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.

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

that I can easily overlook the right now.

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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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The Ninja Turtle at the Playplace

“I made a new friend,” my youngest daughter said. She took a sip of her drink and peered at me over the top of her glasses.

“I see that,” I answered with a nod toward the little boy standing very close to our table. “What’s his name?”

She turned to him, “What’s your name?”

He said something unintelligible. We asked him to repeat himself, and I responded with the few words I understood. “Oh, Ninja Turtle!”

Nodding, he posed like a warrior and looked at my daughter for approval.

“C’mon,” she said to him and ran back into the play area.

He stayed very close to her. Because we were in such a public place and he didn’t look any older than four-years-old, I didn’t worry. In fact, it was cute how he stared at her with open admiration of her beauty and never let her get too far away.

I have an old Friend. He goes by so many wonderful names, but sometimes I just need to remember that He is my Warrior.

“Do not be afraid of them; the LORD your God Himself will fight for you” (Deuteronomy 4:22).

He will fight for you as well. He stays closer than a brother, gazes at you with utter adoration and remains faithful every minute of every day.

My daughter and the Ninja played tag, and he fell and got hurt. After a good cry in his mama’s arms, he got up and started following another girl around!

But not our God. Not our Jesus. We injure Him over and over, but He continuously stays with us. May we be wooed back to our Warrior today and enjoy the safety of His protection and the glory of His nearness to us.

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A Mom & Her Machine

My daughter painted a sign after I redesigned my office:

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I have a sewing machine in my space, but I love the idea of it primarily being my “Sowing Room.”

My new machine came around Christmas time, and my new passion (especially for pillows!) was born.

two pillows

My inspiration came after I successfully made a pillow for my mother-in-law for Christmas. Another mom, Sophia, also motivated me to get to work.

Three weeks after the happy birth of her second son, Sophia’s husband died suddenly. She received no life insurance and had little savings. This new single mom began sewing to make a living. Despite often working early and late, Sophia also made time to be a mom to her growing sons.

At her machine, this mom prayed.  Through her business, she openly talked of Jesus and shared God’s love with her customers.

Sophia became known more for sowing into people’s lives than for sewing drapes and clothes.

God answered her prayers. Her oldest son, H.A. Ironside, became one of the leading Christian writers and preachers of the 20th century.

couch covered in pillowsSophia inspires me. She became a single mom in the 1860′s! She sewed by candlelight at an antiquated machine.

Yet her faithful sowing led to an eternal harvest. Will mine? Will yours? I pray so.

 

To order pillows or pillow covers, please email me: saraATsaraschaffer.com. Also, all my items will be available soon at etsy.com/atouchmoredecor.

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The Radio Debut

Four weeks ago I left my house at 5:30 a.m. and two hours later I was in surgery.

Since then, I was told all pathology reports were benign. I’ve been to the doctor twice and the ER once. I’ve redefined ‘dressed up’ to mean when I add a scarf and flowing wrap to black pajamas and wear shoes instead of slippers. Most days I’ve simply stayed in bed to heal.

But this morning was different. Again I was up early, but in the 7:00 hour, I was at the 910 AM KPOF radio station, ready to discuss Miracles & Moments of Grace: Inspiring Stories of Survival.

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Fellow author and friend Elsi Dodge and I talked with Roy and Denise about the stories we have in the book, and at one point they graciously played a song from my CD.

To hear my radio debut, click here. You can find the Hope CD by clicking the links on the right.

On Saturday, if you’re in Colorado, we’d love to meet you and hear your inspiring stories at Mardel Christian bookstore in Littleton. Elsi and I will be there 10-2. I might even dress up!

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Survivial, Stories, and a Book Signing

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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.

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