Browsing Tag

Discouragement

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

The Blessing Trail: Before and After

Before the Blessing Trail: 

Monday…not a very good day. 

  1. I woke up with a pretty wicked head cold.
  2. Someone had cut my granddaughter’s, Eliza’s hair, in a perfectly awful zig-zag pattern. It was her first haircut.
  3. My son was going to be speaking on the FHU lectures and I was not going to be there. 
  4. My big tinsel Christmas tree was still up in the living room. It was February 6th. 
  5. My husband set the back lot on fire and the fire department had to come and put it out. 
  6. I renewed my resolve to eat heathy, then immediately had a very stressful series of events.                                                                          Then, I got a bit of sad news to top that off and I ate a half bag of kettle cooked potato chips. 
  7. Someone said something very unkind about me. 
  8. My dear friend lost his job.
  9. This was supposed to be our vacation, but once again, we are not going anywhere. 
  10. My husband, instead of vacationing, was cleaning out the basement and going through boxes of things left behind by loved ones who’ve gone home. It was a sad kind of job and he was not himself.

After the Blessing Trail:

Monday…a very good day. 

  1. I woke up with just a head cold. I know people who woke up with lung cancer, sepsis, and covid. I need to send some cards and a gift card or two! I have enough health (and money) to do that!
  2. Hair grows back out! Thank the good Lord it was just hair.
  3. My son is going to be speaking at the FHU lectures! He is good and soul-conscious, whether I am there or not!
  4. My big tinsel Christmas tree had lots of presents under it during the holiday. So blessed. And now it could turn into a red and silver Valentine tree!
  5. We have a great volunteer fire department and they practically had a men’s day in the back yard (firemen, neighbors and friends) when the fire was out. Great opportunity for evangelism. 
  6. Everybody should be happy when there are kettle-cooked potato chips in the pantry. I’ve been to countries where such a temptation was completely unavailable. So rich. (But now that they are gone, I should wait a while before re-purchasing “for the kids “…maybe until they really are coming.)
  7. The “something unkind” was also untrue. Now, that’s a blessing. 
  8. Before I could turn around, my friend who lost his job had secured better employment, from home, with no time without a paycheck.
  9. We have this warm, dry place to be together even if we are not going anywhere. Some people actually take a vacation right here with us or in our cabin. Plus, Glenn is getting the basement cleaned out this week.  That is a huge undertaking that simply would not happen if we did not use Glenn’s week off to accomplish. We may even get off the “Hoarder’s Anonymous” mailing list this week!
  10. There are several deceased loved ones waiting for us in glory. Our basement is full of memorabilia, lots of which they saved with us, specifically, in mind. That’s because they loved us and thought ahead about us. Theres’a lot to which we look forward, in death! We will see the people and not the stuff. We will come to the full blessed realization that nothing matters except souls!

And if you want to see the “after,” here’s a good interpretation. I hope your weekend is this happy!

https://www.facebook.com/reel/427197086257310/?s=single_unit

 

 

 

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

“I’m struggling with all of this…”

It’s difficult not to be discouraged right now. Cases of Covid in our churches are on the rise and we see real footage of suitcases hidden under tables, supposedly full of ballots in Georgia. We start to lose faith in the credibility of things that are important in our lives. We’re short on hugs and smiles and, sometimes, the angst from that shortage is almost a disease within itself. Meanwhile, all the diseases of all recent years just keep on marching into our families, communities, and congregations….And the devil is not quarantined. He’s busy spreading spiritual disease. In fact, he’s more unmasked than ever!

It’s important to spend time focusing on the ONE thing that cannot change for the worse. We have one thing that really does matter. Our Digging Deep exercise last month from Romans 5 is helpful in putting that in perspective. How is our salvation (that ONE thing that eclipses the short-term, come what may) described in that chapter that’s brimming with comfort and peace?

Justification by faith

Peace with God

Access by faith onto grace

Justification by his blood

Salvation from wrath

Reconciliation with God by the death of His Son

Salvation by the life of His Son

Atonement

Reconciliation

Free gift

The Grace of God

A gift by grace, by one man

Justification

An abundance of grace

An abundance of the gift of righteousness

Justification of life

The making of righteousness

Grace

Eternal life

I still have all of this! Even if I die, I still have all of this! It’s important to be in the Word because that’s the source of the antibody against depression. Don’t feel bad about having the blues right now. I think all normal people are mentally and/or emotionally struggling. But constantly reminding ourselves of Colossians 3:2 is empowering to Christians. Focus on light is everything when we walk through darkness. Our dear brother, John Moore, added, as he realized the gravity of a near-death experience and gave thanks that his life had been spared, “but the alternative would have been good, too.”

We always have an alternative. And it is a great one.

Set your mind on things above, and not on things of the earth.   Colossians 3:2

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

The River Clapped its Hands.

I was just so tired of looking at masks instead of smiles. My kids who live close enough for me  to ever see them anyway, were all in quarantine. I didn’t even want to drag out the Halloween jack-o-lanterns and garlands and goblins because nobody is ever going to be coming over. Every time I opened my laptop, I’d feel just a little worse after looking at the news. The counseling Glenn and I were doing—talking, really —was about heavy things that were hard to get out of my mind once the conversations were finished. Some people seemed bound to make decisions they are bound to regret once the pandemic and national tension are over. Sometimes, I was pretty sure attitudes in the grocery store had also been affected by the negativity in the world at large; there seemed to always be tension there, but never any Clorox wipes. People I knew were in the hospital and I could not visit them. Sisters I knew had been diagnosed with Covid and, worse still, others had been diagnosed with cancer. (These last observations should have been enough to stop me cold in my “pity party” tracks, but I persisted.)…I had geared up to speak a whole bunch of times this year and every single speaking engagement of 2020 had either been canceled or I was speaking it into a camera in an empty studio room. There were never any encouraging, in-person faces; and if there were, I could not see past the masks. We’d mailed out hundreds of packages and about one out of every five was lost in transit. Glenn, in cleaning up after a family birthday party, had jerked on a birthday balloon I’d taped to the candelabra (back before all the kids were quarantined) and he jerked the whole fixture down, so I had a dangling broken light fixture above my dining room table. Stuff was broken in the little Digging Deep studio, too. Mornings would find me determined to accomplish a check-list. Evenings would find me moving most of today’s to-do list to tomorrow’s page. At night before falling asleep, I’d read about some city (or forest) where fires were ragIng, because of natural forces or because of forces of racial and vitriolic unrest. I really was wallowing in the national pandemic of discouragement. 

My husband suggested that we go away for a few days. “We NEED to do this, Cindy,” he’d say almost every day. “Our bodies and minds need to rest.” I was less than thrilled, arguing that this is not a good time to travel. “I just got home from a necessary trip”… “Things will be closed. We are in a pandemic.”  But I tried to be compliant.  I checked out flights  to New England to look at the leaves, but apparently they don’t want people from Alabama to look at their leaves this year. That little trip would have required a couple of weeks of quarantine and temperature checks upon arrival, etc. So we just pointed the car in a southwesterly direction and ended up in Natchez, Mississippi with very little purpose or plan to do or see anything. But I saw a lot of things. 

In the state of Mississippi, the mask mandate had been lifted. That, friends, may not have been medically smart. I do not know. I do know, though, that seeing strangers smile at strangers is a balm to weary spirits.

Immediately upon reaching our hotel in Natchez, we started looking for a church. The place where we ended up was in Vidalia, Louisiana. (After that search online and in the car, for a couple of hours, I was most appreciative of our church family, city-wide, in Huntsville, AL) This little church had to be the friendliest one in the state of Louisiana. All of their services were in-person. Their singing was robust and obviously from their hearts. They prayed for their “visitors” from Alabama in every single prayer and they graciously asked Glenn to preach on Sunday. But the thing that renewed my appreciation for the family of God was the comment in class by the kind gentleman who also led their singing. In the context of brotherly love from 1 John, he said “Most of you know that I live by myself. I try to talk to neighbors about the Lord, but most of them are not too interested. You know that this right here is my family. Y’all are my people. Y’all are the ones I need to see and I look forward to the times we get to be together. This is my place.” Now I don’t know about you, but my soul soared to hear this black brother talk about this very racially integrated body of believers as “his people.” I thought “This is what the Lord wants in all of our hearts. While the world is tumultuously acting like the world and trying to make everybody walk on eggshells around everybody else, he has called us out of darkness and translated us into this great family—the kingdom of his dear Son.” I determined to go home and just love my family like never before! Sometimes a woman needs a brother to just put her self-focused little mind in place again. He, like a spiritual chiropractor, just popped me back into alignment. 

The next time we met with these sweet Christians, I took along our current Digging Deep study book and found women, who had never even heard of DD, eager to begin. Glenn talked to these sweet folks about Lads to Leaders (They had not heard about that either, but there was obvious young potential there.) There were folks there who had already found us and our West Huntsville family online and already begun to listen to archived lessons online. This zeal for the Lord’s family was refreshing.

Glenn was diligently looking, on this trip, for replacement light fixtures and doors for some oddly sized closet entrances in one of our bedrooms. We found someone who was selling both there in Natchez and set up a time to meet her. While almost every old house or historic place we attempted to go and see had been closed due to a hurricane (…yes, we had unwittingly traveled TO the hurricane area and electricity was off in much of the area and trees were across several area roads) this sweet lady took us to a large living space—a loft on the top of business space on Commerce Street in historic downtown Natchez, to look at light fixtures and doors!  Not only did we get the antique doors and the fixture—both just what we wanted—but she, having grown up in Natchez, was able to give us perspectives about history that no tour guide had yet given. Finding that she had been to Israel, we began talking about Judaism and the Old Testament. By that time, of course, I’m back at the SUV, digging out our Digging Deep study of the Ten Commandments and I honestly think no one has ever been more excited to get a copy of a Digging Deep book than this sweet lady was to receive The Ten. I have a sister who is going to love to study this with me!”

…And in my reluctant heart, I was thinking “God is showing Cindy Colley a few things about a few things, among which are mercies that are new every morning (particularly in new faces and places). He might be showing me that I should just follow the counsel of the godly man He gave me, without arguing. He could be providentially asking me to get busy counting blessings and evangelizing wherever I am; focusing on finding opportunities to speak of Him, knowing that the world of vitriol changes one heart at a time as people are influenced by the gospel.”

And then, before coming home, we just stood and looked out over the mighty Mississippi. Covering two city blocks that had once been a bustling part of old Natchez, those mighty waters just keep on raging with undercurrents that prevent swimming or fishing, jet-skis or sailing. From the Natchez shoreline, just about the only boats one sees today are huge barges. headed for more peaceful ports and trade farther inland on the tributaries of this powerful body. Draining 41 percent of the United States, the water flows at incredible speeds and with deadly force. But God is in the business of irrigating and draining and He has channeled the power of millions of gallons of water within our vision—for warmth and light and industry and transportation. It’s hard to look at that river and its productivity without marveling at the creative and controlling power of the God we serve.

He gets it right, every time. In a world that’s screaming about justice and equity, I’m going to follow the One who gets it right. Even when I, his daughter, may question and writhe in His Providence—even when I might grumble in the shadow of His mercies, He gets it right. He is supreme and I’ve returned home with a greater respect for His majesty and provision for me. I saw the mightiest river in our part of the world “clap its hands” in full glorification of the Lord. Who am I to hang my head and think life’s unfair when the river is praising the equity of God?! 

 

 

Let the rivers clap their hands;

let the hills sing for joy together

before the Lord, for he comes

to judge the earth.

He will judge the world with righteousness,

and the peoples with equity (Psalm 97:8,9).

 

He gets it right. I’m thankful for renewal.