Choosing PEACE instead of PANIC

With all that’s happening in our world currently with the spread of COVID-19, there’s one thing I know for sure:

Panic, fear and anxiety are spreading faster than the virus!

Usually when we’re faced with uncertainty and lack of control, we start to worry. When our lives become unpredictable, it’s human nature to slip into anxious thinking.

When negative news consumes the media and we continually see the death numbers rise, fear rises even higher.

I don’t know about you, but I’m trying to align my mind with truth and words of hope.

In Matthew 6:25-34, we find Jesus speaking to a crowd. He’s just laid a foundation of where their true treasure can be found. It’s not in possessions or money. But in God alone.

Then right after that he assures us why we should not worry and gives examples of questions one would ask IF they were in a state of worry.

What will we eat?

What will we drink?

What will we wear?

These questions refer to necessary items. No luxuries (non-essentials) are mentioned.

Our current questions in the midst of a world pandemic might look like this:

What will I do now that I’ve lost my job?

Will I have enough food to last through quarantine?

What if I get the virus?

Where will I buy toilet paper?

The response Jesus gives to these questions should grab our attention. His response then is still his response now.

Why do you worry, oh you of little faith? 

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

For the world runs after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows you need them.

Jesus emphasizes that worry will do nothing for us. It will not add anything. It will bring more stress. More panic.

When he says the world runs after all these things, I automatically think of long lines outside grocery stores where people are ready to race to the toilet paper shelves, knocking down whoever gets in their way!

I’ve seen multiple social media posts where meat and dairy shelves are empty.

An obvious result of people running after these things. 

What should bring us assurance and comfort is that Jesus says, Your heavenly Father knows you need them.

Yes, He’s very aware of our needs.

Needs

Notice it doesn’t say our wants.

We’re living in a time when we’re realizing the difference between our needs and wants.

Essentials and non-essentials. 

I want lunch at Panera.

I want to watch college basketball games.

I want my fitness class.

I want my hair appointment!

But when all these things are stripped away from us, our perspective dramatically shifts.

My basic needs are being met. I have food, a roof over my head and plenty of clothes. (And even if toilet paper is running low, it ultimately will not cause me to die!)

The last thing Jesus says to give us peace and assurance is this:

Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

We’re being forced to slow down and live one day at a time.

We’re used to planning things out weeks and months ahead of time.

We’re used to stocking up on things in bulk.

We’re used to our predictable routines.

Maybe it’s a good thing we are now literally having to live one day at a time.

When I start worrying about tomorrow, the “what-if” syndrome knocks me down and I can’t recover.

What if _______???

Jesus promises to be our daily bread. (Not a weekly or monthly stockpile.)

Because if I have a year’s supply of food and toilet paper, I’m going to trust in that and not Him.

He wants us to trust Him one day at a time. 

One moment at a time.

And when we do that, we can trade our panic for peace.

How about you dear friend?

Are you caught up in the whirlwind of worry? The pandemic panic?

Lean into the peace and assurance that can only come from trusting in the one who knows exactly what we need.

Blessings to you,

Lisa 

 

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.”

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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.”

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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

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

 

 

3 Truths for When You’re Hurting

My heart is extremely heavy this week. Dear friends all around me are hurting deeply. Their pain is deep, from heavy burdens to shattered hearts.

Disappointment in people who didn’t follow through with promises. 

Friends who just don’t seem to care.

Marriages strained with distrust and selfishness.

Sudden death of a loved one.

Physical pain so unbearable it seems hopeless.

As long as we live in these temporary bodies and navigate our way in a fallen world, there will be hurt. But we don’t have to stay stuck in our hurt. We can cling to truth in God’s word to hold us up when we just can’t take anymore.

My absolute favorite scripture is the core of my blog. It’s found in Matthew 11:28-29:

“Come to Me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.”

Whether you’re burned out from doing the same tasks over and over again, or burdened with something far too heavy to carry on your own, Jesus promises to give us REST. But I’ve learned the hard way that rest doesn’t just come automatically. When I’m caught up in a tangled mess of hurt and pain, I can’t find rest in my own strength. We’ve got to COME to Jesus.

That’s our part….just COME.

He promises to give us rest. Sometimes we need physical rest. Other times we need soul rest.

Another truth in God’s word that brings me comfort in the midst of my hurt is found in Psalm 46:10

“Be still and know that I am God.”

I’m often guilty of running around in my own strength trying to figure everything out on my own. I’ll keep myself busy (even with good things) to keep from having to focus on my hurt. I’ll run myself ragged, making myself too stressed out to just stop and be still. And there it is…

That’s our part…..Be still.

Cease striving. Stop what you’re doing. Stop worrying. Quit letting anxiety drive you.

And the other part in that scripture? It says KNOW.

This is not a physical action. It’s not something we DO. It happens in our mind and penetrates down to our weary soul. Here’s a definition of KNOW that is pretty powerful:

“to have developed a relationship with someone through meeting and spending time with them; be familiar or friendly with.”

In the worst part of our hurt and pain, we can simply know that God is who He says He is. We can trust Him.

One last scripture I’ll point you to today is found in Psalm 34:18

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Sometimes our hurt is so unbearable we feel our heart will burst with pain. I understand that kind of hurt. I’m sure every person who is reading this has been in this place.

You feel crushed by other’s choices. By your own foolish decisions. By circumstances beyond your control. By sickness or death that came on suddenly.

But God promises to be NEAR. He also promises to SAVE.

Even if we don’t feel it. Even if we don’t see it. Even if we don’t believe it.

He IS near. He DOES save.

I can’t promise how long your hurt and pain will last. It may be short-lived or it may be ongoing. But I can without a doubt promise you this:

When we surrender to Jesus in the midst of our hurt and take our heavy heart to him, He will carry us through.

COME to Him for your REST.

Be STILL and KNOW.

Trust that He is NEAR and CLOSE.

Praying for you, dear friends, that wherever you are today you’ll be encouraged by these truths.

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

Taming the Waves of Fear

Standing on the edge of the shore, I peered out into the ocean as far as my eyes could see. Way out there, the waves appeared so huge and powerful.

Overwhelming. Unstoppable.

I sure wouldn’t want to be caught out there! Those waves would crash over me, taking me under to be drowned.

Caught up in anxious thoughts, the water suddenly splashed around my ankles. The bubbling water refreshed my tired feet, white foam tickling my toes. This felt invigorating and relaxing as my feet sunk into the wet sand. Soaking up the moment, I peered out once again at the huge waves in the distance. And that’s when it hit me.

The threatening waves that started out enormous, had gradually diminished into tame wavelets by the time they reached the shore. 

What was viewed from a distance invoked fear and anxiety. But when viewed up close, now tame and subdued.

This image paints a powerful picture of what we do with the fears and worries of our life. When we peer into the distant, unknown future, our minds get tangled up in waves of anxiety. Things that haven’t even touched us yet threaten to pull us under, drowning our faith with fear.

What will I do IF that happens?

How will I survive IF they do such-and-such?

I will surely crumble IF this comes true. 

While these enormous waves of fear build their power and momentum, we allow defeat to crash over us, drowning out every ounce of peace and joy.

Viewed from a distance, these fears lurk heavily in our mind. But if only we would wait…

Wait for those fears to lose their momentum. Wait for those threats to diminish. Wait for those worries to dissipate to wavelets.

By the time our “what ifs” reach the shore of reality, we will often realize that the very things that once threatened to drown us, are now tame ripples we splash with our feet!

The things that appear powerful are now powerless. The things that seemed overwhelming are now manageable. The things that looked impossible are now hopeful.

In past seasons of my life, I’ve allowed the waves of fear to pull me in. I’ve allowed my thoughts to run wild with worry instead of letting God’s peace soak up my parched soul. I’ve learned that when I live my life out in the distant waves, I can’t possibly enjoy the abundant life back on the shore.

On the shore there is solid ground. On the shore I can stand still. On the shore I can soak up the sunlight.

Just as the bubbling water foams around my feet from the broken waves, God’s presence and peace soothe my aching soul.

So how do we live on the shore when the waves threaten to drown us? I truly believe the secret is where we focus our eyes. 

I can glance at the waves in the distance, but I don’t stay there. I can get a glimpse of an approaching storm, but I don’t get caught up in it. Instead, I focus in the other direction.

The day I stood on the beach at the edge of the shore, I turned around and heard the laughter of children. Their shrieks of joy drew me in. They were picking up shells. They were running back and forth, splashing in the ripples. Some were flying kites, throwing balls and building sand castles.

They were too busy having fun to notice the huge waves in the distance. They lived in the moment, enjoying the blessings of life.

I didn’t see any child looking out and focusing on the waves that could swallow them up if they drifted out. I didn’t see any child paralyzed by fear, refusing to budge from their beach chair.

Maybe this is a picture of what it means when God tells us to become like a little child. A child playing on the shore, refusing to get pulled under by the waves of fear. A child trusting their father to take care of their every need.

Where are you today? Are you living in fear from the “what if’s”? Are you letting the waves of worry control your every move?

If that’s where you are, I urge you to turn around. Walk upon the shore.

Trust God with the things that seem to threaten you. Enjoy the abundant life He wants you to have. Surrender to Him your fears and worries you see in the distance.

I pray that the peace of His presence will refresh your tired and weary soul.

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Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

 

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett