Browsing Tag

Parenting

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Purity Day: 350 Saturdays

If you live an average lifetime, you will have about 3500 Saturdays–the days we usually consider off-days. If you are raising a child, about 900 of those Saturdays will fall during the years that your child is growing up in your home. About 350 of those Saturdays will fall during what we call the “teen years.” Three hundred-fifty  may seem like a lot of off-days, but when you think about science fairs, sick Saturdays, athletic or arts commitments, and homework, the bank of days that you might be using for something that pertains to the soul–the immortal person you are raising– may diminish significantly and without much consideration of the loss. While you might argue that all these activities are good and  pertain to character development, and thus to the soul (and you would be largely correct), there are some Saturday activities that are so practically connected to the choices that determine destiny that their significance just takes my breath away.

Here’s one. May I encourage you to consider this opportunity for your daughters? The topics covered will be of great value. I know you cannot attend every single purity day with your daughter, but I challenge you to choose at least one this year. Here’s a great one. There will be another one later in the year at West Huntsville. Choosing both (different speakers/different approaches to the same important topic) is even better! I’m grateful for those who have taken the large amounts of time (several Saturday’s worth) and effort to coordinate something so powerful in scope for our girls.

https://www.facebook.com/Purity-Day-for-Girls-at-Fairview-church-of-Christ-855279184537314/

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 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

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!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

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

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

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

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

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

“Yeah” he said. 

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

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

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

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

Mama’s K.I.S.S. #49–Babysitting for Free!

As you know, if you’ve been reading, for quite some time, I’ve occasionally been running little installments called “Mama’s K.I.S.S.” I know that lots of readers could give many more and far more creative ideas than I can offer, but these installments are just a few tried and true and mostly old-fashioned ideas for putting service hearts in our kids.  This is number 49 of a list of one hundred ways we train our kids to serve. K.I.S.S. is an acronym for “Kids In Service Suggestions”.

This one needs no explanation, but it’s an all-time favorite for the servant heart. Both of my children, a girl and a boy, learned so much from volunteering to help Christian moms accomplish errands to his glory, study with others, have a date night with their husbands or just catch up on being keepers at home. Sometimes, when our kids were younger, they would keep the children in our home, so adult hands and eyes were present if they needed guidance. As our kids became teens, they were adept at keeping babies in their own homes or even tagging along as helper during a mom’s outing. Finally, they both were able to transfer those car seats to their vehicles and take the children on outings to give the busy moms a break. I remember when Caleb was a college student and working at Apologetics Press, the AP moms were amazed that he knew how to maneuver those car seats and take those kids shopping or out to eat. Best of all, he would ask the parents for these opportunities rather than the other way around!

Often, the teens in our congregation offer free baby-sitting at the building for the parents in the church. It’s a highlight, for sure, for the young ones involved. (Think cartoons on a big screen and popcorn and crafts and hide and seek in the auditorium.) It’s a super opportunity for the parents to get Christmas shopping done or have a date night. But the biggest spiritual bonus, again, probably happens in the hearts of the youth group. They become closer to the young families in the church, more comfortable with the tiny ones, better prepared to teach in the cradle roll and the primary classes and we see them sitting with families on Sundays and helping parents to offer better worship.

Now, all of this is not to say that it’s a mistake for your teens to have “real”, for-pay baby-sitting jobs. In fact, this is great practice for that scenario. First, though, it’s important to let your kids become better for the service. As a bonus, smart parents of toddlers will one day be looking to hire the teens who’ve shown that they enjoy being with their little ones. As your kids grow into the teen years, they will have lots of opportunities for both paid and not-for-profit baby-sitting.