Browsing Tag

Contentment

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Are You Happier Now?

I was seventeen. I’d wake up in the morning and listen to “Layton and Dearman In the Morning” on WERC radio in Birmingham. I had just about three choices of music for my drive across the metro area to school. Today I have thousands of choices that I can activate by voice and stream to various spots in my house without moving a single device. I can regulate the music using  the watch on my wrist. At 17, my mom would hurry me to the breakfast table, lamenting that the eggs and biscuit and gravy would be cold if I didn’t come on. There was no quick microwave reheating. Sometimes I would ask my dad to let me go to the office with him and deliver me mid-morning to school because I had to finish a research paper or project. I’d need transportation to the big library downtown and I’d have to take note cards for documentation. There was no googling or running computer references or printing from an online document. If I needed to reach a parent while at the library, I’d have to hunt a phone and I’d need change. I had eight track tapes—just a few —of the Carpenters, Barry Manilow and John Denver in my old Impala and I had a machine to play them that covered the entire top of my chest of drawers. It would be a few months before I would meet my future husband, and, then, when we were apart, our calls, from rotary phones, would be strictly timed, because every minute was charged. Often we would wait till after eleven p.m. to talk, because then the rate dropped to half price. I couldn’t order most things from home. I couldn’t just ‘erase” or delete an error on the sheet on which I was typing. I had to actually get out white paint and a brush and paint over my mistakes, and they were many. Further, my typewriter seemed to always be running out of usable ribbon. If I needed a copy of something I was typing, I had to travel to the library and pay for Xerox copies to be made. If I missed The Brady Bunch on Friday night…well, I just missed it. There was no retrieval of a missed program. In Birmingham, racial unrest reached phenomenal proportions and Vietnam was still at the forefront of the news programming in that little one-(teeny) bath, three bedroom house I shared with five other people.

What hits me hard, almost every day, is that I have so much more now—technology, funding, convenience, living space. But all of that has not made life easier or better; just different. This is not a lament. It’s a praise. 

I praise Him that happiness is independent of the physical circumstances, and is, instead, found in Christ. If you are significantly happier today than you were ten years ago, you likely put on Christ in that interim. When this reality hits hard—that the presence of more ease is not the presence of more peace—I praise Him for the constitution of real contentment. Contentment in Christ spans years, and changes and accumulation or loss of possessions. It remains mostly unaffected by whatever is happening “out there” and rests squarely in what He is doing through the Word, “in here”—in my soul. 

Someone else expressed it better: “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11).

I’ve never truly learned to be abased. I’ve abounded in His mercy every day of my life. I’ve never been hungry as was Paul. But I’ve lived long enough to know that happiness never emerges from wealth, health, what eases the plans or what pleases the palate. He is the source of contentment. I’m thankful for the consistency factor of contentment in my Lord. He provides. 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

No Room to Complain

I’ve learned a few things in the past couple of years. One of them is that I can do a much better job of being content.

Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come (1 Corinthians 10:10,11).

In 2024, I want to stop complaining,

…about how my house is too big to clean. I may wake up one day and find that every corner and every nook is filled with someone else’s things. I needed the big. 

…about how busy I am. I may wake up one day and find that my responsibilities have doubled. I just thought I was way busy.

…about how expensive groceries are. I may wake up one day and find that I need more groceries, weekly,  than I have needed in the past twenty years. I had no idea of how much I could have been spending. 

…about how we cannot seem to get to make the visits to the shut-ins or the nursing home. I may wake up and find that the visit is no longer optional. She is your husband’s mother and he is the only care-taker.

…about how hard it is to plan a family gathering. I may wake up one day and find that there are more complications than I ever dreamed even possible.

…about excessive laundry. I may wake up one day and find my laundry has tripled. 

…about how dangerous the world is becoming. I may wake up one day and know that bombing is occurring just outside the door of my brother and sister’s house across the pond.

Life simply teaches me gratitude every day. This little list could go on and on. Perhaps this little list sounds ironically like complaining in itself. But it’s not complaining. It’s just reflecting to say that whatever it is that you find grievous or burdensome in your world today is a challenge for your heart. Let your heart wander to what life would be like if you didn’t have the big challenge of your life right now; whatever that current challenge is. 

If my house wasn’t packed right now, my grandchildren would not be nearby.

If my responsibilities were not overwhelming right now, my opportunities for influence would not be maximized. 

If I was not buying groceries in bulk right now, I would not be feeding children who are growing into servants for Him. 

If my mother-in-law were not requiring multiple visits weekly, my grandchildren might not be learning the joys of service in an up-close and personal way.

If we were not working hard with schedules to arrange family gatherings, we might not have the blessed privilege of family support and fellowship in the tough challenges.          

If the world were always peaceful and serene, our longing for heaven would not be so fervent and real. 

The real lesson is, if things today seem more bleak than yesterday, I must always know in my heart that I’m in a good place. I am in His bundle of the living (I Samuel 25). He is going to work things out for me because I love him (Romans 8:28). He knows the end of every story and He knows just how to test and mold and fit me for heaven. Whatever tomorrow holds may not be as  comfortable as today is, even considering the challenges of today. After all, Joseph thought he was in bad shape in the pit, but he didn’t yet know about the gypsies and the servanthood and the betrayal and the prison and the neglectful butler.  

But in the world of His children, the last day, the day of death, as grim as that may be, is the best day. The last day is the best day. Because, the big victory is won on the last day. The house will be the perfect size. The jobs will all be done. The needs will all be met. The family gathering will all be arranged and the sicknesses will all be healed.  

There’s really not a space for murmuring in my world. He has already delivered me, in advance, from every seemingly hopeless situation. Death and all its attendant sorrows has been swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:54).

                                            

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Little Truths from Anne with an “e”…

Thanks to three friends who could have invited any number of friends who would have loved this trip, but invited me, I am sitting in a seaside cottage watching huge whitecaps roll in and thinking about Anne of Green Gables. I’m on Prince Edward Island, off course. Try not to be jealous and think with me, for a few minutes about Anne, with an “e”. She’a the 1908 creation of Lucy Maud Montgomery and she is one of my all-time favorite literary characters. SO, in honor, of a girl’s trip that’s been on my bucket list for many years, Here are a few favorite quotes from Anne. She made lots of Biblical applications in this fictional work. Here are a few of my favorites. 

“I’ve made up my mind to enjoy this drive. It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will. Of course, you must make it up firmly.” Anne  

Contentment in Christ consists of the making up of the mind. It’s a firm commitment to the One Who gives us hope and assurance. It’s knowing that, no matter what comes my way, both good and bad events will work together for my good, as His child (Romans 8:28). It is learning, as Paul did that contentment is not in the state of outward circumstances. Contentment is in the soul—the mind—given over to Christ, though Whom I can do all things.

I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil. 4:12-13

“Oh, they meant to be —I know they meant to be just as good and kind as possible. And when people mean to be good to you, you don’t mind very much when they’re not quite—always.” Anne

Sometimes, when we feel slighted or even abused by people, it’s very helpful to stand back and use our imaginations. What could have been happening in his/her life that provoked such inattention or even unkindness? Is the way she treated me representative of who she is, or is this just an anomaly? Was her intent really malicious or was this just a bad day? It’s called long-suffering and forbearance, It’s called, by the Holy Spirit, “thinking no evil.” 

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil…1 Corinthians 13:4,5

“You have given me a hope. I shall always feel that you are a benefactor.” Anne

Hope is among the greatest of gifts, for the extinguishing of it is the death of dreams. Hope is anticipation with expectation. Christ is our greatest benefactor,  for while men may offer hope for a higher salary, a position of worldly influence, or even an extended lifetime, Jesus is the solitary source of hope eternal. My hope in Jesus is infinitely more precious than any motivating anticipation offered by this world.  We rejoice in that hope.

Rejoicing in hope (Romans 12:12)

“But he wasn’t talking to me….He was talking to God and he didn’t seem to be very much interested in it either. I think he thought God was too far off to make it worthwhile.” Anne

Sometimes, if we are not careful, we can fall into the rut of saying our prayers, rather than praying; of bowing our heads and not our hearts,  God has given us full access to the greatest source of power, light, and warmth that can be known in this lifetime. But he wants us, still, to ask. And He always hears. He walks right beside each of us. God is my one friend that is always closest, most accessible, most helpful and most forgiving. I think I should make sure, in this lifetime, that he is the friend with whom I communicate most often and with whom I have the deepest relationship.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 These. 5:16-18. 

“It’s lovely to be going home and know it’s home.” Anne 

As Christians, we are headed home. It’s a blessed assurance to understand that this world is not my home. When I grasp the reality of the brevity of the fleeting pleasures of this world and the unfathomable beauty of the land to which I am going, I can begin to contemplate the ultimate dimension of loveliness. 

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away (Revelation 21:4)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

I love this trip. But I really love the bigger pilgrimage I’m taking—the one that encompasses everything lovely, everything challenging, everything temporal and all things lasting. That trip is really what every other little journey is about!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sneak Peak: Digging Deep 2023-24

I love writing week! This year it’s a little hard to pin it down to a week, but I’m sure trying! I know there’s no one who gets as excited as I do about a new study. I’m fully immersed in the current one and fully immersed in the upcoming one and they are intersecting in all kinds of wiry ways in my brain. I love to sharpen the  Sword. Here’s a little snippet from yesterday’s work. I hope it’s a small blessing that can be a precursor to a bigger one as we travel toward a new study. As my good friend, Jen, often tells the kids in Bible bowl “If you learn one new thing from the Word, the whole project is worth it!”

It’s important for us to note that “ not wanting” in Psalm 23 is not just about having all of our needs met as in “I do not want for anything.” It’s also about finding contentment even in adverse circumstances. We find this contentment because we trust the One who is protecting us. We realize his ability and resourcefulness. A big part of that is remembering that, though my shepherd has many sheep, he interacts with me as though I am the only one. Only the divine shepherd has the ability to do that, thus providing peace even in dark times. Read the book of Philippians and make a list of all the “silver linings” that Paul found even in his Roman imprisonment. Let’s call this Contentment Correspondence. Imagine how this made the Philippian Christians feel to know that Paul started that church from a Philippian prison and now was admonishing from a Roman prison; and, all the while, he was so very contented. I’ll start you off with the first section of Philippians 1 and you complete the list for the four chapters. Paul was essentially saying “I shall not want.” He does not say “I do not want.” He says “I shall not want”!  Contentment is a choice. (Let’s do this one from the NKJV.)

vs. 3—I thank God for you.

vs. 3—I am joyful.

vs. 6—I am confident in your work through Him.

vs. 7— You are in my heart.

vs. 7—We are partakers of grace together. 

vs. 12—Bad things have turned out to further the gospel. 

vs. 13—The whole guard and the rest are seeing Christ. 

vs. 14—Brethren are getting bolder to speak the gospel. 

vs. 18—Christ is being preached, so I rejoice. 

Wow! as I was about to post this, I just realized that I could say these very words (this very list) to any number of sisters right now. So Kathy and Gen, and Vicky and Mol and Rebecca and Tonja and Marjorie and Han and Hannah and Lisa and Penny Lane and Rachel and Bekah and Melissa and a whole bunch more of you who are constant encouragers, this post is for you, with much love! Virtual hugs and vigilant prayers always!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance #32: Proverbs 13:25–Being Satisfied

My husband, Glenn, is sharing these daily lessons  for our West Huntsville family as we are necessarily (because of the virus) spending less time physically together in worship, study and fellowship. We may be “socially distanced,” but  we’re a close-knit family and we want to keep it that way! One way to stay on track together, spiritually, is to think about a common passage and make applications for our lives together even when we are unable to assemble as frequently. I’m sharing these daily family lessons here for those in other places, whose families (or even congregations) might benefit from a common study in these uncommon days of semi-quarantine. There are Family Bible Time guides included, as well. You can adapt, shorten or lengthen them according to the ages of kids (and adults) in your family. Blessings.

From Glenn:      

My Favorite Proverbs: Being Satisfied (Prov.13:25). 

“The righteous eats to the satisfying of his soul, but the stomach of the wicked shall be in want.”

Look at today’s proverb from two perspectives:

First, ultimately God will bless the righteous, but not the wicked.  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matt. 5:6).  The judgment day scene will involve both kinds of people:

“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world… ““Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:34, 41).

Second, the righteous learn the secret of contentment.  Paul wrote

“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11-13). 

This is contentment with what we have.  This passage wouldn’t prohibit my wanting to do better, or my striving for excellence, but rather it insists that I can be content NOW.  Sadly, those years I spend wishing things were different, may turn out to the be the best years of my life.  

We all know the twenty-third Psalm which includes, “…my cup runs over…” (Psa. 23:5).  How much of that wonderful emotion has to do with a healthy view of God’s great blessings in my life and resisting comparisons of myself with others who have more material goods?

I’ve often appreciated the spirit of Esau (who obviously had his faults) when he finally came face to face with his younger twin, Jacob. Jacob offered him a great gift of livestock as an appeasement for bygone wrongs.  Esau declined the gift and said, “I have enough” (Gen. 33:9).  

Today, pray a well considered prayer in which you ask for nothing; a prayer simply to count your blessings in gratitude to the One who gave them.

Family Bible Time with Glenn and Cindy:

Tonight, take the time to watch this video, created for a Lads to Leaders entry by some of the young folks at the West Corinth church in Corinth, Mississippi. I think your kids (of all ages) will enjoy it. Then discuss the long-suffering nature of the father in the parable and compare Him to the heavenly Father. Discuss how very much David needed/wanted the grace of this Father.

Mention also that it’s a great thing when we can teach the Bible though role-playing. We’re grateful to many children and teens who are frequently doing this.

Pray with your children.

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Topic Needed Was Topic Assigned.

So today…

  1. My dad was a sleepy-head because he coughed all night long.
  2. He was nauseated because of the antibiotic he took for the coughing.
  3. He was also dehydrated because of the nausea, which was because of the antibiotic, which was because of the cough.
  4. I got all mixed up about the starting time of my ladies’ day and I got there an hour early on a morning when I really could have used a little sleep. 
  5. I stopped on the way home to take a very short nap in the car and my husband phoned to “check on me” just as soon as I drifted off. Time all up!
  6. When I got back to my dad’s house, he had once again lost his breakfast and had despairingly gone back to bed. 
  7. I tried to get him up to watch the Bama game with me, although what I really wanted to do was go to a hibernation hole somewhere. But just as I was hoisting him up, the doorbell rang and a stranger delivered the news that Dad’s little dog had been hit by a car. 
  8. I told my dad to lie back down and do not get up. I got in the SUV with a big blanket to go down the meadow and find Tommy, bleeding and addled. 
  9. It took about eight calls before I could find an open veterinary office. 
  10. The veterinarian projected that the minimum cost for the surgery likely needed is two thousand dollars.
  11. I made the sad decision to have the puppy euthanized. 
  12. I had the sad duty to tell my father about the puppy.

So today, I am thankful for:

  1. The steroid and antibiotic that gives me hope for a better night’s sleep tonight.
  2. Supper that has “stayed down” for almost three hours now. 
  3. Mixups that make me early, rather than late.
  4. A chance to talk to women from Philippians 4 about how it’s not what’s happening on a particular day that determines my contentment. It’s about the promised peace that passes understanding. Do you think God provides what we need as His children?!… that His Word throughly furnishes us?!  I needed to do that particular expository of the great chapter about rejoicing. 
  5. A husband who checks on me.
  6. A sweet cousin who helps me with dad when I have to be gone for a couple of hours, even on days when he is sick.
  7. A great Bama victory to keep my dad preoccupied during the sad afternoon’s business. 
  8. Neighbors who were kind enough to take care of Tommy and come and notify me.
  9. Understanding my father’s limited income and his sadness, a clinic that donated the euthanizing shot and the cremation.
  10. A husband who always helps with difficult decisions, and does it with logic and a level head.
  11. My dad who, even though he forgets a lot of things (like I do), has not forgotten the difference between human beings and his dog. He simply said. “Well, we did what we could.” 
  12. A pillow on that bed in the back room and a monitor so I can hear my father if he calls. And the Word I can read as I fall asleep on that pillow…so I can hear my Father as He calls.

Some days you just think about Philippians 4 and the wonderful things Paul said about contentment from a dank and dark prison cell. And then the things about which you’re anxious seem small—negligible. And the peace that passes all understanding guards your heart and mind. It’s been a good day….And tomorrow? It’s the day when we go and get all that encouragement from the family of God. I hope my dad is well enough to go and get that…and worship the God of peace.