Survivial, Stories, and a Book Signing

IMG_0407.JPG

Recently fellow author Nancy Kennedy posted on Facebook:

Newlyweds Josh and Sara moved to Colorado, and in that sunny state, they felt like they were on vacation every day. Early one morning, Josh kissed a sleepy Sara good-bye and headed off to Keystone ski resort. It was the last time Sara saw her husband alive, and the beginning of her tidal wave of grief.

My dear friend Elsi Dodge has two stories in this book, making it an extra-special project to me.

If you’re looking for an inspirational gift or a good read, you can order a signed, gift-wrapped copy by emailing me at sara@saraschaffer.com. Cost, including shipping, is $20. (I bet I can get Elsi to sign it, too.)

We will be on KPOF 910 AM on Tuesday, November 25th from 8-9AM to talk about our book at the Breakfast Table with Roy and Denise. Tune in on-line!

Saturday, November 29th we’re signing books at Mardel’s. We’d love to have you stop by and say hello.

Josh died 15 years ago, and at the time a good friend told me I “had a lot of life left to live.” She was right, though that first Thanksgiving and Christmas were excruciating. Now I often feel like life is just beginning.

Wherever you find yourself as the holidays approach, I pray you will seek God’s truth and love. He is so wildly in love with us.

Lord, give us the grace to believe You care for us. You carry us through tragedy and through the mundane day-to-day. Bless those reading this. In so many ways, we are all survivors. Amen.

For more books by Nancy Kennedy, please go to: amazon.com.
For more books and writings by Elsi Dodge, please go to RVTourist.com.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Jesus Knows Me, This I Love

I wait. With more patience and confidence than I’ve ever exercised before, I wait.

When I turn the corner, open my email, check my messages on my phone–I’m expectant. Maybe today. Maybe now.

How to wait? This time I pray whenever it comes to mind. Please, Lord. Your best, God. And as Priscilla Shirer taught me I add: Do this or something better.

Boldness has crept in to my prayer-filled waiting. Certainly not because of me, only because now I know He loves me.

I smile when my daughters ask us for something we’ve already planned to give them. When we say, “Yes!” I want to capture their joyful gratitude in a bottle and market it worldwide.

That’s My heart for you, God whispers in my spirit. Ask Me.

Praying for things in God’s will sounds so elusive and mysterious. Could it simply mean praying with an attitude that accepts His right to refuse yet believing He wants to say yes?

Either response proves He loves me. Saying no to my daughters isn’t a power trip–why have I suspected God possessed such mean motives all these years?

Ah, forgive me!

Again, peace. The sign I saw in a mountainside cafe comes to mind, and I rest in its truth:

“Jesus knows me, this I love.”

Amen.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Secret View

I sit in my living room enjoying the refreshing autumn breeze. I have the 3-way picture window open a bit, and the cool air smells rich like a campfire thanks to my neighbor’s outdoor fireplace.

The aspens’ leaves have just begun to yellow. The Colorado sun beams down as the green leaves imperceptibly transform.

In a tree, a robin calls out. On the grass, a rabbit nibbles a fallen, dry leaf. A squirrel scampers across the fence and with a leap disappears into a neighbors tree.

Suddenly, instead of looking through the window, I look at it. Our picture window is on the back of our house. It lets in fresh air, beauty and wonder, but only to those of us inside our home see it.

The many who drive by our house in December never see our tall Christmas tree with its lights. Now in September it offers me a private showing of life.

God uses the moment to speak into my pride. Would you be a private picture window? What if I show myself through you to only a few? Do you see how that doesn’t make you less valuable?

Yes, Lord, I see that. In this world of marketing to build platforms, tribes, followers, friends, and connections, I will let You decide where I fit best into Your plan.

I grab my cup of hot tea and look again through the window to the tranquil view of my backyard, grateful our window doesn’t look out to a street. This is far more lovely to me. God, use me as you will, but please, let me reveal Your beauty.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Look Closely

This morning my husband found a dark puddle of liquid in the tiny reservoir under our refridgerator’s in-door water dispenser. There’s a shiny cover, so it wasn’t immediately obvious until he saw the edges of the cover were dirty.

Water is clear. This was not. Together we quickly cleaned it up.

It made me wonder what else I look at everyday without seeing it. My marriage? My Bible?

Yes, I tell my husband I love him everyday, and I read my Bible everyday, but is it possible that just below the shiny surface I am missing something that needs attention?

Isaiah became a prophet for Israel, and at his commissioning God told him:

“Go and tell this people:

“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’” –Isaiah 6:9 NIV

As a mom I can sort of relate. Many times I feel like I’m speaking but my children are only hearing, not responding.

And this morning I realized that every time I went to refill my water from the fridge door I was seeing but not perceiving.

The puddle of whatever-it-was was easy to clean up, and the good news is, as soon as we admit to God we are not fully engaged with Him, He responds. As soon as we ask forgiveness, He forgives and cleans us up.

So, quick, check that little spot under your water spout in the fridge door. Then get a cup of water, sit down and really look at your Bible. Not sure where to start? I recommend Psalm 51, Isaiah 6 and Matthew 13.

Dear God, forgive our forgetfulness, numbness and blindness. Thank You for giving us eyes to see You again today. Amen.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Wife Won’t Speak to Me

“Guest Post”

I love my wife. I sing to her, paint for her, provide for her and love her like crazy.

But here’s a typical day:

She sleeps as late as possible, then gets up and rushes around to get ready for the day. She walks past me like I’m not even there and doesn’t bother to say either “Good morning” or “Good-bye” on her way out the door.

Throughout her work day she knows she can call me anytime, but she doesn’t. I leave her texts, but she doesn’t even read them.

We meet for dinner, but she eats it without thanking me for taking her out. In fact, she invites some of our friends and talks to them the whole meal, acting like I don’t even exist.

On the drive home she listens to her music, yells at other drivers at times, but treats me like I’m invisible.

When we get home, she changes to comfy clothes, crawls into bed and turns on the TV. She laughs at fabricated jokes but can’t seem to hear my true humor.

Hours later, without any acknowledgement of our marriage, she clicks off the TV, turns away from me and goes to sleep.

I watch her, aching to love her. But I’ll wait until she turns to me first. She usually talks to me at least once on the weekend. In that time, I woo her, but she seems to forget me when Monday comes again.

So I wait. I love her so much.

__
Is this our relationship with Jesus? Are we doing life oblivious to His crazy love and constant presence? Is occasional time in the Bible enough? Is weekly worship acceptable?

Dear one, He waits for us. Let us speak to Him now and now and now … allowing Jesus to fill our spirits and invade each moment of our lives with His divine presence.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

9 Spiritual Quotes & Questions from my Kids

Click the links for related Scriptures. Enjoy!

Me with always is God.

Why did God create storm?

What’s the fastest way to see Jesus? Climbing a tree or swimming?

[About a coloring page featuring Joshua, son of Nun and his fighting men:] I want to name the others. This is Kung-fuey. This is Tom. This is Bob. This is Caleb, and this is Joe.

How old is Jesus?

God made me impossible!

You can’t take Jesus’ love from your heart.

I know what sin is.

[singing] Put on the full armor of God, so you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Put on the full armor of God from Ephesians 6:11. The helmet of salvation, the bracelet of righteousness, the belt of truth and the shoes of peace …

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Not Difficulty, but Drudgery

“Sometimes it is not difficulty that makes me think God will forsake me, but drudgery.” –Oswald Chambers

Day after day she sits.

Every morning she is in the same spot. Sometimes she looks one direction. Sometimes she moves and looks another. But she doesn’t leave her roost.
She stays as the sun rises.
She remains through the day.
When wind picks up and rains drops fall, she watches, unflinching and unmoving.
When the twilight comes, she keeps her post.
20140610-065107-24667510.jpg
I look for her at the start of my day. Pulling back the drapes, I see her once again. I try to take a photo, but she has hidden herself well. After several failed tries, I leave her to her privacy.

As I sit to sip my coffee and open my Bible, a movement outside catches the corner of my eye. She has not left but shifted once again. But something is different.

Looking up and out into the trees in my yard, I strain again to see Mama Bird. I’ve been watching her daily this spring. She’s still in the nest, but now I also see someone else. A small fuzzy someone.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. –Matthew 10:29-31 NIV

On one side of the four inch aspen trunk I see Mama’s tail feathers. In the nest on the other side are twitching new feathers. I cannot see their heads. What is their interaction? Is she feeding him?

I go back to my cup and study but soon I’m at the window. I see two tiny heads. Mama bends over to a very small, almost indiscernible one. A newborn. He isn’t twitching; he’s hatching. Oh, happy birthday!

As baby breaks free, he ruffles Mama’s feathers. She is on high alert. Does she see me? Her small head twists as baby presses through.

Another glance up and out. Now I see them both. A few minutes later I again only see Mama. In the same nest, the same place she has been every night and day for over a month.

Though she hasn’t left, she sits higher. Again I notice her ruffled feathers. Oh, Mama, how I can relate. Bless you.

I glance at the clock: 23 minutes until my baby birds are up. Another day for me in the same place. I shift from the kitchen to the laundry room, but the tasks ahead look much like yesterday’s.

In small moments of frustration, I look up and out. I see Mama there. Great is her faithfulness, I muse, because great is Yours.

Oh, Lord, You are here. You see Mama, and you see me. Thank You for the mundane and the chance to trust You in it.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

What Can I Do?

“What can I do?”
“Can I stir that for you?”
My kids swarm around me as I do my daily domestic dance. I glance at the clock and quickly calculate that supper needs to be done sooner than later.
“Please set the table,” I answer both of my girls.
“No, I meant, what can I do in here. I want to help,” says the oldest.
I reiterate, “It would really help if you set the table, honey.”
As I say this my younger daughter again asks, “Can I stir that, Mama? Please?”
Gently I ask her also to assist in the dining room, not the kitchen.
“I don’t want to do that.”
“Me neither.”
“Well,” I sigh, tired of my own repetition, “that’s what would help Mommy.”
My princesses suddenly leave me alone in the kitchen. I hear them in the hall putting on shoes and a moment later the sliding door to the backyard opens and shuts.
Another sigh slips out as I glance from the kitchen to the bare dining room table.

The next morning I sit poised with coffee, Bible, devotional, pen and journal. I praise, confess, and feel a familiar stirring for something more.
I write a sophisticated prayer in my journal when suddenly I realize what I’ve asked: God, what can I do? Can I stir that for You?
The day ahead comes to mind: taking kids to school, teaching, meals, cleaning, laundry.
No, I meant, what can I do of importance, God?
The list of mundane tasks crowd into my thoughts. Frustrated, I start to push them away until …
Ahh, You want me to ‘set the table.’ It’s not what I want to do, but it’s what You’re asking. Forgive me, Lord.

No great ministry—or rather, there is no greater ministry—than daily responding in love to whatever He calls me too.

As I go about my day, I feel a shift. Acceptance of the day’s activity brings me peace. I listen to and laugh with my daughters. I drive kids, dust furniture and dice chicken with ease instead of irritation.

Contentment! Who knew such joy existed in simply setting the table?

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” —Matthew 20:25-28

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Inhale! Swallow!

In 1992 presidential candidate Bill Clinton’s history of drug use came to light. At the time President Clinton protested he “didn’t inhale.” A fine line of acceptable behavior was drawn.

Now in 2014 in the state of Colorado, marijuana use is legal. Go ahead and inhale! (Oh please hear my sarcasm.)

One of the starkest moments of my life came at the age of fourteen. My aunt and uncle lived with us while my uncle received cancer treatments. Years of smoking and drinking had led to a body ravaged by cancer.

One Friday before school I found my uncle at the top of the stairs. Too weak to take more than a few steps at a time, he was resting before walking down. I stood on the landing to say good-bye and stared into vacant eyes. He was silent, and I saw only cancer, not a man.

Cigarettes never became a temptation to me.

Drinking on the other hand …

Six months after my first husband died, my best friend told me she was expecting a baby. She and her husband were buying a house, and (from my perspective) living happily ever after.

That night as I drove home to my lonely apartment, angry tears blinded me. I pulled over, unable to drive. I yelled at God in my car. “Why?!” I decided to get drunk. Glancing out the window, I saw a bar across the street. By God’s grace I started the car and went home.

I didn’t swallow.

Smoking, drinking to get drunk–legal but not healthy. Calming and numbing but not life-giving.

Counterfeits.

–> Do you pursue life-giving habits and recreation? What would change if you did?

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being (Genesis 2:7).

The Breath of Life! Inhale that!

For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by LIFE (2 Corinthians 5:4, emphasis mine).

he [God] will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
from all faces (Isaiah 25:8-9).

Death and grief swallowed up by life! Drink hope!

God, the counterfeits seem so real. Show me the truth today, and I will breathe it in and ingest it. Amen. 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

RUN!

[This excerpt is from Sara's ebook devotional Up to Know Good Daily Inspirations, on sale for only 99¢ March 21-28.]

I work from home and the other day I found myself looking into my pantry. I wasn’t hungry. I just wanted some chocolate to help me deal with my stress.

20140322-113057.jpg

As I stood there, I started to make a deal with myself. If I get some work done, then I can eat some. Suddenly I realized what I was doing. I firmly shut the door and ran down the stairs to my office determined to get my work done before the end of the day.

Do Good–Temptations look different for each of us. It might be TV, chocolate, too much time at the computer, etc. Whatever unhealthy choice you are facing today, do not stop and negotiate with it. Simply turn and run the other way.

I not only finished the tasks I was dreading that day, I also started on some other work. Though turning away from the chocolate was difficult, I left my office that evening feeling elated at what I had accomplished.

“She caught him by the cloak and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’ But he left the cloak in her hand and ran out of the house” (Genesis 39:12).

God, help us to see through our temptations and courageously run away from them.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment