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.

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“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

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.

Waldo 7-2016 protected crop

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.

Waldo 7-2016a

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

Don’t Quit – We Can do This

I felt a little guilty when I walked out of the Westmoreland Medical Clinic for the last time. In the parking lot I stifled my spreading grin, and after shutting the car door I unleashed a giggle. I was free!

Until that spring, I had no interest in reading or writing fiction. I wanted to stick with the Bible, the only book I felt I could trust to be true (nonfiction). My work in health records was the perfect outlet for me as I carefully researched and managed medical files. It was all about order and facts.

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But something changed when I left my job. I was now free to pursue something radically different.

I challenged myself to consider how Jesus often used parables – fictional stories to help his hearers understand the concepts he was teaching.

Could I do that?

I wanted to improve how I serve God and others, and broaden my communication skills. That meant I needed to learn to tell a good story, like Jesus, but how do I start?

I called myself a writer. That was hard. It was like admitting I might waste a lot of time arranging words with nothing to show for it. My husband said, “Go for it,” and my family was supportive, so I dove in.

The next step was to put money on it. I bought Writing Fiction for Dummies, by Randy Ingermanson. The following year I was privileged to tell the author how much I appreciated his book when I encountered him at the Oregon Christian Writers summer conference!

I did it!

I’ve sat through dozens of workshops, taken courses, attended author events, talked with editors and agents at writing conferences, and kept writing. I work with my critique partners so we can improve together.

My first devotionals were contracted last year and my first short story released just this week (see Jesus Talked to Me Today  in the sidebar). I don’t intend to quit. It takes a lot of faith, it’s true, to believe my writing is helping people.

I want to keep getting better

I’m turning another corner this year, though not as dramatic as my leap from medical writing (nonfiction) to stories (fiction). Now I’m learning to tell real stories, keeping them true, with a literary aspect. It’s like telling the truth but making it more captivating, or perhaps more understandable.

Here’s an explanation of what I’m talking about.

“Creative nonfiction merges the boundaries between literary art (fiction, poetry) and research nonfiction (statistical, fact-filled, run of the mill journalism). It is writing composed of the real, or of facts, that employs the same literary devices as fiction such as setting, voice/tone, character development, etc. This makes if (sic) different (more ‘creative’) than standard nonfiction writing.” – from Writing Tips page on the University of Vermont’s website.

Let’s go.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis