Browsing Tag

Children

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Imagine this: Propagandizing and Book Burning

If some very powerful people in government and society have their way, we are going to be making radical changes across the board in rapid fashion. One of the saddest that came across my desk this week is the eradication (a very real present-day book burning) of six Dr. Seuss books from library shelves and coincidentally, the big push through children’s books,  to educate preschoolers in the acceptance and  approval (Romans 1: 32 in vogue) of the LGBTQ movement. I cannot adequately express the eternal inequity to children when we teach them to approve homosexuality, transgenderism, etc…PRIOR to their ability to even comprehend sexuality at all. It is damage beyond our ability to repair. We have to keep saying truth about God’s plan for one man and and one woman for life and about divinely assigned gender. Christian parents and grandparents must see that this is no time to throw in the towel due to our own exasperation and exhaustion with the fight against what is so very vile as to infect pure minds prior to their ability to discern; to strip tender imaginations of their sweet scope and place in them what eventually defiles and damns. It is child abuse of the most severe kind.

Here’s the instagram post by LGBT in which a little boy is being taught the GayBCs.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CLuxwNHl23I/

and here is what’s being removed:

https://apnews.com/article/dr-seuss-books-racist-images-d8ed18335c03319d72f443594c174513

This needs no commentary from me. But it needs exposure. Christian parents must be vigilant.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

DD–The Children-Training Scripture List

As we close out our study of the fifth commandment, I’m reflecting on how much I learned from examining those words in Exodus 20 about the “honor system: that exists in godly families. I had never spent a lot of time before thinking about how Scripture bears out that the fifth command was every bit as much for adults as it was for children. 

Thinking about the training of children, this morning, I wanted to share the passage list, as promised in the podcast—the list that directs us to a three-fold responsibility in bringing up our children. We must nurture. We must educate. We must chasten, or discipline. Here are some passages that might be helpful as you contemplate this. I know you could add more from your own study. Thanks to Emily Anderson for adding her list to mine.

Nurture: 

Ephesians 6:4

Colossians 3:21

Proverbs 29:15

Genesis 25:28; 26:34-35; 27:41,42

Luke 11:11-13

Matthew 7:9-11

Proverbs 31:27,28

Proverbs 31:21

1 Timothy 5:8

2 Timothy 1:5

Titus 2:4

Education:

Deuteronomy 6:4-7

Deuteronomy 4:9,10

Judges 17:3-13

Exodus 13:8

Exodus 13:14

Exodus 10:2

Exodus 12:26,27

Deuteronomy 6: 20-25

Leviticus 23:31-43

2 Timothy 3:15

Deuteronomy 11:18,19

Deuteronomy 31:9-13

Psalm 34:11

Psalm 78:5-8

Discipline:

Ephesians 6:4

Proverbs 19:18

Proverbs 13:24

Proverbs 29:17

Proverbs 22:15

Proverbs 23:13,14

Proverbs 29:15

1 Samuel 3:13

Hebrews 12:6-11

Proverbs 3:12

Deuteronomy 8:5,6

Proverbs 22:6 (note Hebrew for “train”)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Worship: It’s How they Play…

Last week, my daughter overheard my grandchildren playing. It seems they were playing “house”, only they were on a family car trip. It became obvious to Hannah that they were “driving” around the house in search of a good church with which to “worship.” They entered one and found that it was just not sound. So they got back in their “car” and kept searching till they found a “good one.” Then she could hear the sweet sounds of hymns emerging from that room.

Last weekend, I was at a gathering in the home of some sweet folks. There were about a half-dozen families there. Those families included about fifteen children. Hearing them play “worship” in the other room was music (literally) to my ears. They had a song leader and they were singing  the real lyrics, on pitch, to hymns we sing in worship. One little girl told her mom prior to arriving “I don’t know if I’m going to get to be a mommy or a daddy, but I hope I am not a baby.” 

Where do they get both the will and the know-how to have structured play about worship? I’ll tell you where that comes from. It comes from parents who are real about worship. It comes from the moms like Lindsay who, several years ago, reached out to older sisters for ideas about helping children listen and learn in worship. It comes from dads like Nathan, who decided before he was ever even married, that he would have his kids engage in family Bible time every night, teaching them the accounts, principles, songs and memorization of the Word of God. It comes from moms like Alison who play CDs of memorization songs at night when her children are falling asleep. It comes from moms like Holly, who place the scriptures and Bible bowl and Sunday School homework as a priority above all the other subjects in her home school. It comes from dads like Andrew, whose children see him preparing and prayerful, prior to leading the church in worship. It comes from moms like Heather, who are constantly complimentary of their children’s  singing in worship, even if accompanied by some pretty big hand-motions imitating the song-leader. It comes from dads like Ben who make plans about worship, when out of town, before the plan to even BE out of town. 

Kids play what they see. Imitative play is healthy. It’s a very natural part of imaginative interaction. I’m glad for children who have an even greater propensity to “play” worship than they do to play tag or hide-and-seek (though those are good, too.)  I hope you are diligent about worship…not just about its form, but about its regularity, its meaning and the price paid for the privilege. I hope you are prayerful and intentional about your children’s preparation, presence and passion for praise. I hope you make them know that it’s the primary way we get to verbalize our gratitude for all that He has done for us. I hope you are constantly feeding them evidences about His existence, excellence and exaltation. I hope you remind them, as you make decisions throughout your day, that He is the axis on which your lives turn. I hope His word is posted throughout your home and, even more importantly, throughout every recess of your heart.

I hope you read Psalm 127 often!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Refrigerator-Door Kids

It hurt down deep in my heart when a grandmother was telling me recently about her adopted grandchild. He’s a teenager now and all the things he loves to eat are the things you’d find in the door of the refrigerator. He loves butter and jars of peppers and ketchup and salad dressing and jelly. 

Enquiring a little further, I found that the reason for his acquired tastes for the “fridge-door-foods” is that those jar foods were pretty much how he stayed alive during the early years of his life. Rescued from a home where the parents were addicted to drugs and neglectful of the child’s needs, the young child had eaten what he could reach—the stuff in the bottom of the refrigerator door. 

While this is tragic and happens all too often, it occurs to me that we may have refrigerator-door-fed kids in a spiritual sense, too. Maybe there are those, even within our churches, who are spiritually malnourished; kids growing up in homes where there’s no significant provision made for a meaty diet of rich and soul-saving spiritual nutrition. If there’s no family Bible time, only sporadic prayers offered before meals, and no attention given to preparation for Bible classes on Sunday morning and Wednesday night, children are left to ingest only what’s available in other homes they may visit or the precious little that occurs in Sunday School. ( Bible class teachers are extremely limited in the time they are given with students.) When there are no Bible classes in the daily school, and the Deuteronomy 6:4-6 kind of parental teaching conversations are rare, then kids are going to make poor ethical and social decisions using underdeveloped and malnourished spiritual muscles. They’re learning from that to which they have access: usually television, peers, and school—a combination that, generally, fails at instilling spiritual values that can navigate to and through a life of faith that leads to heaven. Occasionally, someone else steps in with needed sustenance and children avoid spiritual disease and disaster, but, more often than not, spiritual refrigerator-door-kids don’t grow into faithful and godly adults. More often than not, their chances for heaven, as they emerge into adulthood, are just not great. 

Of course, there are exceptions. And, yes, of course, a well-fed child can grow up and walk away from the good stuff, making choices to eliminate the substantial teachings of the Word and to substitute the ear-tickling subjectivism that permeates religion in our world today. But just because our babies could grow up and eat junk when they go away to college, would we just surrender their health, early on, and allow them to eat only the stuff in the door? 

Quick take-away today: 

Try this weekly family Bible time routine, for a month, for a more purposeful spiritual diet at your house:  

Sunday: Souls….Think of someone your family knows who needs to know the Lord and have the children write out an invitation to an event at your congregation, an encouraging note, or a passage of scripture. Then pray, as a family, for this soul or family of souls. Work your way toward asking for a Bible study. Let the kids be a part of evangelism. 

Monday: Memorization…Have the children learn one passage of scripture during this family time. Keep working till you can say it together. Be sure they know what it means. Start with verses for the steps of salvation. Be sure to ask them to repeat this verse throughout the week. 

Tuesday: Test…make a game of testing your childrens’ memories about a familiar Bible account. Take turns asking each one a question (age-level appropriate) and keep score. Have a small prize for the winner. (…like the winner gets to stay up 15 minutes later and have strawberry milk!)

Wednesday: Worship…Have the children take turns choosing songs of praise and sing for fifteen minutes. Then repeat the memory verse and have one of them lead a closing prayer. 

Thursday…Think. Begin at the beginning of the Bible at creation and relate the account of the first couple of days of creation. Have them think of an example of something you saw that very day that had its beginning right there on day one or two or three. Have them think of something you ate that would not have existed without that part of the creation. Have them think of those who do not use these blessings to His glory. What are some ways we do use these blessings for our God’s glory? Can they think of someone in Scripture who used these blessings in a bad way?  (…like Esau and the pottage or like the rich fool who built bigger barns.) Each Thursday of the month, introduce new material and present scenarios for thought.

Friday: Foundations—Take your “What We Want Them to Know” list (https://thecolleyhouse.org/?s=what+I+want+them+to+know )and cover one thing on that list from some Biblical account. Hammer down the point at hand. Repeat your week’s memory verse. 

Saturday: Service Day—Read a New Testament passage about salt or light or service or humility or feet washing (so many to pick from) and choose a service project ( a nursing home visit, making cards, making cookies for visitors, picking flowers for a lonely person, going to read the Bible to a blind person or making thank you letters for teachers, etc…). Pray for those you re serving.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: The Natural Look

Our little window for tree-cutting was quickly closing on us. The schedule had been relentless and there were a couple of hours in which to cut the big tree that finds its place in the same corner of our living room every yuletide season. We had two of our kids and Ezra and Colleyanna with us. More importantly, the two tree-cutters were also preachers and both of them had two sermons in front of them the following day. (One of them also had a four hour drive home.) Saddened to learn that the nearby tree farm we’d patronized for the last few years had no big trees this year, we traveled a little farther to a beautiful spot in God’s north Alabama world; a secluded tree farm we’d discovered online. It was a beautiful day and the kids and I rode through the farm in the back of the trailer, thinking of fun superlatives for describing the biggest dog we’d ever seen and watching the baby goats (and noticing that NONE of the trees looked like Christmas trees. They all looked like giant bushes that had just grown up in the wild…kind of like the shrubs in front of your house when you never prune; only bigger.)

But just as we were completing our round of travel around the farm, guess who we spotted at the little office building on the property’s entrance. It was the man in the red suit himself. The tree no longer mattered to Ezra and Colleyanna. They saw Santa Claus! (…at which time my son-in-law mouthed the words to his wife “Remember…my sermon. Remember it’s four hours home.”)

There were no other children around. (There might be a reason this tree farm was kind of desolate on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.) Santa was Victorian. He was authentic. He was conversational. He took time with each child. Colleyanna was afraid, at first, but Santa gave her time and space. He spoke to her in gentle tones and let her examine his white gloves. Ezra talked ninety-to-nothing. He told him about the binoculars he wants for Christmas and about how he wanted to look at the night sky with them. He examined the beautiful golden compass that Santa pulled out of his pocket and learned that Santa depends on that thing to always find his way home. Meanwhile Hannah shot about a bazillion perfect pictures. 

The preachers among us missed the whole thing, of course. They were out there among the trees, trying with all they had in them to find a tree that would “redeem the time” it took for us to get all the way over that river and through those woods. They called us over to look at a specimen that was about 14 feet tall. We let the kids play on the sleigh and trudged over to look at 14 feet of a great big bush. It’s branches began at the ground and traveled all the way up…like a bush. Some of the branches at the bottom, furthermore, were going to have to be cut away in order to get the giant bush in the huge bucket we use for a stand. 

Standing there surveying the tree, I could hear my husband talking to the proprietor. I could hear the man explaining how he doesn’t do a lot of pruning and shaping. (We knew that.) “A lot of my customers tell me they prefer the natural look.” This was that.

But seven dollars per foot for the “natural look”?  We stood there and hemmed and hawed. My son-in-law said “I think this is your tree.” (The sermon was motivating him.) My husband said “This could be your tree, but just remember…Lowe’s has some pretty good 12-footers.” 

I knew the tree had problems. I could see that it was going to take some serious tying off to our mantel to even stabilize the massive bush. I knew it would be extremely difficult to decorate. (I mean there were no branches directed “out” for ornaments and tinsel. All branches were several feet long and they all traveled “up”.) I could see that the tree would be even more directionally challenged when we did the necessary trimming of the trunk. in short, this tree was a true, albeit massive, hybrid between “Charlie Brown” and a specimen from Who-ville.”

But the kids had spent a long time with Santa at this farm. They were playing on the sleigh. Santa had taken a lot of time with the golden compass. The huge dog and the little goats and the trailer ride over the bumpy terrain had been the start to a perfect tree-cutting experience. I knew that my choice now was to take home the giant bush (….all of the big trees on this lot were giant bushes) or to tell the kids we were going to the store and buy a tree. I also knew that their daddy was likely not going to even let them go with us to purchase a tree. (There was the sermon.) We’d exhausted every area tree farm possibility. My husband, the patient, good sport that he is, said “Whatever you want to do. Just know this tree is going to be a pretty expensive “Charlie Brown” tree. But it’ll be fine if that’s what you think.”

In my mind, I weighed the options. This was going to be the centerpiece of two or three large gatherings. All my friends have those “perfect” trees. They all think I’m over-the-top, anyway, about old sentimental or vintage or even art deco-rations. What will they think about this old bush…the tree that really belongs on the Island of Misfits? Then I looked over at the children who were anxiously waiting for the part when we yell “Timber”, fell the big tree, load it on the trailer and sing our way home. I looked over at Santa, who had been so kind and personable to our children while we took all of those FREE pictures with the best Santa we’d seen this year. And then there were the sermons.

The perfect tree or the perfect end to the whole experience?? Which?…Easy decorating after the children leave or hearing the kids yell with excitement when the tree (massive bush) comes down?? Salvaging the sentiment of the day at the farm by the river or…well…Lowes? I looked over at the children on the sleigh and said “ We already got our money’s worth with that Santa and all those pictures and, well, it’s just a tree. I think we need to take one home. Let’s cut it.” Sentimentality, in my heart, always wins over efficiency. Every time. Besides, there were the sermons. 

The rest is history. The moment was perfect. Ezra thought the tree was even perfect. (He still will think that when he comes back in a few days and sees it decorated. In his eyes it will be “bru-tiful.”) They took that massive Leyland cedar bush and put it in a shaker machine. Seeing a tree that big having a shaking fit was pure joy for the kids. Ezra imitating the giant jitters was almost worth the price.  

And that was the last thing that was worth the price. Getting the tree in the door, getting it in the bucket, getting it tied off to the walls and windows and mantel, getting any decorations to gravitationally comply, hiding huge gaping spaces in the greenery with every life-sized Coke Santa or large gift, figuring out a way to top a bush that has one long wisp of a sprig sticking out at the top and attempting to bind together some semblance of a Christmas tree shape was the part of the sentiment that became less and less “tender”, shall we say, as the hours up and down the ladder wore on.  

But then again, it was just a first-world problem of a Christmas tree. I’m praying for so many that would love the chance to be decorating a Christmas tree rather than be in that hospital or rehab room. I’m thinking of friends who will not see their children and grandchildren this holiday season at all. Homes where the joy has been stolen this year because of selfishness are reminders that what’s over in the corner of my living room has little real significance at all.  I think about mothers who are agonizing over children who’ve walked away from God this year. 

As I took out those ornaments that had to be hard-wired instead of hung this year, I remembered so many sisters who had made contributions to the funny tree….There were Betty Anderson’s West Huntsville ornaments, Deanne Foy’s porcupine, Wanda Weber’s stars made from road maps and Pam Emerson’s yearly cross-stitches in tiny plastic frames…and the children’s little handmade reindeer and snowflakes! Darcie and Harrison, Colton and Nell…all have their handmade contributions on the big bush. The macaroni and Lifesaver and popsicle stick ones made by Caleb and Hannah in years gone by are there. It’s always the very most meager ornaments shaped by tiny hands that shout our wealth as we put up that tree! 

So it’s over there. It’s propped and tied and hidden and I’m still watering it just like it was pretty.  A hundred people squeezed in around it last Sunday night. We laughed and prayed and ate and drank Coke from old-fashioned glass bottles. (I’m especially glad for the famous  Coca-Cola Santa this year!) And we drank chai tea, and coffee and cocoa and cider and lemonade. And moving around, shoulder-to-shoulder, with my family in Him, I drank in the truth that the Colleys are very rich. It was the best kind of drinking party. 

And 10 other lessons from this year’s tree: 

  1. There is a big difference between a full-grown tree that’s been pruned and one that has not. It’s that way with kids, too. Diligence in cutting away the ugly stuff each year is so important.
  2. Sermons really are way more important than trees and Santa, of course. Priorities.
  3. Just because something is planted on a Christmas tree farm doesn’t mean it’s a Christmas tree. (There’s similar truth about people planted in a church somewhere.)
  4. Just because a big deficiency is temporarily hidden does not mean it has been removed. (Sin is like that, too. You move the big Coke Santa and it’s still there. Everyone else might not see it, but the One who owns the tree knows it’s there.)
  5. Children are the most gracious critics. Maybe that’s why God says we should be more like them. 
  6. Sometimes, the wrong quick decision at the tree farm has consequences that you’re not really comprehending in the moment. (Sin is like that.)
  7. What’s up at the top needs to be substantial, too. (What’s at the top of your world? Is it substantial or flimsy? It’s what people are noticing about you!)
  8. Sometimes just because something is expensive doesn’t mean it’s good. (Think of lots of entertainment venues, sports tickets, and worldly pleasures here.)
  9. “Natural” is not always better. (Take the “natural man, for instance, from I Corinthians 2:14. Sometimes we need some cleaning up that’s way beyond our nature.)
  10. The best ornaments are not the ones that take the eye of the world. (Remember the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit in 1 Peter 3?…way better than the gold and pearls and costly array.)
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

The Invitation of a Child–Part 2

A few posts back, I chronicled the story of how one small boy’s invitation to a VBS resulted in the salvation of  multiple souls and opened doors indirectly to many blessings for a succession of people (https://thecolleyhouse.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=10944&action=edit). Here’s the poem that was read at the celebration of the marriage of these two Christians, who became such as a result of that “inconsequential” invitation on a regular day. Little people, regular days, a few words, and small events can be game changers. Maybe we should just all pray every day for the normal…the uneventful…the regular, in our lives.  All of these He can  use to affect eternity.

 

For Grat and Kirsten

Baseball, basketball, and running around in capes,

Superman and Batman and planning heroic escapes.

Putt-putt, Ninja Turtles, and hanging around with Nate.

Boy scouts and camp-outs, so much to anticipate.

 

A few short years later, a little girl arrived.

A princess! On sweet friends and fashion, she thrived.

She awoke to this world with an inquisitive heart

Learning languages, cultures and savoring art. 

 

And the little boy, Grattan, grew to be  a man

Went to high school and college and worked out life’s plan

He was so savvy with public relations 

Technology, too…all things communication…

 

And, somewhere, behind Grat, Kirsten would follow

Through Memphis and London and even Guatemala

Birmingham, and Arkansas, Germany and Rome

She  didn’t know yet that Grat’s heart was her home. 

 

Such an unlikely pairing? Who saw that this could be? 

Yet here we are rejoicing, for this happy family.

A little technology…a little more time

Who knows how it happened…the reasons and rhyme?

 

God knows how it happened. He guided their souls.

His Word was their compass…their anchor for goals.

For each of them wanted with all of the heart

To just give Him their wills…to be His from the start…

 

In the home they are making, the children they’ll bear

The decisions of life, the sorrows they’ll share…

The memories they’re making, the worship they give

Just to make him the Master each moment they live.

 

And THAT is what ties them, safe and secure

In all times and stations, for God’s paths are sure.

A rock is our God. A fortress, a shield.

A shelter, A stronghold…And they will not yield.

 

To voices that call them, to tests of their will,

They’re listening to one voice that said “Peace…Be still.”

Whatever the price or whatever reward, 

Married to each other, but first….to the Lord. 

Cindy Colley