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.

amzie

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

 

Hope in a Hopeless World?

Hate. Racism. Senseless deaths. Cold-blooded murder. Unthinkable tragedy.

In the midst of a nation spiraling down quickly, our hearts are certainly weighed down with grief that fills the air.

Waves of fear engulf us, leaving us drowning with no seashore in sight.

Raging with a fierce, righteous anger, we demand justice. We rally together against the evil, making our voices known. Boldly we discuss the best solutions for fixing this wicked world.

But when all is silent and nobody is around, there’s a question I believe we all are asking.

Where is my hope?

Is it in the police force?

The political candidates running for president?

The guns hidden under the bed?

The promises of the government?

Where is your hope?

Who or what are you clinging to when everything familiar and what used to be stable comes crashing down?

If it’s anything in this world, you will come up empty. Even a hefty savings account isn’t going to hold you together when evil chokes the life out of anything promising.

As followers of Christ, we should not be surprised at the spiraling down of this world.

Jesus tells us very plainly in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart because I have overcome this world.”

I love the way Jesus tells us like it is. He doesn’t sugar coat the situation.

Doesn’t say you might have trouble. Doesn’t say if you just read your Bible and pray enough you’ll avoid trouble.

He says we WILL have trouble.

Sometimes I get stuck on the first part of this truth and camp out there for a while. I allow my troubles to define me and dictate how my life will be lived. I turn off the news in disbelief and let myself be overcome with fear and despair.

But the next part of this truth should awaken hope in the depth of my soul! He says to take heart because HE has overcome this world. 

The apostle Paul makes it plain for us in more detail about the kind of trouble we will see play out in this world. See if any of this sounds familiar:

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. (2 Timothy 3:1-4)

Yep. This passage covers just about everything we see playing out in our nation today.

So I ask you again…Where is your hope?

Even as Christians, we might say our hope is in Jesus–but we silently doubt.

Our lips may say our trust is in Him, but out of fear we attempt to control our future. We cling to our jobs, money and possessions a little too tightly.

But look at the truth of Romans 8:38 and let it sink in:

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. (NLT)

Death is all around us in a nation that doesn’t value life. But God’s love is stronger.

The enemy is on the prowl, deceiving many people. But God’s love is stronger. 

Fear grips us as we wonder what will happen to our children. But God’s love is stronger.

Worries of how to survive the aftermath of tragedy weigh us down. But God’s love is stronger.

On a more personal level, I’ll peel back the layers of my own heart.

Will another maniac show up in my town, randomly killing people I know? 

Will my loved ones fall prey to the enemy’s lies and turn away from God?

Will my 12-year-old daughter be safe in a world I can’t always protect her from?

How will we survive the next tragedy that strikes closer to home? 

While I might ponder these questions simply because I’m human, I choose not to linger there.

I will choose to cling to the truth of who Jesus is. I will choose to anchor my hope in the unfailing love of God. Yes, His love is stronger. He is sovereign. Even when I don’t fully understand all that will play out in this world, I will trust Him.

I live in a hopeless world. But my hope is in the unshakable love and power of my Heavenly Father.

Where is your hope?

hope

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

He Knows Your Stats

Psalm 139:3-4 “You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.” (NLT)

 

In our ever-developing world of technology, various devices are available for tracking and recording our fitness stats. Garmin® watches track distance, pace and exactly how many seconds, minutes and hours have ticked by. (In my pre-Garmin® days, I drove my car around the block, using the odometer to figure out the distance I needed to run!)

Many have embraced the latest Fitbit® craze. A proud owner of one of these, I’m enthralled with this powerful tracking device. It monitors my daily steps, calorie consumption, flights climbed, heart rate, distance traveled and how many hours I slept. I can even sync all these stats with my phone or laptop, analyzing in detail just how active—or inactive—I was on any given day. All of this information is displayed right at my finger tips.

To take it a step further, it blows me away that I’m not the only person Fitbit® tracks. I’m one of thousands of people—each with their own unique stats. How in the world can technology operate like this? How does it absorb all this information, keeping it specific for each and every person?

As impressive as our technology is with all its bells and whistles, there’s something much more powerful than this. It’s not a device. It’s not something man has created.

God in all his infinite power and knowledge knows everything about each and every person in the whole wide world. Let that sink in for a moment. It’s mind boggling, trying to wrap our human minds around this truth.

He knows the steps we’ve traveled (Proverbs 20:24), the number of hairs on our head (Luke 12:7), when we lie down, and our words before we speak them (Psalm 139:3-4).

In Matthew 10:29 Jesus tells us, “But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.” So if God notices all these birds, how much more does he know about us—people created in his own image?

Hebrews 4:13 says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

It’s one thing for him to know our spoken words, but according to Jeremiah 12:3, he examines the attitudes of our heart.

Yikes! Even the stuff—good and bad—nobody else knows?

Yes, He knows the stats of our soul. Let this bring comfort and not condemnation.

He knows our fears and dreams.

He understands our disappointments and desires.

He comprehends our strengths and weaknesses.

He even recognizes intimate things about us we don’t understand ourselves.

Now that’s more complex than any manmade device that has been or ever will be developed!

If it’s possible for the human mind to develop such powerful, complex technology, then how much more believable is it to grasp the fact that our sovereign God—the creator of the universe—is all-knowing and all-powerful?

But let’s take it one step further. Not only does God know everything about us, but he loves us anyway. Our ugly messes are displayed before his eyes. But instead of condemning us, He syncs our sin-stained souls with the blood of Jesus, lavishing his forgiveness all over us.

READY? Take a moment and embrace the fact that God knows everything about your life. Is there an area of your life you’ve tried to hide from him? Reflect on today’s scriptures and allow God’s powerful presence to penetrate every area of your heart. The next time you charge your favorite device, let it be a reminder to you of God’s power.

GET SET. Proverbs 5:21 “For a man’s ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all his paths.” (Also read Proverbs 20:24 and Luke 12:7)

GO! Heavenly Father, my mind simply can’t fathom your all-knowing, all-powerful presence. Help me accept by faith that you know every single detail of my life. May this truth comfort me when I doubt your involvement in my life. Amen.

Fitbit

 

Snow in the Scriptures

If you live in certain parts of the country, you’re most likely staring out your window at a ground blanketed with SNOW.

School children–giddy with delight–are building snowmen, creating snow angels, and sledding down steep hills covered in snow.

Even if you dislike the cold, the beauty of a winter-wonderland is captivating. What is it about snow that dazzles us?

God has some things to say about snow. These insights may be hidden in scripture, but they’re worth looking into. Grab yourself a cup of coffee (or hot chocolate) and your Bible. I invite you to dig into God’s word and join me!

Psalm 145:6 “He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes.”

Job 37:6 “He says to the snow, ‘Fall to the earth.’

Isaiah 55:10 “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater”

As much as the experts try to predict what this powerful white stuff is going to do, God is all his power is sovereign…even over the SNOW!

Matthew 28:3 “His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.”

Revelation 1:14 “The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.”

In these verses, the word snow is used to describe Jesus and our Heavenly Father.

Proverbs 31:21 “She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet.”

In this verse, maybe you can relate if your kids are home from school, scurrying around to find their coats, hats and gloves!

 

My favorite verse about snow is found in Isaiah 1:18:

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

Maybe the snow captures our attention because it is so WHITE! A symbol of purity.

Perhaps God created snow as a reminder of what He’s done for us. How the blood of Jesus redeems and renews our dirty, ugly sin.

Look out your window and let this truth sink in. Soak up the promise of what He’s done for you.

Our sins, once as red as crimson, shall be as white as SNOW!

Now that’s a forecast worth believing!!

 

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

 

When you don’t FEEL thankful

This time of year everyone focuses on things they’re thankful for.  We post our thoughts on Facebook of what we’re thankful for. Our kids make crafts at school and proudly display what they’re thankful for. Maybe your Thanksgiving gathering will include a time for each person to express the favorite things they’re thankful for.

It’s usually pretty predictable what we’re truly thankful for: God, Jesus, our family, our friends, good health, employment, and of course all the food we will stuff ourselves with on Thanksgiving Day.

These are all wonderful gifts to be thankful for. I would be the first one to speak up that I am thankful for everything I just mentioned.

But what about those things we really are NOT thankful for? What about the things nobody would dare to mention on their top 10 things I’m thankful for list? What about those things that hurt deep inside us that we just couldn’t possibly imagine being thankful for?

*Your doctor grimly explains to you that you have cancer.

*Your boss informs you that you are no longer employed.

*Your check book balance is lower than the total amount of your bills.

*Your marriage is hanging by a thread and you are ready to call it quits.

*Your child does something that leaves you heart-broken and your stomach in knots.

*Your loved one is not here with you on this earth any longer.

*The sin that so easily entangles you continues to drag you down.

*Someone you thought was your friend has betrayed you.

*Your aging parents are needing you more than ever but it’s causing major stress.

*As a momma of young children you’re overwhelmed, spiraling into despair and depression.

Seriously….are any of these things on your top 10 list? Are any of these things gushing out of your mouth when it’s your turn to declare what you’re thankful for? I didn’t see any of these things on anyone’s Facebook status in the last 30 days. I’m pretty certain that nobody’s child came home with any of these things plastered on their Thanksgiving craft from school. Nope.

Why in the world should anyone be thankful for anything like this? Why would we even consider it?

In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 we read the following words from the apostle Paul: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Really, Paul? What were you thinking when you wrote those words? You’ve got to be kidding me! Who is he to tell us the conditions under which we should be thankful?

He was beaten and stoned multiple times. He was shipwrecked multiple times. He went without sleep and food. He was imprisoned. He even spent an entire day and night in the open sea.

Yet he could still pen those powerful words in his letter to believers.

I’ve read and re-read that verse countless times, it still says the same thing. Give thanks in ALL circumstances. It doesn’t say give thanks only when things are going your way. It doesn’t say give thanks only when your marriage is thriving, your kids are well-behaved, your bank account is full, your health is stellar and nobody is saying anything offensive to you. (It would be MUCH easier to give thanks if everything were perfect in our worlds!)

So what is the secret of expressing thankfulness in our worst circumstances? How can we really do this?

Here are two things I’ve gathered from this challenging command:

1. The verse does not say to be thankful for these things, but to be thankful IN them. What’s the difference? It’s just one little word. To be thankful IN something is to trust that God is still good no matter what. It’s not a feeling, but an attitude of surrender. It means that although my heart may be full of hurt, my spirit is still full of hope. I don’t deny the pain I’m feeling, but I take it to the foot of the cross and thank God that He is still in control.

2. If you back up to verse 17, just one phrase before this command, you’ll see something that a lot of people skip over. I missed this for years! Here it is: Verse 17 says to pray continually. I used to think this verse was only meant for monks and nuns who lived in isolation from the world and could be on their knees in a continual state of prayer. But it’s meant for all believers! For me. For you. When I am in a continual conversation with Jesus throughout my day, talking to him about everything and being aware of his presence moment-by-moment, then my heart can focus on him in every situation….the good and the bad.

I can focus on Him when I feel hope, but also when I hurt.

I can focus on Him for the victories throughout the day, but also when I blow it and can receive his grace over and over again.

I can thank Him for the blessings, but also for the challenges that drive me crazy at times.

This is not an easy thing to do! It is truly a process. A process that builds character in us. A process that brings us to our knees….bringing us closer to the heart of God.

I want to encourage you to truly search your heart and not only express the blessings you are thankful for, but to offer up a sacrifice of praise for those things you wish to be thankful in, and see what God will do. His love is overwhelming. His grace is powerful. His mercy is never-ending.

 

Crying

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

What Google Can’t Search

Google. It’s become our natural default to almost anything we want to search for. You name it, you can search for it.

Recipes for cookies that are nut free and gluten-free. Google it!

Directions for any place you want to go. Google it!

The definition of that word you’ve never even heard of. Google it!

The lyrics to the new song you’ve heard on the radio. Google it!

How to get rid of chigger bites when you’ve tried everything imaginable. Google it!

And the list could go on forever. Everything under the sun is searchable on this thing we call Google.

Except for one thing…..

The greatness and riches of God. 

Psalm 145:3 says this: “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness is unsearchable.“

The apostle Paul uses this word again in Ephesians 3:8, “Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ…”

Oh, you can most certainly type in the words God’s riches and God’s greatness in your Google search box. But no matter how many websites come up, it doesn’t matter.

The most eloquent writers and theologians could not even begin to explain the depths of the riches and greatness of God.

Unsearchable. What does it really mean? The Greek meaning for this word used in scripture means this:

Impossible to fully investigate, no matter how great the effort; impossible to discover; going beyond all human ability to even locate.

I don’t know about you, but I need this reminder. Living in a world with information constantly at my finger tips, it’s easy to get sucked in to the false belief that the answers to all my questions can be figured out by typing them into a search box on Google.

What about these kinds of questions?…….

How can God continue to forgive me for that same sin that trips me up?  unsearchable!

How can God love me during my seasons of doubt? unsearchable!

When will the pain and hurt from my current trial come to an end? unsearchable!

How can anything good come from this messy, broken situation?unsearchable!

No. I won’t find the answers to these kinds of questions on Google. Even if I actually type them into that search box and pull up hundreds or thousands of websites, it will all just be someone’s commentary or opinion.

God’s riches and greatness are unsearchable. The answers to a lot of our tough questions are also unsearchable.

Yet he beckons us to SEEK him. He longs for us to SEEK him with all our heart.

We may not get the exact answers we’re longing for, but if we stay close to him–one step at a time–we will experience the unsearchable riches and greatness of who he is.

And no matter what Google says, He. Is. Enough.

 

 

no-google

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

Figuring Out Your Course

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”

For most official races, runners can view the course online. You can view every single twist and turn. In detail, you can see the highest point of elevation. You know precisely at which mile markers the path will ascend to steep hills. You can sigh with relief knowing exactly where the path will descend, giving you breaks throughout the race. Some runners will even determine whether or not to register for a race based on the course layout. Too many hills! I want a flatter course. Better not run this race, the elevation is too steep towards the end. I’ll be too exhausted.

You can even view the places where water stops are located. Knowing this beforehand, runners can train to run specific lengths, spacing out their water intake. Mentally you can prepare for worst case scenarios, seeing exactly where medical tents are located. Most importantly, you can see exactly where the finish line is. You tuck the names of the intersecting streets in the back of your mind. That’s where I’ll finish the race. That’s where my family will meet me afterwards and congratulate me.

All of this information we are privy to is great!  Can you imagine how cool it would be to see the course of your real life? To actually see in detail what was in your future? You’d see every exciting milestone awaiting you. In wonderful elation, you could anticipate all those mountain top experiences in your future.

But if you examined the course a little closer, you’d also see the dark valleys up ahead. What?! Just around that corner you’d see a marriage crumbling, ending in divorce. The unexpected job loss—the one you thought was secure just a few miles back. Huh?! And when you keep looking further down the course, you’d find that one of your kids has broken your heart. And you don’t even see a medical tent anywhere in sight. What would you do?

Maybe you wouldn’t even want to continue your race of life any longer. I can’t bear the thought of these things coming. I want an easier course. I won’t be able to live this kind of life.

Thankfully, we don’t get this kind of information in our journey of life. That’s not how God designed us to live. While we don’t get to see the whole course of our lives mapped out in front of us, God does. We don’t know the details of trials and challenges headed our way, but He does. We can’t fathom the abundant blessings He has in store for us, but He knows and can’t wait to lavish them upon us.

He’s designed us to live one moment at a time, in total dependence on him. Our flesh craves to see an entire mile at a time. But God wants to lead us one step at a time. We desire to know how long a certain trial will last. But God wants us to trust.

When we register to run the race of faith with Jesus as our guide, we run with all our might. We run with boldness and perseverance. We run like there’s no tomorrow. In fact, we don’t know what a day will bring forth. We may think our course is quite long, but we don’t know exactly where our finish line will be. Whether it’s a quick 5K or multiple marathons back-to-back, we must keep on running. Keep on trusting. Keep on thriving.

So while we don’t know where our earthly finish line will be, we know who is leading us on the course. And we are promised that He will greet us at the intersection of time and eternity. Now that’s something to get excited about!

READY? If there was one thing you could figure out about your future, what would it be? Are you willing to surrender this concern to Jesus? Take some extended time to pray about your fears and worries and lay them at the foot of the cross.

GET SET. Proverbs 16:9 “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.”

GO! Lord Jesus, help me to trust you with every twist and turn of my life. I’m so prone to worry and wanting to know what’s up ahead, that I’m missing out on knowing you more intimately. Help me to let go of the things out of my control and trust you completely. Amen

coursemap

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

.