Sister to Sister: Another Chance (Part 1)

3-loaves-of-breadI’d almost forgotten about the sweet little lady who visited our services during the summer of 2014. I’ll call her “Maria”. Her home was in Mexico and her mother tongue (definitely her only tongue) was Spanish. She was in Huntsville for a few weeks visiting her daughter. She knew about our congregation through a recently converted bilingual Hispanic sister. Hoping to reach into the hearts of her local family, I picked Maria up for services a few times that summer. Yes, it was a bit awkward (and silent) in my car, since I don’t know Spanish, but I said “Hola”, “Bien”, “Gracias” and “Como esta?” …a lot. It was a very sweet little friendship that summer. I baked her bread and she gave me a little keepsake bracelet, but our relationship was, of necessity, pretty superficial. We didn’t have very much in common and, whatever we did have in common, we could not discuss. She could get very little out of those few visits to the worship assemblies or Bible classes, but I could tell she loved being there and that she wanted very badly for her children, who do speak English, to find the Lord. She had not exactly found him herself, but she liked what she saw among God’s people and she especially loved it when she was able to bring her young grandsons with her. She loved seeing them get excited about their Family Bible Week classes. But, alas, the summer ended and Maria had to return back home to Mexico. Through a rare translator’s work, she begged me to keep praying for her children, who live near our building, to come to know the Lord. I promised. I felt a pang of guilt as I realized I could have…should have…worked harder that summer to find a way…a translator…a time to study…so that Maria could know the gospel. “After all, I may be the only Christian she ever really knows and I have done a poor job of redeeming this short time with this soul….If I ever get to see her again, I will tell her the most important news she will ever hear.” It made me sad–even ashamed–to think I’d shared the bread that cannot sustain, but failed to share the bread of life.

Fast forward to the summer of 2015. Maria’s daughter, who lives locally and does speak broken English (let’s call her “Rosa”), and I had became Facebook friends. I, along with a couple of other sisters, often encouraged her to come to worship and she sometimes visited during the year that followed. Sometimes she brought her husband and children. Once, she brought her brother and his family. Several sisters were praying for Rosa and helping with her children when she would visit. Rosa got a job at the hospital here in town and became very busy. The year flew by and, a few weeks ago, Rosa told me her mom was applying for a visa to come back and visit again this summer. Immediately, I remembered the promise I’d made to myself a year ago. “If she does get that visa, then this time I will be sure she knows the gospel.”

And so she did come and the studies began. Maria was an eager student. This time my sister Emily was helping with the studies, too, and we relied heavily on a sister from another congregation to translate. Maria was excited to come to worship. She would often be ready with kids in tow long before I’d arrive to pick her up. We never knew who was going to be coming with her, but we’d always find other family members a good class or have them study along with us. Our elders encouraged us to study with Maria during the Wednesday Bible class hour.  We’d sometimes study after worship. Once or twice, we studied till pretty late at night. Once, Emily played with, fed, changed and just generally tried to entertain Maria’s infant grandson for a couple of hours so Maria could concentrate on the scriptures.   Another time, during worship, I went in the cry room, listened to the sermon on the live stream with earphones and repeated what was being preached in English so that Bonny, who was translating, could then repeat it in Spanish. This way we could have the message (at least most of it) translated without speaking out in the worship service. Bonny was a great translator and Maria was soaking up truth. She would often ask questions and they were deep and thoughtful ones. We could tell Maria had been in the book because she could find passages quickly. But she made it very clear that, for all she knew about the Bible, she’d been unable to find the church described in the New Testament. She wanted to find that church and she wanted to find its members in her hometown in Mexico. Emily, Bonny and I were praying fervently that our short summer time with Maria would be enough.

And then there was this day in early August…

 

Sister to Sister: PTP Pinnacle (and shirts and mugs)

11891891_10153223399279069_8485087777444861017_oPolishing the Pulpit 2015 is history and we have been to the pinnacle of fellowship, study, singing and restoration—perhaps, the pinnacle this side of eternity. You just need to plan now for next year and make it a financial and scheduling priority. You can go to heaven without going to PTP, of course. It’s just more difficult to imagine heaven if you’ve not enjoyed fellowship this sweet on time’s side of eternity. I’m so blessed to have the greatest family surrounding and blessing me there;  and then to have my physical family with me at PTP is icing on the cake!11218835_1629664520583902_8069685276907420456_n

All of the Colley-Giselbach gang came back to our hotel room and scrunched into one hotel room for the afternoon, after most of you left, and took a long and much-needed nap. Ezra woke up all smiles and ready to go again. So it was out for pizza and dessert at the Chocolate Monkey. Caleb bought chocolates for his mother (He knows the way to my heart!), and Ben just edged out Hannah in a bean bag toss. We missed having Rebekah tonight, but next year, she’ll get to stay with us for the whole week, too.  Already, we can’t wait!

Of course the new Digging Deep study was announced here last Tuesday. I’m hoping you’re diligently inviting sisters and friends to join in. It’s a small window of the year in which you can very easily and effectively evangelize through this group by inviting new participants. I hope you’re making your list. I’m praying for a year of significant growth and strength for our families and congregations as a result. God can do big things through little people like us!11890916_10152975372256384_186018545480327946_n

Several sisters came on stage as finishers of the study that concludes on August 31st and they were awarded these pretty green and coral Digging Deep shirts.
One sister, Pam Christopher, of Pulaski, Tennessee was present who has completed every last bit of all four years of the study. I loved handing her the first
11953233_10152977418671384_9093695292831496660_nbrand new Digging Deep travel mug. Nobody studies, of course, for these teeny prizes, but it’s a fun way to say “Thanks for the encouragement and leadership in study.”

If you want a shirt and mug, there’s a special PTP price happening now.  The final day to order shirts will be September 18th. Mugs will be sold until all gone at $12.00 each.

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I don’t have a t-shirt yet, but am excited to get mine in the next batch, along with any of you who order. So take a look.

May I just finally say that I do not know how or why I get to be blessed by the encouragement of hundreds of the best people on the planet, but I remain deeply thankful for my sisters around the world who keep on praying for me and studying the Word with me and raising up children and grandchildren for His service. There are great challenges coming our way at the hands of the devil through those people who are given to humanism and relativism in our post modern culture. 11934957_10153223401374069_98564377511046029_nI am so thankful for the strength that we muster together as women of God serving our husbands and families for His great Cause today.11057325_10153223402374069_621797771850264280_n

So go! Take the Digging Deeper dare for 2015-2016. You’ve got this!11896250_10152977036441384_3876974688294082380_n

Sister to Sister: The “Sweet Hour of Prayer” List

maxresdefault-2I’ve just returned from my room after completing a sweet hour of fervent prayer with my sisters. At this, the conclusion of a great year of Bible study about the subject of prayer, we listened to the hearts of sisters…to their needs and petitions…and we took these pleas to the throne, where we are promised an audience by the King of Kings, also known as our Father.

In seasons of distress and grief …My soul has often found relief;

And oft escaped the tempter’s snare, by thy return, sweet hour of prayer.

Here, as promised is the prayer list from this prayer session at Polishing the Pulpit (www.polishingthepulpit.com).  My deepest apologies go to the family of Brother Hillary Broome. Somehow their request got tucked beneath the stack and I missed it as we prayed tonight. So I am fervently praying for Brother Broome’s health. Will you pray for him, too?  Brother Broome asked doctors to postpone his third heart catheterization of this year so he could attend PTP. He will be having this procedure next Wednesday, so let’s pray, along with Deborah and Amy, his wife and daughter, that it will go well and dispel any danger. Here’s the rest of the prayer list:

The Hanna Family—big decisions.

Ann Musgrave—son, Paul—Pray for his soul.

Anonymous—caring for in-laws, tension on job, undiagnosed illness, handle all of this to please God

Mercy Oppong—further education, lead holy life, stop specific sins that tempt her

Anonymous—husband is not a good leader. Please pray.

Highlandville church—spiritual growth, those who are studying, new sister Linda, Jim Gideon’s health issues, Becky Stutesman’s health and spiritual needs, Caleb and Rebekah’s marriage, the men who are leading, for an eldership.

Wendy Adams—her sister, Cheryl Adams Ball—separated from spiritual and physical family.

Rebecca Richardson—fostering and adoption.

Pisa Soli—father, Lu Soli’s critical health issues, Samoan church, Pisa and siblings who have moved to AL.

Patricia Goodale—Evangeline Joy, 3 years old passed away. that family may draw closer to God.

A mother—children, Zeth Savage, Vanessa Savage, Larry Lyons—have left the faith.

Kim Young—son, Justin, spiritual struggles; daughter, Jamie & husband at MSOP; daughter, Jessica’s marriage and work.

Shirley Eaton—her sister Genie, surgery for colon cancer and life change.

Cindy Colley—studies with Magdalena, Ruby and family—as they are coming to know the Lord; Lee Holder, her aged father.

Anonymous foster parents—a new sibling is being born of wicked parents.

Sandy Garby—Brother-in-law had a wreck and is in hospital.—mother is moving in with them. Pray that she will attend with them. Also pray for the judge’s decision about custody of their grandson, who has Asperger’s.

Carrie Smith—pray for her grandson Walter who was in an accident and is critical and for Walter’s mother, Susan.

Anonymous—pray for her good influence over her non-Christian husband and for her good parenting.

A mother—for Cinda, Jacqueline, Nathan and Harvard Hoege that they may be led to be strong members of the Lord’s church.

A sister—pray for her sister who married an immigrant who has been separated from her for extensive periods of time. Their marriage is in trouble.

Unsaved family members in Missouri.

Carolyn Frazier, Connie, and Nita Cochran—fighting breast cancer.

Donna—facial pain

A mother—that my daughter may soften her heart and return to the Lord.

A mother—for daughter, Breanna, who is going through the motions without faith.

A mother—for son to find a good Christian wife.

Anonymous—that our brother in Christ whose wife has filed for divorce will find strength and comfort. For his wife to repent.

Emily Turner—high risk pregnancy, diabetes and congenital heart failure—due in February.

Sharon Pfeffer—son Jonah—autism, son Gideon-Down’s Syndrome, husband has had two surgeries since March. Pray for strength and faith and glory to God through them all.

Robert and Kim Williams—Robert has Stage 3, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma—2 small children.

Carlie and Matt Lyndoe—heart surgery upcoming. small children.

Mintie Welchance—son John has left the faith.

Shirley Eaton–her sister Genie who just had colon cancer surgery.

Anonymous—prayer for anxiety issue and stronger marriage.

Donna Prince—for 3 grandchildren to become Christians… and for husband of oldest granddaughter.

A daughter—for father, Adrian Shelton to have a heart without callous and come to God.

A sister—for a lady in the church who has great burdens—that she might be less rude and that sisters might see her great needs and have compassion and be kind to her. That her family members who are suffering for sin might see needs and repent. For her grandson whom she is raising.

Laura and Michael Luisi—that they might take the gospel to family members and that the family members might respond positively.

Anonymous—pray for Sean and Britney Topley—problems, and Jeffrey Greene, Jr.—away from God.

Anonymous—our Spanish minister’s wife has many health problems and keeps on encouraging others. her name is Petra Luna.

Emily Gillis—my son, David, to return to God.

Lea Black—daughter, Carly, needs prayers for health issues.

Anonymous—Heather, 16, needs prayers

 

Sister to Sister: TOMORROW!!! Live Podcast…New Digging Deep Study

11951697_10152971997926384_2734780424500354200_oTears swell in my eyes when I have the opportunity to worship my Lord with 2000 people on a Sunday morning. It’s something I only get to do about twice a year. I know that worshiping the Lord should always fill me with emotions of reverence and gratitude. Surely it’s the holy Object of worship more than the people with whom we are worshiping that’s evokes awe and joy and respect. But I think the reason the large crowd touches my heart in deeper places is that it truly is a foretaste of heaven. It’s profoundly encouraging to know that God’s people are many and that they are eternally triumphant. It’s as if we’re already on the giant cruiser together to the shore where there is no more parting, sorrow and dying. You can hear the boatman’s call best in places like Polishing the Pulpit (www.polishingthepulpit.com).

And speaking of…I hope you plan to join us tomorrow at 2:30 EST for the live podcast of Digging Deep (http://livestream.com/whcoc/for-women). It’s at once the end of a study that has profoundly affected me  and the beginning of a new study. I hope you are adding friends to the facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/282349391779769/) and personally inviting them to study along in a practical new study that starts on September 1st. It’s a helpful study for both Christians and non-Christians. My dream is that some soul will be brought to the Lord through this year’s study. I think it will happen with prayer and lots of invitations to the study. What a great answer to this year’s prayer study that will be!

Next, I hope you will join us for “Sweet Hour of Prayer” tomorrow night via lifestream as well (8:15 EST). Today is the last day to email me your prayer requests or, if you are here on site, you may put them in the box on the stage in ballroom A. (I’ll have some request forms at the remainder of my lessons there in that room.) We’ll spend about an hour talking to our Father about the specific requests that our Digging Deep ladies have made. Prayer is not our idea. It’s God’s method of hearing and answering us. It will be a “blessed hour of prayer when our hearts lowly blend and we gather through Jesus, our Savior and friend.”

So join us for both! You’ll be blessed. I’ll be encouraged. Prayers will be heard, as always. We don’t have to be together for God to be hearing us, but being together sure blesses OUR hearts!   (Our technology is limited here due to so many people using the internet at once, but we are going to do our very best to bring it to you!)

Finally, can I just say that PTP is more wonderful with Ezra. Here he is right this moment in my hotel room bed, while his mom is speaking to teen girls. As I sat in that room of 2000 yesterday morning praising Him, I thought about the fact that there was so much to be praising Him for right there in my lap, on both sides of me, and down the row. If Jesus comes on a day while we are praising the Lord together as a family at PTP, it will seem but a short trip through the clouds to glory! Perhaps that observation is short-sighted and made simply because I haven’t seen heaven, but for now great assemblies of his people, even in a place where we still have to pray for strength for ourselves  and for sick, lost and grieving people—those grand gatherings are still pretty wonderful.

Sister to Sister: This and That and 2nd Generation PTP!

Banner BTS 2015

This weekend, just under 4000 people are headed to Sevierville, Tennessee  to participate in a HUGE blessing: Polishing the Pulpit . You can read about it here: www.polishingthepulpit.com. I do not know why or how I get the blessing of talking to ladies in this forum, but I am so thankful that I do. It challenges me, encourages me and makes me long for heaven. I hope you will make plans to come, if not this year, next year. I believe it is the most encouraging thing I do each year, so I want to keep doing it. I want my children to do it every year. I believe it is one thing that helps them grow and be prepared for the parenting challenges they will face in their young families. I want my elders to get to do it. There are rich and practical classes for them. I want my preacher to get to go. In fact, I hope he can ride with me!

My brain is in the overload mode—moving close to the explode mode! I get to talk about so many topics about which I’m zealous.…about being the light in a practical way, about how to have family devotionals in our busy world, about how to build self-esteem in our kids, about how to make them selfless….And I get to introduce the brand new 2015-2016 Digging Deep study. This happens from the ballroom at PTP, but is live to you at http://livestream.com/whcoc/for-women. I hope you will join us next Tuesday at 2:30 EST for this exciting time. Maybe the period I am looking forward to the most is the “Sweet Hour of Prayer” with sisters from all over the world. One room, one God, our Father, listening to his women children as we pray for each other’s most important needs and struggles. This is strengthening and I cannot wait. I have been pretty overwhelmed with the day-to-day time-challenges, which are really blessings, that I need this time with my sisters before the throne. And yet, I am so thankful that I have access to the throne of my Father whether there is a scheduled time of prayer or not. He is so merciful to let me come before Him at any time, much less all the time! (You can email me your prayer requests at this address: ddprayers2015@gmail.com.)

I am leaving behind unfinished business. But I will be praying about studies and visitors and sweet people who’ve made bold transitions in life. I will be praying for my dad and thanking God for my sister, Sami, who will be looking in on Dad and is always so attentive to his needs (and wants!). In fact, I am thankful for a whole list of people who are very good to him all the time! So blessed is what I am!

Lastly, the Back-to-School sale at The Colley house just has one week to go. So order now or forever hold your peace! You can find that here: http://thecolleyhouse.org/store#!/~/category/id=7007069&offset=0&sort=normal.

Oh, and finish up that August study. Only about a dozen more days till we kick off a brand new study. Invite your friends to the Digging Deep Facebook page. This next year’s study is great for those who are not yet Christians.

Have a great time at PTP or wherever you finish out your week for Him and live it like you know we WILL ultimately all be at the same gathering!

PS. Did I mention that this will be Ezra’s first year to experience PTP OUTSIDE the womb? Could that be one reason my expectations for enjoyment are high this year? We are definitely into the second generation of PTP kids now! In fact, Ezra’s mom and her brother were the first teenagers ever to attend PTP! Just think of that! =)

Sister to Sister: At Last! the West Huntsville Women’s Seminar 2015!

11222795_10153195680049069_178530950660725037_nIt’s finally time to register! (http://seminar.westhuntsville.org/)…for GREAT lessons about living with purpose that will get you back on track for Him and for your families. “Sweet Hour of Prayer,” the popular Friday night time of petitioning God together in behalf of the needs of those sisters in attendance and those we love, will, once again open our weekend with prayer and refreshing encouragement from sisters. Then, on Saturday, Kathy Pollard, of Denver, Colorado, will be taking us to the scriptures to give us just what we need to keep on keeping on as we close a year that has been one of the darkest years for morality in the history of our country. We NEED this weekend!

Kathy will also give us a crash course in Bible marking, for which I, personally, can hardly wait. There’s free Friday night housing in homes. There are snack times, there’s book-store perusal time, singing time and there’s encouragement coming from hundreds of smiles and praying hearts. We can do this thing of raising kids and grandkids in a culture gone awry! Kathy will be giving us ammunition for the fight that is ahead.

I truly hope you can come. Make it a sisters road trip. Make it a weekend and stay over for Sunday if you can. We’ll meet your flight and get you to your lodging. Bring your prayer requests for Friday night. Bring your Bibles for marking. Bring your daughters for the faith of your future grandchildren. Bring your sisters for growing closer. Bring your non-Christian friends for a glimpse of hope. Bring your appetites, your singing voices and your pajamas. This only happens every other year, so don’t miss it. If you come and you do not find strength for the journey, I personally will refund your registration fee!…

Okay, so it’s FREE. The seminar itself, the snacks , the lunch, the housing in homes…It’s all free of charge and waiting— for your spiritual advantage. So go here …http://seminar.westhuntsville.org/ …for answers to your questions, and to sign up. The T-shirt is the only thing you can buy on the whole page and it’s certainly optional and sold to you at cost for eight dollars.

Have I convinced you? So go sign up, already!

(ps….if you have questions, call or text Emily at 256-509-2541 or Holly at 256-322-7556)