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.

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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.

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 Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

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

 

Where Strength is Found

Sometimes I feel worn down. Extremely weak. Physically, emotionally and spiritually. All of the above. Strength seems far away. Non-existent. Yet I feel I must DO something to gain strength.

To gain strength physically I exert myself full force into a weight lifting session or a 3-mile run. After I DO those things, my physical body will gain strength, stamina and endurance.

To gain emotional strength I can DO something to lift my mood. Dive into a favorite book. Put on an upbeat CD to re-focus my attention. Or maybe even convince myself that something sweet like ice cream or chocolate will soothe my frail emotions.

But to gain spiritual strength, what is my first response when I feel weak?  I can DO some things that will perhaps make me feel better: Go to church. Turn on the Christian radio station and sing my heart out. Go to my Bible study. Call a trusted friend and unload my concerns.

These are good things, yet all of them involve me doing something. According to Isaiah 30:15, there’s a different message to those who are feeling weak and in need of strength:

In quietness and trust is your strength. 

I don’t see any action verbs that stand out in that verse. Shouldn’t I be doing something to gain strength? How can being quiet bring strength? And what about that word trust? How do you know someone is in the act of trusting? You can’t see it. Where is the action here??

The action is being accomplished by God Himself. When we are still and quiet in His presence, His strength becomes ours. When we truly trust God, our burdens are lifted from us. He takes them from us–in His strength. We don’t have to DO anything outwardly in our own strength. He does it all.

Quietness and trust go hand-in-hand. Being still before Him with a surrendered heart allows us to soak up His presence. And when we do that, it is easier to trust. When we know Him more intimately through His word and prayer, we can confidently trust Him. That is where our strength is gained. Not by anything we do, but by being in Him.

What’s that look like in day-to-day life?

I don’t always get this right. In fact, I frequently get this wrong and have to be humbled before I start to “get it”.

In the midst of a drama-packed melt down from my daughter, shouldn’t my strength come from yelling, lecturing or punishing out of anger?

In quietness and trust is your strength. (Lisa, pray for your daughter and trust ME with her short comings.)

In the midst of a disagreement with my spouse, shouldn’t my strength come from arguing, complaining or even taking things into my own hands?

In quietness and trust is your strength. (Lisa, let go of your pride and trust ME with your husband.)

When I’m sitting in traffic on Bardstown Road and only going two miles in 30 minutes, shouldn’t my strength come from honking my horn or mumbling ugly words under my breath at complete strangers who can’t hear me?

In quietness and trust is your strength. (Lisa, take a deep breath and accept the situation as it is. Trust ME to calm your anxious heart.) 

Because of my sin nature, I am prone to try and DO something to gain what feels like strength in the heat of the moment. Yet those things all lead to disappointment, discouragement and even defeat. But when I quietly come before God and trust Him, I gain peace, hope and ultimately……STRENGTH.

So where are you feeling weak, dear friend? From where are you drawing your strength? Are you trying to muster up strength by doing things you think are productive? Are you impulsively reacting to a situation in which you feel weak? How do you handle the inner battle of your heart to DO -vs- BEING QUIET? Feel free to leave a comment! We’re on this journey together.

May we all embrace the truth and power of these words:

Isaiah 30 15

 

From Stress to Rest

“A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.”

(Lysa TerKeurst from her latest book The Best Yes)

After hearing this truth, I can’t seem to get it out of my heart. In fact, I desire for it to stay there….for good. This truth resonates so deeply in my soul and it makes sense after really digesting it fully. Why? Because this is where I live. This is so often my life in a nutshell. I feel pulled in so many directions. And many of those directions are good things! Yet some of those directions are my own human flesh. Things I want for myself. Things that aren’t part of God’s plan for me.

Oh how I long to fully embrace God’s purpose for me in every area of my life. Every area. My marriage. My parenting. My relationships with friends. Anything God calls me to do.

So if I am feeling overwhelmed, something is wrong. Very wrong. Overwhelmed is not a word I see Jesus using to describe his calling while upon this earth. Overwhelmed is not a word listed in the fruits of the spirit. Overwhelmed is not supposed to be something that describes a follower of Jesus.

Yet we use this word frequently to describe our lives:

I’m overwhelmed with my job.

I’m overwhelmed with my kids’ demands.

I’m overwhelmed with my husband’s expectations.

I’m overwhelmed with serving people.

I’m overwhelmed with everything.

Can you relate to this truth? Do you feel stressed out with an overwhelmed schedule? Do any of the above statements resonate with you? We’re certainly not alone.

So what’s the answer to feeling overwhelmed with all the things we feel pulled to do? Or feel pulled to be?

I do know for certain that my Jesus calls me to rest in Him. To give my burdens to Him. To surrender my soul to Him. The central verse for my life is from the words of Jesus in Matthew,“Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.” While I cling to this truth with my entire being, sometimes I just need something practical to flesh out what this really looks like.

One thing I will be doing over the days ahead is reading the book by Lysa TerKeurst called The Best Yes.  I can already tell it’s going to be profound and speak to where I live. I recommend it to you as well, dear friend.

In the meantime, I’m going to be looking closely at my schedule to make sure it’s God’s schedule. Anything outside of that will bring stress. I want to replace my stress with His rest!

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

Stressed-Woman-adrenals

Plugged in and Charged Up!

Acts 1:8 “And you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you…”

I’m really bad about forgetting to charge up my cell phone. I’ll be out running errands, grab my phone to make a call and get the all too familiar warning:

“Battery too low….recharge your phone!” 

Ugghh! This happens frequently and then I feel helpless. Cut off from whomever I’m trying to get a hold of. Even worse, I’m cut off from whomever is trying to reach me! (usually it’s my husband who panics and thinks the worst if he can’t reach me)

My smart phone is really cool with all its apps and fancy gadgets. But it does me NO GOOD if it isn’t charged up. No power equals no communication…..either way.

Isn’t that just like our relationship with God? When we receive Him as our Lord and Savior, He gives us the Holy Spirit….right then and there. All of the Holy Spirit we will ever need is poured into our hearts at that moment.

But do we access the power of the Holy Spirit? Are we charged up and ready to go at any moment? Or are we frequently on the setting that blares “Battery too low….need to recharge!” Do we frequently find ourselves feeling helpless and cut off? I’m often guilty of this and wonder why I feel so frazzled and run down at the end of the day.

If I’m not plugged in to the power of the Holy Spirit, then I’m not in a position to receive what God wants to communicate to me. If my heart isn’t charged up then I’m not as likely to call out to Him in the midst of a challenging moment. What exactly does it mean for me to be plugged in?

Prayer. Time in His word. Sitting still before Him so I can hear Him.

Something else I’m realizing with my smart phone is that I’m still discovering new things about it. I’ve owned if for well over a year, but have never taken the time to read through the owner’s manual (who has time for that?). Just the other day I stumbled upon an app I didn’t even know was there! Wow! That app proved to be quite helpful to me in that moment. It’s been there the whole time. I just didn’t know.

And yes! God is like that too. He’s way smarter than all the smartphones in the universe put together. We may have known Him for a long time, yet there are always new aspects of His character and new perspectives He shows us. We learn something new about who He’s always been. He gives us fresh insight on a scripture we’ve known since childhood. And He often gives us glimpses of heaven and hope of promises to come.

So what about you? What are you doing to stay plugged in? What are you learning about staying charged up in His power? Running on empty and feeling frazzled with your life? Tired and exhausted from doing too much?

If you’re a child of God, then you have access to the power of the Holy Spirit. The power that brings life to your low battery. The power that brings life to what you think is dead. He is there. But you have to plug in!

What do you need to do to stay plugged in? Change your priorities? Slow down? Take something off your schedule so you can have more time to sit still? Maybe you need to reach out to someone to help hold you accountable. Perhaps you just need to admit “I’m helpless. I’m feeling cut off and empty.” 

Whatever it is dear friend, I challenge and encourage you to plug your heart in to the power of God and walk with Him moment by moment so you stay charged up. Charged up to do His will. Charged up to bring glory to Him.

Acts 1:8 “And you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you…”

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