Retreat this Fall to the Rocky Mountains

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You Really Are Not Alone

sunsetID-100186777A couple of weeks ago I gave the following talk at my Wednesday Bible study. Depression is a chronic struggle for me, and I’m thankful God’s Word deals with it honestly and transparently.

If you or someone you know also deals with a troubled heart, here’s a gentle reminder: put your hope in God. He is a sure, definite, reliable, all-powerful Hope. Especially in the darkness of depression, I’m thankful I can rely on Him.

I invite you to listen and read along in Psalm 42. Blessings to you, dear one.

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Something New!

I’m thrilled to announce the release of two new Bible studies!

Now available at many major online retailers including Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com Just search for “Sara Sophia” or click on the links in the post below.

GROUP DISCOUNT: If you are interested in purchasing copies for a group study, please order through me directly at sara@saraschaffer.com to receive a 40% discount on purchases of 5 or more books.

Why Lord Cover Photo

Why, Lord? Discovering God in Difficulty

by Sara Sophia Schaffer

Over 2600 years ago, a man named Habakkuk dared to ask, “Why, Lord?” God’s
astonishing reply holds answers for all of us. Find hope for life’s challenges in this remarkably relevant ancient book. This personal Bible study with questions and leader’s guide is perfect for individuals and groups. If you’ve been asking God “Why?” discover Him through His Word.

 

Fight the Good Fight CoverFight the Good Fight: A Study Guide for 1 & 2 Timothy

by Sara Sophia Schaffer

Equip yourself to fight the good fight of faith through this personal study of 1 & 2 Timothy. Perfect for groups or individuals. Includes instructions for inductive study, leader’s guide and discussion questions.

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How to Stop Hating Someone

She betrayed me.
Others started to make assumptions about me.
Lies swirled and rumors started.
They were whispers. At first.
But then something I said contradicted someone’s conclusions about the whole situation, and the accusations crescendoed.
 
The betrayal stung.
The lies spread like fire.
I was burned. And it hurt.
 
Anger grew, bitterness tempted me and I begged God for help.
He showed me Jesus in the garden being kissed by a friend and then handed over to the Romans.
A betrayal wrapped in affection—twisted, evil, typical.
 
God also reminded me of Jesus washing His betrayer’s feet, offering him mercy until the last moment. And I saw Jesus crying out “Forgive them!” from the cross.
 

And that’s the secret. Forgive them.

Whenever the hurt surfaces, forgive. When a mean comment comes to mind, forgive. When the pain of what was lost returns, forgive.

Each layer, every time. Forgive.

It took time—years—to feel fully free of the hatred and anger. Sometimes I still grieve over it all, but hatred has not won. Love has.
 

Lord, You see every betrayal. You understand the sting and injury that result better than anyone! Give me the ability to forgive. Give me an understanding of the grace you’ve shown me that I might forgive others and live free. Amen.

 
  • Be Up to Know Good: Read about Jesus’ betrayal first-hand in John 13 and Matthew 26 and His words from the cross in Luke 23.
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In a Monday Mood

Four down. Eight to go.

Eight full weeks until school starts again.

Who’s counting? Yep. Me.

But I pause this Monday—another summer vacation day of Legos, playing outside, Netflix, art camp and swim lessons—to think back. (I can pause because of art camp. Selah.)

The first of three months has been better than I hoped. Despite two rounds of summer colds, we’ve had a lot of fun.

_______________________________

It’s so easy for me to drift into thoughts of what’s next 

that I can easily overlook the right now.

_______________________________

My six year old learned to ride a bike.

My eight year old has devoured half a dozen chapter books.

There have been countless houses made of small colorful bricks, doll parties, Vacation Bible School and two trips to the local water park.

Both my girls are learning to swim.

And I am learning to walk.

I walk slowly enough to see the crayons strewn on the floor with a smile. Someday there will be no crayons, no living room floor art sessions. But they are here now, and they are wonderful.

A promenade up the stairway to my daughter’s room leads to an unexpected conversation with a brilliant eight year old.

Strolling through a mall, my girls and I stop for a while to enjoy a fountain. We spend almost as much time just being here as we do in their favorite stores.

For most of my life I’ve had a plan. At age 20 I made a 100 year plan for the rest of my potential 120 year lifespan. I’ve set and met goals, run a marathon, managed several of my own businesses and recently have been actively pursuing a career as an author.

But whatever I do, I need to walk. My eyes need to see and ears need to hear what is happening here and now. It’s so easy for me to drift into thoughts of what’s next that I can easily overlook the right now.

So yes, I’m counting down until school begins, but I’m also looking back a bit, and loving my life today.

  • Be Up to Know Good: Read through Galatians 5:13-26 and focus on keeping pace with the Spirit. May we, like Enoch, be those who faithfully walk with God.

Photo Credit: usamedeniz

 

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Dealing with the Shadow of Depression

Depression is a shadowy disease. Recently, it once again darkened the edges of my world.

First I ignored it. Then I admitted it. Now, I’m fighting back.

King David once cried,
“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?”

My cry has sounded more like this:
How long do I have to wait, God?
Will wait my whole life and never know fulfillment?
Why does my life, my very good and very blessed life, feel so small?
God, would anyone really miss me if I just disappear?

In this midst of his mental anguish, David also remembered God’s character:
“But I trust in Your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in Your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for He has been good to me.”

Truth: God is good. He hasn’t been holding out on me. The enemy works hard to convince me otherwise. This tactic of diminishing God’s greatness and goodness is the oldest trick in the Book. The serpent told Eve there was more to life than God had offered her. So she reached out and grabbed more for herself. Bad idea. For Eve, and for me.

Instead of finding my own way, may I wait with the transparency of King David—telling God when I’m stressed and then remembering Who He is.

In shadows, depression, discouragement or whatever struggles may come, there is a way to fight back. “I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me.” Yes, He’s been so very, very good.

 

  • Be Up to Know Good: Read and pray Psalm 103. It lists the benefits of believing God, and it’s written as a prayer.
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My $5 for Your Two Cents

Lately I’ve been praying a lot about why I blog.

And I thought I’d ask you a couple questions.

Click here to take a 90 second (if you take your time), 5 question survey.

When you’re done, take a second to tell me in a comment below, and Sunday, June 14 after 8 MDT I’ll select a winner to get a $5 Starbucks Card.

Want to increase your chance of winning? Tweet, share on Facebook or email this bitty blog to others, and I’ll double your chances.

Thanks for your feedback! I appreciate your help. Now, I know you want to be up to know good, so click here and get to it.

 

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Stories for Change

At 8 this morning on KPOF my friend Elsi Dodge talked about our latest compilation book, Stories for Change for Camp for Change.

We’re excited about this project because 100% of all financial gifts go directly to Camp for Change—an organization that sends foster kids to summer camp at no charge to them.

In exchange for a donation of ANY AMOUNT, you get a compilation of poems and short stories put together by our writing group, Write from the Heart.

Go directly to Camp for Change to contribute. Then make a comment below or email me to let me know, and I’ll mail you a signed copy of the book. No gift is too small (or too big!), and contributions over $3 are tax deductible. Thank you in advance for your generosity.

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A Worry a Minute

sad man prayingToday my body is hurting. The doctor isn’t worried. I am.

My mind is coming up with a worry a minute. As each one flits into my mind, I imagine handing it to God.

Here’s this one. And this one, and this one …

The worry may come. But it can’t stay.

My God can heal me. Or use the pain to reveal a deeper problem.

He comforts me through silly children, kind emails, a hug from my husband, a word from the Word.

Photo Credit: graur razvan ionut

Photo Credit: graur razvan ionut

He controls my circumstances.

Nothing is too hard for Him. No situation or medical condition confounds Him.

His hands hold the world, and yet He also protects and shields me in the shadow of His hand.

I don’t understand, but He does.

And today, even in pain, I take each little worry and trade it for trust.

With each exchange there is release and rest. Oh, ‘tis truly sweet to trust in Jesus.

How do you handle worry? What tips, scriptures or strategies have you found helpful?

Photo Credit: Photography by BJWOK

Photo Credit: Photography by BJWOK

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Pauline’s Present

Pauline was a joy. I met her just after college graduation. She worked in the tiny cubicle kitty-corner to mine at the insurance agency. I was a summer temp. She was a long-term employee in the Fire Claims department.

Pauline and I technically didn’t work together, but because of the proximity of our desks, we often chatted. With her bright smile and sing-song voice, she told me story after story. When Pauline laughed, it was with her whole body, head back and teeth exposed.

However, not everyone saw this happy side of Pauline. She never ate lunch with us and took breaks at her desk. We never talked about that, but I know she was lonely.

You see, Pauline wasn’t pretty. She was hunchbacked and covered in moles. Her mouth was a bit crooked, several of her teeth were missing and the rest were crooked, and her hair was wiry gray. She wore plain cotton tops and pants, and when she spoke it was a bit too loud for the subdued office environment around us.

I was often in trouble for talking to Pauline.

But she was a delight to me. As an extrovert, my job as a typist was tedious and boring. Pauline’s exuberant personality and tall tales passed the long indoor work hours of summer more quickly.

On my last day of work that summer, I found a gift on my desk. It was a large 16×20 mounted, framed, and hand-stitched piece of artwork. The well-known “Footprints” saying was printed on it, and on the back a simple autograph from Pauline.

As I stared at the beautiful, meaningful gift, tears filled my eyes. I knew she must have worked on it most of the summer, which meant she’d started it even before she really knew me.

Even more, it revealed our common faith. She trusted the Lord too. Her time and thoughtfulness still overwhelm me.

I had always been told not to judge a book by its cover, but no one really told me what treasure I would find if I did just that. Maybe Pauline was glad to have someone hear her stories that summer, but the real present was mine.

“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.”
 Isaiah 53:2-3

How often have I missed God’s love because it was delivered in a package I didn’t want to accept?

God draw me near and open my eyes and heart to see Your beauty.

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