Browsing Tag


Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

“Little House” … Treasured Time

When the grandkids visit, we’ve been reading “Little House in the Big Woods” by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Let me just say that I highly recommend moms and grandmothers everywhere doing this. I am amazed at the organic conversations that just naturally emerge from this reading. When my own children were young, I assigned the reading of this set of the Little House books and they enjoyed them. But we did not necessarily talk about them. But this read-aloud is a different kind of thing, altogether. Don’t listen to an audio book, either. Let them hear your voice and let them interrupt. It’s a slow process, but it is so worth it!

The book mentioned that none of the children in the narrative got a switch in her stocking for Christmas. My grandchildren thought a “switch” was an electronic gaming system. They were shocked to learn that the original was a tool for corporal punishment. We went outside and I helped them choose an appropriate switch for a disciplinary switching, telling them all the while about what kinds of offenses required me (their grandmother) to go out in the yard and choose a switch for my own “whipping” (as it was called, although it was never really that). They listened with great interest and there were lessons about crime and punishment, about degrees of severity and about good parenting. They chose (and re-chose) which little bendable sticks were fit for the job.

Then we ventured into what kinds of infractions require punishment and which ones are just learning experiences. They heard about the time I stood proudly in my grandmother’s lap at age 3 during the Lord’s Supper, looked back over the crowd (we were on the third row) and sang the television commercial jingle “Winston tastes good like a (clap-clap) cigarette should!” When they finished the uncontrollable laughter, they wanted a lesson about why there are no cigarette commercials today and Ezra explained that to the girls, ending with “No one knew that smoking was bad until about 60 years ago. Lots of good people did it. I learned that from Papa and from watching ‘Highway Patrol. All the good guys on there smoke.”  

There are home-keeping lessons about making jellies and drying meat and churning. I showed them a butter churn. They couldn’t believe that real butter is not yellow, but white, and they really could not believe you can dye butter with carrot juice to make it yellow. “But won’t the butter taste like carrots?” 

The girls in the story like to look at pictures in the big Bible. Colleyanna simply could not believe that people in a story book that is not a Bible story book were looking at a Bible. This was a great moment to talk about how sad it is that most families today do not look at their Bibles, but in the late 1800’s, the family structure in America was largely centered around the Word and its principles. This was not uncommon, at all. 

I could write more extensively, but you get the point. Ezra sometimes wants to know why he needs to read chapter books like “Boxcar Children” books when it is “resting time” instead of feasting on Garfield comics or playing Minecraft. There’s a place for some of the “candy” reading and playing. But all of this, is why the wholesome chapter books. 

They don’t even know they love this nap-time ritual. But they do. There’s no complaining–ever, about reading time. And they all want to sit right beside the book (and me.) It’s a good kind of crowded.

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

Life is Different. He’s the Same.

As lots of readers know, because of circumstances we would have never chosen in a million years, three of our grandchildren have moved to our street. We praise God that they are nearby and thank so many for frequent prayers in their behalf. They are wonderful and all we want is exactly whatever is best for them now, but mostly heaven for them one day! So now…

Everytime there’s a van in my driveway, no matter how short a time it’s there, there’s at least one straw paper in the edge of my yard. 

The rock column beside my front gate has become a return receptacle, for crock-pots, books,  packages of construction paper, casserole dishes and all miscellaneous borrowed toys. 

There’s always an extra scooter, little red wagon, bike or soccer ball in the yard. (only two times this summer have we run over a stray scooter.) 

There are helmets—helmets everywhere. 

When I  bump something in the night. it often starts singing loudly. 

There’s almost always a half-finished sippy cup in the pack-and-play and a half-finished soda in the window beside the “special bed.” 

I  have counted many fireflies and all my jar lids now have ice-pick holes poked in them. 

Nerf bullets are in the tub, the yard, the bed and, now and then, the soup.

I  have learned proper care for a pet crawdad. 

My joy jar (reward stash)  needs replenishing all the time (a good thing).

There’s a perpetual monopoly game in progress on the coffee table and I have never heard so much monopoly trash-talk.

I have purchased a lot of pretend ice-cream cones from a pretend ice-cream store. 

I  rejoice when I am playing house and the game-boss says “Ok…bedtime.” …only to learn that “bedtime” lasts all of 3.5 seconds in the play house. 

I have learned that army men in the fort secretly enjoy eating goldfish (and they leave their wrappers.)

I know exactly how long it takes to scooter from 234 to 221 on my street and I am often outside watching over the rise in the road to be sure the time lapse has never been exceeded. Another adult is watching from the other direction.

Someone asks me to throw superfluous junk mail away, as she leaves the driveway. I take the mail from her car and throw away the junk mail, just on top of the exact same political and store flyers I just threw away from my own mailbox.

I have listened to 12980 pages of Garfield books that I already listened to 30 years ago. 

I have relearned that Polly Pocket pieces are almost as painful as Legos are in the middle of the  night. 

My refrigerator door is packed again with Zarbees, Kids’ Tylenol, sippy cups and half eaten lollipops. (Occasional super-heroes, too.)

I often depend on someone who is 6 or 8 to translate for some one who is three. (But I’m getting better at that native tongue.)

My kitchen door surely must revolve…and, these days, I need to lock it, or I will be suddenly startled out of my wits. My pantry doubles as the corner market for little people. And I have to sometimes limit the coins taken from the stone crock for the gumboil machine.

Alexa is getting all kinds of new music commands, my jewelry is tangled, there are bubble blowers and water guns all over the front garden. A roll of toilet paper is used up magic-fast and Sunday lunch is an event. But my house is very quiet and my heart has a hole somewhere deep when the kitchen screen door slams for the last time as they leave town for a little while.

Life is different. Days are long, nights are short and blueberries at the bottom of the bush have lots of “pickers.” 

Life is different. Digging Deep really has to vie for my time now. It’s harder to prep for lessons. Time alone is a thing of the past. Time with God’s people is a huge blessing…worth lots of effort. God is good. I could not do it without Him!

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.


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):



Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Dear Ellis,

Dear Ellis,

I’d do anything within reason for most people who had a real need. But YOU. You needed nothing that wasn’t being given you already and, just to see you, your Papa and I drove 17 hours, part of which was driven in the wee small hours of the morning. Your papa doesn’t do that for anyone but you (…ok, perhaps for four other little people we love)! It was worth the drive. You, the only Colley name-carrier in all of our extended family, have wonderful dark eyes, brown hair, and you have a sister who’s two and dotes on you. That look in her eyes is pretty fun to watch, too. 

I’ll make your letter short and sweet. We don’t want too much. We only want you to move closer to your mammy and papa. We want to get to witness some of your first laughs, bites, crawls and steps. We want to get to play games with you and swing you in the big tree swing in our yard. We want to take romps in the woods behind our house and take you to the lake and watch you catch your first fish and then to the adjoining playground and slide and climb and play in the sand with you. We want to be able to come to your ball games and take you to the putt-putt course and the bowling alley.

We can’t be geographically close to you right now, so we’ll just take advantage of every little chance we get. But more than we want you to grow up close to us, we want you to grow up close to God. This very biggest wish of ours is something we already know (assuming you get to grow into a man) is a happening thing. This wish eclipses all others in our hearts. We watched your sister Maggie say almost all of the books of the Bible last week. We listened to her quote her “Bible words.” She explained to us what it means to repent and that most of all “we want to be just like Jesus.” Most of all, we want that for you. MOST. OF. ALL!

Your great-grandfather used to say “God’s best people are children.” We agree. you are completely and humbly dependent. You are pure and innocent. You are eager to learn and free of worry. You are so much of what we want to be. “Except (we) become as little children, (we) cannot inherit the kingdom.” 

Your mother and daddy are determined. As I watched you in your very first Bible time when you were just over 24 hours old, I thought about the big job your mama and dad are taking on. You will hear His word every night for the next 18 years or so. That’s about 6570 family Bible times.  You will have a couple of pairs of grandparents say your name to God, along with your praying parents, every single night. That’s about 20,000 times (at least) that the Father will hear your name before you leave home.

Ellis, if you preach the gospel, you will be a fifth generation gospel preacher. But, whether or not you do, you will be a fifth generation child of God. That’s all we want, because every Christian, by definition, is a follower of Christ. That’s all we want because, if you’re a follower, then you will follow Him one day all the way to a place where your papa and mammy will be waiting for you. It will be a place where we really can live close to you, forever and always. 

We love you. 

Mammy and Papa

P.S. Your grandfather put your sweet face up on the big screen before he preached today. I thought his buttons would pop off right there on that pulpit stage!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Ellis Glenn Colley: Seven Pounds of Perfect!

…And the winners are…Nancy Johnson Koester and Tonja McRady, both of whom exactly nailed the length, weight and hair color of Ellis Glenn Colley! Born at 12:36 pm on Tuesday of this week, this now three-and-a half-day-old bundle has already brought three-and-a-half lifetimes of contentment and gratitude to this mammy heart of mine. His big sister Maggie, is perfectly proud of him— gentle and sweet—so far. 

We got the word that Ellis was on his way very shortly before Glenn’s plane landed in Huntsville, Alabama on Monday afternoon. He had been preaching in Houston for a few days, so we hurried home from the airport, threw a few bags of dirty laundry out of his suitcase, replaced the dirty with clean, and started the nine-hour drive to Orange Park, Florida. In only a scant 48 hours, we were making the trek again in the opposite direction. We drove 17 hours for 17 minutes of baby-hugging, and it was worth every mile! (We’ll be returning again soon for another dose of Ellis and Maggie….So thankful they have another set of grandparents who came even further than we did!) We praise God, from whom all blessings flow, for this healthy and blessed child. In advance, we praise God for every opportunity he will have to convey His gospel to those who did not have the blessing of being born to faithful parents. We pray that our little troupe could grow into a channel of His blessings for those whose hearts are open to the will of the Father.  As two-year-old Maggie said in her prayer recently, may we all “help the bad people to get repenting.”

When Ellis got home from the hospital, his Papa read to him—two letters that we wrote to Caleb, Ellis’ dad, back in 1983. (Ellis was not so attentive, however.) The letters were dated (one from me and one from Glenn) two days before Caleb was born. It was sweet to finally open up that envelope that had been sealed for 37 years and be reminded of how very little we knew (I mean next nothing!) about raising kids prior to the birth of our first son. 

But our Father does have all the answers to all the problems before the challenges surface. May every mama and grandmama who’s reading do the James 1:5 prayer every single morning. And may He give His people wisdom for day-to-day parenting challenges like never before. The “roaring 20s”, this time around, are full of the roar of 1 Peter 5:8. May we be ever vigilant, ever protective of the most innocent and most vulnerable among us.

P.S. Nancy Johnson Koester, I need your home address!