Look What God Can Do

It was November 2020. Each day the hours of darkness grow while the hours of daylight recede. The house was dark when I sat down in my home office and again when I would shut my computer down for the day. I would make my way to the kitchen around the 5:00 hour to grab an unhealthy, processed, instant food to heat up in the microwave or pizza oven and I would finish the day on my recliner where I would polish off a bottle of wine while staring at another [television] screen to occupy my boredom and exhaust the remaining hours until bedtime. Awakening to a pot of bold caffeinated coffee to do it all over again. Day after day I kept thinking, “This isn’t living”.

The pandemic was doing what any extrovert dreads – isolation, lack of social connectedness, limited variety in activity and repetition. Feeling depression growing ever deeper within me, all I wanted to do was sleep. Sure, I could exercise, but only to, yet, another screen. I could bundle up and get some crisp, fresh, cold November air, but why would I do that? It’s cold, it’s dark.
So what do you do when you feel life draining from you? Out of desire to reverse the dark hole I was finding myself digging day after day, I took a personal assessment and questioned myself, “What do I need right now and where can I find it?”
I need people!
I need physical activity!
I need to stop trying to satisfy the void in my life with wine, unhealthy foods, watching depressing news and binge shopping on Amazon.

My conclusion? Get a second job! So I did. A part-time job in the evenings at Fedex Express!
My husband doubted I could do it because the criteria was having the ability to work in extreme temperatures and lift up to 50 pounds. His doubt was enough for this old farm girl to give it a try and here I am, a little over one year later, in cold, frigid Wisconsin February, with $15,000 less debt, an entirely new circle of friends. Conversely, I feel GREAT, blessed, motivated and proud. I even took off a few pounds. #WINNING!

God is so amazing. He used my discomfort, debt, depression and discouragement and gave me a whole new perspective on life. I can’t tell you how much I now see the world in a whole new way through this experience. First and foremost, I will no longer underestimate how God can use our grim circumstances to plant us right in the middle of somewhere that gives you so much more than you could ever ask or imagine. Secondly, how much we need to appreciate people who do what they do so we can get our products conveniently delivered to our door. Be sure to thank a delivery person!

Another way God amazed me is that He gave me a mission field. I don’t have anything to lose by talking about Jesus at Fedex so as we’re stacking boxes, unloading trucks, loading the big plane or tackling a project together, we get to know one another. I get to hear about their love for video games, pets, kids, cars and music. I learn about some of their dating, family and health challenges and a subject near and dear to my heart, their hurts, habits and hang ups; otherwise known as addictions. I get to pray for them, and I do, daily. My Fedex team has become a very important part of my life and I am seriously dreading the day when God redirects me to somewhere new. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about leaving, but we’re still waiting for Covid to be declared an endemic so I’m actually very happy to spend my evenings with my new found friends.
The moral to my story is this: I know people are out there whose mental health has taken it’s toll be it from isolation, stress, fear, darkness, boredom, debt. I know that what you are dealing with is very serious and it is real and it is hard. Do a self assessment like I did. What do you need right now and where can you find it? Then pray and ask God to guide you into something, some place, some where, that will lift you up, transform your life and bring fresh perspective to how He can use you, grow you and above all restore you. Maybe it is a second job, maybe it’s a new hobby, activity or volunteer opportunity, but a ministry. Our God works in mysterious ways and there is no question that He knows what we need more than we do.

So let me end with this…

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:6-8

Seasons of the Year, a Day, our Lives

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It was a 21 degree day here in Wisconsin, but the dogs needed a walk and after a half a bag of chocolate covered peanuts, so did I. I got bundled up, tucked my air pods in my ears and headed out into my country neighborhood while listening to “Understanding The Times”, Jan Markell’s weekly podcast.

The battery on my phone was low when I left, but the cold temperatures helped it drain completely leaving me alone with the sound of my feet slapping the pavement and the huffing breaths of my dogs.

Being alone with no one to talk to, I started talking to God and it went something like this:

“Hi God. Thank you for this beautiful day. Yes, it’s cold, but the sun is out and that’s awesome. Thanks for that. Hey God, look at your creation? As if you need to look, you know it already – intimately. It’s amazing. You are so detailed! The sky is breath-taking (as usual) and the trees, Lord, seriously, you made these trees! Your handiwork is crazy perfect. So much so, I can’t even grasp it all. But God… everything looks dead. But it’s not is it? The cool thing is, that in a couple of months it will literally spring to life. It will be gorgeous. I love it when you do that, I love it when you bring the death of winter to life in spring. And then, when summer comes it almost feels like your creation is shouting your name, but then fall comes and everything subsides and returns to winter, again. Looks dead, but not dead?!”

Strange.

“Lord, I guess in many ways this is like my day. I wake up in the morning and my eyes are hardly able to focus. Once I shower, put on make up and prepare myself for the day, I emerge a new person. I go about my day fully alive, vibrant, a representative of being created in your image and fully alive. Yet, upon return home I reduce my pace to slow down and I slip into something more comfortable, wash away all that made me look my best and end my day back in bed. Similar to the trees, I am dead (to the world), but I’m not really, I’m just sleeping. Dormant. At rest.”

“Yet, upon further thought, this is like my life. I was born and incapable of doing anything by myself and for myself, but I grew. Even up into my 20’s, then 30’s, and maybe early 40’s, when I was in full bloom. I looked accomplished, my life appeared to be perfect, all I had worked for had paid off and I felt accomplished. By the world’s standards, I was successful. Yet the birthdays kept coming and now I am much older and in a comfortable place. I have a lot of regrets, but the future has hope. I’ve learned from my mistakes and now my life has so much more purpose. I’m fulfilled, somewhat content, peaceful and grateful. I’m not as interested in being “all put together” anymore. I am much more interested and invested in growing my character, building my legacy and making a tangible difference with my life, in whatever time you have planned for me while I remain on this earth; which could be a day, a year or dozens of more years, but I’m not chasing after any one thing anymore, Lord. I’m living! But I am reminded every single day with the body aches, wrinkles and young adult children, that the end is coming.”

“Here’s the thing. To this world, it will appear that I will die and my life will pass away, but I won’t be dead. My soul won’t die! Just like these trees. I may look like my season or my life has expired and my physical body will be cold, unfruitful and void of any evidence of life, but it’s not true – I will be alive! But instead of lying in bed softly breathing, I will be with you, Father, and we will be together in heaven!”

Girlfriends reading this… Do you see that we are all in a season. In my current season, I am feeling a greater sense of urgency to tell more people what I know, what I have learned and how they can be assured of eternal life like I am. I read my bible everyday and I can’t get enough, it truly is life-giving and inspired by God. I splurged today and bought myself the Charles Spurgeon study bible. In it, I read his biography and he was known as “Prince of Preachers” and I am inspired. Inspired to live and lead a life that makes an impact.

I may not have an audience of millions in my lifetime, like he did, and I most certainly haven’t done anything deserving of a legacy that is preserved for over 200 years as his has, but what if there is one? Is there one of you out there who is reading this and wants to know God and have confidence that they aren’t going to die and knowing where they will spend eternity… heaven or hell?

I don’t care what season of life you are in. I wish I would have asked myself more questions and sought more answers in my teens, 20’s and 30’s. But apparently God wanted to give me a heart and a passion FOR you when I am nearly 50. Are you 70, 80 or 90? What’s your story? Are you ready to meet your creator… or not?

If it is you and you are the one that I am writing this for, will you please email me at liveoutloudblog@gmail.com.

You only have eternity to gain. I’m not scary, I promise. I’m just a girl who loves the Lord and believes there are more people out there that want to know him too.

Sarah

The Key to Success

Secret to Success

Today’s Devotional: Deuteronomy 17

A valuable chapter which deals with the regulations that would control a king. I do have a verse that jumped out at me and inspired this blog today. It’s verse 19, “It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees.”

It is written to instruct a king, but I see application for us. What if we made it personal and read it as, “God’s WORD is to be with YOU, and YOU are to read it all the days of YOUR life so that YOU may learn to revere the LORD your God and follow carefully all the words of His law and these decrees?”

God may have been giving advice to prepare a king for his role as a leader, but I also know that the bible is our source for preparation in our daily lives. When I imagine the roles and responsibilities of a king I think of all the decisions he has to make, the people who are depending on him to lead them and the great responsibility on his shoulders not only in his household, but in his kingdom.

How is that different from our lives? We have decisions to make, we have people who are depending on us to lead them and we have great responsibility on our shoulders in our households and our workplaces, neighborhoods and communities. Should we need God’s Word less than any king of any land?

I think verse 19 has a very important instruction for us and I’m blogging this to help us remain firm in whatever life is throwing at us right now. You’ll find what you need in His Word and He is all we need. That may sound cliche, but I’m not intending it to be. Read, pray, meditate on his word daily. God sums it up perfectly in Joshua 1:8, Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

Stand Up For Yourself

Walked on

Today’s Devotion: Deuteronomy 13

I remember my parents used to say, “So if your friends jumped off of a bridge does that mean you will too?”

I don’t remember the context anymore, but I’m sure I did something wrong and justified my actions with, “…But my friends did it!”

As a finale, in the disapproval of this excuse, they would say, “Well why don’t you stand up for yourself, don’t let people walk all over you!”

Deuteronomy 13:3 has something to say about following others, namely prophets and dreamers. “You must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

In his commentary, John MacArthur, says, “God, in His sovereignty, allowed the false prophets to entice the people toward apostasy to test the true disposition of the Israelites’ hearts. And while the temptation was dangerous, the overcoming of that temptation would strengthen the people in their love for God and obedience to His commandments.”

It’s a test. God is testing their hearts and if they have the courage to stand up for themselves, it strengthens their love for God and gives them confidence to be obedience to His commandments. I think this concept is incredible… hard to do, but incredible.

Just yesterday I found an article about Natalie Grant and posted it on our Godly Girlfriends Facebook Page last night. The article explains how she left the Grammy Awards – She took a stand. Not a belligerent, holier than thou, in-your-face-for-Christ type of stand. She left in a subtle way… she was guarding her heart and her mind (Philippians 4:7) and taking her thoughts captive. (2 Corinthians 10:5). She passed the test!

I had the privilege of meeting Natalie at a Women Of Faith Conference on my 40th Birthday and have always admired her singing talent. Now I admire her for her courage to model Jesus in an environment void of any morality. This leads me to ask the question, “Will I take a stand for Christ? Will God test me to find out if I love Him with all of my heart and soul?” Just like our Godly Girlfriend, Natalie, I hope we all have the courage to stand firm in our faith. (1 Corinthians 16:13).

Meeting Natalie

Thank you Natalie for being an example for us to follow.

God’s Got Your Back

Got Your Back

Today’s Devotion: Deuteronomy 10

I remember a song we used to sing in Sunday School class when I was a young girl. It went like this, “King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s, Glory! Halleluiah.”

Verse 17 reminded me of that song, “For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.”

Sometimes I read the bible and I’m looking for something that is tangible and applicable; where I can close the book and walk away with a verse or a thought that I can immediately apply to face life. Other times, like today, God seems to stop me in my tracks and provides me with one big, broad reminder and truth – He is God.

That’s what Deuteronomy 10 speaks to me; He is God of everything. Especially over those little gods like ice cream, i phones, money, jobs, hobbies, collections, children, husbands, etc… He is also the Lord over all the lords in our world like presidents, pastors, princes and kings, teachers or any other authority figure we may esteem to be our leaders. Verse 17 reminds me that He is a great God; mighty and awesome. That in itself is great, mighty and awesome.

Just for perspective today… meditate on that. “King of all kings and Lord of all lords.” When we take a pause and recognize just how magnificent He is we don’t need to worry, fear, be anxious, doubt, be depressed, care what others think, limit ourselves, cower, avoid, withdraw or retaliate.  God is the “Big Man”, He’s got your back.

Rehashing The Past

Punching Bag

Today’s Devotional: Deuteronomy 9

Have you ever been in a fight with someone who keeps circling back to the past; bringing up issues that should have been long gone, forgiven, over it – past! When that has happened to me I feel as if they aren’t even participating in the current argument and they just can’t seem to let go. It’s like I’m some kind of punching bag… I have no defense.

What if God did this? Remember the time when you took that box of pens from the office, rounded up the mileage on your expense reimbursement, told your parents you were home by curfew, but they were out of town so what’s a little white lie? What about the gossip you initiated about a ‘friend’, the cheat sheet you hid in your sleeve to pass your high school exam or the plagiarism used to write that college paper? That door ding you pretended not to carve into the door of that parked car, that tantrum you displayed when your checkbook didn’t balance or that time you turned your nose up on that homeless beggar who wanted some pocket change for food?

What if God rehashed our past?

Does the thought scare you? It does me. Maybe you don’t remember the time you got in late for curfew and lied to your parents. God would remember that. Can you imagine getting to heaven and all of a sudden God starting pulling out His list of your wrongs? This alone makes me pray out to God, “LORD, I am not worthy!”

BUT YOU ARE WORTHY! We are worthy through Christ. Deuteronomy chapter 9 is Moses reminding the Israelities how bad they were, but verse 6 says, “Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people.”

It’s not because we are sinners God is giving us eternal life, it is because Christ is your LORD and savior and through His sacrifice of His blood, took our sins away – past, present and future. Thing is… it’s not just given automatically. We have to profess Him as LORD of our lives, believe in our hearts that Jesus did take our sins away, turn away from our selfish ways, and live for Him. I used to think it was a simple prayer…. Oh, it’s simple alright, but you have to mean it with your whole life.

If you can’t find the words, pray with me:

LORD Jesus, I need You. I want You to be my Savior and LORD. I accept Your death on the cross as the complete payment of my sins. Thank You for forgiving me and for giving me new life. Help me to grow in my understanding of Your Love and power so that my life will bring honor to You. Amen.

Worth Repeating

Repeating

Today’s Devotion: Deuteronomy 5

If you have kids you have probably used the phrase, “Please don’t make me tell you again!” or “How many times to I have to tell you…”. I’m a Mom and I have used them, unfortunately, often. I also have a Mom and I have had them said to me, unfortunately, often. Then I open up my bible and I’m having a flashback to Exodus 20, there’s the ten commandments being given to us, all over again.

There are several reasons why Moses is repeating them. 1 – It’s been practically forty years since they have been wondering through the wilderness. Those who were given the Law back in Exodus are no longer eye witnesses of that burning bush event. 2 – People forget – We forget.

One thing that is utterly amazing to me is how patient God is with us. Usually by the time I have to remind my kids that I’m tired of repeating myself, I have run out of patience; my plea with those words usually mean I am at my last straw. Moses so eloquently repeats the Ten Commandments. In 5:1, “Moses summoned all Israel and said: Hear, Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them.”

But did you notice? “Learn them and be sure to follow them.” It’s one thing to hear something, it’s a whole different level of commitment or surrender of will to actually do them. And then think about this… We’re not talking about a dirty pair of socks here, we’re talking about laws that God is giving us as a standard to live by.

Truth is, it is humanly impossible to obey them, but at least we know the standard. It gives way to grace, our need for Christ and makes sure we don’t try to get to heaven on our own merit. So, I appreciate that God puts it out there once again. After all, we do need to be reminded and LORD knows we forget. Let’s not just read them as if they are a re-run. They are deliberately placed there for us to learn and follow.

Let Me Go, Please!

Let Me Out

Today’s Devotion: Deuteronomy 3

Just like a toddler standing at the door protesting as Daddy, Mommy, or Granny pulls out of the driveway “Let me go, I wanna go too!” This came to mind as I read Deuteronomy chapter 3:25, Moses says to God, “Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.”

My heart goes out to Moses as he begs the Lord to let him enter the land which has been his goal for forty years, but God won’t waiver. As a matter of fact, just like a parent would have to instruct the persistent and persuasive toddler by saying, “Enough of that,” Verse 26 says, “But because of you the LORD was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the LORD said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter.”

Moses sinned against God along the wilderness journey and God told him that he would be forbidden to enter the promise land, instead Joshua would lead them in the end. Moses was so close, he could actually SEE the land, yet God forbid him from going. Verse 28, “But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.”

Super big bummer… What a lesson for us, that even though we repent of our sin, we will have to take the consequences of it in this life whether we like it or not. So God gave Moses the instruction to encourage and strengthen Joshua, because he will finish the journey.

Maybe you are there. You have your face pressed against the glass door and you’re calling out to God, “Let me go, please!”, but God has someone else in mind for that journey (job, mission, relocation, promotion, adoption, ministry.) You take on the cheerleader role and champion the person that God has appointed in your place. Pray, encourage, support and aide them because that just might be the role God has planned for you at this time.

And of course, let God’s Word encourage you while you submit under His authority and His Will even though you might be feeling left behind. Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Rearview Mirror On Life

Rearview Mirror

Today’s Devotion: Deuteronomy 1

Have you ever stopped to think and took some dedicated time to contemplated your life? It can be a dangerous journey to let your mind venture down memory lane where you evaluate where you’ve been and where you are now. Image life as though looking through a rear-view mirror. You can see the road ahead, but just so far. At a glance you can see the pass behind you and that road stirs up all kinds of emotions.

Deuteronomy chapter 1 is like that to me, but from Moses perspective. He gives a recount of the good decisions and experiences and then he rehashes the bad decisions and consequences that resulted from them. It’s neat to read this chapter and have the whole context of the wilderness march through the books of Exodus and Leviticus to be able to fully appreciate what Moses is saying in regard to the actual account of the journey it took them to get there.

Our lives are like that. We have made good decisions and have had some great experiences. Then there are those times when hindsight is 20/20 and if we were to do it all over again, we would have done things differently. The future could be paved with excitement, adventure, anxiety, uncertainty, fear or pain. While the past made up of beautiful memories, daunting challenges, hard lessons, major milestones and even some unsettling regrets.

Life is full of experiences (good and bad) and sometimes, let’s admit it, we have diverted from the right path – maybe even veered into the ditch. Our God is a God of grace and mercy, love and compassion. All of the bad and good of our past is also God’s hand in developing us into who He created us to be. Isn’t it exciting when you think of it this way?

Our promise land is on the horizon and God will take the wilderness journey of our life and make it purposeful. I feel like I have really bonded with Moses over the past several months and chapters of the Old Testament and can relate to his reflection on where he as been and why staying the course assures of a beautiful future. I value that all that he endured and the people that God entrusted Him to lead has given us a perspective into our our journey. And the best verse of this chapter is  21, “See, the LORD your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

God Delegates

Delegate

Today’s Devotional: Numbers 34

Over time, I have have come to realize that delegation is an art. From the most successful people I know in business to the Wonder Mom’s out there make me realize delegation is the key to keeping our sanity.

Now I’m not talking about dumping their workload onto other people and abuse of power kind of stuff. In business I’m talking the people to which they delegate are people who are hired specifically to do the jobs, and perform the functions, that the over-extended CEO has to depend upon them for. They don’t feel like doormats or the dumpster for menial tasks; instead they pride themselves on helping the CEO look good and perform their jobs effectively.

What’s even more fascinating to me is that they do their work joyfully, they pride themselves in their work and they love their jobs. They wouldn’t want the pressure, schedule, accountability or stress of the CEO and they know that they are essential to not only the CEO, but the success of the organization.

Numbers 34:18, jumped out at me this morning when God said to Moses, “And appoint one leader from each tribe to help assign the land.” God didn’t ask Moses to do it. He told Moses who to delegate the work too. God could have done this for many reasons:

1 – Moses isn’t the best man for the job!

2 – Moses was the big picture guy and when it came to the logistics of the Lot, there were people more qualified than Moses to accomplish the goal more efficiently.

3 – God knows how to leverage other people’s strengths.

4 – Moses had to coordinate the leaders to make sure everyone was going about their work appropriately.

5 – God knew it would be more fair an equitable if there were more people involved. Imagine Moses trying to organize all of these families and make sure everyone received their fair share.

The point I am making and how the LORD is teaching me through this message is that I/we don’t have to do it  [life] alone. I need people to help me and God puts people around us to accomplish His work together. Some of us are big picture people, while others are detail people and get the job done to perfection. God knows who has which strengths that compliment others. God knows who can get it done and who can organize it, facilitate it and orchestrate the task at hand.

It’s a beautiful picture (in my mind) of God accomplishing His work through others and God understands that we are better together, we can only accomplish so much when we are alone and independent.