Wandering Aimlessly

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

The summer before Pie, our son, went into 9th grade, he and I took a trip to Australia and New Zealand with stops in Hawaii and Fiji.

I’d always wanted to explore Down Under. I particularly wanted to see if the sinks really drain counter-clockwise. They do!
The scenery was beautiful and varied. The people friendly and really do call you “Mate”. The wildlife was amazing and oh so unique.

When I’m north of the equator, I usually have no problem with direction, knowing where I am, and which way to head. Not so, south of the equator. My sense of direction was totally scrambled. Every time the hotel elevator doors opened, I’d head off in the wrong direction.

At first, Pie said something like, “You’re going the wrong way.”

I’d correct course, and we’d end up where we needed to be.

Eventually, as my lack of direction became more evident with no hope of improving, Pie anticipated my waywardness, grabbed, and pulled. No need for discussion.

Near the end of the trip I let Pie lead. Especially after I spent about half an hour wandering through our hotel on Mt. Cook in New Zealand trying to locate our room on my own.

This lack of sense of direction isn’t confined to adventures south of the equator. It applies to life.

How is our spiritual compass doing? Do we navigate without any problem when we’re in familiar surroundings, but lose our way when faced with the unknown?

When faced with the unknown, do we stay on our errant path, or rely on the true guide, Jesus, to grab and pull us the right direction?

How many times do we have to wander aimlessly on our own before we simply stop when the elevator door opens and let Jesus lead?

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The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in fields of green grass and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water. He gives me new strength. He guides me in the right paths, as he has promised. Psalm 23:1-3 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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God’s Hedge of Protection

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

A devotion I recently read in Streams in the Desert looked at God’s hedge of protection in a way I’d not considered before. Perhaps the thought will be a different way for you to think of God’s protection, as well.

In Mrs. Charles E. Cowman’s poem about the hawthorn hedge she points out although we may not always see the hedge’s thorns, they are always present. They become visible in winter and are covered in spring.

As I reflected on the devotion, but most especially on Mrs. Cowman’s poem, I realized we live our lives in seasons, do we not? There are seasons where the soft leaves of God’s hedge of protection shield us. There are also seasons where those same leaves fall, and the thorns of life protrude.

Regardless of the season we may be in at any point in time, leaves or no leaves, God’s hedge remains.

Nothing surprises the All-knowing God. He knows where the thorns in our lives are and he knows when they prick us. Whether the thorns are illness, unkind words, job uncertainty, betrayal, financial struggles, relationship problems, God knows.

And when we are pricked, he stands right there beside us comforting us until the soft leaves cover the thorns once again.

If you are in a season of thorns, I pray the soft leaves of God’s hedge will burst forth soon.

The hawthorn hedge that keeps us from intruding,
Looks very fierce and bare
When stripped by winter, every branch protruding
Its thorns that would wound and tear.

But spring-time comes; and like the rod that budded,
Each twig breaks out in green;
And cushions soft of tender leaves are studded,
Where spines alone were seen,

The sorrows, that to us seem so perplexing,
Are mercies kindly sent
To guard our wayward souls from sadder vexing,
And greater ills prevent.

To save us from the pit, no screen of roses
Would serve for our defense,
The hindrance that completely interposes
Stings back like thorny fence.

At first when smarting from the shock, complaining
Of wounds that freely bleed,
God’s hedges of severity us paining,
May seem severe indeed.

But afterwards, God’s blessed spring-time cometh,
And bitter murmurs cease;
The sharp severity that pierced us bloometh,
And yields the fruits of peace.

Then let us sing, our guarded way thus wending
Life’s hidden snares among,
Of mercy and of judgment sweetly blending;
Earth’s sad, but lovely song.”

Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

I don’t know about you, but I believe the sentiment in this poem well worth remembering.

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The Weymouth Bible translates James 1:2 as “whenever you find yourself hedged in by various trials.”

The Hawai’i Pidgin Bible translates James 1:2-3 this way.

You Like Know Wat Fo Do? Trus God!

My bruddas an sistas! Feel real good inside everytime you feel like you get hard time fo do wat God like you guys do. Cuz you know, afta you guys go thru all dat real hard time, an you guys still yet trus God, den dat goin make you guys hang in dea mo betta. James 1:2-3 (Hawai’I Pidgin)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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An Act of Humility and Love

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

One of the highlights of Pilot and my October trip last year was a visit to the Museum of Appalachia in Norris, Tennessee. If you ever have the opportunity to visit this wonderful museum, go. We’d been there years before and I couldn’t wait to return.

I love walking around this collection of Southern Appalachia pioneer buildings and artifacts, imagining what it was like to be one of the hardy mountain folk who lived in these buildings; gaining a greater appreciation of my Appalachian heritage.

Just like on any trip or outing, my camera got a workout focusing and snapping pictures.

There was an expansive peacock population with one male in particular giving quite the show, as he tried to impress a goat who could not have cared less. Too funny.

Pilot took advantage of the empty country church with its well-worn split log benches to play hymns on his dulcimer for an audience of One. The giver of the gift.

As I wandered around the grounds and its thirty-six buildings, my eyes more times than not, looked through my camera’s lens. Not where I stepped.

Coming down a path dug into the side of the rise behind one cabin, I planted my foot right in the middle of a copious amount of peacock poop. Yucky. Not content to stay on the bottom of my hiking boot, the watery mess seeped up the leather side as well.

No matter how much I dragged my foot through the dew-drenched grass, that mess was not about to disengage itself.

Although this is where I could turn the messy misstep into an application of watching where we trod, that’s not what I’m going to do. I’m going to tell you that in an act of humility and love, after I changed shoes, put the boots in a plastic bag outside the RV to deal with later, and continued shooting final pictures before we left, Pilot took my boots and washed them for me.

I didn’t ask Pilot to clean up the mess I got myself into. I planned to clean them later once we reached our campsite for the night.

This reminds me of what Jesus did when he took a basin of water, wrapped a towel around his waist, kneeled before the disciples in the upper room before his betrayal, crucifixion, and resurrection, and washed their feet in humility and love. Christ washed ALL the disciples’ feet. Judas and Peter included.

Christ’s love for them, and us, was so great he willingly became a servant to those he created; knowing the ultimate sacrifice of taking on the sins of the world and becoming the sacrificial Lamb of God was mere hours away.

But Jesus didn’t leave it there, did he? He didn’t just wash their feet and get up. Jesus gave the disciples a command. He gives us the same command.

Jesus wants us to serve each other as he served humanity in humility and love, laying aside any claim to his right to be served.

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 I, your Lord and Teacher, have just washed your feet. You, then, should wash one another’s feet.  I have set an example for you, so that you will do just what I have done for you.  John 13:14-15 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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[bctt tweet=”Jesus wants us to serve each other as he served humanity in humility and love, laying aside any claim to his right to be served.” username=”SandyKQuandt”]

All The Broken Pieces

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Reading KariAnne Wood’s devotional book, You’ve Got This! (because God’s got you) the other day, I came upon an entry I’d like to share with you.

In “The Masterpiece That Showed Up at My Front Door” KariAnne talks about a living room table her brother built for her “out of leftover molding and cut-off ends and wood pieces from all the shelves and boxes that had gone before.”

Under her brother’s skilled hands, all those bits and pieces others might throw out became a work of art. Instead of a ramshackle hodge-podge, the craftsman pieced together a beautiful pattern.

KariAnne’s point in her devotion is to show although our lives may be filled with broken, shattered, left-over pieces others deem fit only for the trash heap, our Master Craftsman, God, takes our brokenness and pain and pieces them into a beautiful masterpiece.

There may be days when you feel like you’ve landed on the floor of this world’s workshop. You feel abandoned … But God doesn’t see things that way … He has a plan to redeem all those imperfect parts and create something even more beautiful than what was before. KariAnne Wood

My point in mentioning this devotion is to once again show we belong to a loving, kind Creator who knit us together in our mother’s womb. Nothing that happens in our lives surprises our Creator. He knew everything we would go through before the beginning of time.

When our lives shatter and break, he’s right there waiting to pick up the pieces and turn them into something beautiful. Something we could never imagine.

It would seem our job then, is to bring all our brokenness, pain, and sorrow to God, lay it down at his feet, and allow him to take those broken pieces and turn them into a beautiful mosaic fashioned by his love.

A mosaic which shows the journey we’ve been on. A journey where, no matter how far we might try to run from him, he patiently waits for us to come back to him.

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He heals those who have a broken heart. He heals their sorrows. Psalm 147:3 (NLV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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When We Run Aground

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

The other morning a devotion I read in Streams in the Desert said, “You will never learn faith in comfortable surroundings.”

The devotion stated God gives us promises then steps back, allows the Tempter to come with a test that seems to contradict everything God promised, and God waits to see how much we believe.

Referencing the apostle Paul’s shipwreck as a prisoner on his way to Rome, the short devotion ended with this statement. “This is the time to look up through the storm, and among the trembling, frightened sailors declare, ‘I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.’ ” (Acts 27:25)

Well. Not being satisfied with relying on my memory of this episode near the end of Paul’s life, I went to Acts chapters 27 and 28. Like Reading Rainbow used to say, “Don’t take my word for it. Read the book yourself.” Or something like that.

The verses in these chapters reminded me of several things I’d like to share with you.

When we go through the struggles and storms of life, our faith tells us one way or the other we’ll get to the other side. Nevertheless, like Paul, before we get on the other side, we’ll  probably run aground on some island. (Acts 27:25-26)

God knows where we’re going to run aground. He knows when and how it will happen. He knows the outcome and how beat up, bruised, and broken we’ll be when we reach it. God also knows that when we give thanks to him in the midst of our storms, we’ll be strengthened to keep on keeping on until the storm ends. (Acts 27:33-36)

After that, daylight comes.

BUT before we reach the calm bay in the distance, we hit a sandbar which destroys our ship. (Acts 27:39-41)

Jumping into the waves and grabbing onto the ship’s broken planks that float by, we finally reach the shore. (Acts 27:44)

Only to be bitten by a viper while gathering firewood. (Acts 28:3)

Seriously?

Onlookers gather around and speculate about what we must have done to displease God so much to deserve all we’ve endured. They wait for us to die from the viper’s venom.

But.

We don’t.

Instead, the viper is thrown into the fire and dies. (Acts 28:4-6)

The best part of all?

God sends encouragers alongside to strengthen us for the next go ’round. Until such a time as God allows the Tempter to show up again, and we face life’s storms once more. (Acts 28:15)

Whether we are in a season where we need to be encouraged, or a season where we are called on to be an encourager, whenever we hit a sandbar and run aground, our Mighty Father is right there with us helping us make it safely to shore. Is that not so?

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So take courage! For I believe God! It will be just as he said! Acts 27:25 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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[bctt tweet=”When we go through the struggles and storms of life, our faith tells us one way or the other we’ll get to the other side. ” username=”SandyKQuandt”]