He Carries You – Isaiah 46:1-4

We were riding in a cycle rickshaw in India when I realized that Jerry and I put a significant burden on the man who gripped the handle bars. Laboring to maneuver us through Lucknow’s busy streets, we watched his thin legs work hard to get us to our destination. I was concerned he might break a leg or fall off the bike. How I wanted to fix a good meal for the undernourished soul.

Earlier that week we’d toured Delhi, passing temples to different gods and shops offering idols for sale. The small bus that carted us around felt much safer than the rickshaws, especially when we passed overloaded wagons swaying as the livestock plodded along.

This morning I found these verses in Isaiah that brought me comfort.

“. . . their idols are on beasts and livestock; these things you carry are borne as burdens on weary beasts. They stoop; they bow down together; they cannot save the burden, but themselves go into captivity.

“‘Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save'” (Isaiah 46:1-4 ESV).

Our God carries us, we don’t carry him. We’re his burden, he isn’t ours. And he’s far stronger than our friends in India.

Thank you, strong and mighty One, you haven’t dropped us yet!

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

Making a Dramatic Lifestyle Change – Isaiah 43:19-21

When I prepared to leave home after graduating high school, it was like throwing my toothbrush and jacket into a backpack and taking off for the wilderness. Did I really understand what I was doing? I was also concerned I might not like what I found when I reached my destination.

Where am I going?

Living as an independent adult wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

My grandparents had recently moved to a house on Almaden Street, and I entertained the idea of claiming their basement room for myself. It was damp and musty, empty but for two box crates stacked in the corner. I arranged them under the tiny window, planning to decorate them with dandelions in a tin can.

At some point I’d put a mattress on the floor. I could live without furniture, for a while anyway. I would eat brown rice and split peas . . . and well, I could get along without lots of things.

It sounded like a great idea, “roughing it,” spending time alone with God and not having to put up with other people and their problems.

My fantasy lasted about 7 hours.

When I came to my senses I marked out a different path. Living and caring only for myself wasn’t going to be good. I recognized my true life goal is to follow Jesus where he leads—to sacrificial love for others.

A way in the wilderness

I recently found myself taking an unexpected turn on my path, which involves working to improve my health. After a physical exam I read several books to compare professional opinions. I’ve been eating a whole foods, plant-based diet now for one year and ten days, and I’m thankful to say it’s helping me manage arthritis pain without prescription drugs.

“I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise” (Isaiah 43:19b-21 ESV).

Whatever comes on our life’s path, we can trust him to make a way.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

Can I Cut Off my Sin Forever? – Matthew 5:30

I looked at the brown hair clippings lying in the sink, afraid to look in the mirror. At least, I reasoned, I feel more righteous now.

That morning I’d propped my books on my hip after class, weaving through the students in the social studies hall. Ever mindful of my hair, I shook my head slightly to show it off its long waves. I didn’t think there was much attractive about my appearance, but I sure enjoyed the compliments I got on my hair.

Good pride / bad pride

It’s OK to be proud about some things, but at Tuesday night Bible study we learned about the kind of pride that dishonors God. The pride that lifts itself up above him. The voice that says we don’t need him. The pride that blinds us to our need of his righteousness, because we’re doing just fine on our own thank-you-very-much.

I was sure I didn’t have a pride issue. After all, I hated being the center of attention. Except, of course, if it involved someone noticing my hair.

That’s when I decided my opinion about my hair wasn’t a good kind of pride–and I had to take care of the problem. Note to self: Next time pray first.

“And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell” (Matthew 5:30 ESV).

That evening I found my mother’s sewing scissors and took them into the bathroom. Lifting my hair away from my shoulders, I chopped it off. Then I asked Mom to help me straighten it up in the back. I felt utterly shorn. When I examined the outcome in the mirror my pride evaporated, lickety-split.

The Results of the Pride Surgery

I couldn’t believe it when the very next day as I watched a girl with a crazy hair-do pass by, I boasted inwardly that I’m more humble than her.

Oh my goodness, I about dropped my notebook. I was proud of my humility! You’ve got to love the faithfulness of the Holy Spirit to reveal what’s true.

And the truth is this, there is no way I can keep myself free from the sin I get wrapped up in so easily. I need Jesus’ sacrifice to cover me every day. And I need to walk closely to him, listening to his voice, accepting that sometimes he’ll lead me to the cross so that what needs to die will be dealt with. I can’t remove it completely on my own.

“. . . let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus . . . who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV).

The moral of my story: Don’t be in a hurry to pick up a pair of scissors.

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)