Thursday, November 9, 2017

Exploring the Simple Things with Suzanne Schaffer | Real Life (11/8/17) - Simple Things interview on Cornerstone Television Network


I need to preface all of this by telling you how instrumental CTV was in my life as a teenager. In the 80s most of my friends were into B94 and the Hot 100 list. I found my musical niche in the CCM arena and Channel 40 and Lightmusic was always being viewed in my home. I was into all of them....Amy Grant, Michael W Smith, DeGarmo & Key, Petra, Kim Boyce, Kathy Troccoli, The 77s, Steve Taylor, Sheila Walsh...I had a ton of records.

Yes, vinyl.

It was the 80s after all. 

I entered all of the Lightmusic contests and won three of them.

Front row to Amy in 1985 --the night the Wise Up video was filmed. And you can see my little teenage self bopping along and singing wildly. 



To sixteen year old me this was pretty fabulous. I also won front row tickets and backstage passes to Petra and Randy Stonehill that same year.

Several years later I won a trip to Nashville to appear in a DC Talk video and then was a guest on Lightmusic to talk about it.

Lightmusic and CTV were a big part of my growing up in Christ. I am glad they provided the entertainment they did. Even if only for me, I appreciated it.

I was humbled and honored to be invited as a guest on their Real Life program to talk about my book, Simple Things. 





I had so much fun sharing with Teri and Amy during the interview. Everyone I met was kind and reflected the love of Jesus. 

Click below to watch the show.
Purchase your copy of Simple Things HERE





Thank you, Cornerstone, for allowing me to share.  

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Lessons From My Dog



My dog is roughly one-hundred pounds less than me, yet when she has her mind set on something she can easily pull me off track and towards what she's sniffing out. She can tip me over and make me stumble. I'm stronger and I'm bigger but she's persistent and her will makes her appear stronger and bigger than she is.

1 Corinthians 15:33 reminds us, "Do not be mislead, bad company corrupts good character," (NIV)

I'm not saying my dog is bad company. She's actually quite the opposite. She's loyal, has never repeated anything I've told her, and celebrates with me when I'm happy. She's kinda the best.

What I am saying is that she is able to get me off course rather easily just because she is distracted by what is going on around her and sees a squirrel and immediately decides that the furry rodent is worth chasing. And since I'm connected to her I get pulled in.

That is how it works with our relationships. 

If we are keeping company with people who are easily swayed into doing things that we aren't sure we want to do or are uneasy with then we have a bigger chance of falling into chasing the furry rodent. The thing with sin (furry rodents) is that it takes us very quickly down paths we'd never thought we would travel. It usually starts out small, like chasing a squirrel on the road, but soon we're in the grass, then the weeds, then the woods, and before you know it you're in the middle of trees with vines, cliffs, and you don't know your way out of the woods.

You're lost. Stuck in the middle of a mess that you didn't see coming.

Avoid being lost. Keep good company. Be careful who you're spending time with.

This used to be a lot easier before social media. 

Be very careful who and what you're spending time with. In the end, it is you and God and that is the only relationship that truly matters. 

The world is watching
Be the light.  


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Christians

We take communion and attend church. We do our duty. We walk the straight and narrow. We set ourselves apart. We quote John 3:16. 

It is the mostimportantverseintheBible after all. 


But we never look at John 3:17
"For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him." (NIV)

Jesus didn't condemn people. He was kind to them. He met them where they were and ministered to them. Without being rude. Without name-calling. Without looking down at them.

Jesus doesn't call us by our sin. He calls us by name.

Why do we think it's okay to call people by their sin? Why do we label them and lump them into groups?


See them. Look into their eyes.
What do you see?

Anger
Hate
Hurt

What happened to make them this way?

Put a little love in your heart.

When you call names or label someone you are lowering yourself to the level of the enemy. He is the accuser. He is the name caller. He is rude.

They have a name and a need to know someone cares.

Be kind. Your kindness may be the only Jesus they see.

If we are meant to be like Christ then we better start acting like it. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Spilling Over

We met our son for an early birthday celebration. He chose a Korean restaurant for lunch and as I ate I made sure not to get any of the spicy red sauce on my white shirt. I left the restaurant a little too proud of myself. We wandered in and out of a few shops before stopping at a coffee shop where I ordered a medium ginger peach tea. I let my hot cup sit on the bar by the window to cool down a bit while we caught up with our son. I got excited during our conversation and used my Italian hands to emphasize my point, knocking over my drink that I'd not even sipped from.

It. Spilled. Everywhere.

Can I tell you that there was way more in that cup as it came out than was actually in the cup? It was on my hair, my face, my white shirt (whimper) and my jeans. I was covered, front and back and side. It spilled onto and in my purse and on the newly upholstered stool (as in, the man redoing the stools was still carrying in the new cushions....), all over the counter and onto the floor from both sides. If I'd collected it I'm sure it would have filled two cups.

I was mortified as I made the long walk to the car for a change of clothes, knowing I was now that girl who spilled her drink, and was very thankful that we'd been out of town for a few days so I actually had a change of clothes. I wasn't injured in this, save a bruised ego.

I was thinking about it later and was reminded that it touched everything. All that was in the cup spilled out and got all over. It stained and saturated. It reminded me that what we put into our lives spills out into other areas of our lives. We can't continue to put in bad things without them leaking out. 

I recently read Brant Hansen's Blessed Are the Misfitsand he discussed the fruit we drop when we are bumped into. The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)  The same could be said about what is spilling out of us. If we are centered on the Lord and are filling ourselves with His word, His thoughts, and doing the things He asks of us then the above will be seen spilling out of us, we will overflow with these things. If we are filling ourselves with things of the world then we will show the evidence of it. Filling ourselves with the things of God needs to be a daily occurrence if we want to grow in our relationship with Him. Too many people claim to be Christians but have never gotten past the one-time prayer. It's so much more than that. It's becoming transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2) every day. Sometimes we need to leave the things that hinder us behind. Attitudes, activities, even relationships can hinder us. Be mindful of what you're doing and be willing to fill yourself with what you want spilling out of your life.

It saturates every part of you. 



*Highly recommended, look for this book in November

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Stuck in a Rut

I've been pondering memories lately, filling in a journal that asks questions about my earliest remembrances. I think my earliest memories involve riding in a car driven by my mom. She and I are not a lot alike. I can stay home for days at a time and she needs to get out and go somewhere each day, even if it's just to get a newspaper or cup of coffee. It's no wonder I remember riding in the back seat, even tucked into a car seat before they were mandatory. For years a memory has floated around the periphery of my mind and I wasn't sure if it was something that had happened or if it was a dream from decades ago. I recently asked my mom about it and she laughed and said that yes, it had happened.

We were driving the back country roads in Rhode Island in the very early 1970's and somehow, maybe she was trying to turn around, got stuck on a rock. The car didn't budge. My recollection of this is vague, but I do remember pieces of the story. Mom tells me that it impacted me as a toddler because I muttered for months afterward, "stuck on a rock, stuck on a rock." It happened again a few years later, though a tree stump this time. I don't remember much of that story either, but I do remember the time a few years ago when she ended up stuck on a guard rail after escaping being stuck inside for a few days due to a winter storm. 

Being stuck is not a fun place to be, yet many of us find ourselves stuck and wondering how we got in such a situation because sometimes, doing the same thing the same way can stop our momentum and glue us to the floor. 

The thing with being stuck is that no matter how much you move around trying to wiggle yourself out of your situation you rarely succeed. Sometimes trying to get unstuck makes you stuck even more. 

This is true in many areas of our lives and often we don't know where to turn for help.

Mom was able to get unstuck with the aid of the friendly tow truck men. All three times. It isn't always quite that simple for us though.

Stuck in a dead end job.
Stuck in an abusive marriage.
Stuck in a cult.
Stuck in addiction.

These are places where it seems there is no way out, but God always has a way out. 

The job you hate may be a stepping stone to one you love. Dealing with problem people in the workplace is a part of life none of us want to partake of, yet when we learn how to handle them, when we gain maturity from the tension, we can propel into deeper levels of responsibility. A boss or leader who sees us being strengthened by the cords tightening around us will pause to recognize the way we handle ourselves. 

The wife in the abusive marriage can find a friend to trust, someone who can help her find a way of escape. The Lord never wants his children being abused. If this is you please find someone to talk to. If no one listens keep searching. I had a friend contact five pastors before one would listen to her and help her escape her abuser. 

If you find yourself stuck in a church body that is not what it had appeared to be and now you're threatened with being cut off from everyone you love, please know that God does not treat His children like that. He is the head of the church, not a man or a woman claiming to be His. Read the Bible for yourself. Learn it. Discover its truths on your own.

If you are stuck in addiction there is a better life outside of your cycle. Step back and look at your life. Are you happy? Do you want more for your children? There's a world full of wonder out there, there's peace, friendship, acceptance, laughter....You are worth so much more.

If you're stuck find the help you need.

Mom didn't sit and wait for help to find her when she was on the rock (or the tree stump, or the guard rail), she found someone who could help her. You can do the same. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Patrick

Taking a break in this post from teaching to share a life story. 

I had a recent shopping experience that was pretty life changing. If I encountered this every time I shopped I'm sure I'd shop more often.

We were in Toronto for a baseball game.

Yes, I know I'm anti-sports, but it was for my people. There are things you do when you love someone. 

But don't ask me to do it again anytime soon.

We booked an Airbnb which was an apartment just a couple blocks from the baseball stadium. We had the entire place to ourselves. If you haven't traveled with Airbnb yet you need to check it out. Click here to save $40 on your first trip! We paid about half of what a downtown hotel room would have cost. The apartment was in the perfect location and we were able to walk to the downtown mall, the Toronto Eaton Center. This place was bustling and was fabulous. By the time we walked there we were hot and had been rained on. None of us looked our best, but we walked through the crowd and entered Nordstrom. My daughter and I went to the women's department while my husband found a seat and some food.

My twenty-year old could be a marathon shopper. I've learned a lot from her. She always finds great deals, even in Nordstrom. She found a few things to try on and we were approached by Patrick who asked if he could start a fitting room for her. She handed him her items and then returned to shopping. When she was finished Patrick ushered her into the room and then he came back to find me.

"Suzanne, do you want to go in and have a seat with her?" he asked, adding that I looked like I could use a break.

I gladly accepted and he led me into the most glorious fitting room I'd ever seen. It was bigger than my home office. I sat on the chair and watched as she did her thing. I was amazed at not only the ample size of the room, but by the fact that the fitting area was raised, had mirrors all around, and even  had shoes to borrow to try on with the clothing. And they were sparkly shoes. #win

When she was done she took her purchase to the register to pay and the sales clerk asked who'd been helping us. We said it was Patrick and that we didn't know where he'd gone. He joined us at the register within moments and continued the sale. After handing her purchase to my daughter Patrick asked if we'd like a bottle of water, we both accepted. He walked away and returned with two cold bottles of water which he handed to us and said we looked like we could use them. He was kind and thoughtful and treated us as if we'd spent thousands instead of what our total was. 

Patrick was the epitome of good customer service. What a wonderful experience we had. If every store had a Patrick and a fitting room of excellence I would shop more often. We get so used to being ignored in stores and ushered into fitting rooms that are barely big enough for one person and her six items. I've had sales clerks carry on conversations with other people and never once look at me while ringing up my total. I've had them not make eye contact with me. I've had them rush me through to get to the next person like it's a contest to see who can wait on the most people in one day.

I'm not sure if this was a Canada thing or a Nordstrom thing, but the Toronto Nordstrom has got it going on. Patrick is a treasure and I kinda wanted to put him in my pocket and take him home with me.

Every store needs a Patrick.








Monday, September 4, 2017

Bidding Farewell to the Things that Hinder

Kelsey shared her pictures on Facebook from her recent vacation and her excitement over her adventures was squelched by someone chastising her for spending too much money on her travels. This led her to explain herself. She shared how hard she and her husband work in their family business, how she searches for deals on accommodations, and how she saves at every turn. I ached for her as she tried to give an explanation where none was due. 

Jealously is a fiery hot weapon.

It burns anyone it comes in contact with, whether you hold it or it scorches you in the hands of others. 

We've an independently owned coffee shop in the downtown business section of the town I live in. It opened earlier this year and a few months ago I heard murmurings of a second coffee shop opening not too far from my new favorite one. On the day it opened we visited our favorite coffee shop. I walked in and said, "I heard there was a new coffee shop opening in town today so we came here," trying to add a little humor to what I was sure was a little upsetting to Sarah, the owner. 

Sarah paused and then said, "I can't focus on what others are doing or it'll derail me. I just stay in my lane and do my thing." She later told me that she'd learned that phrase from Lindsay, the blogger, barista, and hired manager of the coffee shop. I can't remember the last time a conversation resonated with me as much as this one did.

These ladies, twenty years younger than me, have learned one of life's most valuable lessons. I wish I'd learned this at such a young age, it would have saved me from being my worst enemy.

My mind battles with these thoughts on a regular basis:

"Look at her success..."
"You're never going to make it..."
"Why do you even try?"
"Are you sure God told you to do that?"

The walls close around me as I self talk the room smaller and smaller. 

I can see clearly when I take the focus off of myself and put it on the task at hand. The world invites me to engage and the doors all appear open in front of me. 

I've been on the opposing end of jealousy as well. It's obvious when another is holding something against you that is so outlandish it can only be defined as jealousy. I've caught the eye-rolls and have heard the whispers, sometimes even said to me. 

Marcie used her insecurity and jealousy to put me down in front of people at church on a regular basis. One morning she approached me and demanded to know why I wouldn't hug her. "Don't you like me?" she asked. It was hard to reply because, no, I didn't. I'd never had a positive interaction with her and as she physically backed me into a corner I knew I had to end this once and for all. With few words I let her know I wasn't going to be controlled by her behavior. She didn't magically change after that, but something in me changed, and I've learned that our behavior is the only one we own. We can't change what others do and how they perceive us, we can only change how we respond to it. I can now understand when someone acts out in jealousy and, though it still burns, I can see it for what it is and I can then begin to pray for them.

It doesn't go away at the snap of a finger. This is why the Bible tells us to act this way,
"Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ," 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NKJV)

Take every thought captive.

When I see myself drifting out of my lane, when my thoughts wander to places they shouldn't, when the jealousy or bitterness starts to creep in, I need to capture the thought and get rid of it as quickly as I can. This is a daily action I need to take. The enemy knows where my weakness lies and he will shoot arrows at me any chance he gets.

Keeping my lane free from jealousy and the destruction it reaps leads to spiritual maturity. I'm not saying I've conquered this, only that it's a daily battle. It's recognizing my need to surrender each day. 

"Lord, help me today to focus on you and not on those around me. Their thoughts and words can derail me, I need only concern myself with your opinion of me. Help me to do what you've called me to do and not worry about the details."