Dad Planted Acorns

Memories are a big part of what gets you through the days of inevitable grief when you lose a dear one to death. I’ve been amazed the past couple of days at how many times I’ve panicked thinking “Oh no. Who is taking care of Dad? Am I supposed to be there?” And then I remember the painful reality is that I will see his body tomorrow, but not HIM. I’ll have to wait a while to see the new “him.” When I do, I will know him and we will have forever to reminisce and catch up.

 

And then I go to the only place I can see him with clarity and detail–my memory bank. Here is one memory from 2010 about a “roasting” of my dad in his Prime-Timers group. I’m glad I wrote about it that night when I got home because, every time I read it, the sweet memory is newly etched in my heart. I know there are blessings all around and all 58 years that I’ve had my dad have been nothing but gifts. I know he is in glory. I know he is wholly healed.  In fact, I cannot understand why my heart hurts this week; I just know it does. I think God must give daughters who have good dads a special insight into what devotion to a father is like, so they can be all the more devoted in service to THE Father. I hope it can be true, in my case, anyway. 

Here’s a good memory from the archives. It was written during  my dad’s 88th year:

 

Tonight I went back to the fellowship hall of the congregation where I attended the first five years of my life for a get-together of those sixty-ish and above. My dad is eighty-seven, so he is definitely the senior member of the senior group. He sometimes talks about how it’s fun to go be with those people except “some of them are just really old.” He sometimes tells me on those Thursday nights that he’s going to meet with  the “Alzheimer’s group.”  Tonight Dad took pimiento and cheese sandwiches and egg salad sandwiches. His egg salad is the best ever.

It was really fun to visit with them tonight because it was the night they were having a surprise roast—sort of a mini “This is Your Life,” for Dad. Both of my sisters were able to make it and all of his grandchildren except for my two were also able to be there. We listened as Robert Whiten and Homer Smith said some funny things about my dad; some stories from when he was a kid like how he tore apart a Victrola when he was a small boy so he could see the tiny people inside who were singing; and some stories from now, when he’s old,  like how he accidentally microwaved his hearing aid in a bowl of jelly beans. There were some stories about his extreme frugality and some memories about his football and coaching days. There were a lot of things said that made me miss my mother and be really glad for the longevity of Daddy’s good life.

And then there was some serious stuff about how he had some good parenting ideas that somehow worked to make us all grow up to be Christians. There was a reading from Ephesians 6:4 about fathers training their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. There was a little history of the Jacksonville church; how that Daddy was one of the trustees when the property on which the building now sits was purchased back in the 1950s (he helped negotiate that deal); how that he led the singing on the first Sunday night in that old building. Someone in her sixties from the audience spoke up and said that he was her Sunday school teacher when she was a kid back in the old building that pre-dates the present location. Then someone pointed out that Daddy had planted 10 oak saplings in the churchyard back in 1959, when the property was newly purchased.

Now I’m sure that when Dad planted those trees, he didn’t think about how that his grandchildren would one day play under the shade of those trees. He didn’t think about the hiding places that those trees would afford kids in games of hide and seek. He probably didn’t think that one day the architects for the fellowship hall would give attention to the placement of one or two of those trees. He probably didn’t think about the preacher’s kids climbing them and tire swings perhaps hanging from them in the days when they provided shade for the preacher’s house that hadn’t even been built at that time but has now been removed. In fact, he probably planted those trees on a regular day, when he was thinking more about his job, his household budget, his wife and son, and the baby they were expecting (that would be me) and the new house he was buying about that time. He probably was sweating when he climbed back into his pick-up after digging those holes, unloading those little trees and packing the dirt back around them. He was probably thinking about supper that night, but not about a fellowship supper that might occur 50 years later at a VBS under the shade of a big tree you could no longer get your arms around.

Four of those trees remain today. They still make homes for birds and squirrels and they still make piles of leaves for kids in the fall…and they still make acorns which still hold the germ of life from that one acorn that first grew the sapling.

Well, I’m no philosopher, but it strikes me that there’s still a lot to be said for the ordinary life. It starts as something very unremarkable. My dad was just the son of a sharecropper. It just takes ordinary days … days of planting seeds; then days of dependence on God for the rain and the sunshine.  Mother and Daddy were given four tender hearts into which the Word of God could be planted. They did this, in the most natural ways through days that have all run together now– in conversations, in choosing faithful bodies of God’s people wherever we lived, and in sacrificially making Christian education possible for us. They did it in benevolent actions toward friendless people and in going out of our way to pick up children we invited to worship with us; children that sometimes didn’t smell good. They did it by always being at every visitation meeting, working the bus route to bring kids to church and then going to every assembly thirty minutes early so we could go pick up the kids who signed up to come. Of course that meant staying thirty minutes late to deliver them home, too. It meant taking our friends who were from un-churched homes to Woody’s Drive –In for ice cream after services. (You know, one of my girlfriends from childhood who had no mom at home is now faithful and married to a deacon in the church in Virginia Beach? We made lots of trip to her house to pick her up for services and I helped her get the baptismal robes on when she was baptized.) It meant teaching us to use those old Jule Miller filmstrips and providing the cookies when we did show them to our friends. It meant sending us up the street to pass out invitations every time we had a gospel meeting. It meant occasionally walking a couple of miles in the snow when we couldn’t get down the mountain on Sunday morning in a car. It just meant lots of different things that we thought were very ordinary. As a matter of fact, I’ve never really thought about my dad’s life as being anything out of the ordinary at all.  In fact, it really hasn’t been.

But God can use even the ordinary for His glory. He does it all the time. He took a little boy’s loaves and fishes, a widow’s mite, a shepherd’s rod, a few pitchers of water and, thankfully, a baby in a manger and provided what multitudes desperately needed. Whatever I have to give Him is surely meager. My time is so finite, my power so limited, my wisdom so irrelevant and my mortality so evident. But He can take my meager and make it mighty. He can take my finite and make it infinite. He can give my wisdom relevance and He clothes my mortality with immortality (I Corinthians 15:54).

I’m glad my mother and dad planted acorns on all those ordinary days—really glad.

 

Tomorrow will be another memory of an ordinary, although very difficult day. But one day…ahh, one day will be extraordinary.That trumpet will blow, we will rise and nothing will be ordinary ever again!

Sister to Sister: Are You Trying to Say “I Love You?”

Tonight in this hospital room, this daughter experienced a few very sweet moments. I will treasure them in memory whether my dad and I have lots of future sweet moments in time or not. As today has gone by, my Father who has said precious little, and only in in breathy, labored tones for several days, has become more and more alert. Mind you, what you might think is pretty much asleep all day was still more alert to those who have been keeping this vigil. 

Every time I see his eyes open, I try to go to his side and grab his hand. Tonight he grabbed right back. He even gave me his signature quick nod of recognition. 

Then I always think of everything I can talk about in his one ear that now has a hearing aid. (The other hearing aid was crushed on the floor of the ambulance—and that was another story as Sami chased the driver down and out of the building to try and find the missing hearing aid.) I talked about football. I talked about getting better. I talked about what I was eating and about breathing treatments. And then I told him I loved him. He slowly forced out the “I” and then put his very sore tongue to the roof of his very blistered mouth to make that “L” sound. 

I said “Are you trying to say “I love you?” 

“Yeah” he said. 

That’s all I needed to hear to be okay through this long night. Such a great little present for a this weary pilgrim. But that was not all. I asked him if he wanted me to read the Bible. This time I got a clear “Uh-huh.” 

Before the hospitalization, we’d been reading in Acts and we were ready for chapter seven, so I read the story of Joseph to Him as told by the first martyr, Stephen. I think I was reading so that all the staff out at the nurses station could probably hear. When I got to the resolution part about Jacob going down to Egypt, Dad just drifted back off to sleep.  

I’ll take it. A few minutes of communication is a great source of comfort in this very well-lit, bustling, but yet, very lonely room. It is the best one of today. There are a few lessons in every gift. Here are tonight’s five lessons. 

  1. “Yeah” is easier to say than “I love you.” . That’s true in just about every relationship. Short answer quizzes in families and friendships are just easier.  Sometimes in all kinds of life problems, we have to help each other say those three words. It’s always better, if someone’s having trouble saying them, to assume he means them till you know differently.
  2. You never know the value of healthy communication until you have to do without it. So don’t let days go by—days when you could be talking and sharing with the ones you love. Don’t let those days escape while you pout or exchange the silent treatment or engage in hurtful communication. Especially, don’t do this in your marriage. You will experience deep regret.
  3. Only the people you’ve really loved with agape can appreciate fully the three words when you say them. See, Daddy did not love me just enough to share some material blessing with me (although he certainly worked hard to do that). He did not just love me enough to put up with my inadequacies (although he surely was in the next room during the messy, late- night-studying, bathroom-hogging teen years). He did not just love me enough to build things in the wood shop for Christmas (although there was the doll bed and the cabinet for my tea set during the sixties and the wooden purse, stilts and shuffle board game of the seventies and the marble mazes and rocking horses and graduation banks for grandchildren of the eighties). He, along with my mother, who was also sharing and making and building, loved me enough to give their lives for me, if needed. They loved me enough to pray about inadequacies and to correct them. They loved me enough to build more than toys and purses. They loved me enough to build character. That’s the most enduring home-made gift.
  4. There’s something very ironic about the goal. Heaven is THE goal. Ironically, God has placed in us a very strong desire to keep our loved ones here with us rather than to be completely willing to have them go and be with the Lord. I cannot fully explain that fierce desire to preserve and protect feeble life. But I know it is right to have it. It is right to protect and preserve life, because that defense is innately built into the moral compass of people of conscience. One has to be trained to devalue life. It is not the natural affection of Romans 1: 31 and 2 Timothy 3:3. So I grab that hand and it’s the best when he grabs it right back.
  5. There’s great comfort—always, in all ways— in the Word. There’s an amazing example, for instance, of the application of Romans 8:28 in that ancient account of Joseph in Egypt. We get to look at how a faithful person perseveres when there are family members who are spiteful or friends who falsely accuse or forget about the good things we do for them. We get to see, up-close and personally, how the  faithful react to both poverty and riches. Sometimes, when we are weary, there’s so much comfort that we can go right off to a deep and peaceful sleep while reading the Word. I think I can maybe even do that tonight…right here in this chair. 

Mama’s K.I.S.S. #50–“Would You Like to Study?”

As you know, if you’ve been reading, for quite some time, I’ve occasionally been running little installments called “Mama’s K.I.S.S.” I know that lots of readers could give many more and far more creative ideas than I can offer, but these installments are just a few tried and true and mostly old-fashioned ideas for putting service hearts in our kids.  This is number 50 of a list of one hundred ways we train our kids to serve. K.I.S.S. is an acronym for “Kids In Service Suggestions”. Wow! we are halfway there!

This is our current “Would you like to study?” card. It’s what I give to the cashier or the attendant or the nurse or the person beside me in waiting rooms or trains. It’s what I put in a book for a person I’ve met in my dad’s rehab or at his favorite restaurant, Waffle House. It’s just a handy little tool that almost always goes along with the verbal question “If you’d ever like to study the Bible, I’m all about that!”

It’s ten times more precious to most people, though, if you’ve trained your child to hand these to people with whom you are conversing or doing business. It’s a boost for an adult to have a young child look her squarely in the eyes and say “We love to study the Bible. Do you want to study with us?”  Children are braver, more persuasive and thousands times cuter.

The big bonus is you’re growing brave evangelistic adults. If your child waits till age 30 and decides to try and become evangelistic in a Fishers of Men class or a a visitation team, he can be very successful for the next forty or fifty years. But twenty-five valuable years of evangelism training has already bypassed him. Likely some soul that could have been reached has been hurled into eternity unprepared. Maybe most tragic is the fact that the bravery for adult evangelism has not been planted, cultivated, and developed. It’s just harder to start evangelizing when you’ve let the pressure to conform to societal “norms”, the bashfulness, and the awkward “feeling” that’s born of the devil be nurtured and developed, while the challenge of boldness and love for souls has been lying dormant.

So make a card. You can do it at https://www.123print.com or at https://www.vistaprint.com.

(Put your phone number in the slot that’s blackened on this sample. I’m good with all evangelism contacts having my number…but maybe not the whole world. =))

 

 

Holiday Contest at the Colley House!

                                                                                                 Christmas Contest!

                           Need a Hug?

Every year at Christmas time, The Colley House has a contest. Some talented, or thoughtful, or just some lucky lady gets a prize package. This year it’s the most creative kinds of online encouragement to each other. Here are the rules:

You can email me or screen-shoot me a copy of the best letter or  tiny note of encouragement, or even hand-drawn picture that you have received this year. You know, someone wrote on your facebook page or sent you a message that really made you want to be better, or made you feel appreciated. It can be from your husband, your friend, your sister, your child…anybody. Please send to byhcontest@gmail.com OR you can share on my personal public facebook page.  Entries sent to other addresses or via Messenger or text will be disqualified (Just because CC is going bonkers this holiday season and this way I’ll only have two places to look. =) It’s okay if we know you, if you are a digger, if you are a member at West Huntsville, etc…Anybody who does not have Colley or Giselbach in her name is eligible. 

We’ll get some unbiased help and choose three winning encouragers. Then we’ll send a free book, cd, or dvd of choice to BOTH the person who submitted the entry AND the person from whom the note or picture originated. It’s okay if the two people are thousands of miles apart or in the same household. Please don’t hesitate to share just because you feel like the note is “braggy” about you. We know none of us are “all that.” We just want to learn to BE better encouragers. Deadline for your entry is December 10th. That gives you a dozen days to think about encouragement. What could be better?

We’ll spread the love via the blog and it will help us all be better encouragers (as per our November Digging Deep study.)  One…Two…Three…GO! 

Cyber Monday — Get the “New Stuff”!

We tried to think of what you might like best from the Colley House for your Christmas list. We decided maybe you’d like the 2017 additions to our store. Know someone who is a teen girl or a mom of a teen (or pre-teen) girl? Have a friend who loves to study the Word? Do you have anybody on your list at all? …because anybody on the planet (believer or non-believer) needs the new book by Ben Giselbach. So here’s the package you can get to check off three names on your list with something you know can be eternally good for them! Today through December 15th, you can get the three for 20% off!

  1. Finding Him by Rebekah Colley. It’s what Rebekah wishes had been available in print for her own teen years. “It’s what I needed to know,” she says. She’s 22 now and has a way of teaching teen girls that’s unique and personable. Your daughter will grow in Christ.
  2. Great Escapes by Cindy Colley. This is my favorite “Digging Deep” study so far. It’s for any woman in any season in any year. There are optional online archived discussions of the material by the author. They can easily be found if someone would like to dig even deeper. This study has helped me personally in practical ways.
  3. You Are A Theologian by Ben Giselbach. The subtitle for this one is “Thinking Right about God.” If there’s someone on your list who is doubting His existence, His benevolence, His authority, or His plan for our lives, this is a perfect gift.

While supplies last, when you purchase all three, save 20%. Be sure you personalize these by writing a thoughtful note in the front before you wrap them up and give them away–a note of encouragement or evangelism. Gifts are fun. Gifts that are spiritual in nature are fun and SO much more.

 

For the Diggers: Loving the Young Hearts in this Dig

                                        Melanie Pinedo (center) is one of our younger 2017 diggers!

 

We have several young women, even several pre-teens, who are diligently studying the Great Escapes this year with our international Digging Deep group. They are learning how to rescue souls. Kaitlyn Epling, age 12, of Elizabethton, TN was disappointed earlier this week when we failed to get to question number 10 in our podcast discussion.  Here’s her list (verbatim) of several rescues from Acts 9-17. Kaitlyn’s styles of listing and study may evolve as she grows in Christ, but grow in Christ she will if she stays in the book!

 Digging Deep- Great Escapes- Month Three- Question 10

The disciples of the Lord were saved of Saul by Jesus 9:1-6.

Saul was saved of his blindness by Ananias 9:18.

Saul was saved of the Jews by the disciples 9:25.

Saul was saved of the Hellenists by the brethren 9:29-30.

Aeneas was saved of being paralyzed by Peter 9:33-34.

Dorcas/Tabitha was saved of death by Peter 9:40.

All those being oppressed were saved of the Devil by Jesus of Nazareth 10:38.

Jesus was saved of death by God 10:40.

Sinners were saved of sins by Jesus 10:43.

Gentiles were saved of sins by Jesus 11:18

Peter was saved of contending by his dream 11:2-10.

The people were saved of famine by disciples 11:28-29.

Peter was saved of prison by an angel 12:7.

Peter was saved of Herod by God 12:11.

Peter was saved of Herod by the brethren 12:19.

Israel was saved of the nations of Canaan by God 13:19.

Jesus was saved of death by God 13:30.

Paul & Barnabas were saved of abuse & stoning by themselves 14:5-6.

A man in Lystra was saved of lameness by Paul 14:8-10.

Paul was saved of death by himself 14:19-20.

Timothy was saved of the Jews’ wrath by Paul 16:3.

Girl of fortune-telling was saved of a demon by Paul 16:16-18.

The Philippian Jailor was saved of suicide by Paul 16:27-28.

Paul & Silas were saved of prison by the Philippian Jailor 16:33.

Paul & Silas were saved of the Jews by the brethren 17:10.

Paul was saved of the crowd by the brethren 17:14.

                                                                           Kaitlyn Epling 

 

I was kind of sad we didn’t get to that question, too. I had hoped to share my list from one single chapter, noting how God can use the faithful and the rogue to rescue His own and further the gospel. Let’s look at this list of ten rescues from chapter nine:

9: 7-8 Look at how the enemies of the cross are being used to lead around the most influential 1st century missionary.

9;13 Notice Ananias arguing with God, but then going straightaway to rescue the preeminent New Testament writer. God always accomplishes His purposes.

9:15, 16 Can you think of a more unlikely candidate to be the rescuer of Gentiles?

9:25 Those disciples could not go and powerfully write and preach, but they had a rescue basket for  the one who could!

9:27 Barnabas would be greatly overshadowed in Scripture by Paul, but Paul might not have had the chance to do what he did without the jumpstart given by Barnabas.

9:30 Jerusalem was not the right place and time for Paul. But there were rescuers who knew how to get him to the right place and time.

9:33-35 Aeneas was a rescue tool for the people of Lydda and Saron.

9:39 Dorcas was a rescuer using needle and thread.

9:42 Peter rescued the recipients of Dorcas’ goodwill when he raised her.

9:42 In turn, Dorcas became a tool to rescue the people of Joppa.

Another young digger, Grace Yocum, of Louisville, Kentucky.