Throwback Thursday: Here’s to You. Yes, You.

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you know I’m training to run the Boston Marathon in April. (!!!!!!!!!) Most days I’m super pumped about it, but today’s tempo run kicked my @$$. It was a physical strain, yes — but more than that, today was a mental battle.

About halfway through, the negative thoughts drummed through my head:

There is no way I’m going to make it through another whole marathon.

Richmond [where I qualified] was a fluke. There’s no way I can do that again.

This is so hard. 

I started fighting back with myself at that last one:

It’s supposed to be hard, dammit. That’s the point of this workout.

I am stronger than I think I am. I’m doing better than I feel.

And then I almost threw up.

So I stopped.

And THEN I remembered seeing this:

“If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit.”

"If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit." Here’s to you, the one who forgets how far she’s actually come. That she has moved forward. That she’s still tired, NOT because she’s still so weak, but because she’s RUNNING FURTHER. Here’s to you. The one who’s still showing up. You’ve come further than you think.

So, I gathered myself. And I started running the rest of the way in. Not as fast as I had been, and not as fast as I’d hoped to. But I gave myself a moment to rest, and I finished.

How about you? How are you doing today? If you’re struggling too, hang in there, okay? And in the meantime, here’s a throwback to one of my favorite (and shortest) posts:

Here’s to you. Yes, You.

Originally published July 14, 2015

Here’s to you, the one who got out of bed this morning. Who put on her big girl panties and drove to work. Who stayed home and made another. blessed. PB&J. Who got outside and ran one more mile. Who cleaned up somebody’s mess. Literally or figuratively. Again.

Here’s to you, the one who thinks she’s not making progress. That if she were, then things would feel easier by now. That she wouldn’t be so tired. Still. That she would just be somehow, some way, better.

Here’s to you, the one who forgets how far she’s actually come. That she has moved forward. That she’s still tired, NOT because she’s still so weak, but because she’s RUNNING FURTHER.

Here’s to you. The one who’s still showing up.

You’ve come further than you think.

Here's to you, the one who got out of bed this morning. The one who thinks she's not making progress. The one who forgets how far she's come.

Spiritually Dry: When you’re doing All The Spiritual Things… and He still feels far away.

Do you ever feel like you're in a spiritual desert even when you're actively pursuing God? Me too. Then I found a beautiful (and surprising) encouragement tucked away in the Scriptures. It has changed everything. Find strength for your faith in this quick read.I recently read the account in Joshua where the Lord stops the flow of the Jordan River so the Israelites (and the Ark of the Covenant) can cross.

And my brain exploded a little.

Before we get to the brain explosion, let me bring you up to speed. After they crossed the river, the Lord instructed them to set up a memorial using stones taken from the bottom of the Jordan riverbed (where the Ark was held on dry ground as the people crossed). Here’s a quick excerpt from the account:

[Joshua] said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what He had done to the Red Sea when He dried it up before us until we had crossed over.” – Joshua 4:21-23

Did you see it?

He dried it up.

The Lord dried up a path through the Red Sea until they had crossed over.

And He dried up a path through the Jordan River until they had crossed over.

Okay, okay, so the Lord did the same thing in two places. Big deal, right? But, oh man, I relate to the two places in very different ways — and it’s rocking my world (cue brain explosion). Think about it with me:

Start with the Red Sea. We often associate the sea with “the wind and the waves.” You know, life’s struggles. Spiritually speaking, drying a path through the sea evokes images of the Lord making a way through trials, hardship, or distractions. That makes sense. (Also sounds insane and miraculous. But it makes sense because it sounds like something our loving, powerful God would do.)

But now come to the Jordan River. Unlike the sea, we usually associate a river with life and joy. Let the river flow. Streams of mercy. The river of life. But here, God stopped the flow of the river. He dried it up before them. And a dried up river is pretty much exactly how I feel when I say, “I feel spiritually dry,” or “I’m in a dry season.”

Now, sometimes that dry season comes because I’ve been disobedient or stopped investing in spiritual disciplines (reading my Bible, prayer, and worship to name a few) that draw me near to the source of abundant life, God Himself.

But sometimes I’m doing all these things and I still feel spiritually dry.

Today, I see a new possibility. Perhaps the Lord Himself has dried it up before me until I cross over. Cross over what? I don’t know. Not yet, anyway. But, being dried up because I walked away from God, and being dried up because God’s hand is holding back the flow even while I walk toward Him, are two entirely different things.

You see, the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years because of disobedience. I’ve known that kind of dried up ground. (Not 40 years’ worth, thank goodness.) Crossing the Jordan River was different. There, they were exactly where they were supposed to be, doing exactly what they were supposed to do. They weren’t in sin. They weren’t walking away from God. The Israelites were walking in obedience. AND BECAUSE OF THAT, the Lord dried up the river until they had crossed over.

I must walk through some circumstances or seasons with Jesus WITHOUT THE FLOW OF THE RIVER, but on DRIED UP GROUND, simply in obedience; simply in pursuit of God Himself.

Why?

“He did this so all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.” Joshua 4:24

So I’ll know Him, love Him, revere Him more.

It’s lovely to know and love God when the river is flowing. It is something more to also know Him on dried up ground — and through to the other side.

I wonder if anyone else, like me, has found themselves on dried up ground EVEN WHILE pursuing Jesus, serving Him, practicing spiritual disciplines that normally would lead to a rich experience of feeling connected to God — a river of “spiritual flow.” And perhaps when it began to feel instead like dried up ground, we let go of some spiritual practices. I mean, they stopped being “effective” anyway, right?

Well, I guess that depends on how we define effective.

If effective means I FEEL close to God (river flowing), then no. I guess spiritual disciplines aren’t always effective.

But if effective means I AM close to God (whether I feel like it or not), then like the Israelites, I can be on dried up ground right in the middle of His presence and His will.

Okay, okay — dried up ground, flowing river.. who even cares!? Does it really even matter!?

Well, maybe not. But, do I worship HIM or the flow? Do I know and trust Him in the flow and on dried up ground?

Because THAT MATTERS.

I invite you to return to the riverbed. And if you find it all dried up, don’t be discouraged. He is waiting for you there.

Guest Post: Embracing The Race

I’d like to introduce you to Lisa Preuett. When I met her a couple of years ago at a writer’s conference, we discovered we had running in common as well as writing! She had a devotional in the works at the time, and the early drafts she shared totally resonated with my runner’s heart. If you know me, you know I’ve always been moved by the parallels between running and my relationship with Jesus. Well, the devotional that was “in the works” is now a reality. Lisa is guest posting here today, and whether you’re a runner or not, her new book, Embracing The Race: 40 Devotions for the Runner’s Soul, is sure to speak to your soul too.

“What’s your pace?”

This is a common question you’ll hear frequently among runners. It’s also a number you must sometimes enter on race registration forms. It’s easy to obsess about exactly how long it takes one to cover the distance of a mile.

Early in my running journey, I quickly realized that everyone runs a different pace. Some bolt out like a flash of lightning, determined to win the race. Others fall into the “back of the pack” category, bringing up the rear. And in between these two extremes are a myriad of other paces.

Could I run at a faster pace at the start of a long race? Absolutely! But could I maintain that pace throughout the rest of the race? Not a chance. If I started out sprinting with all my might, I’d quickly drain myself of the energy I need to reach the finish line.

My determination is focused on finishing the race at my own unique pace, not trying to keep up with someone else.

Maybe you’re not a runner and can’t relate to the race environment. Perhaps you have no intentions of ever lacing up running shoes.

But runner or not, you are running a race.

In Hebrews 12:1-2, Paul depicts the Christian life as a race. He urges us to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.”

The Christian life is a long distance race we are called to live one step at a time. There are obstacles. Hills to climb.  Sometimes we are running quickly at a smooth pace. Other times we hit the wall and feel like giving up before we reach the finish line.

Jesus started the race with us and is also waiting at the finish line.  No medal or cash prize could ever come close to the eternal joy we will experience when we see Him face to face.

There are so many powerful parallels between running and our faith journey with Jesus! They paint vivid pictures of what we encounter in this race called life.

Embracing The Race: 40 Devotions for the Runner’s Soul, will awaken your mind to these parallels. You’ll be equipped with scripture, encouraged to persevere and inspired with determination. You’ll be challenged to plunge deeper in your walk with God!My book, Embracing The Race: 40 Devotions for the Runner’s Soul, will awaken your mind to these parallels. You’ll be equipped with scripture, encouraged to persevere and inspired with determination. You’ll be challenged to plunge deeper in your walk with God!

Each day’s reading will give you a peek into the runner’s world, a fresh Biblical insight, practical life application, soul-searching reflections and a heart-felt prayer.

Kyle Idleman, best-selling author of Not a Fan says this about the book:

Honest and fun to read, you’ll find encouragement and challenge that come from Bible passages and through the language of a runner. If you’re a runner, you’ll love this book. If you’re not a runner, there is plenty here for you, too.”

Embracing The Race releases on November 14th and is available here on Amazon in paperback and Kindle version.

Lisa Preuett is a follower of Jesus, wife and mom of two. An avid runner, she’s completed multiple races from 5K to full marathon. Actively involved in women’s ministry, she thrives on encouraging others in their faith. She resides in Taylorsville, KY. You can connect with her at www.reststopforthesoul.comLisa Preuett is a follower of Jesus, wife and mom of two. An avid runner, she’s completed multiple races from 5K to full marathon. Actively involved in women’s ministry, she thrives on encouraging others in their faith. She resides in Taylorsville, KY. You can connect with her at www.reststopforthesoul.com