Sunset June 28, 2022

Sunset. Bluebird on top of pine tree. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn.

Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
(Psalm 46:10 ESV)

Lord God, in the midst of the chaos and uncertainty, help us to pause and meditate on You. Lord God, may we not let the sun go down on our anger. Lord God, may Your peace prevail in Your peoples lives, even when the storms and trials rage.

Lord God, may Your people love You and desire You more each day. May Your people be reminded that You will vindicate Yourself; You do not ask Your people to take vengeance into our own hands.

Lord God, as I pray sitting around the fire, I ask that You will remind us that the judgment that is coming will reveal our our hearts and actions. Lord You are an all consuming fire, may we never take Your grace and mercy for granted. Praise You Jesus that one day all the nations will bow before You.

Thank You Lord for this reader. May the glow of the sun and fire point this reader to the True Son, the One who paid it all. Lord, what a gift it is to have people to pray for! Even when we may be annoyed or agitated, thank You Lord for the opportunity to commune with You in prayer and interceding for others. Bless this reader as only You can. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn
Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn
Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn
Praying for y’all! Photo taken by Nathan Quinn.

Why do I write?!

Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

“Why do we write” is topic for the week in my Excellence in Theological Writing class. Since there is no self-reflection question as to why I write, I find it necessary to share why I write with y’all!

In the event y’all cannot read my handwriting (I have NEVER had good penmanship either too small or too sloppy) my immediate answer was:

“I write for God, for the people who believe in me and for myself. I write to encourage others to love Jesus, to know Jesus and to make Him known to others. I write in accordance to Hebrews 10:24 which says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (ESV). I take this call seriously. Everyone likes to receive mail that isn’t junk or bills. I write to glorify God, it is my ultimate form of worship!”

[As to the thought of me writing for God, those who believe in me and for myself; I have recited that for every seminary paper I have ever written. Why? As a way to remind to myself that I have done my best and that I have learned through the researching and writing process regardless of my grade. In essence, I am always reminding myself why I write. If why and who I am writing ever changes, I know something has drastically gone wrong!]

I write (and take pictures) every chance I get. From journaling, to sending prayer texts and emails, to research papers, to blog posts, to sending handwritten cards via snail mail, I love (and live) to write! Other than cards from ex-boyfriends (they were happily discarded to the trash!) I have saved every card I have ever received since middle school.

I have journaled almost every day since 2006. My mom always asks me, “what will you do with those?!” My hope and prayer is that people will read them and see how the Lord worked in my life. They will read my personal prayers, my triumphs and some bitter struggles. Yes, I have written VERY unkind things about people in my journal; however, I do mention in later dates how I was wrong for what I said! I do not cross out those entries because they are real.

For those who never read, “What is a Blue Collar Theologian?” the one thing I strive to be above all else is real, authentic and genuine. Meeting people right where they are. While I get it wrong ALL the time, I praise God for the opportunity to write and to leave pieces of Mandy flair wherever I go. I pray that I am doing so in a manner that points people to jesus more often than not! My professor for this class defines writing as, “marking the world with our presence.” May our presence (communication) glorify God, encourage believers and point the lost to Christ.

For anyone willing to share, I would love to hear your why you write!

Lord God, thank You and praise You that You created and know intimately every language that will ever be written or spoken! Thank You Lord that You bound communication in history and that You love and value words and history even when the people on the earth do not. Lord God, may we never diminish the gift of writing. May we never diminish how You have preserved Your Word through each generation. Lord God, may we impress on our young people today the importance of reading and writing (as well as history). Lord God, thank You for this reader! Thank You Lord for allowing us to live in the digital age where a written message has never before been able to be seen as quickly as it is today. Lord, with this privilege comes GREAT responsibility. Lord, may we use our words wisely on social media platforms! Thank You again Lord for this reader! May they take some time to write a prayer or praise to you and write a card or email for a loved one. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Fluffy snow and sunset 2/13/2022

Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn
Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn
Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn
Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn
Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

Lord God, thank You for today. Thank You Holy Trinity that You are intimately involved with Your Creation! Thank You Lord that for those of us who are in Christ we are no longer covered in sin and hell bound, but are a people alive with hope and purpose. Lord God, help us this week to live more for You. Help us to be more like Jesus. Lord God, stir our hearts to share Jesus while there is still time.

Lord God, thank You for this reader. May this reader take comfort and courage in You. May this reader be refreshed by Your Word and renewed knowing there is nowhere they can go that is out of Your grasp. Thank You and praise You Lord for this reader. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Anxious and Excited

So, I graduated from LBC/Capital Seminary and Graduate School summa cum laude (4.0 GPA) with a Masters degree in Biblical Studies (MABS). I do NOT share this to brag or puff up myself! I share this because the reality of returning to Seminary is getting ever closer, and is causing me to be anxious and excited!

While I want to work very hard at Westminster, I do NOT want this program to consume my life in the same way that my MABS program did. When I first started thinking about Seminary Nathan’s only concern was would I go into crazy mode like last time?! In fairness, I met Nathan halfway through the program. By the time I met Nathan I had a routine; and well, I do not deal well with routine changes. I am praying I will be better and do better with changes this time around!

Last night, new students in the MAR and MDiv programs had a meet and greet zoom conference. I was really encouraged to hear one of the current student’s say that he allots a certain amount of time per assignment and that he aims for good grades but not excellent grades. He accepts he has done the best he can with the amount of time that he has. Don’t get me wrong, he would like excellent grades, but he doesn’t want to sacrifice time with his family and ministry to achieve said goal.

I pray to be like this! I hope you will all hold me accountable. I hope that if I go for a prolonged period of time without posting that y’all will email me or leave a comment reminding me that it is more important that I worship God through my studies and other activities that God has for me more than only worshiping God through school and what grade I get. I do not want school nor grades to become a stumbling block/idol.

I have perfectionistic tendencies and so I can get very frustrated very quickly. And when that happens, I usually take my frustrations out on Nathan, my mom, my dad and yes, even PQ. I do not like this about myself. It is ugly and it is nasty. Praise God there will be a day when believers in Christ no longer have to contend with their sin nature!

So, why am I returning to Seminary?! Because I miss, need and love the challenge! I am attending Seminary to learn more about Jesus so that I can love Him more. I want to work hard for God, for those who believe in me and for myself.

I am thankful for this new experience. I pray to not compare it to my last experience. I pray that I will NEVER allow my studies to replace or become my quiet time. I praise God for the opportunity to learn online with other likeminded men and women. I praise God for how He will use me and I am genuinely confident that He will.

Thank you reader for all the support you have shown me! I pray that my Seminary experience will help me to be a better writer and communicator with y’all. I am humbled and grateful for every comment that y’all take the time to write me. It is a joy and an honor to pray for you through this outlet. Thank you all for praying for me too! Lots of love, hugs and blessings!

Lord God, thank You for this new journey, this new beginning! Lord God, prepare me for my classes now so that I won’t panic later! Lord God, help Your people to be content. Help us to not be frustrated and angry. Lord God, for the reader that does not know Christ may today be day their day of salvation. Lord God, may our work, regardless of the kind and type be done in a manner that honors, pleases and glorifies You! Thank You Father for this reader! Lead and guide this reader today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

LA Reflections

Camellia. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

In less than 2.5 hours I will be heading to airport to begin my journey home (this time I will fly from LAX to Charlotte and from there fly to Harrisburg). This has been an incredible five days. I have experienced more love, hospitality and joy than I ever imagined! I came to love and serve and instead I was loved and served.

I am so thankful for the youth that I was able to meet on Sunday at church! That was an emotional moment! For the past year I have prayed for these young people and participated in online study with them and now I was able to give them a hug in the flesh! Thank you Jesus! This whole experience reminds me the church is so much more than we realize. There is our local church and then there is the worldwide church. Praise God there will be a day where believers are united in Heaven!

It was really fantastic to meet some of the guys who are in the Tuesday night Bible study. What a joy when God’s people are able to rejoice and worship together in person! I never want it to be far from my mind that this life is not about me, my wants and my desires, it is about Christ and loving others well.

What I have learned the most is how amazing Nancy is. I knew she had a heart of gold and served her family well, but wow, I want to be more like Nancy because Nancy exudes Christ and grace.

It was beautiful for me to see how much this family loves each other. And it wasn’t fake because there was a guest, it is a lifestyle for them. I know that God will help me reflect more on my time here throughout this week.

I am ready to see Nathan and PQ. God in His Sovereignty allowed me to have this experience as well as allowing me to have this week off before starting classes online at Westminster next Monday February 7, 2022.

It is my heartfelt prayer that we will all meditate this week on the fact that “faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13 ESV).

Lord God, thank You and praise You for this time. Thank You for the opportunity to love and be loved. Lord God, may Your people love You and others well this week. Lord God, help us to grow in extending forgiveness, grace, mercy and love. Help us to be a genuine light in this dark world. Help us to put You and others first. Lord God, prepare us to live for You even though it may be costly. Thank You Lord for this reader. Thank You Lord for Jimmy and his family! Bless Jimmy, Nancy and kiddos for the love and kindness they have shown me. In Jesus’s Name I pray.

Thankful and Grateful: Reflections on 2021

“Reflections.” Raystown Lake, 16 October 2021. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn.

2021 has been full of personal failures, struggles, joys and growth. I will freely and humbly admit that this past year was the worst year that I can remember in terms of my daily Bible reading. While many people are encouraged and strengthened by reading from different portions of the Bible daily, that is not for me. I have learned that I am a person who needs a chronological or book by book reading plan! My reading plan for 2022 will follow the order of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) and the canonical order of the New Testament.

The last few weeks of 2021 I have really resonated with the Apostle Paul’s statement, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Rom 7:19 ESV). I hate and despise how much time I spend looking at newsfeed headlines. I am not nor will I ever be a gambler/slot machine player; however, I have allowed my brain to be rewired to crave updated news headlines. I realize how ridiculous and pathetic this sounds but it is absolutely true. I absolutely hate how much time and effort I give to reading things that have very little earthly value. I despise how I allow myself to tune out Nathan, my mom and others because I am on my electronic device.

There are times when PQ (my cavapoo puppy) wants to play and I do not want to be bothered because I am scrolling through newsfeeds (praise God I have my notifications turned off or it would be even worse!). This grieves my heart more than you will know! I know what the right thing to do is but the minute I have down time, if I am not on guard, my rewired brain literally searches random stuff online. I am thankful and grateful that the Holy Spirit is working on me in this area. I welcome accountability from y’all so never hesitate to ask me how I am doing in this area. I cannot stress this enough: if anyone ever thinks that I have it all together, I assure you that is a lie from the pit of hell!

2021 has been a year with a lot of firsts. On January 2, 2022 Nathan and I will be married four years and this was the first full year where we were not moving. Praise God! I can honestly say having an established residence did not prevent Nathan and I from having some serious disagreements. In all my relationships I need to be quicker to listen, slower to speak and MUCH slower to anger and frustration. I pray that in 2022 I will learn to be a more godly wife, daughter, aunt, niece, friend, mentor, blogger, teacher etc.

I am thankful and grateful to God for the church family that He has given us at Faith Bible Fellowship Church. I am so thankful that God has provided us with a church that teaches sound doctrine! It has been a massive joy to share with the youth at TCAC as well as being a part of their Tuesday night Bible Study. I am so thankful and grateful for sound churches who are rightly teaching the Word of God!

While my personal reading was not as great as previous years, I am thankful for the community God has given me with likeminded believers! I am thankful for Alan, Jimmy and Michael for allowing me to guest blog for them. I am thankful and grateful for the opportunity to connect with many bloggers outside of WordPress (whether through email, Skype, text, zoom). I love each one of you and I cannot thank you enough for your love, prayer and care toward me and my family!

After I wrote “Authority of Scripture” it seemed fitting that the Lord would lead me to write on Psalm 119. I am humbled and awed by the love and support y’all showed me through this endeavor. I am so thankful and grateful for all the love and responses y’all had to my variety of posts this year from Bible posts, prayer posts, life application fishing posts etc. Thank you so much for traveling with me!

2021 was the first time in five years where I was not in Seminary. After taking the last year off and really praying about where God wants me, in October 2021 I applied to Westminster Theological Seminary. Praise the Lord I was accepted! February 7, 2022 I will begin their Master of Arts in Religion degree. I am really excited about this. God has used 2021 to refresh and revive my love for Academic studies.

At the end of the day (or year), even with everything that is happening around us, I am thankful and I am grateful. I am thankful for all the people the Lord has placed in my life. I am so thankful and grateful for all the time I was able to spend with Nathan, my mom, dad, brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew. I am thankful for the time I was able to spend with friends this year. I am thankful and grateful to all those who love, support, encourage and believe in me. I am thankful and grateful that I am a sinner saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I am thankful and grateful for each person who reads this blog. I am thankful, humbled and grateful for each person who takes the time to comment. I am always thanking God for each person who reads this blog. I know first hand how much stuff is online and competing for our attention. Thank you for taking the time to do life with me in 2021 and I look forward to what God has for us in 2022! Lots of love and blessings!

Father God, thank You and praise You that You are Sovereign over each and every moment. Lord God, thank You for each reader and each unique experience You allowed them to have this year. Lord God, 2021 has been a year unlike any other. Prepare us Lord for 2022. Help us to take the time to reflect on 2021 and to learn from our mistakes. Help us to continue to grow in our love for You and Your Word. Lord God, thank You and praise You for this reader! Lord God, thank You for all that You are doing in the lives of Your people all over the world. Lord God, help us to endure and persevere. Help us to reflect on Your Goodness, Kindness, Grace, Forgiveness and Mercy to us over the past year. Thank You Lord for this reader and prepare all of us for what we will face in 2022. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.