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Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Guest Writer: Shameika Hanna

(The following was “stolen” [but I know I have her permission] from a dear friend who works very hard in the Lord’s church on Grand Bahama. The events chronicled occurred this very weekend. I just thought blog readers should see it. It’s a little window to the big (and largely lost) idea of commitment in marriage. I’m posting  today just as she wrote it two days ago. I’m not sure how she found the time to write on this same day, but I’m glad she did. If you could see all of her journey since 2005, you’d see a maturing in Christ that has blessed over and over again. You’d say with me “He is just so good!” I’m going to add also, that it was very appropriate that she wore white in this ceremony. She is pure in Him in every way.)
On March 9, 2005 I married the love of my life. There was no doubt in my mind about this decision, although there was a price to be paid. We would forfeit a wedding and begin a life of lasting love outside of the knowledge of our friends and loved ones. Two faithful witnesses in a honeymoon suite in Oklahoma City would take in the hour as a sound Gospel Preacher helped us perform our nuptials and we would be man and wife. Those witnesses, and the friend in the city where we would honeymoon over Spring Break, would be the only ones who knew and we would hold a secret for nearly four months about the most important news in our lives from our families back in the Bahamas. Those days were hard. The loving congregation where I worshipped in college had a reception one evening when they heard the news, but Tavaro would not be present. Eventually we told our parents, most of whom now are deceased, followed by the rest of our families and there was a bitter-sweetness about the exchange. 1) Relief that our small world knew we belonged to each other and 2) a sense of loss as they realized they were not part of that special and once-in-a-lifetime day.
In the most unfathomable fashion imaginable this weekend, Saturday December 9, 2023, which amounts to 18 years 9 months later, we relived a version of that lost day. A surprise wedding.
For three months (or more) Tavaro Hanna hid, planned, imagined, conducted meetings, made purchases, prepared invitations, formulated a program and meticulously wrote a cover story to make me a cake-topper bride wearing a dress I had never seen, shoes I had never worn, and bridal jewelry that was unknown. He had flawless makeup applied by a skillful artist under the guise of a “series of photoshoots” and in an elegant low-bun hairstyle, I walked into our marital home to put on what I expected to be an outfit in Christmas colors for this family event.
To my surprise, our children didn’t come to meet me outside and our car was not in its place. The house was still and the friend who picked me up was ready to call the man who was decked out in a full suit, standing in the church building where he grew up before his family, my family and our church family waiting for me. Our bed was covered in full wedding garb and he called. She recorded as he revealed the fullness of the expected photoshoot and his best man reiterated that there would certainly be photos but not of the nature I was expecting. I could hear the smile in his voice as he said, take your time. We will wait. I was a bride.
Emotions started to overwhelm me and the beautiful lady waiting reminded me to collect my thoughts, not ruin my makeup and call her when I got to the point of needing assistance in getting dressed. I was chauffeured to meet my groom in a beautiful car, in full shock, and unable to allow my heart to catch up with my head. Along this short drive, I was reminded not to ruin the carefully crafted makeup.
In the previous two weeks Tavaro had asked me to write my vows and said he would too, and the night before our surprise wedding, he had planned dinner as an escape for a few short hours from our busy but blessed lives where we exchanged those vows in a quiet place. I was content having been with him and had the opportunity to pour out my soul in deeply thought-out expressions. Those vows reappearing on this wedding day from his handsome suit jacket pocket to be handed to me for a reading before all the people in our world was far from something I could have expected.
As we pulled-up to the church building, the parking lot was full but the yard was empty. Everyone was truly inside waiting in full knowledge of that to which I was oblivious.
The first face to catch my eyes brought tears. A member of our small congregation who was living on a cay teaching, made the sacrifice and journey to be there for me, with us, showing the kind of love that brings tears as I try to share this. When I entered the building, photos of our loved ones who had gone on were posted and the scene was breathtaking. Our five children were ready in coordinating colors as ‘blue angels,’ and my mother, the only remaining parent between us, was dressed to the nines as the mother-of-the bride. Me.
We took the walk down the aisle to the classical song I love most, Pachebel’s Cannon D and the tears were too much for me to retain clear sight of the beauty around me. My father was missing this moment. Mother took me half-way down the aisle to meet my groom. He was everything I could have imagined and much more as he stood down the aisle with the most confident and joyous smile I had ever seen.
After the entrance of the wedding party: matron of honour- my high school, life-friend and sister in Christ, his brother/closest friend and loving cousin, the best man and our five children the ushers-dear sisters in our congregation pulled out the white carpet for me. The bride.
He met Mother and me halfway down the aisle and held me for a moment. The emotions kept me under their power more than before as we made the last half of the march to marriage. To remarriage. To recommitment.
The container of my heart burst when I saw my father’s sisters. One flown in from Nassau with her daughter then my sister, my only sister, flown in from Miami. We had spent an hour earlier on our weekly sibling synergy phonecall and I thought she was in Miami. I stopped, held each of them, and could barely breathe in the beauty that engulfed me in the scene and in the faces who were there to support us in this way.
While Tavaro’s cousin sang, we signed a legal document of Wedding Vow Renewals with our witnesses as part of a short, deep, heart-gripping ceremony which included our children, members of the congregation he is the preacher for, officiated by the preacher who loved him even as a toddling boy and always thinks of him in kind affection.
There were prayers, tears, and so many well wishers that I am still crying today.
My husband’s sister Rhonda Hanna-Neely is more than that. She is a mother to him and a support to me. She sacrifices to give our children her best by my side each day as a handmaiden of sorts, but with the love of a second mother rather than the effort of a hired-hand. She is also a, Secret Wedding Planner!
When the ceremony ended (makeup somehow still intact) he kissed the bride. Me. We stood before our families and left first to wait at the door and hugged each soul who took the time to come, to share in this joy that has changed my life forever.
The kind of love that goes this far, to do this much and give its all is what I lived this Christmas season. The vows we exchanged were not merely in anticipation of a life together, but in confirmation of a life lived for 18 years in true harmony and godly unity preparing for a lifetime more.
It was not yet ended; there was more. We went outside the church building to a full traditional reception with a wedding cake, head table, host, DJ and beautiful seating for guests. We danced together and he smiled lovingly at me all night long
My. Heart. Is. Full.
If you were there, thank you. If you prepared any small thing, in any way, thank you. For the gifts, thank you. If your heart wanted to be present, thank you. For the messages after the wedding, thank you. For caring about our family, thank you. For keeping this secret, thank you, for reading this story, thank you. Thank you.


Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Peg Me Here…

Lately I’ve heard a couple of new nomenclatures for those of us who are searching the Scriptures daily and are attempting to apply their principles to the decisions of our personal moral lives. Apparently, that makes us members of “the extreme right subculture of the church.” 

And it makes us serious textual Christians, rather than mere social Christians. 

I mean if I should think that Matthew 5:18 paired with I Timothy 2:9,10 places any responsibility on women to personally enforce, in their own lives, some real standards of modest dress, I’m a part of the subculture. I am more than a social Christian. If I think about and quote verses when engaging in conversation about marriage and divorce, then I’m not what the world views as a “regular Christian.” If I believe that the implications of Philippians 4:8 would have a bearing on what I choose to view on my television or computer, I’ve crossed a line into radicalism. And it’s particularly egregious radicalism if I should ever attempt, in keeping with Titus 2:3-5, to teach another woman any particulars of discretion or chastity or keeping at home. As one man said to me a few days ago “But Cindy, you don’t need to examine passages. Most people don’t get that. Most people are social Christians and they don’t ‘get’ looking at words in the Bible.” 

If looking at the text and trying to figure out how it applies to the very real crossroads to which I come daily in this arduous walk toward heaven is the extreme right subculture of the church (and I do not believe that’s always the belief in our congregations), may I suggest that the church has been absorbed into the larger culture—the world (Romans 12:1,2..see, there I go…trying to apply a text).

I know I shouldn’t be shocked when I’m described as the extreme right in a subculture. But, Biblically, there are two choices that determine all subsequent ones. The choices are succinctly outlined at the bottom of Matthew 7. It’s two regular men who are builders. One builds on the sand and one on the rock. The rock foundation has been claimed by those who hear the sayings of Jesus and do them. The “do them” part means something. If it doesn’t mean that the rock-builder takes seriously the words of Scripture and tries to apply them in situations (when the wind blows and the rains come), then I do not know what it means. Without application, Scripture is rendered meaningless. 

Thanks, but I do not want to be a social Christian. I don’t want to be placed in a category of people who are along on the Christianity journey for the rewarding sense of belonging to a culture. I’ll take the subculture of people who believe Scripture’s Words are inspired, purposeful and directional in everyday situations. The Holy Spirit has worked for thousands of years to accomplish what you and I can open today and read with ease. I’m treasuring His work in every scenario.  The application of the reading is not as easy. It flies in the face of our world of relativism and non-judgmental tolerance of sin. 

Put me down in the subculture column.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: I’m Getting a New Battery

images-10I took my time. I took my time through the aisles at Target last Wednesday afternoon. I called my daughter, Hannah, when I found the diapers on clearance. I wondered why she sounded like they were already traveling to evening Bible class. It was only 6:20 and they’re hardly ever early anywhere.  I talked with her a bit and then went over to pick up a box of Kleenex, the last item on my list. Placing it in my cart, I glanced down at my Bama watch and realized it was only 6:25. I even had time to breeze through the clearance clothing before checking out and making the five minute trek to the church building. I’d even be early!

When I did arrive there, I still had lots of time. It was ten till 7. I went around to the back of my car and went through Target bags till I found the little gift card and M&Ms I had bought for my secret “adopt-a-college-student” friend. I had plenty of time to hide those where he would find them.

And then, while I was “lolly-gagging” in my trunk there, my friend Brandy drove up and parked beside me. That sweet girl was hurrying her two babies out of the car and getting her Bible and diaper bag and…

“Hey Brandy. How are you?”

“Hey, Mrs. Cindy. We’re good. Just running a little late.”

“Aw…you’re not late. You’re just on time.” I said, still looking through the stash for that gift card.

“Well, just a couple minutes behind…” she said.

After a few comments about the boys and how that little one is already walking, she scurried on in. I found the stuff I was looking for  and started walking toward the entrance. Then, as I looked around the parking lot, which was full of cars, but completely desolate of people, I thought, “Well that’s kind of weird.” I walked in and saw that the giant wooden doors that separated the large fellowship hall class from the offices and fifth grade classroom…were closed.

“Am I late?”…I thought. “But my watch says it’s seven minutes till seven…Has it stopped?…Well,  no…that second hand is ticking…They just closed those doors a bit early tonight.”

I unlocked the office doors and went in there to look for a piece of ribbon to tie the M&Ms to the gift card. And then I glanced up at Mrs. Patsy’s office clock. AHHH!…It’s 7:10!

Moments later, stumbling over the women in the ladies class, I glanced up at the board where Lindsey, who was teaching, was listing the ways we evangelize within our homes. She already had a long list going. Cindy Colley was very late! I was now sitting beside a visitor…sweet Lori Lynn Rives, the young “hero mom” who had originated the idea that has now turned into the international Digging Deep study. I hugged her, but I was thinking…”What must she think of me, “Mrs. Let’s-all-be-deep-Bible-students!”…tripping over her at 7: 10 to…well…Bible study?

Seriously, I know it probably didn’t matter so much to anyone but me, but I kept thinking about that Bama watch. I love that watch, but if that thing had been running right, I would have been on time. If it had completely stopped, I would have still been on time. I would have figured out that it had stopped hours ago. But because it was running, but losing time, it had totally thrown me off my game. (I know, I should have been looking at my phone.…)

It reminded me of what the Spirit gave us in Revelation 3 to the church in Laodicea:

“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

It’s not the people who have totally stopped (working, running, ticking…those who have stopped even pretending that they are accurate representations of what God wants them to be).…And it’s surely not the people who are the real thing: who are aligning themselves as nearly as humanly possible to the standard.…It’s neither of these groups that make God most nauseated. It’s the people who are still ticking a bit; they are still pretending they are doing the job. These are the people that God will just spit out of His mouth.

Now, we’ve put those people through two analogies. They are the lukewarm liquid that nauseates God. They are the ticking watch that is totally inaccurate. They have just enough Christianity to “throw people off”. They are pretending they are getting it right, but their batteries are weak and they don’t really have their hearts in what they are doing anymore. And, just like the Bama watch threw me off my game, they are influencing others to miss the mark.

If the watch had told me it was 7:00, when it was truly 7:00, I would have been right on time. If the watch had said, say…2:30, I would have known there was a problem, and looked elsewhere for my standard.  But because it was still in the proximity of being right, I trusted it. That’s how it is with lukewarm Christians. If they would only get out of the proximity of faithfulness, we could easily see that we cannot count on them and that we should not be trusting their examples. But because they have one foot in the church, sometimes we fail to see that other foot, dangerously sliding around in the world! We trust them. We are influenced by them. Outsiders take them for examples of Christianity…and when the judgment day comes, those big doors will be closed…for them and for those who trusted them.

I’m mad at that watch. But I think I will get a new battery, and give it one more chance (because it is a Bama watch, after all.) Maybe some people need to get a new battery and give it another go.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Figuring Out Godliness–Part 2

Do You Have Your Act Together?

1010949_10151997487112802_498003468_nThe second indicator of what’s on the inside is what I’m doing on the outside. The passage says Christian women are not to be distinguished by flashy or immodest clothing and/or jewelry. But Paul doesn’t just leave us hanging. He gives us the flip side of the coin; the positive side: do be distinguished by the good works you do.  He says if you’re making the assertion that you are a Christian, do what women who profess godliness do: get busy doing good things!

I am amazed at the potential of the young women I meet as I go about and speak for ladies days and teen girls’ days. Often I find you, teen girls, more responsive to the teachings of Scripture than your older sisters in Christ. You have tender hearts. Almost always you are more creative in the use of resources. You blow me away with your talents and willingness to use them. You are tech savvy and artistic. You have much to offer the church and you are unwilling to bury your talents. Most of these areas of service are great opportunities for both men and women. Take the time to examine each of them and see if there are ideas that can be used by both guys and girls.

  1. Teen girls are putting together some of the most amazing Saturday programs for girls in their communities. These days typically include singing praises, a speaker on themes of purity, evangelism and/or service, games, a question and answer session and a meal.  I’ve seen themes like “It’s a Jungle Out There” (I Peter 5:8), and “Whatever!”(Phil.4:8). Talented decorators, cooks, and song-leaders, all under 21, put these programs together and bring their non-Christian friends. They are making a difference.
  2. Many of you are in group studies using a book called GIFTS, available from the Lads to Leaders office. I’ve known girls in several areas who’ve carried this book to school with them. Someone on the bus or in study hall is interested in the book. So a Christian girl invites a non-Christian girl over to study GIFTS on Thursday nights. Girls are learning the gospel through these private studies and some are becoming Christians.  The GUARD study for you guys can be used in the same way.
  3. Some of you are using your computers to spread the gospel. I heard of one Lads to Leaders debate group that used Instant Messenger to prepare as they studied their defense of the gospel. I know of one girl who had a lengthy study with a non-Christian friend on the subject of baptism via Instant Messenger. I know many of you use your Facebook pages to let each other know you are praying during the difficult times and to send each other encouraging passages of scripture. You use your word processors to make banners for hospital rooms and cards for sick people.  You correspond with missionaries and prospective converts you’ve met while on mission trips. You avoid the destructive chat rooms and readily available internet temptations and, instead, use your computer for good works.
  4. I have a friend who is a freshman on a state university campus. He started a weekly devotional in his dorm room on Wednesday nights after worship. To date, he has taught and baptized ten friends. This kind of devotional evangelism can happen with girls, too.
  5. Some of the most creative kids’ bible classes I’ve seen are taught by teens. Some of the most eye-catching bulletin boards are constructed by teens. This week I’m preparing an adventure center for our local Family Bible Week. Everyone on my team, except me, is college age and below. We are making a Treasure Island where children learn that real treasures are the ones we lay up in heaven and the treasure map is the Word of God. The lesson was written by a college student.
  6. Some of the most effective teachers on the mission fields are teens. I’m thinking right now of one teen girl who insisted on climbing a mountain in Jamaica to get to one lone house on the top of the steep incline. Other team members were older and lacked the energy to make the tough climb in the heat. Greeted by a sixteen year old native, this young teen girl set up a Bible study. At the end of the week, the girl was baptized.  She, in turn, brought a close friend to the Lord and that friend has now brought five people to the Lord. It wasn’t the seasoned preachers who made that little Jamaican church grow. It was the sixteen year old novice.
  7. I see local groups of young people tirelessly conducting worship services at nursing homes, raking leaves and painting houses for the elderly, doing laundry for new mothers, washing baptismal robes, cleaning up after fellowship meals, providing transportation to services and a myriad of other tasks that might seem menial to their peers. Some people may ask, “What’s so special about these teens? Why are they okay with doing the dirty work?”  Something tells me it’s that they understand what Jesus said in Matthew 25:40: “…inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” They understand good works.
  8. I see young people who are just naturally hospitable. I would be hard pressed to even estimate how many families have moved into our area and chosen to become a part of our congregation because our teens just enveloped their children, making them feel welcome and very much a part of the family that meets together here. Oh there may have been other factors, but parents very often tell me the deciding factor was the friendliness of our teens. Can you find someone who is new; someone who may be sitting alone and invite them to come and sit with you and the other teens.
  9. I receive lots of cards of encouragement from women of various ages. Sometimes I receive a card that is such a blessing to me that I want to keep it forever. Many of the cards that have encouraged me immeasurably are those I have received from teen girls who tell me that I have made some difference in their lives. These cards make me want to be better, try harder and seek the kingdom first. Is there someone who is making a difference in your life? Take a few minutes to pen a note of thanks. Some of you are masters of expression. Use those writing talents to build up the body. Some of you are good in the kitchen. Make those muffins to carry to Sister Smith who is convalescing or to Jenny, who broke her arm in yesterday’s soccer game. Some of you are talented sketchers. Make your own cards and gifts for widows or college students or deployed soldiers. Some of you are great readers. Share thirty minutes each week with an older woman whose sight is failing her, reading the Scriptures or something she wants to hear. Some of you are great actors. Plan a widows’ luncheon, serve your guests and then treat them to a skit produced and directed by teens. They will never forget this. It will be more fun than they’ve had all year! Our teens make up songs about our elderly people. They love to travel from house to house and carol; especially during the holidays, but any time of year. You don’t have to wait for programs and youth leaders to take the initiative. You can initiate good works.
  10. Most importantly, just get excited about spiritual things. The devil loves to make us believe that the real fun is in the temporal activities of this world. While it’s okay to enjoy fellowship in pure forms of entertainment, sports and fun activities, most teens are missing out on the lasting joy that comes from service. Be enthusiastic about Bible class. Get excited about building the kingdom. Try your hand at evangelism (maybe starting out by going with your youth minister or an older Christian to a study). Make it your habit to always say “yes” whenever asked to do anything for the Lord’s church. My children both testify that this “yes” rule was a big key to the development of their talents for the Master.

One more thing about good works for girls: No discussion of this subject would be complete without at least a brief look at Titus 2:4, 5. This passage is compelling as it relates to the place of women in the body. It encapsulates the most important role you as God’s woman will ever have on this earth. It actually says that women who fail to comply with this passage will cause the Word of God to be blasphemed. Guys, whatever you hope to find in the woman you will one day marry, find someone who is working on the list below. Girls, whatever else you do in this life, may I encourage you to be sure you are developing your talents and skills to be:

  1. A lover of your husband. Decide now to find a faithful Christian with whom you can share the goal of eternal life with God and plan to be his helper toward heaven.
  2. A lover of your children. If and when God blesses you with children, realize that he has placed in your charge little souls that will exist forever. They will look to you for guidance. You will influence their destinies.
  3. Discreet. The word here means self-controlled. It means deciding that you will put your will under His Will in all of life.
  4. Chaste. This word means modest and innocent. Make early choices to guard your thoughts and life from the sins of the devil.  Live every day so that you can bow before God’s throne and pray, knowing your relationship with Him is secure.
  5. A homemaker. Whatever vocation you may choose, remember God’s plan for your life, at least while your children are at home (these verses are addressed to the younger women), is for you to be a homemaker.
  6. Good.
  7. Obedient to your husband. While politically incorrect in our world, be sure you never lose your resolve to do marriage God’s way.
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: I’m Old…So Here! (Part 3)

11057335_10152618923116384_8647455845390333819_nSuggestion three is not easy to say. In fact, its implementation is a struggle for this older woman. But I believe it might be the most practical of any suggestion in 2015 for millennials who want to be keepers–guardians  and protectors of–the home. I’m not a millennial. (Does that mean I am a pre-millennial? Not in the theological sense, but, yes–in the “older woman” sense.) But I know lots of them and I love the way that so many of them are coming back home–to its values, its oh-so-important roles, its traditions. So today, let’s think about something small, relatively new and pretty powerful in terms of relationships in the home.

It fits in the pocket of your purse or sometimes even in a very large pocketed keychain. It’s only a few centimeters in both length and width. In fact, its smallness is one of its biggest selling points. But in that tiny pocket package there is power to destroy relationships. The devil can fit in a package even that tiny, if you let him. You know what the package is. It’s your cell phone—your mobile device.

I heard about a pre-schooler the other day who was asked the question, “What’s the most important thing in the world to your mommy?” Without batting an eye, the sweet little girl responded “Her phone.” Sometimes the answer must be just that obvious to our kids. We keep it with us at all times. We protect it from the elements. (I actually know a man who, while cleaning the swimming pool, was accidentally falling into the water. This man had the prudence and presence of mind to reach into the pocket of his shorts and toss his cell phone onto the concrete, mid-fall! The phone was salvaged.)  We make monthly payments for its use and we check on it multiple times throughout our days.

But I know many homes in which the devil, through that little flat rectangular disc, is doing great damage. Here are a few ways he works through your device:

  1. He makes you fail to “redeem the time”. Sometimes our houses are dirty and/or cluttered, we are behind on the laundry, the cat litter box is a mess, the beds are unmade and we are running late to worship. We fail to study our Bibles daily, but we have scrolled through our news feeds, taken time to post a picture or status and, oh, if only our houses looked like our pins! (Don’t think for a moment that this is personally directed at anyone, because I write, first, to improve my own time redemptive habits.)
  2. The devil makes you overspend. It’s so much easier to buy things when there’s no getting out of your pajamas, no “store hours” to fit into your schedule, no face-to-face exchange of money, no paper trail and SO MUCH (literally, the whole world of retail) from which to choose.
  3. He makes you fail to see needs around you. You are focused on the needs that are far away…a child on CNN who is lost in the Rockies, a ten car pile-up on I-65, a federal financial crisis, or a politician who has misspoken. All the while, you are failing to see the things you can personally fix, or at the very least, affect…the child who is losing his way spiritually—YOUR child…the “pile-up” that’s in your closet, your playroom or your laundry room or, even worse, the emotional pile-up that has accumulated between you and your sister in Christ…the financial crisis that has occurred in your own checking account or with the plastic in your wallet…the words misspoken around your own breakfast table, or the words of encouragement that went unspoken as you scrolled through distant statuses and pithy postings of strangers. Sometimes, we just become very far-sighted in the presence of our devices and the things we could positively affect remain unaffected. And when we fail to do good, it is sin (James 4:17).
  4. The devil tempts us through the lust of the eyes and flesh (I John 2:16). With the multi-billion dollar pornography industry, most of which is readily available on your device, not to mention the appeal of the world through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, he is having a heyday in the lives of the people who are supposed to be sanctified. If you cannot see this as a personal affront of the devil—an affront of which you need to constantly beware—then you are not astute enough to be mentally responsible before God.
  5. The devil is working to addict (enslave) the people of God. Anything that I can’t lay aside for  His purposes, whatever His purpose may be at any given time, is an addiction. Many people I know are addicted to cell phone use. They cannot lay the devices aside for more important things, even temporarily.
  6. The most tragic thing the devil might be doing through your mobile device is destroying your relationship with your spouse. The command for wives in Titus 2 is to love (phileo) our husbands. “Phileo” is friendship love. We are commanded to be best friends with our husbands. Our husbands are commanded to dwell with us according to knowledge, giving us honor. We are missing out on some pretty basic and important relationship builders when we are phone or i-pad addicted. We miss smiles and winks. We miss opportunities to pick up a dropped fork or a broken spirit. We miss conversations that result in sexual intimacy or answers to life’s dilemmas. We miss the “look” of utter dependence that might have made us more clearly see the importance of what we are doing in the home or, in the case of husbands, on the job. We, thus, miss confidence milestones and esteem builders. We miss opportunities to show gratitude. We are absent in the “moments” of life and love. We become deficient in our communication skills because it’s easier to “stalk” than talk; easier to feed curiosity than character; easier to maintain internet navigation than interpersonal communication. So we slowly erode relationships. We do what is easy and neglect what is rewarding. It is a self-centered way to watch our marriages die. And, when the devil succeeds, through the tiny box, in this erosion, he can get his tentacles on so much more—your purpose, your skills of submission or your husband’s leadership abilities, and even the generations that will eventually come from your home.

Are you wondering if the devil may be “stalking” you through your device. Ask yourself some simple questions:

  1. Are there days when the “basics” of home are missing some components—like hot meals, clean clothes in the closet, or clean forks in the drawer…but the facebook posts have been read and you’ve caught up on Instagram notifications? (Maybe I should get up this very moment and do something else and not even post this!)
  2. If you check back on your eBay or Amazon (or other retail) history, do you find that you are spending more than you thought on impulse on-line purchases? Do your kids or grandkids already have more than they need to wear (or play with) and more keeps popping up in your mailbox? Do you have so many clothes (or shoes or purses or baby carriers) that you never wear any of them out and you keep searching the web for more? (I talk to myself. Do you?)
  3. I know you use your Facebook to encourage others, but, if you read Matthew 25, do you find  yourself failing to do most of the “judgement-day-requisites” listed in verses 33-46 in real relationships with those in your congregation, while you find time somehow to shop, pin, post and “catch up” with people you seldom see?
  4. Do you find yourself taking your device to the bathroom with you or locking the door of your office while perusing the web or quickly shutting down pages when someone walks into the room?
  5. If you challenged yourself to do without your mobile devices for one full day except to answer incoming voice calls, would you have a difficult time doing that? Is it hard for you to commit to that test?
  6. Do you have your phone with you at the dinner table?
  7. Do you text others as you ride along with your spouse in the car?
  8. Do you text while driving?
  9. Has your spouse ever mentioned  to you that he wishes you would not be on your phone while with him?
  10. Do you communicate with someone  of the opposite sex online about matters that are sensitive, personal or even sexual in nature?
  11. Do you “talk” with someone of the opposite sex online…a friendly communicative relationship of which your spouse is unaware?
  12. Do you keep surfing or communicating online at night after your spouse goes to sleep?
  13. Do you find yourself very often finishing a line of text or reading a post before going to see about a crying baby or answering child who is calling you? Or do you always look at your phone while rocking your baby or watching a movie or ballgame with your children or family?
  14. Have you ever parted from your spouse and failed to kiss him goodbye because you were involved on your device?
  15. Are you withholding any passwords or devices from full spousal awareness and accountability?

imagesIf one or more of the answers to the above questions is “yes” for me, then I need to examine that area of my life and consider changes. I might be using my phone to communicate while failing in the most important communication of all. If several of the answers is “yes”, then I should beware. The devil may be trying to connect with me online. If I accept him as a friend, I will complicate my life and endanger my eternity. He is constantly posting, sharing, tweeting and texting. He is very tech savvy and extremely “social”.  I must be sure that I own my i-phone rather than allowing it to own me. Because the devil knows my number.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Holiness: Don’t Miss It for the World!

holiness_1I recently met a sweet forty-something-ish woman, at a ladies day where I was speaking, who was electric in her conversation. I mean this woman just drew you into her facial expressions and gestures. She made you want to get to know her;  to know who she was and what made her tick. Let’s call her “Meredith”. You could tell that Meredith enjoyed life and that she was definitely a “people person” .  I enjoyed her enthusiasm about the ladies day we were attending and I learned from Meredith as she asked another lady present how she could encourage a sister who was not present. I learned that her home congregation was another hour or so east of where I was at that moment and that her ladies were busy planning their own retreat for the very next weekend and that my daughter, Hannah, and I would get to be with this positively infectious personality again at that upcoming retreat.

So there she was at this beautiful lodge the very next weekend. Meredith was one of the first to arrive from her job teaching pre-K children on that Thursday afternoon. She came in with the same wonderfully focused and quiet zeal that I had previously seen. This weekend she brought one of her friends from work with her. She was the only person  at this ladies retreat who had been successful in bringing a visitor with her. I loved getting to know her co-worker who had even brought along her young son who visited politely and then diligently worked on homework in another room. Both of these pre-K teachers had taken the following day off for this spiritual activity. This visiting lady spent one of our break times telling me how important her friendship with Meredith was and indicating to me how very influential Meredith had been in her life.

Throughout the weekend I heard about the times Meredith has lead the ladies Bible study and I watched her interact with the younger women on the topic of evangelism. I tasted the yummy enchiladas at Saturday lunch and learned that they were her signature “easy recipe”. Then one of the younger women came in on Friday night and drew us into her conversation about her boyfriend, who is deeply involved in a study of New Testament Christianity, but is struggling to overcome biases from denominational family members. I watched and listened as Meredith shared the excitement about this searching heart and gave encouragement to this young woman who desperately wants to reach this soul with the gospel of Jesus. Meredith helped her with scriptures and with reassurance about the power of the Word.

During every lesson, Meredith sat wide-eyed, absorbing the Word and its applications. Never pretentious, in her jeans and pink sock feet, Meredith took notes and nodded her approval of the points being made.  By now, I knew that she was the kind of person I wanted to put in my giant Thirty-One bag and bring home with me. I could tell she would be a blessing to whomever she met and in whatever context she smiled that infectious smile.

It was the last moment of the retreat and Meredith had been asked to lead the closing prayer. We went around the room asking for prayer requests. Just before she bowed her head, one final minute was given for any last request, at which time Meredith said, “Two things. Please remember my friend Lori.” (Lori was the friend she had brought along to the retreat, who had, incidentally, already left.) “…And remember me. I’m going to a new neurologist to see if he can help me.”

So I had to ask the question: “Oh?…What’s wrong?”

“Well, I’ve had these issues with my muscles and my bones,” she said. By the time I finished asking questions and she finished answering, I learned that her body is chilled much of the time, her right side is often numb and sometimes partially paralyzed. She has trouble with memory loss and putting the right names with faces and cognitive skills. The doctors have been thinking Multiple Sclerosis, but tests for that have been negative. The new neurologist is her hope of finding some answers.

Now, just think about this with me. Almost any one of us, experiencing those symptoms would have dismissed the prospect of a three day ladies retreat (much less the visitor accompaniment, the ladies day the weekend before, the leading of a Bible study, the evangelism and encouragement, and the help with food) as something extra-curricular for which there was surely not adequate stamina. Meredith’s synopsis at the end of the retreat was something along these lines….”I wouldn’t have missed this for the world. It was just what I needed to be focusing on right now…being holy and how to see all the blessings in my life.”

“I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.”  So many of us have it backwards. We aren’t willing to miss the world—its momentary pleasures– for all the holiness and blessings God has to give us. How sad!

I want to be more like Meredith. I don’t want, for the whole world, to miss a thing He has for me.