Category Archives: Making Life Matter

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

You can only carry yourself so far, Warrior.

I went to a women’s conference this weekend. It was the Belong Tour, and to be honest I only bought a ticket because I was SO. EXCITED. TO SEE JEN HATMAKER! There were other amazing women there as well, and Glennon from Momastery even made a guest appearance! The whole weekend was funny and touching; I laughed, I cried… you know the drill.

But, can I be really honest here? I didn’t come away feeling the way I expected. On the surface, I should’ve come away feeling inspired, challenged, pepped up. Instead, I was left wanting. Maybe even let down

I stewed over my feelings. Was I just being overly critical?

The weekend was full of incredible women telling me inspiring things. Honestly, it felt like a big warm bath of positivity. We can do hard things! You belong! You have what it takes! God won’t ever give you more than you can handle! All the love you’re looking for is right there inside of you! But you guys. As wonderful as it feels, if I sit too long in a warm bath of positivity, I will gradually be lulled to sleep.

And drown.

What I realized is quite simple: I really don’t need another pep talk. I don’t need someone to keep telling me how awesome I am. I know it’s weird – what woman doesn’t want to keep hearing she is strong, she is brave, she is capable, she is a world changer? But that’s where my “let-down” feeling came in: I believe it is a great disservice to promise courage, strength, and belonging without a clear and formal introduction to the One who can deliver on those promises. I AM NOT MY OWN DELIVERER.

I heard Glennon Doyle Melton from Momastery & Jen Hatmaker speak this weekend at the Belong Tour! So much encouragement! So much empowerment! Inspiration and quotes galore. But there was also something else important. And I didn't even see it coming. Ladies, we don’t just need more pep rallies and positive self-talk. We need our foundation strengthened. We need to know how to study the Bible – God’s Word – so we may recognize in other’s words what is true – and what is not. We need to know WHO MAKES US STRONG. We need to know that actually, God quite often DOES give me more than I can handle, but that He is there to offer His strength to walk me through it.

Christian women, I am speaking to you (myself included) here. I think some of us have become so enamored with these beautiful, good-willed, funny, inspirational women – who even talk about God!!! – that we have gradually, imperceptibly, begun to seek – and even find, although temporarily – life in their words.

You are loved. Yes, you are. God loves you – so much that He sacrificed His Son Jesus for you to have access to that love. THAT is the key. God loves you – and the access point for you to RECEIVE and EXPERIENCE the FULLNESS of that love is Jesus.

You can do hard things. Yes, you can. But where does your strength come from? I can do a lot in my own strength. You bet I can.  But by the strength of Jesus Christ in me, I can bear all things. If you have not experienced what it means to find your strength in Jesus, if you have gone from pep talk to pep talk, devouring book after book, blog post after blog post, inhaling every breath of earthly encouragement you can find, I invite you: Taste and see that the Lord is good! HE is the hero in this story!

You can only carry yourself so far, warrior. And hear me loud and clear: there is no shame in that. We can ALL only carry ourselves so far. THAT IS THE POINT. The victory isn’t in carrying yourself through the battle; the victory is in knowing the Victor: He who has already won the battle on your behalf.

You are strong, capable, and smart. Through a relationship with Jesus, you have access to the very Holy Spirit of God who breathed the Word of God onto the page. Are you studying His Word as devotedly as hers?

If your biggest dream is to be part of Glennon’s momastery or Jen’s tribe, go for it! But, if deep down what you long for is strength that can endure all things, peace that passes all understanding, a courageous heart that does not fear, and a source of active compassion that WILL NOT RUN DRY: then Jesus is who you’re looking for.

A Letter to Myself About Glennon’s Divorce

 

Glennon Doyle Melton announced earlier this month that she is leaving her husband.

I admire her vulnerability in sharing about her marriage and her decision to leave. I thought about making this “A Letter to Glennon About Her Divorce.” But I’m not. Because this post isn’t about her.

It’s about me.Glennon Doyle Melton of Momastery has been a source of much marriage advice, humor, and more. When she announced her decision to leave her husband, it rocked me. It felt like something came loose in my heart - and what bubbled to the surface could not be ignored.

You see, Glennon closed her announcement with a very wise request: “Sometimes, when people make decisions about marriage, it evokes strong feelings in others. If my news does that to you today, please look inside and get curious about whether those feelings have more to do with you and your life than they do about me and mine.”

You could say her announcement “evoked strong feelings in me.” (I mean, if a full blown panic attack counts as “strong feelings.”) I realize I do not know every detail of Glennon’s journey, and I also know I shouldn’t project my life and marriage experience onto hers.

But likewise, I must be careful to not project her experience (and subsequent conclusions) onto mine.

My marriage isn’t an easy one. I see couples who appear to LOVE BEING MARRIED. I just don’t feel like that. Perfect example: one year, on her 10th wedding anniversary, a friend posted a picture online from their wedding and wrote, “If I had known then what I know now, I would’ve run down that aisle!”

I thought, “Holy crap, what a horrible thing to say.”

Then I realized she meant she would’ve run down the aisle TOWARD HIM.

In that moment, my mind instinctively pictured the bride running down the aisle and OUT OF THE CHURCH.

See what I’m saying here?

You guys, my husband is a GOOD MAN. But, if I had known 13+ years ago how hard this would be, how much ongoing work it would require – I wouldn’t have done it. I understand I may be the only one who feels like this. But I suspect I’m not.

Has it been ALL hard work and ZERO enjoyment? Of course not. (Although that’s what the voice in my head will try to tell me.) But do I always feel like, “I LOVE BEING MARRIED!”?  I’m sorry, but no. I LOVE reading books. I LOVE taking naps. I LOVE eating brownies.

I don’t always LOVE being married. I AM married. And the two don’t always go together. I don’t always feel like I fit here. And being married certainly doesn’t always foster my own peace. Glennon describes a still, small voice that guides her. Well, mine regularly says, “It’s not supposed to be this hard.” It whispers promises of freedom and escape. It beckons to me in the name of self-trust and self-peace and self-love.

If you read her announcement, then perhaps you understand how Glennon’s words resonated so deeply with me. Why her words evoked strong feelings in me. She said so many things I feel on a regular basis.

I was completely undone.

That still, small voice continued ringing in my ear long after I finished reading Glennon’s post. All evening, my head and my heart drummed, “God loves you more than He loves marriage. You have Jesus. Nothing can separate you from God’s love. Even divorce.

And you guys, I had a full blown panic attack. Because I very sincerely believe each of those statements are TRUE. Those statements do not contradict Scripture.

But I also very sincerely believe that the enemy was using that truth AGAINST ME.

Because do you know what ELSE can never separate me from God’s love?

My marriage.

When my marriage feels like such hard work, riddled with misunderstandings, unmet expectations, and hurt feelings (“It’s not supposed to be this hard!”), I can often feel overlooked by God. I tried to follow Him and His ways, and I still ended up in a marriage that seems to require more than I have to offer. SO NOW WHAT.

And then I feel alone. Like I’m completely on my own in this thing. Distanced from my husband in any meaningful way, and separated from the God who was supposed to keep it from being this hard.

But who in the world said it’s not supposed to be this hard? And just because I feel isolated from God doesn’t mean I am. And YES my marriage requires more than I have to offer. Because I wasn’t meant to come into this thing in my own strength. And neither was my husband.

“God loves us far more than any institution God made for us [marriage].”

This is a true statement.

And so dangerous out of the greater context of God’s love for me.

Because YES He loves me more than my marriage. But He can so greatly live His love out, to, and in me by walking me THROUGH my marriage.

And when I don’t feel like I fit here? You guys, God is reminding me that He made marriage big enough to HANDLE THAT. You don’t get smaller. Your marriage gets bigger. Marriage stretches. It grows. And you stretch. And you grow. And YES IT’S PAINFUL. But some of life’s most glorious gifts are borne through pain and stretching.

So, indeed, NOW WHAT.

My first “now what” is to refuse to trust the “still, small voice” outside of the context of what else is true. Fear is not the boss of me. And that little voice in my head? ALSO NOT THE BOSS OF ME. It may not be popular, but GOD is the boss of me. (And in Him, also TRUTH and LOVE.) So, I will seek to recognize God’s voice through prayer and His Word. Because He is trustworthy. And because He loves me even more than I am capable of loving myself.

Now what #2: Back to marriage counseling for Matt and me. Because it’s worth it. WE are worth it.

Now what #3: Let’s address that issue of “if I had known 13 years ago… I wouldn’t have gotten married.” Here’s the thing. Thirteen years ago I had NO IDEA what marriage would actually require of me. And I THANK GOD I DIDN’T. Because I would’ve missed the GIFT of the tears turned to laughter, the stretching and breaking and growing and healing. The miracle of making it through – over and over again. NOW WHAT I KNOW: marriage requires more than I can give because marriage is BIGGER THAN ME. It’s bigger than us. It’s bigger than always loving being in it. It’s bigger than sometimes wishing you weren’t.