Browsing Tag

Contest

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Holiday Contest 2015: Family “Mug” Shots

IMG_0784 (5)Here it is. The Colley House has a tradition of a few give-aways during the holidays. This year we’re excited about our Digging Deep travel mugs. We’ll fill one with Christmas candy and send it your way if you are one of five winners. They’ll go good under your tree, especially if someone you love is one of the hundreds of women who are actively participating in the Digging Deep study.

Here’s all you need to do. Email me your favorite family holiday photo…funny, memorable, nostalgic or just sweetness along with your 50-word-or-less explanation of why you love the photo. We’ll share favorites with our readers and choose five winners. Email the photos to byhcontest@gmail.com. Be sure to include your name and address and have them to me by December 14th, so I’ll have plenty of time to get the mugs out to you by Christmas! You can enter as many times as you want, but send each entry in a separate email.

Here are some of our family favorites. I know you have them, too!

 

332063_10150418146806384_1095195626_o

 

12182739_10153088348376384_8905238919898502884_o

 

10861045_10152451311296384_9017898480849004272_o

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0292

 

 

So go! Happy memory hunting! And if you need to purchase a mug for your favorite Digger, go here:http://thecolleyhouse.org/store#!/Digging-Deep-Travel-Tumbler-Mug/p/54019059/category=7007069

And one more thing…Keep those family holiday traditions going strong. They’re tough fibers in the weave we call “family”.

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Winner of the GRAND contest: Anna Adams

christmas cardAnna Adams is the winner of the annual Bless Your Heart contest. She submitted a great story about her grandfather who was determined for her to believe in Santa! Contact me, Anna, and receive your prize from www.thecolleyhouse.org.

For today and everyday, remember He came to die for us when we were yet sinners….

 

 

Till Jesus

No offering for sin, No day at life’s end,

No victory to win…till Jesus.

No light in the night , no strength for the fight,

No plan for my plight…till Jesus.

No redemption story, no Bethlehem glory,

No empty grave, no power to save,

No gospel for taking to all of the nations,

No people of God for sanctification,

No song for the angels, no purpose, no peace,

No rest for the soul, for its guilt,no release.

No Shepherd leading, no one interceding

No self sacrifice, no pearl of great price.

No Saviour slain, no blessing in pain,

No heaven to gain…till Jesus.

No crosses to bear, no comfort in prayer,

No crown to wear…till Jesus.

c.colley

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Don’t Skip the Instructions

DontSkipThis is the final “Bless Your Heart” post for the year 2013. I can hardly wrap my mind around the volume of correspondence, the number of new friends contacted and the little limbs like “Digging Deep” that have come from this spiritual planting over the past few years. I believe there are around five or six hundred archived posts now (need to check that number when I get a minute).I’m grateful for those who read and for those who occasionally feed through this blog. I’m thankful for the family God has given me in this readership. I’m thankful for the one He has given me in the West Huntsville church. I’m thankful for the little family that gathered around the tree in my living room a few days ago. I’m, most of all, grateful for the worldwide family he has given me in His Son’s body and for the ultimate price that bought my place there.

As I look to 2014, I’m praying for our resolutions. I’m praying for our resolve more than our resolutions. (We usually get the resolutions right.) I believe God’s women in America today can affect the future of His worldwide family. We can nurture His future elders and preachers. We can uphold the hands of His faithful men even in 2014. We can influence those younger than ourselves to choose to be His meek and quiet women of faith (Titus 2: 3-5; I Peter 3:1-6). We can study with our non-Christian friends and we can take them to the waters for baptism into the great Family of God. We can do much with the resolve I about which I am praying. I hope you are on board. May 2014 hold many blessings and spiritual victories for us in Him.

And now…the final winning entry in the “Merry Moments” contest. Thanks to Kristina Odom for this story about a real live Christmas tree.

A child’s first Christmas is always special. You buy them “My First Christmas” outfits, you wrap their presents that you will probably have to unwrap yourself, you take lots of pictures, you hand them to a red suit wearing white bearded stranger to pose for a picture; the stranger smiles, the baby screams, you pay $$$ for this adorable picture.

Ben’s first Christmas was no different. We being first time parents wanted to make it extra special, so that year we decided to buy a real tree. Because we all know kids remember every little detail about their first Christmas. We headed to the hardware store to find the perfect tree. We were young and have never bought a real tree before. The only thing I remembered from my childhood was it’s not wise to lay under one, you’ll end up poking your eye on a needle and get sap on your face and fingers.

Justin knew how to pick the perfect tree and how to take care of it, so we bought one, brought it home, set it up, decorated it, and watched it die two weeks before Christmas. We over looked the little tag attached to the tree. The one that said you need to cut about an inch off the bottom before setting it up. We over looked it because we were young and thought we knew better, because we didn’t own a chainsaw, a hacksaw, a jigsaw, or a rickshaw and a steak knife would take forever, and because we wanted to put it up as soon as we got home. We were excited and didn’t want to wait for the stores to open the next morning to buy what we needed. Thankfully an almost 6 month old can’t read a calendar and didn’t mind opening his presents early so we could throw out our dead tree before it could burn the house down.

The moral to this story… Don’t ignore the instructions no matter how excited you are. Instructions are there for your benefit. Just because we thought we knew better, even though we thought we could get by without the proper tools, and were simply filled with excitement, didn’t stop that tree from dying. Ignoring that one step caused our tree to die before its special day. Ignoring one step from our ultimate instruction book, the Bible, can cause us to die a second death on that special judgment day (Revelation 20:12-15). Thinking we knew better than the tree farmer wasn’t a good idea. Thinking we know how to worship God better than He has planned is a very bad idea. Our thoughts are nowhere near His (Isaiah 55:6-9). Even that wise Proverbs writer has said “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (14:12)”. What seems right can cause more things to die than just trees!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

The Twelve Hills of Christmas

uphillGina Simpson submitted this winning entry about a holiday feat of athleticism. I know you will enjoy reading about her family’s tradition, which is a new twist on the twelve days of Christmas.

The Twelve Hills of Christmas
To say I come from an athletic family may be an understatement. I’m the oldest of three and my younger sister is a physical therapist who runs marathons, my little brother is professional golfer, my sister-in law was a collegiate gymnast, and my parents’ vacations include biking hundreds of miles around various states. With three kids I have only gotten back to the gym in the last three years since my youngest was born and I am slowly working back up to being in shape. All the background leads up to one of our family Christmas traditions: the twelve hills of Christmas.
My husband, kids, and I always spend part of the Christmas holiday at my parents’ house and once my sister and brother and his wife get there it is time for the adults to don their running shoes and head out to “the hill.” The stretch of road that runs next to my grandfather’s house and is probably close to 100 yards long and very steep so of course who wouldn’t want to run up it? So the tradition goes that we start at the bottom and run up the hill and once at the top we walk backwards (apparently you activate different muscles walking backwards downhill) down the hill while singing the 12 days of Christmas song. Picture this: my mother, my sister, my sister-in law, my husband and myself (hmm come to think of it my father always volunteers to watch the kids, but only for this part of the day) all running up this hill as quickly as we can and once we reach the top and are all out of breath we attempt to sing, “on the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree.” It is a pretty tiring but fun time as we strive to make it up the hill, but also hilarious as we try to figure out exactly what happened on each day of Christmas and some of us go the traditional melody while others go the Muppets Christmas version and we slowly catch our breath. After the twelfth hill is run and the final verse is sung someone (I suspect my sister, but it could equally have been my brother) decided a few years ago that we need to run up a thirteenth time to ring in the New Year. While we’re opening presents later that day we are all also secretly stretching our hamstrings and calves as we bend over to retrieve the next present from under the tree.

The morals of the story are:

  • You can’t run 13 hills once a year and expect to be able to keep up with those who exercise year round. (Acts 17:11)
  • The more we train the easier it is to get up the hill. (1 Tim 4:7)
  • The reward and feeling of accomplishment at the end is worth all the pain and it is easier to go through it together. (Heb 12:1-2, 2 Tim 4:7-8)
  • We should really learn the words (and probably the tune) before we sing Twelve Days of Christmas. (1 Cor 14:15)
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

And the Winners Are…

Three Merry Memories emerged as the top stories during the contest. They are the stories submitted by Dana Ethridge, Kristina Odom and Gina Simpson. Congratulations to these three writers! Send me your mailing addresses (byhcontest@gmail.com) and you will receive all three items from the holiday specials at The Colley House! Here they are:

XmasSpecialElders

XmasSpecialDDRocks

Here’s the first winning entry. As you read this story by Dana Ethredge, just think how much better off we’d all be if we could make practical application of Matthew 6:33 throughout the holidays, de-emphasizing those things that are purely mercenary and/or unimportant and placing the priority on the things that make for true happiness. Merry Christmas, sisters! You make my life richer all year ‘round!

Here is my humbly submitted entry for the Christmas tales contest. I hope it’s not too long!

My family is composed of an abundance of spoilers. Because of this fact, I have tons of great childhood Christmas memories. However, my best Christmas thus far (and what will forever be my best Christmas) occurred as a very young adult and centered not on material gifts but on love.

December 25th, 2002 was the day I married the man I am sure was made for me. Why did we get married on Christmas? Well, we weren’t supposed to, but I’ll get to that. Six months earlier–Independence Day to be exact (we like to do things on holidays)–we became engaged. That is quite an awkward story for another time. Any who, we (mainly me) decided to be married in about a year. I started planning immediately. My then-fiance was not into wedding planning or a wedding at all. He just wanted to be married. In hindsight, I admit he’s much more sensible than me. So, conversations would often arise about foregoing the wedding and eloping. To be truthful I should call them minor arguments rather than conversations. But I was sold on the whole fairy tale wedding idea and wouldn’t hear it.

About six months into wedding planning, I began to be especially frustrated with it all and those emotions were showing. On the way to a family Christmas party (four days before Christmas), another conversation started up in the car about eloping. He saw my frustrations and didn’t understand why I would continue to put myself in a stressful situation. This conversation turned into a full-fledged fight complete with crying and explanations on my part about familial obligations and wanting my family to witness my marriage. At some point during that scene, I realized he was right. The wedding event wasn’t worth it. The realization hit me like a punch in the face. I understood all of sudden that I wanted to marry this man, and I was fighting about how to do it. It wasn’t right. I knew then I wanted to be married immediately and begin our life together. So, we decided that night, in that car on a compromise–a surprise Christmas wedding.

On Christmas day we were already hosting both of our families at his house. The people I really wanted to witness our marriage would all be gathered together in one place. We would just need someone to marry us. The next day we asked the preacher for our congregation if we could borrow him on Christmas for about an hour. He agreed. The next two days were a mad rush to get blood tests, marriage licenses, and something decent to wear for the occasion. I didn’t think we could pull it off, but we did. Everyone showed up anticipating present-swapping and eating and they got to witness a wedding as well. The shortened explanation of why we kept everything secret was to avoid more of that aforementioned stress.

After everyone left, it was time to go to Bible study (Christmas was on a Wednesday that year like it is this year). Therefore, the memory is sweetened by our first act together as a married couple being Bible study. Undoubtedly due to that dedication on both our parts to serve God (though we are so far from perfect in that service), we have truly lived happily (and pretty stress-free) ever after.

The important lesson I learned from all of that is to not worry about how things look or about pleasing others to the point of distressing myself and my spouse but rather to focus on actually making sure things are functioning properly in my relationship with my husband (and now my children).

Thanks so much for reading!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Merry Memories Countdown #4

1485957_10151752408396384_735300211_o(Be sure to send your Merry Memory for the contest! Details at http://thecolleyhouse.org/sister-to-sister-merry-memories-countdown. Submissions are coming in! )

Merry Memory #4
The Little Bed

It was Christmas Eve. The loving Father was putting the final touches on the little cherry rope bed. It was the young carpenter’s best work to date. He had chosen his best cherry wood. He had planed, measured, and cut it. He had cut the little bed’s tongue-and-groove joints with precision. The finish was a mixture of boiled linseed oil and pumice stone. The three little stairs that she would climb up and down hundreds of times to reach the bed, and the little trundle he had built to match were all finished, at last. He called his wife and they strung the heavy braided sisal rope through the finished holes that he had drilled in just the right places. The mother and father tugged and tied the ropes as tightly as they could, remarking about the origin of the phrase “Sleep tight.” He watched as she outfitted the little bed with sheets and a pillow and then she placed the sunbonnet girl quilt that had been begun by the baby’s great grandmother and finished by her mother on the sweet little bed.

It was almost midnight and the little blond haired, blue-eyed girl had long since been sleeping in her crib in the other corner of the room. So sound asleep, in fact, was she, that she didn’t even stir during the assembly, the roping or the making of the little bed. She slept soundly as the loving father picked her up from the crib and laid her gently in what she would later term “the big-girl bed” where she would sleep from that night until the night when the father would walk her down the aisle and give her to another who would love her and provide a new place for her to sleep. That wedding night, at the time, seemed so very distant. All the same, the father knew he was providing a resting place for the times the little girl would be sick, the times she would giggle all night with the twins or the cousins who would come spend the night in the little trundle, the times she would be propped up in the little bed studying for an exam, the many phone conversations that she would have while lying there and the few times the pillow would be dampened with her tears, when she was heartbroken by a beau or disappointed by some friend. He didn’t like to think about any hurt coming to the little girl, but he knew times of pain were inevitable. He knew that, one day when she lived far from that little room, her memories of home would include the prayers that were offered from that little bedside and the stories from the Good Book that were told in that sweet place. The father made the bed so he could lay her in it on Christmas Eve and see the light in her eyes on Christmas morning. But he knew, too, that He was providing a place for her future and maybe even for the future of those to whom she would one day give birth.

We have a loving Father who provides for His children with every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). He has made for us, in Christ, a place of rest (Matthew 11:28). He has placed us there for our security now; for our protection in the darkness of this world. He knows about the times of rejoicing and weeping. He knows about the people who will disappoint us. He knows about the battles in which the devil will engage us. He knows about the trials of sickness, and heartache and failure in this life. But, in the provision, He has abundantly prepared for our future. What he has built for us is all we need now; but His eye, even in the building, is on heaven. He knows there will be one night when you and I will cross the chilly waters of Jordan and reach the timeless side of eternity. We will be far removed from the troubles of the world and the new rest will be beyond our imaginations. It will be eternal (John 14:13). The loving Father has already provided what we need for all of eternity. That’s the great providence (provide-ence) of our great Father.

It is interesting to notice that in I Timothy 5:8, which speaks about the responsibility of an earthly father to “provide for his own”, the Greek word for provide, “pronoeo”, means to “look out for beforehand” or “to consider in advance”. I am thankful to be married to a the kind of man who made that little bed and who made so many more important provisions and weighty decisions in view of the future of our children. Most of all, I am unspeakably thankful to be the child of the heavenly Father, who has considered, in advance, my everlasting well-being and has provided my place of rest for this life and for eternity!