Facing the Giant of FEAR

A once-in-a-lifetime trip to Israel.

My husband, daughter and I stood in awe on the top of Mt. Azekah overlooking the valley of Elah. This was the place where David killed Goliath! Trying to wrap my head around what took place here, I tried to envision David coming face-to-face with the one who taunted him. Threatened him. Dared him to come one step closer.

Ted, one of our teaching pastors had just walked us through this historical event.  Pulling nuggets of truth from scripture, he took us back in time to what played out that day. He finally challenged us to identify the giants in our own lives. 

The things that taunt us. The things that ignite fear, leaving us paralyzed.

How will we respond when we come face-to-face with these giants?

Just four hours after our group hiked back down Mt. Azekah, I’d be forced to answer that question.

We’d just finished eating dinner at our hotel’s dining room. My daughter, Breanna, smiled as she began to dig into a piece of chocolate cake. The chef had just informed us the dessert was nut free.

She’s severely allergic to nuts. We have to take extreme caution with anything she eats. The slightest amount of nuts ushers in a dangerous reaction.

After three bites, Breanna’s smile turned to shock. She spit out what looked like a tiny piece of nut.

“Mom, I think this has nuts in it and I’ve already eaten some!”

In that moment, fear ignited in my heart. Grabbing the plate of cake, I gasped and held my breath as we quickly made our way to the chef on the other side of the room. Showing him what we’d discovered, the frown on his face confirmed my fear.

“I didn’t realize this cake had walnuts in it.”

This is when the spark of fear engulfed into horrendous flames in every part of my being.

It had been six years since Breanna had accidentally ingested nuts. She’d broken out in hives all over her body. I remember distinctly what the doctor had said in that moment.

With each incident, the reaction gets worse. Just because ingestion doesn’t affect one’s breathing in a given moment doesn’t mean it won’t the next time.

This was her next time. Would she experience anaphylactic shock?

Anaphylactic shock shuts down the respiratory system. In some extreme cases, people die.

My husband, Jim, and I looked at each other in total disbelief. Is this really happening?

Just minutes after Breanna ingested the nuts, her lips and left eye swelled up. Panic washed all over my daughter’s face and in that moment I came face-to-face with my giant.

The giant that all parents face…

The fear of something tragic happening to one of your kids.

When others in the dining room realized what was happening, Roy, a doctor in our group, offered his assistance. Not only was he a doctor, but he understood our fear. One of his grown daughters also had a severe nut allergy. Looking back now, I realize in that moment God began to slowly extinguish the flames of fear with His comfort.

Fear of the unknown is another giant we all face.

And in this moment, we just didn’t know what was going to happen. Breanna didn’t have trouble breathing. She hadn’t broken out in hives either. Would her lips continue to swell? Could it eventually affect her breathing? Should we wait it out and see what else happened?

Based on Dr. Roy’s experience with his own daughter, he urged us to get Breanna to the hospital.

Other giants stomped onto the scene, shaking the core of my heart.

We’re in a foreign country!

We know nothing about hospitals in Israel!

Will our insurance cover us out of the country?

How far away do we have to go?

If she goes into shock, are they equipped to treat her?

An ambulance pulled up outside the hotel. We made our way through the crowd that had gathered in the lobby. Four Israeli medics (yes, four!) greeted us and immediately got Breanna hooked up in the back of the ambulance. Jim sat up front with the driver. Was there room for me?

“You, get in here with us!”  I squeezed in next to the other three medics and hung on tightly, trying to stay strong for Breanna.

The tires of the ambulance screeched in reverse, making our way down extremely narrow streets.

This is when I began to pray like crazy!

God, please help us. We need you now. I beg you to protect Breanna. 

 

The medics continued to monitor Breanna’s vital signs. They assured me we were getting closer to the hospital. At this point she was breathing fine.

The ambulance continued speeding to our destination, at some points driving up on sidewalks to get around stopped traffic.

God, please get us there safe. 

Breanna suddenly bolted up from her reclined position, fear all over her face and yelled, “My throat feels strange, I can’t breathe!”

Just seconds later, she threw up. (Sorry to be so graphic here!)

“Please help her!” I pleaded with the medic next to me. The one in charge immediately gave her an injection of epinephrine.

Immediately she announced to us that she could breathe okay now. (It turned out that she had not experienced anaphylactic shock, but because her throat felt strange before vomiting she thought it was affecting her ability to breathe.)

Finally, we arrived at the hospital and they took her right in. No waiting.

I walked beside my courageous daughter to the room they pointed to. Jim filled out paperwork at the front desk and would join us later.

A nurse with beautiful long, black hair took Breanna’s vitals and smiled,assuring us we were in good hands.

In that moment, I felt the comforting hands of God holding us tight. Earlier I’d felt stricken with panic. But now felt saturated with peace.

I looked over at my precious daughter and a smile washed over her frail face.

“Mom, I had a six-year streak going and now I’ve gotta start all over!”

I thought back to where we’d stood earlier that day. On top of Mt. Azakeh, overlooking the valley of Elah. The place where David slayed the giant.

And here we both were–in a hospital emergency room. We’d just walked through our own valley, staring our giants face-to-face.

My daughter’s worst fear? Ingesting nuts…knowing it could be deadly. 

My worst fear? Something tragic taking the life of my child…and feeling out of control to fix it.

 I believe God sometimes allows us to experience our worst fears so we can experience the truth that He is more powerful than anything we fear.

 

We pray for the giants to stay away so we don’t have to face them.

But sometimes the giants march out right in front of us. A decision must be made.

Will we let them threaten us and leave us paralyzed? (This is what King Saul and his soldiers did when they looked at Goliath.)

Or will we look to God for strength and by faith let Him fight the giants for us?

God fought the giants for us and provided exactly what we needed that night:

*A doctor in our group who understood the urgency of the situation.

*A hospital close by, which I found out later was one of the best in Jerusalem.

*An amazing medical team who acted quickly and accordingly.

*Breanna experienced swelling and hives, but no anaphylactic shock.

*The hotel paid for our medical bill in full.

After four hours of observation,Breanna was released. We were all washed over with exhaustion. But we stepped out into the streets of Jerusalem praising God, knowing the situation could have been so much worse.

We’d come face-to-face with our giants that day. And just like David, we walked away victorious.

I don’t know what giants you are facing today, but I can promise you this:

If you look to God for strength and put your faith in Him, He will be your giant slayer. 

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

When Love is Hard

Valentine’s Day.

A popular time for people to declare their love for one another.

A husband confirms his love for his wife with beautiful roses and a special dinner at a fancy restaurant.

A parent excitedly lavishes candy and gifts upon her children, hoping they will feel the love oozing out in between each bite of chocolate.

A young man chooses this day to propose to his girlfriend, their love so explosive for all to see.

Yes, these are ideal expressions of love we long to give. Or even better, the kind we long to receive.

But what if this is not reality in your world today? What if you can’t identify with any of these scenarios?

You can’t go there today because for you, love just feels HARD during this season of your life.

Your marriage may be crumbling and there aren’t any flowers or fancy dinner date on the horizon.

You’re in the midst of conflict with one of your kids and no amount of candy or gifts will make things right.

Or perhaps you’re single and there isn’t anyone in your life to declare their love to you. You are literally all alone. By yourself. Going through a divorce or a break-up with a significant other.

Yes, this is when love is hard. It doesn’t feel good. In fact in feels down right miserable. 

But the kind of love I’m referring to in the above scenarios is human love. And because humans live in a fallen world with sin nature, their love will fail. It will disappoint. It will leave you feeling empty at times.

Even the best of marriages? Yes, their love will fail at times.

Even the best relationships between mother/daughter and father/son? Yes, their love will fail at times.

What about the love between two people who are soul mates…made for each other? Yes, their love will fail at some point, too.

Not trying to be discouraging on this Valentine’s Day, but this is a reality we have to come to grips with.

Human love will fail and disappoint. But the love of God is unfailing and always dependable. 

When He declares His love for us, we’d better take notice and cling to it with all we have.

Psalm 13:5 says “But I trust in your unfailing love, my heart rejoices in your salvation.”

Psalm 6:4 says “Deliver me and save me because of your unfailing love.”

When love is hard with the people in your life, remember that His Love Never Fails. 

He also tells us that NOTHING can separate us from His love.

Romans 8:35,39 says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So nothing or nobody can separate us from His love! I don’t know about you, but I just really need to soak this up and camp out here for a while.

It’s easy to get discouraged by our loved ones when they hurt us. Disappoint us. Let us down.

And if we aren’t careful, we can let the disappointment of human love override the declaration of Holy Love. A love that is unfailing. A love we can depend on. A love that will never be separated from anyone or anything.

So where are you on this Valentine’s Day, dear friend? Are you in a place where love is hard? Has someone you love disappointed you? Whether it’s your spouse, child or friend, you are not alone.

An amazing thing about God’s love is that when we embrace it and let it ooze out all over us, it gradually begins to trickle out to those around us. His love will come out through us if we stay still long enough for it to soak through our souls. And then we are able to love others like He loves us.

Even when love is hard.

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

Anywhere Faith

Have you ever struggled to step out in faith when you sensed God calling you to do something? Or perhaps you’ve just doubted your faith because of difficult circumstances swirling around you. 

My friend, Heather King, is guest posting today on my blog and her new book Anywhere Faith is something you will definitely want to check out. She writes candidly about how fear and insecurity often get in the way of our desire to step out in faith. You’ll be challenged and encouraged by her words! 

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I was in the middle of packing for a writer’s conference when I felt a crushing wave of defeat.

I wanted to give up.

It would be easier (I told God) if I just stopped now, stopped packing, stopped investing time, energy, focus and resources on writing.

Maybe I could pick it up again later, but right now this was hard.

I felt terrifyingly small. I worried that maybe I was trying to do something that God hadn’t actually called me to do.  Had I heard His voice right?  Was I in His will?

I also, to be totally honest, felt overwhelmed by the idea of being plain old me at a large writer’s conference with women who looked so put-together.  They would have perfect hair with perfect highlights and perfectly awesome shoes that matched their perfectly stylish outfits.

Me?  I don’t have highlights in my hair and I don’t wear high heels.  Surely I’d be out of place.

I flopped back on the pillows of my bed with stacks of clothes around me and an empty suitcase in front of me.

It felt like one of those defining moments, one of those times when we have to choose whether we take another step forward and say “yes” to God or we pack it all in and choose what feels easier in the moment.

Two things happened.

The first is I remembered I wasn’t alone. Many before me had similar conversations with God.

Moses wanted God to “send somebody else.”
Gideon wasn’t sure he heard God’s voice clearly.
Esther was afraid of what might happen if she obeyed.
Martha thought God’s call didn’t make sense.

So often what we really need in our Christian walk is for someone to understand what we’re going through and to say, “Me too!  I’ve been there!  And this is how God was faithful.”

That’s what Scripture shows us.  We see broken people bringing their brokenness before God and He still used them.

We don’t have to pretend with God and we don’t have to be perfect before He can use us.  We can tell Him the deeply honest truth and bring Him our brokenness so He can make us whole and holy. (#AnywhereFaith)

I brought God my smallness in that moment.  I gave Him my brokenness.  I told Him the truth:

I feel overwhelmed by the task and underwhelmed by my ability.  I feel like others are more able and more worthy.  I feel uncertain of the next step.  But I will go.  I will follow you “Anywhere” you want me to go as long as you go with me.

As a teen girl, I had copied a poetic prayer into the front of my Bible that began with these words:

Lord, send me anywhere only go with me (David Livingstone).

This became the prayer of my heart.

And truly, wherever He calls us to go, He’s right there with us and His presence is our great desire and our deepest need.

The second thing that happened for me in that moment I wanted to give up is that my phone pinged with a Facebook message from an author I’d never met face to face.

She had been to the writer’s conference before and wanted to encourage me with this: “Don’t feel overwhelmed.  God’s got this.  Don’t worry about what to wear or whether you have the perfect hair.  Don’t feel out of place because you think every woman there will have snazzy outfits and you won’t fit in.  Just be yourself and trust God.”

It was the perfect confirmation, perfect encouragement, perfect word at the perfect moment.

When our hearts are set on obedience to God, He is our Help and our Strength along the way. We don’t have to be enough all on our own!

Whatever God has called you to do, whether it’s to follow Him around the world, across the street or right there in your own home:

He will equip you, He will be with you, and He will help you overcome. (#AnywhereFaith)

But we must first choose to bring Him the honest truth about our fears, insecurities, and excuses and ask for His help to follow Him “Anywhere.”

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you (Psalm 56:3).

 

To read more about how we can bring our honest struggles and fears to God and ask for His help to live lives of obedience and faith, please check out my new book: Anywhere Faith: Overcome Fear, Insecurity, and Excuses and Say Yes to God.

To read more devotionals from heather C. King, please visit her website at http://heathercking.org/ or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/heatherckingauthor/

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

Embracing The Race: Join My Launch Team!

There is much excitement around my household as I anticipate the official release of my book:

Embracing The Race:40 Devotions for the Runner’s Soul

The book will be released on November 14th. So between now and then, I am gathering support from those who are able to help. I’m so thankful for some of you who have already said YES and are walking alongside me during this exciting journey.

Here are some things that will help make a successful book launch:

*Spread the word on social media. (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Email)

On the day the book officially releases, just sharing a link would be huge! I will provide information to make it simple to do this.

*Write a Review on Amazon. 

Reviews on Amazon are like gold to new authors! I would love for reviews to be posted on Amazon during the week it releases. Although the book won’t be available to everyone else until November 14th, I have copies that are available now directly from me. If you’d be interested in getting a signed copy right away, click HERE.

*If you’ve already preordered the book, thanks for your support! You can write a review on Amazon later, after you’ve had a chance to dig in and soak it up. 🙂

*If you have a blog, you could review the book or allow me to guest post during release week.

*Pray! Please pray for God to keep opening up the doors for others to be encouraged in their faith through the book.

I’ve had several people ask me, “Do I have to be a runner to get your book?”

The parallels between running and our Christian walk will certainly speak loud and clear if you’re in the runner’s world. But even if you’re not a runner and don’t want to be, that’s fine too! The apostle Paul used the metaphor of a running a race in the New Testament to reach all the Greeks. He knew they would be familiar with the popular foot races that everyone flocked to in that time.

Powerful scriptures referring to running have spoken clearly to followers of Christ whether they are runners or not.

Here is what Kyle Idleman, best-selling author of Not a Fan, has to say about the book:

Honest and fun to read, you’ll find encouragement and challenge that come from Bible passages and the language of a runner. If you’re a runner, you’ll love this book. If you’re not a runner, there is plenty here for you, too.

If you’d like to preview the book on Amazon just to get a feel for how it’s written, you can check it out HERE. You will be able to read about 20% of the book (or about 10 of the 40 devotions).

As exciting as it is to be living the dream of having my first book published, I must emphasize that this book is not about me. God is the one who has opened my eyes to the powerful parallels between running and our walk with Him.

He truly is the author and I am just the scribe!

If you would like to be a part of my book launch team at any level, please let me know and I will keep you updated with more details as it gets closer to the release date. You can contact me HERE. Just let me know how involved you’d like to be or if you have any questions.

I truly appreciate my blog subscribers! Thanks for allowing me to enter your world through your email inbox.

May God bless you in the days ahead as you continue to run your race of faith!

Blessings to you,

Lisa Preuett

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Life is Short…Live it Well

When you find yourself suddenly entering a new decade of life, it certainly changes your perspective on time.

Hitting the big 50 milestone marker became reality for me recently. Mixed feelings? You bet!

My daughter blessed me with her encouraging words, “Gosh, Mom, you’re a half century old!”

For a few days I found myself feeling a bit on the negative side.

If the average life expectancy is 70, then I guess I’ve got at least 20 years left.

I guess it’s all downhill from here….

But then God reminded me of all the blessings He’s poured out upon me. So instead of getting depressed about my age, I rejoiced in all He’s entrusted me with. I also feel compelled to use the time I have left on this earth for His glory.

I like how James 4:14 puts this truth:

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

Most people don’t know how long their “mist” will last.

70 years? 80?

For some, their mist is very short. Tragedy strikes out of nowhere and their days are suddenly gone. No warning. Living life as if there were no tomorrow.

For others, they are faced with the reality that their “mist” is coming to an end. Cut short compared to most.

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Sixteen-year-old Amzie Smith is dying of terminal liver cancer. She’s living each day to the fullest because she knows time is short. You can read more of her story here. In spite of what she’s faced with, her goal is to shine the light on God’s kindness and love. Instead of feeling sorry for herself, she’s chosen to let God use her life to point others to Him. She’s packed more into her short “mist” than most people do in a lifetime. Her faith inspires me to live each of my days to the fullest.

What if we all lived like that? What if we embraced each and every day with everything we had?

The reality is that we just don’t know how many days we have on this earth. There are no guarantees for anyone. We are given one day at a time and we get to choose how to live that day.

Psalm 90:12 says “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”

Maybe this means wisdom is found in the day-to-day moments of humility instead of thinking when we get older we’ll suddenly have a huge dose of it.

Psalm 146:2 says, “I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.”

While I have my “being”? How long is that?

You don’t know.

But we are urged to praise God as long as we live. It’s simply praising Him for what He’s given us. Taking our gifts and talents and using them for His glory. Loving others He puts in our path. Pointing them to the love of Jesus. It’s our purpose.

So just as sixteen-year-old Amzie is living her purpose to its fullest, I want to do the same.

Instead of putting the eternal things on the back burner with the assumption that I’ve got plenty of time later, I choose to do those things now.

Ann Voskamp puts it like this in her book The Broken Way:

“Whether we have a diagnosis or not, we all get one container of time–but no one gets to know what size that container is. Live every day like you’re terminal. Because you are. Live every day like your soul’s eternal. Because it is.”

I don’t know where you are in your journey of time, dear friend. Maybe you’ve lived many years and you have regrets. Maybe you’re approaching middle age and you think you’re halfway through your lifespan. Or perhaps you’re young, thinking you have a whole life yet to live.

Your life is short…live it well.

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

The Pain No One Sees

Today I am welcoming my dear friend, Melinda Means, as my first ever guest blogger! Her new book, Invisible Wounds, addresses the heart wrenching issues that we often carry around, hidden deep within our souls. On the outside we look polished, but on the inside we are deeply hurting. If you are experiencing physical, emotional or spiritual pain of any kind, you will be encouraged and equipped today from Melinda’s insightful words. She’s blessed me and I know she will bless you!

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I think back to one of my favorite photos of my children. Molly was three. Micah was nine months old. They look absolutely enchantingly adorable. Everyone’s smiling and looks happy.

It’s just the perfect photo—no easy feat with little ones.

But let me share the story behind this “perfect” snapshot.

I had done all the right things to prepare for the child photography experience. They both had a nap, they’d been fed, and they were dressed in the required darling matching outfits.

I was golden.

We arrived at the mall. That’s when it got interesting.

I lifted my son Micah from his car seat just as he had a diaper blowout of legendary proportions. I used every baby wipe I had and he was still a poopy mess. I was so close to photo-taking victory I could smell it (unfortunately that’s not all I could smell).

So I wrapped him in a blanket and with my daughter in tow we high tailed it through the mall parking lot to find the nearest bathroom.

On the way, my daughter tripped and fell, ripping a hole in her white tights and scraping her knee. Time to throw in the towel? Nope. This newest setback only made me more determined.

In the bathroom, we made a tragic discovery: hand dryers—no paper towels. As my daughter handed me reams of toilet paper, I went to work cleaning up my son. We finally made it to the photo studio.

The result? Adorable.

My son’s plaid outfit masked the stains (if not the smell). My daughter’s strategically placed little hand covered that wound on her knee. No one would ever guess the trauma that had gone on behind the scenes.

Looks can be deceiving, can’t they?

Just like that photo, our pain lurks beneath the surface. It’s often camouflaged by busyness, a confident demeanor, or a tough outer shell.

We hide because we think no one else will understand. Maybe we think we’re to blame. We’re afraid of rejection. We believe it makes us weak. We don’t want others to feel sorry for us. We don’t want our pain to define us.

So we nurse our pain in isolation. We live alone with our invisible wounds.

After 20 years of chronic pain and illness—mine and my son’s—I bear the scars of isolation and discouragement.

My anxiety and insecurity—always a struggle—has sometimes felt nearly unbearable. At times, it has shaken my faith to its very core.

So what do we do with our pain? Where is God in all this? I don’t have all the answers. But here’s something important that I do know: God is not afraid of our questions. He isn’t surprised or appalled by our frustrated, tear-soaked temper tantrums (I’ve had more than a few). He just wants us to come to Him.

For years, I have looked for an outcome. Relief from my pain. I wanted healing. Period. I still do. But I’ve learned healing can look very different from what we imagine.

Hope and healing can come through telling our stories. It can materialize as God meets us and reveals Himself in the middle of our struggle. It can materialize as we see God redeem our pain.

This isn’t the path I would have chosen for myself. It isn’t the journey I would have chosen for my son, who battles cystic fibrosis.

Yet pain leads us to a deeper walk with God if we are open to gifts that we would never have received without our pain. Others receive gifts they wouldn’t have received without our pain. God cares. He sees your struggle, sweet friend.

But He wants to do so much more than change our pain. He wants to use our pain to change us.

When our joy, freedom, and hope rest on an outcome, instead of a Person, we will ultimately be disappointed. It is not through the result—the relief of our emotional, physical, or spiritual suffering—that the most important transformation comes. It is through the relationship with Jesus.

I can say that genuinely and with complete conviction. Not because it’s what I’m supposed to say as a good Christian. Or because I’m in denial. It’s because it is what I know and have experienced to be true, particularly over this past year—the most physically, spiritually, and emotionally brutal season that I’ve ever experienced.

Your wounds may be hidden from the world, but they never escape the notice of a loving God. Through Him, we can find hope—even while we’re hurting.

© Melinda Means. This post includes excerpts from Invisible Wounds: Hope While You’re Hurting. Used with permission.

About Invisible Wounds: So many of us walk around looking fine. Hidden beneath the surface, however, are deep, painful physical, spiritual and emotional wounds. We feel isolated in our pain. We feel guilty about the private doubts we have about God and His goodness. We live alone with our invisible wounds.

In this book, Melinda draws from her long history with chronic illness—hers and her son’s—and also shares the stories of seven brave, beautiful women who reveal their hidden hurts. Throughout its pages, she tackles the tough spiritual questions and dark, raw emotions that accompany suffering and illuminates the path that leads to hope that heals.

Author Bio: Melinda Means is a weary soul in need of refreshment from the only Source who can quench our thirst. After years of chronic pain and questioning God’s plan, she has found the joy of seeking the Healer more than the healing. She is a professional speaker and writing coach, as well as coauthor of Mothering From Scratch: Finding the Best Parenting Style for You and Your Family (Bethany House, 2015). Check out her website at Melinda Means.

You can order the Kindle version on Amazon! (Deal for 99 cents through August 31st) Click HERE.

Invisible Wounds Cover for Kindle