3 Things I’ve Learned From Painful Seasons

PAIN.

Nobody embraces it.

We absolutely hate it with every fiber of our being.

We avoid it at all costs.

But because we live in a broken world, it is part of life on this earth…for now.

Broken relationships.

Faltering health.

Wounds from the past.

Horrible tragedies.

I’ve experienced what feels like unbearable pain. Seasons of life where I thought I’d never survive.

But because of God….

I did survive. I did get through. I found His light at the end of my dark tunnel.

I don’t know about you, but the more I look back on these seasons of my life, I can honestly see a purpose in those painful times.

You mean, there can actually be something good that comes from pain????

As crazy as it sounds, yes.

My painful seasons of life all have these common threads.

*Pain makes me desperate.

What’s so good about feeling desperate? Feeling desperate is not something we usually crave. It creates feelings of panic, worry, and anxiety. Like a weak swimmer who’s drowning in the deep end of the pool, we cry out for help because we’re going under.

I’ve been desperate in the midst of  broken relationships. A failed marriage left me feeling very desperate. With a newborn and an uncertain future, I lived in survival mode and swirled around in desperation quite a bit.

*Pain leads me to be more dependent on God.

When the familiar things of life suddenly become unfamiliar and I’m venturing out into the unknown, I’m always more ready to lean on God. And unfortunately, even the people we think will love us most will leave us disappointed and hurting at times. It’s in those times when I see how much others have failed me that I can truly depend on God’s unfailing love. In a strange way that is hard to describe, it’s during these painful seasons that my dependence on God is strengthened.

*Pain gives me deeper compassion for others.

Once I’ve trudged through a painful season of life, I always discover something I didn’t notice before.

I now possess a unique compassion for others who are in the midst of the same kind of pain!

Because of what I’ve gone through, I gain an understanding and perspective in the midst of my pain. I am then able to recognize this same pain in others. Or when I hear someone share the hurt they’re going through, my heart has an instant connection with them. And this is where the purpose comes in.

The wounds from my previous pain now become stepping-stones, allowing me to enter into someone else’s world. A world where they think there is no hope. A world where they feel trapped. A world where they think nobody could possibly understand.

Even if I’m still feeling the hurt from my painful experience, I can still offer words of hope. I can honestly tell them, “I know how you feel…I’ve been there.”

Part of my own healing from painful wounds comes when I walk alongside someone else who is hurting. The fragile threads of my life that unraveled in my soul are now knitted back together, forming a cord of hope that someone else can cling to.

Your pain is not ever wasted. It’s not in vain. It serves the purpose of becoming more intimate with your Savior and comforting others on the same path. Here’s a few that stand out to me…

My sister-in-law, Holly, has allowed God to do an amazing work in her life in this way. She’s a survivor of sexual abuse. She experienced heart wrenching pain that threatened to swallow her up and leave her bitter. Yet she cried out to God and He has healed her hurting heart. She tells her story often and reaches out to others who are caught up in the same kind of pain. God uses her pain for a purpose.

Dear friends of ours, Brian and Amanda, lost their 18-month old son in a tragic accident a few years ago. They experienced such horrific pain and their world was shaken to the core. But they surrendered their lives to God through the journey and now help encourage and comfort others who have lost young children. God uses their pain for a purpose. 

My friend, Stacy, lost her beautiful daughter who was born prematurely. She lived for about 3 weeks. She spent those days in the newborn intensive care unit, watching her baby hanging on for life. Although her heart shattered in pieces, Stacy has allowed God to do a beautiful thing through her pain. She quilts blankets for babies in the NICU. She reaches out to other families who are waiting to see if their babies are going to make it. She gives genuine comfort to others because she knows the pain they feel. God uses her pain for a purpose.

Be encouraged dear friends! No matter what pain you are experiencing, God is with you. He knows.

Allow your desperation to turn into a strong dependence on the one who rescues and redeems. And let Him do more than rescue and redeem just you. He longs to work through your life to bring comfort and encouragement to others.

Let Him use your pain for His purpose. 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4)

Blessings to you!

Lisa

Check out my devotional book, Embracing The Race

 

 

Why My New Year’s Resolutions Often Fail

A brand new year! Time to come up with some New Year’s resolutions. Time to make a list of things we want to accomplish in the coming year. It’s the perfect time to try new things. Make some goals to be reached. Right?

While there’s nothing wrong with any of these, there’s still something that nags at my soul when my calendar starts to fill up. We can mindlessly come up with some resolutions that sound really good. We can fill our time with a lot of good things.

Good things for ourselves.

Good things for our kids.

Good things for our family.

But I’ve often found myself doing so many good things that I don’t do anything well. I come up short. I spread myself so thin that I’m no good to anyone.

Maybe I’m qualified to do five things really well, yet when I try to cram them all into a short window of time, those five things crumble, making me feel as if I’m barely treading water.

But shouldn’t we say yes to every good thing that comes our way?

Meeting  friends for lunch? That’s good!

Exercising to stay in shape? That’s good!

Volunteering at your child’s school? That’s good!

Leading a Bible study? That’s good!

Working part-time to earn a little extra money? That’s good!

Signing your child up for their favorite sport? That’s good!

Yes. Each and every one of these are good things. Nobody would argue that they aren’t.

But if you say yes to every single good thing that comes your way, at some point it will leave you feeling frustrated. Overwhelmed. Frazzled. Stressed to the max.

And before you know it, your resolutions and good intentions turn into disappointments and failures.

When we run from one good thing to the next at a break-neck speed, we often miss out on the rest God longs for us to embrace. 

Resting in his presence. Resting in his peace. Resting in his purpose.

Instead of saying yes to everything, we could stop and pray before we answer. Asking God for wisdom and discernment.

Maybe this good thing would be better if I embraced it later, instead of now.

Maybe I should say no to this good thing so that someone else will have the opportunity to say yes.

Maybe this good thing is really my plan instead of God’s. 

Sometimes I’m so busy saying yes to the good things that I don’t make time to pray and ask God what is best.

As this new year begins, here’s a challenge:

Instead of asking God to bless a long list of our hopeful accomplishments, let’s stop and humbly approach Him.

Instead of resolutions, let’s humbly ask Him what is His best for us.

God, what is your plan for me this year? Are there things I need to let go of? What new steps do you want me to take? Help me rest in your presence, so I can know what’s best. Your best.

I pray you will embrace this new year with a sense of peace and purpose.

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

New-Years-Resolutions_2

 

 

Blessings to you, dear friends!

Lisa Preuett

 

Check out my devotional book, Embracing The Race.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why My New Year’s Resolutions Often Fail

A brand new year! Time to come up with some New Year’s resolutions. Time to make a list of things we want to accomplish in the coming year. It’s the perfect time to try new things. Make some goals to be reached. Right?

While there’s nothing wrong with any of these, there’s still something that nags at my soul when my calendar starts to fill up. We can mindlessly come up with some resolutions that sound really good. We can fill our time with a lot of good things.

Good things for ourselves.

Good things for our kids.

Good things for our family.

But I’ve often found myself doing so many good things that I don’t do anything well. I come up short. I spread myself so thin that I’m no good to anyone.

Maybe I’m qualified to do five things really well, yet when I try to cram them all into a short window of time, those five things crumble, making me feel as if I’m barely treading water.

But shouldn’t we say yes to every good thing that comes our way?

Meeting  friends for lunch? That’s good!

Exercising to stay in shape? That’s good!

Volunteering at your child’s school? That’s good!

Leading a Bible study? That’s good!

Working part-time to earn a little extra money? That’s good!

Signing your child up for their favorite sport? That’s good!

Yes. Each and every one of these are good things. Nobody would argue that they aren’t.

But if you say yes to every single good thing that comes your way, at some point it will leave you feeling frustrated. Overwhelmed. Frazzled. Stressed to the max.

And before you know it, your resolutions and good intentions turn into disappointments and failures.

When we run from one good thing to the next at a break-neck speed, we often miss out on the rest God longs for us to embrace. 

Resting in his presence. Resting in his peace. Resting in his purpose.

Instead of saying yes to everything, we could stop and pray before we answer. Asking God for wisdom and discernment.

Maybe this good thing would be better if I embraced it later, instead of now.

Maybe I should say no to this good thing so that someone else will have the opportunity to say yes.

Maybe this good thing is really my plan instead of God’s. 

Sometimes I’m so busy saying yes to the good things that I don’t make time to pray and ask God what is best.

As this new year begins, here’s a challenge:

Instead of asking God to bless a long list of our hopeful accomplishments, let’s stop and humbly approach Him.

Instead of resolutions, let’s humbly ask Him what is His best for us.

God, what is your plan for me this year? Are there things I need to let go of? What new steps do you want me to take? Help me rest in your presence, so I can know what’s best. Your best.

I pray you will embrace this new year with a sense of peace and purpose.

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

New-Years-Resolutions_2

 

 

Blessings to you, dear friends!

Lisa Preuett

 

Check out my devotional book, Embracing The Race.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Prayer Your Last Resort or First Response?

Since there’s nothing I can do about it, I guess I’ll just pray. 

Ever find yourself uttering these words?

I’ve been guilty of this many times.

Maybe I won’t say those words aloud, but my attitude shouts it.

Why do we often turn to prayer as a last resort? Why is it not our first response?

I’ll confess that because I’m human, I think I must DO something to fix a situation, or another person.

I want to see immediate action…like right now! I want to control the outcome of circumstances that are falling apart.

Ever been there?

When life pulls the rug out from underneath and you come crashing to the floor.

When something unexpectedly shakes you up, threatening to paralyze you with fear.

When that person you love so deeply crushes your heart, leaving you in a pit of despair.

I’ve been here before. Many times.

The older I get, I’ve come to realize in these moments that prayer is the first thing I should embrace.

I’ve had to learn this the hard way. After trying to fix things in my own strength, I see that my strength fails.

After trying to analyze and figure things out, I see that the mess just doesn’t make sense in my finite mind.

After spending countless hours in a fit of worry, my soul feels weary and worn out.

PRAY

Yes. That is what I’m called to do in all situations.

PRAY

This should be my first response in a moment of crisis. My first instinct when life starts spinning out of control.

PRAY

This is where the power is. It’s not in me. It’s not in my plan. It’s not in another person.

It’s in God!

He knows the circumstances better than I do. He sees the whole picture where I can only see a little piece.

He knows every nook and cranny of the person’s heart I’m concerned about.

He sees it all and knows it all.

PRAY

I think we get caught up in the lie that unless we are doing something, then nothing is going to be accomplished. We want to see results. We want to have something to measure. We want something tangible to hold on to.

But this is so far from the truth when it comes to prayer!

When we pray, power is unleashed from heaven in ways we just can’t fathom.

When we pray about things we don’t have control over, we turn them over to the one who is in control. 

Prayer helps us trust God with the unseen things that we are longing to see. 

And genuine prayer truly utters, “I can’t. But you can.”

PRAYER is something the enemy does not want us to engage in. If he can keep us tangled up in our futile efforts of trying to fix things on our own, then he has accomplished his mission.

I’ve heard a lot of powerful statements about prayer. One of my favorites is this:

“Are you using prayer like a spare tire or the steering wheel?”

I’ve often pulled out my spare tire of prayer when life gets messy and my soul is punctured from running ragged.

But if I’m in continual conversation with God throughout the moments of every day, then it lets Him steer me on the right path. It centers me in the middle of life’s road and keeps me balanced, no matter what comes my way.

PRAY

Yes. There is power in prayer. It connects us to the Father. It calms our chaos. It empowers us with His strength.

So what about you? What is overwhelming you today? Have you taken it to God in prayer? Are you looking at prayer as a last resort or will you dare to embrace it as your lifeline?

(Philippians 4:6-7) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 Blessings to you,

  Lisa

Check out my devotional book, Embracing The Race.

 

Threads of GRACE

After collecting an excessive amount of running tee-shirts from years of races, I finally put some of them to good use!

Sorting through my unique collection, I chose some that stood out to me  and had them turned into a beautiful tee-shirt quilt.

It turned out better than I expected!

Each piece of fabric brought back memories from a particular race. Some had happy memories attached to them while others emitted feelings of misery and disgust.

This shirt represents my first 5K. The race I thought was on flat pavement turned out to be a difficult trail run through the woods. I really felt like quitting! 

This one was a half-marathon through pouring rain the entire time. The kind of rain where you’re literally soaked to the bone and you can hardly see in front of you through the water gushing down your face.

This race was actually an obstacle course–A TOUGH MUDDER– I vowed years before I would NEVER do. After some prompting from my brother, I decided to do it anyway. Muddy from head to toe, I truly did not recognize myself in pictures from this insane mud run.

But other shirts on this same quilt have happier, more positive feelings attached to them.

This was my first half marathon! I can still conjure up those feelings of elation from crossing the finish line.

This race was a fun 5K my family did together. No pressure. Just a fun race where lots of unexpected prizes were given out at the finish line party.

Ah yes! This one represents the best time I ever had for a half marathon. Perfect conditions. Best pace ever. (And no injuries!)

I looked at each shirt, traveling back in time to relive each of these races. The good, the bad and the ugly. But then I stepped back and looked at the quilt as a whole.

Yes, when all these shirts were weaved together, it symbolized my entire running journey. It was beautiful!

But as I continued looking at the quilt, I saw something much more powerful….

This quilt is a beautiful picture of what God does with US!

Hang with me here, and please don’t miss this!

God is a master at weaving the seasons of our lives together–the good, the bad and the ugly–and He knits them together with threads of grace. And over time, He takes these individual moments of our lives and turns them into a beautiful tapestry of glory!

The 5K I ran where I wanted to quit? That’s like the seasons of life when we are ready to give up because we’re disappointed or our expectations weren’t met.

Running a race in pouring rain? It paints a picture of those times we’re trying to survive the storms of life.

Ha! And the Tough Mudder where I was a crazy-muddy-mess? Don’t we all have seasons like that? Where we are such an absolute mess we don’t even recognize ourselves. Life knocks us to the ground and we wonder how we’ll ever get up to keep going.

But we also have those seasons of happiness. The times we are living in our sweet spot, using our gifts and talents for God’s glory.

And we have those moments when life is just good. Our families are thriving. We have unexpected blessings heaped upon us when we least expect it.

And I’ll bet you can think back to moments in your life when you felt so successful. You accomplished something you’d dreamed about. Something you worked really hard for.

So just like this quilt represents the good and not-so-good moments of my running journey, in the same way,

God is continually weaving the moments of your life together for a greater purpose of displaying His glory.

So we have to be patient and we have to trust Him. Maybe you feel stuck in a season of wanting to quit and you can’t see beyond the difficulties.

Maybe you’re stuck in a muddy mess and you don’t see a way out. But I can assure you there is a clear path up ahead if you’ll just hang on. Because God is already taking the fragile threads you’re grasping on and is weaving them into something strong and beautiful.

It’s easy to get hung up on the current set of circumstances we’re in if that’s all we’re focusing on.

But when we take a step back and look at the big picture, we can see how God is weaving everything together for our good and His glory.

Which seasons of your life stand out to you–the good, bad and even the ugly–where God held you together with His threads of grace?

Blessings to you today!

Lisa

Check out my devotional book, EMBRACING THE RACE

 

 

 

 

 

The Other Side

When  my family took a trip to Israel a few months ago, one of the many highlights for me was taking a boat out on the Sea of Galilee. So many significant events took place here!

Jesus called his disciples from this area.

He walked on water.

The miraculous catch of fish.

But my favorite is when Jesus calmed the storm.

 

I’ve heard this story taught multiple times. But it’s what happened before and after this miracle that makes it even more powerful to me now that I know the whole context.

Let me lay the foundation of what was going on before Jesus gets in the boat with his disciples. They were all gathered in Capernaum, the headquarters of Jesus’s ministry. The people were flocking to him, bringing their sick to be healed. The crowd was getting a bit out of control and Jesus decides it’s time to move to another  location.

But not just any location.

He intentionally says to his disciples, “Let us go to the other side.”

When he says “the other side” he means the other side of the lake.

But the other side of the lake was pagan territory. They didn’t follow the ways of God. They were known for indulging in all kinds of sin. The Jewish people weren’t embraced there. And they couldn’t stay for very long because of restrictions with food and social requirements.

Jesus knew exactly where they were going. It wasn’t just a random decision.

They headed to the Decapolis region for a divine appointment with a demon-possessed man.

Everyone in Capernaum would’ve been able to hear this man screaming from across the lake.  He wandered aimlessly in the tombs by the shore because nobody could contain him. He was out of control.

Jesus is making a very bold move to take his disciples across the Sea of Galilee to the other side.

So this is what happens right before an unexpected storm threatens to drown his disciples. Waves of panic rushed through seasoned fishermen as they watched literal waves crash over their ready-to-sink boat.

But Jesus awakens from his sleep (asleep–really??) and calms the storm before their very eyes. The storm didn’t take him by surprise. He was on a mission to get to the other side.

Nothing was going to stop him.

At this point, I wouldn’t have blamed the disciples one bit if they’d turned that boat around and headed back home to Capernaum, to familiar territory.

But Jesus wasn’t finished yet! Someone was waiting for him. Desperately waiting on the other side.

Approaching the shore, the demon possessed man doesn’t skip a beat. He’s waiting for Jesus. He must have heard the buzz spreading about this supernatural man who could heal the sick. This was his only hope. He was at his wit’s end.

Jesus takes control of the situation and casts the demons out of this man. And he not only casts them out, but he ushers them into a herd of pigs, driving them over a cliff into the sea.

The man is immediately set free!

He begs Jesus to let him climb aboard the boat with his disciples. (Wouldn’t that be anyone’s first response?!)

But Jesus firmly and lovingly tells him to stay. To go and tell his own people what Jesus did for him.

This is huge.  A demon possessed man—bound up in a prison of despair—is now set free to proclaim the good news. He’s a missionary in the pagan region of Decapolis!

A region on the other side.

Here’s some powerful insights to take away from this and apply to our lives today:

Sometimes Jesus calls us out of our comfort zone and asks us to go to the other side.

While it’s comfortable with the crowd, we are sometimes called to take a risky move.

A move that will feel very uncomfortable. A move that will tempt us to panic.

And yes, a move that might even drive us to feel as if a storm is threatening to drown us.

But instead of getting focused on the storm, maybe we need to shift our focus on the other side.

 

Who or what is waiting on the other side? 

The neighbor across the street.

The co-worker everybody avoids.

That estranged family member who causes conflict.

Or it might be a place Jesus wants you to embrace.

Your child’s school.

A new ministry that needs volunteers.

Whatever the other side is for you, take that leap of faith and go forward. But be prepared for the enemy to attack. Because anytime we make a move toward pointing others to Jesus, the enemy will do whatever he can to stop us.

You might get opposition from others. You might be criticized. Your whole world could be shaken up.

But just like Jesus, may we keep our eyes fixed on the other side. When the waves of doubt and panic threaten to drown us, may we trust Jesus to calm the chaos.

Just like the demon possessed man was changed forever, there are souls who are desperately waiting for the love of Jesus to impact their lives. Waiting for hope. Waiting for good news. Waiting for someone to reach out.

But that isn’t going to happen unless we resolve to go to the other side.

Pray today for God to show you what the other side is for you!

Blessings to you,

Lisa

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

Part of my proceeds are donated to WaterStep, a ministry that puts clean water in developing countries.