When the Clutter Piles Up

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

Piles of mail.

Car keys.

My husband’s wallet.

Dirty coffee cups.

My daughter’s latest craft supplies.

School papers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things slowly begin to pile up.

First it’s one thing. And then another.

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

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

I can’t take this anymore!

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

The clutter of our soul.

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

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

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

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

We feel hope.

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

To help us sort through the messes of life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings to you!

Lisa

Check out my devotional book, Embracing The Race

 

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.

woman-975339_640

 

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.

woman-1006102_640

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

3 Things to Do When Life Falls Apart

As much as we try to hold it all together, sometimes the threads of our life unravel and come completely apart.

The phone call that changes everything in a matter of seconds. 

The job you thought was secure is taken away.

Your stellar health takes an abrupt turn in the opposite direction.

Your loved one does something unthinkable, smashing your heart to pieces.

You feel unappreciated by everyone around you; do they even care?

I like the way David writes in Psalm 13 when his life was falling apart. Even though it was written many centuries ago, the pain and agony is no different from what we feel today:

How long, Oh Lord? Will you forget me forever? 

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?

How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Give light to my eyes or I will surely sleep in death!

I’m right there with you, David. Sometimes I feel like God has surely forgotten me. Surely he’s forgotten or he wouldn’t have let my life fall apart, right?

Sometimes negative thoughts shoot like arrows straight to my soul. I know I shouldn’t be thinking such horrible things, but I just feel so overwhelmed with all that’s happened.

Come on, God! How long are you gonna let this person ruin my life? When will they be held accountable? Do you even know what’s happening?

When life falls apart, sometimes we don’t see any light at all. All feels dark. The bottom drops out. Disappointment can easily turn to despair. And if despair lingers long enough, it turns to deep depression. When you’re depressed long enough, you’d be perfectly fine to just never wake up.

I have felt this way before when life falls apart. You’ve probably felt this way when life falls apart.

I mean, heck, look at David! Not only did he feel this way, but he wrote it down for goodness sake!!

I’m so glad he wrote it down. Because Psalm 13 doesn’t stop there. He pours his heart out to God in verses 1-4 after his life falls apart. But then he keeps going. Look at what David does in verses 5-6. Even in the midst of his life falling apart in front of his very eyes, look at the 3 things he embraces:

I trust in your unfailing love .

So he trusts in God’s love. A perfect love. Unfailing.

People will fail us all the time… Even those who love us the most.

He embraces trust, and not his feelings. Not his emotions. When we’re falling apart, feelings and emotions will absolutely deceive you. David is wise to put his trust in something that won’t fail him.

My heart rejoices in your salvation.

Are you kidding me here, David? What is there to rejoice about when life is unraveling all around you? This is what I thought when I first read this verse! He’s not rejoicing about his circumstances. He’s not rejoicing in the way people are treating him. He certainly isn’t rejoicing about feeling alone.

But he rejoices in his salvation.

He knows (not feels) that God has his back, no matter what. He knows that ultimately, no matter what happens with the junk spewing around him, he belongs to God.

I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.

Wow. Even in the midst of utter turmoil and feeling shaken, David chooses to sing. And he wasn’t singing to perform for anyone in this instance. He sings a song to the Lord. Why?

Because of God’s goodness.

He probably thought about all the blessings God had poured out upon him before his current catastrophe. When we focus on God’s goodness from the past, it gets us through the present problems.

And if you don’t like the sound of your own voice? Then turn on some Christian music and sing along with someone else’s. Yes! Praise and worship music lifts my spirit when I’m in a slump.

Even if life isn’t falling apart for you right now, at some point it will (John 16:33). Purpose now in your heart to embrace these 3 things for when those moments come crashing down.

If you are in the midst of life falling apart right now, embrace these powerful truths and hold on….He is with you.

TRUST (in his unfailing love)

REJOICE (in your salvation)

SING (about his goodness)

window-view-1081788_640

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

 

 

 

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