empty baby carrier. I imagined all sorts of devastating news I might hear the next day–he had a disease, a birth defect, or he was dying.

We left him overnight but decided that was enough. Seth needed to know his family surrounded him and loved him. His two older brothers needed to pat his head and whisper their secrets. He belonged at home.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV).

Now he plays with his nephews in the street, the tall, strong father of a teenager. He’s home. No wonder I rejoice in the Lord who heard my prayers and answered them in ways more beautiful than I could imagine.

These times are precious. We don’t know the length of our days, but He Who Watches Over Us keeps us. As we move toward the end of our days let’s remember to be ever thankful for God’s kindness to us. That he heard our prayers, that he hears us still, and he will see us home.

The completeness, the joy I can’t contain, the certainty of God’s promises – can you even imagine the awesomeness of standing near my son as he shoots baskets with his dad, his brother, and his nephews, when so close is the memory of the time we didn’t know if we’d get to see him grow up?

It’s only a breath of time, me standing with the life of my family swirling around me. For this moment I am grateful.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

Being Happy with Less than Perfect – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

As my family grows it gets harder for us to show up and sit still for a family portrait all at the same time. We’re not good at staying on task, with the different ages and energy levels at play.

And our colorful personalities are hard to corral to get everyone focused on the camera without our faces expressing everything from hilarity to stoicism. It’s quite challenging.

There are fixes for this. Sometimes Photoshop is nice, but it can also be a disaster. We have one photo where there are too many legs for the number of people lined up.

Then there’s the one where my creative son traded everyone’s head for someone else’s on our family football team. That one had to go.

Also, trying to be all-inclusive can backfire. When my nephew couldn’t attend my sister’s wedding we included a framed picture of him in our family portrait. A friend saw it and thought its presence meant he had died. We’re so glad you’re still with us, James.

It’s good enough

I changed the banner photo on my website this week, resolved to show my family as we were on a beautiful fall day at Amazon Park. We’d asked a stranger to capture the moment, it was a low resolution camera, and some of us were ready for nap time though I’m not mentioning names. It’s not a perfect photo, and some family members are missing, but I’m happy with what I have.

An aside: I’m going to break a writing rule and include a random, unrelated tidbit. I played at the same park and crawled on the same cement dinosaur that’s in the picture when I was a kid. It’s a senior moment, I know, but hey, it’s my family.

We have what we need

I don’t have to list our problems or brag about our accomplishments. We’re all imperfect, his grace is enough, and love covers a multitude of sins—all those wonderful phrases from Scripture that give us hope for a perfect future.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 4:9-10 ESV).

We’re in this life together, folks. And Jesus really is all we need.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

 

Repairing Broken Relationships – Hebrews 12:12-15

Would you like broken relationships in your family to be restored? One way to see progress is by following the instructions outlined in Hebrews 12.

bridge building. free pixabay

I have been out of touch with some of my extended family for decades. Misunderstandings, indifference and hurts all played their part in dividing us, and since so many years have passed it wasn’t likely we would ever come together again.

“Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble …” (Hebrews 12:12-15 ESV).

The first step: Strengthen and straighten 

I started by working on my “drooping hands” and “weak knees.” Where I’d given up, I renewed my commitment to love. And where the road linking me to my cousins had become twisted and full of obstacles, I added my prayers to my grandmother’s for unity in her family. Then I went to work.

Thank God for Facebook! I searched through family members’ pages and found links to others. It really motivated me follow through when I discovered my cousin Jerry’s grandchildren looked a lot like members of my family. Uploading a bunch of historical family photos got the ball rolling, and soon different relatives uploaded photos of their own.

The second step: Strive for peace

We had our first cousin reunion in John Day, OR, a year ago, and got along splendidly. Last week we had our second gathering, adding another previously out-of-touch cousin to the mix when we met at the Veterans Memorial Museum in Chehalis, WA. Remarkably, when she showed up I learned she lives right there in Chehalis!

The tricky part in building relationships is when the dialog goes places we may not like, for instance, with strongly held political or religious views. It’s encouraging to see others are working on strengthening and straightening things out, too. And so far, we’re all striving for that “peace with everyone” the scripture talks about.

Finally: Continually remove the bitter roots 

As I ate lunch with my formerly long lost cousin, her joy and excitement matching my own, I knew I’d gained a priceless relationship. It takes vigilance to keep bitterness from getting a foothold, but I sure enjoy the rewards for all the hard work.

Let love rule over all.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis