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Cindy Colley

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Did You Know? You Can Do what Mary Did.

 

Since God chose not to tell us on which calendar day our Savior was born, I don’t celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday that has more spiritual significance than any other of the 364 days of the year.  But I do find it refreshing that there is at least one time of the year when the rest of the world dares to speak His name in various public venues. Sometimes the moments of giving and instances of forgiving that occur during the holidays grab my emotions and stir my spirit. Even our own little family traditions give me pause to remember the extreme blessings of family and of the traditions themselves. This year, more than ever, I am learning that memory is a precious gift.

There is one particular set of lyrics that I usually hear at some point in the holidays that evokes emotions and memories in me like most other songs cannot. The song is “Mary, Did You Know?” You know Mary really did hold the infant who had walked where angels trod. When she kissed her little baby, she kissed the face of God. God put His Son, who through infinite time had been far above all earthly principalities and powers, in the hands of a poor Jewish maiden. She slowly recovered from her labor and delivery to realize that she would truly recover with the rest of penitent humanity through His delivery.

And yet, God was flesh. She got to nurse the King of Kings. His tiny finger wrapped around hers and she smiled, too, when she saw God smiling up at her from her breast. She tended His diaper rashes, placed compresses on His fevered brow and buckled on His first pair of sandals. She heard Him speak his first word, and He stumbled into Her arms when he first walked. She probably kissed that first skinned knee and taught the Lord to count. She made His first bowl of broth and she probably fried the first fish he caught. She took him to the market and to the place of worship. She gently rocked the One who gives eternal rest to all those who are weary and heavy laden. She laid him in his little crib.

And Cindy Colley got to do all of those things with her son, too. Have you ever stopped to think that, if you are a  mom, God has allowed you the privilege to spend your days in the same pursuits, the same everyday activities, the same world of constant wonder, as Mary, the mother of the Lord Jesus did? Oh, I know that our babies are not divine, but I suggest that there was little if any difference in the practical expectations placed on Mary and those placed upon any mother among the people of God today. She bathed, clothed, fed, tended, and disciplined the Son of God and Man for his eternal purpose. I bathed, clothed, fed, tended, and disciplined my son of Man for his eternal purpose; so that he would one day become a son of God; a joint heir with Christ. I just find it a blessing in the extreme that I can nurture in precisely the same way that the chosen mother of Christ could nurture.

Now sometimes I think about Mary’s perspective of motherhood. What if she had found the mundane activities of home and family boring and unfulfilling? What if she had wanted more–more than dirty diapers, runny noses and all that noise with all those kids all day? What if her ambitions “outgrew” meeting the needs of that poor carpenter’s family? What if Mary had just rebelled against that primary purpose for which God had prepared her?

“Well, that’s ridiculous,” you may be thinking. She was the mother of the Christ-child. She knew her role was important. She knew her motherhood would transcend time and reach eternity. Yes. She did.

And so should I. Corporations, positions, dollars, houses, cruises, karate lessons, electronic devices, entertainment venues and expensive educations will all be worthless in the final analysis. But the things that mothers do and that money can’t buy will transcend time and reach eternity. My child will never be God. But my child will be God’s. He will never be the Redeemer, but the Redeemed. Never the Savior, but ever the saved.

When Mary kissed her baby boy, she kissed the face of God. The Holy Child she delivered would soon deliver her…and you and me. So, you blessed mother, when you kiss the soft cheek that lies against your breast today, savor the moment. Savor the blessing of doing right now—today– just what Mary did. Savor the chance to wipe the noses, change the diapers, tend (or ignore) the whines, and read the stories.  Mary did it for the great I AM. And that ‘s the same great I AM who still superintends the passage of that precious child from your arms to His!

Mary, did you know

that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?

Mary, did you know

that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?

Did you know

that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?

This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know

that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?

Mary, did you know

that your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand?

Did you know

that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?

When you kissed your little Baby you kissed the face of God?

Mary did you know…

The blind will see.

The deaf will hear.

The dead will live again.

The lame will leap.

The dumb will speak

The praises of The Lamb.

Mary, did you know

that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?

Mary, did you know

that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?

Did you know

that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?

The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great, I Am.

(article adapted from the Bless Your Heart archives)

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Contest Winner #3–Tracy Parsons

The very best encouragement on earth for a spouse comes from his/her Christian spouse. For many years, I’ve encouraged wives to make a list of the things they respect about their husbands and gift it to those men. This list, delivered in written form or verbally, has helped heal, bolstered self-esteem, added wealth and offered security in many marriages since time began. It’s important that we not just think  about, but communicate to our spouses the reasons for our happiness in the marriage.

So Tracy Parsons shared this kind of encouragement from her husband; just a simple hand-written note that Tracy loved reading just as she was preparing to deliver their fourth child…which is now safely home… and blessed, might I add, to be growing up in a home filled with love and His fulness. Welcome, Lillian Faith!

Happy Christmas, Tracy! She chose a Hannah’s Hundred cd for those four kids. She says she’d like to be putting the word in them during the drives to and from services. I say, “God bless that purpose!”

Here’s the letter. I wanted you to get the full effect of a husband’s own handwriting and the “realness” of this simple gesture. I think you can enlarge it and make it out.  I love the list of adjectives at the end! (And I love that it begins with “Babe.” Every marriage needs sweet pet names!)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Contest Winner #2: Alisha Middleton

Sometimes the most encouraging commodity is a memory. Oh, we don’t enjoy the passing of those who are sources of strength to us, but memories and the tangible reminders left behind are still invaluable to us. We lean on examples of faith that have already led  to heaven. Heaven, in fact, becomes dearer as its throng swells to include many who’ve been dear in this life to us. The second contest winner, Alisha Middleton, has an encourager who lives in the place for which we’re all striving. Here’s her letter…

Three months ago our congregation lost someone very dear to us. One of our shepherds, Dale Ledbetter passed away after suffering with a very painful form of cancer. We miss him everyday, especially the love and compassion he showed for members of our congregation. The attached picture shows a onesie that he picked out for our son before he was even born. Also in the pictures are some of the notes he wrote to us during my pregnancy with Liam. Our son never got to meet Brother Dale, but someday I will show him these notes and tell him about the type of man he was. I hope my son will be like him someday.

-Alisha Middleton

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Contest Winners!… Elizabeth, Tracy and Alisha

Contest winners are Elizabeth Moon, Tracy Parsons and Alisha Middleton. Congratulations to these three sisters who shared encouraging comments, notes and/or gifts given by others in the body of Christ. Congratulations to all those who sent in examples of the various ways and words used to encourage…because those in the family who receive encouragement from their brothers and sisters have a lot to celebrate. 

Elizabeth, Tracy and Alisha, choose your free product from The Colley House and email your postal address along with your selection to byhcontest@gmail.com

Here’s Elizabeth Moon’s winning entry. (I’ll share the others soon.)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Go encourage someone this holiday season!

This year, my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our first child. We are living 15 hours away from home while he is in school, and having earthly family around to guide us during this happy time hasn’t really been possible. We have TRULY come to yearn for Titus 2 relationships and bonding with older wiser Christians to teach us and help us with advice in preparing to raise our children. One piece of advice we have received is to attain “quiet” toys during the worship time in those early years so as to not be a distraction to others around us as they are also trying to worship. The only problem has been that we have literally been looking for something that fits that bill for almost the entire pregnancy. Yet, almost every toy made today is made to stimulate and entertain our little ones or are either too hard or big to ever be capable of being “quiet” in the hands of a very little one. Then today a little piece of encouragement made our entire wait/pursual worth it. My husband has recently started filling in for a small congregation about an hour away from us a few times a month. It was there, without any previous knowledge of our “toy pursuit”, that a sweethearted older woman thought enough of us to remember our child on their Christmas list. What was the gift? Only the most beautiful handmade “pillow” doll I had ever laid my now teary flooded eyes on. With a simple note that spoke such generosity, care, and guidance all in only one short note. It said, “Merry Christmas. This is a “church” doll, if dropped during service there is no noise made.” To someone else this may seem so little. But to me, it was so much more. We have searched and searched and searched for something that would heed the advice of the wisdom of our older brothers and sisters. To virtually no avail. Then, only 4 short weeks, before our baby is to be born, God through Mrs. Ruth Ann sends us the “toy” we had been searching for. But with much more love than we would have found at a store. No, this one was made specifically for our child. For the very purpose we had been searching for. And by one of those wise, helpful, Titus 2 woman that we have so desperately wanted to learn from. How encouraging. How magnificent. Something so small, yet something we will be sure to pass down to each of our children. Along with all the lessons this doll represents to us. This doll, and that small sweet note, we’re definitely an encouragement to us. I will attach the picture of the doll and the note Mrs. Ruth Ann gave us.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Guest Writer, Sami Nicholas: Mothers, Don’t Miss a Beat from this Heart!

Today’s post needs no commentary. It may be my favorite post of all the years of posting. It’s written by my sister (in the flesh), Sami Nicholas, in anticipation of her first grandchild. It was penned by the bedside of our dying father on the day that his weak heart heard our new baby’s healthy one. At that time, we had high hopes that our father would be able to hold this new life in his arms. That was not to be. But he  was already holding this child in his heart. Since this writing, the remnant of that generation of our family has rolled on into eternity.

 I do not need to analyze this letter for you. I just want to emphasize that it’s full of truth for generations rolling on. Although intended for a tiny unborn baby, I’ve never seen truth-in-love written more poignantly for mothers and grandmothers.

November 14, 2017

Dear Pumpkin Seed,

Yesterday, I heard your heart. What an absolute joy it was to know that life-giving blood was moving through your little body.  At the same time that I was relieved and thankful that your heart seems healthy and strong, I sat by the hospital bed of your oldest relative whose heart is not beating quite so strongly. Pie-daddy had already talked about you during the day….about how your Pa and Mama were going to give us a baby. He wondered about whether you would be a boy or girl. When I received the sound of your beating heart, he listened attentively. He already likes you.

As I sat there, amazed at the beauty and strength of your heartbeat, I watched the technicians looking at the ultrasound of Pie-daddy’s less-than-perfect one.  Yet, I knew that the heart that matters eternally in each of you was healthy and strong. One had endured a lot of tests and changes. The other was clean, innocent, and new.  But if God grants our prayers, yours will grow and develop. As you build that eternal heart, there are many ways in which I hope it will become like his.

I hope that your heart always honors and craves God’s Word. I have watched year-upon-year, your Pie-daddy sitting in his chair or on the patio reading his Bible everyday, a part of the routine. I hope your Mama and Daddy will make God’s Word a part of your daily routine as soon as those little eyes open. I hope they share Bible songs and Bible stories. Then, when you get big enough to read, I hope you read and study truths from God everyday. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee” (Psalm 119:11). I hope you are always hiding.

I hope that your heart will always desire to do the right thing, even if it means changing. There have been many times when I’ve watched Pie-daddy, upon realizing that something he had said or done was not the best Christian course, back up and apologize or change his mind. Sometimes it took a few hours or days, but he wanted to be pliable to God’s will. I hope you always have such a heart. Right now, you have a perfect heart, but as you get older, you, like all of us will slip and stumble. It’s impossible to be perfect, but I pray that you will have a penitent heart that wants to do right and fix wrongs. “But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (Isaiah 66:2). May you always live so He will look.

I hope that your heart always wants to gather with God’s people at every opportunity. Sunday morning, your Pie-daddy had been wrestling with pneumonia, shortness of breath, and general weakness, but the sounds of him getting up at 5:30 to get ready for worship awakened me. You see, he makes that a priority. Even when it takes him 4 hours to prepare to go, he allows the time and begins the process, because he believes that worship “provokes us to good works” and we are “not to forsake” that gathering (Hebrews 10:24,25).

I also hope that your heart genuinely loves other people. Often, Pie-daddy will get tears in his eyes as he talks about another brother or sister in Christ who has shared time with him. He will sniffle as he mentions the struggles someone is going through. His door is always open, and always has been, to visitors. He cares about children. I remember when I was a child and he was struggling to buy groceries and pay the bills with six people in one household, Pie-daddy would, without fail, for years and years, make a small monthly contribution to a children’s home far away. This was in addition to what he normally gave to the church. He cared about little children and wanted them to have what they needed. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). I hope you have a weight-bearing heart.

I hope you have a heart that hates evil. Pie-daddy can get mad. He gets mad every time we pass the liquor store just a couple of miles from his house. He comments on the fact that the man who owns it is sinful. He gets mad at the immorality and language on television. He won’t have that playing in his house. He gets mad at husbands who are not faithful to their wives and refuse to change. He understands that, despite the fact that we love everyone, we must acknowledge that there are bad guys out there. He knows that evil is evil. He believes God when he says, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). Have a heart that gets mad.

One last thing…I hope you have a heart that loves your family. Pie-daddy is stellar when it comes to this. I can look across any room of my house and see little projects he made for us…wagons, rocky horses, marble mazes, stilts. When he was 87, he had a basketball court poured, and he got on his hands and knees and painted the lines for the court, so his grandchildren would have a place to play. All of his children and grandchildren have nicknames, their assigned special title from him. If he is able, I know he will have a nickname for you. He would do anything to help his family, and he doesn’t mind telling others how special his family is to him. He doesn’t endorse us if we do wrong, but he encourages us in everything we do that is right. “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” (Proverbs 13:22). Have the heart that passes on a godly inheritance.

 

I have a lot of dreams for you, little Pumpkin Seed. I want you to be happy. I want you to be blessed. I want you to go to heaven. I know the key to all of this is a healthy heart. May it always keep beating.

Love you immeasurably, 

Doodle (or whatever you decide to call me) 

 

(Photo is my dad on his last birthday in October.  His gift from the Abel Nicholases was the news of the “pumpkin seed.”)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

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!