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Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

The Living Influence of a Great-Great Grandmother (and of some in-between)

Last weekend, we celebrated Colleyanna’s birthday. It was a fun time at Serenity and, although there were just a half-dozen of us gathered in the dining room, Colleyanna could not have loved it more if we’d been in the presence of royalty at Buckingham. She and her siblings were excited from the moment they woke up in the morning till the moment the last game was played before bedtime. 

The last game before bedtime was a game of “house”.  Max (Ezra) was my husband and I was Lilly.  Our “house” was the master bedroom.  I worked at a restaurant (my kitchen…that work was real) and Max raced a motorcycle. Our next-door neighbor, Snowdrop (Colleyanna..she’s always picking a name with flair), was always dropping by, uninvited, and bringing her cat, Oreo. (It’s funny how there was more than one  new board game and more than one toy received at the birthday party, but their favorite game, by far, was still the one that just involved people and pretending (and not those toys). 

As I was thinking about the half dozen years that Colleyanna has been on the planet, it was not lost on me that last weekend also marked the birth of someone else who, not so long ago in the grand scheme of things, was left alone with three children between ages one and seven. She was left to have to find childcare for her children while she worked hard to make ends meet in a tiny little house. She was, though under great duress, a woman of great faith and prayer. She was resourceful. And her children were blessed.  

That woman was my grandmother (Colleyanna’s great, great grandmother) and her birthday was last weekend, too. Born on September 10th, 1898, she was, when she left this life in 1980, Mattie Lee Louise Abernathy Smith Duncan. That’s a lot of name for such a humble and meek woman of God.  She taught me how to play house, and rock school and hop-scotch and she could make a doll out of a handkerchief and a chalice out of gum wrapper.  She took me to beautiful springs that bubbled out of a rocky hillside near the graves of some of our ancestors.  She was the one in that lineage who came to know and obey the gospel first. Converting her second husband to the Lord, all told, she (they) raised two faithful gospel preachers, an elder in the Lord’s church, another son and my mother, who was one of the greatest examples of Christianity I’ve ever known. All of those five children, to my knowledge, died as faithful Christians. 

Two of those children were profound influences on my spiritual development. How does one ever overestimate the power of motherhood in the molding of a soul for heaven? My mother’s power in my life is, even now, strong and vast. But one of the preachers my grandmother raised, Bobby Duncan, was the local preacher in the church in which I grew up. He baptized me and I am quite sure I do not even fully know the extent to which he shaped my love of the Word and my desire to serve God. That shaping is palpable every time I take out the Word to study. 

I often remember specific things Bobby Duncan said when I am studying a particular topic or text. I love the fact that my husband was blessed to “inherit” the preaching files of my uncle Bob. In my basement there is a file cabinet that is more valuable to both of us than any material treasure he could have ever left behind. He wrote almost every sermon in very complete outline form, though he never read his sermons. He had them so very well-learned by the time of delivery that  no one would have known that much of what he said rested on the pulpit in front of him. Here are a few samples of quotations I’ve recently read from his files in that cabinet: 

On the faith: “The faith is constantly under attack. It is under attack by the forces of atheism, agnosticism, existentialism, liberalism, anti-ism, radicalism, and every other “ism”. The gospel cannot defend itself against these attacks. It has no voice of its own. It must utilize our voices for its defense. I have about as much respect for one who would stand idly by and watch a defenseless old lady get mugged, and not lift a hand to defend her, as I have for a gospel preacher who will stand idly by while the faith is being attacked , and not say a word in its defense (Phil. 1:17). We must contend for the faith.”

On marriage, divorce and remarriage: “Brethren, let’s not be stricter than the Lord was in these areas. When a man puts away his wife for fornication, and marries another woman, he only has one wife. We ought not to penalize that man for doing what the Lord said he could do (Matthew 19: 9; 5:31-32)  When a man puts away his wife for a reason other than fornication, then he is living in adultery and should not be utilized in the services of the church, but should be forewarned and disciplined.’

On adultery:  “Well, what is to be done about the sin of fornication? What is to be done to obtain forgiveness? If one is guilty of the sin of fornication, then what is he supposed to do? Of course, if a person is not a Christian, in order to be forgiven of any sin, he has to obey the gospel of Christ. He has to hear the gospel and believe it, repent, confess, and be baptized. But now notice, repentance means getting out of sin. It means giving up the sinning business. If a man is a thief, he has to quit thieving. If he is a bootlegger, he has to quit bootlegging. That is what repentance involves. If he is committing fornication, then he has to quit committing fornication. And that would involve that adultery that Jesus mentioned in Matthew 19:9 where it says ‘Whosoever shall put away his wife except it be for fornication and shall marry another committeth adultery.’ If a man is in an adulterous relationship, when he repents, that means he has to get out of that relationship. He can’t just keep on committing sin and get God’s forgiveness.”

On taking the name of God in vain: “Technically, what does it mean to take the Lord’s name in Vain? 

  1. It means to use God’s name to back up a lie.
  2. In Isaiah 59:4 “They trust in vanity and speak lies….”
  3. The word “lies” is the same Hebrew word “shav” translated “vain” in Exodus 20:7.
  4. (Hosea 10:4  “They speak vain words, swearing falsely in making covenants…”
  5. (Exodus 23:1) “Thou shalt not take up a false report; put not thy hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.” 
  6. To take the Lord’s name in vain means, therefore, to use the Lord’s name to back up a falsehood or a lie.”

What I love about studying these files is that there’s no mincing of words. I love that he was bold and compassionate, powerful and plain, rich and relevant. (What he wrote 40 years ago still helps me make practical decisions.)

What I also love is that I know it was the power of the gospel that touched the heart of a young woman, married at 15 in 1913 and deserted by an adulterous husband by the time she was in her early twenties—It was the power of the gospel in a broken heart that indirectly gave me sound teaching through this great man of God. Taking in washing and ironing, working at the cotton mill just to survive with three small children, my grandmother put something in three  hearts that led them all to respond favorably to the gospel when presented with it. She then met and married my grandfather and she (and others who helped her), led him to the Lord eventually, too, along with the two children they had together. They led some of my grandfather’s family members to the Lord. In the end, there have been about 20 faithful ministers (in various capacities) and elders, who are descendants of or who married descendants of this praying woman.  I could have quoted from several of them, who have written various works. I chose the one who has impacted my life most deeply (except for Glenn, of course.)

Just marvel with me at this simple woman’s legacy. She’s still speaking through her children’s children. If you find yourself in a place of challenge—even brokenness; if you find yourself feeling hopeless or alone, remember 20 elders and preachers/ministers in the kingdom from a destitute mother of three. Don’t be ashamed of the gospel. Be empowered by it, for it is the “power of God to salvation”(Romans 1:16).  It’s the power of God to salvation to the single mother who is doing all she can to put heaven in the hearts of her children. It’s the power of God to salvation to the child who is growing up in a world in which the devil is fighting hard for his soul. It’s the power of God to eventual salvation for the little girl who is turning six and pretending to be “Snowdrop” just as it was for her great-great grandmother who was “pretending” with three young children in a shotgun house in the mill village in Jacksonville, Alabama in the early twentieth century. 

If you are doing hard things for Him, you may be doing more for His glory than you can imagine! Pray for the little souls in your charge and keep your eye on the goal! I’m keeping the faith!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

HARD Lessons at the Pumpkin Patch…


Here are a baker’s dozen of those lessons. I need them this week. Before reading, click on this link:

cindy slide – HD 1080p


1. Winning the race is sometimes costly. (Think in terms of the rat race, too.)

2. Think ahead: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

3. Psalm 37:25a

4. Don’t make idols of your grandchildren. You don’t have to adhere to their every plea.

5. Throwing caution to the wind can really get you BEHIND.

6. When you make bad choices, try to grab hold of something on your way down.

7. Once you get into the blackness, you can change your perspective quickly. But sometimes, it’s too late.

8. Sometimes “fun” is really self-inflicted pain, in the END.

9. It’s not really lonely at the bottom. There are always plenty of people with cell phones and they are always at the ready. (It is presently hurtful ON the bottom, however.)

10. Your husband will watch the video of your gaffe repeatedly. (He will think yours are even funnier than Biden’s!)

11. When possible, laugh even when you feel like crying. It’s almost always a choice.

12. Don’t judge when people are squirming in their seats during the sermon next Sunday about seeking first the kingdom. There could be a legit reason at the BOTTOM of that wiggle.


13. There will always be people (Like Ezra, here) who are not great at giving you time to process the pain. ( Let’s hurry and move on to the next thing, Mammy!)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

She Facebooked her Friends and said “Rejoice with Me!…


…for I have found the piece which was lost!”

Several sisters have asked about the lost dress. Facebook can be a huge umbrella of encouragement even in the mundane.  I know life’s not all about finding Cindy Colley’s heirloom dress, of all things, but I was truly humbled and amazed that so many of you cheered us on as we searched for and found a little dress that I very much wanted to put on BabyG2 next September.  Hundreds of you (literally) and many that I’ve never met have been the sweetest sisters a woman could ever have. I love Facebook for giving your encouragement to me. 

The dress was deep in a closet at Hannah’s (my daughter’s) house. It was in a garment bag hiding behind her wedding dress, which was in the back of that closet in another very huge garment bag. The funny thing was, I had everyone looking for a pink box in which I’d originally wrapped that dress for the gender reveal two years ago…the gender reveal that turned out to be for a boy. Thus, the dress was never opened at the reveal. 

What I had forgotten was that the dress had been removed from the box and used as an illustration at a ladies day in Middle Tennessee a few months after that reveal…the very weekend, in fact, that Ezra was due. (Thus the reason it never got out of my car at my house….It just went straight to Hannah’s house and got hung in a closet there because hospital luggage is not conducive to dress preservation.) That’s just where Facebook became very helpful. You found out I was looking and three of you remembered the dress. You identified where you saw it and the garment bag in which it had left the church building at East Main. In turn, I told my son Caleb (via his Facebook page) to stop looking for a box and start looking for a garment bag. Truth be told, I don’t think he’d done a whole lot of looking for either. (He’s a good egg, though.) But Hannah, being the faithful Facebook follower that she is, immediately saw that post about looking for garment bags. She had moved all the hanging clothes in that closet more than once, laid them on the bed and searched the back of that closet for a box. But this time, she rushed home and actually looked through those clothes she’d been moving  back and forth. She looked for a black garment bag. She found the dress and tried to call me…twice. Unable to reach me, she called her Daddy, who got in the car and drove across town with photos on his phone to spread the cheer.

When he walked in the kitchen door in the middle of last Tuesday, I was surprised to see him. 

“What would you give a man…?” he began. 

“You found my dress??!!”

“I think so. But what would you give a man?…Is this the dress?” He offered his phone and a series of photos.

“You found my dress!!!!” 

“Yes and you should call your daughter on that phone that I don’t even know why I pay for.…She wants to hear from you.”


There are always lessons, of course. Here they are:

  1. If Facebook can find a lost dress, surely we can connect some dots and find some lost souls, too. Facebook is a more personal and encompassing kind of outreach than email or USPS. It’s the kind of networking in which you never know if a click that posts or comments may be the click that does click with some lost soul and opens a door to a relationship, a study, an invitation that could result in a saved soul.
  2. Facebook is a neutral commodity. You get to decide whether your use of it is for the Lord or for the devil. Now, finding a dress is not a work of the Lord. But encouraging each other, as Facebook friends did (and do regularly for me) through this medium, is a great way to get the most good out of something the devil loves to control.
  3. You’re never going to find what you’re looking for if you’re looking where it’s not. That dress was not in all those absurd places (like on top of way-up-there kitchen cabinet and in overflowing trunks where I would have never crushed that batiste and damp basement corners) where I was looking. Sometimes life is like that. We can’t find contentment. We look in all those hard-to-do absurd places instead of the obvious place where the “owner” of truth has put it in the first place. 
  4. You may be own, be picking up, carrying, and moving about the answer to all your dilemmas. But until you recognize that, open it up and really look inside, you won’t find what you’re looking for. Hannah did that with that garment bag. She moved it over and over as she looked other places, to no avail. That’s what we do with our Bibles. We lay them on the table beside our beds. We pick them back up and take them to worship. Sometimes we move them back and forth and back and forth without ever really opening and examining them. We move the book, but we don’t meditate on it, memorize it or mark it. There are many people who own a Bible but do not own truth. It’s very important that we show our kids the difference. The Bible is not a lucky amulet. It’s what’s inside that can bring us joy. But that joy exists for me only when what’s inside the book gets inside of me. Hannah had a garment bag that she was transferring mindlessly back and forth, while what was inside eluded us all. 
  5. Some people are so close to what they really want, but just not quite there. Jesus told a scribe as much in Mark 12:34. “You are not far from the kingdom,” Jesus said. I have many friends who are close to the kingdom. I hurt for them because, of  course, being close to the kingdom of God is not enough. Hannah was near that dress we were hunting each time we talked about it on the phone. It was sometimes right there in the same room with her. Close is not good enough. We have to give people the information they need to identify that for which they search. 
  6. Some news is so good, you want to personally deliver it. I love that about my husband. He loves to bring joy…not just to me, but to everyone in all circumstances. We have the very best news of all. When we understand the wretchedness of that from which the good news— the gospel—rescues people, we can’t be stopped. We are going to those people. We will move heaven and earth to reach them with the good news. In fact Heaven has already moved that they might have this good news. It’s up to us to make the move on earth. We simply must. We are going to tell them that we’ve found that for which they are searching. 
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Dear Sweet Baby G2…

Dear Sweet Baby G2, 

You are a girl! My first grand-daughter! If I have another grand-daughter someday, I will not love you more, but I will always love you first. As we stood there for what seemed like about a forever in front of that tarp waiting for your brother to come out from behind with pink or blue cotton candy, I thought a bit about the historic moments in our family. Wasn’t it just yesterday that your Uncle Caleb danced around that hospital hallway looking through that nursery glass at your mother. That was a historic moment. 1391807_10151633143906384_1011208804_nThat little seven o’clock  pause in the party while we waited for the news about your gender was surely one of those moments, too. The color of cotton candy would tell us much about, not just the colors of clothes or the kinds of games we would play, but whether we would teach you to submit or to lead and whether you would be a provider or a gentle nurturer. That moment held the key to whether your dad would take you on your first hunt or your first date. It was a big moment.13002601_900378543529_1447357954307643429_o

I’m glad that in this year of your birth, when so much about gender is so mixed up by our liberal culture, that you have parents who draw sharp distinctions between the genders. You will be blessed to learn to cook and sew and take care of babies. You will be encouraged to be a keeper at home by your mom, who is one of the best keepers I know. You will grow up beside your brother, Ezra, who will learn first to protect you and later, to transfer his guardianship to his own family. He will learn to defend your honor and to show tender affection to his mother, while preparing to lead his own bride and, ultimately, the bride of Christ. He will get the sharpest picture of all of this from your dad.13002506_900365614439_5034103055690569568_o You’re blessed to get to be Ezra’s sister. He patted his mother’s tummy and said “baby” earlier this week, but he doesn’t have a clue about what you are about to do to his little world. That dynamic will be fun to watch!

I can’t wait to braid your hair, tie your ribbons, sew your dresses and read Cinderella and Goldilocks to you. I’m already getting out the tiny, now vintage, dresses your mother wore and washing the pink blankets. I’ve bought you a couple of things to wear, including a girly Alabama Crimson Tide  outfit and a pair of pantaloons with a “G” on the bottom. You are making for fun times on ebay and in the consignment stores. Your papa said “Oh dear. This girl thing means you are going to double your shopping addiction.”  He is one smart mathematician, your papa (and he was a very good sport playing “chubby baby” with pink marshmallows at your gender party!)13064624_900366308049_8267571567100253079_o But I will try to be good. After all, I have to show you how to be a smart and frugal shopper! 

As I’m thinking about you now, cocooned in that safe, dark place, I praise the One who is forming you there. He told Jeremiah that  he knew the plans He had for him before He even formed Jeremiah in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). Is it not possible that he already has a plan for you…just like he did prior to birth for Jacob, for Moses, for Samuel, for Samson, David, Jeremiah, and John the Baptist? He’s already given you a soul that will live on and on…and on. You will always be younger than I, but you will never outlive me. Our continuum has a starting point, but no ending point.   We are both on a journey that has no end. Your life has begun inside a temple of the Holy Spirit. May your life grow to be a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to our holy God. 

I do not know how many of your years I will get to see. I hope I can watch you learn to walk and talk and read and write. I hope I can go to my mailbox one day and read a letter from you. I hope I can take you fishing and shopping and kite-flying. I want to skip rope and play house and watch Pollyanna and Bedknobs and Broomsticks with you. (Oh, and I Love Lucy, too.) I want to laugh and dance and make teacakes and living room tents with you. I want to push you in my big antique carriage and pull you in that little red wagon. I want to play games and run relays with you. (We like games in our family!)I want to watch you find wonderful trinkets in your Christmas stocking and in your Easter basket. I want to pick flowers and sing with you and Ezra while papa plays the guitar. I hope we get to do all these things and lots more. 12990953_900409955579_6704588746815333140_n

But there is just one thing I really, really HAVE to do with you. See, if I had to choose between doing all these things I’ve dreamed about and sitting around the throne with you, I wouldn’t even have to think about it. I’d choose heaven.You are a princess already and what I want most for you, little girl, is that seat around your Father’s throne. I pray every day that you make it safely into this world. But my most fervent prayer for you is about making it safely to that other world. It will, in this century in which you will live out your days, not always be easy to be a princess in His kingdom. Your world is pretty hostile to princesses in your Father’s kingdom. But it will be worth it. The “way” may be straiter and more narrow as you travel than it is for those who went on ahead of you. The devil is currently busy adding obstacles and constricting that way. But you stay the course. Your papa and I will be waiting.

P.S. Here’s the pink cotton candy:


Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Casts Collide!

10408793_808612822769_7343901606879980347_nI’m right in the middle of that generation we call “the sandwich generation”. We really should call my crew the “sandwichED ” generation because we are surely just the part of the sandwich that is squished between the bread. My bread this week was a seven month old and his wonderful parents on one side, and my 92-year-old father on the other. Lately, I’ve been feeling like someone obese has been sitting on my “sandwich”.

Last weekend, my father wanted to travel throughout the weekend to attend two of his sweet grand-daughters’ graduation ceremonies. I love that he still wants to do this family stuff. So I had the privilege of keeping him at my house throughout the weekend and making the “graduation tour” with him. My son-in-law, Ben, was speaking at one of these ceremonies, thus I had the extra privilege of having The EZRA household visiting, too. Four generations in my house last weekend made my sandwiched self pretty happy. But traveling to two graduations and attending two after-parties (one of my dad’s favorite parts of graduation) and getting home at about 11 o’clock pm the first night and  about 1 am the second night? What were we thinking?! I just prayed that my dad would be okay and carefully dropped him off at doors and made sure the seating was in close range of our stops and I had lots of help from my daughter and all of my father’s kids and grandkids. I knew there are always some risks of traveling with a nonagenarian, but I had to believe the joy it was bringing him was worth the risk. Ezra entertained everyone and my dad loved getting to be in the car with him.

It was truly hard to believe on Sunday afternoon when the diagnosis of bronchial pneumonia was given after the ambulance transported him from the doctor’s office to the hospital….Oh, it wasn’t Dad who was sick. Dad was at worship that morning and that evening. It was baby Ezra. He had RSV to go along with the pneumonia as well as an ear infection and lots of upper respiratory symptoms that come with RSV.  That little boy went from entertainer to fighting for breath pretty quickly.

And so continued the cast collision, I cancelled my scheduled root canal for Monday and entered a sleep deprived vortex, along with Ezra’s parents. My days this week were mostly spent on Four Mile Road with my father. My nights were mostly at the hospital with Ezra, while the parents came home for a nap.  And there was nothing boring about the collision. Here are some highlights:

  • We “nebulized”  at both places. At the hospital, I wrestled a flailing baby trying to keep that smoking wand of albuterol in his face. At home I instructed my father, “please don’t eat jelly beans while you do that breathing treatment.”
  • We pumped at both. At the hospital I witnessed an amazing and rhythmical breast pump. (They’ve come a long way since 1987.) At home, it was the wasp-covered pool pump. (Probably the same one as in 1987.)
  • We charted at both. At the hospital there was a chart I had to remember to mark for every feeding and every diaper change. (And when you are changing diapers that are antibiotic affected, the last thing you are thinking about is marking a chart.)  It made me compassionate at home when my dad forgot to mark his medicine chart.
  • We rejected meds at both. Ezra was obviously and verbally disgusted with the “not-so-grape-and-pretty penicillin-y” taste of that antibiotic. Dad was obviously and verbally disgusted with a couple of his meds, too. “The reason I am not taking that kind anymore is that I ran out of it and I do not like it, so I was hoping we could just…run out of it and be done with it.”
  • We treated algae at both. Well actually, at the hospital, Ezra and I watched a long 4 am episode of something that was a premiere to this grandmother. (Love to be up at 4 am finding new cartoons!) It was “The Octonauts” on the Disney channel and they were these cute little octopi who found out how to clean up the whole ocean from harmful algae. It was very environmentally and politically correct. But where were they when I was sweeping and treating  that pool out at Four Mile? That bottle of algae-treat that I bought at the pool store was so expensive that I half-way expected them to pop out when I opened it.
  • We ran meals-on-wheels at both. Sometimes I got so sleepy that I would almost forget which direction I was going with this coffee or this filet-of -fish sandwich, this bunch of half-price Cinco-de-Mayo Sonic slushes or these tacos. (Well, you do know you are not going to Four Mile with tacos, for sure.) And parking was at a premium at times at both places.
  • We answered lots of questions at both. PieDaddy wanted to know every detail about Ezra. “Is he getting a little bit back to normal?”… “Is my boy eating yet?”…”Is little boy smiling sometimes?” And at the hospital… “Is PieDaddy okay?” …”Where is PieDaddy’s Lysol, so I can spray every thing while I am there?” “Will you get PieDaddy to leave the light on and the door unlocked, so we can get in there and sleep a while?”
  • We figured out transportation. At the hospital, it was a bit challenging to figure out how you navigate a little red wagon up and down the hallways without unhooking it from the IV dispenser. But it was worth figuring out. At home, exactly how do you figure out driving issues for a 92-year- old who has his mind set on a new pick-up truck?
  • We read books; the Bible and a book about pigs going on a cruise at the hospital…the Bible and a book about the Crimson Tide at home.
  • We adjusted thermostats. At the hospital, we tried to make it a little cooler.  At home, we did, too. (But at home, whenever we got the temperature below 78, we found PieDaddy in his chair under a blanket.)…and back up it went.
  • We bargained. At the hospital to the nurse: “ I’ll give you five dollars if you will NOT wake that baby up this time.”  At home to dad: “ Tell you what. You eat this biscuit I brought you now and then after we take a nap, we will go to Betty’s for a barbecue potato.”
  • We sanitized. Gloves are at the hospital for holding the baby. Gloves are at home for doctoring the sore toe. (Sanitized may be a bit too strong a term for what we did at PieDaddy’s. I guess scraping up squished jelly beans off the kitchen floor before giving it a “lick and a promise” with the mop may not qualify. But toilets did get cleaned at both.
  • We prayed. At the hospital, I would drift off for a few minutes on that little couch while asking God to watch over and bless that little boy in the bed beside me.  At home, I heard PieDaddy pray for our baby…”that they will be able to help him get better.”
  • 11209738_828630921339_9127776047429791699_nWe’re all thankful for medical technology.  Is it any wonder that I ended up in my own doctor’s office yesterday afternoon and got my own needle sticks and prescriptions, and that, while I was waiting in line for the meds, I talked to Hannah, who would have already called in sick on any other job but the Mom job.  We’re all just praying that Dad steers clear since we did steer him clear of the hospital and we did spray Lysol all around Four Mile.

The sandwich generation is not so bad, really. In fact, it’s the best. There are blessings that those who never have the “bread” on both sides cannot know. There’s variety like you would not believe. But there’s also a “sameness” that will take your breath away when the generations roll on in the Lord. The 92 year-old is just a speeding arrow on the same course as the 7 month-old that’s just leaving the bow (Psalm 127). And one day, when we’ve been there ten thousand years, where we do not need hospitals or fast food or sanitizing agents or thermostats, the generational differences between the baby born in 1922 and the one born in 2014 will be unimportant; maybe even nonexistent.  I pray that there will be a great cast collision there. I pray I’ll be sandwiched between both casts around that throne.