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Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Hats off to Booster-Boosters!

Today I want to say thanks to every VBS promoter, teacher, transportation provider, ice cream churner, learning center participant, craft artisan, and hoarse Booster belter in our great fellowship. I’ve been to VBS somewhere for at least 60 years, excepting one COVID year, and most years, to multiple ones. I’d say I’ve been a booster. I’d say, in all of that time, I’ve had hundreds of people encourage me through the various Bible schools in ways that I can never even fully know. Here’s to all of the people that made some great VBSes happen this summer. 

You’re tired. But I know you. You are already on to the next evangelistic opportunity. But the next one might not be as effective as all that amazing tender-heart-touching that you just finished at those learning centers after those kids quietly filed out hoping to win the quiet banner. 

A friend, Bob, told me a true story a few years ago, about the power of one invitation to VBS. Bob was visiting in another area of the country and was eating supper with the local preacher, Dan.  The conversation went something like this: 

Bob: So how did you become a gospel preacher? 

Dan: Well, I grew up in a non-religious home and I went to college and married Sara. But marriage was harder than we thought. We were young and selfish and the children were taking a lot of energy and, to tell the truth, we were both ready to call it quits. We fought all the time and our marriage was in bad shape. 

Bob: I’m sorry… but you made it!

Dan: Yes. As you can see, we have survived and we are very happily married. To make a long story short, one night was very bad and Sara said “Let’s just get a divorce.” We had thought of that many times, but this time it was an awfully dark time and I said “Why don’t we try to go to church somewhere before we give up? Let’s just try that one more thing. Who knows? Maybe there will be someone there who can help us…talk to us…direct us.  But Sara said “Where would we even go? I don’t even know where to start. Church seems like a big thing to do if you have no clue.” 

Bob: Well, she was right about that. 

Dan: Well, I knew that, but I was desperate. I told Sara to wait a minute and I went upstairs and pulled out a little trunk of things I’d kept from my growing-up years. I rummaged through and found a little Bible that I had been given when I was a little boy at a Vacation Bible School in our community. I could not remember the name of the church, but I opened up the Bible and there it was, stamped on the inside cover. It was the church of Christ in the little town where I grew up. 

Bob: Well, how about that!

Sara (beaming at Dan): He said, “Why don’t we try the church of Christ?” The rest is history. 

Dan: The people were kind. The preacher there and his wife became our friends. They helped us immensely.They studied with us and he baptized us. They modeled a good marriage. A lot of people did. Christianity saved our marriage. We kept learning and growing and one day, a couple of years later, we decided to go to a preaching school and here we are. 

I don’t need to comment further. This couple was doing a great work in a place where the gospel was desperately needed. Their providential direction was on the inside cover of a VBS award Bible. No one in that little Bible School likely ever knew of the great good being done because of one invitation to VBS, one teacher, one effective Booster, Booster. Colleyanna sat at my dining room table and carefully thought about friends and made her little invitations for them to come to our VBS last week. She sent out a bunch of invitations. (Ezra did his at home.) Wouldn’t it be so great if some marriage is blessed, some soul is baptized one day, or some little boy grows up to be a gospel preacher because Colleyanna or someone else who brought visitors to Bible School, took the time to invite?…And then all that army of people took on the massive effort  to build, craft, churn, teach, sing and be a Booster?

 

 

 

 

Photos credit: Katie Holder.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Mama’s K.I.S.S. #73–Teaching Kids to Teach Bible Classes

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 71 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”.

I remember well at the age of 15, becoming the teacher for the five-year-olds at the Adamsville church of Christ. I loved getting to teach and felt honored that the elders thought I could “handle that.” Of course the prequel to that was being the daughter of two people who were both actively teaching in the program and being called on to prepare materials and to be a part of many a cookout in our big yard for those who had achieved the attendance and memory work for their fifth grade year. My mom taught that grade and, every quarter, she planned a day at our house  for the students who were diligent throughout the quarter. (I was amazed at her funeral, how many came to me to tell me they still remembered her classes as the best of their lives, …”and she rewarded us with hot dogs at your house! That was soooo fun!”)

Growing up in a “culture” of teaching was hugely influential to the classes I was able to teach through the years, and to our family Bible times as our own kids were growing up.  I taught those five-year-olds until I left for college and it was a natural thing to sign up for teaching the four-year-olds with Miss Lora Laycook at the Henderson church when I went to Freed Hardeman University. From her, I learned invaluable tips and I honed skills. It was truly a joy to go in the basement of that old building Sunday after Sunday and watch a master teacher. I still sing songs with my grandchildren that I learned in that little room. Miss Lora spent  hours on hours each week making little clothespin dolls and cutting little robes out for their robes, making boxes for the kids to peek in as she told the story and making up songs that told the stories, musically. She was truly incredible, by the standards of college girls who had the privilege of observing and helping. Every semester there were two or three that had the blessing in that little concrete room in the basement. There was a never any curriculum bought…only a creative 80-year-old gentle woman with a meek spirit.

So for today and for “practical” get your pre-teens involved in helping you prepare for your Bible classes. If you aren’t teaching, get busy. I hear a lot of “…we just can’t find teachers.” Shame on the women in the kingdom when this is the case. We should be doing better; not just for our congregations, but specifically for our own children. It’s hard for us to show our own children the value of souls if we are too complacent to put any time into the most teachable, reachable souls in our own circles. 

If you haven’t been teaching,, go to your leaders and ask them to put you on the list. If you need to be in the classroom with a pro first, ask for that privilege. But whatever you do, stop showing your own kids the relative unimportance of little souls. Show the reality: Each child in the Bible school classroom has a soul that’s more important than all the money in all the pockets of all the millionaires of all the world, and, as for me and my household, we are determined to try to put Jesus in each one of those souls. Then get your own kids cutting and pasting and being part of the primary evangelism. 

You can do this. NOT doing it may be one of the most damning concessions you make in the area of service and evangelism to the little people in your house. 

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Digging Deep: Start Inviting

Kick-off for Digging Deep 2024-25 is just six weeks away. Topic reveal from PTP-Sevierville is just a month out. I hope you are inviting your friends. The WORD will change their lives, especially those who may be outside of Christ. Last week, I was at PTP-Branson and was immersed in encouragement because of the power of the WORD in lives: 

A cancer survivor who found the Comfort study just as she was diagnosed. She kept saying “It got me through.” 

A group of diggers that has planted three more groups of diggers in surrounding towns. 

A group of diggers which has become a respite for a mother who is grieving mightily the death of her daughter. 

A woman in her eighties who was invited to study by a woman in her thirties and this eighty-year-old has, thus,  become an extra grandmother to four babies under four years old, as the younger of the two (and her good husband) is doing a phenomenal job rescuing a group of embryos for life and then, heaven! 

A bunch of women from bunches of places who came to investigate and begin studying. This is always the best. You don’t know what you are missing till you get in the WORD!

A mama who just emptied her nest and, who simultaneously cared for her mother as she passed on to glory. She is really grieving (I can so relate to that. I was not a happy empty-nester, while losing parents.), but she is trusting the WORD, studying along, and evangelizing. She is finding His blessings still. 

Spanish translators, Marlon and Jacky Retana, who are chomping at the bits to get the new study translated for Spanish speaking sisters. Their work is here, if you would like to see what they do: https://marlonretana.com/about_me/

I’m just saying: Cindy Colley does not ever change lives. Digging Deep does not necessarily change lives. The friendships and closeness of the groups do not always change lives. The fun we have with t-shirts and mugs and tea towels does not change lives. But the WORD changes lives! I’m just telling you, you will never get to the bottom of the knowledge and every single bit of it will be relevant-to-the-max to whatever it is you are going through. The WORD never fails. It IS the lamp to our feet and the light for our lifetime’s pathways (Psalm 119:105).

SO be the conduit for positive, eternal change. Ask a friend to dig in the WORD with you. New study starts September 1st. I’m already there in my heart!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

What are the Chances?…or… Who is My God?

My OBGYN physician is the number one in the field in Huntsville, Alabama. What are the chances that my daughter and I would have appointments for check-ups on the very same day, let alone back to back (one hour apart), without one of us ever knowing that the other had made an appointment. What in the world? 

So, I told Glenn that she would be back to our neighborhood a few minutes after I had to leave home, since my appointment was one hour later than hers and he was happy to keep the kids till she could get back—just a few minutes. By the time I got to the doctor’s office, I was pretty sure Hannah was on her way home to the children. I ran into that office. It had been a hectic day. The evening before, at VBS, I had left my phone on a charger in the auditorium of the church building. On top of that, I had gotten locked out of the registration process for my doctor’s appointment, because I couldn’t find my password. On top of that, my husband had gotten me a temporary healthcare plan for a short time until all the benefits of old age kick in (I’m willing to wait for those.) I do not have an insurance card yet, but I had even left the policy info at home. And did I mention I had no phone?!

Realizing that I was likely not even going to get to see this doctor today, I frantically began trying to contact Glenn using my laptop. I hoped he would check facebook or that my SMS text would make it to him. 

While I was sitting on the edge of my seat doing this seemingly fruitless exercise, I ran across a group text message that included my husband. And the last entry in this group was from my daughter, Hannah. It said something to this effect: “I’m just sitting here in this waiting room just across from Mom. I wonder how long it is going to take her to realize I am here. This is entertaining.”

I lifted my head a little and turned it slightly to the left and there she was, shaking with laughter; her poor mother over there losing her mind (not to mention phone, insurance card and place in line at the doctor.) By now it had been so long that Glenn was wanting to know what else, besides that one lone can of Beef-a-Roni, was for lunch for the four of them. But his wonderings were not being transmitted to me.) She’d been laughing for ten minutes. 

“You get over here with that phone. What are you doing over there laughing at me?” 

And so she did. I guess our top-notch OBGYN had some deliveries to make this morning, because, Hannah and I got called in, both very late, but almost exactly at the same time. She left the phone with me and we came out at the same time, so I could easily return it. 

I believe in Providence. I know I cannot ascertain  exactly when and how He is providentially working in my life. But I do know that, for the past ten years, it has been an extremely rare occurrence that this daughter and I have had any opportunity to do lunch (or any meal or even any snack) by ourselves…just the two of us. SO I asked her, just off the cuff, if she could go to lunch with me. “Well, I think that’d be up to Dad.” 

I called Glenn and I must admit, he said “Ummm….let’s see…” He asked a few logistical questions about nap time and then readily agreed. I can tell you….Never have we needed to have a quiet conversation more than we did today at lunch. 

Providence even in the little things? We had doctor appointments on the same day and they ended up being at the same time, facilitated by the timely births of babies. The phone I desperately needed was, embarrassingly enough, right there in the room with me. It was nap time for the younger children.  And we got to go to lunch! It was such a quiet and peaceful chicken salad. (I didn’t even get any phone calls and Hannah only got one. Some things are great about not having a phone!) We didn’t solve the problems of the world, but we did pray about them. I don’t know, but I think God provided this desperately needed little solace for us. He is good, even in the little details!

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matt. 10:29–30)

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD. (Prov. 16:33)

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. (Prov. 16:9)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Mama’s K.I.S.S. #72–Lonely Birthdays

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 71 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”.

Most of you have monthly birthday lists in your church bulletins. Identify every person in your congregation who lives alone. Use the birthday list to mark a calendar or planner with the birthdays of each of these people. Your calendar entries can include college students, widows, unmarried, divorced people or young married people whose spouses are deployed. For the next year, determine that your children will visit each of these people on their birthdays with a small gift and cookies or a cake, sing “Happy Birthday” and be generous with the hugs. This is a game-changer for these people, but it’s also a really solid servant building block. Your children will make friends and there will be reciprocal encouragement.

Your children will receive thank-you notes often and the gift recipients will be looking for your kids at the services of the church. God will take the loaves and fishes that are these birthday remembrances and turn them into much good for a long time. When parents are providing transportation and helping with funding for these projects and, most especially, praying over each gift, God will do more than we are asking or imagining. (Ephesians 3:20) And there will be some happy birthdays in your neighborhood.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

PTP Blessings Countdown

PTP Crazy Blessings Countdown:

10. When I got to my first lesson of the day, I realized I’d left the power point thumb drive in the room. Our room is at the opposite end of the hotel and is on the floor number TEN; the very top floor. I literally ran all the way to our room, in heels, and retrieved that thumb drive and sprinted back to the room where the presentation was to be. I met some ladies on my way back who were glad to see me. They said they thought they were late to my session. 

 

9. There were NINE important items that our family lost in the last few hours:

My Bible. (Cody McCoy is my hero.)

Glenn’s phone. (Fogarty is Glenn’s hero.)

My thumb drive (Fogarty is my hero, too.)

Eliza Jane.

The “Moritz” room. I thought I knew right where that was.

The sole of one of my blue sandals. We’ve walked a lot this week!

Colleyanna’s Branson PTP coin. We’re going to see if they have any more tomorrow.

My train of thought when a loud and majestic ballroom music soundtrack began to play through the sound system while I was speaking about entertainment choices in a large room. It was epic as I was just starting to “hammer down” on a point about entertainment and a living sacrifice. 

Our minds when I spilled a large iced soft drink all over Eliza at supper and she began to scream as If I had dropped her into a vat of boiling tar.  

8. There were EIGHT minutes left before I was to speak when I sprinted back to the room to retrieve the power point drive. You can make art from diagonal corner to corner of the hotel in four minutes in traffic. 

7. SEVEN sweet sisters in the Digging Deep session were completely and confidently finished with all assignments through the month of June. I’m so very proud of them. Several more are very close and will be finished with the entire study by the end of August.

6.  SIX is how many people squeezed into our little supper booth at a very crowded restaurant in this crowded town. SIX very hungry, hot, very thirsty people who were thankful for sitting and for water! We are spiritually hydrated, though.

5. FIVE is the number of lectures that I got to attend today; partially or in totality. I wish I could attend every one. SO thankful for the ‘later-listening” technology. 

4. FOUR-year old class. That’’s the class Eliza Jane ended up in, though she was registered with the threes. She decided she was ack-sually four and she should be in the big-girl class and (drumroll, please) she decided that she did not need her pacifier in the big girl class!  This is huge for this “I-will give-you-the-shirt-off-my-back-but-not-my-paci” girl! PTP is a place of unbelievable maturation!

3. How many kids were in our car for twelve hours to come to this place? THREE!…That’s do-able…right? Barely.  

2. TWO thousand people assembling to grow in Him! 

  1. ONE body, and ONE Spirit, even as we are called in ONE hope of His calling, ONE lord, ONE Faith, ONE baptism, ONE God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in us all!   We are ONE. We are His and we are restored. 

ZERO!—ZERO regrets. Having this amazing July blessing right in between three camps and a VBS (which starts Sunday) is totally worth the wear. We are grateful to an amazing team of planners, movers, shakers, who made this happen at the culminating point of years of envisioning. There’s one man here, running the children’s program, whose wife had a baby on Monday in another state. That’s dedication…(mostly on the part of that amazing wife and mother!…I love her!)