Dear Baby G…

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Dear Baby G,

You make life exciting these days, never knowing at which moment my phone may ring and I’ll be grabbing my bags and heading south; hoping I will make it in time to be with your mom and dad in the delivery room. I’ve never been anywhere but in the bed in a delivery room. I’m not sure how I will feel there with your dad watching the little girl to whom I gave birth giving birth to you. I’ve been trying to tell that girl, your mama, not to be afraid. I think maybe the health professionals these days give a few too many classes. They have your mom wondering if the most natural things in the world, like giving birth to you and breast-feeding you and nurturing you are extraordinary feats requiring exceptional ability. But you and I are on the same page about this. We know that just because you will be a boy with exceptional abilities to accomplish extraordinary feats, that doesn’t mean that it really takes a lot of know-how to get you going. God will just keep on doing what He has done for about 60 centuries and you will, with His help, make your entrance into the world whether your mom and dad remember all the stuff from childbirth class or not.

Still I am glad they wanted to go. You are a very blessed little boy. The majority of children in America today do not have two diligent parents who are married to and in love with each other. About one in five pre-born babies, like you, are not even wanted by their parents and their lives are terminated before they ever leave the womb. You are wanted, loved and joyfully anticipated by two parents and two sets of grandparents, neither of whom can quite comprehend why all of their friends who are grandparents have lost some of their social skills and a great many of their “other” interests. (You know who you are, you “Mimi”s and “Lolly”s.) I mean they seem normal till someone brings up some funny grandchild-ism.  Then the conversation turns into a senior talk tourney where the object is to keep one-upping the tales of grandchild antics and the champion is determined by who told the last and loudest “little punkin”  funny before the pictures started inevitably coming out. I said we do not fully understand the grandparent games, but I did not say, Baby G, that we do not want to play on your behalf!

And, by the way, sweet baby…your parents are crazy (in a good way, but they are crazy)! Did you know that while you were stretching and kicking and pushing with all your might on those hip bones, your mom and dad were moving into a new house??!! That right! At 39 weeks, your mom was moving! Thanks to Brian and Beth Giselbach, Glenn Colley, Mike, Beth and Will Tidwell and the great crew from Apologetics Press (www.apologeticspress.org…you should go buy a book and tell them I sent you!), we got that huge truck loaded! But did you know that the huge moving truck broke down on the way to that house and that all your sweet little belongings had to kind of slide toward the back of that truck as it was hooked up to a massive tow truck!!?? It was the sort of moving-truck-tow-truck day that you will dream about experiencing when you are three, but it was a nightmare for your folks. And then getting to your new house was an adventure, too. It was  three days without water and four days without hot water!  Your grandmother has not had a hot shower for three days now. (It feels like a South American mission trip!) And did you know that we checked into three hotels in a ten hour period as we tried to shield your mom (and me) from the cough we inevitably get from smoking rooms? (You can thank us later for the low numbers on your richter scale in there.)

But I said they are crazy in a good way. The good way is that all their moves, their decision-kind of moves and their real-truck-kind of moves, are because they love souls. I really believe that. And I really believe they love yours the most of all. They are in the business of helping kids to heaven as they work with Lads to Leaders and as Ben preaches for the Lightwood church. You are blessed to be in a family whose craziness is about the Lord’s business.

So some wee small hours in several mornings have made your sweet little room come together…and at last, I even got to wash your clothes…with running water! You have to move soon, too, and now you have a home!  It may be the only room in your house that is “together”, but you have a bed, a changing table, a chair for being rocked and a closet full of clean clothes. You are blessed. I can’t wait to help teach you to say please and thank-you to your crazy mother and father. But, mostly, I’m excited to teach you to say thank-you to your all-providing, all-wise Father. He is the One who is always there in every wee small hour, making sure you have a forever home! I love you, Baby G!

Sister to Sister: T O D A Y…

tacobell_taco_party_pack_01                  Today-

…On the way to worship I got a text from my friend, who is a brand new Christian. “I am so excited. My husband is coming with me.” And so he did! How many times have I taken it for granted that my husband is going with me to worship!

…We had a prayer before our service for a brand new baby. We prayed for her father, who is not a Christian, to be the kind of Father that he wants and needs to be. How many times have I taken for granted the fact that the father of my children has always been a faithful Christian?

…We prayed, as a church, for a home recently under attack by the devil. How often do I take for granted the blessing of thirty-four wonderful years married to the same man?

…We had a meal together as a church family, but I forgot about it until I got there this morning, so I sent my daughter to Taco Bell to pick up 30 tacos. I didn’t even think twice about that. But how many times have I been in mission areas where people did not have access to any fast food at all, and, even if they had, they would scarcely have had money enough to purchase it?

…I had asked for folks at West Huntsville to bring me the center cardboard rollers from their toilet paper rolls for a project I am doing at PTP. I had about eight big bagfuls to bring home from services today. Definitely a first world response to that request! I never even think to be thankful for toilet paper. (But I did think of it once in a “bathroom” that was a hole in the ground on the mission field in Ukraine!)

…We were almost out of gas on our way home and so we stopped at the station and filled up, not one, but two tanks. That’s right. Three people went to services in two cars. I know people who ride bikes for miles and miles on dirt roads to worship. How often do I fill up without even thinking of the luxury that it is?

…I came home and packed up a roast, two containers of home-baked cookies and two containers of watermelon to send home with my daughter. How many people “perish with hunger” while, in our house, there is “bread enough and to spare”?

…I listened to three packed rows of children recite Bible facts in our “Kidsing” class. How many times have I visited churches in which there were not enough children to even form a class?

…I kept moving down the pew as the friends of Nuris, who has only been a Christian for three weeks, just kept pouring in for our evening service. The family next to me moved to a different section to make room for all of these people coming in just a bit late.  She had brought a dozen people, in all…twelve people who, with the exception of two, had never been in a worship assembly of the church of Christ. How often do I, someone who has been a Christian for 45 years, fail to ask my friends and neighbors who need the Lord to come learn of him with me?

…Our elders got up and addressed our congregation asking for prayers for their wisdom and for people who are dealing with a very difficult situation. How many times do I take good shepherds for granted, when so many have no shepherds at all?

…A very sweet sister stopped and said some very encouraging words to me…words I really needed to hear. But only this past week, I heard from a fellow-preacher’s wife who is receiving quite the opposite of encouragement (in fact, blatant and unwarranted criticism) from a very outspoken sister at every service she attends. How many times I fail to realize the great blessing of strength that comes from sweet sisters!

…Our fellowship hall was abuzz again in the evening with a good-bye party for six college students who are off to Freed Hardeman University and another couple of kids who are off to Auburn. I guess I take it for granted, too, that almost all of our kids who want to go to college can go. That’s surely a first-world situation.

…We stopped at Zaxby’s for supper. Now kickin’ chicken wings with no cooking?… I hope I don’t ever take that for granted!

…A sweet friend telephoned when I got home this evening to talk to me about an addiction she is overcoming and a new start she is trying to make. She’s a young teen and her father has addictions of his own.  I’m sure I have neglected to express my gratitude to God for  the situation of my birth; modest by the standards of the world, but rich in the real treasures…a birth to two Christian parents.

…I’m lying beside my husband who is watching an online documentary about Henry VII, while I am typing on my own laptop. I know couples, even millennials in other countries, who have never owned one, much less two computers.

…There’s a cat that we are pet-sitting on the foot of our bed. Clocks are ticking around us and crickets are chirping outside our window. We are tired at the end of this and every Sunday. On our way home, Glenn said, ’Isn’t it nice to have a place…our quiet place to come home to? Don’t you just love waking up in that wonderful spot every morning with the light streaming through the windows as you contemplate the peace and how that nobody is going to bother you?” He’s right, you know. (I was thinking of laundry, PTP lessons, appointments, cooking, cleaning, sewing and this wretched way that my back is aching.)  Maybe he is a little bit of a romantic. Maybe he is just good at not taking so much for granted. Maybe he is meek and is “inheriting” this earth (Matthew 5:5). Whatever you tag it, looking through the lens of your blessings rather than your burdens is a great way to “own” your own surroundings. It is a better way to be affected by your “world”. It is one way to “inherit the earth.”  I want to be more like my husband. Today.

p.s. This Wednesday at noon: deadline for ordering WH purity day t-shirts. Go here for details: http://thecolleyhouse.org/someone-who-loves-you-went-to-a-great-purity-day-this-weekend-and-all-you-can-get-is-this-beautiful-t-shirt.

 

Hectic Holidays?

Are you experiencing hectic holidays? Are you a little (or a lot) behind on the shopping or the wrapping or the baking? Or is it the budget that’s the problem? Are you finding less time for Bible Study? Are you worried about being around difficult relatives or maybe getting around to all of the kids’ activities? If these are your holiday stresses, can I just tell you that you are very blessed? In the last week, I’ve been in conversation with a friend who just discovered the adultery of a mate, another who just found out that she’s been placed on an urgent heart transplant list, and yet another who is daily making trips to a nursing home to “visit” with a spouse who is rarely awake and never cognizant. A part of coping is the realization that, as we look around, we always see someone for whom we can offer comfort–someone who has a tougher path than do we at the moment.

Nevertheless, when the man who walked across America was asked what’s the most difficult thing about the journey, he replied, “It’s the sand that gets in my shoes.” Sometimes it’s the little material concerns that can take the merry out of the yule. I, personally, rarely scream out in fear, but that dead mouse I uncovered on the pillow in the cabin the other day, as I was cleaning, did make me shriek and flee. There was a perfectly good mousetrap with perfectly yummy peanut butter just a few feet from him, but, oh no, he was too good to die in a trap. He preferred the stately layout on the guest bed, which, of course required the washing of about three loads of linens, comforters, etc…and some pretty stout sterilization–all that, after I enlisted Glenn’s help to dispatch the corpse. (This was a disgustingly hairy mouse, too–maybe Persian or Birman…I don’t know.) Then I got in a hurry and crammed way too many things in the dryer and ruined a pillow that didn’t have room to “tumble” and got scorched as it became lodged against the heating element. I really loathed that mouse.

Then the following day was the much-awaited counter top installation. New soapstone counter tops from the husband for Christmas is an exciting present. I told the installers when they came to measure, though, that I would be perfectly happy to wait until January to have them installed, since I had invited three-hundred-fifty people to my house on the eleventh of December for a big holiday snack party. To me, the probability of something being totally unfinished or not fitting or broken in the process seemed pretty big. I needed that kitchen to be done, with all of it’s ramifications, at least a couple of days before the party. But the workmen were positive. They would come on Thursday (the eighth of December) and, since everything would be precut, they would be all done in three hours and leave with no clean-up necessary. I kept wanting an absolute guarantee and they kept reiterating that this was a three hour deal.

I kid you not….I looked up from my computer in my bedroom which adjoins the kitchen and they were cutting soapstone with gargantuan saws in my kitchen! Texas-sized dust clouds were rising and gusting into pantries filled with cans, and dishes and utensils and cake decor supplies and on top of cabinets lined with cookie jars and on curtains and into all the other rooms of the house. I was remembering that painful needle test that I had done and all those pricks all over my back that revealed I was just so highly allergic to dust and I was thinking, too, about the host of people who had been invited over as I walked through my kitchen leaving footprints in the dust. All these people were coming to the dust bowl in three days and I had to travel to two different out of town destinations between Thursday and Sunday. (One of them was out of state.) I’m not proud to say it, but I cried. I left the house and went to run some errands that had to be done before Sunday and I think I cried all the way to the store. When I wasn’t crying, I was coughing. By the way, my idea of enjoying the tree is not at three in the morning when I am coughing up a lung and sleep, if it’s to be had at all, requires vertical positioning rather than horizontal.

And then, that night, Glenn and I made one of those out-of-town trips to talk with some people who are some of the dearest on earth to us. The struggle in their lives at this holiday season is unbearably painful. When someone chooses to walk away from God, knowing full well that it will destroy family ties on this earth, and that souls will ultimately suffer forever in hell because of selfish sin, the pain for the faithful who love the sinner is extreme. It saps the joy from all the other events that should bring pleasure. It, in short, torments. It is the foretaste of hell in the same way that Christian fellowship is the precursor to heaven. There is very little that we or anyone can do to comfort. Of all the stresses humans experience, the pain that sin brings is the most sorrowful trial we will ever face. When we lose the hope of heaven for one that we love, the loss cannot be reclaimed and it is incalculable.

…And a few hours and a cup of coffee later, at two a.m. on Friday morning, I arrived at Hannah’s house. If you’re a new reader you need to know that Hannah is my just-married daughter and she was hosting her congregation’s Christmas party on Friday night. I had promised her my Friday to help clean and decorate and I had promised to bring some lights and a door swag and some Santas and snowmen. I had pretty much jam-packed my husband’s little Miata with the decking for the halls. (He needed my SUV for doing a book haul, so it was a tight squeeze for me and all those snowmen.) I got out of the car in that wee small hour of the morning and promptly and most immediately locked my keys and all my clothes, my purse, and all the tinsel town I had brought in the car. I’ve heard that, when one door closes, another opens, I was really wishing it could be one of those car doors, but al least they had left the house door unlocked and the light on for me. There was only one thing to do, at that point, and I did it. I went to bed. I had never spent the night in that place before, but I found the guest room and crawled in that bed–clothes, make-up, and all. Like Scarlet O’Hara, I just decided I would “worry about that tomorrow.”

The next morning as Han crawled in the bed with me, I think she was a little surprised that I was already dressed! My husband was surprised, too, when I called to ask him if he’d like to drive an hour-and -a half and meet me for a cup of coffee. “And, oh yeah,” I added, “Could you bring your Miata key with you?”

Well, he’s just the sweetest man on the planet about keys locked in the car. He’s had so much practice at this particular rescue effort that he does it like a pro. Besides that, he speaks at marriage seminars all the time and tells husbands “You know, you are going to go and unlock the car for your wife. You just are. So why not get a few brownie points for doing it by refusing to complain and just go unlock her car and then buy her a cup of coffee and let her tell you what a blessing you are in her life? You ARE going to the locked car. But you do get to choose what you get when you unlock it. You can be unlocking some pain or you can be unlocking some joy in your world.” He’s got that lesson down.

So I borrowed a car and a phone and started out to meet my husband. I turned out of my daughter’s drive, went about a half-mile where I found myself looking at a flashing blue light and in a short line for a license check. A license, by the way, is one of the many things securely stored away in the Miata.

I’m going to stop there. (This is getting way too long.) You get the point. It was just one of those weeks. I’m writing in the aftermath. The mouse has found his way to a new spot in the circle of life. A couple of bottles of Pine Sol and some Murphy’s Soap and some aching muscles later, the parties both happened and they were fun. I learned you can wear the same clothes and make-up for forty-eight hours or so and you’re not really much the worse for it. I really learned or remembered a lot of things. Here are a few things to remember when you finally get to the end of your tinsel rope this holiday season:

  1. Not all surprises during the holidays will be good ones. In other words, the mouse may be hairy and he may not be in the trap. Not everything about your warm and wonderful holiday will be warm and wonderful. Lower your expectations and you will have a much better chance of meeting them.
  2. There are no guarantees when it comes to material things (James 4:13-15). So stop putting your confidence in them.
  3. Trying to cram too many things in a day is like trying to cram too many things in the dryer. Something ends up getting stuck, getting burned or having to be replaced. Often we just need to take a deep breath and be still and know that He is God (Psa 46:10). Every gift doesn’t have to be handmade, every cobweb doesn’t have to be swept down and every ornament doesn’t have to be hung every single year.
  4. Defiled things are not worth crying over. Defiled people are (Luke 19:41).
  5. Comfort is for all times of the year and is best given by those who know the comfort of the heavenly Father. There will come a time in the lives of all of us when we will desperately need the comfort of the Father to flow through fellow Christians. I have been there and, if you have lived very long, so have you (II Cor. 1:4). Remember, there are Good Samaritan moments all around us every day and those who really need us may not have their names on an angel tree anywhere. It might be some young mother who needs an hour or two of kids free shopping. It might be the grandmother who needs help cleaning or shopping before all her kids come or it might be the elderly man at the nursing home who has no one to come and take him home for a Christmas meal. It might be your children, who, in the midst of the holiday home-stretch, just need you to take time to sit down and watch “The Grinch who Stole Christmas” (in the short cartoon version) with them. It might help you learn a lesson or two while you’re at it.
  6. Sleep is underrated. It’s really important to get proper rest during the holidays. It’s not so efficient to drive to a different state to help someone, but be so sleepy when you get there that you lock the keys in the car. Rest was important for the Lord. The demands didn’t ever go away, but sometimes He did…just to rest (Mark 6:31). Lots of life’s issues find resolve in a good nap.
  7. Try to remember that other people may just need a good nap, too. Give the grumpy store clerk, the nasty people in the postal line or the workmen in the dust cloud a break. It’s hard, but it’s right (Romans 12:10-21).
  8. Whatever good thing it is–if you’re going to do it regardless–then don’t murmur about it (I Cor. 10:10).
  9. Thank God for good people who are on your team–and thank those people, too. If you have one person who comes to your rescue when needed, you are most blessed. If that person is your husband, treat him with respect and honor. Let that person know that you count him when you count your blessings. It’s truly wonderful to have someone nearby in the day of calamity (Proverbs 27:10).
  10. Wherever you can peg yourself on the holiday stress meter, be sure you are on the blessing trail. If you don’t know about the blessing trail, go back and read the blog post for August 5, 2011 and September 1, 2011.

Happy Holidays!

Life in Survival Mode

Sometimes we have to live through some demanding days… some rough spots on the road that can make us start surviving rather than really living. I have come to the point, in recent days, when I don’t really care if my purse matches my clothes. I’ve stopped unpacking and repacking and started just throwing a few items on top of what was already in the bag from the last trip and the one before that– and figuring I can make it work. And if it doesn’t work…well…it still works. I have had to omit even more of the yard work, which, for me, means a jungle outside my door rather than the former English garden. (An English garden, to me, meant an overgrown conglomeration of weeds and wildflowers. English garden just sounds more like I meant for it to be that way.) I rush out the door without remembering to pick up my wedding band out of the kitchen windowsill. Hair styling has gone by the wayside, too, in favor of a ponytail. My husband sometimes has to look in the dryer for socks instead of the drawer and in the dishwasher for a bowl rather than the cabinet shelf. There is a bowl of cat food in my basement floor and our only family cat, Baxter, who currently lives with Hannah, has not visited my house since the Christmas holidays. And, by the way, I just noticed that the crystal stems with holly and ivy are still sitting on the buffet. My scented candle is rarely burning and yet my candle’s burning at both ends. I go to the grocery store without my list or to the cleaners without the laundry, or to the library without the books. Glenn sometimes calls me when I am out of town and says, “Now where are you again?” The bad part about that is that I have to think a minute before I answer. It’s surviving—not really living.

But sometimes that’s what happens when you squeeze some unexpected things into life. I’ve had the privilege of speaking to ladies on spiritual topics some twenty times thus far this year. Every time I speak, I am by far the most blessed of all the ladies in attendance. If I had just done that, what a blessed life I’d be living in 2011! But Hannah threw planning a wedding into the mix. Now I’ve not ever been the mother of the bride, but who knew? Who knew what all that entails when blessed with a gajillion people who truly are friends in the most real sense of friendship? And my dad…well he threw a broken wrist into the mix. Now this entails a bunch of driving…both to him and for him. But seriously now…who gets to have an 88 year old father who is determined to recuperate and go back to his driving and mowing and who hasn’t missed a class or a worship service or a fellowship meal since that fall he took in the church parking lot three weeks ago? Extremely blessed is what I am.

So I will thank Him for life in survival mode today: for ladies who want to come and hear me talk about His Word, the key to unraveling all of life’s chaos; for the jobs that are always waiting at Dad’s and for siblings and Christians there who are so good to help do them; for the wedding band in the windowsill that means I am forgetful and yet means so much more; for the child who is asking about dresses and flowers and cakes and music and for the Christian man she will marry; for the daily needs we have: socks from the dryer, bowls from the shelf, and lists at the store. It all means we’re still running the race.

Some of you are running faster and harder than I. Don’t forget to look to Jesus who knows all about survival mode. He founded and perfected our faith. He endured much that we might not grow weary. I’ve learned that there are lots of lessons about priorities when you live in survival mode. The stuff that starts to “not matter” anymore (you know, like the purse matching and hair styling) probably never did.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted (Heb. 12: 1-4).