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.

cell-phone-801946_640

Blessings to you!

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.

momswing

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

 

 

At the Crack of Dawn

Psalm 5:3 In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.

Darkness hovers. Most people still slumber in deep sleep. Our alarm clock blares. Eyes widening, we quickly bound out of bed. Careful not to wake anyone else in the house, we throw on our clothes. We’re ready to do what we planned all along. It’s the crack of dawn. Time to run.

Why is it that we runners choose to run so darn early? For heaven’s sake, it’s still dark outside! Our non-runner family members and friends question our motives to exchange another hour of sleep to run. Why not run later in the day when it’s not so, umm, dark?

Most runners claim that it’s beneficial to run in the early morning hours before other things start to interfere. Once the demands of the work day are underway or kids are bounding out of bed, it can be much harder to squeeze in a run. Feeling wiped out after a demanding day, the thought of running later in the day can seem daunting.

Running in the early morning gets your metabolism geared up for the rest of the day. Energy you didn’t have at first rushes through your blood vessels and you’re suddenly ready to face the day ahead with a more positive attitude. You’re also more likely to be aware of the food you put into your mouth after putting in hard work.

Runners claim it’s worth getting up early to see a sunrise first thing in the morning. The beauty and sheer joy of watching the sun come up is invigorating. Breathing in the cool air of the morning. Breathing out gratitude for such an awesome part of creation. With a refreshed perspective, you’re more able to tackle the day ahead.

While running early in the morning is good, seeking God in our first waking moments is even better. David writes in Psalms that his requests are brought to the Lord, in the morning. Early in the morning before we fall into our break-neck pace of life, we are urged to put our focus on God. Before we get distracted with work and interruptions from our kids. Before we start tackling our to-do list. Before we pick up our phone to check social media.

Seeking God first puts everything in perspective. Fixing our eyes on him before anything or anyone else grabs our attention sets the pace for the rest of the day. Humbling acknowledging him first allows the holy spirit to flow more freely through every part of your soul. Asking for his guidance makes us more cautious about what we choose to put into our mind throughout the day.

Even Jesus got up early in the morning to spend time with his heavenly father. He was fully man and fully God, yet he modeled for us what we should embrace first upon waking. His example should challenge us to follow in his footsteps. Footsteps that ran to God early in the morning.

It’s well worth rising early to encounter Jesus. Sitting still in his presence washes peace and joy over us like nothing else can. The power he infuses upon us is invigorating. We can then breathe in his grace. And this prepares us to breathe out praise to him throughout the rest of the day. Before we start our day, we’re refreshed with an eternal perspective. He prepares us to not just tackle the day ahead, but to thrive in it!

READY? How are you doing with spending time with God before your day gets going? Are there any changes you need to make in your schedule? How does spending quality time with God affect the rest of your day?

GET SET. Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

GO! Lord Jesus, thank you for the truth of your word. Help me to realize the importance of acknowledging you first in the morning. Forgive me for the times I’ve put other things ahead of you. Help me carve out the time to be still in your presence. Praise you for the promise that when we seek you first, you will provide all that we need. Amen.

sunrise pic

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

Embracing Our Day of REST

Exodus 20:8-10 “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God.”

Runners follow a strict training schedule if a race is on the horizon. Short runs. Strength training. Cross training. And of course the weekly long runs. All of these pieces of the runner’s puzzle work together, each one fulfilling a specific role to ensure success. But something crucial that simply can’t be overlooked is the day of REST. Most training schedules have this word in bold letters, calling attention to its importance. At first I didn’t’ understand why this day of rest was part of the runner’s world. Shouldn’t I be doing something ? What if I got behind earlier in the week and needed to squeeze in a quick three-mile run or weight lifting session? Couldn’t I use that day to get ahead in my training? What could it possibly hurt? Besides, I didn’t even feel tired.

It is no surprise that the day of rest comes the day after a long run. Your physical body must have that day to recuperate from the stress placed upon it. It’s a crucial day to recover. A day to let your legs relax, unwinding from the persistent impact of constantly pounding the pavement. A runner’s body needs this time to repair and recover. Miss this day and you’re setting yourself up for injury. Ignore the warning and you’ll regret it later.

Just as our physical bodies require rest to recover, our souls desperately need a day of rest for renewal. After a full week of living at a break-neck pace, we must slow down. We must simply be still in the presence of God. We must pull away from our hectic schedule. We must unplug from the rest of the world–basking in His loving presence. We must put to death the nagging urge to use this day of rest to get caught up on things—to get ahead. No dear friend, our God designed us to rest. He set the example for us when He created the world. This day of rest is included in the ten commandments to His people. If God set the pace for us in this area, then shouldn’t we embrace it and obediently follow suit?

But I have so much to do! I need to get caught up on work, errands and projects!  I feel so guilty resting when everything is piling up!

He calls us to unplug from the crazy pace we attempt to survive in and beckons us to simply sit at his feet.  He wants to recharge us. Renew us. Refresh us. But He can’t do this if we ignore our day of rest. We bypass many blessings when we ignore the call to rest. Just as a runner’s physical body will suffer harm without rest, our souls will ache deeply and our faith will be weakened. When you see the word REST on your training schedule, let it be a reminder to embrace the day of rest God created for YOU.

READY? How are you doing with carving out a day of rest from your busy schedule? Is it easier for you to justify a physical rest compared to a rest for your soul? Why or why not? What do you need to change to allow this day of rest?

GET SET. Matthew 11:28 Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.

GO! Lord Jesus, I struggle sometimes with embracing a day of rest in the quick-paced culture we live in. Help me to slow down and pull away from the cares of this world. Please help me to embrace this day to worship you and be renewed by your peace. Thank you for designing my life with a built-in desire to rest in your presence. Amen

Runner-relaxing-in-grass

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

Leave Room for Cream!

If you’re a lover of coffee swirled with oodles of cream, then you understand how crucial it is when you order coffee at a restaurant.

Please leave room for cream! 

Or maybe you’re at a friend’s house and when she gently pours fresh brewed coffee into your mug, you politely stop her from filling it up too far:

Remember…I like lots of cream!

Some of you would even go so far as to say you like a little bit of coffee with your cream! In that case, you are really careful about not filling your cup up too much.

But then it happens. Your server completely forgets you need room for cream, pouring freshly brewed coffee all the way to the brim of your cup. It’s so full, some of it even splashes out, making a nice little puddle right smack in front of you. Ughh! What a mess!

????????????????????????????

What a powerful picture of what our lives can be like! When we don’t leave room for any margin– cramming our schedules to the brim–everything splashes out and before we realize it, we have a huge mess right smack in front of us. 

We keep filling our lives up with more and more. We say yes to every request without thinking it through. We scurry around with a sense of urgency, afraid we’re going to miss out on something. And just like that server who thinks we like black coffee, we keep on pouring until there’s no room left.

But instead of coffee creamer, in that moment we realize we have no room left.

No room to just rest. No room to sit still and read a book. No room to have even a five-minute conversation with our spouse. No room to let the kids just play outside. No room to listen to our teen unload about their bad day. No room to be refreshed. No room to be still in the presence of God.

It’s especially easy to find ourselves in this overflowing mess during the Christmas season. We say we want to leave room for cream, yet we keep on filling the cups of our souls to the brim.

Gotta send out those 100 Christmas cards!

We already have three parties scheduled, but I think we can fit this one in too.

We’ve already reached our limit of spending, but a little more won’t hurt.

I wasn’t going to buy anything for that friend, but now that they’ve given me something I need to get them something in return.

I wanted to have a simple Christmas at home, but they’re expecting us to be there!

We really want to go to the Christmas Eve service, but we have so much to do. 

My house isn’t decorated like hers, so I’ve got to go out and buy some more stuff to keep up.

And the list goes on. What’s the one thing that causes your schedule to overflow? Have you left room for anything else?

The thing about a cup of black coffee filled up to the brim is that there are only two ways to make room for any cream.

You can either drink the black coffee until you have enough room, or you can pour it out. Either way, it’s going to be inconvenient. If you’re used to sweet cream, the black coffee can be bitter to the taste. And if it’s really hot, you can’t quickly drink it down to where you want it without burning your mouth.

If you attempt to pour it out, you’re most likely going to make a mess as it drips down the side of your cup. Believe me, I’ve tried this many times!

If the cup of your soul is filled to the brim, and it’s too crowded for the peace of Jesus to flow through, what can you do? Sometimes we may have to drink the bitter cup we’ve poured. It’s not pleasant. Maybe we get burned and experience grueling pain. But going forward, we’ll know better. We’ll know next time not to make a rash decision. We’ll know next time to think through a situation, asking God for wisdom. Even when we make a mess of things, God’s grace is always available. We humbly learn that the next time we will leave room for cream.

What about you, dear friend? Are you leaving room for His peace and rest this Christmas season? Are you intentionally slowing down and keeping your focus on Him? Or do you already feel your cup getting too full? Are you allowing others to fill your cup to the brim without saying stop?

Relax with your family. Celebrate your friendships. Rest in His presence. Enjoy your cup of coffee, but whatever you do…….leave room for some cream.

Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”

creamers

 

 

 

4 Reasons Why I’m NOT celebrating Christmas!

Before the kids had time to sink their teeth into Halloween candy, Christmas tunes were blasting through the radio waves. What? Really? Even my 10-year old daughter was shocked at this. With a piece of Halloween candy in her hand she gasped, “Mom, why are they playing Christmas music so early? Don’t those people know what month it is?”

Can’t a child enjoy their Tootsie rolls and suckers for a little bit before thinking about candy canes already?

Before we barely finished displaying our homes with fall decorations, stores were already dragging the Christmas decor into the aisles. Before the last pumpkins and mums were purchased, the ornaments and Christmas trees were already in place. Political commercials for the upcoming election day were intertwined with those that pushed us to start Christmas shopping.

Whether we want to admit it or not, we live in a society that is driven by materialism.

The sooner we can get people thinking about Christmas, the sooner they will start to shop. And the sooner they begin to shop, the sooner more money will be made.

It’s probably not too far-fetched to imagine that at some point in the near future we’ll find ourselves taking down 4th of July flags only to replace them the next day with Christmas lights.

I don’t know about you, but as a follower of Jesus my heart grieves at this materialistic attitude we’re surrounded by. For many, Thanksgiving traditions of lingering over coffee and dessert with family have expanded to a quick bite only to dash out the door to be first in line… all for the sake of a good deal. Black Friday is no longer on Friday anymore! What are they calling it now?

If we aren’t careful, it’s easy to allow the greediness of this world to trample upon the gift of grace that was so lavishly poured out on us.

With that said, I’m taking a stand. I’ll not be celebrating Christmas this year. I’m celebrating Christ….not the commercialized Christmas our culture has embraced. I’m celebrating the gift of salvation….not the grasping of more stuff.

1. Instead of getting caught up in the RUSH……I’m going to slow down and relish the REST of my Redeemer.

2. Instead of going on a rampage to SPEND……I’m going to be still and SEEK the face of my Savior.

3. Instead of allowing stress to lead to PANIC……I’m going to pursue the promise of His PEACE.

4. Instead of filling my trunk with too many PRESENTS, I’m going to empty myself to be filled with more of His PRESENCE.

Please don’t misunderstand my words. I am not putting the Scrooge label on my forehead by any means. I will put up a Christmas tree, shop for presents, and engage in festivities with family and friends.

But I resolve to not get caught up in how our culture defines Christmas. If it doesn’t truly involve Jesus Christ, then don’t call it Christmas. Call it the Holiday Season, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, or Winter Celebration. Any of those will do just fine.

But for the sake of our Savior…..don’t call it Christmas if you intend to leave out Christ.

What about you? Where is your heart on this, dear friend? Do you find yourself getting caught up with the motions instead of the message? Do you feel overwhelmed with the count-down to Christmas or are you truly excited about the celebration of Jesus coming to earth?

My prayer is that we will trade the urge to rush, spend and panic for the desire to rest, seek and pursue the peace of Jesus Christ…the real meaning of Christmas.

Isaiah 9:6 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.

christmas tree

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

http://www.reststopforthesoul.com