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Blessings

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Maybe there’s a Kitty…

I was the teacher for the ladies Bible class. I proceeded to try and get there early, so I could put a chart on the board comparing Melchizedek with Christ. I dropped off Colleyanna, my sweet two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter, who’s staying with me this week, in her classroom and hurried to room 119. I was a minute early, but there were lots of girlfriends in there already and they were chatting about potty-training…all about the stress you go through when your kids are first out of diapers—You have about ten seconds to find the bathroom when they tell you they’ve got to go. There was advice about not rushing it…”My Joy’s only been potty trained for a couple of weeks and she just turned three.” 

And I was listening while I was writing my chart. In my Mammy-head was “Maybe I should be glad she’s not potty-trained, then, because I don’t think I could handle any more stress just now,” and “Oh, well. Colleyanna is just two-and-a a-half. There’s plenty of time…But we have to do it before PTP, for sure, so she can go to class.” 

And just as sure as the world, I wrote a column on my chart entitled “Melchizedek” and, on the opposite column (instead of “Christ”), I wrote “Colleyanna” and started listing my verses of comparison. 

When it came time to actually study the verses with that room full of ladies, I had them look up the verses as we discussed the list and someone would read them out loud. Only the first verse had nothing to do with the topic. Astute women in the class (who should have been teaching) quickly realized I’d added a one and it was verse five instead of 15 …or some such simple mistake. Those ladies are very forgiving. 

Then we got to the second verse. Same thing. One chapter off. Nothing about the fact that Jesus is the King of Peace. This time they laughed that i’d mess up two verses in a row.  I commented about how I was going for 100 percent wrong scripture citations and we moved on. 

…To the third wrong citation. My phrase about the King of Righteousness was in the previous verse. And I could not stop laughing at myself. “Why am I up here teaching instead of you all who can find the verses?!” I was thinking. “This is a great game though. See if you can find the verse she really meant.” Kind of like those kids’ secret code puzzlers over on the elementary hall, where you break the code and every letter in the “solution” is really two letters off. I started to wonder if I would be able to regain my composure and go on with Hebrews 7. (In the back of my head, I also wondered how such an airhead would possibly be speaking 287 times in Israel in a couple of weeks, put together a live podcast from the Sea of Galilee, complete a lectureship manuscript before leaving, try to counsel a sane person though a failing marriage later in the week, and follow simple recipes to send meals to my in-laws tomorrow…And how’s anybody entrusting the care of a two-year-old to this Mammy?…”Make a note to get all of your loved ones to be sure and be at the web-inar about caring for loved ones with dementia, for sure,” I told myself while moving to the point about how we do not know the genealogy or descent of Melchizedek. Soon I will not know mine either. 

And then the bell rang and  I forgot…just forgot…to go and get Colleyanna from Bible class. I just proceeded to go right in the auditorium and have a seat. She was a lonely little thing, still sitting there buckled in her little seat just admiring her coloring sheet on a perfectly empty table. “We wondered if you were coming,” the teacher said. 

“Oh, you mean this is “pick-up-only’ class?” 

I forgot to bring the ice-cream freezer I was loaning to my friend for the youth devo. I forgot to bring the “Awake at Night” book I was giving to another friend. (But fitting title for my week.) I forgot to get the details of my international phone plan for the folks who are helping me do that podcast from the Sea of Galilee. I found myself humming that hymn that ends up with the words “Remember No More.”

Pulling into the parking lot of WalMart late last night, I felt a little like I should not be allowed behind the wheel at all. But there, at the door of WalMart was an ambulance in full flashing-lights mode. I thought about some poor soul that had suffered a stroke or heart attack while in the store. Someone inside had a real problem. I needed to stop and pray for them, take a deep breath, and count my blessings.

Then I noticed wide eyes in the backseat of my SUV and I heard a little voice from the carseat behind me “Look Mammy! Maybe there’s a kitty stuck in a tree.”

Count your blessings while you can still count. But then again, none of us can count that high!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Great Smoky Mountain Marriage Retreat: The Lunch Surprise

Last Friday at noon Glenn and I sat in a very nice restaurant in Pigeon Forge, TN. We were blessed by our benevolent God to get to be part of the Great Smoky Mountain Marriage Retreat. Together, it was our privilege to get to speak nine times at this event. We do not know why or how we received this honor that’s all at the same such a great pleasure and an extremely humbling experience. After all, our own marriage is certainly far from perfect and our human weaknesses are always conflicting with our divine aspirations. But I’m telling you, if you’ve never been to this event, you ought to think about making plans for next year. The teaching we heard there was very thought-provoking and action-motivating. We agreed that we would love to get to go back and just soak in the teachings of others and that our marriage could not escape improvement if we could do that.  The practical adjustments recommended, if even partially applied, could not help but enrich even the best of marriages. So, if you are thinking, “I wonder if this retreat would help us…”, the answer is “Yes.” Prioritization of time for this is our recommendation.

But, back to the lunch at the nice restaurant….That lunch was actually a highlight of our time in Pigeon Forge, because it was the one time while we were in town, that we got to sit down and eat a meal with our kids, Hannah and Ben Giselbach. Really, it was our first time in four years, I suppose, to sit down to a meal with them, without the wonderful, but sometimes conversation-disabling distraction of their children. Ezra and Colleyanna spent the weekend at our house in Huntsville with a favorite cousin (really sort of a double-cousin), Song Nicholas. SO there we were, soaking in the conversation about the retreat, about the beautiful scenery, about the food, and…yes, even about missing the kids.

We had great food and we all splurged and even ordered soft drinks or tea. (How often does this happen anyway?) Not one of us even shared a meal with anyone. We were getting good at adulting-sans-babies by the time we finished up. We told the nice waiter that were were all done and couldn’t hold a bite of dessert. He replied, to our surprise, “Then you’re free to go. Those folks in the booth behind you took care of your tab.”

I know you’ve probably had that happen. If you have, you know how it makes you feel. You think “That’s just about the nicest thing anyone has ever done for us.” You start thinking about the price of that meal and how that those sweet people knew it was going to be a costly sacrifice, even as they were asking for our ticket. Then you think about how you can’t wait to hug them and express gratitude and thankfulness for their tender care of you. What a very special thing to do!

The only hitch, for us, was that, while we knew these people were attendees at the Great Smoky Mountain Marriage Retreat, we did not know them, personally. I looked and looked for them (I knew I could recognize at least one of their kind faces…the sweet face that briefly talked to me as we entered the restaurant.) But I never knowingly saw her again during the rest of the weekend. I went into both ballrooms and scanned both audiences at the end trying to find her. Glenn even ask for their identity from a public speech. But these sweet people were elusive.

If you are either of those people in the benevolent booth behind the Colleys, will you accept our profound thanks for such a lovely gesture. You encouraged us beyond what we could say and made us want to be better, more generous and more anonymously thoughtful of those around us. We promise to pay it forward as we go through our immediate future days. May God bless you for your kindness to our family.  “Inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these, my brethren, you have done it to me.” We know that there are a myriad of ways in which we are surely among the least and we are constantly thankful for His mercies shown us through His good people.”

Five little lessons:

  1. You should come to the Great Smoky Mountain Marriage Retreat and you should just go ahead and plan to be better for having come. One couple that we encouraged to come has already informed us that they found light at the end of a tunnel while there. We love that. Even if your marriage is not in a dark spot, the light that Jesus is can shine brighter in your home.
  2. You should sometimes take time with your adult children without the kids, if this is possible. The babies are the best part of your lives right now, but your adult kids still need some conversation and bonding time with you, too. Adult kids, you really make your parents feel special if you want to hang out with them.
  3. Christians are the best and kindest people on the planet and they have been very good to the Colley family.
  4. Pay attention to faces and names. I’m not good at this, but I know Christians who are, and they are blessed because of it. I’m going to work harder at this!
  5. God’s people are one of  His primary conduits today for blessing His people; so consciously be a conduit. Conduits are clean and useful, especially when God’s water of life is flowing though them.
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Pick-up Lessons

I was driving my husband’s recently purchased pick-up truck through a veritable monsoon between Jacksonville, Florida and Columbus, Georgia. I stopped at a McDonald’s in a little town called Dawson, Georgia. The pickings were slim and I needed three things: a fish sandwich, a restroom, and a safe parking lot where I could put my seat back and sleep for fifteen minutes. But when I tried to start the truck after that little nap, the starter wouldn’t even turn over. I had left the headlights on and my battery was dead. 

My husband was in Texas that day recording some material for World Video Bible School, but I caught him via phone just before he began taping. He said my plan to cross that highway on foot and go in that O’Reilly’s and ask them to come and test the battery was a good plan. So I did. The bad news was that they did not have enough employees to spare one for my battery check. I had to turn right back around and cross that highway again, to no avail. “We’ll send somebody over when our courier gets back in a little while.”

So, of course, I crossed back over and did that thing that never helps very much….I worried. Once I got to Columbus, I still had to load and cover some furniture items with a tarp and then make the last leg of my trip back to Huntsville, Alabama before I could sleep that night. It was afternoon already. (…And I really needed to play with the grandchildren in Columbus for a few minutes, too!)

I went inside the McDonald’s. Two old codgers sat there chewing the fat over their afternoon cups of coffee. I thought it might be worth trying, so I said “You don’t have a pair of jumper cables, do you? I left my lights on and I can’t get the auto parts folks to come for another little while.” 

One of them said he did have some and he’d go get his truck and see if we could “start her up.” He uttered a profane word or two, but in a few minutes, I was excited to be ready to roll again. I jumped out of the cab and shut the door to run around and thank these two men one last time before leaving. Just as I did close the door, I heard that familiar electronic sound of power locks. I had just automatically locked my keys, purse, and phone in the truck…and it was running! I ran back around to confirm what I already knew…every door was locked up tight. I looked at one of the old friends. He said, “Ma’am, this just ain’t your day, is it?”

“We ain’t got no locksmith in our town.” (Of course not. Of course, they don’t.) “But the sheriff’s a friend of ours. That’s who we’ll have to call. He might have to scratch up your truck a little.” (Of course he will. Of course he will scratch up my husbands new/old truck on it’s very first trip out of town.)

But, at this moment, I was thankful for my new “cussing” friend and I started a conversation while we waited for the sheriff… about my husband—where he was and what he was doing out in Texas:

“Oh, he’s a preacher, then. Well, where do y’all live?”

“We live in Huntsville, Alabama. My husband preaches  in Huntsville for the West Huntsville church of Christ.”

‘Well, I have a great niece who lives in Huntsville…really in Madison… but I can’t think of her name right now….But what have you been doing all the way down in Florida?”

“Well, my son lives down there and his wife is having a baby. So I took a cradle that my husband made and I worked on the nursery.”

“Well, what does your son do in Jacksonville?”

“He’s a preacher, too. He preaches for the Lakeside church in Orange Park.”

“Well, why are you going to Columbus?”

I thought, at this point, about reserving some information, but these two old men just didn’t seem like perpetrators of injury. So I said, “Well, that’s where my daughter lives. Her husband preaches at the Edgewood church there in Columbus.”

“Well,” he responded, “I ain’t never heard of so much religion in one family.” Then he told me about something he’d watched with emotion on television—about a father being in thankful prayer when his son was saved after being wounded in one of the school shootings. 

I said, “God is so good. I’ve been talking to him several times already today.”

He said, “I bet you have. You’re needin’ to, I believe.”

(I noticed that this kind old man never cursed again. He complained about the heat and humidity. [By now, the rain had given us a short respite.] He complained that his sheriff buddy was off-duty today. He complained about the deputy taking so long. But he never used that colorful language again.)

The deputy did not have the right tool (Of course she didn’t), so we waited a while more for the back-up car to come. I was glad, that if this kind of stupidity on my part was going to emerge, that it did happen in a sweet little town where the back-up patrol was called in for the Jimmy tools. 

I could hardly watch while they did the truck-scratching work. I thought of my husband’s excitement the previous week, as he told me about this new white truck he’d found “without a scratch. Somebody did hit the bumper, so the man just bought a brand new bumper to replace the old one. I mean, Cindy, this truck is pristine. I think I’ll buy this truck.” 

So, instead of watching,  I went inside and bought gift cards for the men who were being so very patient and kind to me. (I did have one credit card in my pocket.) These sweet men tried to refuse the little gifts, but they’d already told me that they eat breakfast together there at McDonald’s, with the sheriff and a few more men, every day, so I knew it was a practical little thank-you gift. I insisted.

Before long I was driving on toward those sweet grand-babies. By now I looked like a homeless granny without a shelter bridge. The driving rain was back with a vengeance. But, you know, grandchildren don’t notice drenched hair or wrinkled clothes. They’re just looking to see if you brought a surprise. So I’d stop and get a frosty just before I got to Wood Duck Lane. But I would not, under any circumstances, kill the motor or get out of the truck. I’d use the drive-through. 

The take-homes:

  1. Worrying really never does avail much. Praying does (James 5:16). 
  2. People often say they can’t help cursing. “It’s just such a habit.” That’s not true. Knowledge is power.
  3. Never close the door on a running vehicle. (especially if you have a child locked inside in a carseat….Can you even imagine?)
  4. There are lots of people who have crusty outsides, yet very benevolent, patient insides. Those people may be good candidates for conversion. some of them have not seen “much religion” and maybe you could show them some. 
  5. Pristine material things will never be pristine for very long, anyway. So don’t sweat it so much when you are forced to help them along to the destined place of rest…the scrapyard.
  6. My husband is the best. His response about the door?…”Well, It’s not really that bad.”
  7. Sometimes you have to tell your husband you scratched up the truck. You should remember that on the days when he leaves his socks on the floor or scatters his popcorn on the rug under his chair.
  8. Good days are relative. You just need to look around (at cancer, at automobile accidents, at children lost to death, etc…) to realize that sometimes when “This just ain’t your day.” it really is very much your day.  
  9. Grandchildren make everything better—the one on the way in Florida and the ones who love ice cream in Georgia. But some of you were already ahead of me on this one. Thank God for them every day. Pray for their heavenward progression every day. Just do not let days go by without praying for each of them by name. 
  10. Son-in-laws are good, too. Mine helped me tie up that furniture, a piece he had re-finished for a family member for Christmas. He then insisted that I was not going to drive home that night without him testing and replacing my battery. (And not even one curse word under his breath.)

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Still Using a Little Dixie Cup?


Looking at all of this water as I sit here watching the waves roll in on this beautiful Alabama Gulf shoreline brings to mind my two-year-old grandson, Ezra. It was a painstaking task for such a little one who  loves splashing in a puddle even more than I love putting my toes in this deep and expansive one.  But he was determined to make his own puddle for splashing in my bathroom floor with a dixie cup and a tiny stream of water running in my bathroom sink. I saw him pour the meager ounce of water on the hardwood and I asked him “Ezra, why on earth are you pouring water in Mammy’s floor?” 

“I make a puddle. I can spwash.”

“Well, you may NOT make a puddle in the floor, but you are welcome to make one in the bathtub, if you like.”

He smiled broadly. That was even better! He would get to carry the water in his little Dixie cup, that with each fill held a little less of its shape and got a little more crumpled. Tirelessly, he went back and forth from the sink to the tub, pouring his little purple and yellow cup half-full of water into the big garden tub, barely even making a wet spot for jumping. In truth, he was spilling more on the floor en route than he was collecting in the tub. 

It occurred to me that we, finite little creatures in the workings of an awesome God, are a lot like Ezra. We keep doing the same futile things over and over again, trying to make our own “puddles”. We painstakingly try to collect the things that will make for happiness in the end. We often spill and make messes in the process and what we ultimately accomplish is  small and temporal. We fail to realize that we have a Helper, who could give us unbelievably effective and permanent results if only we would come to know His ways for our lives.

See, Ezra didn’t think about the fact that there was a big and powerful source of water in the spout of that tub. What would come out of that waterspout, if I but turned a lever for him, would fill up his tiny Dixie cup hundreds of times without the trip he was making back and forth. In fact, he would not even need the crumpling cup. There would never be a mess on the floor and the danger of him slipping in that mess would never threaten. Not only that, but there’s a stopper in the bottom of that tub. With the turn of a big knob, I could plug that reservoir up, so that none of the water would be wasted. None of that big stream of water would go down the drain where his little trickle of a puddle of water had been slowly disappearing. All of the resources were there for Ezra to not only jump in a “puddle” and have a splashing good time, but there was enough ingenuity there for his little Scuffy tugboat to sail or even for him to have a heated sauna swim, had he preferred, as I would have if I were his two-year-old size. 

Sometimes the blessings and opportunities are all around us, but we keep carrying the Dixie cup, spilling the contents along the way and processing through the same futile routines over and over again. We think we can work our way to desired goals only to find out in the end that our dreams are disappearing down the huge drain that only our God can plug. He has every resource we need to achieve what really will make us happy and fulfilled, but we fail to investigate His Will. We fail to ask for His wisdom. We fail to understand fully His resourcefulness. He controls all the levers and knobs and he freely offers His limitless capability for our ultimate progress and benefit. But often, like Ezra, we just go on about our vain tasks with impotent precision, expending life’s time and energy in fruitless pursuits. (In this case, it was profitable for me to allow Ezra to be “entertained” for a while before I showed him the “puddle” I could so easily make for him. See, I needed to dry my hair and put on my make-up. But God is never too busy to turn on the living water for those who are seeking it [John4:10].)

I know many people who have thrown away the Dixie cup and turned on the waterspout. Can I help you know His will for your life? You can stop living small and messy and start basking in His spiritual abundance!

Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun. (Ecc. 2:11)

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecc. 12:13)

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!