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Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Navigating the School Years

Today, I spoke with a mom who had just made what, to her family, was a tough decision about how and where her children would receive their education…at least, for now. She spoke about some of the good things and some of the things about which she was fearful. She wants her children to grow up honoring God and having a close relationship with God and with parents. Here are a few tips (from an article published a few years ago) for those whose children are in a conventional public or private school. They are important and timely as children return to school after the winter break. 

Navigating the School Years


  • Know your children’s teachers and textbooks. Volunteer to be the room mother.
  • Have a daily (every day –no exceptions) family Bible time.
  • Converse with your children each day about the school day.
  • Your homework, so that you can successfully refute evolutionary concepts and humanistic teachings,
  • Be a presence in your children’s schools, even on the high school level.
  • Examine, without bias, other education options such as home schooling. Too much is at stake to keep your children in a situation where souls are at risk.
  • Be involved in the homework process. This will help you know when you need to counteract humanistic material being presented.
  • Put a Bible in your kids’ backpacks and encourage them from early ages to take it out and read it through the day. This won’t work if you wait till high school to begin.
  • Go to bat for your children if they face persecution for speaking their convictions. Let them own their beliefs, but when the going gets tough, help them find ways to avoid compromise.
  • Be at home when they get home in the afternoons. Make that time a pleasant and warm homecoming every day.
  • Use school travel time to communicate calmly, listen to Bible reading or to uplifting spiritual singing.
  • Make decisions when your children are young about activities in middle and high school in which they will plan NOT to participate. In our house, they knew from their preschool  years  that they would not attend proms or parties where alcohol was being served. Standards of modest dress and decorum were required way before peer pressure set in. This does not magically dissolve all of the temptations the devil hurls their way, but it goes a long way in giving them resisting power.


  • Adopt the mentality that since you send your children to school, the responsibility for their education is no longer yours.  God holds parents accountable for the education of their children.
  • Allow your children to become distant from you. Never stop communicating (Deut. 6:4-6)
  • Be too busy to spend daily time with each of your children. Make outings and activities with them a priority.
  • Ever, ever skip a scheduled worship service for a school or sports activity.
  • Ever let a day go by in which they don’t hear you pray for their souls.
  • Leave your children at after-hours school day care as a babysitting service. The bare minimum number of hours is enough and often too much.
  • Encourage your children to give in to peer pressure. Get rid of the mentality that you don’t want them to think being a Christian is restrictive and “no fun”. Being a Christian is living sacrificially and is not always fun. But sacrifices strengthen convictions that will serve them well through a lifetime toward heaven.
  • Assume you will find out if your children are questioning the existence of God or the doctrines of the Scriptures. Your job is to communicate, communicate, communicate!
  • Leave your children in a school situation in which faith is being eroded. There are options. This risk is eternal. You can never regain this important time in their lives.

This post taken from an article by Cindy Colley first published  in an earlier issue of THINK magazine. (Focus Press, Nashville, TN) Below are the sources used in the original article.


Anderson, Kerry. “Bible Distribution.” Limbaugh, David. Persecution. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2003. 44.

Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. 05 October 1999. 23 June 2007 .
Hetzner, Amy. JSOnline. 21 March 2001. 23 June 2007 .

Liberty Counsel. “”School Officials Trash Truth for Youth Bibles and Ten Commandments Book Covers.” Limbaugh, David. Persecution. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2003. 45.

Limbaugh, David. Townhall. 27 February 2002. 23 June 2007 .
Mohammed, Nisha N. The Rutherford Insitute-Press Releases. 04 November 2003. 23 June 2007 .

More, Thomas. Thomas More Law Center. 25 June 2002. 22 June 2007 .
Potter, Charles Francis. “Humanism: A New Religion.” Limbaugh, David. Persecution. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2003. 65.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Remember to Forget and Forget to Remember!

When you read this, it will be Christmas Eve. As I write this, I’m traveling back home from a family gathering; a gathering that included both extreme happiness as children squealed over tea sets and over dinosaurs that, when immersed, grow to 600 times their original size. (I can’t wait for that!) and tears that flowed unbidden. 

There were four families within the larger family that were able to come: eight adults and four small children. Four  men (all of the men present) are gospel preachers. During our short 16 hours together, there were five prayers led. Some of them were fervent prayers for the one family that was unable to be represented there because of an intense battle with cancer. We sang songs about heaven and hope and our precious Jesus. 

I did some cooking and a lot of dishes and filled a lot of Tupperware tubs with leftovers ( and, yes, we are in the South, so I filled some cottage cheese containers and ice cream buckets with leftovers. too.) I made a palate in the closet floor for Ezra. I lined a sofa with garbage bags topped with quilts for another little one (just in case of an accident in the night). I was invited to several tea parties and I was arrested and jailed (in a closet) by a short red-headed “po-weese-man” several times (but I always found a co-conspirator to help me escape), and I was the conductor on a train.

And traveling home, I am extremely tired. But I am back here in the “way-back-in-the-back” little seat of our Pilot (the one you from which you cannot be released till somebody opens the hatch and then you do gymnastics to get out.). We are pulling a big trailer and we’ve had two of our singing “Days of Christmas” in this Pilot already. When we get home, our kids are going on a birthday date/retreat overnight and we are keeping the grandkids. (Rough job, but somebody…). I’m thinking about how blessed we are to have families (on both sides) where we can go and feel love in Him and sweet unity. 

So, as we’re traveling home, we’re talking about family. While we certainly are not experts on doing family right, we’ve been talking about the things that are challenging in some extended families— things that get in the way of fun and unity—and things that help us to be close and supportive of each other. 

My husband just said something profound.  (He does that a lot.) He said this:

“The key to having peace and happiness in extended families is a paradox: Unity lies in being able to remember and it lies in being able to forget.”

He went on to explain that he who wants to provide a place of comfort and security within the family must remember what it’s like to be in the shoes of the other person. Old folks need to remember what it was like to have small children and, thus, make allowances for misplaced items, for occasional breakage and for the occasions that require discipline. Young parents need to remember that they are in the presence of people who are more fragile and less agile. Extreme respect and deference should always be given to the aged. All people should remember that we are each on the precipice of eternity and, in a very short while, it will not matter which  material possessions were protected. It will not matter whether or not every single tradition was honored. It will not matter if the children were dressed in vintage or in trendy clothing or if everyone was dressed in ecru and jeans for the family picture. It will not matter if we all rooted for the same team. It will not matter if we lived in relative cleanliness or relative clutter. It will not matter whether our kids faced forward at two or at four. It will not matter whether we stopped to eat at Cracker Barrel or Los Portales. One thing will matter. If our families can get that one thing right…just that one thing… 

Then he explained that it’s important for us to forget. If we could just forget that time that Aunt Bertha had a come-apart over the sugar in the casserole. If we could forget that awful episode when everyone was tired after the funeral and said things they really did not mean. If we could forget that Sally sometimes doesn’t bring a dish or that Fred eats and then leaves or that Tom is always talking through the game commentary. If we could forget all the things for which people have apologized. If we had better forgetters, we could make families safer emotional havens. 

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love…(Ephesians 4:1,2)

Longsuffering is the key. It means your ability to “put up with” things that rub you the wrong way. And, in this context, it means your ability to do it while you keep loving people. Longsuffering requires both remembering and forgetting. And the Word tells us, in the very next verse, that this is the way we endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  That unity is an invaluable blessing whenever found in families. 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

“Have you ever heard of Green Berry Holder?”

We’ve worshipped together for 15-plus years now. The Mark Holder family has been dear to the Colley family for all of those years. Mark is the deacon in our congregation who keeps our tract ministry going. I love his wife Susan and they have three faithful Christian children now (all of which were very small children when we first moved to work with the West Huntsville church). Mark has a voice that’s James Taylor-esque and it’s every bit as smooth and rich. He and his sweet daughter, Emma, performed together at our West Huntsville holiday party again this year. It’s a highlight for us every time I get to hear them. 

I’d often go to the mailbox when little Katie Holder (she’s in the middle of the photo), Mark and Susan’s oldest, was growing up and find letters written in pencil to our daughter, Hannah, who was about seven years older than Katie…sweet notes forging a friendship that was encouraging to Hannah, giving her a bit of a mentor responsibility to Katie (who is now in grad school, by the way). Katie attended the guest table at Hannah’s wedding. Emma Holder, the youngest daughter of Mark and Susan, is now a college student and, just this week, met me at the church building to give a sewing lesson to a couple of girls in the youth group, so they could complete their Lads to Leaders Keepers projects. Emma is beautiful, talented, and, best of all, faithful to our Lord. Ethan Holder, the youngest of their three children, is active in a busy youth group, loves baseball, and has a dry sense of humor. We love the Holders.

So you can understand, since my maiden name is Holder, how that, fifteen years ago, when we moved to West Huntsville, I quickly tried to determine if there was a relationship between my family and Mark’s. Sadly, our ancestors seemed to be from different areas of the country, and Mark had no knowledge of any links to connect our families. Still though, the Holders, were among our biggest spiritual encouragers. Watching the girls grow from smocked bishop dresses to formals at the senior banquets, watching them graduate from kindergarten and then, seemingly the next week, from high school and, one of them, even from college, has been a surreal witnessing of the quick and sweet evaporation of childhood. 

And then, one Wednesday night, this year, Mark came up to me and said “Now, have you ever heard of Green Berry Holder?”

Well, “Green Berry” is not just a name you’d find multiple times in a genealogy search. It’s not like Mike, Jeff, or James on a document or a tombstone, of course. He had my attention as I replied, “Yes. Green Berry Holder is my great-great grandfather, and there can’t be but one Green Berry Holder…”

“And he is MY great-great grandfather, too,” Mark said. 

And so we are cousins. Our common ancestor is only four generations back. Green Berry Holder was married to Mary Rhodes and they were the parents of twelve children, one of which was Jabus, my great-grandfather, and one of which was Josiah, Mark’s great-grandfather. Records indicate that Josiah was the firstborn and just a year or so older than Jabus.  The brothers  and the rest of the family had some hard times while their father, Green Berry, served in the Alabama Infantry during the Civil War. It was after he fought in several battles that he was wounded near Atlanta in the Battle of Peach Tree Creek and returned home.

It was wonderful fun for me to find out that Mark’s great-grandfather grew up with mine during those days prior to and during the war between the states. It’s fun to think about how many colloquialisms we might share in our speech or what similar genetic traits might still influence our kids due to our common ancestors, Green Berry and Mary. It’s fun to talk about the stories of individuals on the family tree and to think about how my grandfather, who often held me on his knee when I was a very young child, had likely known Mark’s grandfather and maybe had mourned his recent passing, even though Mark’s grandfather was living in Tennessee at the time of his passing.

Most of all, I’m extremely blessed to think about how it is that each Sunday, Mark and I sit in the same room and sing praises to our Father, even though our branches of the family tree came about knowing His truth in very different ways. My grandfather, John Franklin Holder, learned the truth and became a faithful man of God. I am not sure when or where he learned the gospel, but I know he was a member of the Lord’s church by the time the family lived in the  sweet old Peaceburg community in the early part of the last century. One of my siblings has the original bell that rang when it was time for the services in that little building. Mark, on the other hand, is a first-generation member of the church of Christ. He first attended with a classmate in college and searched on his own, finding the way to lead his family to heaven. 

As much fun as it has been to discover an earthly kinship, the truth about family is not lost on me. What I love most about the Mark Holder family did not deepen or change or evolve when I learned that we descended from the same great-great grandfather. It’s the heavenly Father who gives us the characteristics that make us close. It’s not the facts that you find on that provide your truest kinship. It’s the spiritual ancestry…the fact that we are spiritual children of Abraham (Galatians 3:7).  That kinship makes us most similar in priorities, goals and matters of the heart. It’s not what you find on a tombstone somewhere; it’s the connection to our final and real resting place around the throne. It’s not what you find of good or bad  (and we have found both) in the lives of the people on the tree. It’s the good (the complete and perfect good) we both have found in that man on Calvary’s tree that gives us the precious family that means the most in this life. 

I’m eternally grateful for the man on my family tree who first contacted the blood of Jesus. I’m thankful for the one who first invited Mark Holder to study the scriptures. Most of all, I am thankful for the family tree…the one at Calvary…that makes us blood kin in the primary and eternal sense of the word “family.”

As I studied Green Berry Holder, I found that the words below are inscribed on his old tombstone in Jacksonville, Alabama:

I have fought a good fight

I have finished my course

I have kept the faith

I hope to go and see that stone in the very near future. May Mark and I be able to confidently say these same words on another glad day that’s also inevitably in the very near future!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Dear Maggie…

Dear Baby Magdalene,

Last night I got the word from your daddy that I will probably get to hold you before this week is over. That’s not exactly how he said it, of course, but that’s the essence of what a grandmother hears. You will wrap a tiny hand around my finger and the next 30 years of your new life, if I should live that long, around my heart. 

You are my Maggie, already. You’re named after a woman about whom I have spoken to ladies groups many times—a woman who stayed with Jesus till the bitter end and was the first to witness the empty tomb. I want you to stay with Him till the end and I want us—you and me— to be together for eternity because we both, during our lives that will intersect and influence each other here for a short time, looked into the empty tomb for all the answers to life’s questions. We are still hearing the echo of those important words that Mary Magdalene first heard: “He is not here, but He is risen. Come see the place where the Lord lay.” Because of that reality our family is a forever family. 

You’re also named after my sweet mother-in-law, who will be your great-grandmother. I hope you will laugh with your whole body and being like she does. I hope you will welcome hundreds around your table, as she has. I hope you will  love the role of wife and mother and keeper at home, like she has. Most of all, I hope you’ll love God supremely, like that other sweet Maggie. 

You will both be and bring “Joy”, too. Magdalene Joy. It’s a big challenge and blessing to get to wear the middle name of your maternal grandmother. Your dad’s parents are forever thankful to her and to your Grandpa for giving us your mom, the best wife to our Caleb and the best mother for you that we could ever have dreamed up! In fact, your mom is our hopes, all just happening right before our eyes. Joy is a little word, but I’m glad it is right in the middle of your name, because it’s all over the end of this July, for all of us. It’s what you will bring to every holiday, every family gathering, every prayer of thanksgiving for you and the faithful little family to which you are adding a whole dimension of reality—a big and new normal that they can’t imagine till the moment you explode all over again in their hearts and settle into that mountaintop adventure room that your mama has made for you. I can’t wait to see you living the verse on your nursery wall…”Be strong and courageous!” (Joshua 1:9).

In fact, I can’t wait for you! You’ve made your dad pretty nervous. You know they’ve bought that Honda Odyssey because of you. I didn’t think your daddy would ever buy another mini-van after he had to drive that “white egg”, as his friends called it, all over FHU for the first couple of years he was a student there. Your mom has been pretty sick while her little body just had a come-apart over you! But everybody—EVERYBODY—is completely happy to put life on the fast track and, at the same time, on hold…for you. You, Magdalene Joy, are the surprise we could not believe…

And the answered prayers we will keep thanking Him for all of our days….

Know there will be so much more I want to tell you when you have your hand wrapped around my finger….and my heart wrapped around your finger. I will make up songs and they will have clumsy rhymes and I will do all kinds of antics for a tiny smile. I will let you play in the flour when we make cookies and I will let you splash in all the muddy puddles at Serenity, with your cousins. Your Papa will make you doll houses and playhouses and, well…you can just have whatever you want, okay? But don’t tell anybody. 

I love you, Maggie, and I can’t wait!


Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Oikouros. Do you do this? (Part Two)

Oikouros. It’s the Greek word for “keeper at home” in Titus 2: 5. In the last post, we looked at the definition of oikouros. As we think about its meaning, it helps to understand some things we can be sure oikouros does not mean.  It can’t mean that mothers of young children can never leave the house. It cannot mean that women can never do anything to add money to the family account. (Of course it cannot mean that. The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 made girdles and sold them  to the merchants, after all.) Neither can it mean that merely because I spend the vast majority of my hours at home that I am oikouros. We all know people who are physically at home, but who are not nurturing the children who are growing up in that home.

Sometimes when we look at verses that require thought and a personal alignment of our lives with them to determine how they apply to our decisions in 2018, we tend to dismiss those passages. After all, since the Bible does not give specific details of application, then I can’t really be sure how to correctly apply it. Since such a  passage leaves room for my personal opinions about the details of what to do, then whatever I decide to do (or not do) has to be okay with God. This reasoning is presumptuous. We can’t negate a command of God just because it takes some critical thinking and decision-making on our part.  Just because I may not know or understand all that a verse means for me personally does not render it meaningless. I am the finite reader. The Holy Spirit is the infinite and all-wise Author. Every admonition of the Spirit has meaning for me.

Let’s look at an example of this kind of reasoning. We read in I Timothy 2:9,10, that women are to adorn themselves in modest apparel with shamefacedness (the ability to blush) and sobriety (seriousness). But, since there is no specific mention of how many inches above the knee, cleavage or no, spandex, midriffs, bare backs, or glittering evening gowns for worship–since none of these specifics about clothing are in the verse, I must  be free to just choose whatever I want to wear. I can effectively dismiss the entire teaching. But still, even in my dismissal (or yours), there will probably be some kind of clothing that’s such an egregious failure to heed the passage that we would all agree it is immodest. Maybe a skimpy two-piece swimsuit or a string bikini. Surely, although we might disagree about some kinds of attire, we would all agree that the string bikini or skimpy two-piece would be an extreme failure to adhere to I Timothy 2:9. (As you might guess, I’m convicted that there are lots of ways to violate the principle of modesty in I Timothy 2:9, but I’m laying those aside for the sake of this reasoning process.)

So let’s apply even that very weak kind of adherence to the term oikouros in Titus 2:5. Is there some kind of decision about home-keeping that we might consider an egregious failure to be oikouros— a stayer-at-home? Is there a scenario in which all of us would agree that one is not adhering to the admonition to be a keeper-at-home? How could one egregiously fail to be oikouros?

What if a mother of young children chose (the word chose is key) to spend two thirds of the waking hours of her young children, five days each week, outside of the home, leaving her children in the care of others? What if during the other four waking hours of those young children she was stressfully attempting to do all the laundry, cook and serve dinner, keep the house clean, get the children bathed and brushed, help with any homework, take time for hugs and conversation with the children and have family Bible time, all while taking proper care to be the wife described in Titus two and Ephesians five and I Peter three? If there is a way to not do Titus 3:5, would this be it?

As you can tell, I’m thinking out loud here….But I’m thinking about how a passage applies to a culture–my culture– in which it has become the norm for mothers to spend most of their daily routines away from their young children. We have allowed our thinking and maybe even our national economy to become solidly established around this norm.  I’m wondering if the norm in our culture has wielded such a powerful effect on our thinking, during two generations of American women in the workplace, that  women in our churches have effectively dismissed the command to be a keeper at home, a worker at home, a stayer at home, a domestic. In such a climate, it becomes difficult for women of God to step back and see His directives as commands that call us to be different from the world around us. Does oikouros call us to reject a way of life that many consider to be a necessity in our nation today?



Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Where Is Your Sting? –Part 7


                                            The Sting of Death Is Regret.

This is probably the toughest one for people  who are missing loved ones. You look at an old yearbook when cleaning out a bookshelf and think “Why did I not get this out while Dad was living and get him to tell me about these people he knew in college?”…”Why did I not tease Mother about her senior “ambition”: “to have a lot of money”?  Why did I not look through this box of photos with her and let her tell me who these people are? Why did I EVER think it was a chore to change a bed or wash tired feet, when it was really a blessing? Why didn’t I look around and say thank-you more often for intricate wooden toys built in that workshop, for shade trees planted or for the sewing of quilts that warm me now or for handmade dolls and dresses now being passed down to the fourth generation? Why did I not even know about this person she was trying to convert or this person for whom he bought meals or this class that he taught in his youth? I regret spending time counseling others, while at his house, when I could have been conversing with him.   

And then there are those bigger and more hurtful regrets. The times you raised your voice at a nonagenarian just because he was stubborn about doing his exercises properly or because he kept changing the water temperature in the tub when you had told him to leave it where it was…and mostly because YOU were about five nights behind on sleep. Those little things haunt you because they happened too frequently and you know you should have been kinder. You always apologized, but it’s difficult to get them out of your head. Regret is, of course, wishing you could go back and do something differently…and you can’t.

But I cannot imagine having to deal with the one huge regret as my parents left this life. If there is anyone reading who has walked away from the spiritual training your Christian parents gave to you, may I beg you to return while there is time? Even if your parents are gone from this life—even if they left this world hurting because you had walked away, there is still time to keep yourself from eternal regret. You can see them again and you can exchange regretting for rejoicing when you do. You can never go to heaven because you wanted to please your parents, but you can SURELY please them in the process of pleasing your Lord! I’m so glad for the place of reunion and rejoicing…just beyond the place where I can lay down all regret and pick up the white robe.