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

 

 

 

 

 

Trudging Up the Steep Hills

Psalm 121:1 “I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.”

It’s painful when you’re trudging up a steep hill. Every fiber of your leg muscles tighten. You feel as if you won’t make it to the top. Your calf muscles silently scream, “Please stop! We can’t go another step!” Instead of looking up ahead at how much farther I have to go, I look down at the ground and literally watch my feet, one step at a time.

There’s something invigorating about finally reaching the top of a steep hill. I finally look up from the ground and realize I’ve made it! Trudging up that hill caused my heart to almost pound out of my chest. My rapid breathing finally slows down. I let out a sigh of relief. Yes! The ground ahead of me begins to level out now. It’s smooth and I can see more of what’s up ahead.

But I take a moment and turn around.  Did I really just come all this way? I stand in awe of the beauty around me. Depending on the season, I might be looking at lush-green trees lining the path behind me, blue sky overhead. At other times I might be looking at autumn leaves splattered with bright orange-red colors. My absolute favorite view at the top of the hill is in winter. The snow-covered trees, glistening in the sparkling light of the sun. I breathe in the air and turn my head back in front of me.

I’ve had my share of steep hills in this life. Some of them I’d rather forget about. But I can undoubtedly say that there’s something invigorating about finally making it to the top. Those trials I thought for sure would kill my soul and squash my spirit. Yes, there are times my heart has nearly broken, fiercely pounding out of my chest. My flesh shouting, “I can’t go another step!” But when I came to the end of that challenge, my breathing slowed down. My tears and anguish turned into joyous breaths of praise. Praise to my Lord Jesus who walked beside me each step of the way.

Did I really just come all this way? I stood in awe of the beauty around me. Not physical surroundings, but the beauty of what God had done in me. The beauty of the strength He equipped me with. The beauty of his promise to never leave me or forsake me. My faith was strengthened. My hope was renewed. My love for Him was magnified. And this view was something I wouldn’t trade for anything.

READY? Where are you, dear friend? Are you gasping for breath, trudging up a steep hill? Do you feel you won’t make it to the top? Does your heart ache and you just want to stop? I encourage you to tightly grip the loving arms of Jesus. He is right beside you as you go up the hill. He is with you every step of the way. He can’t wait to show you the view at the top!

GET SET. Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

GO! Lord Jesus, the hills of this life are hard. Sometimes I just want to give up. When I feel this way, please help me remember your truth. Help me cling to the fact that you are with me even though I can’t always see what’s up at the top. Thank you for your promise of being with me each step of the way. Amen

Hill-Running1

 

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett 

 

Are You on Empty?

I’d just come out of Kroger and was ready to head home. The trunk was full of groceries. My heart full with excitement and joy. We were getting ready to go out on the lake with friends. Listening to the radio blasting with my favorite song, I glanced over to my left and noticed a black Jeep stopped in the middle of the parking lot.

An empty gas can was perched on top of it. Nobody was in the driver’s seat. When my eyes continued to look, I noticed a young woman sitting on the edge of a curb, just feet away from the stopped vehicle. Her head was buried in her hands. She appeared distraught, her body slumped over in defeat.

I pulled over towards her and put down my window. “Is someone coming to help you?” I asked her. When she replied with a desperate, “No”, I asked her if she needed some gas. She shared with me that she’d just left an abusive relationship. She was trying to get to her parents’ house. They were an hour away. Her boyfriend had taken her wallet in an attempt to get her to stay. This young woman had no money. She was stranded.

My heart full of compassion, I immediately realized God had allowed our paths to cross. I filled her empty gas can so she could get her Jeep to the gas pump. And then I offered to fill it up enough to get her to her destination. She humbly accepted.

With one hand she pumped gas, and with the other she wiped tears that would not stop flowing. She knew she was doing the right thing, yet her heart ached. She was torn. She repeatedly blurted, “This is so embarrassing; I’m so sorry to bother you.” Yet I took the opportunity to speak encouragement to her, sharing with her that God had rescued me from my past hurts. I assured her I’d pray for her safety. And for God to guide her in the days ahead.

Driving away from there, I followed through with my promise to pray for her. And as always, God spoke to my own heart through this incident. I wouldn’t have known this woman needed help if she hadn’t placed the empty gas can on top of her vehicle. If she’d remained in her vehicle, with her gas can in the back, nobody would’ve known she needed help. The empty gas can was like a white flag flying overhead shouting “I need help!”

When we are desperately hurting and at the end of our rope, we have two options: We can remain isolated from others, letting pride dictate our actions. We can keep our hurts inside and attempt to handle it ourselves. All the while whispering to ourselves, What will people think?

Or we can humbly ask for help. We can speak up and share our heart’s deepest hurts. What does that look like? It means we cry out in desperation to God and say Okay, I’m on empty. I need to be filled up. And then it may mean we call a trusted friend we can confide in. We humbly admit, I’m at my wit’s end and can’t do this alone. Just like the young woman who was stranded, we put out our empty gas can and ask for help.

So where are you,dear friend? Are you running on fumes, almost on empty? Is there an area of your life where you feel stranded and there seems to be no way out? If so, then I urge you to surrender.

Surrender to your pride.
Surrender to God’s grace.
Surrender to a fellow believer who can walk beside you.

It is only when we admit our emptiness that we can truly be filled. Just as I filled the young woman’s car up with gas, the empty places in your heart can be filled.

Filled with truth.
Filled with grace.
Filled with hope.

Or maybe you are filled up and need to be on the lookout for those who are empty. Believe me, if you look around close enough you will see them. They are there. Maybe they won’t be as obvious as an empty gas can on top of a vehicle in clear view, but if you look close enough you will see the signs:

Of desperation.
Of despair.
Of emptiness.

Either way, I encourage you to allow our Heavenly Father to fill you up if you’re on empty. Or to allow Him to use you in order to fill someone else up.

James 4:6 “God resists the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.”

gas can