Quibbling Over Semicolons and Sawdust

When my high school English teacher taught the class the proper use of semicolons, I never quite understood the concept, even though I asked her to explain it to me further after class.

All these years later, I still question whether I use them correctly.

I have numerous grammar books to help with my semicolon dilemma. Noah Lukeman’s book, A Dash of Style has this to say.

It is hard to underuse the semicolon, since a work can exist perfectly well without one. That said, there are cases when it is called for…

Oy, vey.

So why am I discussing semicolons today?

Well, it’s all our son, Pie’s, fault.

One of Pie’s college degrees is Journalism. He wrote for several newspapers both in Florida and Texas before putting his skills to use in the space industry where he often works with non-native English speaking international partners.

During one particular meeting, one of the international partners corrected Pie on his semicolon use.

To which Pie replied, “I don’t use semicolons.”

Dilemma solved.

Quibbling over semicolons this way led me to think of a time Jesus said do not judge, or you too will be judged.

 

He told the multitudes not to look at the speck of sawdust in someone else’s eye without first paying attention to the plank in their own.

Jesus warned we must remove the plank from our eyes before we can help anyone else.

I know at times I misuse semicolons, even though I try not to.

I also know at times I unjustly criticize and find fault, even though Jesus told us not to.

How can we help someone remove the speck of sawdust from their eyes when we can’t see past the huge beams in our own?

Do you have problems with quibbling over semicolons, or with quibbling over sawdust?

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“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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[bctt tweet=”Quibbling over semicolons led me to think of a time Jesus said do not judge, or you too will be judged. He told the multitudes they shouldn’t look at the speck of sawdust in someone else’s eye, and not pay a bit of attention to the plank in their own. ” username=”SandyKQuandt”]

 

Allowing Clutter to Accumulate

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Allowing clutter to accumulate, and not paying close attention to it, can build up and little by little become a big problem.

Pilot and I aren’t certified pat rats – yet- but we do have a tendency to save things. While the things in themselves aren’t bad, they become a problem when left to pile up, take up valuable space, and get in the way. Before we know it, things are out of control and the thought of reigning in the chaos seems daunting. So we keep putting it off.

Ever been there?

It’s nothing we set out to do, certainly. It’s a gradual, subtle progression.

So, I’m thinking … is that what happens in our relationship with God? Do we allow the clutter of disobedience to accumulate little by little until we don’t even realize how big a problem it has become?

Does our disobedience take up valuable space in our lives, leave no room for Jesus, and get in the way of our daily walk with God?

More times than not, the disobedience starts out in small things, but soon turns to larger things without even a second thought. It is a subtle slow fade. Before we realize it, our disobedience becomes second nature instead of the exception.

It’s sorta’ like the story of the frog who was placed in a tepid pot of water on top of the stove. Sensing no danger, the frog did not try to escape. Little by little the temperature of the water increased. The change was so subtle. The frog never realized he was in a life-threatening situation until it was too late.

I guess what Pilot and I should do about the clutter is not let it into the house to begin with. We should also be willing to let go of the things that are taking up valuable space, getting in our way, and causing us to stumble.

It takes a lot of vigilance and hard work to keep clutter from accumulating, but the end result is well worth it.

The same could be said about not allowing the clutter of disobedience to accumulate. We need to get rid of the stuff that takes up valuable space, gets in our way, and causes us to stumble before we become comfortable with it, and ignore its negative effect on our lives.

How do you keep from allowing clutter to accumulate?

Disclaimer – none of these pictures are of our house. 😉

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Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts. Proverbs 4:23 GNT

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The Past Has Passed

courtesy pixabayby Sandy Kirby Quandt

Before the rooster crowed  on the night Jesus was betrayed, Peter denied Christ three times. We remember this as part of the Crucifixion story. I’ve written about Peter several times on Woven and Spun. It seems lately I learn something new through studying Peter’s life.

Several weeks ago the lesson we studied in our Bible Study class centered on the story of Tabitha, also know as Dorcas, as recorded by Luke in Acts 9:36-43. Tabitha became sick and died. As a result, her friends sent for Peter.

Tabitha was not buried right away, as was the custom of the time. Instead, she was courtesy pixabaywashed and placed in an upstairs room. That tells me her friends expected a miracle; and Peter was the one they expected God to use to perform it.

Were they aware of Peter’s past? Did they know the story of how he turned his back on Jesus? Had they heard how he failed?

Perhaps.

Whether they knew any of that or not, the fact is they expected Peter to be God’s tool. His vessel. The conduit through which their friend, Tabitha, would be raised to life. And they sent for him.

As I studied this lesson I wondered how Peter felt the instant Tabitha opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. Among the things I believe he may have considered, because it is something I may have considered had I been him, beyond immediate thanks and praise to Jesus for Tabitha’s healing, is thanks to Jesus for restoring and forgiving Peter and using him despite his past failures.

courtesy pixabayI don’t believe Peter dwelt on his past mistakes when he entered the room where Tabitha lay. I believe he dwelt on the power of the One True Lord and King that flowed through him.

He didn’t dwell on then. He dwelt on now.

Wouldn’t you say we need to do the same?

Do you find it difficult to let go of past mistakes and embrace what God has prepared for you today?

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Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. Acts 9:40 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Lord, What About Him?

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

The book of John is my favorite Gospel. Maybe it is the storyteller in me, but I love the way John presents Jesus and how Christ interacted with those around him.

Today, I’m focusing on the last chapter of John.

By now, Jesus has been crucified, resurrected and appeared before Mary Magdalene at the tomb. He suddenly appeared in the locked room where the disciples, minus Thomas, hid. He appeared again eight days later in the same locked room when Thomas was present. He met the two on the road to Emmaus. And now waited on the shore beside the Lake of Galilee, preparing the disciples’ breakfast.

 

We may remember this as the scene where Jesus pointedly asked Peter if he loved him. Three times. And each time Peter said he did.

After Jesus told Peter to “feed his little sheep” and predicted the kind of death Peter had in front of him, Peter turned, saw John, the disciple Jesus loved and asked, “What about him? What sort of death will he die?”

Jesus replied, “If I want him to live until I return, what is that to you? You follow me.”

That’s the line I love most. Always have. But it wasn’t until recently I related it to my writing and looked at it in a way I’d never looked at it before.

Jesus called Peter to feed his sheep by preaching about the resurrected Lord. I believe as a writer, Jesus has called me to feed his sheep through the words I write.

Regardless of what abilities God has given each of us, he has called us to follow him.

Peter was given his commission but behind the one question he asked, I believe a multitude more where in his mind. What about John? What was going to happen to him? Was he going to suffer or skate through life untouched? Was John’s ministry going to be bigger than Peter’s? Was he going to receive more pats on the back? More awards? More atta’ boys? Was John going to be more popular than Peter?

Jealousy.

That’s an emotion I believe each of us can understand. Maybe we’ve had similar thoughts about those we work with. What about them? How come they got the promotion, the raise, the praise? We compare. We compete. We wonder if maybe, just maybe, God loves them more.

 

In writing, the whole purpose is to get what I write published so people can read it. Makes sense, wouldn’t you say? I send my writing to editors and often, not always, but more times than I’d like, I receive a rejection.

They wish me well and I keep writing and waiting. At times like this it’s easy to say, “What about them, the person who just got the contract, or just won the award? Does God love them more than me?”

These last verses in John tell us Jesus has a plan for each of us, and that plan is not cookie-cutter sameness. How could it be? We are all different. We don’t think alike. We don’t work alike. We don’t communicate in the same way. We have different abilities and personalities.

If what I write only reaches the editor who rejects my story, I pray God uses that story to touch that one life. I’m not going to kid you here, if I send something to an editor it is because I’m praying they love it enough to publish it and it reaches the multitudes.

 

Still, I have to remember my job is to write to the very best of my ability. God’s job is to get what I write in front of whomever he wants it in front of.

Even if that is the editor who sends me the “Sorry. Not for us.” rejection letter.

If Jesus wants someone else to win the awards, get the promotion, receive the atta’ boys and atta’ girls what’s that to us? He’s called us to follow him. And that’s exactly what he expects us to do.

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 Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”

Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.”  John 21:21-22 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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When Life Comes Crashing Down

pixabayby Sandy Kirby Quandt

What can we do when life is falling apart around us?

This question, and others, have come up in conversations I’ve had in the past week with three friends. I’m going to call these friends Widow, Caregiver, and Young Wife.

Widow is in her late seventies. Her husband died unexpectedly several months back. pixabay

When I spoke with her, one of the things she said won’t leave my brain.

“I don’t want to do this.”

I don’t want to walk this path alone.

I don’t want to carry on as if everything is okay, because it isn’t.

I don’t want to put on a smile when my heart is torn in two and it will never be right again.

I don’t want to go out with friends because they are all couples and have no idea what I’m going through.

pixabayCaregiver is in her late sixties.

Her husband recently survived a life-threatening car accident. Last week he took his first few steps since the accident with the help of a walker. While she tried to put up a good front, I saw past her facade, because I’ve been where she is.

Although you are grateful for the spared life, your life has changed drastically and there is no way to go back to the way it was before.

As we spoke, she said, “You do understand.”

Yep.

Isn’t that what we want?

Someone who understands. Someone who has walked where we’re walking? Someone who won’t judge when we let the mask slip and show our vulnerability and pain?

Young Wife is in her late twenties. She has two children under the age of six.

She and I pixabaymet five years ago. We’d not seen each other for almost a year.

My heart aches for this Child of God and the difficulties she continues to experience in her marriage.

As we spoke she smiled and said, “We just have to have faith, right?”

So. Back to my original question.

What can we do when life is falling apart around us?

The Bible tells us God is the husband to the widow and father to the fatherless. We are told Jesus is our strength when we are weak. He gives us the power to keep going when we want to give up.

Christ will never leave or forsake us. He’s got our back and holds every tear we have ever cried.

All very very true.

pixabayYet …

He uses people like you and like me to step up and be the hand to hold, the shoulder to lean on, the ear that listens.

Like I’m fond of saying right along with the Apostle Paul, comfort as we’ve been comforted.

Do you find it easy to share your experiences so others may be comforted, or be honest so you can be comforted?

Why or why not?

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All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Please Pray for Casting Crowns’ Mark Hall

Mark Hall

By Sandy Kirby Quandt

Friends, I’ve just been made aware lead singer with Casting Crowns, Mark Hall, will have surgery March 11th, 2015 to remove his right kidney due to a solid mass presumed to be cancerous.

Please lift Mark, his family, and Casting Crowns up to the Great Physician for peace, comfort and complete healing. Thanks.

Quoting from his announcement that he released on the group’s Facebook page, the singer states,

 

“Hey Casting Crowns Family, I would appreciate your prayers.

Doctors found a solid mass in my right kidney about a week ago. They are 90% sure it’s cancer and they are going to remove the entire kidney next Wednesday, March 11th. They believe the cancer is contained in the kidney, which is also a great hope. They will know more once it is out and Pathology can see it.

I’ll be in recovery for a month or a little longer because of the surgery. Please pray for healing and for God’s peace for my family.

Praising Him in This Storm,
Mark Hall”

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With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine. To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 (NCV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The Real Time-traveler

By Sandy Kirby Quandt

Earlier this month, Pilot and I did something we’d never done before. We donned goggles and other attire recognized as Steampunk and attended Dickens on the Strand in Galveston, Texas. Actually, the outfit I wore except for the goggles, pistol, and sonic screwdriver, was made up of clothes that hang in my closet for everyday use. Our attire was tame compared to some.

Dickens on the Strand is an annual event which allows people to dress up in all sorts of costumes. There were characters from the Victorian era of Charles Dickens. Pirates due to Galveston’s association with Jean Lafitte. And Steampunkers for reasons I do not yet understand.

Among the crowd there were also Cowboys, American Civil War soldiers and Antebellum Belles. British Bobbies and 1880s British Indian Army soldiers. Queen Victoria, Bagpipers, a Town Crier. Plus lots of corsets and top hats.

One unexpected delight was coming upon a replica of Doctor Who’s TARDIS. Time And Relative Dimension In Space time machine and space craft all in one. Of course, this blue Police Box was nothing like the real thing once you stepped inside.

Where were the gears? Where were the levers? Where were the whirling sounds and pulsing lights?

In the BBC television show, when the Doctor travels in the TARDIS he comes up against numerous fearsome enemies set on destroying him. Fortunately, he has the ability to regenerate when his body is mortally damaged, taking on a new appearance and personality as needed.

Thinking about the time-traveling humanoid-alien Time Lord Doctor, who travels with various companions and faces a variety of menacing foes while working to save civilization, help innocent people, and right wrongs, set my mind to wandering, as is sometimes its way.

Earth to Sandy…what has this got to do with your usual Christian devotional posts of encouragement? Have you been out in the sun too long? Did you get zapped with the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver? Were your goggles a bit too tight?

Stick with me. I’m getting there.

I believe the Doctor has relevance to what I usually post.

Let me explain…

As a believer in the Resurrected Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I see Jesus as the ultimate time-traveler who descended to this earth, traveled with an assortment of companions, helped innocent people, set wrongs right, paid the penalty we owed to the point of his own death to save humanity, rose victoriously from the grave, ascended into heaven, and will return for us one day.

The Great I AM who was, and is, and is to come, King of kings and LORD of lords is not bound by time as we mortals are. He has conquered hell, sin, Satan, and death. Yes!

If those aren’t fearsome enemies, I don’t know what is.

Jesus is the Great Physician. He’s no made-up science fiction time-traveling humanoid-alien Time Lord Doctor. He’s the real deal.

Can I get an amen?

Now if I could just find an excuse to wear Elsa’s Frozen costume…and could actually fit inside it…

Anyone else out there like to dress up? Steampunk or otherwise?

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.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end, says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.” Revelation 1:8 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Different Phases of Life

bing imagesOne of Jesus’ parables spoke of seed that fell on four different types of soil. Hard, rocky, thorny, and good soil. The seed represented the word of God.

bing imagesThe hard soil represented those who heard the word of God, but had it snatched away by Satan.

bing imagesThe rocky soil was those who heard, received the word with joy, but fell away as soon as things got tough.

bing imagesThe thorny soil was those who heard but allowed the things of life to crowd out God’s message.

bing imagesThe good soil was those who heard the Good News of Jesus, and produced an abundant crop for the Lord.

Like me, you may be familiar with this parable. Recently, however, I read a devotion that added a new dimension to how I viewed this teaching. Let me explain.

The writer of the Life Application Daily Devotion suggested possibly the four types of soil could be different times or phases in a person’s life. Or how we willingly receive God’s message into some areas of our lives, but resist applying it to all areas.

bing imagesMaybe there are hard areas where Satan knows he can win victories, even though the rest of our lives show we belong to God.

bing imagesMaybe there are rocky areas where our roots have dug down deep in the knowledge of scripture, but shallow in applying it in our lives.

bing imagesMaybe there are thorny areas where we elevate and pursue things that pull us from complete devotion to serving Jesus.

Something for us to examine and consider, wouldn’t you agree?

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.

Then he continued, “Do you really not understand this parable? Then how are you going to understand all the other parables? The man who sows, sows the message. As for those who are by the roadside where the message is sown, as soon as they hear it Satan comes at once and takes away what has been sown in their minds. Similarly, the seed sown among the rocks represents those who hear the message without hesitation and accept it joyfully. But they have no real roots and do not last—when trouble or persecution arises because of the message, they give up their faith at once. Then there are the seeds which were sown among thorn-bushes. These are the people who hear the message, but the worries of this world and the false glamour of riches and all sorts of other ambitions creep in and choke the life out of what they have heard, and it produces no crop in their lives. As for the seed sown on good soil, this means the men who hear the message and accept it and do produce a crop—thirty, sixty, even a hundred times as much as they received.” Mark 4:13-20 (Phillips)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Surrender

By Sandy Kirby Quandt

During one particularly stressful year of teaching, I developed an unhealthy habit of eating Tootsie Roll Midgees. Not just one or two pieces at a time…one or two HANDFULS.

It was mindless munching in a failed attempt to ease the never-ending pressure of too many demands and not enough time.

As was my habit, I sat in my classroom long after the students and everyone except the janitorial staff had left the school, trying to find ways to help my students grasp essential concepts.

One of my sweet co-teachers stepped into my room and spied the pile of discarded candy wrappers next to the pile of uneaten candy on my desk.

I offered Paula several Tootsie Rolls as I continued to unwrap and pop the remainder into my mouth with record speed.

“What are you doing?”

“Going over these math scores again. Susan’s not happy with the results,” I said between bites.

“No. What are you doing eating all this candy?”

“Stress.”

Paula held out her hands. I gave her another piece of candy. She shook her head.

“I’m here to save you from yourself. Give me all the candy.”

I looked at my friend, then back to my desk. I willingly scooped up the Tootsie Rolls and handed them to her. She must have been suspicious regarding my lack of resistance.

“Any more?”

After a moment, I opened my desk drawer and pulled out a sandwich sized baggie.

Paula smiled.

I sat for a moment. Then I walked to the closet. From there I pulled out a half-full bag of that chocolatey delight. It wasn’t just a small sized bag. Nope. This was one of the mega sized bags you need two arms to carry.

Paula’s eyes grew big as I sheepishly handed over my stash.

“Do you have any more?” I doubt she really believed I did.

When I walked to the front of the classroom and opened up the file cabinet, we both started laughing.

Paula wiped tears from her eyes as I handed over another 720 piece bag.

After all these years that moment in time is as fresh as if it just happened. But I’d like to explore the concept of surrendering all my Tootsie Rolls to what Jesus asks us to do.

Jesus asks us to surrender everything to him. Not just the candy on our desk that people see, but also the candy we’ve hidden away hoping no one will discover it.

We are asked to surrender our time. Our resources. Our talent.

We are asked to surrender our families. Our health. Our jobs.

Our hurts, scars, addictions…

We are asked to surrender our hopes, dreams, ambitions, wants, desires…all so we can become the person God created us to be.

It is my belief that as Paula stood in my classroom with her hand outstretched to receive all the Tootsie Rolls I’d stashed away to save me from myself, Jesus holds out his hand to save us, as well.

Jesus wants us to lay it all down. Hand it over to him and pick up only what he wants us to pick up in his perfect timing.

I survived the year, and even though Paula promised she’d hold onto my candy and dole it out a little at a time if I needed it, I realized those Midgees really weren’t what was going to get me through the stress of that year.

Jesus was.

And he did.

Dealing with stressful situations? Surrender them to Jesus.

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.

So give yourselves completely to God. Stand against the devil, and the devil will run from you. James 4:7 (NCV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Deep Roots Support Our Limbs

bing imagesBy Sandy Kirby Quandt

I’ve just finished reading Casting Crowns’ lead singer, Mark Hall’s book, Thrive. Great book!

In his book, Mark talks about an enormous oak tree in Alabama. He explains that the invisible roots that support everything going on above ground are as massive as the visible limbs that we are able to see.

He compares the tree to us.

We need deep roots to support our limbs. We need to dig deep into the Bible to learn how we should live, but we need to move from merely studying. bingWe need to reach out our limbs to help others, and apply the knowledge we gain by allowing God to use us.

Mark says we were made to thrive, not just survive. He writes that the only way to thrive is to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

To do that, we have to study who the Bible says God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are, and who we are in relation to them.

It is our personal relationship with Jesus that defines us. Not our parents’ relationship. Not our siblings’ relationship. Nor our neighbors’ relationship. But OUR relationship.

In writing this book, Mark’s goal is for us to realize a relationship with Christ doesn’t happen just because we sit in a church. Or because our family did. We have to make the commitment to continue to grow in our own personal relationship. That’s the roots.

Strong roots support the tree during life’s storms.

When I was a pre-schooler living in Norfolk, Virginia, a hurricane uprooted a huge Weeping Willow tree in our back yard and sent it crashing through the back porch, and through part of my bedroom. That tree looked healthy on the outside, but  underneath, it’s roots were shallow.

We can look like we’re living the life God wants us to live with all the busy-ness of “good works” we’re involved in, but if we haven’t dug our roots deep into the Bible, we’re apt to topple over when the storms hit. Just like that Weeping Willow in my backyard.

On the other hand, we can spend all our time studying, studying, studying, digging those deep roots, and never bing imagesreach out and apply what we’re learning to help others.

That’s what a friend of mine calls a stinky sponge. You know, the sponge that has soaked up the water and is left to sit on the counter without being used.

If the water is never squeezed out, that sponge is going to stink.

Let’s not be a stinky sponge. Let’s dig our roots deep into the Word of God, and then squeeze it out through our limbs of outreach to others.

Leave your comments below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow evil men’s advice, who do not hang around with sinners, scoffing at the things of God. But they delight in doing everything God wants them to, and day and night are always meditating on his laws and thinking about ways to follow him more closely. They are like trees along a riverbank bearing luscious fruit each season without fail. Their leaves shall never wither, and all they do shall prosper. Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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