Browsing Tag

Grandmothers

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

A Letter to Daughters…

(I first wrote down these thoughts about 10 years ago. Much water has gone under my bridge since then. I still mean every word. He is faithful!)

Dear daughters, in the flesh and in the faith,

I am very proud to call you daughters. I am unworthy in every way to call you daughters, as every single day I learn so much from your dedication to the large tasks that lie before us and from your intense desire to place children around the throne. Still, you ask me sometimes, and you ask other older sisters, things. In the way of Titus 2, you seek simple advice, even though you often have far more “on-point” intuition than do I about many things domestic and spiritual. There are some of you who are even extremely patient about my ignorance of this culture’s nuances for millennials and those women of generation z.

Your job is increasing in difficulty and intensity every day. It’s really sort of breathtaking— the way the devil has stepped up his game through cultural shifts even in the past decade. Drag queens are influential in community library story hours, in middle and even elementary schools. Media outlets that were historically child-friendly are now bent on anesthetizing children to any dangers of behavior that we used to call “sin.” Our United States legal system is often unfriendly to anyone who has a firm adherence to Biblical truth and morality, while accommodating those “victims” who commit crimes of negligence—even abuse— to family and to those who inflict the consequences of harmful behavior on society. Your children and my grandchildren are growing up in a world that’s very different in some key and harmful ways than was the world of our childhoods. Lots of sleepy Christians of the past half-dozen decades have paved a smooth road for the takeover of  relativism and apathy in the young adults of our churches. Sometimes, especially when I travel through our nation’s airports and metropolitan areas, the effects of the devil in this undressed, ungrateful, and uncaring world are shocking. To top it off, those talking loudest about loving Jesus, are often averse to his commandments and are mocking the New Testament church as it works in the world today.   

But yet you are still in your homes putting your arms and shields of love around the innocents. You are offering prayers multiple times a day in your homes and your children are hearing you say their names as you petition our almighty God for their spiritual safety. You are there placing limits of time and content on the media of the world, when your neighbors and, sometimes those who share your pews, are chuckling at your extremism.  You are more concerned about the spiritual feeding of your children than you are about what’s on their plates for dinner, in a culture that truly has that all backwards. You’re more careful about stopping the recycling of moral trash than you are about getting the plastic in the right bin. You are disciplining in the gentle, but firm, Biblical way that includes both corporal punishment and the withholding of instant gratification, rather than buying into the culture’s idea of “gentle parenting” that puts children in premature and dangerous positions of reign in the home. You are having daily Bible times in your homes and you’re diligent in memorization  and role-play and ethical direction and singing and having heart-to-hearts in those Bible times. You are determined to seek first the kingdom in your attendance patterns and in your entertainment choices. You are consistently showing your children the numerous opportunities to evangelize that are in their interactions with those outside of Jesus. You are teaching them boldness as you voice your concerns about the safety of the unborn in our country and, in the process, you are transferring respect for God, who breathes into every human, the breath of life and transfers His very image into men. They watch as you reach to those who are in need at every opportunity.  You dry tears that are cleansing little hearts of despair and discouragement. Your shoulder is the safe place for little people who cannot help but be afraid because the devil deals in fear and uncertainty. He wants your family to be stifled by fear.

And I cannot tell you how precious you are to this grandmother’s psyche. I am, in short, surviving right now on your spiritual fumes. You emit courage, determination and the love of the cross through your daily grinds. What seems so hard every day is actually a testimony to your faith. When you’re so very tired and, really, wondering if you can put one foot in front of the other, remember the value of just one of the souls living in your house. Your job is one that culminates in the retention of value that’s larger than any other pursuit in this world. You are the vehicle of saving grace to your children. That value makes you willing to make any sacrifice to see those souls safely to the eternal arms of Jesus. Some of you are giving one hundred percent to three or four or five or more souls that are depending on your fortitude. Some of you are doing all of this without the help of a faithful spouse and a few of you are doing it in spite of the oppositional work of husbands who once were committed to heaven for your children. You are the bravest of all,  and you do not even know what your example may mean to someone in your circle who is complacent or fearful. Someone who is tired and is on the verge of throwing in the towel may glance over at you and think “If she can do it, with all of the obstacles she faces,  surely I can persevere a while longer.” Sometimes that tired person is me.

May God render His mercies that are new with each sunrise, His providence that is just for His children, and His promise of your ultimate good through the seeking first of His kingdom. I’m in His debt for your presence through days that are long. You fill those days with hope!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

That Last Child Will Not Be Upstaged!

photo credit: Leah Wright

Ezra’s mom keeps telling him. “You better be careful what you do and say, because you have two little sisters who are watching you and they want to be just like you.”  Books have been written about birth order and its effect on personality and character as children develop. I think that some of the birth order differences are due to the fact that parents mature (sometimes, a lot) between their first and last children and they are at varying stages of maturity with each child. So, we’re different parents with child number one than we might eventually be with child number three or four. There is a very real sense in which two children raised by the same parents, were really not raised by the same parents.

But some of the differences in first, middle and last children are caused by the realities of birth order, itself. The very nature of being the first implies that the oldest child will be the first to experience almost everything. He or she will be the leader into virtually all natural growing experiences.  While that’s an obvious reality, its ramifications are sometimes more nuanced than at other times.

Like last weekend at the very large Lads to Leaders convention in Nashville. Hundreds of people were assembled in a large ballroom. Awards had been given for the past hour-plus. Suddenly, Ezra’s name was called very loudly as a high scorer in Bible bowl. He made his way quickly to the stage. Now, if you have ever been to Lads to Leaders, you know that getting to that stage is a pretty big deal to the kids. We’ve stressed all year that getting to the stage means you committed and carried through. It means, in this case, that Ezra did his best to learn the books of Ezra and Nehemiah and he took a test–really just competing with himself–and he knew a bunch of the right answers from the Word.  All of the children who knew a certain percentage of the answers from the Book were up there, as well.

And then there was Eliza. She’s the last of three and all of those last child adjectives–persistent, charming, fun-loving, free-spirited, outgoing, risk taker–went into action mode. The result was a physical feat of kicking,  in a fashion worthy of an Olympic balance beam, her right leg up onto the stage, and proceeding to try and hoist herself up there to join the accolade-receivers.

She was directly in the lens of her horrified mom’s camera. Photography was suddenly unimportant and getting that baby off the stage was happening fast. I’m pretty sure the photo that Leah Wright caught of Eliza’s attempted moment of glory will be included in her senior slide-show in 2038.

A grandmother’s take-aways (things I hope to put in them whenever I get the chance):

  1. I’m going to keep telling that oldest child, in both of my kids’ families, that someone younger is very determined “to be a lot like you.” The responsibility is large and rewarding. “You are a leader.”
  2. I’m going to keep telling all of them that there will be people who try to take shortcuts to glory. But, in the end, giving God that glory takes dedication and hard work on the part of His servants. If we try to “climb up on the stage”, at the last minute without having done His will, there’s no glory for God. There’s no reward in heaven for us, either.
  3. I’m going to keep telling that youngest child, that he/she can do anything he/she sets his/her mind to do. But the mind-setting implies a fierce determination to follow through. It’s a daily grind to accomplish what we set out to do. It’s a daily privilege to set small daily goals that are stepping stones to true success.

And…

I’m going to tell Eliza, one day soon, that ladies don’t hoist their legs up onto objects that are as tall as they are, with two thousand people behind them.

…and here’s the fun reel when she really did get her moment to walk across with the other pre-k to 2nd graders (Not sure “free-spirited” even starts to describe):

https://www.facebook.com/100082639660170/videos/155855607119567

 

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

A Good Mammy’s Dose

We don’t believe in any special luck o’ the Irish, and we certainly have no spiritual allegiance to the so-called “St. Patrick” but we do have fun watching the children in our world get excited about the pinching-if-you-forget-to-wear-green, dressing like leprechauns and eating green cupcakes. Glenn is headed to an elementary school to read for several classes (one of his favorite things to do) and I am very blessed to be getting to visit with the Colley grandkids for a couple of days.

Maggie and Ellis are a little farther away and I do not get to see them as much as the other three. But if you’re a grandmother, you know that going for walks, playing games, picking weeds for their mother, rocking and singing and making crafts to decorate the mantel are among the most therapeutic of life’s blessings. Today, we did all that. So fun.

The best part was Bible Time. Maggie’s and Ellis’s mom tells me that what Maggie and Ellis know about the Bible is not a big deal. “Every normal child can learn the scriptures if time is devoted to the process.”  I agree, but Rebekah Colley is so good at Family Bible Time (and every other part of motherhood) and I love the way these two kids are growing in the Lord. They look to their dad as the leader, but their mama surely is creative and diligent and it shows in the fairly vast Bible knowledge of these kids, who are two and four. This is a sampling, but this was late at night for two who had played hard all day. Still, you can tell they are being filled with the Word. Click when you have a minute.

Here’s Ellis, with his Old Testament overview : IMG_1147

And here’s Maggie with the New Testament :IMG_1150

It won’t be as fun for you as for me. My Mammy heart will be full as I go home tomorrow. But maybe you have something very similar happening at your house! If so, you’re blessed. If not, why not get going? There are lots of tips on this site, if you search “Family Bible Time”. It’s a great time to start.

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!…

unnamed-5

…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.