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

 

Letter to a Wife – Proverbs 31

From a guy’s perspective, a man who values his wife more than riches or the great coupons she finds. My brother has consented to let me post his anniversary letter this week. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

A great woman is hard to find, she is worth far more than pearls, opals, topaz, or great coupons. Her husband trusts in her, if he is smart. Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life, with the exception of sharing from her large chocolate stash in that desk drawer.

She constantly shops for the best values, found in high-end stores (just looking), or second-hand boutiques. Her second-hand is as lovely and her first, by the way. She works hard to keep her husband looking sharp, which can be a challenge.

She is like a Trader Joe’s buying rep who scours the country looking for yummy surprises and hard to find finds. She is up before 10, preparing mochas when her husband doesn’t have time. Otherwise, she gladly accepts his breakfast while she reads the paper, with still more scouring.

She looks over a field, discovers that her husband has grand ideas concerning it, and says, “You’ve got to be kidding.” She lets him landscape and plant a garden anyway. God bless her.

First thing in the morning, she dresses, always styling, rolls up her sleeves and gets to work. If she is wearing short sleeves, that means its July. She keeps work in balance, and really knows how to juggle. She puts the home in homemaking and gladly works side by my side.

She is quick to help anyone, anytime. She doesn’t think twice. She quietly challenges her husband to put compassion over practicality.

She doesn’t worry about her family when it rains or snows, because she has already found great deals on winter clothes. Her own clothing is always sharp and classy. And unlike her husband, she pulls off retro.

When her husband deliberates with city fathers, they roll their eyes and look to her, knowing they’ll now get the real story. Her children know and do this too. She keeps an eye on her household and keeps them all productive. Especially her husband.

Charm can mislead and beauty fades, but seriously, how does she still look so good? Colby is to be admired and praised (she is wincing right now but I tell it like it is).

Her life secret: She humbly and wisely walks before God. My decision to link up with her 32 years ago was the second best decision I ever made.

Happy Anniversary, Sweetie.

Terry Sheldon, guest blogger. A letter to his wife, Colby Sheldon, as they celebrate their anniversary 2017. Terry also blogs periodically for City Salt Church in Eugene, OR.
Note: Slightly modified from Proverbs 31:10-31 TUV (Terry’s Unauthorized Version)

Understanding a Woman’s Mind – 2 Kings 4:25-27

When relationships are difficult it’s hard to wait patiently for a solution. This might be by God’s design. Sometimes he hides things from us. Perhaps we have trouble understanding our spouse’s mind because God has closed a door. But why would he do that? Why should understanding be locked up?

Maybe it’s all about God’s timing.

It’s so hard when no matter how much we love someone or how hard we try, understanding can remain out of our reach. The most difficult part is remaining in that state without getting angry, casting blame, or withdrawing our love.

I did all of those things when, at the onset of menopause, my emotions became unstable. I would calmly start discussing my concerns with my husband, but discord would escalate to the point where neither of us could sort it out. There was no making sense of it.

I learned in 2 Kings this morning that one of God’s prophets, someone who understands things the rest of us don’t, was befuddled by another’s thinking.

Elisha prophesied that the Shunammite woman would have a son, and it came to pass the following year. But God hadn’t told him everything.

 

So she set out and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel.

When the man of God saw her coming, he said to Gehazi his servant, “Look, there is the Shunammite. Run at once to meet her and say to her, “Is all well with  you? Is all well with your husband? Is all well with the child?”

And she answered, “All is well.” And when she came to the mountain to the man of God, she caught hold of his feet.

And Gehazi came to push her away. But the man of God said, “Leave her alone, for she is in bitter distress, and the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me.”


2 Kings 4:25-27 ESV

 

Why would the Lord hide things from us? In verse 27 we see the prophet told his servant to leave the woman alone. Time needed to pass before her issue and its answer would be known.

It might look like I’m really hung up on this trust thing, but I’m convinced that’s what living life with God is all about.

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 your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.

Proverbs 3:5-9 NASB

 

Like the prophet Elisha, my husband and I found it sometimes takes time to reach a place of understanding. When we acknowledge God in all our ways he straightens out the path before us. When the time is right, we’ll understand.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

 

 

 

When I was the Stranger to Avoid

Why should she be suspicious of me? Can’t she tell by looking that I’m a good person and only want to help? And who pinned a BEWARE OF THE STRANGER sign on my shirt?

How quickly I forgot that earning trust is work.

As I searched for mushrooms in a crowded produce department last year, I maneuvered my cart around a young mother and her brood. A little girl hung on to the outside of the cart, asking for strawberries, and a wide-eyed infant squirmed in his sling. The woman had to be overwhelmed.

A minute later I heard their cart hit the cement floor, scattering their groceries. Mom calmed her terrified daughter and reached to get their belongings out of the way of other shoppers.

How well I remember shopping with multiple children in tow, taking care to keep them safe from sharp objects and questionable people.

Parking my cart out of the shopping lane, I picked up some bags of produce and cans and set them back in her cart. When I found a cell phone, I handed it to Mom thinking she’d be grateful I’d rescued it. Instead, she scrutinized me as though I might grab it and run.

I’m sure to her I looked like a meddling nuisance, a stranger who shouldn’t be trusted. I’d thought the same things of people who seemed overly friendly to my children.

“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:18 ESV).

Now I knew that she didn’t need me for a best friend at that moment. Instead, the best way to love my neighbor that day was to back off. Spotting a loose dime on the floor, I bent down to pick it up, knowing I was still being watched. I handed it to the little girl. “Here, why don’t you hold this for your mommy?”

And I slipped quietly away.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis