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Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Mama’s K.I.S.S. #60–Third World Missions

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 57  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”.


Now I know, that taking your teen on a mission trip in a third world country seems to be a bigger deal than just a practical suggestion to help your children develop their “servant potential.”  But if you have teens who are living in affluent middle-class America, a third-world mission trip can be the game-changer that keeps them from trying to be in love with “things” and God at the same time. We cannot serve God and mammon (Matthew 6:24).

I remember well, coming home from a very poverty ridden part of a Carribbean country with my fifteen-year-old and that first time she fell down on her bed in our home and said “Why me? Why has God given me all of this and there are eight people living in a space the size of this room, where I was two days ago? How can this be? I never knew. I just never knew.”  And her heart was given to mission work from that moment on.

The trip was a big investment of time and of the money of other Christians who supported her. But she walked side by side on dusty roads and uphill trails beside some amazing missionaries who made sure she was learning to do one-on-one Bible studies and learning to teach children while their parents were studying.

And God made sure she watched the first person she had personally taught on that field be immersed into Christ before we came home. Her name was Princess and she became one that day, She was one of those living at the top of a “rabbit trail” with those eight people in a tiny space. Princess’ grandmother was out in the yard grinding spices to sell for their meager existence. We will never forget.

I’m so thankful I got to do that trip with my teenager. And the investment was nothing when you consider the return.


Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Last Check on this Account (An account that has done some eternally important things.)

A page from one of many scrapbooks

It was 1993. We were quickly changing nine-year-old Caleb Colley (3rd grade) from his traveling shorts and t-shirt to a plaid coat and navy pants, blue saddle shoes and a big-boy-tie, right there in the Presidential Lobby parking lot in front of the Opryland hotel in Nashville.  He had his Bible, marked and in hand, ready to go to a conference room and read his scripture. (We had no clue how many hours in our lifetimes we would spend wandering around looking for our destination in that hotel!) He was more nervous than he ever gets now even answering cold questions from the floor. But it was his beginning in Lads to Leaders. Later that weekend, he would lead “Victory in Jesus” in a boiler room where we all strained to hear what any of the boys were leading, and he would deliver a five-minute speech from memory in a science classroom on the campus of David Lipscomb High School. It was the good old days before there was a Delta in the hotel (but there was a giant theme park next door!), before there was an app to help you find your way, before there were hospitality suites or even Staxx burgers, when many events still had to be held off-site, before there were yellow and green divisions of Lads in Nashville (much less a white division for the big years) and before there were other Lads conventions anywhere! People who knew the importance of encouraging a little boy to hone his leadership skills for the glory of God had made road trips to hear that five minute speech. That little speech was the genesis of a preaching life that would influence people in lots of places to His glory. (His glory is the whole purpose.) That weekend, for our little family was a small “victory in Jesus.”

And Hannah was five. She was just beginning her little pre-school trek on that amazing Lads to Leaders journey. When we, as a family committed to earning our first “Centurion of Scripture” well before Hannah was able to read, little Hannah said to me one day, “I do not wike this game!”

I replied “Hannah, why do you not like this game?”

“…Because I cannot wead.”

It was hard for a little girl to learn 100 verses when she couldn’t study them in the pages of her Bible. And, thus, Hannah’s Hundred was born. At first, we just made up catchy little tunes with which Hannah could memorize her verses. But soon, others wanted copies for their kids. Before we knew it, we were in a tiny radio station sound room singing into microphones and we were traveling to a little production company to have hundreds of copies on cassettes, then CDs and finally digitally transmitted copies. They are cheesy little tunes that will get stuck in your head. They certainly required no talent. But they get stuck in your kids’ heads, too–along with the words! You can find the digital copies here:

In this process, Caleb and Hannah came to know and love Dr. Jack Zorn, founder of  the greatest youth leadership program in America (, and his sweet wife, sister Frances Zorn, too. Caleb imitated brother Jack’s signature thumbs-up and he could impersonate his familiar “NOW!” whenever he asked anyone to do something immediately.  Hannah rushed to get her yearly photo with him for her Lads scrapbook.  As teens, both kids developed teen study programs for Lads to Leaders, called GIFTS (the girls’ program) and GUARD. When Hannah went to that board meeting with her new GIFTS program to seek approval, she was a nervous 16-year-old. But her friend, Dr. Zorn, was there. He was the ultimate    Barnabas for her.  Caleb and Hannah had a little part in developing the Keepers and Providers programs and both attended Freed Hardeman University applying scholarship money awarded through the program. Lads just became very central to their spiritual development. The impact the program had on both Caleb and Hannah was and is yet, profound. Through the years their appreciation of Brother Zorn deepened as experience and maturity taught them the value of those early, nervous years in Lads to Leaders.

Both Caleb and Hannah now have children in the program.  It’s a privilege for Glenn to serve on the board of directors and it is so much fun to encourage churches to launch their programs and mentor kids in our home congregations.  We had no idea that day as we entered that grand lobby that we were walking through a life-changing door. We are thankful for the tool that Lads to Leaders is to our family and to thousands of families seeking to secure their tribes on the Rock of Ages! It’s clear that Lads cannot mold kids; it takes homes to do that. But it can facilitate that process in tangible ways.

Sister Zorn’s last trip to an area congregation was when she traveled to the congregation where Hannah’s family worshipped to meet our first grandchild (with her daughter, Rhonda, who cares deeply and serves with great dedication.) Hannah was humbled and encouraged that she was there in this, yet another, genesis in her life.

But the envelope that Hannah got in the mail last week was just about the sweetest piece of mail of her life. Rhonda and Halo Fernadez, the caretakers of the Zorns during their final years, have been patiently settling the estate and paying the bills from brother Zorn’s checking account. (I might add that this account was not always bulging through the early lads years. I think brother Zorn ended up mortgaging his home on more than one occasion to make the convention happen.) At the end of the laborious, but sentimental bill-paying and settling, the remainder in the account was $213.65. This last check in the account of Dr. Zorn was made out to Hannah Giselbach, in the amount of $213.65. Not too many of us will have “last gifts” from any of our greatest heroes in this temporary world; especially from heroes who have already gone on into the permanent pavilion of bliss and rest. But I’m telling you this: There was no greater, more needed, more hugely encouraging gesture in this whole world than what that girl found in her mailbox that day. She’s so touched that she doesn’t know whether to frame it or cash it! (She’s hoping the bank might let her do both!) This was a complete surprise from friends (Rhonda and Halo Fernadez) with whom Hannah had no conversation about any trial, whatsoever. She did not even know that Rhonda knew she was struggling in any way. But she wept and then she wept some more. (And Rhonda later told her she could buy shoes with the money. Notice the pic!)

I will reiterate. There are no better people on the planet than those in the body of Christ. There’s no better support group than faithful Christians in the lives of your children. There’s no better parenting tool than the Lads program. There’s no more valuable encouragement in dark days than the amazing compassion of humble Christians who “get” the words of our Lord in Matthew 25. When you become “the least of these, my brethren” (and really, all of us are) you know the power of compassion. I want to be better. I hear a lot about “eyes wide open” these days. It usually refers to political and social awareness. I want to be better about keeping my eyes wide open to opportunities to be “on the right” in the Matthew 25 way. I want to be a sheep. I’m profoundly thankful for the sheep all around me. The righteous will answer in that day “When did we see you hungry, thirsty, naked, sick and in prison?” It is the King who will answer them and his judgment words will be ” Come ye blessed and inherit the kingdom prepared for you.” I want to hear that sweet voice. That’s the one inheritance that’s even better than the one in the mailbox!

You can watch Hannah’s first little speech here:



Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

From the Archives: Remembering One Back-to-School August

back-to-school_M1eTPK_u_MI’ll never forget this August of 2010, when My daughter Hannah, 23, and fresh out of college, became a high school English teacher. Hannah!…the one who had never attended a day of “real” elementary, middle or high school!  She also had never planned to be a school teacher. In fact, she had purposefully planned NOT to! Here are her thoughts that fall:
So I realize, of course, that it’s been 198264910.7 years since I’ve updated this thing. I would apologize for this, but seeing as how I’ve made no prior commitment to waste your time with my own random musings which are probably only interesting to me and maybe my mother who loves me more than any daughter deserves to be loved (my dad loves me, too, but is much less likely to even know what Tumblr is), an apology really isn’t necessary.
In the event, however, that you, the current reader, are somewhat interested in my quite unexpected post-grad way of life, keep reading. The other 90%, just stop here. This is just another, “Wow-let-me-impart-into-your-soul-some-urgent-life-changing-thoughts-that-are-really-not-that-earth-shattering-but-feel-good-to-get-off-my-chest” post.
The last time I got on here and talked about my life, I was fresh out of college, about to stay in a friend’s apartment all summer in Henderson, TN. I was doing some freelance work for a religious publication and working with some great kids in my youth minister boyfriend’s youth group. I was also speaking at youth rallies and such on some weekends. For then, that was plenty. I was just glad I didn’t have to feel like a major moocher at my parents’ house . I wanted to feel like I was doing something worthwhile. I felt that by the end of the summer, I would have another exciting plan to chase.
I had an amazing summer. I cooked every day. I had slumber parties. I dyed t-shirts. I got to speak to hundreds of girls who were hungry for truth and just someone to relate to them. I made new friends—some of which I think will last forever. I went star-gazing. I wrote a lot. I fell in love.
In the meantime, I sent my resume to as many newspapers as I could find that needed writers. I quickly discovered that not a lot of promising journalism opportunities are made available to newly graduated starry eyed writers with no major reporting experience and no Masters degrees.
By the end of the summer, I was still believing in my heart of hearts that I was going to get a call with an exciting job offer in an exciting new city in which I could spread my wings and become the competent journalist I was meant to be.
It seems God had other plans.
I got a call near the end of the summer. Chester County High School needed an English teacher and I had been recommended. Would I be interested in coming in for an interview? I chuckled. Never in my life did I ever think of myself as a public school teacher—much less HIGH SCHOOL. I was an English major, yes, but had never had a single education class, and definitely no student teaching experience. What a joke! I expressed, however, how honored I felt that I was considered, but for now, “probably not—I’ll get back to you though.”
Long story short—a week later, still no job, and my desperation was at an all-time high. The last thing I wanted to do was to financially depend on others when I was perfectly capable of working for my own paycheck. After a lot of thought and prayer, I decided to call the school back and inquire about the position. After all, it would only be a 1-year contract, it was good money for starting out (especially in this economy), and it would be good experience to have under my belt regardless.
The position was filled.
I knew it would be. Sure I did. My own stupid fault for being too good for a perfectly good job that not a lot of fresh college grads are offered.
I was kicking myself for a few weeks because of that. I kept praying. I asked God to open another door for me since I had shut that one.
Then I got another phone call.
I was sitting in McDonald’s with the boyfriend when the principal at CCHS called me and asked me to come in for an interview. Turns out the guy who was originally offered the job had a family emergency and had to give up the position. I was really sad for him, but this time, I wasn’t so smug about a temporary career path that wasn’t necessarily my first choice.
Two short weeks later, I was thrown in a classroom, responsible for the education of over 150 ninth graders, my heart pounding. What you may or may not know about me is that I’ve never stepped foot into a public school. Home schooled all my life, my expectations of public high school were…well, there weren’t any. I’m not just making funny jokes when I say I didn’t know what a hall pass was, what bus duty was, what in-school suspension was, or even what a grade book looked like. I felt like a turtle trying to run a marathon, but I put on a confident face and, although I looked like a student myself, tried to convince my students that I was aptly authoritative and deserved their respect.
I’ve somehow made it through 3 complete months of teaching. While I know this may not the path for me (and that, more than ever, I want to home school my kids), I don’t regret the decision to teach for this year. God has given me more open doors in these past 3 months than I remember having my whole life. I’m amazed at how many of my students feel comfortable opening up to me about real-life issues: divorce, abuse, sex, break-ups, self-abuse, and most importantly, how to get to heaven. I’ve had Bible studies with students who are searching for something solid and stable in their worlds that are full of everything that’s broken. I’ve had multiple opportunities to share Christ with so many different open and desperate hearts. It happens just about every day—not exaggerating.
Besides that, I’m learning so many life lessons myself that I know will inevitably help me to be a better mother, a better teacher, a better organizer, and a better communicator. God knew I needed these lessons. I complain a lot about how He’s teaching me patience and wisdom, but deep down, I can hear my dad’s voice ringing loud and clear….”This is good, Hannah. It builds character.” Every time you hear a parent say something about “character-building,” you know it’s going to feel lousy sometimes until it’s all over and you can admit it helped you to grow. I’m trying to beat myself to the chase by admitting it now. The truth is, just as a disclaimer, I complain a whole lot because my job requires so much more work and time than I ever dreamed it would (I’ve realized that all teachers are underpaid and underestimated). I am ready to experience something new, but I do not question God’s plan in placing me here. Yes, He’s using me as a mouthpiece for Him in many ways (whether or not I always make the best use of that), but more than that, I think He’s teaching me a few lessons I needed myself.
I still view my life as an adventure, despite the day-in-day-out routine I’m in at the moment. After this year, I’m excited to see what God has in store for me.
As always, I’m so unworthy and I make the dumbest mistakes. On the upside, I believe I’m learning from each one. That makes them almost worth it.
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

Poem: From Mom on Your Wedding Night

Dear Hannah, 
When you were three years old, you called me from your bed. You said, “Mommy, will you lay with me and sing me a song? Because maybe a dream will come if you sing me a song…because last night when you ‘sing-ed,’ a dream came.”
I guess someone else can sing to you now, because I did…and your dream has come. I love you. 

You caught frogs and turtles and each one had a name.
Pretend friends were enough for your imagining game.
You’d dizzy yourself with June bugs on a string.
Lightning bugs were your lantern when crickets would sing.
You saved shells and pebbles and clover-all sorts.
Old sheets and sticks were your tee-pees and forts.
Poking in morning glories grown “all by yourself.” 
You were giving directions to your personal elf. 
Gnomes lived in your sandbox. ‘Neath your bridge, there were trolls.
You sent them far away to rescue desperate souls.
But that was long ago and reflection years hence.
Reminds you that “far away” is just over the fence.
Your closet was a fairy room transported by dreams
In that tin foil wand there were magical schemes.
Appointments with fairies were important to keep 
There you’d be… in that closet, wand-in-hand, fast asleep.
A world of sweet dreams; that fun place of pretend.
But dreams didn’t really come true…before Ben.

But Father Time chased Mother Goose one sad day. 
Big shoes stepped in your closet and chased out the play,
Fairy rooms turned dressing rooms, and gnomes danced along.
More wistful their memories and fainter their song.
Little blond curls were pulled back into locks 
Heels became higher and skirts replaced frocks.
For time is unrelenting and days swiftly passed
We, reluctantly watched you, and you did it so fast. 
That transition from pigtails to “up-dos” flew by
And your questions changed from “What’s that?” to “Why?”
And somewhere in that passage you became my best friend.
I treasured each moment, for I knew you’d find… Ben.

A thousand times we’d prayed for him, A thousand for his dad
A thousand for his mother and the kind of home they had.
We prayed that you would find the one who’d keep your hand in His
We prayed for someone just like him and for a night like this.
But I wasn’t ready…really, on that crowded sidewalk when
This man beside you stuck his hand out saying, “Hey, I’m Ben.” 

So here you are, you Hannah-girl. Just look at you tonight.
You eyes are sparkling in the shades of dancing candlelight. 
You’ve brought the gift you promised would belong to Ben alone,
You kept it safe for Him and so he, too, has brought His own.
Life doesn’t get much sweeter than to marry your best friend. 
Tonight your God has smiled on us. He’s given us…your Ben.
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Show Some Real Love– by Guest Writer: Hannah Colley

Do you really love that guy? How do you love him? Do you love him like a brother? The Greek word for that kind of love is phileo, meaning brotherly love. Do you love him because of what he can give you? The Greek word for that kind of love is eros–selfish love. Or do you love him with an unselfish love, a Christian love? Agape is the Greek word for that kind of love. When you love with agape, you love because of what you are, not because of what the other person is. Agape is the kind of love Jesus tells us we should all possess. It’s the love that is described in 1 Corinthians 13. It’s the kind of love that “seeks not her own”(I Corinthians 13:5).

Agape should affect every area of our lives—the way we treat each other, the words we speak to one another, each ethical decision we make, and even the way we dress. That’s right. We can show agape love to our Christian brothers simply in the way that we dress.
I talked with a friend recently who worships at a large congregation in a university’s town. She said that several of the men who serve at the Lord’s table hesitate to serve in the college section because of the way the college girls dress. They say it’s too difficult to keep their thoughts on the cross while serving girls whose tops are low cut and whose skirts are too short. What happened to the spirit of agape in this scenario?
I was walking through the park the other day with a guy when he suddenly stopped and asked if we could walk in another direction. When I asked why, he said, “Don’t you see all those girls laying out over there? If we walk that way, it will be really hard for me to keep my thoughts where they need to be.” As Christian girls, agape prompts us to be aware and cautious because of the visual temptations with which we know they struggle.
When we dress immodestly, we’re not showing the kind of love—agape love—that God requires of us. Instead, we’re being selfish.
This article will not address whether or not it’s sinful to dress immodestly, because most of us agree that, as Christian women, we should dress modestly (I Timothy 2:9, 10). The problem arises when we start to make exceptions to the standards of modest dress. Most Christian parents would never let their teenage daughters go to the mall dressed in mini-skirts and halter-tops, and yet they have no problem with letting them go to the beach dressed in modern swimsuits. I’ve even heard mothers say, “Oh we think modesty is very important. Even at the beach, we wear modest swimsuits.” But in our society, isn’t the very phrase “modest swimsuits” an oxymoron?
Is real agape love consistent across the board? Does it impose the same standards of modesty in all public situations? Are there instances when exposing cleavage, tummy, and thighs is appropriate? I personally know lots of girls who would never go out wearing short skirts or exposing their stomachs, unless, of course, they’re wearing their cheerleading outfits. How is it inappropriate to go to school dressed that way, but its okay to dance seductively dressed that way in front of hundreds of people at a ballgame? Ladies, what are we thinking?!
To us, as women, there may be an enormous difference between exposing lots of skin at a public beach and exposing it at a church event. But try asking a guy this question: “Is the physical or psychological response different, say at a ball game or at the beach than in Sunday school?” They might laugh at you. For guys, attraction to the female body is a physical response; something God gave them to increase the pleasure of a marital relationship. To them, your location or circumstance has little to do with it. They don’t have a switch they can flip whenever they’re going to the beach or to a ball game where cheerleaders are present.
While writing this article, I called one of my close guy friends and asked him the question mentioned in the previous paragraph. This was his response: “Are you kidding me? Guys respond the same way wherever—whenever. It does not matter whether a girl is in a football stadium or walking down the street. Girls, please take measures to help guys keep their hearts pure.”
In other words, show some love. Real love.
Taken from “Christian Woman” Magazine, Gospel Advocate, Nashville, TN.