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

 

 

Come With Your Anger

Frustrated. Ticked off. Offended. Upset. Enraged. Explosive.

ANGRY!!

If you’re human, then you have felt these emotions. Doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, you will feel angry at people.

Some of us grew up thinking that is was just wrong to feel this way. Wrong to even consider being angry.

That anger was actually a sin.

If you’ve fallen for these lies, please be encouraged that it’s not a sin to feel angry.

What we DO with that anger determines whether or not we’ve sinned. How we respond to it is the turning point.

We know that Jesus was without sin. He lived a perfect life. So when he overturned the tables at the temple in response to money changers taking advantage of the people, his anger was not sinful. He displayed righteous anger.

But that was Jesus. The perfect son of God.

We are human. We have this thing called a sin nature. So what are we to do with our anger?

When our loved ones do something that ticks us off. When our coworker or neighbor says something offensive. When someone dumps their responsibilities on us.

I could spend the next several hundred words talking about how to deal with anger and how to manage it in so many ways. But I’m choosing to look instead at scripture where we find truth that speaks more powerfully than anything else.

You know the sisters, Mary and Martha? Jesus was staying in their home and they each chose different paths in response to his visit. You’re probably thinking that this is where I’ll praise Mary for sitting at the feet of Jesus and scold Martha for getting too focused on the housework.

Although there are powerful lessons and even books written about balancing our Martha tendencies with Mary desires, I want to focus in on a nugget of truth that sometimes gets overlooked in this story. Don’t miss it!

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42) (emphasis mine)

Yes, Martha was distracted. Yes, Martha had her priorities out-of-order. Yes, she should have been sitting on the floor next to her sister.

But because she was human, she did get distracted and unfocused. But there’s one thing she did right.

It says, “She came to him and asked.…”

Even though Martha was angry (probably stewing on the inside), she brought it to Jesus. She took her concern to HIM.

She didn’t go straight to her sister and lash out at her. She didn’t pull Mary up by the collar and point her finger at her. She didn’t stand with her arms crossed staring down at Mary with a look that could kill. 

She took her concerns straight to Jesus. She felt confident enough to speak her mind to Jesus. She was bold enough to face him with her frustrations. She was transparent enough that she felt safe enough to express her deepest emotions with the son of God.

Wow!

How freeing is that? How refreshing!

That we can take whatever is bothering us straight to the foot of the cross. That we can come boldly before Him, holding nothing back. That we can come just as we are. With our frustrations. With our disappointments. With our expectations.

With our raging anger.

Yes, He can take it. He welcomes it. He longs for us to bring it all to Him instead of us unleashing it onto other people.

Martha brought her anger to Jesus. And the cool thing is that she got to hear Jesus loud and clear. She emptied herself of her emotion, putting her in a place to be filled. It might appear that Jesus rebuked her. But I think He was redirecting her.

He lovingly told her she was upset and worried about other things, and to follow the example of her sister. But don’t walk away from this familiar story without grasping the truth that Martha brought her messy emotions…..to Jesus.

Where are you today, dear friend? Do you have any frustrations or unmet expectations on the verge of explosion? I encourage you to take them to the foot of the cross. Take them and pour them out. Empty yourself face-to-face with Jesus. He wants you to be real.

And just like Martha, He’ll show you the next step you need to take.

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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

 

My Hidden Addiction

Smartphones. Ipads. Laptops.

These things aren’t bad. In fact, these pieces of technology are capable of helping us navigate our lives more smoothly, keeping us connected with people we love and helping us complete important tasks.

I can pick up my phone and within seconds, I’m talking to my husband while he’s on a business trip. We can even see each other if we choose to do face time or Skype.

My daughter can instantly look up information for school on her mini-Ipad. Within seconds she can access dates and places for her history assignment.

I can take my laptop just about anywhere and instantly be able to email, blog, write or do anything I choose to do in cyberspace.

But our instant-connection ability becomes a problem if we let it consume us. Even worse, our desire for instant-connection can lead to a disconnect from God.

I am often guilty of grabbing my phone before opening the pages of God’s word. Or I will spend too much time scrolling Facebook instead of seeking His face. Too often I’m looking down at my phone instead of looking up to Him.

I’d rather not write about this topic today. I’ve fought God in sharing this post with others. It’s easier to write about things I’ve mastered and have gained victory in! 

But the unhealthy pull of technology is something I struggle with now. I don’t have victory over this area of my life yet. This is where I am constantly being challenged. But I feel God is nudging me to share this because I think many of you struggle with this as well.

What often starts out as something positive can get sidetracked to something negative.

I need to answer emails from my publisher. But then I start surfing the Internet for just a few minutes. Then those few minutes turn into an hour.

I need to answer text messages from friends who need encouragement. But then I click on my Facebook app and get pulled into an endless scroll of checking out what everyone is doing.

I need to post to my blog so readers can be encouraged and inspired. But then I’ll allow myself to get consumed with checking the stats of how many people have viewed my post.

Because we all live in a technology driven, social media saturated world, it’s become acceptable to constantly be looking at some type of screen. We don’t see it as a problem.

We can quickly judge others for their obvious, outward struggles, while feeling better about ourselves for not falling into certain sins.

He has a lust problem.

She has an anger problem.

They are addicted to drugs/alcohol. 

They are too focused on materialism. 

But too often I’ve drowned out the faint whisper of God in these moments. I’m not still enough to hear the truth He is trying to speak to me.

You have a problem too, Lisa. It’s not obvious to others, but it still interferes with your relationship to people and with me.

Yes. I. am. guilty!

Just a few more minutes. Just one more post. Just one more email. Just one more text.

If I’m not intentional, my time with technology takes the place of more important things.

I’ll get lost in endless scrolling and miss out on a conversation with my kids.

I’ll get pulled into an Internet search and forfeit time with my husband.

I’ll get overly focused on a writing project and later on wonder why undone tasks are piling up around me.

Ephesians 5:16-17 (ESV) puts it this way:

“Be very careful then how you walk, not as unwise–but as wise. Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

Technology isn’t evil. Social media isn’t wicked.

But how I choose to use them is crucial.

If anything takes the place of connecting with God, then I need to disconnect. If I’m running to anything other than God to fill a void, then it’s idolatry. If I’m spending more time on the Internet than interacting with my family, I’ve crossed the line.

So, what about you? Do you struggle with the amount of time you spend on technology? Do you allow social media contacts to interfere with real relationships?  Do you attempt to fill a void with a screen? I’ll bet I’m not alone in this.

The first step is acknowledging we have a struggle. Once we do that, we can surrender to God our unhealthy desire for instant-connection.

His connection is all-satisfying. His connection is fulfilling. His connection is ongoing without any bad reception. His connection is eternal.

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

 

Laying Down Our Good for Best

January. 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. Go to places we’ve never been. 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 fill our lives up 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 a friend for lunch? That’s good!

Exercising to stay in shape? That’s good!

Shopping with your mom? That’s good!

Making cookies for your child’s class at school? That’s good!

Leading a small Bible study for church? That’s good!

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

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

Volunteering at your local community center? 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.

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.

God, what is your plan for me? I lay down the things I think are good. Help me rest in your presence, so I can know what’s best. Your best.

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

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Blessings to you, dear friends!

Lisa Preuett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Make Time Slow Down

Where has the time gone? 

How many times have you uttered these words?

Can’t believe my child is already in kindergarten (or middle school, or high school)!

Countless Facebook posts declare these words underneath pictures of our kids as they’ve started a new school year.

I wish I could go back to the days when my daughter played dress-up.

I wish I could go back to when my son played tee-ball. 

Where has the time gone?

And as we look back on days we can never get back, our hearts ache to simply slow down time. Maybe with regret, we feel pangs of guilt for the past seasons of life we wanted to rush through.

And in the stillness of the moment, we wish things could somehow change. If it were possible, we’d give anything to be able to slow down the clock so we won’t have to face times like this again, wishing we could go back.

Life gets busy.

Chores must be done.

Bills have to be paid.

Homework completed.

Laundry washed. Again and again and again….

Making a mad dash for soccer practices and dance lessons.

Before we know it, we’re posting a picture on Facebook of another milestone moment.

Where has the time gone?

Dear friends, I don’t know about you, but my mind has wandered and lingered in this spot too many times to count. I’ve prayed and asked God to help me reconcile my moments of regret mixed with pangs of wishing to hurry up and get through a certain season of life.

Do you have those hurry-up-and-get-me-through-this-season moments too? I’m sure you have….

I can’t wait until this baby is out of diapers.

I can’t wait until this child can feed herself.

I can’t wait until this child can dress himself.

I can’t wait until I can put this kid on a school bus so I can have some free time.

I’m so ready for this girl to stop singing that same old princess song 100 times a day.

Can’t wait for the day when I can leave my child alone without a babysitter.

Can’t wait for the day when my teen can drive herself to school so I can stop being a taxi driver.

And before we know it, those seasons are gone. Our thoughts of hurry-up! have now turned into SLOW………..DOWN.

My prayer of crying out to God and asking him how I can possibly slow down time, came with this answer:

I can’t change how time works. One day still has 24 hours. One hour still has 60 minutes.

I can’t go back. I can’t touch the future. But I can decide how to spend today.

I get to decide how to spend each and every waking moment. I get to decide what my attitude will be for each and every waking moment.

Ephesians 5:16 says it this way, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.

When I stand stuck in the pit of regret, it robs me of today’s moments. That’s unwise.

When I feel sorry for myself because a situation didn’t turn out the way I wanted, I miss out on the moments my kids are involved in at that very moment. That’s unwise.

Wishing to hurry-up and get through a season because it’s too demanding and inconvenient. That’s unwise. 

I don’t always get this right, but I’m slowly learning to live in the moment. Soaking it up. Embracing it. Living it. Trusting God one moment at a time. This is wise.

What about you? Are you wasting your moments looking back in regret? Are you wishing to hurry-up because you think the next stage is better? If you’re like me, maybe you waver between the two!

I encourage you today, dear friend, to be still. Breathe in the grace of God. Ask him to help you live one moment at a time, making the most of each day.

Instead of uttering Where has the time gone? I’d much rather say, Thank you God for allowing me to embrace the time you’ve given me.

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett