Why My New Year’s Resolutions Often Fail

A brand new year! Time to come up with some New Year’s resolutions. Time to make a list of things we want to accomplish in the coming year. It’s the perfect time to try new things. Make some goals to be reached. Right?

While there’s nothing wrong with any of these, there’s still something that nags at my soul when my calendar starts to fill up. We can mindlessly come up with some resolutions that sound really good. We can fill our time with a lot of good things.

Good things for ourselves.

Good things for our kids.

Good things for our family.

But I’ve often found myself doing so many good things that I don’t do anything well. I come up short. I spread myself so thin that I’m no good to anyone.

Maybe I’m qualified to do five things really well, yet when I try to cram them all into a short window of time, those five things crumble, making me feel as if I’m barely treading water.

But shouldn’t we say yes to every good thing that comes our way?

Meeting  friends for lunch? That’s good!

Exercising to stay in shape? That’s good!

Volunteering at your child’s school? That’s good!

Leading a Bible study? That’s good!

Working part-time to earn a little extra money? That’s good!

Signing your child up for their favorite sport? That’s good!

Yes. Each and every one of these are good things. Nobody would argue that they aren’t.

But if you say yes to every single good thing that comes your way, at some point it will leave you feeling frustrated. Overwhelmed. Frazzled. Stressed to the max.

And before you know it, your resolutions and good intentions turn into disappointments and failures.

When we run from one good thing to the next at a break-neck speed, we often miss out on the rest God longs for us to embrace. 

Resting in his presence. Resting in his peace. Resting in his purpose.

Instead of saying yes to everything, we could stop and pray before we answer. Asking God for wisdom and discernment.

Maybe this good thing would be better if I embraced it later, instead of now.

Maybe I should say no to this good thing so that someone else will have the opportunity to say yes.

Maybe this good thing is really my plan instead of God’s. 

Sometimes I’m so busy saying yes to the good things that I don’t make time to pray and ask God what is best.

As this new year begins, here’s a challenge:

Instead of asking God to bless a long list of our hopeful accomplishments, let’s stop and humbly approach Him.

Instead of resolutions, let’s humbly ask Him what is His best for us.

God, what is your plan for me this year? Are there things I need to let go of? What new steps do you want me to take? Help me rest in your presence, so I can know what’s best. Your best.

I pray you will embrace this new year with a sense of peace and purpose.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

New-Years-Resolutions_2

 

 

Blessings to you, dear friends!

Lisa Preuett

 

Check out my devotional book, Embracing The Race.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why My New Year’s Resolutions Often Fail

A brand new year! Time to come up with some New Year’s resolutions. Time to make a list of things we want to accomplish in the coming year. It’s the perfect time to try new things. Make some goals to be reached. Right?

While there’s nothing wrong with any of these, there’s still something that nags at my soul when my calendar starts to fill up. We can mindlessly come up with some resolutions that sound really good. We can fill our time with a lot of good things.

Good things for ourselves.

Good things for our kids.

Good things for our family.

But I’ve often found myself doing so many good things that I don’t do anything well. I come up short. I spread myself so thin that I’m no good to anyone.

Maybe I’m qualified to do five things really well, yet when I try to cram them all into a short window of time, those five things crumble, making me feel as if I’m barely treading water.

But shouldn’t we say yes to every good thing that comes our way?

Meeting  friends for lunch? That’s good!

Exercising to stay in shape? That’s good!

Volunteering at your child’s school? That’s good!

Leading a Bible study? That’s good!

Working part-time to earn a little extra money? That’s good!

Signing your child up for their favorite sport? That’s good!

Yes. Each and every one of these are good things. Nobody would argue that they aren’t.

But if you say yes to every single good thing that comes your way, at some point it will leave you feeling frustrated. Overwhelmed. Frazzled. Stressed to the max.

And before you know it, your resolutions and good intentions turn into disappointments and failures.

When we run from one good thing to the next at a break-neck speed, we often miss out on the rest God longs for us to embrace. 

Resting in his presence. Resting in his peace. Resting in his purpose.

Instead of saying yes to everything, we could stop and pray before we answer. Asking God for wisdom and discernment.

Maybe this good thing would be better if I embraced it later, instead of now.

Maybe I should say no to this good thing so that someone else will have the opportunity to say yes.

Maybe this good thing is really my plan instead of God’s. 

Sometimes I’m so busy saying yes to the good things that I don’t make time to pray and ask God what is best.

As this new year begins, here’s a challenge:

Instead of asking God to bless a long list of our hopeful accomplishments, let’s stop and humbly approach Him.

Instead of resolutions, let’s humbly ask Him what is His best for us.

God, what is your plan for me this year? Are there things I need to let go of? What new steps do you want me to take? Help me rest in your presence, so I can know what’s best. Your best.

I pray you will embrace this new year with a sense of peace and purpose.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

New-Years-Resolutions_2

 

 

Blessings to you, dear friends!

Lisa Preuett

 

Check out my devotional book, Embracing The Race.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

When the Clutter Piles Up

The kitchen island gets a lot of traffic in my home.

Piles of mail.

Car keys.

My husband’s wallet.

Dirty coffee cups.

My daughter’s latest craft supplies.

School papers.

It doesn’t bother me if just one of the above items gets plopped down. But usually it’s a combination of these items together that drives me bonkers!!

After coming and going in different directions, things begin to pile up. And finally it gets to where I just can’t take anymore!

In that moment I am on a mission. (And anyone who is in the room is strongly encouraged to help me in this mission.)

It’s time to clean up the clutter. Time to put things away in their rightful place.

The wallet and keys need to go somewhere else, but not here. The dirty cups need to go in the sink. Pieces of scrap paper need to be trashed.

And junk mail? That’s a no-brainer…in the trash!

Once that’s accomplished, I feel better and can function again.

Just maybe this is a powerful picture of what we do with the clutter of LIFE.

Things slowly begin to pile up.

First it’s one thing. And then another.

One emergency to throw us off. An unexpected episode that sets you in a tail spin. A forgotten commitment. Someone asking you to do something else. People and projects pulling you in opposite directions.

Just one of these things might not be so bad by itself. But when they start to pile up, you can feel it coming. When you go from full to empty with no time to fill up. And before you know it, your life is full of clutter.

I can’t take this anymore!

And one by one, we can start to tackle the things that clutter us up. Not a clutter we can see. But the clutter on the inside. The clutter of our negative thoughts. The clutter of our distorted perspective.

The clutter of our soul.

Some things just need to be put in a different place. (Do I need to delegate something to someone else? Do I need to say no to a request of my time?)

Some things we need to get rid of. (The feelings of hopelessness. The toxic thinking that spirals out of control.)

And some things we just need to accept. (That person we want to change is out of our control. The season of life we must go through to get to the other side.)

And once we start to clean up the clutter, we can breathe again. We receive clarity.

We feel hope.

We can even invite others around us to help. People to hold us accountable. Friends to walk alongside us.

To help us sort through the messes of life.

I will probably continue to lose the ongoing battle of keeping my kitchen island cleared of clutter.

But I can most certainly win the war that stirs in my soul.

It’s a constant battle.                       Day after day.                                 Moment by moment.

But when I surrender to God and reach out for help, the clutter of life gets put in place. Not an overnight fix. But a gradual victory over time, through each season of life.

I think it’s okay to want an uncluttered kitchen. But I most certainly need to be more aware of the clutter of my soul.

What about you? Are things piling up in your world? Feeling overwhelmed with the clutter?

Let’s reach out and call on the One who can help us sort through it all. I believe with all my heart that Jesus is waiting for us to ask Him to clean up our clutter.

The less clutter there is, the more room He has to give us PEACE.

Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. ~Psalm 25:4-5

Blessings to you!

Lisa

Check out my devotional book, Embracing The Race

 

The Other Side

When  my family took a trip to Israel a few months ago, one of the many highlights for me was taking a boat out on the Sea of Galilee. So many significant events took place here!

Jesus called his disciples from this area.

He walked on water.

The miraculous catch of fish.

But my favorite is when Jesus calmed the storm.

 

I’ve heard this story taught multiple times. But it’s what happened before and after this miracle that makes it even more powerful to me now that I know the whole context.

Let me lay the foundation of what was going on before Jesus gets in the boat with his disciples. They were all gathered in Capernaum, the headquarters of Jesus’s ministry. The people were flocking to him, bringing their sick to be healed. The crowd was getting a bit out of control and Jesus decides it’s time to move to another  location.

But not just any location.

He intentionally says to his disciples, “Let us go to the other side.”

When he says “the other side” he means the other side of the lake.

But the other side of the lake was pagan territory. They didn’t follow the ways of God. They were known for indulging in all kinds of sin. The Jewish people weren’t embraced there. And they couldn’t stay for very long because of restrictions with food and social requirements.

Jesus knew exactly where they were going. It wasn’t just a random decision.

They headed to the Decapolis region for a divine appointment with a demon-possessed man.

Everyone in Capernaum would’ve been able to hear this man screaming from across the lake.  He wandered aimlessly in the tombs by the shore because nobody could contain him. He was out of control.

Jesus is making a very bold move to take his disciples across the Sea of Galilee to the other side.

So this is what happens right before an unexpected storm threatens to drown his disciples. Waves of panic rushed through seasoned fishermen as they watched literal waves crash over their ready-to-sink boat.

But Jesus awakens from his sleep (asleep–really??) and calms the storm before their very eyes. The storm didn’t take him by surprise. He was on a mission to get to the other side.

Nothing was going to stop him.

At this point, I wouldn’t have blamed the disciples one bit if they’d turned that boat around and headed back home to Capernaum, to familiar territory.

But Jesus wasn’t finished yet! Someone was waiting for him. Desperately waiting on the other side.

Approaching the shore, the demon possessed man doesn’t skip a beat. He’s waiting for Jesus. He must have heard the buzz spreading about this supernatural man who could heal the sick. This was his only hope. He was at his wit’s end.

Jesus takes control of the situation and casts the demons out of this man. And he not only casts them out, but he ushers them into a herd of pigs, driving them over a cliff into the sea.

The man is immediately set free!

He begs Jesus to let him climb aboard the boat with his disciples. (Wouldn’t that be anyone’s first response?!)

But Jesus firmly and lovingly tells him to stay. To go and tell his own people what Jesus did for him.

This is huge.  A demon possessed man—bound up in a prison of despair—is now set free to proclaim the good news. He’s a missionary in the pagan region of Decapolis!

A region on the other side.

Here’s some powerful insights to take away from this and apply to our lives today:

Sometimes Jesus calls us out of our comfort zone and asks us to go to the other side.

While it’s comfortable with the crowd, we are sometimes called to take a risky move.

A move that will feel very uncomfortable. A move that will tempt us to panic.

And yes, a move that might even drive us to feel as if a storm is threatening to drown us.

But instead of getting focused on the storm, maybe we need to shift our focus on the other side.

 

Who or what is waiting on the other side? 

The neighbor across the street.

The co-worker everybody avoids.

That estranged family member who causes conflict.

Or it might be a place Jesus wants you to embrace.

Your child’s school.

A new ministry that needs volunteers.

Whatever the other side is for you, take that leap of faith and go forward. But be prepared for the enemy to attack. Because anytime we make a move toward pointing others to Jesus, the enemy will do whatever he can to stop us.

You might get opposition from others. You might be criticized. Your whole world could be shaken up.

But just like Jesus, may we keep our eyes fixed on the other side. When the waves of doubt and panic threaten to drown us, may we trust Jesus to calm the chaos.

Just like the demon possessed man was changed forever, there are souls who are desperately waiting for the love of Jesus to impact their lives. Waiting for hope. Waiting for good news. Waiting for someone to reach out.

But that isn’t going to happen unless we resolve to go to the other side.

Pray today for God to show you what the other side is for you!

Blessings to you,

Lisa

Check out my book Embracing The Race: 40 Devotions for the Runner’s Soul 

Part of my proceeds are donated to WaterStep, a ministry that puts clean water in developing countries.

 

 

 

 

 

The Prison of Doubt

“Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:3)

Have you ever found yourself in a season of doubt?

The kind of season where everything around you feels dark. The light you could once see so brightly, now seems to have faded.

You wonder if God is really there. Does He see you? Doesn’t He know what you’re going through?

The path you were on seemed so clear and firm. But now the path has disappeared and it feels like you’re sinking.

Sinking into disappointment.

Sinking into discouragement.

Sinking into despair.

And then your weary mind is flooded with questions…

Are you sure this is where you called me, Jesus?

Did I not hear you right?

This isn’t where I thought I’d be right now.

Have you abandoned me?

Do you even hear me?

John the Baptist was asking some similar questions when he found himself in prison.

Ummm….prison?

You mean the one who was called to prepare the way for Jesus?

In prison?

Yes. That’s where he was.

He sent two of his disciples to find Jesus and ask him point blank:

Are you the one who was to come? 

This is where he is doubting whether or not Jesus is truly the Messiah.

Should we expect someone else?

As if the first question wasn’t clear enough, this one surely grabbed his attention!

John’s entire ministry pointed others to the coming Messiah. His assignment was to prepare the way for Jesus. If he got this wrong, then everything he did would be in vain. He would have been guilty of leading so many others astray.

He couldn’t live with that. He knew his days were limited. (When prophets rebuke kings, it usually didn’t go very well.)

So he had to know the answer to his final question.

Did he get it wrong? Was Jesus really who He said He was?

Dear friends, we often find ourselves in similar situations. We may not find ourselves in a physical prison awaiting execution. But we find ourselves in a different type of prison…

We might feel trapped in a marriage that  started off on the right path, but now is falling apart.

We may have taken that dream job but now it feels like an absolute nightmare.

We poured so much into our kids but now they are wandering off, making poor choices.

Or maybe someone you trusted has betrayed you and you feel stuck in a prison of bitterness.

Whatever it is you’re doubting, you are most certainly not alone. We all have seasons of doubt. We all have those moments when we are afraid to even admit we doubt God’s presence in our lives.

After reading back through the passage where John the Baptist is doubting who Jesus is, he gets his answer.

Jesus sends those disciples back to John with exactly what he needs to hear. Don’t miss what Jesus says!

“Tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.”

John would certainly recognize Isaiah’s prophecy in those powerful words. This promise would bring the peace John needed to sustain him through the painful circumstances he was experiencing.

Notice that Jesus did not speak words of condemnation towards John. He didn’t express disappointment that John was doubting him. He didn’t throw up his hands in frustration that John would dare question his authority as the Messiah!

Right after John’s disciples go on their way, here is what Jesus says about John:

“I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist.” (Matt. 11:11)

Jesus makes this statement in the midst of John’s doubt!!  

I don’t know about you, but I find this nugget of truth fascinating. It brings me such relief and peace. It removes the heavy burden of guilt I sometimes feel when I’m in a season of doubt myself.

As the forerunner to paving the way for Jesus, John did a lot of great things. He called a nation to repentance, and prepared the world for Christ’s arrival.

But the quality I think we can all embrace is how he persevered in the face of public misunderstanding and malicious persecution.

Have you ever been misunderstood by anyone? (A family member, friend or co-worker?)

Have you ever been wrongly accused for standing up for your beliefs?

Have you ever felt like someone has bound you up in an emotional or mental prison?

I don’t know where you are today, but I want to encourage you to claim the promises of Jesus that will bring you peace.

The very words of Jesus are what ultimately comforted John. Even in prison. Awaiting a death sentence.

Wherever you feel trapped, locked up, bound up or hopeless…only His promises can bring you peace.

Don’t feel shame in your doubts, but bring them to the feet of Jesus, the only one who can unlock your prison of doubt.

Blessings to you!

Lisa