Leave Worries Behind

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

In the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus told his listeners to leave their worries behind and trust God instead. He gives us the same invitation today.

Jesus tells us not to worry about things; food, drink, clothes, and I might add computer issues. He asks if by worrying we can increase our lives by an hour.

No.

But the stress of worry can sure steal our enjoyment of life from us.

If I’m truly honest with myself, it seems the root of all my worries is a lack of faith in God’s ability to solve whatever problem I’m encountering at the moment.

All throughout the Bible we read of people God forced out of their comfort zones into a place of total dependence on him before he could use them.

Abraham. Moses. Joshua. Rahab. Ruth. David. The list goes on and on and on.

We know God has the power to overcome any obstacle we face. We absolutely know it. Putting that faith into practice and stepping into the unknown is where the true test comes.

Jesus reminds us if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for us?

He continues by saying our heavenly Father already knows all our needs before we even ask.

We are told to seek the Kingdom of God above everything else and live righteously.

Then God in his wonderful mercy and grace will give us everything we need.

Everything we need, not necessarily everything we want.

Do you have any trouble leaving worries behind?

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

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:34 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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In memory of Rich Mullins’ life and untimely death September 19, 1997, here’s his song, Hold Me Jesus.

Opposition

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Last month I mentioned how excited I was about our new gardenia bush.

Everyday after Pilot planted it I walked outside and admired the bush. It was lovely with several blooms and additional buds ready to burst forth.

I smiled with joy as I envisioned how grand it would be to watch this small plant grow into a large bush. I looked forward to placing vases of fresh gardenias throughout the house.

Until ..

Our weather decided to spike into triple digits and the clouds refused to send rain. After being flooded in May, our area plunged into a drought reminiscent of one several years ago.

As I watered my struggling gardenia bush each day in the cloudless 100-degree-plus heat, I watched the buds die and the blooms turn brown. Scorched leaves shriveled.

Thankfully, the past few days our yard has received much-needed rain and the temperatures have dropped to the upper 80s.

On my morning inspection of the dying gardenia today I noticed hope. Tucked close to the branches of the tree spots of green shone through the brown.

It reminded me of the times I’ve faced opposition in this life. I start out strong, confident what I’m doing is what God wants me to do. Then Satan applies pressure.

He sends scorching heat and dries up refreshing rain. He does his very best to kill the blooms God’s planted in my heart and shrivel the buds yet to flourish.

He steals the dreams. The hopes. The enthusiasm. The fruit of our labor.

Jesus told us in this world there will be trouble. But he also told us he has defeated this world.

Praise, God!

Just as with my gardenia bush, there is hope when things in our lives seem to shrivel and die.

When we keep holding onto Jesus’ hand, a small spot of green sprouts and refuses to die. Evidence the battle isn’t over.

Once again I look forward to filling the house with the sweet fragrance of gardenia flowers.

It may not be this year, but I wait in expectation for next year.

Have you stepped out to do something you believe God has called you to only to be faced with opposition? How did you push past it and complete the good work you were called to?

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

“I told you these things so that you can have peace in me. In this world you will have trouble, but be brave! I have defeated the world.” John 16:33 (NCV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The Discipline of Exercise

bingby Sandy Kirby Quandt

Exercise. Discipline. Hard work.

Friend or foe? Embrace it or shun it? Push through or give up?

Although I’ve been rather disciplined through the years with exercising daily…walking or riding a bike…one thing I let fall by the wayside was strength training. Something I used to do three times a week for years disappeared from my to-do list.

Excuses for not getting to the weight bench were numerous. I didn’t have time. Didn’t feel like it. Too tired. Not motivated. Didn’t care. But the truth is, I was no longer disciplined.

Maybe you can relate?

Well, at the last visit with my primary care physician, she told me I needed to add weight training to my list of activities to strengthen the weak muscles in my back. I whined. She smiled and patted my shoulder.

bingIt’s been several months since that visit, and I finally got myself to the garage and began the familiar routine of lifting weights three times a week. I believe it is true that our muscles have memory. The process was not too difficult nor overly time consuming.

Of course, a couple days after I started I had some sore muscles, but took that as a sign there was hope the flab could be eradicated. Yea!

This morning as I counted off reps, I thought about how we sometimes make excuses for not exercising our spiritual muscles. We’re content to have flabby arms, rolls of fat around our waistlines, and blubber under our shirts. That’s how God made us, after all, we tell ourselves. More of me to love…

We don’t have time to open our Bibles. We don’t feel like praying. We’re too tired to go to bingchurch. We just aren’t motivated. And if we’re truly honest with ourselves, sometimes we simple do not care.

Ouch.

When I got back to my weight bench I didn’t go full throttle. I knew that would only discourage me because too much time had passed since I could complete X amount of repetitions with Y amount of weight successfully. I began at a comfortable level, determined to increase as time goes by. (That sounds like a great title for a song in a WWII movie set in Casablanca. 😉 )

Want to read the Bible every single day but feel overwhelmed? Try reading one verse a day and build up from there. You could sign up for an on-line devotional to be sent to your in box. Here are a couple to get you going if you’re interested. There are many more out there, but this is a start.

Been awhile since you spent time talking with God in prayer? You don’t have to be a theologian to pray. Just tell God what’s on your heart in your own words.

Make the effort to find a group of believers who you enjoy spending time worshiping God with every week. The kind of place where you’d like to invite your friends to join you.

bible studyGet involved with a Bible study group. One I highly recommend is Bible Study Fellowship. Yes. BSF is intense. Yes. It requires effort. Yes. You have to do your lesson, but you know what? The benefit of disciplining ourselves to study God’s word is more than worth it. BSF is international so odds are, a class meets in your area.

The discipline of exercise, whether it be to improve our physical or spiritual muscles, is beneficial to our overall well being.

What do you do to exercise both your physical and spiritual muscles?

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.

No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Hebrews 12:11-12 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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No Fairy Tale

By 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 and 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.

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 his 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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The Farther We Get Off the Path

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.

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.

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.”

The 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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Thanksgiving, Not Just A Once A Year Thing

By Sandy Kirby Quandt

Here in the United States, today is the day set aside as a day of Thanksgiving.  All through the Bible we read of times of praise and thanksgiving. Not just once a year. It was a continual occurrence. I believe the same should hold true for us. I believe we should have thankful hearts every single day of the year.

During the time of King David, the sacred Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines. When it was returned to the Tabernacle, David wrote a song of thanksgiving to the LORD.

On that day David gave to Asaph and his fellow Levites this song of thanksgiving to the LordGive thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds. Exult in his holy name; rejoice, you who worship the Lord. 1 Chronicles 16:7-10 (NLT)

Many of David’s psalms expressed his gratitude to God for who God was, and what he had done.

 Oh, how grateful and thankful I am to the Lord because he is so good. I will sing praise to the name of the Lord who is above all lords. Psalm 7:17 (TLB)

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul eloquently expressed how grateful we should be for the victory we have over death because of Jesus’ victory over death.

 So when this takes place, and the mortal has been changed into the immortal, then the scripture will come true: “Death is destroyed; victory is complete!”

 “Where, Death, is your victory?
Where, Death, is your power to hurt?”

Death gets its power to hurt from sin, and sin gets its power from the Law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (GNT)

Finally, Paul again tells us to be thankful … all the time. Even when we are going through tough times.

Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (CEV)

What do you think?

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 wish you well.

Sandy

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Serendipity

Pilot and I were in the living room recently, when I glanced at the ceiling.

“Wilma Flintstone’s on the ceiling,” I said. Pilot put down his book, and looked at me.

“What?”

“Wilma Flintstone’s on the ceiling.”

Okay. I was not eating weird mushrooms. Honestly. I avoid fungi. Pilot moved next to me and held my hand. He looked in my eyes.

“Don’t worry. I’m not crazy. Look.” I pointed to the ceiling. Sure enough. Wilma was staring back.

Our ceiling is textured. While I am sure the person who applied the plaster did not intentionally put Wilma there, there she was, nonetheless.

Once Pilot was convinced I had not crossed over into a land far, far away, we searched our ceiling for other identifiable shapes. Just like you might look for formations in cloud banks. We found a whale. Yogi Bear’s bud, Boo-Boo. Mickey’s friend, Goofy. I saw Barbra Streisand in her permed hair days, but Pilot couldn’t see it, so it didn’t count.

Those swirls and curly-qs have been on our ceiling for decades, but we had never noticed them before. We had to be intentional about finding things we could identify. We had to look for them. How many times does God place things, people, situations, in our path, but we walk right passed them? Oblivious?

It could be someone God wants us to interact with. It could be something He wants us to benefit from being a part of. It could simply be a joy He intends to bless us with. But if we don’t have our eyes open, aren’t looking, watching, expecting, we’ll miss it.

We’ll only see the dust on the ceiling fan, and miss Wilma.

Sometimes we find God’s magnificence unexpectedly. Serendipitously. Like the evening

last month, when I looked up, for no particular reason, and discovered Jupiter cozying up to the Moon. Conjunction, astronomers call it. Serendipity, I call it. We’ll have to wait until 2026 for these two heavenly bodies to be so close again.

While searching for a Rich Mullins video for a past blog post, I stumbled upon this video of him doing the cup game to Screen Door. Way cool. But if I hadn’t had my eyes open, I would have missed it.

Faith without works is like a song you can’t sing. It’s about as useless as a screen door on a submarine.

Keep your eyes open. You never know when serendipity, a happy accident or pleasant surprise; specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful while not specifically searching for it, will happen.

What serendipitous joys have you stumbled upon lately?

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Ever on the Level

Among the variety of things that bug me, are un-level wall hangings. Pictures. Mirrors. Plaques. Whatevers. I can’t help it. I notice them everywhere I go.

When I see pictures in our house that need straightened, I must straighten them. Do you have any idea how much restraint it takes not to reach out and straighten things in others’ homes or offices? Especially all those crooked posters in doctor’s offices. Sigh. Although, I will admit, if I’m staying in your guest room, and something is crooked, I will straighten it.

There is an incident, from my teen years, that I doubt I’ll forget. Like many families, our family had a large painting on the wall behind the couch. When I walked into the living room one day, I told my father the picture was crooked.

He looked at the painting, and replied, “No, it isn’t.”

“Yes, it is.”

“No. It. Is. Not.”

“It is to-oo.”

I know…Bad, Sandy. You do not argue with your parents.

My dad left the room, and returned with his large, metal level. He placed the level on top of the picture frame. Dad looked at the level. He looked at me. Dad shook his head. Then he straightened the painting.

It was off by some miniscule amount, but I noticed. It was crooked. It needed to be fixed.

Cute story, but where am I going with this, right?

Well, just like it bothers me to see things hanging on a wall that are not level, I am sure it must bug God to look at our lives, and see them deviate, even by a miniscule amount, from his “level”. His truth.

We might look at ourselves and think we aren’t that bad. We’re only a little off-kilter. It isn’t that big a deal. No one will notice.

But God notices. It’s a big deal to him. So much so, he went to great extremes to make sure we had a way to get level. To get straight. To be pleasing to him, through our acceptance of His son, Jesus, as our Savior and Lord.

Maybe we’re un-level because our foundation’s cracked. Maybe we’re un-level because we’re lining ourselves up with those on the wall beside us. Maybe we’re un-level because we’ve been jarred by knocks we’ve taken, or because our frame is warped. Whatever the reason, the solution is to pull out God’s level – the Bible – read the directions, and measure ourselves against it. Then, and only then, will we be able to do what I often heard my dad say, “Straighten up, and fly right!”

So what bugs you? What’s that one irritating thing you have trouble looking passed? I’d love to hear what it is.

I wish you well,

Sandy

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