Stay the Course, Telling the Heart of the Story – 1 Kings 13:15-32

What should I do if someone disagrees with the path I’ve chosen? I know what God wants me to do: Love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, strength, and love my neighbor as myself. One way I express this love is in my writing. Love is his command, writing is my response. But what if a person I trust directs me a different way?

While reading 1 Kings 13 this week I contemplated the part that two prophets played in the story. One, a man of God from Judah, and the other an older prophet. The older prophet disputed what God told the man of God to do. He lied, claiming God told him to instruct the man of God to change his course. The man of God believed the lie and disobeyed God’s command, which led to his death.

Isn’t the older prophet responsible?

What bothers me is that the older prophet’s part in the man of God’s downfall isn’t addressed. Not one word–even though the older prophet confronts the sin that he enabled. Did he carry no guilt for his part in his fellow prophet’s downfall?

I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know whatever God does is just. I can certainly trust him.

Sticking with my story

My takeaway is that I need to stay on course. The writer of 1 Kings 13 focused on the man of God’s path, not the old prophet’s. If there’s another story to tell, it will come in a different chapter, from another writer, or at another time.

I’m to plow ahead in obedience, even if someone more experienced attempts to direct my path differently. Managing my response to the distraction of dissenting voices is a huge part of living. It’s good to listen to the opinions of those we trust, but I need to be careful to only let God change my course.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

I’m a Finalist!

I’m enjoying some good news I received this month. If you follow me on social media or receive newsletters from Oregon Christian Writers, you probably heard I’m a finalist in the Cascade Contest. The winner will be announced at the summer conference on August 22.

2018 Finalist

My entry, currently titled Memoir of a Living Doll, traces the roles dolls played in my growing up. I learned from Chatty Cathy, the pre-owned doll who arrived with marks and scrapes, to see the value of loving imperfect people. This translated later into becoming a foster parent. And Raggedy Ann, who wasn’t crafted for the purpose of merely adorning my bed. She taught me the importance of releasing the ones I love to fulfill their missions in life.

I’m still knitting, pulling out stitches, and reworking my story so I’m sure I’ll discover more surprises along the way. For now, I’m excited my concept and sample pages pleased the preliminary judges. Thank you, Cascade staff, volunteers, and OCW!

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Here’s a scene I’m working on:

It didn’t matter if Chatty Cathy couldn’t speak well. She didn’t have to tell me what happened to her before she came to my house. I wanted only to care for her and be a friend. However, over time Chatty’s fraying string became more resistant to my tugs. I feared it might break with the next pull, stealing her speech forever.

“It’s okay, you don’t have to say anything.” I laid my hand over her chest, feeling the ridges in the grill covering her voice box. “I’ll talk for you.”

I positioned Chatty’s legs and seated her on my hip, the way Mom carries Baby Sister. It had to be uncomfortable, but when I pulled her string again she didn’t complain.

Chatty never complained, but I understood about putting a smile on your face while still carrying hurts inside. And she didn’t always say the phrase I expected. Sometimes I couldn’t say what weighed in my heart, too.

“Te-te-tell me a story.”

“Here’s my brother’s favorite book.” I squeezed her close. “It’s called Go, Dog, Go. Let me tell you about the funny dogs.”

We both needed a good story. (end of excerpt)

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A few months ago one of my critique partners, Wanda Fisher, gave me her Betsy McCall doll to express her love and support. How thankful I am for the encouragement and reminder that Betsy also has a story to tell.

Hopefully, my book will help others tell their stories, too.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

Writing Tip – Finding the Right Words

When do you think the word cool became so “cool”? Ever wonder how long popular expressions have been used?

In a 1930s-era movie I heard an actress use the word swell to express her agreement with another’s plan. I think it was Follow the Fleet with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

As I remember, the line was “that would be swell,”  and it shocked me to hear it’s use in such an old film.

Before the 60s swell was how ocean waves behaved, but using it to show agreement or joy had been invented by my peers, according to my superior knowledge of such things. It’s typical, isn’t it, how each generation tends to think we’ve come up with something never before known?

My more accurate education came by way of Google’s Ngram Viewer.

In the viewer you can type in any word to see where in history it shows up, and when it rose or fell in popularity.

It’s especially valuable for writers who want an accurate tool for historical research. Here, try it out.

There are advanced features that hurt my head, but may prove valuable in the future when I might wish to increase my smartness. With a little study it’s possible to search with different languages, alternate spellings, compare verbs and nouns, and so much more.

How I would have loved playing with the Ngram Viewer when I was in seventh grade and had only my grandmother’s hefty dictionary and the  phone book to satisfy my hunger for words.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

I Write for You – John 21:14-19

It’s all about you. That may sound strange, but it’s true. As we come to the end of January I’m altering my blog a bit, all because of you.

At an Oregon Christian Writers conference a few years ago I attended a workshop led by magazine editor Ginger Kolbaba. She taught on writing articles for publication, and the remarkable takeaway I got was from her comment about rejecting submissions she felt might discourage or do harm to the readers she served. She seemed adamant about her responsibility to care for them.

I hadn’t thought of my writing carrying that much responsibility.

“This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs’ (John 21:14-15 NIV).

Jesus told Peter three times to feed his sheep, and twice he reminded Peter to be his follower. I think it’s a pretty strong commission since Jesus had recently suffered and died and risen from the dead. Anyone would be motivated to listen to someone who’d been dead!

It was like he was giving his disciples his final instructions. This is important, take care of my sheep. You must follow me.

I’m looking for better ways to serve my readers, a more effective way to love my neighbor as myself as a follower of Jesus, so I’m writing my memoir (see explanation on my About page). Since it’s important I give more attention to it, I’m changing my blogging schedule to once a month.

You’re invited to sign up for my newsletter to receive updates. I’ll keep you informed of the progress of my book and other writing ventures. There’s also a form at the top of this page if the link doesn’t work.

Let me know if you have any comments or suggestions. It’s my pleasure to serve you.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

How Watching TV and Going Hunting Improves my Marriage – Genesis 2:20-24

There are a couple of things I do to make my marriage better, things I wouldn’t be interested in if I weren’t married to Jerry.

First, staring at moving images on a screen has never been my favorite pastime. I prefer doing something with my hands, like writing, straightening up the house, turning pages in a book, visiting with my parents, and playing with grandchildren.

I used to tell my kids that when I am old and housebound, then I’ll catch up on those important shows I should have seen on TV. If I feel like it.

Jerry likes taking it easy on the couch after a long day at work. I don’t spend time on the couch except when I’m sick, and when he invites me to watch something with him. Most evenings now we find a documentary or historical drama on the Web and hunker down to share some chill time.

Second, I don’t care much for hunting. Early in our marriage I asked Jerry to teach me to shoot a gun. I’ve brought home game, but I don’t enjoy sneaking around in the woods being quiet for hours on end. Sometimes I want to throw rocks, sing, explore, and talk to God out loud.

What I do enjoy is living life with my husband, so last week I tagged along with him and his buddy Leo on their hunting trip. Along with more kitchen supplies than they would have taken, I packed my Bible, my laptop, and a charger to plug into the truck.

United is our choice 

“But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man . . . That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:20-24 NIV).

It was a great week. The guys pulled out before sunrise and I didn’t see them till midday. They came back to rest and eat, then headed out for another try at finding those elusive elk. When they were in camp I supported them by making some of their meals and hearing about their day.

A writer’s retreat – my special place

While they were gone I did the housekeeping (or camp keeping), read my books, explored, and wrote, relishing my time alone.

Dorcas Smucker, author and columnist for the Register-Guard, wrote about the cabin her husband built for her so she could write in a quiet place. She posted a photo of herself on her blog, a contented writer perched in her nest. Compare her photo to mine.*

The writing space my husband provided for me was quite different, and my position in the photo is harder to discern. There’s a look of deep intent on my face as I write, sitting by the heater in our tent trailer wearing nearly every stitch of clothing I brought along.

Dorcas doesn’t look like she’s having trouble staying warm, but what we are both experiencing is the much-appreciated support of our husbands, and our mutual love of writing with God.

Guess what Jerry and I did when we came home from our hunting trip? Different tasks as we unpacked, reorganized, and cleaned up. Different stories about our adventures. Different plans for the next few days. Different but together.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

*Dorcas Smucker can be found at dorcassmucker.blogspot.com. Her books are available on Amazon.com.