Holiday RUSH or Christmas REST?

Whether you want to be or not, you’re right smack in the middle of the Christmas season. Do you find yourself feeling rushed? Overwhelmed?

I’ve got to finish my shopping!

I’ve got to get this house cleaned up before my family arrives!

Get out of the kitchen so I can bake the cookies!

We have three Christmas parties to attend on the same day!

If you’re anything like me, just thinking about everything that needs to be done can leave you feeling exhausted. It’s almost impossible to escape the holiday rush.

There’s an ache in my soul because of this! Do you know what I mean?

It’s that pull between everything that has to be done and everything your heart longs for.

A battle between rush and rest.

Are you kidding me? There’s no time to rest during the holidays!! How in the world can you think about rest at such a time as this?

But if we let the holiday rush overtake the Christmas rest, then everything we are doing is in vain.

I’ve often thought that embracing rest meant that I had to carve out a huge block of time for a nap.

Or that I had to sit completely still with my feet up.

Maybe you’ve thought of rest as getting to turn off your alarm and sleep in.

But I’m learning that embracing rest is more about having a peace in my soul. 

Maybe I can’t take anything off my busy to-do list this Christmas season, but I can shift my attitude about those things.

Instead of rushing out the door with a frantic sense of urgency, maybe I can pause for just a few moments to pray.

God, I’m feeling frustrated, anxious and exhausted! Please give me your peace.

Instead of feeling burdened about baking dozens of cookies, perhaps I can turn on some music and pray for the people I’m making them for.

God, help me have an attitude of love as I bake these cookies!

Maybe we really do have to attend multiple parties on the same day. But instead of thinking of them as places to go, we can see them as opportunities to love people.

Lord, help me to show love to those who need it most. Give me your eyes to see those you want me to see.

The days leading up to the birth of Jesus without a doubt brought a sense of urgency.

We’ve got to hurry! Will there be a place for us to stay?

Mary and Joseph most certainly felt a heavy burden of having to travel at the last-minute. And I’m sure they battled anxious thoughts of this new chapter of life God was calling them into.

Why me? Couldn’t he have picked someone else? What will people think when we return to Nazareth?

What appeared to be a messed up plan, absent of any peace, was God ushering in the Prince of Peace.

Right in the middle of the rush. Right in the middle of the urgency. Right in the middle of their worry.

And the same Prince of Peace that came on that first Christmas morning is the same Prince of Peace that can bring us REST in the midst of our holiday RUSH.

So what’s it going to be for you this year? Rush or Rest? Anxiety or Peace?

I encourage you to carve out some quiet moments in the midst of your busy schedule to embrace the PEACE and REST only Jesus can bring. That’s what He came for!

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

 

Blessings to you!

Lisa


Check out my devotional book, Embracing The Race

A Gift That Can’t Be Wrapped

Stress. Angst. Dread.

What am I going to get them for Christmas this year? 

They don’t really need anything.

Didn’t we get them a gift card last year? 

Isn’t there something better we can give? 

And finally it hit me. Something that can’t be wrapped. Something that everyone wants. Something we never seem to have enough of.

OUR TIME

Instead of buying another toy for that niece or nephew, how about going out with them to pick out a toy or take them to one of their favorite places?

Instead of mindlessly purchasing another gift card for your loved one, why not take them out to lunch or dinner and spend time with them?

Instead of buying another coffee cup they don’t need, how about taking them out for coffee and just visiting with them. Listening to them.

This isn’t easy. It takes time. Time we could be doing other things. But if people truly matter to us and our relationships are important to us, then why not give them our time?

The toys and stuff we buy will at some point break, be outgrown or thrown away.

The gift cards will be spent all too soon.

But the memories created by investing time in others will last forever. Spending time with people is priceless.

Now this may be challenging for those with loved ones who live out of town and your time is limited. But I challenge you to at least start with the people you do have the opportunity to do this with.

Who can you give the gift of your time?

Merry Christmas dear friends! May the peace of Christ rule in your hearts and in your families.

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Not Enough Room

Busy. Stressful. Full. Overwhelmed. Over-committed

Yes, these words might just describe how you feel during this season of celebrating Christmas.

Shopping for gifts, you cram as much as you can into your trunk until nothing else could possibly fit.

Looking at your finances for the month, you conclude that there’s nothing left.

The calendar on the fridge is hard to read because there’s no white space left anywhere. Every single day is filled in with an event.

In Luke 2:7, we read  “Mary laid the baby Jesus in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.”

No room for them? No room for the savior of the world? No room for the promised messiah?

We might balk at this predicament and exclaim how unfair it was for someone to turn away a mother getting ready to give birth. How could they not make room for Jesus?

How could they?

But in a similar way, aren’t we guilty of doing the same thing sometimes?

Do we fill our days with so much busyness that we don’t have time for Jesus?

Do we allow numerous negative thoughts to crowd our mind, leaving no room for meditating on uplifting truth?

Do we selfishly grip that one area of our life, not wanting to surrender it to Jesus?

I am guilty of all of these!

My to-do list is more than I can realistically accomplish, and before I know it, the day is over and not once have I taken time to pray and ask Jesus for his direction. NOT ENOUGH ROOM

After a conflict with my husband I allow my mind to be consumed with his offensive words. I dwell, rehash and stew over this instead of taking it to Jesus. NOT ENOUGH ROOM

More often than not, I am driven by pride instead of being spirit led. NOT ENOUGH ROOM

What about you, dear friend? Where in your life are you struggling to make enough room for Jesus?

Where are you crowding him out? Where are you saying no to him when it should be yes? Where are you wanting your way instead of his way?

May God have mercy on us when we choose to crowd out the very one who came to save us. Rescue us. Redeem us. Restore us.

When we choose to do this, we are just like the busy inn-keeper who told the parents of the Messiah, “Sorry, there’s no room.”

In his defense, he didn’t know who he was turning away.

He didn’t know the savior of the world was getting ready to be born on his property.

He didn’t know his stable would become famous for generations to come.

He didn’t know he was in the presence of the soon-to-be-born King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

But we do know who Jesus is and yet we still turn him away at times.

I’m so thankful for God’s forgiveness and patience with us. So grateful for his love for us.

I pray we will embrace him every day. Every hour. Every moment. Leaving enough room for him to lead us, guide us and love others through us.

Will you choose to leave enough room for Jesus today?

No_Room

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

 

The Perfect Gift

If the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping day of the year, then the day after Christmas is probably in 2nd place.

As soon as the last bows and ribbons are torn from beautifully wrapped packages, shoppers make a mad dash for the stores once again to return their unwanted gifts.

Why do people return gifts? Here’s the top answers I’ve overheard standing in long lines at customer service departments:

*This is the wrong size.

*I don’t need this item.

*I just don’t like it! 

I’ve made all of these comments before. Some gifts I know will go back to the store before I even open them, just knowing who they’re from! (But I always smile and say thank you!)

The gifts I appreciate the most are the ones where the giver has taken the time to get me something that truly fits my personality.

However, there’s one gift I don’t appreciate as much as I should. And it’s not a gift that’s given just at Christmas. It’s a gift that’s offered to all believers in Christ every single day. 

It’s the mercies of God.

Lamentations 3:22-23 says this, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

The mercy of God fits me just right. It will never be the wrong size. He knows me inside and out. Some days I need less and other days I need as much as my sin-stained-soul can soak up.

The mercy of God is something I’ll always need. I’ll never get to the point where I can say I have enough. Imagine how prideful it would be of anyone to utter, “I don’t need any mercy!”

The mercy of God is not just something I like. It’s something I absolutely crave. As much as I don’t deserve it, it’s the most astounding gift I could possibly ever receive. It’s definitely a gift I love.

And to think that this gift is new to me each and every day!

No matter how I feel.

No matter what my circumstances are.

No matter what is going on in the world around me.

No matter how many times I’ve blown it in one single day.

Some of our favorite gifts make our faces light up. But even those won’t last……

The perfect sweater will eventually wear out; the Godiva chocolates will quickly be consumed; and the gift cards to our favorite stores will be spent.

But the love, mercy and faithfulness of our almighty God will keep on going. There is no expiration date. It will never stop. It will never run out. They are available to us each and every day.

If you find yourself standing in a long line to exchange or return those unwanted gifts, use the time to reflect upon the mercy of God. Think about the truth of this absolutely perfect gift. A gift tailor-made just for you.

I pray you will embrace the mercy of God like never before as you begin a new year in 2015.

Bless you dear friends! Thanks for reading and supporting my blog this year. With the mercy of God, I’ll continue to share my heart and encourage you on your journey with Jesus.

Lamentations 3:22-23 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

perfect gift

 

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

http://www.reststopforthesoul.com

 

 

Are You Ready for Christmas?

The closer we get to Christmas Day, the more you’ll hear this question:

“Are you ready for Christmas?”

What exactly does this question mean to you?

“Have you finished your shopping?”

“Have you wrapped all your presents?”

“Have you bought all the food you’ll need for that perfect Christmas dinner?”

“Have you finished buying those last-minute stocking stuffers?”

I think these are the thoughts that pop into our head when people ask, “Are you ready for Christmas?”

But deep down in my heart, I’m never comfortable answering this question. If Christmas is truly about the coming of Jesus to save us from our sins, then perhaps the question we should really be asking is this:

Are we ready for Christ?

Are we ready to humbly admit our need for a savior?

Are we ready for Jesus to continue refining the rough places of our ugly flesh?

Are we ready to surrender that one area of our lives that keeps tripping us up?

Are we ready to say yes to Him when our fear compels us to say no?

I’d much rather answer the questions about whether my shopping is done and if my kids’ stockings are ready (they’re not!). It’s easier to smile and say I still have that one last gift to wrap and those last few items to get at Kroger for our Christmas brunch.

But it’s much harder to admit that my flesh is still fighting against selfish pride.  Every. Single. Day.

I need a savior every moment of every day!

It’s hard to confess that there are several rough places in my soul needing a gentle touch and smoothing out by the grace of God.

I need Jesus to not only be my redeemer, but my holy refiner!

It’s hard to own up to the fact that I’m fearful of the unknown and what lurks around the corner of the next phase of my life.

I need the peace of Jesus to calm my fears!

Am I ready for Christ?

Yes.

I’m ready for Him to take all the yucky, ugly, shameful, fearful things in my flesh and make them into something beautiful that only HE can accomplish. Yes, I’m ready. Because my way of doing things–apart from Him–doesn’t usually turn out very well.

On Christmas Day, the gifts will be unwrapped, the stockings will be emptied, and the food will be gobbled up. And just days afterward the tree will come down, the Christmas decorations boxed up and the after-Christmas sales will expire.

Nobody will ask you again until next year, “Are you ready for Christmas?”

But each and every day after Christmas, we must answer this question: Are you ready for Christ?

Ready for Him to interfere with your plans?

Ready for Him to lead you out of your comfort zone?

Ready for Him to take you to the next step of his purpose for you?

So dear friend, I ask you to answer honestly……Are you ready for Christ?

I pray God’s richest blessings upon you and your families. May you have a Merry Christmas! But most importantly, I pray you will embrace Jesus Christ every day of the year.

Ready for Christmas

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

http://www.reststopforthesoul.com

 

Peace in the Middle of Prison

Christmas 1994. This year stands out to me above all other Christmases I’ve ever experienced.

My life had fallen apart just six months prior. The tapestry of my heart had unraveled into tiny, fragile threads. My marriage had abruptly come to a halt and would soon end in divorce. My precious 11-month-old son held my focus while I was hurled into the world of single motherhood.  My heart ached so deeply. My son’s first Christmas was supposed to be happy and exciting, yet my emotions didn’t agree.

How would I ever survive this heart-wrenching journey in my life?

I’d hesitantly made plans to go Christmas caroling with a group from my church. We were scheduled to sing at the men’s prison in LaGrange, Kentucky. Exhaustion from working the night shift at UPS almost pushed me to change my mind and cancel.

But something in my spirit said Go Lisa……you will be blessed. 

So off I trudged onto a bus with about 25 other people. The prison building felt so dark and cold, just like the deepest corners of my soul. Once we were ushered through the iron gates by the security guards, our mission began. We had three specific places inside the prison where we’d stop and sing a few carols. As I stood there huddled up against my fellow carolers, my eyes locked with some of the prisoners. The only thing that separated us was the cold, iron bars of their prison cells. Most faces appeared stoic, rough and bitter. Some looked sorrowful. Others seemed to be covered with shame and guilt. My voice cracked because of the lump in my throat.

My heart feels so heavy…..Maybe I shouldn’t have come!

After our last song, we were finally led into the prison chapel. This would be our last stop. The prisoners gathered in this place were regular participants of worship services through the prison outreach ministry. They wanted to be here. No prison bars separated us from them.

These men looked so different than the others I’d just seen. I saw smiles on their faces and heard loud, boisterous laughter. Excitement bustled in that tiny chapel. We crowded together in hard wooden pews and we started to sing. But instead of singing to these prisoners, we sang with them. Our voices mingled together, belting out Silent Night and Joy to the World. The heaviness started to lift from my heart.

Finally one man in the back yelled out that he wanted to sing Oh Holy Night. We hadn’t rehearsed this song. Would we be able to sing it?

As these men began singing the first verse of Oh Holy Night, I could feel my heart almost skip a beat. Their voices rang out with such power. I looked around at these men’s faces and that’s when I felt the Holy Spirit speak ever so gently to me:

Look at them Lisa. Look at the JOY on their faces. Look at the sparkle in their eyes. These men have lost everything, yet they have something so real and powerful that can not be taken away.

And it struck me in that moment what these men possessed: peace…Here in prison!

It didn’t make sense. But peace is mysterious in how it passes all human understanding.  Some of them had served many years, while others were just starting out. But they all had Jesus. They’d chosen to embrace their relationship with HIM even though they were walking through the lowest valley of their lives.

The empty places in my heart began to fill up with something right then…..It was PEACE! And HOPE!

If Jesus could give these men peace in the middle of prison, then surely HE would carry me through the valley of divorce. It wouldn’t be easy, but I knew from that night forward, I craved the peace that these men had. I could trust Jesus with my life even though it felt so messy. He was more than able to take the broken pieces of my heart and put them back together into something beautiful.

I walked into that prison with deep hurt. But I left with dazzling hope.

I walked into that prison with gripping fear. But I left with glorious faith.

I walked into that prison with overwhelming pain. But I left with overflowing peace.

I might not be in a physical prison today, but I sometimes let the troubles of this life take me captive. When I find myself on that path, God gently reminds me of His faithfulness and He lovingly wraps me up in a blanket of peace that only He can give.

What about you, dear friend? Are there crevices deep in your heart full of hopelessness? Cracked places in need of repair? Empty places crying out for hope? Have you locked yourself into a prison of fear?

I urge you to humbly surrender these to Jesus…….the Prince of PEACE.

prison-bars

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

Four Ways We’re Just Like Mary

Even though I’ve read the Christmas story countless times, something fresh pops out at me when I’m still enough to seek the voice of Jesus.

Mary. This young, pure, innocent girl sometimes seems untouchable to us. Perhaps she’s put on a pedestal because she carried the son of God in her womb for nine months. Maybe we feel like we can’t relate to her because she was the one Jesus called mom.

But looking at her journey a little closer, I think we have MUCH in common with her.

*When the angel announced she’d been chosen as mother of the Messiah, Mary’s world was completely turned upside-down. Her life would never be the same.

Although we’ll never know exactly how she felt, I think we can identify times in our own lives when everything falls part and comes crashing down.  Is something coming to mind? Maybe you’re still wading through raw emotions of something recent that has turned your world upside-down.

*What about Joseph?  At first he did not believe her story. He couldn’t fathom that his bride-to-be was pregnant. She experienced great disappointment in someone she loved.  Although only for a short time, Mary’s pain had to be heart-wrenching.

Do we ever feel this way? Absolutely! Loved ones disappoint us. They break our hearts. Sometimes they betray us, leaving us all alone. A misunderstanding with a friend. A standoff with our spouse. It doesn’t matter if the time frame is short or long–hurtful words cut deep.

*Just when Mary thinks all is calm and everything’s going to be okay, the rug is pulled out from underneath her–again.  Like any pregnant woman in her last trimester, she was in that nesting stage–preparing every little detail to welcome Jesus into her world. (If you’re a mom, you know exactly what I’m talking about). But no! Mary’s nesting moments were cut way too short. She had to immediately pack up only her essentials and follow Joseph on a donkey to a far-away town. She was interrupted and majorly inconvenienced.

We all can identify with this one. I for one do not like my plans to be interrupted (just ask my husband).  And if I’m really focused on a task, I don’t respond quickly to someone else’s request(just ask my daughter). How about you? What is your response to interruptions and inconveniences? Do our circumstances even scratch the surface of what Mary experienced?

*Mary probably had just enough time to accept the fact that Jesus wouldn’t be born in her hometown of Nazareth. Away from her family. Away from her friends. That was probably a hard pill to swallow! But her world was rocked…..again. Not only was she in a foreign town, but she went into labor. (Umm, Joseph? I think it’s time. Do we have a hotel reservation? )  This poor girl had been through enough already don’t you think? How much more could she take? As Joseph led them into a stinky-dirty stable, what must she have thought?  She had to let go of her expectations and accept the fact she was not in control. 

Wow. I don’t know about you, but I really struggle at times with expectations. For others. For myself. For God. And it’s hard to loosen the grip of control we crave so deeply as humans. Aren’t we all like Mary here? Don’t we have to constantly come face-to-face with our expectations and ultimately yield control to our creator?

So look at Mary again. Can you relate to her?

Her world was rocked.

Her heart was hurt.

Her life was interrupted.

She was not in control.

We are just like Mary.

If she was just as human as we are, then what made her stand out? What would move God to choose her?

We’re told that Mary had found favor with God. The Greek word for favor is actually grace in most translations. And the thing about grace is that God gives it to the humble. (James 4:6)

Because of her humility, God showered her with grace. Grace that would be able to withstand the turning of her world upside-down. Grace that would cover her wounded heart. Grace that would handle the interruptions. And grace so pure and powerful to recognize that God is in control and we are not.

I can so relate to Mary because she was human. But oh how I long to have her humility! A humility that beckons God’s grace.

My prayer for us is that we would truly find favor with God.

luke 130

 

Blessings to you, dear friend!

Lisa Preuett

http://www.reststopforthesoul.com