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

 

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

 

Weary from Pouring into Others

I’ve been running on fumes lately and the gas tank of my soul is almost on empty.

The things I’m running after are all good. 

Encouraging others in their faith.

Walking alongside friends in difficult circumstances. 

Helping to lead a group of single moms.

Showing hospitality to others in our home.

Preparing to launch and market my first book. 

But in the midst of all the kingdom work, I can feel myself wearing down a bit. In a constant flow of pouring into others, I’ve forgotten to slow down enough to be refilled. Not being intentional enough with my time to sit before the Lord and let Him refresh me.

Imagine a huge pitcher of water. It’s surrounded by multiple small glasses. At first you can freely pour the water into the other glasses.

A little bit here. A little bit there. Pour some here. Pour some there.

But what seems an endless supply will soon run out. The large pitcher will run dry at some point.

 

An empty pitcher can’t fill anything up. An empty pitcher serves no purpose. It must be refilled before it can pour back out. We can set this pitcher under the faucet and turn it on. Water from an endless supply is available at any time.

This is a picture of what I must do to stay filled up! I need to sit still under the faucet of God’s never-ending love, full of peace and strength that will never run out. An endless supply of grace–available at any time.

Maybe instead of waiting until the pitcher of my heart is empty, I should go back to the faucet every day and stay filled up. I’m so guilty of waiting until every last drop of strength and grace are squeezed out of my parched, weary soul.

You know how some servers at restaurants are great about keeping your drink refilled? Instead of waiting until your glass is empty, they keep filling it up every time they walk by. Might even seem annoying at some point! But their eye is on the glass. Their goal is to keep it filled to the brim.

Perhaps I should aim to be like that server in guarding the condition of my soul. 

Always aware. Making sure I’m filled up. Intentionally watching.

But even if I push too hard and find myself on empty, God is still ever so gracious and patient with me. He calls me to simply come with my parched soul and sit at His feet.

He beckons me to soak up His presence. Overflow me with His peace. Fills me up to the brim. And then He whispers to me and says, “You’re filled up now. Go and pour into others who are still on empty. Pour into those who need to be refreshed. Let me flow through you to show my love.”

What about you? Are you running on fumes from pouring into others? Do you feel parched because your soul needs a refill from the Living Water?

Let’s challenge one another to stay filled. Encourage each other to keep a watch on our souls.

God longs to fill the pitcher of our souls with His never-ending supply of power.

It’s a must if we’re going to keep doing the kingdom work He’s called us to.

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1)

 

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

 

Your Pain is Not in Vain

Heartbreak. Anguish. Betrayal. Abandonment. Abuse. Tragedy. Sickness.

This is what you recall as the worst moments in your life.

The seasons you try to erase from your memory.

The pain that crushed you.

Maybe you’ve experienced victory and healing from these painful moments. Maybe your faith has grown by leaps and bounds. Perhaps you’ve gained a strength that only could have come from these past seasons.

For some of you, you are satisfied with what God has done in you. But this is as far as it goes.

In you.

But there’s more. Yes, He wants to do something through you.

I want to encourage you with this powerful truth:

The pain from your past can be a lifeline to someone else right now. A soothing balm for someone else’s heartache. 

I like how Paul puts this in 2 Corinthians 1:4:

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

He doesn’t just comfort us for our own healing. It says so that we can comfort others, too! As followers of Jesus, if we never walk in this truth, then we are missing out. And others are missing out on what we can offer them.

In the last several years of my faith journey, God has put people in my path who are struggling with things I have already experienced. Some of these experiences are from many years ago. Others are just in the recent past.

There’s an urgency in my soul to reach out and encourage them. A longing to lift someone up when they feel discouraged. An opportunity to inspire someone to keep going in spite of their horrible circumstances.

This is what we are called to do! It’s not an option.

I know the pain of divorce. God healed my broken spirit through that horrible journey.

But instead of keeping that experience to myself, I reach out to those who are in the midst of this pain right now. 

They need to know that they will get to the other side of the pain. They need to know that they are not alone. They need to see that this painful journey will not engulf them.

I understand the turmoil of anxiety and depression. God took my despair and turned it into a desperation for Him.

But instead of locking this into a room of my heart and labeling it “off-limits”, I choose to humbly share my struggle with those who feel like they will never be able to break free from these chains.

What about you? What part of your journey has God delivered you from? Where has He given you healing through your pain?

If you’ve never stepped out and shared that with anyone, then how about asking God to show you someone who needs to hear it? Sometimes God brings us people right smack in front of us. But other times we might have to go after them. Seek them out.

Your pain is not in vain. He wants to use it for His glory. That glory comes when we are able to pour comfort into others with the same comfort we received at some point before.

There is no better feeling than to share hope and peace with someone who is hurting in the same way you have hurt. You don’t even have to be WAY ahead of them, either. No, you don’t have to be completely over your pain before you can comfort others. You might just be a few steps ahead of them on the same journey.

Maybe that’s part of the healing for ourselves.

I challenge you today, dear friend. The pain of your past does not have to define you. Allow God to use it to bring healing to someone else. Let Him do something magnificent THROUGH you.

It’s what He does best.

 

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

Cherish What Matters

Just a few seconds earlier and he would’ve been dead for sure.

A near-death experience with some scratches could have been spinning out of control into a fatal bloody mess.

Just a few days ago, the driver of a semi-truck didn’t see my husband’s car in the right lane. He was on a mission to get off the exit so he could get to his required weigh station. But then he slammed into the back of Jim’s car.

Just a minor dent and a handful of scratches on the car. No injuries to the driver or Jim. Amazing to say the least.

When I got the call, my heart skipped several beats. Realizing Jim was okay, I gradually calmed down and breathed normally. But I was shaken up for the next couple hours just thinking about what could have happened to my husband.

My focus shifted from his close call with a semi to the moments I had with him before he left for his trip.

He was a bit stressed trying to get ready for his business trip. Rushing around, he reminded me that the tires on the Jeep needed air. He would get to it before I had to leave with my daughter for an appointment.

Stressed from some conflict with my daughter, I felt frustrated. With little margin left, it was time to go. We had a forty minute drive with thirty-five minutes to get there! But Jim had waited until the last-minute to put air in my tires.

Come on! We’re already running late! Why did you wait until now to do this? I told you what time we needed to leave!!

I snapped at him. And he snapped back at me.

Pulling out of the driveway, I barely glanced at him. I knew he was getting ready to leave for his trip in just a couple of hours. He would likely be gone before we got back. No time for a kiss goodbye. It was time to go.

After getting off the phone with him that night, I replayed in my mind our last conversation and moments of snapping at each other.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. If he’d been killed in that accident, rushing out the door and snapping at each other would’ve been our last shared moment together on this earth.

Tears flooded my eyes and I broke down.

We may think we’ll grow old with our spouse. But the reality is that we just don’t know how many days we truly have with one another.

We may take for granted that we’ll live to watch all our kids grow up into adulthood. But there are no guarantees for anyone.

My spouse’s near-death experience has changed my perspective on how to live my life.

I should cherish every moment I have with my loved ones.

I should live in the moment instead of getting too caught up in the next thing on my schedule.

I should be ready to offer grace when people don’t follow through with my expectations.

I should take a few seconds to give those hugs or kisses, even if it means I’ll be late.

 

This doesn’t mean we should let fear and worry consume our every waking moment! It also doesn’t mean we linger over past regrets that can’t be changed.

I’m praying for God to just help me enjoy the life He’s given me.

To live it to the fullest.

To savor the moments that really matter.

To soak up His love so I can pour it out on those around me.

To focus more on what is eternal instead of the things that won’t last. 

Sometimes I need something to stop me in my busy-self-centered tracks to realize what’s really important. For me, it was a collision between a semi and my spouse. For you it might be something else.

I encourage you today, dear friend, to slow down and cherish the moments that really matter. 

 

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

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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Who’s Ahead of You?

Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Just when you think you’ve arrived at your fastest pace, whoosh! Another runner speeds past you like a bolt of lightning. You can almost feel a breeze from the force of their speed. You see them quickly disappear from your view and before you know it, they’re long gone. How in the world does she keep up that pace? I’ll never be able to catch up!

Unless you’re the first one to cross the finish line in a race, there’s always going to be someone running ahead of you.  We are definitely called to run at our own pace, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from others who are ahead of us. Beginning runners seek out training tips from veteran runners. Runners who’ve sustained their first injuries could gain valuable wisdom from others who survived those same injuries. The first race ushers in a wave of anxious nerves. What should I expect? What should I wear for this kind of weather? Who else out there would know answers to these questions? Runners ahead of you! Their pace may not necessarily be faster than you, but they’ve pounded the pavement far longer than you have. Instead of putting them in an unreachable category, those of us who are behind them could instead reach out and ask for guidance and insight.

Dear friend, if you’re a follower of Christ, there’s always going to be someone ahead of you—further up the path of life. People who have been following Christ for many years longer. People who have long ago passed through the very same season you may be walking through now. People who have much wisdom and insight to offer if only we will ask. As you enter into a difficult season, perhaps a wave of anxiety is rushing into the depth of your weary soul. How will I ever get through this? Will I ever make it to the other side? And then you may wonder with great curiosity. WHO do I know that perhaps has ventured through this same kind of challenge?

Let me tell you without a doubt that someone is ahead of you that can gently and lovingly guide you. Maybe it’s an older mom who survived the season of raising teenagers. Maybe it’s the woman you’ve heard about who survived her nasty divorce and is on the other side now. Whatever challenge you may be facing, you’re more likely to gain peace and strength with someone else helping you through. So go ahead. Reach out. Ask. Humbly wave the white flag of your soul and courageously say, “I need your help!”

In the Bible we meet a young man named Timothy, a new believer who needed some guidance and direction. The apostle Paul was running his race ahead of Timothy. Paul poured his very life into this young man! Without Paul, Timothy would’ve floundered in his faith. Grown weary. Lost his hope. But instead he clung to Paul. He humbled himself and listened with a teachable heart. And then he flourished into a bold teacher of the gospel. He could keep running his race at a fierce pace because he walked in the footsteps of Paul. Who’s ahead of you?

READY?  Identify an area of your life where you feel challenged and could use some guidance. Ask God to show you someone who has walked through a similar challenge. Are you willing to reach out and ask for help? Pray and ask God for strength and wisdom to take the next step.

GET SET.  Proverbs 1:5 “A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.” Proverbs 11:14 “Where there is no guidance, the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.”

GO!  Heavenly Father, this life can feel so difficult at times! I feel weary trying to navigate through the hard times on my own. You’ve called us to carry each other’s burdens, so I humbly ask you to show me someone who’s ahead of me who can walk alongside me during this season of my life. Help me set aside any pride that may stand in the way. Amen.

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett