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Blessing Trail

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

2020: In Like a Lion

In Huntsville, Alabama, 2020 brought great torrents of rain. Glenn and I telephoned 9-1-1 from our car last night to report some pretty serious flash flooding across streets that were still open and being treacherously navigated. As he made the call, on this evening in which the last of our sweet holiday company had flown back home, I thought “This is a pretty apropos ending to a torrentially blessed, but chaotic season. All we need now is to be stuck in this raging deluge.” 

But they say, “When it comes in like a lion, it goes out like a lamb.” Maybe there will be some “lamb” days—some gentle and serene days in 2020 for work and contemplation and especially for Digging Deep (https://thecolleyhouse.org/digging-deep). I’m ready to put the house back together and search for some semblance of routine. Remember, the December podcast is next Tuesday night!

We had a ton of fun company in this house (that included a suicidal squirrel…https://thecolleyhouse.org/and-prior-to-the-lesson-this-morning), a lightning storm (that took out our largest backyard tree, our internet, Roku, modem, router and a window in the cabin), a virus that hijacked our Christmas morning plans, and one awful day when they could not hear a heartbeat from my grandchild that’s still in the womb.

But you know, there’s always that blessing trail (https://thecolleyhouse.org/the-blessing-trail). All of our children, viruses and all, were here with us. (My husband is going to speak at a baby’s funeral this very morning.) We are wealthy enough to be extremely dependent on our internet. The most stressful part of its absence was that I was falling behind on my Digging Deep research and my communication with the greatest group of encouraging sisters in the world! My husband, who was standing only a few feet from that giant oak tree, is alive and well (although his hearing may be a little worse for that wear)!  Our baby was just hiding the heartbeat, after all, and went galloping like a champ during the next, more intensive sonogram. The man, who came to work on our internet, took the time to talk with me about God’s plan of salvation, about baptism for the remission of sins, and he even tested the internet by going to our West Huntsville page. He says, “My wife and I will definitely be visiting your church. It sounds like you are teaching just the Bible and that is a rare thing.” The blessing trail, now and always, just goes on and on. He is so good.

He is good, not just to those like me who are in a season of extreme prosperity in so many ways. He is good, even to those who are suffering horrible reversals today. It’s my prayer during 2020, that I can behave, EVERY day, as though I really believe He is glorious and good. When there is stress and when there is peace; when there is encouragement and when there is sharp criticism; when there is devastation and when there is exultant joy; when there is danger and when there is safety—may I constantly be reminded of his supremacy and ultimate blessing in my life as His faithful daughter (Romans 8:28). 

I know the Digging Deep study will help me to keep my mind focused in exactly this way. I’m going to invite someone to do this study with us this very week. I hope you will, too. As women are making their New Year’s resolutions, it’s a great time to ask them to jump in and make this a deeper year in His Word.

Finally, I’m going to share a few more entries from the “Merry Music” contest that concluded over the holidays (https://thecolleyhouse.org/tch-contest-the-merrys-in-the-music), because they will make you smile. But mostly, because I said I would. Have a great first week of a brand new decade. (That’s a sentence we’ll not be saying once we embark on eternity.)

 

 

 

In Oklahoma City there is a jewelry store that has their anniversary sale each December. Every year they have ads with the same jingle they’ve used for decades. One year we were singing Christmas carols and one of my sisters started singing the jingle. We all knew it so just joined in. Where I live now I no longer get OKC channels but thanks to the internet I can hear it if I want. I’ve included a link to a video of the jingle. 

Have a wonderful holiday season!

Betty Charlene Walker

The Original BC Clark Anniversary Sale Jingle

 

 

Music has always been a huge part of my life and I’m so excited to have passed that down to my girls. We LOVE to sing! I’ve been told I sing too loud during worship (I can’t help it! I love to sing praises to God) and both of my girls sing loudly and proudly the songs they know (and some they don’t know!). We sing in the car, at home, really whenever and wherever the music hits us.   I’ve always been on the shyer side, as is my youngest, but my Lizzie Jane definitely did not get that trait. She is very animated and dramatic when it comes to singing, especially if she has an audience. Since her first school program, I’ve eagerly anticipated with slight dread what she might do, whether it be sitting down during her performance to take off her shoes or taking off clothes because she was too hot on stage. This year for her Christmas concert, however, we were prepared. We talked about singing but not shouting, picked out comfortable shoes, bought a dress with short sleeves, made sure she was well rested, and practiced at home. She was really excited and couldn’t wait to get on stage. I watched her wiggle and dance in her seat, along with her classmates, and quietly sing along with the younger classes while they performed, anticipating her turn. She walked up on stage and got in her selected spot just like they practiced and gave us a big, sweet smile, the picture of pure innocence. You might be thinking as you read this, that for once in her life she got stage fright or became camera shy, but you would be wrong! The music came on for a “rock” version of “Up on the Housetop” and my girl started head banging and doing moves I’ve never seen her do before! Her voice could be heard above most of her classmates as she proudly sang and danced through the song. Laughter rang throughout the audience as my very dramatic 6 yr old performed through their next song “If I were a Reindeer”.  Several people told me afterwards they could see her in high school drama production when she’s older and they are probably right. Lizzie asked me if I was surprised about the different way they sang “Up on the Housetop” and when I told her I loved it, she gave me a big hug and said “Me too, Momma! It was so much fun! I can’t wait till next year!” Since she always manages to surprise me, I wonder what she’ll do next?! 🤷🏻‍♀️

With love, 

Melissa Plowman

P.S. I have video of her performing both songs on Facebook but they are too large to email. So if you want a giggle or need your spirits lifted check out my FB page to see her performance. pastedGraphic.png (And you really should go watch her!… CC)

 

 

Hey Cindy, I am new to the Digging Deep study this year and was introduced to it by Mitzi Jackson. I have been so blessed by it and your blog. Thank you for all you do! I even had to listen to the Mary, Martha and Lazarus lesson after reading the squirrel story. It was much needed as I tend to be a Martha.

My story involves my soon to be three year old grandson Weston. I have always enjoyed getting into the holiday spirit early and have often been teased about it by my children.

They even hid my Dolly Parton Christmas CD one year. Well, this year I started early and Weston learned every word of Jingle Bells the first day I played it, even the second lesser known verse. Well, it wasn’t long until my daughter called and said, “ Really mom! Teaching him Jingle Bells before Halloween?”  It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

Have a blessed holiday season with your family!

Love and Prayers,

Rhonda West

 

 

Our 2 girls started taking piano lessons in grade school. They were excited learning a Christmas song that year and we were all going to gather around the piano and sing on Christmas Eve. The tree was decorated. Stockings were hung. The fire was burning and the wood crackling.  They took their seat on the bench. We were ready, eagerly anticipating. And it began D…E….C…K…. T….. H….E….H…A…L…L..S…. W…..I….T…H….B….O….U…..G….H….S. You get the picture . Each note was very slow and the accompanying singers followed along with much merriment

Those little girls are 49 and 48 yrs old now. We still laugh and remember that year. One daughter is a special ed teacher in South Carolina. She taught piano and violin to students for years. Our other daughter got a music scholarship and has a beautiful singing voice. She works for the government. Our 4 grandchildren are all very musically talented. It all began one Christmas Eve singing and playing Deck the Halls on an old upright piano costing $100 surrounded by lots of love. 

Bobbie Goodnight

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Water, Bread and Meat

This week at the Colley house, we have been without internet. My husband started digging on Sunday afternoon to repair an underground water pipe that was leaking and he dug right through our internet cable. At our house, there is no television cable or dish, so the sole source of information/ entertainment/communication this week has been our two little iPhones. That means there’s been no printing at all and all of this in a week when we have Ezra, our grandson who is a bit of an avid  Sesame Street and Peppa the Pig fan. Add to that it was scheduled to ne  a week of some pretty intense problem-solving meetings via Skype and Facebook and messaging. Worst of all, it’s PODCAST WEEK! The most interesting caveat is that the podcast this week is all about the consequences of  murmuring. Yes, the study is about some people who got in some pretty big trouble for complaining about that manna in Exodus 17 and Numbers 20. I keep thinking, “You know, if those Israelites who were smitten with death by poison because they murmured could have enjoyed one percent of the luxuries I’ve enjoyed this week, they would have been wide-eyed with wonder in the wilderness!” Add to that the practical challenge of this month’s study, which is to make it through one day without verbalizing a single negative thought and I am a pretty delinquent Digger, for sure!

I love the passages of the study this month. They are rich with practical lessons. As I write, we are three hours till live podcast. There’s a make-shift tent in my living room covering a toy-strewn floor. A chubby-faced two-year-old sits beside me eating dry cereal in my bed. Tiny  crumbs are sprinkled on the brown sheet. I was already having trouble sleeping this week because I accidentally left my pillow…MY personal only-one-that’s-comfortable pillow. There’s been a mountain of laundry on the guest bed all week. There’s a huge pile of mending waiting for any day with a few extra minutes. There a dress that was supposed to be for Colleyanna’s Christmas that remains unfinished and she is quickly outgrowing it. I’m supposed to have a gallon of chili made by tomorrow for a benefit for Freed Hardeman University and I have not even purchased the ingredients yet. There are people in the cabin who have also lost their water and their internet in the all of the digging. Ezra ran in the study and interrupted a very serious counseling session Glenn was doing this morning. He poured two gallons of water out of the bathtub this afternoon and stuffed something unidentifiable up the spout of the tub.  A long list of correspondence and thank-you notes await me and there is no current means to catch up. There are still some Christmas decorations up in some of the rooms in my house and tomorrow it’s February. There is a large pile of unpacked luggage in my bedroom floor from two trips by two different people. And there is a little boy who is inviting me earnestly into his tent to “play cars” this very minute. Did my husband ask me this week if I wanted to travel to Chattanooga with him yesterday and pick up a purchase he made at an antique auction and stop on the way home for ice cream? I thought I heard that.

You know where this is going. You know because you live like this, too. Oh, you may not be living quite this frenzied this week, but you’ve had a week or two like this. And some of you are currently living crazier. But you’ve had meat to eat this week IF you wanted it. The Israelites were homeless people in the wilderness with very little variety in diet and a lot of enemies ahead to defeat. Their children did not have cribs and nurseries and their elderly did not have eldercare. They were tired from slavery and intimidated by strong nations. But still, they had a God who was providing their every need and did not take kindly to their disbelief and strife. He loathed their grumbling and punished them mightily for it. 

So here’s the list you knew I was getting to:

  1. There are 4500, more-or-less, women who are interested in the study that drives me bonkers as I try to keep up every month and it’s a study about the ransom that’s been paid for all of us. How encouraging! A bunch of those women have recently sent heartfelt notes of encouragement. I’m blessed way beyond what I could ask or imagine.
  2. We have the technology to study together thanks to wonderful elders at West Huntsville and we have Jennifer Benavides and Mike Deasy who know how to make it work for us.
  3. I have a living room for a tent instead of a tent for a living room.
  4. I have a bed with linens on it and a sweet two-year-old who loves to be there with me. 
  5. He’s chubby. His ribs have lots of flesh on them.
  6. I have a pillow and I can sleep in peace and His assurance when it’s under my head.
  7. I have a guest bed and I have clothes (even enough to make a mountain and even enough to be clothed while there’s another pile waiting to be mended and two more piles simultaneously in pieces of luggage.)
  8. I have a sewing machine (and lots of other machines).
  9. I have a granddaughter who is healthy and growing, even faster than I can sew.
  10. I have enough money to purchase food to share.
  11. I have the room for company and sweet company for the room.
  12. I have a husband who helps people with serious sinful addictions instead of the other way around.
  13. All I had to do to get the running water was unclog the spout; not strike the rock or walk to the outskirts of a city as was the case in our studies this month.
  14. We have a little cable that brings the world to our fingertips.
  15. I have lots of generous family in Him to whom I owe multiple notes of gratitude.
  16. I have reminders of a wonderful time of holiday joy with family.
  17. I have a husband who likes to buy me ice cream.

I am on my way to the promised land. He is fighting my battles and providing for all of my needs. He is my rock in the desert (I Cor. 10:2-4). How dare I murmur! He is my water (John 4) and my bread and my meat (John 6). He is my all in all. 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Merry Mayhem!

15391365_10153980383556384_9087184133480203861_oThe anticipation was the kind that brings to mind mugs of hot cider around a blazing fire with Mannheim Steamroller or Celtic Christmas accompaniment softly playing in the background as you tell stories of favorite Christmases past. It was all about seeing new babies and exchanging sentimental gifts that began with a grandmother’s stitching  or the sketching of an old preacher’s pen. It was, in thinking ahead, about chicken and dressing and smoked barbecue and eggnog and strawberry pretzel salad.  It was, in fact, in anticipation, the thing that binds families ever so tight and it was the makings of memories that you wish you could place in the minds of those in the house who are not yet old enough to make their own deposits in the long term memory accounts. All of this was the way it was in anticipation. 

In reality, you ride for an eternity in the very, very “backest” part of the back of an eight passenger SUV while your two-year-old grandson wants to “hold Mammy’-sss-hand” in the middle part of the back. That’s a feat…let me tell you…when there’s a newborn and a stash of wrapped Christmas presents including a breakable 16 X 20 framed portrait of the newborn dressed in one of those sentimental “grandmother stitchings” —all of that in between you and the one who wants to hold your hand. In reality, there’s not much Mannheim, but there’s a lot of baby mayhem. In the real world, that jello strawberry salad is turning to soup as temperatures rise while we travel over the river and through the woods. Reality has those magical gift-giving times transformed into toddler cousins mutiny with a Star Wars saber and spankings over the refusal to say the magic word, “thank-you”. 

But the outside temps were not the only ones rising. The most painful part of reality, happened on the way to the celebration in my son-in-law’s throat, little by little as he first “didn’t feel so great” and then, progressively, ‘thought he might have a fever” and then “was very, very cold.” “Burgers and Stuff” was the name of the place we could find open in Walnut, Mississippi where we finally, at long last, gathered around a table to eat an evening meal after those poor babies had traveled for eight hours. As luck would have it, Burgers and Stuff was right next door to Dollar General. (Well, that’s not really luck, I guess, since Dollar General has found a home on every corner in the Southeast in the past two years.) By this time, we were taking bets (not real bets, okay) on whether or not baby Colleyanna had a temperature. Glenn, the eternal optimist, was all about how her carseat was right above the rear heater. (Nevermind that stuff was coming out of her eyes…We had the burgers….she had the stuff, I guess.) Glenn went over to Dollar General and bought a thermometer. Sure enough, Colleyanna was up over 100 degrees and Ben was knocking on 103. Hannah was coughing non-stop and Ezra, who had already been on antibiotics for five days, was having the time of his life since neither parent felt like speaking, much less spanking. All of this was after Glenn had accidentally taken a sip from Ben’s cup when they switched seats so Ben could drive for a while.  

Two hours and a drug store visit later, we checked the Giselbachs (minus Ezra) into a hotel room, to try and not spread the “cheer.” The rest of us proceeded to the sweet grandparents’ house, where I promptly discovered that my clothes had been left at home. Rolling with the punches, I washed a spot off the front of the hoodie I was wearing and hung it up to dry. The next morning, as I was about to put it on again, I discovered that neither Glenn nor I had brought deodorant. (Glenn needs that, you know.) The folks were still asleep, so I went looking in the upstairs bathroom, There it was in plain view on the counter: Old Spice deodorant. 

Let’s just say that my skin is extremely allergic to whatever is in Old Spice. I’m two days out from that application and I still cannot fully extend my arms without some stout pain. Fast forward through breakfast, gift exchange, lunch preparation, lunch and pack-up time…all with Ezra in tow and all in time for the hotel check-out of our sick friends and you get an idea how much I used those arms (that were on FIRE) that morning

We’re back home.  Ben has strep, Hannah has bronchitis, Colleyanna has ear infection and congestion and Ezra is still having the time of his life! 

Actually, we all are. These are the times of our lives. Sometimes it’s not pretty, but it’s always blessed. Remember that blessing trail (http://thecolleyhouse.org/the-blessing-trail)? We traveled that path to visit relatives this weekend. 

Here’s a few blessings from the trip. There are lots more. 

1.Two parents/grandparents/great-grandparents who love us and love the Lord and couldn’t wait to meet Colleyanna (who bears their wonderful family name). 

2. A sweet, healthy two-year-old who wants to hold Mammy’s hand!

3. A one-hundred-year-old hand-made dress from Colleyanna’s great, great, great grandmother for that big portrait that I was reaching over.

4. Plenty of food even if it did look a little worse for the journey.

5. Comfortable and available alternate lodging for the sick ones and enough money to pay for it. 

6. The help of two sisters in Christ who are nurses, and that of a very kind pharmacist and a couple of urgent care centers. 

7. Life in a  time and place in which medical technology is advanced.

8. Cousins

9. The technology of face-time. The hotel crowd did not totally miss the visit.

10.  Lots of clothes…enough to make it a very rare thing to wear the same clothing for two days.

11. A daughter and even a son-in-law who want to scrunch up in our SUV so we can spend the driving time together. A family that’s close enough to share diseases.

12. Secret deodorant.

13. No strep for me…yet!

14. Diseases that are not terminal. So many for whom I am praying cannot say that.

15. Great, great, great grandmother’s stitching, but more profoundly and eternally important… Great Grandaddy’s preaching!

Happy Christmas! Merry Mayhem to you, too!