A Plethora of New Year’s Advice

bing imagesBy Sandy Kirby Quandt

With all the New Year’s advice of what we need to do to ensure we enjoy a wonderful, life-fulfilling 2015…read this or that book…listen to this or that speaker…select one, and only one, Scripture verse as your verse for the year…select one, and only one, word as your word for the year…I can’t do it.

While I have nothing against the plethora of advice designed to enhance my life, (hey, I’m giving advice in this post, aren’t I?) the stubborn side of me comes out. I’m not one to go along with the crowd simply because it is trendy. I’ve only recently switched from a flip phone to a smartphone, for goodness sake. Trend-setter? Hardly.

There are a lot of books I’d like to read this year. Not all or them are for my personal or spiritual growth. Some are pure entertainment, like Wendelin Van Draanen’s Sammy Keyes mysteries for kids.

There are many worthy speakers out there, but not all of them speak to what’s going on in my life right now. If ever.

As far as choosing ONE verse of Scripture as mine for the year, sorry. Can’t/Won’t do that. I leave the door open each day for God to show me the verses he wants me to meditate on. I’m not going to limit my verse to one.

Now, about having one word…it’s pretty much the same thing as having one verse. Each day God shows me new things. New aspects of his character. New directions he wants me to go. One word? How could I possibly choose?

Today my word for the year is Grace. No, wait. Today it’s Redeemed. No, no, no. Today my word is Faith. No…

See? How can I possibly choose one word, or one verse, when there are so many wonderful words and verses to choose from in my relationship with the Creator God? The Father who cared enough for me…insignificant, weak, sinful me…allowed his perfect, sinless son to die a horrendous death on the cross at the hands of his creation, to pay the debt for my sin, which there is no way I could ever possibly pay on my own.

He did the same for you, too, you know.

So pick those books to read, speakers to listen to, or one word as your guide for 2015 if that’s what you feel led to do.

Bing imagesMe? I’m gonna’ read whatever strikes my fancy at any given time and try for a balance between fiction and non-fiction. I’ll pay attention to speakers, and pick and choose what I believe is meant for me, and leave the rest. I’ll continue to search God’s written word for the verses and words he put in the Bible for me to live by, and do my best to honor him.

If God’s mercies are new every morning, and they are, how can I limit myself to the same word for 365 days?

What’s your advice for this new year?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Leave a comment below. If you think others would appreciate reading this please share it through the social media buttons.

Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord‘s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, and so in him I put my hope. Lamentations 3:21-24 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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No Fairy Tale

bing imagesBy Sandy Kirby Quandt

What do you look for in a story? A fantastic setting that whisks you away? A scene so real you can smell the air around it? Characters you easily relate to? A plot with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing? A hero or heroine so incredibly wonderful you can’t help but fall in love with them? A villain so vile you can’t wait for him to be destroyed?

Writers invent settings, scenes, characters and plots that, hopefully, will entrance readers Bing Imagesand have them turning pages until The End. It’s our job. It’s what we do. Sometimes we do it more successfully than at other times. But weaving words together in a pleasing way is the ultimate goal. We want to tell a good story with a satisfying ending.

Before I begin to craft my historical fiction worlds and characters, I do a lot of research. I plunge deep into resources to make sure I get the facts correct. My favorite type of resource is called primary. Those eyewitness records are not second-hand stories. They are not made up. They are true.

Bing images I read primary sources to get a feel for the experiences of those who lived in years past. I read diaries, letters, and first person accounts. I read old recipes and marvel at the cookware used. I visit historical museums. I walk battlefields that ran red. I look at photographs. I study mannequins’ clothing…

My goal in doing all of this is to experience the truth, the reality of what it was like to live in whatever time period I happen to be working on, so I can recreate that reality in my fiction.

The writers of the Bible were primary sources. They were eyewitnesses to the events that unfolded before them. Through the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, they were given the characters. The plot. The scenes. The twists and turns. The heroes and villains.

In the years following Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension back into heaven to sit on bing imageshis throne at God’s right hand, his followers were under attack. Many people accused them of inventing a clever story. Their testimony of a risen Lord was too fantastic. Too amazing. Too hard to believe. But it was the truth. It was real.

Instead of accepting the Apostles’ eyewitness testimony, people accused them of being deluded. They didn’t trust the primary source.

If we can visit museums, walk battlefields, and read diaries  written by people who lived centuries ago and believe the words on the page to be true, shouldn’t we believe and trust the words that are written in God’s Holy Word by eyewitnesses, when so much more depends on it ?

It isn’t a made up fairy tale, you know.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Leave a comment below. If you think others would appreciate reading this please share it through the social media buttons.

We were not following a cleverly written-up story when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ—we actually saw his majesty with our own eyes. He received honour and glory from God the Father himself when that voice said to him, out of the sublime glory of Heaven, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’. 2 Peter 1:16-17 (Phillips)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Sunday Scriptures — Like Trees Growing Beside the Water

Isaiah 40By Sandy Kirby Quandt

Creation amazes me. Nature amazes me. The handiwork of our Creator God amazes me. Look up into the heavens. Listen to a bird sing. Watch a sunrise or sunset. Smell a fragrant flower. Taste a luscious berry. Wiggle your fingers through the deep fibers of sheep fleece. Amazing.

Driving through the plains of Central United States also fascinates me. While Pilot drives, I scan the landscape. Every time I spot a tree with green leaves I point it out. Then I look closely and make the same observation…the tree is growing near a water source. It’s probably the same trees each time we make our trips northwestward, nonetheless, I take notice.

A tree growing beside the water does not dry up no matter how harsh the conditions around it. That tree will be fruitful while others shrivel and die. It need never worry about a lack of rain, because its roots reach deep to the water source.

Can the same be said of us?

Have we planted ourselves beside the true Living Water, Jesus Christ? Do our roots grow deep through the daily study of God’s Holy Scriptures to know him and to be known by him? Are we confident he will provide for all our needs and do not fear when times of pain, sorrow, or drought arrive? Do others notice our green leaves and comment on them each time they encounter us?

If trees can do that, why not us?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Leave a comment below. If you think others would appreciate reading this please share it through the social media buttons.

But I will bless those who trust me.
They will be like trees growing beside a stream—
trees with roots that reach down to the water,
and with leaves that are always green.
They bear fruit every year and are never worried
by a lack of rain. Jeremiah 17:7-8 (CEV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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New Year, New Opportunities

By Sandy Kirby Quandt

The following are some thoughts on the New Year that came to mind while I recently read Oswald Chambers’ words in My Utmost For His Highest.

Sometimes we allow the memory of yesterday’s sins and mistakes to dampen our present bing imagesenjoyment of God’s grace. God allows the memory of our mistakes for spiritual growth in our future, not to keep us chained to the past. He intends for us to learn from our failures. He doesn’t want us to keep on committing them so his grace will abound, however.

God will go before us and protect us. He smooths the way. Levels mountains and fills in valleys. Our part in this is to be mindful and intentional so we don’t repeat the same mistakes.

bing imagesThere’s no reason to enter 2015 in haste. As one who loves starting new things, I need this reminder. It’s a new year. Time for a new start. Brand new calendar. We have our plans for what we want to accomplish but unless we wait upon the LORD to direct us, we could end up in the same mess we muddled through in 2014.

Some of our yesterdays hold broken and irreversible things. Just like water that flows downstream, there were lost opportunities that we’ll never get back. But when we let him, God can take our brokenness and transform it. If we truly consider what we’ve done, what we want to do, what worked, what didn’t, learn from our mistakes, and keep Jesus in the center of it all, we just might find 2015 is our best year, yet.

New year. New opportunities. Opportunities to put our past mistakes into God’s hand and bing imagesallow him to take that brokenness and direct us in the way we should go.

May 2015 be your best year, yet.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Leave a comment below. If you think others would appreciate reading this please share it through the social media buttons.

But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard. Isaiah 52:12 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The Farther We Get Off the Path

John Clayton's All-Pro Team Gallery

Courtesy John Clayton’s All-Pro Team Gallery

By Sandy Kirby Quandt

If you are familiar with the National Football League, there is a good possibility you have heard of defensive end for the Houston Texans, number 99. J.J. Watt. It is because of two of his quotes in the Houston Chronicle, I am writing this post. It may seem bizarre to make a Biblical connection through football, but you won’t know until you read the entire post.

This past Sunday, December 28, 2014, loyalties within the Quandt household were divided. You see, the Houston Texans played the Jacksonville Jaguars whose quarterback is fellow University of Central Florida alum, Blake Bortles. Dilemma. Dilemma.

Brett Coomer Houston Chronicle

Courtesy Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle

Pie texted me at the beginning of the game, “Go, Jags!” I ignored him.

While I do want Blake Bortles to succeed as quarterback, and I certainly wasn’t looking forward to him getting pounded by J.J. Watt each play, I was rooting for the Texans. To be more specific, I was rooting for Mr. Watt.

This season J.J. was voted to the Pro-Bowl for the third time since beginning his professional football career in 2011. His impressive stats for this year are: 78 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 29 tackles for loss, 50 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, 10 passes defensed, one interception, a safety, three receiving touchdowns, five total touchdowns, 32 overall points. In his four years of play, he has 57 sacks. The third-most in NFL history.

Brett Coomer Houston Chronicle

Courtesy Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle

He’s up for Most Valuable Player of the year. He already has one defensive MVP award, and will probably win one for this year, even if he doesn’t win the MVP award.

Who cares? You might ask.

Well, let me tell you why I care. When I read Brian Smith’s article in the Houston Chronicle, I knew I’d rooted for the right guy.

“I don’t know,” said Watt, when asked if this was the best he’s ever been. “That’s mainly for everybody else to discuss. You all can write about it. My goal is just to go out there and do whatever I can. You work hard for the respect of your teammates and coaches and other players around the league. … I want to make my family proud. Those are really, mainly the only opinions I care about. No offense.”

Who do we try to impress? Those who may be in a position to award us in some way? Are we concerned with living so that our families, and most importantly our Father in heaven, are proud of us? Whose opinion really matters to us? The Father who will never let us go, or the crowd that disappears when the celebration is over?

When talking about taking time off now that the season is over, J.J. said,

“When I first came into the league, the veterans tried to tell me how much time to take (off). So my first year I tried to give myself a full month but I was back to work after about a week and a half. Last year, I tried to give myself two weeks and I took my brothers to Europe. But even over there we found ourselves working out a couple times. It’s one of those things where the farther you get off the path, the harder it is to get back.”

Bing imagesThe farther you get off the path, the harder it is to get back…The farther we get off the path of regularly meeting with other Christians, the harder it is to get back…The farther we get off the path of daily spending time in prayer, the harder it is to get back…The farther we get off the path of helping those God places in our path, the harder it is to get back …

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Leave a comment below. If you think others would appreciate reading this please share it through the social media buttons.

Does this sound as if I am trying to win human approval? No indeed! What I want is God’s approval! Am I trying to be popular with people? If I were still trying to do so, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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