Sister to Sister: Eclipse!

This year it’s during the week that about 4800 Christians assemble in Sevierville, Tennessee (at Polishing the Pulpit—http://wwwpolishingthepulpit.com) to magnify Him, that our God puts His glory on display in a very large way when the moon blocks the sun from our view, turning our day to night. It’s called an eclipse of the sun. We will be praising and serving and being close as His family and He will bind us together even more as we witness together this amazing phenomenon that can only be a production of the supremely powerful I AM. He still IS. 

The sun has a diameter that’s 400 times that of the moon. It’s 400 times bigger. How can something so large be hidden from our view by something so very small in comparison? The answer, of course, is that the sun is also 400 times farther away. The closer object, the moon, blocks the distant one. (If you put a dime right in front of each eye, you can’t see a one- hundred-dollar-bill that’s a few feet away.)

The Son is grander, more powerful, more loving, more necessary to our souls than any material thing. But if we let the things of this earth get closer to us than He is, our view becomes obstructed. We lose sight of the Son—the One without Whom there is no light, no direction, no hope of eternal life. Without adjusting this prioritization, we experience a tragic and eternal eclipse of the Son. It is described as “outer darkness” (Matthew 8:12) and the excruciating pain and regret never ends. 

Let’s pray daily that we can keep the Son clearly in view and walk in that great light (I John 1:7) till we reach the land where there is never darkness (Rev. 21:25). In that land of fadeless day, there will never be another eclipse of the Son (Rev. 21:23). Praise Him when you witness His glory on Monday.

Sister to Sister: Sometimes Sanctification Means…

Sometimes Sanctification Means…

Refusing popularity…
Choosing persecution…like Elijah.
Refusing peace…
Choosing confrontation…like Joshua.
Refusing riches…
Choosing less…like Moses.
Refusing rest…
Choosing struggle…like Caleb.
Refusing acclimation…
Choosing anonymity…like the woman of Shunem.
Refusing anonymity…
Choosing leadership…like the three Hebrews.
Refusing leadership…
Choosing submission…like Sarah.
Refusing exaltation…
Choosing humility…like Paul.
Refusing the best…
Choosing what’s left…like Abraham.
Refusing to fight…
Choosing to lie down…like Isaac.
Refusing to break…
Choosing to build…like Jochebed.
Refusing to obey…
Choosing to pray…like Daniel.
Refusing to remain…
Choosing to change…like Zaccheus.
Refusing the devil…
Choosing the Lord..like Job.
Refusing ruin…
Choosing restoration…like Ezra.
Refusing security…
Choosing risk…like Esther.
Refusing discouragement…
Choosing perseverance…like Nehemiah.
Refusing to stay silent
Choosing to speak…like Peter.
Refusing the easy way out…
Choosing the cross…like Jesus.
C. Colley

Sister to Sister: Tommy in Trouble

There was a bat in my dad’s living room last Thursday night. Yes. A bat. Not the one with the baseball glove that’s usually in the closet, but the flying black kind…the kind that screeches. The kind that makes me go behind the nearest door and slam it. The kind that may have rabies, for all we know. 

But we have a guy named Grat who lives with my dad. A bat! Go get Grat! Now Grat is brave but he is the Clean-Meister, too. So he puts on this towel for arm protection and then he dons Ezra’s plastic fire chief hat. (Grat in the hat and the bat, now!) He gets the pool net ( that’s for sweeping leaves) and it’s Grat and the bat doing business while my sister Sami, the lucky dad attendee that week, does the bat-frenzy dance all around the living room. The magic bat was good at escaping the net, but, finally, Grat-man the bat-man and his handy bat-net had him securely under that net flopping around on the settee. Eeeew! 

So what next? Do we squash him? Well, not on the tapestried settee. Try and get him to the door and end his incarceration? Sami decides we are not taking any chances (famous last words). We will put him in this Tupperware and then, tomorrow, if he is still alive out there on the front porch, we’ll figure it out.  So Grat-man slams that bat-ware on the bat and throws away the hat (don’t tell Ezra) and they all profusely thank the Grat and that’s that for that bat!

Until the next morning when the Tupperware is on the back patio instead of on the front porch,  and the dog—you know, the one that wandered up a few weeks ago, is having a good ole’ time  chewing it up (the Tupperware….no bat about.) “Oh dear, we really should have made it to the vet with this puppy to get shots, since Dad has decided it’s name, though a girl, is Tommy and that “it’s the best dog we’ve ever had,” (even though we need a bulldozer to clean up the yard after him and just last week we had to purchase a new pool vacuum because he (I mean she….It’s that Tommy name) chewed up a component of the old one (which was also purchased this very summer)! 

“That’s a gooooood dog, “ Daddy was saying while ambling to the car with his walker that next day after all the bat commotion. “Tommy, Tommy! You’re a good ole’ dog!” he was saying just as Tommy was jumping up between his body and his walker, steadily pushing the walker away from him…just as Tommy was licking his hands and got so excited that he (she) took a playful little plug out of Dad’s hand. 

This, being the series of unfortunate events that it was, of course, left Daddy’s hand bleeding. So now, we have a dog, who needs a rabies shot, who has been in contact with a wild bat, that’s taken a plug out of Daddy’s hand. 

“We really should go ahead and take the dog to the vet,” (although Celine’s just sure the dog has been spayed—“See there’s the scar from the operation,” she said. “That’s what it looks like. I googled it”) turns into “We are going to the vet today. But, if Celine is right, this transgender dog probably had a rabies shot whenever they spayed her.”

But Celine was not right. This goooood dog needs spaying, a litany of shots, a heart worm treatment (Do you even know how expensive that is?), and “…we can put her up for ten days for you for three hundred dollars, till we are sure it’s safe for her to be around people.” 

So this week it’s my turn to be here at Dad’s. I stopped at Walmart pre-arrival and bought some huge project boards. They were for a very important project. They are now duct-taped to the fronts of the fireplaces. They are lovely. You know, white on white is the latest trend in room decor, anyway. I actually told Dad I would paint a fire on them, but, wisely, he chose the Alabama logo I hung there for trial. Perhaps my favorite handyman will have time to cap those chimneys when he comes next, but, for now, I can sleep easier. (Well, truly that’s an overstatement at this house, but I’m getting up in the night for things other than bats, anyway.)

One thing I’m getting up for is to go outside and untangle the wailing dog. (Of course, you did not think we were going to pay three hundred dollars to have them observe Tommy for ten days when we have a 20-acre observation deck here.) So we bought one of those long wire leashes and put her under the woodshed with a little kennel  and there are only about 156 things she can get tangled around. How DOES a dog go around a see-saw handle fifty times, anyway? And why does she do it in the middle of the night? Maybe that’s what dogs who are developing rabies do. And if she does develop rabies, I will be the one to contract it since I am going out there in the night to untangle her and I could never see the froth if she WAS coming at me, when she is jumping all over me and knocking the flashlight out of my mouth (yes, my mouth). 

It takes a village to care for an elderly man who has a really goooood dog. But I can remember when I was a kid and we thought Lassie, who had the worst case of the mange and smelled like a wet dog even on sunny days, was the prettiest dog on Lynn Dale Lane. I remember my tadpole that turned into a frog and the trip Mother and Daddy and I made together to give him his freedom at the creek. I remember Prissy getting on Dad’s cars and I remember that cage he made for my bunny when I was in the second grade. I remember our chihuahuas and that awful lizard that lived in my brother’s room. I remember his peacocks that he loved to show the grandchildren and their being entertained by the squirrel on the patio that would sometimes eat a piece of bread from his hand. I remember. He called each one “Tommy.” That’s just his name for all pets. I remember lots of “Tommies.” And, I guess this particular Tommy hasn’t quite caught me up with dad yet on “Tommy-trouble.” I think I’ll probably never be really our of pet-debt with Dad. I am learning, though, that pet equity is sweat equity.

On Saturday, if we do not have any rabies at Four Mile, Tommy will be free. The deer that have loved his incarceration will not be happy. But Dad will be ecstatic. Garbage will be strewn again and Dad will have a tough time getting to the car. But Dad will be so happy to look out on the patio and see that good dog again. A part of me will be a little relieved, too. Dad, from his recliner by the glass patio door is on “Tommy-tangle” patrol during the incarceration. And he is vigilant. Right now, I’m headed out to the woodshed in the rain because Tommy is tangled around the clothesline pole…and he’s such a goooood dog.

 

                       A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast; But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

Proverbs 12:10

 

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Don’t Miss This Time with Sisters!

If you’ve never been able to attend the bi-annual ladies seminar at West Huntsville, you’ve missed some of the most fortifying material and fellowship to which I’ve ever been exposed. We think this year will be no exception. 

As we’ve done in recent years, we will begin on Friday night at 7pm with our “Sweet Hour of Prayer.” It’s a time when we bring our needs before each other, but most importantly, before  our Father—together. We spend time in prayer on Friday night and, then on Saturday, you’ll leave with a list of those sisters who have requested prayers….for souls, for the sick, for the hurting, for the rejoicers–so you can keep praying at home.  Each time we’ve done this, our faith has grown as we, through ensuing months, have seen the answers to the petitions that emerged in this session. The truth is, God knows how to answer better than we know how to ask, but He wants us to ask! We do this in a rich time together on Friday night before our morning of study on Saturday. 

Celine Sparks. our speaker this year for the Saturday sessions, is eminently qualified to encourage us. She will make you laugh—at yourself and at her. That will be a medicine for your soul (Proverbs 17:22). But she will call to your spirit, too, through the Word, to reach its full potential, letting the Word empower you to do things for the greatest cause on earth—things you may not have thought of doing before. I really believe souls will be saved as a result of the ripple effects of this seminar. They will be saved, first, because of the blood of Jesus, of course, but when we become more keenly and practically aware of the fact that we really can do all things through Christ (Phil. 4:13), we connect people to the saving blood. Maybe you will get an idea that will impact your child eternally. Perhaps you will have an “aha!” moment about what to say to a lost co-worker. Maybe someone you can bring with you will be encouraged to shed self-pity or an inward focus and, instead, focus on serving others and ultimately winning souls. Maybe your daughter will be stronger for some temptation that’s soon to be headed her way. Maybe you’ll find a book that is just what a struggling girlfriend is needing. Maybe you will leave with a renewed will to pray for a lost friend every day. Maybe some souls will be around the throne one day because of these few hours we have to refocus on the powerful influence we each can wield. This one hope makes every ounce of preparation and effort for the day far beyond “worth-it!”

I challenge you to share this invitation–not because it’s mine, but because it could make an eternal difference. Some of us cannot go to a foreign missionary site to teach home Bible studies. But everyone who reads this can share with someone. Everyone who attends can invite at least one someone to come with her. If everyone who reads would do those two things—share and personally invite another—I believe the day will have super power to strengthen our homes and congregations. You don’t have to be at the seminar to go to heaven, of course. But it just might help! 

As always, there’s free housing and fellowship with our sweet ladies. Snacks and lunch are provided. You can register here: http://seminar.westhuntsville.org/registration/ and you should do that today!(Scroll to the bottom for a menu that will direct you to all details! Feel free to print flyers for your group!) We hope all of our housing is all used up and all of our food is eaten! Don’t forget to share! 

Moms of Teens and Teen Girls: Don’t Miss this Post!

I couldn’t be more excited to tell you about a new site you will want to follow (especially if you are or are mom to a teen girl) and about a brand new book authored by Rebekah Colley. She is the most evangelistic 22-year-old that I personally know and this heart immerses the new work “Finding Him.” She’s already taught the class to the teen girls at Macland Road, in Marietta, Georgia, tweaking it all along to try and make it the most influential tool she can produce. Her heart is for teen girls to serve the Lord—not just because they are in a youth group, have an assignment, or have parents who are urging (although these are all good things)—but because they love God. Her goal is that they might naturally carry the gospel to others because they know and love its Author. 

The book will be released at the end of August and it will be a great study book for classes, homeschool settings or for individual use in any season of any upcoming year. But the very best time to study this book is between the months of September and November of this fall (2017). The reason for this timing is that, during these months, there will be live chat rooms at specified times with the author present for discussion and each month there will be a fun online contest related to the study. 

Our teen girls are living in the face of an enormous and aggressive push by the devil to abandon faith in God. They are further influenced by way too many examples, even in the church, of older women who are lukewarm or passive in their attitudes toward the One who paid the ultimate price that we might have hope. Every ounce of our will and wisdom should be employed as mothers and grandmothers to suit them up to do battle with both of these dragons. This is one of the best tools I’ve seen to do just that. I hope, if your congregation does not do the study, that you will take the time to personally do it with your daughter in your study time together. I know she will be better equipped to retain faith for a lifetime; and the bonus of your doing it with her is that your relationship with each other will naturally be stronger and more spiritually focused. 

Here’s the link to this exciting chapter in your life, your daughter’s life, or your grand-daughter’s life. Wow! That’s what I want to do one day with Colleyanna! Just imagine a study with mother, daughter and grand-daughter coming to better know Him together!

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Finding Him – Sanctify.

Trying to accomplish what God wants you to do—without knowing Him and having a relationship with Him—is like using your phone or computer without charging it. It’s similar to starting on a trip without properly charging your phone, only to realize that when you most need it, it’s just a blank screen…

REBEKAHCOLLEY.COM

Sister to Sister: Barbie’s in Smaller Hands

In preparation for one of my lectures at Polishing the Pulpit (you know, the one that will be delivered in a pretty empty room, because it occurs while the solar eclipse is also occurring…you know the eclipse that only happens every 100 years), I came across a statistic that’s cast a cloud over this grandmother’s afternoon. Here it is:

In the year 1990, the average age of a child who played with Barbie dolls was age ten. In 2000, the average was age three. This was resultant, the article postulated (and, I think, correctly) from the fact that electronic devices have been marketed to ever younger crowds. By the time a child is five or six, he or she has typically lost interest in toys and moved on to become absorbed in the flashier, but far less imaginative, world of video games. 

I realize this is just one more symptom of the real problem. It’s not really the preferences of the children. It’s the lack of direction from the big people. It’s not the absorption of the little people in the games. It’s the absorption of the big people in pursuits that leave little time for looking in the eyes of their children—even less time for exploring their interests, their hearts and their aspirations. It’s just easier to let someone else provide the basic care for our kids and, all too often, even that care is, whenever possible and convenient, relegated to devices that mindlessly entertain, but largely do not challenge and certainly do not nurture. The real nurturing, the conversations about ethics, the sharing about creation, the time in the Word, the stories about real life heroes—well, that stuff just doesn’t find a place in our busy lives.

We have to take a leap of faith in this culture to place the nurturing of our children above the lifestyle of affluence that’s come to be expected of us. Millennials grew up in pressure cookers of affluence—driven to be achievers, I mean driven—literally— to ACT tutors, professional athletic trainers, and personal specialists in whatever fields they were competing. Scores and win/loss records and courting by ball scouts and resume prowess—all of these were emphasized and, too often, character and ethics were not focal points in their families. Some of them suffered, as a result of these pressures to achieve, from eating disorders, prescription medication addictions, and self-harming behaviors. 

And now, they are the parents. I know many of them who are rejecting the parenting styles of the past generation of parents. They’re choosing time with children over 2nd careers, parent-care over day-care, and often, home-schooling over the public system. But the vast majority of the parents of today are still in the passing lane. They are, perhaps for the most part, unaware of any alternative to the fast-paced lifestyle of affluence. They certainly do not intend to raise their children on electronics. But their children are away from them during most of their waking hours. They have movies on in the car as they drive. The television comes on when they walk in the door and it  usually stays on until the last person goes to bed. When a child becomes loud or annoying in a restaurant or social setting, it’s very easy to hand her a cell phone and connect her up to you-tube or you-tube for kids. It’s a whole lot easier at home to hand a child a phone than it is to get down in the floor and play with a bucket of cars or construct a fort with blocks or any of a bajillion things you can do when you pretend. Besides, there’s just not time to spend much of it on the floor with a toddler when you’ve spent your next ten years’ paychecks on the training for the demanding position you’ve finally achieved. Your investment is shouting from behind you all the time. It’s easy to think that, when you jump over one more hurdle, there will be more time for family. But one business success breeds another challenge and, truth be told, you’re moving farther from nurturing and the gap between you and your children is widening. 

I know the Mattel toy company is dismayed at the statistic. (After all, there are several years of Barbie-consumers who’ve moved on to electronics.) But, at the risk of the wrath of office moms everywhere, may I just say that the Mattel company is not the only casualty here.  Worldliness takes many forms and one of them is when we allow a first-world-affluence-chasing culture to pressure us into a conformity that often steals some pretty valuable commodities from our children. There is value in waking up, as a child, whenever the sun, the household noise and the smell of the coffee-pot or the waffles or the bacon wakes you. There is value in being lifted from the bed or the crib by a mom who has a few minutes to say “Good morning, Sunshine. I’m so glad to see you!”—who has a minute to rock you before your diaper change and who has time to sit across the breakfast table with you and talk about what day of the week it is or why the birds are so loud outside the window this morning. There’s value in play—with real toys and there’s even value in watching Mary Poppins or Dumbo, while you talk with your mom about the happy things and the sad things in the story and why they are such. There’s value in going to the mailbox and in caring for younger siblings and in chore lists and in story time before nap. There’s value in learning to wipe up messes and in learning to write thank you notes (even when you’re really just drawing them). There’s value in playing in your own backyard or on your own little porch. There’s value in pretending the puddle is a lake or the chairs you have lined up is a train. There’s value in learning to make a sandwich or bake cookies with mom or ride the horse that Dad can be when he comes home from work. There’s value in long prayers in which every relative and every food item is mentioned. There’s value in taking a nap whenever you are tired and not necessarily when the bell rings and there’s some value in taking it in your own domain when you’re a preschooler. There’s great value in the filter that is your faithful mama. When your faithful mother knows every song you’ve learned and every book that’s been read to you and every concept you’ve encountered in a day—well there’s inestimable value in that. There is just great value, for children, in savoring, even unknowingly the leisure of childhood. But it cannot easily be done on the tight schedules of adults in the workplace or in crowded daycare centers. It just can’t

There are some moms who find themselves regretting the fact that they’re in a spot in life in which they cannot maximize the amount of time spent with their children. They just cannot do it differently. Not right now. Not yet. They are doing the best they can and they need support and encouragement as they work to make childhood more child-friendly for their kids. There are some who, though not in the work place, are still not involved in the hearts and aspirations  and play of their children. These moms are legion in our welfare culture and their children are often in more than one kind of poverty. And then there are some moms who are very involved in the lives of their children and still find ways to earn a bit from home, build little family businesses with kids in tow, or earn a little money in small part-time ventures while children are with dad, for instance. In short, I know, the thoughts of this article are not one-size-fits-all parents. The thoughts are one-size-fits-all children, though. In a perfect (for children) world, kids would be raised, nurtured and disciplined by mothers who spend their days in that pursuit. They would be further supported, nurtured and disciplined by their fathers, who are committed to their spiritual success. And they would be brought to know and honor God by two faithful parents.