Sheltering a Lost Soul – Psalm 68:5-6

Our foster parenting caseworker at DHS, 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.

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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, love 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

When is the Best Time to Write? – Proverbs 14:23

It’s like asking a painter when he should choose the colors for his palette, or a chef when she should start working on a menu plan. When is the best time to start?

A better question might be, How can I predict when my super genius will show up – so minimal effort will give birth to amazing creations?

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Now is a good time

I parked under the Jerry’s Home Improvement sign last week, waiting for a man to show up with the car we were interested in buying. The window of opportunity for getting it to our mechanic was narrowing by the minute, but there I sat, tapping my finger on the steering wheel.

I was also concerned about my husband’s arrival. He felt the pressure of the ticking clock, as well. And I was uneasy about meeting a stranger alone.

A perfect opportunity, nearly

Instead of fussing about the inconvenience of it all, I chose to work on something I had more control over. I pulled my notebook out of my purse and found a blank page. It wasn’t easy corralling my thoughts at first, but I was determined to put some words on paper that might eventually morph into a blog post or a devotional for my publisher.

I found the unlikely location and out-of-the-ordinary scenery refreshed my thinking, and sure enough, ideas flowed. Now I have an inspirational message I can share.

Perfect situation or not, I can keep working. I can find some way to be productive. Like poking seeds into rich soil and tending the plants as they grow, my continued efforts will bring a profitable result.

“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23 NIV).

Now is a perfect time to write, and now I have another environment to write in – our newer car.

Kathy Davis