The Things That Really Matter

It’s a home school day. What lies ahead? Will it be calm? Or full of drama? My daughter drops her pencil on the floor and by her response you would think the world was caving in. Drama……Really? It’s just a dropped pencil for heaven’s sake!

A few minutes later after recovering from the dropped pencil, she makes a mistake on her math paper. It’s only one out of twenty-five, yet by her response you’d think she had missed all of them. More drama….. Really? It’s only ONE problem! Why can’t she focus on the twenty-four problems she mastered?

Just when I think this girl of mine has exerted all the drama she could possibly muster in such a short time, we have yet another incident. She uses the wrong shade of blue to label a city on her map for geography class. She had meant to use light blue but discovers she’s used a dark blue. By her response you’d think she had used black scribbles all over it! More drama…..again.

With all these dramatic incidents, I plead with her to not get so upset over the little things.

“Focus on the big picture, sweetheart. You’re doing a great job, but you are absolutely exhausting yourself emotionally  when you get upset like this. Save your energy for the big stuff–the things that really matter.”

I shake my head and shoot up an arrow prayer before going about my day. “God, please help this child to stay calm with the trivial things! Why is she acting like this? She is wearing me out!”

Just a few hours later I am working on balancing our bank account. In the busyness of this season, receipts and bank statements have piled up and I am way behind schedule. I optimistically think that I can knock this out quickly. (First mistake…..I set up an expectation.)

I am plugging along at a good pace and then all of a sudden the computer locks up. It freezes. I can’t continue with this task. I yell at the computer screen as if it is a person and can actually hear me.

Come on! What is wrong with you!?

When it doesn’t respond the way I want it to, my frustration grows and I slam my fist on the desk. Wham!

In the still small voice that I know is God whispering to my weary soul, I hear Him say this: Really, Lisa? All this drama over a frozen computer screen? This is a little thing. Save your emotional energy for the big stuff.

A little later I head out the door to run an errand. When I retrieve my phone from the charger, I notice the charger is NOT working. My phone is still dead. Now I must go out of the house with no phone! My frustration level rises….again. By my response you would think the world was caving in.

The still small voice I heard a few hours prior is calling me….again. This time it seems a bit louder. Lisa, this is a little thing. You are too focused on this phone. The world will not fall apart without it. Save your emotional energy for the big stuff.

I finally let the reality of this profound truth sink in. Just as my daughter fell apart over trivial issues, I too squandered my energy on petty frustrations. Things that don’t really matter when viewed through the lens of eternity. From God’s perspective, these little things are really no big deal.

I need to be reminded of what the apostle Paul says about trivial things in 2 Corinthians 4:17: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

A dropped pencil, a missed math problem and a map mistake? Light and momentary troubles!

A frozen computer screen and a broken phone charger? Light and momentary troubles! 

So what is this eternal glory Paul talks about? Well, that would be the big stuff.  The stuff that really matters.

Lingering a little longer in my daughter’s bedroom at night to listen to her and pray with her. Eternal glory!

Having coffee with a single mom who needs a listening ear. Eternal glory!

Planning a family night to just hang out and laugh together. Eternal glory!

Yes, these are the things that really matter. But if I exert too much energy on the little things, I’ll be depleted and won’t have anything to offer when it’s really needed.

What about you? What light and momentary troubles are you dealing with this week? If you’re like me, it’s easy to get focused on those things and lose heart. But I pray we will see these things for what they are–light and momentary–and save our energy for the things that really matter.

2-corinthians-4-17

 

 Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

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

 

Time to Clean Out Your Clutter?

With school out and more free time on my hands, I’m in the midst of cleaning out the clutter in my house. Outgrown and outdated clothing, broken toys,expired coupons, junk mail and items I don’t even recognize! And this is just the beginning of the stuff I’ve come across. As I attempt to go through each room, closet and drawer, I have to decide which category the item in question needs to go.

Trash it? Give it away? Move it to its proper place?

So I literally have three plastic bins in which these items will be tossed.

Trash: These are obvious and don’t take long to figure out. Something that’s broken, used up or never should have taken up residence in our house. Where did this come from? Why did we not throw this away sooner?

Give it away: This takes a bit more thought. Maybe the item is still of value but it doesn’t fit anyone in our household. Wrong size. Not our style. Someone can get some use out of this! Maybe a single mom in need of clothing for her growing children. A toy for a child who has nothing. I feel relieved as I bag these things up, knowing I’m getting rid of the clutter in my home but passing on something useful for someone else.

Put it where it belongs: These are the things simply out-of-place and need to be put back where they belong. This screwdriver doesn’t belong in the laundry room; it goes in the garage. This book needs to go back on the shelf instead of under the bed. Sometimes I laugh at where things end up and I think How did this get here?

Similarly, I often find myself going through a season where my mind is crowded with too much clutter. And I sense some junk growing in my heart. I can decide which category these things belong in. The thoughts, feelings and behaviors in question can be filtered through God’s perspective before I intentionally put them where they go.

Trash: These should be obvious to me, but unfortunately I’ve often held on to things for way too long that should have been trashed. Ugly thoughts. Prideful actions. Selfish behaviors. Yuck! Into the trash you go. These are the sins Christ died for. These are things destructive to my life. They should have no place in my heart or mind.

Give away: Sometimes I have those thoughts that need attention, but I shouldn’t dwell on them. Issues requiring concern aren’t destructive. But when the concern turns to worry or anxiety, it’s time to give it away. Who am I giving these thoughts to? God tells us to bring every thought captive to Him. To bring them straight to the throne of grace. The concerns about my child don’t go in the trash. The pain in my heart over a strained relationship doesn’t get thrown out. I give it to God. And sometimes He uses other people to help us carry our burdens.Maybe after I pour my heart out in prayer I should call a friend and ask for support.

Put in the proper place: Now this is where I really need wisdom and discernment! Some thoughts, attitudes and behaviors don’t need to be thrown out or given away. But they most certainly need to be prioritized…put in the right place in my life. Spending time with my friends is a blessing, but if I put it ahead of my relationship with my husband, it’s not in its proper place. Date nights with my husband are a top priority, yet if I focus more on this than my time with God, it’s not in its proper place. Posting on this blog is important to me, but if I ignore my daughter consistently while working on it, my calling as a mom is not in its proper place.

So, what about you dear friend? Is it time to clean out the clutter in your mind? Time to get rid of the junk in your heart? Is God calling you to a season of honestly looking at your priorities through His eyes? Toss the ugly stuff in the trash. Give away the concerns weighing you down. And put the blessings He’s lavished on you in their proper place.

Freedom washes over me as I watch the garbage truck take my trash out of sight. Peace comes to me when I drop off the bags of stuff at Goodwill. Confidence perks me up with everything in its proper place in an orderly home.

But none of these compare with the JOY I experience when I truly put God first in all I do. This happens one thought, attitude and behavior at a time.

2 Corinthians 10:5 “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”
clutter

 

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

Under Construction

Ever been driving  steadily down the road while on a tight schedule? You have just enough time to get to where you’re going. And then you see it in the distance. No! It can’t be! Especially not now! We’re on vacation! Yep, there it is in plain sight. Traffic slows down and then comes to a harsh stop. You peer through your squinted eyes and see it as big as day…a huge bright orange sign, taunting you:

CONSTRUCTION AHEAD

Really? Why does this happen every time we’re traveling on a long road trip?

This is fresh in my mind because it happened just recently. We anticipated how close we were to our house…less than 45 minutes. Soon we’d be pulling in our driveway, our pets would welcome us home, and we’d crash into our own comfy beds. But no! In the distance we could see the cars backed up on the freeway. They weren’t even inching along. They were at a dead stop.

Now this is when the complaining started. See if any of these comments sound familiar to you:

Why in the world would they schedule construction work so late? It’s almost midnight!

Didn’t they know everyone would be coming back from spring break vacation?

How long is this gonna take?

Check the GPS for an alternate route…I can’t just sit here like this. (That one would be my husband speaking)

What a mess!

There’s not even a place to stop and go to the bathroom or get a snack!

We may never play the role of a construction worker, but as Christ followers we are constantly under God’s construction. From the time we commit our lives to Christ, we are essentially saying to Him, “I surrender my life to you. Have your way with me. Sanctify me and make me more like you.”

When road construction is going on, there are three things that always result.

Delays.

A huge mess.

Complaints about the inconvenience.

If we expect to be under God’s construction, then why are we surprised when things don’t go our way? Why are we upset when our predictable routine is suddenly shaken? Why do we complain when we have asked Him to help us with certain areas of our lives? Maybe you pray to be a more patient parent, yet when God gives you opportunities to practice this, you resist and express frustration because it’s causing too much delay. You pray for God to help you through a conflict with a loved one, but it just isn’t happening quick enough.

And what about the mess? When we drove past the construction site I noticed bull dozers, jack hammers, and debris strewn all over the place. It almost looked like a bomb had exploded smack in the middle of it all!

Sometimes certain areas of our lives have to get “messed up” before God can reconstruct it for something good. We ask Him to shine the spotlight of the Holy Spirit on our hearts and reveal any hidden sin. He shows us something in the light and the first thing we say is “Yuck!” But He can’t renovate and renew that area unless we are willing to humbly expose our sin, as messy as it looks.

As creatures of comfort and convenience, we are experts at complaining.

Why now?

This isn’t the way I thought God was going to answer that prayer.

 

I don’t want to come out of my comfort zone!

The reality is that God often takes us out of our comfort zones and plunges us into a construction zone.

We need renovation. We need a complete make-over of our heart.

After road construction is complete, we notice great improvement. A two-lane road has emerged into a four-lane road. A dangerous, bumpy exit off the interstate is now safely smoothed out. A much-needed traffic light has replaced an ineffective four-way stop where multiple accidents had occurred.

And it’s the same with us as God’s children. After construction has taken place in an area of our lives, we notice what God has done. Where we once had bitterness, it is replaced with forgiveness. Where we once were characterized by criticism, we extend more grace. Where we once clung with both fists to a besetting sin, we now claim victory with hands raised to God.

So the next time you realize God is putting up a construction sign in front of you, don’t resist. Don’t complain. Don’t worry about the mess. With Him in charge of the construction process, you can trust that it will be complete in His timing! We are His workers and He is the master contractor.

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

construction sign

 

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

We Are All Allergic!

Papa John’s Pizza, pasta, bagels, and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. These are all forbidden items for someone like me! I used to absolutely savor every bite of my favorite foods. Unfortunately a few years ago I was diagnosed with Celiac disease. After the initial shock wore off, I had to accept the fact that I could no longer eat gluten: a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.

Ummm, and so what else does that leave me to eat? Isn’t there a pill I can take to treat this so I can keep eating what I want??

I had to immediately STOP consuming gluten….period! There was no cutting back slowly or working up to it over time. If you didn’t know, Celiac is an autoimmune disease. The body simply can’t break down gluten and if it is consumed, the lining of the small intestine is severely damaged. Once this occurs, your body can’t absorb any nutrients. Failure to stop eating gluten can lead to serious gastrointestinal complications, as well as colon problems and osteoporosis.

So, my dietary lifestyle changed dramatically. I have to read food labels like a detective. There are some items containing hidden gluten that are harder to figure out. Sometimes I’ve had to call a manufacturer to find out for sure if something is gluten free. I have to purchase many items, at a much higher cost, at specialty stores. And what about when I go out to eat? Ha! I always have sympathy for our server since my food allergy forces them to take more time, care and precautions in preparing my food! The one word of advice you’re strongly warned to abide by as a Celiac is this: IF IN DOUBT….DON’T CONSUME IT! For my own health, I MUST take these precautions or face the consequences of physical damage.

What if I took that same intensity of care in my spiritual walk in regards to SIN? What if I pondered my words and actions before I proceeded? What if I called on God in prayer in moments of doubt before giving in to temptation? Would my behavior change if I gave thought to the damage that would occur if I indulged in something sinful?

That critical thought seems so harmless yet if I continue to focus on it and don’t take it to the throne of God….it does damage to my soul.

Is it really that big of a deal to stay angry at someone who’s offended me? If I harbor anger and let it turn to bitterness…..it does damage to my soul.

And what about those secret sins? The ones that nobody knows about? Yes….they too damage my soul.

I am frequently guilty of putting more value on my physical body–something temporary–than on my soul–something eternal.

Sin is not just something temporary that goes away, disappearing after time goes by. If it isn’t confessed and acknowledged before our Heavenly Father then it continues to eat us up inside. We might not feel the effects of it right away, but it is still there ever so gradually tearing us up inside, gnawing at the core of our soul, going deeper and deeper until the effects become noticeable on the outside. Not just noticeable to us, but to those around us.

We are ALL allergic to SIN! There’s no way around it! We can’t just take a pill to treat the symptoms, we have to change our lifestyle by dying to self so the Holy Spirit can live through us victoriously. God offers this to us through FORGIVENESS through Jesus Christ!

So what is it for you dear friend? What sin are you most allergic to? What causes the most grief and pain for you? Are you trying to cover it up in hopes that it will go away? I challenge and encourage you to bring it before the throne of Almighty God! Don’t wait for it to fester and grow out of control. Bring it to Him today.

I Peter 2:11 “Dear Friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.”

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