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Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

The Right Folks in Your Corner–Your Kitchen Corner.

I had a happy and busy kitchen going on the night before Thanksgiving. My dear friend, Diane, was there and she really wanted to help me. So I gave her all the ingredients for the chai mix. “I make a huge batch for holiday company and Christmas giving,” I told her. “So just follow the recipe—times 8. Here’s a measuring cup.” 

Well, she barely got the first two ingredients mixed together before that 5 gallon container I gave her was overflowing. What in the world was happening over there on the chai counter while I was over on the potato salad counter? ”This seems like a lot of chai that’s coming together. I’m going to have to get you a bigger container.” 

“Well,” Diane answered…”I just put eight of these in and it just makes a lot.” 

“Oh wait,” I said. “You do know the measuring cup I gave you is a two-cupper?”

“Oh no!” she exclaimed. “I have put 16 cups of powdered milk in this thing (instead of just eight) and now I have mixed 16 cups of French vanilla creamer in there!”

“O dear!” I said “Now you’re going to have to do the whole recipe—times 16! Do I even have that much cinnamon and ginger and cardamom? That will be my life savings in cardamom. And the sugar! Oh, that will be 40 cups of sugar! Do I even have 40 cups of sugar?! It’s 10 p.m. Is the corner market open?”   I got out my grandmother’s old porcelain washtub and we were making enough chai for serving at the king’s coronation. We stirred until our arms felt like we’d been lifting in an Olympic trial. And where do you even store that much chai? 

We really didn’t have a pan big enough to keep adding the ratios of ingredients we needed, so we just added instant milk and tea, till it kind of “looked right.” Glenn was our guinea pig and he said “ I believe this is better than usual!”

Then it was the evening of our “Christmas at the Colleys”. That’s the night the whole church is invited over for supper, along with a whole bunch of other people. We have an amazing time with our favorite family…God’s family. Another best friend, Jennifer, really was so very kind to persist in offering to come help me the day of the party. She helped me put up wreaths and tie bows and assemble cocoa servers and all kinds of things. But the main thing I saved out for Jennifer to do was to make three large cherry dump cakes. Here’s the complex ingredient list. I was doing it times three.

  • 1 (30-ounce) can cherry pie filling
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 stick salted butter.

So you pour in the cake mix. Then you dump the cherry pie filling on top of that. Then you cut up the stick of butter on top and you put it in the oven for about 45 minutes. 

I just said “Here you go,” to Jennifer and handed her all the ingredients. She said “I’m just going to do one at the time.” 

“No, No,” I insisted. “I never do that. Just do them all at once.”  I got her three 9X13 Pyrex dishes and let her go. I should have taken pause when she wanted a huge mixing bowl. But I missed that cue. I went upstairs to clean up a mess around Eliza’s dollhouse. We had about an hour-and-a-half before the house would be teeming with people. All was well. 

…Until I came back down and Jennifer said “Come see if this is the right consistency.” Ummm… how do you miss the consistency of a dump cake?

Jennifer was holding a heavy, mammoth bowl of dark pink pudding-like yum,-yum.  Its contents were three cake mixes, three giant cans of cherry pie filling and three sticks of butter. It looked like we were having a cherry jubilee pudding festival. It really looked like we were going for the Guinness Book of World Records—largest pudding. But it was so pretty. 

“What on earth did you do?” 

“You said a dump cake, so I dumped.” 

It’s true. I did not say “layer.” I said “dump.” 

Now Jennifer and I have been through a few adventures together and I could not stop laughing. But I had to stop laughing… and think. A hundred-plus people are coming over for supper in an hour. I have a pecan pie, a few little cookies, and a strawberry cake. “But what is that among so many (Jn. 6:8)?”

“I’ll go to the store really quickly and we will start all over….I know, I’ll get one of my friends who lives over by the bakery to stop and pick up some cakes. Or maybe Glenn, who is outside stringing lights could just hurry up and go shopping with my list.” 

Jennifer, ever the resourceful one, said, “Let’s add some milk and just put one of these in the oven and see what happens and then panic later.” 

Forty-five minutes later, and just in time for the wonderful shoulder-to-shoulder fellowship, this Christmas  dish came out of the oven.  And if Lucy and Ethel didn’t come up with the prettiest cherry soufflé ( I mean, eventually, three of them) that you have ever seen! 

People said “What is this stuff? It’s not cake. It’s not really pie. It’s not pudding. But it’s good.”  Scotty said “This tastes kinda’ like dump cake, but it’s not that….The texture is off.” It was even pretty. When I turned the leftover one out of the fluted-edged pan, it retained the shape. It’s in the freezer and it might be a layer of a pretty holiday mousse dessert in a few days. 

And then there was the broccoli rice casserole that Han made for me to feed the kids while she was working last week. “Mom, it’s been a little hectic here and I wasn’t paying attention and I put potato flakes on top of this instead of potato chips. So I really don’t know what you’ll want to do with this. But here’s some ham. I didn’t mess that up.”  

Well, adding milk seems to solve pretty much all the ingredient assembly cooking “fails” lately. I’ll do that. So I poured a little milk over the top of that casserole and it became a wonderful broccoli-cheddar shepherd’s pie. Those kids and I ate every bite. 

But what in the world is happening on every kitchen counter behind which I step? And what is happening to my every kitchen helper? And what is the magic of milk? And how can I keep laughing this hard? 

Well, I’ve pretty much decided that there’s always a fix to any cooking mess, if I have the right folks in my corner and if I have milk. Here are a few pithy truths from the kitchen faux pas.

  • Sometimes, some pretty good things can come about as a result of mistakes.
  • Often, the things that make you panic most feverishly, also make you laugh the hardest.
  • If your husband is willing to be your guinea pig, you are most blessed.
  • A recipe is not just about having all the right stuff. It’s also about following directions. Life’s  recipe for success is like that, too.
  • Milk is sometimes the answer. The sincere milk of the word is always the answer. We should desire it (1 Peter 2:2).
  • Every messed-up dish in my world is heartier and better than any dish I’ve ever tasted in any 3rd world country. 

Having pondered these dishes that didn’t turn out like I’d planned, I am thankful for my kitchen and even for my kitchen fails. I’m thankful for great and voluntary kitchen hands—sisters who  pull me on through the mistakes and flops, large and small. I thank Him for my kitchen because it’s a great place to grow closer to each other and from which to serve with sisters.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Thank-you…from a deep place.

Sometimes we all have to almost remind ourselves to breathe in and out. Schedules collide with time limitations, sin and death seem to prevail over righteousness and life, and it’s sometimes hard to see the path. The ever-redeeming truth is that He is ever redeeming–beauty for ashes, timeless bliss for panicked rushing, glory for gloom. He is able to do more than we ask or imagine. On top of all that, His people are conduits for His mercies that are new every morning. Glenn and I are thankful beyond what we can say. Whether you are one of those who opened your doors to our family for early trick-or-treating, one of those who took time out for children when their mama needed an extra hand, one of those whose package arrived in one of our mailboxes for day brightening, one of those who sent a sister an unexpected gift that blessed her family so much, or one of those who prayed and encouraged after a ladies day or a stressful circumstance, you are in our prayers of thanksgiving. Maybe you are one of those who said “Sure, I can do one of those ‘Keepers’ categories for Lads”… or “Yes, I can look for that boy a spot on the Bible Bowl team.” Maybe you put a basket in my hotel room or Glenn’s. Maybe you sent a surprise home with Glenn from a gospel meeting. Maybe you checked on our loved one in the nursing home while we were out of town. Maybe you took the time to listen. Maybe you met Glenn for breakfast on a diffcult morning or maybe you came a long way to his dad’s funeral. Maybe you prepared the building for that funeral or served as one of the pall-bearers. Maybe you helped clean out the nursing home room from which Glenn’s dad left this world. Maybe you are one of scores and scores who sent cards of support or comfort. Maybe you did laundry for Hannah or you might be one of those who put food in my freezer. Maybe you helped me with tech for digging deep or the website. Maybe you just understood when your Digging Deep t-shirt was late getting to your address. Maybe you’ve volunteered to take care of Colleyanna’s cat, Oreo, while we are on the Digging Deep tour.  Maybe you made cookies for your diggers or treat bags for one of my grandkids’ Bible classes. There are a thousand people who combine efforts and talents and time to make us and so many others encouraged and you make us sure we can persevere. Sometimes you don’t even tell us who you are, but still we thank Him for you! How can anyone be worthy of all this? No one can. But He is the worthy One and He has redeemed the unworthy. I, for one, just hope I can be the conduit for 1/1000 of the strength and edification that I receive. I hope I can pay forward in at least some small measure.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21).
I’m not the apostle Paul who penned this for the Spirit. But I count it joy that I get to feel a little bit of what He was thinking when He contemplated the love of God that passes all knowledge in this amazing chapter.
He wrote to people who were trying to do right in a culture that bowed to the goddess Diana and that saturated every crevice of society with sexual sin. He faced the wrath of the rulers, while trying to encourage a baby church to withstand awful persecution in this environment.
But His conclusion was that God’s love, working even amidst the realities of a vile community, was enough and more than enough and even more than He could imagine!
It is in the difficult days that the reality of our wealth in Christ is palatable in ways that may escape us in the “good” days. Thank you, sisters, for showing me Him–more plainly in the “winter” and barren days than even in the fruitful times! Further, thank you for showing his grace to those we love. When you have shown love to those we love, you have shown it to us. The Colleys are grateful from deep places in our hearts.
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

“There’ll be days like this…”

“There’ll be days like this,” my mama said. There have been a few times in my life when things that are pretty routine have become infrequent. Things like putting on make-up or cleaning the trash out of my car or making a path through my living room or actually calculating whether there are too many carbs in this meal I’ve prepared. Some of the days of care-taking for my parents were like that. Some of the days when I was finishing a degree and some of the days when my children were very young. These kinds of days and weeks don’t always text ahead and ask if I’m ready for their visitation. Often it’s just a series of unexpected events that together make life suddenly and abruptly frantic and chaotic. 

Such are the days of this autumn. It’s my favorite time of the year, in any normal year. But this year, there are family members with Covid, large projects for which I am responsible, and lots of extra people in my house due to circumstances that I did not plan or execute. I still love the colors outside, the chill in the air, the football games I’m not watching, the fall trip to see the leaves that we’re not taking this year,  the pumpkin spice, and the autumn decorations in the bins downstairs that I’ve not had time to open. In fact, I praise Him everyday for the beauty and provision all around me. But I just prioritize and pray He will help me get the things done that really matter—eternal things—and not worry about the rest. 

Last night Glenn prayed that God would not interpret the despair that sometimes overtakes us, in seasons of distress or busy-ness, as ingratitude, because “…you have blessed us immeasurably and we don’t want to ever appear as if we don’t know that.” I’ve been thinking about how we make sure that we are not viewed, by God or man, as ungrateful. I think there are two or three obvious ways. 

  1. We keep sharing the good news. We cannot ever get so busy or burdened that we are not evangelistic. We have to keep passing out those cards inviting people to study. We have to keep taking time to meet up with the new converts and trying to nurture infant faiths. We have to take children with whom we have influence, in our laps and look straight into their eyes and talk about how great God is every day. We can’t forget, even when we are needing to hurry and get home, to find the visitors at our services and welcome them and make ourselves available to answer their questions. I think, in these ways, we show our Father that we understand that our greatest blessing has remained untouched by any adversity this life may throw our way. 
  1. We verbalize to God. Sometimes it helps me, in the busiest times of life, to pray on my knees, or to pray out loud while driving. In the times when there’s little sleep and lots of bustle, prayer sitting in a recliner or lying in bed, can quickly digress into unintelligible sentences. Speaking our gratitude to Him every day with clarity, is one way we magnify Him (Psalm 69: 30).
  1. We look around for encouragement. Now, I know that, when you’re feeding a crowd for every meal around your own table, you may not be taking as many meals to the grieving or the sick of your congregation. When you are struggling financially, your service has to be on the skinny. When you’re sick, spreading love may also be spreading germs. But Ola Mae is a nonagenarian with Covid and she continues to make and send cards of encouragement to many people in many places. Carol is in the fourth stage of cancer and she is the number one encourager, to the Colleys and many others, through the written word. Mark is suffering from Crohn’s disease and his heartfelt teaching and admonishing through song in every worship service brings tears to my eyes when I sit near him. Glenn was pretty sick earlier this fall, but I have watched him just keep on faithfully administering that role of being the meat in the sandwich generation while getting back on his feet and back in his pulpit. Lin has had some serious health complications this fall…some major medical tests being done—but she keeps right on heading up more than one ministry in her congregation and homeschooling her children and she even spoke at a recent ladies event. Teresa has seriously struggled with multiple health issues, but spoke from home via zoom at a great ladies day last weekend. Betty and Bill both had Covid this fall, but they are right back in their pew now and serving as the leaders of our group of active seniors. Paul is dealing daily with parents who are not long for this earth and he, too, is balancing parents and kids in stressful times, but he calls every day to encourage my husband. I’m just saying, look around. You will find many examples of extreme gratitude and you will find many reasons to get on your knees and thank the good Lord. 
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

MAMA’S K.I.S.S. #56: Third World Mission Trip

As you know, if you’ve been reading, for quite some time, I’ve occasionally been running little installments called “Mama’s K.I.S.S.” I know that lots of readers could give many more and far more creative ideas than I can offer, but these installments are just a few tried and true and mostly old-fashioned ideas for putting service hearts in our kids.  This is number 56 of a list of one hundred ways we train our kids to serve. K.I.S.S. is an acronym for “Kids In Service Suggestions”.

Our children are, quite simply, growing up in an era and (for those reading in the USA, in a part of the world) in which they have way too much; way too much money, way too much access to media, and way too many material wishes granted.

Our kids are, on the other hand, growing up with way too little; too little restraint, too little discipline and too little responsible parental guidance. 

When our daughter was about fourteen years old, she and I traveled together on our first  foreign mission trip to New Zealand. The trip was one in which we worked very hard and I was extremely grateful for the chance to teach ladies from all over that country. Certainly one of the best aspects of the trip was that I had Hannah along and she was able to present lessons to the teen girls. While this was a great training trip for Hannah, she did not see poverty there and she did not experience negative receptivity to our message.

Our next trip, though, was the one for which I will always be most grateful. We traveled to Jamaica and our work was done in parts of that country in which people did live in poverty. She worked very hard for all of those days in extremely hot temperatures and on rugged terrain. The physical exertion to take the gospel was teaching her that what we were doing was important—critical, even. It was a catalyst for comparison, too; knowing that the ultimate price had already been paid by One who was also on a mission (His was from heaven.) to a place where He experienced, for the first time, dirtiness, sin, crying, persecution and death. Our price, in trouble and expense, for carrying His message, was extremely minute. 

When we returned to our middle class home in Alabama, was when I realized the full benefit (and the primary lesson) of that trip. Hannah went into her room and sat down on the floor, looked around, and cried. There was her pink bean bag chair, the multicolored lamp for which she’d asked Santa at Christmas-time, the Snoopy telephone, the cherry rope bed her Dad had built—the one with the trundle underneath for guests, and the curtains made of fabric she had chosen at the fabric store. There were two closets in that room and her own bathroom was off to the side. She sat down in the floor of that room and cried “Why me? Why am I privileged to have all of this? Why do I get to live like this when Princess lives with eight people in a room smaller than this one; a place where they sleep on shelves and they have to go outside to use the bathroom; a place where she’s never even had a hot shower?”

It was then that I knew her life had been changed. I knew she would never again be ungrateful for the material blessings in which we basked. Princess was a girl in Jamaica, the same age as Hannah. It had been a long and hot day and the older gentleman with whom Hannah had been knocking doors did not want to ascend the very steep and rugged little footpath that led up to Princess’ little shack. He, unable to see anything at the top of that little mountain, said “I am not going up that rabbit trail.” Hannah said “Well, I am going to go.”  And so, at the end of that trip, Princess, who lived at the pinnacle of  that mountain (a mountain that Hannah did need to climb), along with her young friend, Nigel, had been immersed into Christ. The life lessons about the real concept of the grace of our Prince were just being poured out by the real King into Hannah’s heart and she would never be quite the same again. 

So I urge you to do it. If you can take the opportunity to take the gospel, with your young teens, to a place where kids don’t have it as “good” as your kids have it, then do it. This might be the one segment of Mama’s K.I.S.S. that has the premier lifetime benefits among all the service suggestions. Hannah raised her funding to go by writing faithful churches and members who might be able to give small amounts toward her air flight (another great  preparation experience for “adulting” in the body of the Lord).

All of the benefits of all of the service examples in the Mama’s K.I.S.S. series are largely voided if we fail to place in our children the value of the eternal souls for which we ultimately are serving and the concept that all of our blessings belong to the One in whose grace we live both physically and spiritually; thus those blessings should be constantly used in His service for souls. 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Resolution at the Foot of the Cross

As I write, there are about 15 hours remaining in the year 2018. The rapidity of its elapsing is shocking. At this time last year I was mourning the death of my father, rejoicing in the anticipation of my new grand-daughter, embarking on a formidable speaking schedule, and turning over in my head the ideas for the 2018-2019 Digging Deep study. Now, in what seems like the blink of an eye, His mercies have led me to rejoice in cradling sweet Magdalene Joy Colley in my arms. Every car trip and flight has safely departed and returned and every speech has been delivered.  We are beginning  month five of our study of Authority. Thanks to supportive sisters, four podcasts and 24 mini-podcasts are already completed for that study. The memory of my father has sweetly lingered on, but, although the human heart in me is still sad, my spirit in the image of God is comforted by hope. 

And these are the words we sang yesterday just before communing with the Lord around His table for the last time during 2018.         

There are things as we travel this earth’s shifting sands 

That transcend all the reason of man;

But the things that matter the most in this world,

They can never be held in our hand.

I believe in a hill called Mount Calvary

I’ll believe whatever the cost;

And when time has surrendered and earth is no more, I’ll still cling to that old rugged cross.


I believe that the Christ who was slain on the cross Has the power to change lives today;

For He changed me completely, a new life is mine, That is why by the cross I will stay.

I believe in a hill called Mount Calvary

I’ll believe whatever the cost;

And when time has surrendered and earth is no more, I’ll still cling to that old rugged cross.


I believe that this life with its great mysteries Surely someday will come to an end;

But faith will conquer the darkness and death And will lead me at last to my Friend.

I believe in a hill called Mount Calvary

I’ll believe whatever the cost;

And when time has surrendered and earth is no more, I’ll still cling to that old rugged cross.


And I’ll cherish the old rugged cross

Till my trophies at last I lay down.

I will cling to the old rugged cross

And exchange it some day for a crown.

Somewhere during the first of those verses, I noticed that my husband had stopped singing. I looked over and saw the tears streaming down his face. He, the man who has given comfort and aid to me on countless occasions when unbidden tears stained my cheeks, was weeping. I have seen him weep only about a half-dozen times in our 38 years together. I knew he was reflecting on the shifting sands of this earth. His sister is gravely ill and he is preparing to take his aged parents on a trip to see her in the next few days. I hear him bring her name before the throne multiple times each day. I witnessed Him do extremely hard things for conscience sake throughout 2018, even as some others sharply criticized those selfless actions on His part. I was lying beside him on sleepless nights, when he had internalized some marriage problem that someone had brought to him for counsel. Often, when sleep evaded him, he would get up in the middle of the night and spend time in study. I prayed with him about scores, perhaps even hundreds, of speeches delivered and about many situations in which he was doing his best to offer advice that someone needed. 

I knew at this moment during his worship that he was reflecting on the old rugged cross that is the centerpiece of His motivation; the reason for His work. I knew that he was both praising and praying for strength, past and future; for the hope that comes from Calvary. 

And so, somewhere deep in the wee hours of last night, I heard him get up and I heard the bedroom door creak open. He was walking into the kitchen and I said “Where are you going?” 

“I’m going to get a glass of milk. My sermon is keeping me awake.”

“But you already preached your sermon,” I responded. 

“No,” he said. “I mean the one I’m going to preach next Sunday.”

And so 2019 begins, somewhat uneventfully. One lesson finished…another looming.  I know 2019 will be a very blessed year for Cindy Colley. Sometimes during 2018 I have failed to be thankful. May I just stop with ingratitude. Sometimes during 2018, frustration over a distracted husband has tempted me to criticize. May 2019 find every hint of frustration changed to contentment as I bask in the protection and leadership of a husband who loves God even more than He loves me. Sometimes in 2018, my faith has been weak as we struggled together through some small crisis of this life. May I remember, in 2019, that the troubles of this world are just that: they are of THIS world and our citizenship is not of this world. My resolve is to praise Him every day of 2019 for this man who weeps at the foot of the cross and for giving him to me all those years ago. 

Everyone should make a New Year’s Resolution. I hope yours is grounded in the reality of the brevity of this life and the eternal blessings of the next.  

I Believe in a Hill Called Mount Calvary, Words by Dale Oldham, Gloria Gaither and William J. Gaither; Music by William J. Gaither, Arranged by Camp Kirkland

The Old Rugged Cross, by George Bernard, Public Domain

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: From Thankfulness to Holiness

Often we think of the first chapter of Romans, remembering the fervent denouncement of those involved in what is there called “unnatural” and termed “vile affection.” It is extremely important in a world in which tolerance seems to have been been promoted to the position of executive and operative virtue of society, to be aware of the concluding verse of the chapter. It is the verse that, quite literally, is slicing our culture in half. The verse is clear that it is not enough to refrain from committing homosexual acts. As his people we must never lend our voices to defend such behavior or to show our approval. On the subject of homosexuality, we have to choose between cultural correctness and the word of God. We have to be sure that, neither with silence, nor with words or actions, do we ever indicate approval of the sin of homosexuality. We do not laugh at it in sit-coms, allow it to occur in our homes when others visit, or fail to respectfully express the truth about God’s condemnation of it in our blogs, posts, and conversations. 

But today, as I was reading from the chapter, I noticed that the Scripture details the progression of the trip from innocence to the guilt of homosexuality. In verse 21, it says that those who were changing the “natural” into that which is against nature, failed to glorify God and failed to offer Him thanksgiving.

Moms, how important is it that you and I chart a clear course of thanksgiving in our homes? How important is it that we make sure our children hear us, in abject humility, pour out our praises to God? How vital is it that we have them to make those lists of blessings at Thanksgiving time and, more importantly, all throughout the year…every year? How important, really are crayon colored thank-you notes written in the hand of young children? How important is that never-missed heartfelt table prayer prior to every meal? How important is it that parents control the impulses of instant gratification that are accompanied by little acknowledgement of His providence and of our resultant responsibility to use blessings for His glory?  How vital is it that you, Mom, are displaying constant thankfulness rather than constant complaining about the simple circumstances and problems of this life? Does gratitude matter?

The answer is yes and yes a thousand times over. Romans one clearly details a progression from unthankfulness to unholiness; from the heart of ingratitude to insolence. in fact, in this passage,  it is the failure to glorify and give thanks that predicates the sin of homosexuality. 

Moms have a wonderful opportunity to exhibit and promote a spirit of thanksgiving on this national holiday. But, then again, on which day of the year do we not have a rich harvest of His blessings for which our children should see us praising and thanking the One from whom all blessings flow? 

Our kids might eventually choose to live unholy lives to their eternal loss. Those words are difficult for me to even type. The thought of the loss of one of my children’s souls is more horrible than I can contemplate for very long. The specific possibility that one of my children would ever come to us and tell us that he/she had chosen a life of homosexuality or bisexual behavior is unspeakably grievous. But to look back and realize that I had contributed to a spirit of rebellion by failing to take opportunities to instill gratitude during their formative years would fill me with sorrow. 

Take the time. Look for His glory in all of your world each day. Magnify Him when you see Him in nature, in providence and in specific answers to prayers. Do this in front of your children. Engage them in thanksgiving every time you are in prayer together. Make thank-you notes a weekly or even daily part of your home’s core “curriculum”.  The ‘gratitude chambers” of your kids’ hearts may not be automatically opened in our affluent culture of self-gratification. So make sure  you are putting thanksgiving in those places of their hearts, remembering, as you do, that you are building a resistance against sins of rebellion that are death-worthy (Romans 1:32).