Browsing Tag

Influence

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

The Power of Positive Influence: Lois Duncan Lyon

Every now and then there’s a bend in life’s road that wakes me up all over again to the power of influence. One of those events has been the passing of my aunt Lois Ann last Friday—a passage from a rich and full life to the infinitely better life that’s way beyond my scope of comprehension. 

As I reflected on her sweet life of service to God and others, it didn’t take me long to realize that there’s a myriad of little things I do that are pretty directly traceable to the preacher’s wife I was watching before I ever dreamed I’d one day be married to Glenn Colley, who would work hard to preach the gospel. 

Lois was married to Bobby Duncan, who was my mother’s brother—both n the flesh and in the Lord. From the age of five, I grew up in the congregation where Bob preached. I can still remember the points from several of His gospel sermons and I’m sure the power of his pulpit played a large role—maybe the biggest one— in the conviction that’s guided my life. I’m thankful—-profoundly—for His plain and Biblical teaching. 

But it may have been Lois, his wife, who gave me the most practical guidance. It occurs to me, when I reflect on the beauty of her well-lived life, that there are quite a few things I do that I probably do because I was watching her. 

I think I have everyone in the church over every Christmas time because she did. I think I have one of my nieces or nephews each year to help me with “Christmas at the Colley’s” because she asked me, her niece, to come help her with her party. I remember one year she sewed for me a beautiful red polyester maxi-dress (this was the seventies) with white trim with a big bow that tied in the back, to wear to serve at her open house. I thought I was pretty big being invited to be the hostess at the petit four table at the Duncan’s house …and wearing a floor length holiday dress! 

I think I place our family picture and Christmas greetings in the church bulletin each year because she did. 

I think my husband has a little boy’s kite stashed away in his office, saving it for a little boy and a windy day, because her husband did. 

It was Lois who asked me to serve at my very first dress-up banquet along with her daughter, Jill, and my sisters. I remember there were lots of surprises for the adults at this banquet and being trusted with secrets was a pretty big deal to me. 

It was Lois who first asked me to be a baby-sitter. On Friday nights, Bob and Lois would play Rook with several couples from the congregation and very often, they’d ask me to come over and stay with Jill while they were out. I think maybe they knew that the absolute most fun I ever had on Friday nights as a middle-schooler was getting to be at their house with Jill, who was five years younger than I. I learned a lot, for certain, about hospitality and about the importance and art of making children feel special, from Lois.
 

 

I learned about traveling with my husband to his meetings and about being a supporter of gospel preaching from watching Lois. Sometimes, she and Bob would invite me to go along with them for a Sunday as they began a gospel meeting in a nearby town. They were probably inviting along some entertainment for Jill and, later, for their new son, Tim (whom I absolutely and completely adored). I was fifteen years older than Tim and I thought he it was the most amazing thing that Lois would let Tim sit with me during worship services and then come home with me for Sunday afternoons full of doing exactly whatever Tim wanted to do. I was sitting beside Lois in a small country church in Centre, Alabama when baby Tim broke my long strand of beads during his Daddy’s sermon and those beads bounced loudly on that tile floor, for what seemed  like five full minutes, as they made their way under all the pews and rested in front of the communion table in the front and center of that little auditorium. Tim thought that game was epic. I’m glad he enjoyed it because he never got to play with beads in church again.  And, speaking of beads, I will never forget that day when Jill, at about age three was playing, in her mother’s lap, with beads during the lesson and got one stuck in her nose. It was about three gasping, flailing, upside-down-in-the-foyer minutes later when that bead, too,  (much to our relief) went bouncing across the floor. Sometimes I was laughing at the mayhem while I watched, but I was watching Lois. 

I remember a few times when truth and faithful teaching were not appreciated by all who heard and I remember being absolutely sure that Bob’s number one cheerleader in the rough patches was his faithful Lois Ann. But she had a way of keeping it real, too. Once Bob was lamenting the digression of many preachers during a dark period in the history of the church. He said to Lois “I just wonder how many really good preachers are left today.”

Her answer was quick and dry: “I don’t know, but I think probably about one less than you might think.” 

She was sacrificial to Christian education; being the entire lunch program one year for our small Christian school. 

She was an encourager to young preachers and their wives. When we were in our twenties, we thought she and Bob just liked to go bowling with us or eat popcorn and visit or play cards or whatever we were doing while we were telling them the challenges of our work. We now know they were doing what they did not have time to do and that they were doing it for lots of young preaching families just like ours. They were going the second and third miles to keep people in the ministry and to keep them encouraged.

Lois gave us lots of valuable intangibles…memories and laughter. There’s one tangible gift, though, that she gave Glenn about 20 years ago following the passing of Bob. I think I can say that the filing cabinet in my basement that has all of the sermons that Bob Duncan ever preached, written out, in his own handwriting, is the most valuable and practical tool that my husband Glenn has ever inherited. It’s been a blessing to my brothers-in-law, my son and my son-in-law, all of whom like to come and copy sermons from a master preacher. I love it on the Sundays when I recognize material from my childhood and I marvel at the relevance 50 years hence of what I first heard from that pulpit in Adamsville, Alabama fifty years ago; teaching that took me to the water where Bob baptized me. 

She loved souls. I’ve been on a mission trip or two with her. If you ever did that, you laughed a lot. You may have gotten salt in your ice cream when you weren’t looking or found the meat on your hamburger missing when you got back from the bathroom, or any number of mishaps. She loved to laugh. If you accidentally sung the wrong words in worship or belted out “He could have called ten-thousand angels” after the first verse, when they’d said they were going to sing all three verses first…well, it was all over if you were sitting beside her. 

I have laughed till I hurt when with Lois, but especially when it was not a good time to laugh. 

But Lois could get really serious about spiritual things. I remember once, when I was speaking to a group of ladies and she was introducing me, she said something far too kind and, frankly, untrue about my character. I was not the person she described. But I can tell you, from that moment, I wanted to be that woman. She had a way of always making me want to be better. I have an idea there are lots of people still working in the Lord’s church who are still trying to be better because they knew Lois. 

I AM better for having known her. 

For Lois…

Not often, but, along my path there sometimes crosses one

Whose words and actions leave, for me, a light when her life’s done.

The gifts she gave keep giving and her life keeps living on.

Returns from her investments are on track, though she is gone.

If death could stop the sway of right and rob that giver’s power,

Then I might weep and mourn the loss of goodness in this hour.

But the grave of a righteous woman is a mere sweet place of rest

And those who await its opening are the more, in that hope, blessed. 

So thankful for the blessing today. 

       

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

“I Will Forever Love this Coach…”

Lots of you already know that transferring the celebration of Father’s Day from happy travels to see the patriarch and gifts for the aged man who raised you… I say the transfer to celebrating solely the great man who is the father of your own children is difficult. You have to work to fill the big heart chasm left when the patriarch dies. But almost all of the work was done at Calvary. You know you’ll see your earthly father again when you see your heavenly Father for the first time. There is great support, comfort and hope in Calvary for every situation in the Christian’s life. So I am pretty determined to celebrate Father’s Day with hope and gratitude at the forefront. (Maybe I’m also just preparing myself on paper for a hard day, but I am surely going to give it my very best shot.)

In honor of the memory of my father, I’d like to share this little tribute I received shortly after his passing. It speaks to the value of a good man’s influence, a simple integrity, and just doing the right thing. 

I am praying for this sweet man upon whom also fell the good influence that molded me…that persisted through my life in a father that was looking forward to heaven. I’m glad for Dad. Being in glory is the point…the whole point of a life well-lived. In fact, all the other points of light in any life are extinguished at death. But the reflection of THE Light (John 12:46) just brightens to eternity.

Here’s the tribute:

Remembering Lee Holder

Mr. Holder came to Webster’s Chapel School as a teacher about 1951. He taught the 8th and 9th grade. I was a 9th grader. Webster’s Chapel is a small, rural community in Calhoun County. He was a very good teacher. All the students loved him. He was fair, friendly, honest and always had his students’ best interests at heart. 

He was our junior high basketball coach. He was skilled at coaching and knew how to get the best out of his players. I was the son of a share-cropper (farmer) and my family could not buy me any basketball shoes. In the 8th grade, a year before Mr. Holder came to be our teacher, I only got to play in the games when we played on an outside court because of not having tennis shoes. I got enough money to buy a pair of shoes in my 9th grade year, and made the team, coached by Mr. Holder. Win or lose, after the games, he would stop by a cafe and we would get a burger. I never had any money. He would buy my burger, but none of the rest of the players ever knew he paid for my food. 

I was on the starting five on the team. When I needed to rest, he would call time out. I would take off my shoes and let my substitute borrow them. He didn’t have any tennis shoes, just like me the year before. He was a team player coach. We had a star player on our team, but he hogged the ball, he wanted to be the star player. He benched him for a while, until he played as a team.

This rag tag team beat teams that we were not supposed to. We beat a team one night, a big school, we had to escape the fans and players to keep from getting hurt. They rocked Mr. Holder’s car as we left the parking lot. He wouldn’t let us fight back.

I will forever love this coach and the role he played in my life. He motivated me to do my best regardless of my upbringing. He taught me compassion, team work, do your best, right living, sacrifice, and to invest in others. Perhaps, although as far as I know we hold the record as the best of record winning in basketball that our school ever had. He did his best coaching off the court, by investing in the lives of his students and players. 

It was good to see him again after more than 50 years when I visited the Jacksonville Church of Christ. I will see him again when I get to heaven. 

Then this handwritten note: 

I will forever love this coach, too.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Westside…Still the Best Side of Virginia!

Yesterday was the fiftieth anniversary of the Westside church in Salem, Virginia. It was a blessing and honor for Glenn and me to be invited back to speak to the regulars and home-comers as faithful saints gathered on this day, as they have faithfully done in this locale for fifty years. Interestingly, our local work with this congregation began on it’s twentieth anniversary. We were extremely blessed to have lived and worked there for a wonderful and memorable five years. That means that twenty-five years have elapsed since we made the decision to move from Salem to Alabama. That sweet family of God, where the candle of Revelation two is very much still aflame, will always hold a deep and dear spot in our hearts. 

I learned some things about myself yesterday about which maybe I needed to be reminded, or even to learn. 

I learned that I love to talk about God’s Word, no matter the circumstance. Though there were friends in that room for whom I have great affection…friends I was longing to hug and with whom I longed to reminisce, the first order of the day and my favorite one, other than worshiping Him, was to open that great Book and talk about Philippians one. It still always amazes me that He has given us Words appropriate and pressing for every circumstance and meeting of His people.

I learned that time is a speeding locomotive and I long for the timeless side. It just took my breath away when I realized a few days ago that exactly thirty years had elapsed since that day we pulled up with a newborn and a three-year-old into the driveway at 203 Parkview Drive in Salem and saw Charlie Gwaltney, in his plaid driving cap, waving us into the drive as he bounded across that yard with a big box of doughnuts and a welcome that good elders know how to give new preachers. How could this really be? I want to be in that place where the shock of the passing of time never gives me this helpless feeling and where death doesn’t steal away large segments of the congregation while I’m briefly looking the other way. That congregation around the throne will be secure and immovable. 

I was reminded that I am consistently treated, by God’s people, in a manner that’s far better than I deserve. I want to treat every member of His family with whom I have contact just that way. They are the channel of His blessings to me. May I BE the channel to others. 

In the middle of huge blessings that were just packed tightly into a few hours, there was still something that was inside of me…something that gave my heart just a shred of dissonance and kept making me think “I love this so much, but why is this so hard?” I kept trying to put my finger on it, this “feeling” that kept welling up inside me, sometimes almost evoking sentimental tears. It’s hard to know, in the middle of the emotion of a flood of memories, but I think the dissonance was this: The world, the congregation, the work, the influence in Salem Virginia is not mine in 2017. In 1987-92, that was my world. My purpose was all wrapped up in souls in Salem—my kids’ souls, my husband’s work, the Eddlemons, who were learning the gospel, the ladies retreat, the friends and family day, the radio program and the neighborhood outreach that I tried to do at the library and the school and in our neighborhood fourth of July parade. 

But someone else’s truck is parked in our driveway. That’s a good thing. It means we went somewhere else, to a place where we thought the need was greater for us—for our family in His cause,  for ministry to my mother who was dying, at the time.  Certainly we are never irreplaceable. In fact, those who followed us have done greater works than we could have done in that place. For those men and those works, we are profoundly grateful. There’s a great work still happening in that place. God’s goodness is everywhere in Salem, Virginia in 2017. 

But is it okay to acknowledge with a little bit of sad nostalgia that, right then and there, in the middle of a huge flood of memories for so many people, that I am one of those memories? Maybe it is okay. Maybe it’s a good thing to enjoy being physically present in the time and place, wherever that is, where our influence for Him, however small, is greatest. I had a work to do for Him in Salem in 1987-92 and it kept me very busy and extremely fulfilled. It was the “time of our lives” when reviewed with the perspective of child-rearing. What happened in those years is propelling a young preacher in Jacksonville, Florida today and a young mother of two who is a preacher’s wife in Columbus, Georgia. There’s no adequate gratitude to the Westside church for that environment of faith. 

But still, our influence there now is extremely limited. I think that reality yesterday was a kind of wake-up call for me. If there is any good that I can do in my sphere of influence in 2017, I’d better get busy.  Many of those who listened to the gospel in 1987 have gone on to glory or moved to other places. Lots of the arenas where our words were heard have been replaced by other venues—better ones. This reality made me long to return to the place and time in 2017 where our small influence is still engaged—where there is still a space to “get busy.”

Today, we are on our way back there. We wouldn’t trade that walk down memory lane yesterday for any amount of money. It was priceless to us. We owe a great debt to the Westside family. But we praise Him for the here and now…and, most of all, for the heaven that waits!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: A Shepherd’s Plea

One  of  my favorite holiday gifts this year was from my brother-in-law, Scotty Sparks. This gift originated with my grandfather, a shepherd in the church for many years in Jacksonville, Alabama. It’s a letter he’d thought about a lot and typed out to send to members of his congregation who had gone astray. Following his death in 1982, the letter ended up in my mother’s hands. She eventually gave it to Scotty at some point in the late 1980’s and, as you will see from Scotty’s note to me, he used it as an outline from which to preach the gospel. Every plea in the letter is just as pertinent to people who walk away from the Lord today as it was to wayward members of the body when it was first penned. I know my “Daddy Duncan” wrote this from a heart of grief at the lost condition of some soul that was under his care. Perhaps he sent it to several. Perhaps, he also preached from this outline.

 

Here are Scotty’s words prefacing the letter he gave me for Christmas:

This is a copy of a letter written by your grandfather, John Duncan, while he served as an elder at Jacksonville. I do not know the year. Your mother, Johnnia, gave it to me while I was at FHU to have as a resource. (She was always giving me good books or material.) I eventually developed this into a sermon. I hope you will overlook my “boxing in” the points. As a college student with a low inventory of sermons and an even lower inventory of dimes for the copier, I simply used the original letter for my notes. Perhaps the precious knowledge that your grandfather’s deep love for souls demonstrated in the words of this document and preached several years after his death to encourage people he would never meet on this side of heaven will compensate for the defacement. 

And here is my grandfather’s letter. If you have walked away from faithfulness, will you think about his words?

Dear brother in Christ,

I am writing this letter not to censure or criticize your any way, but that I may exhort you and cause you to think of what it means to live in a lost condition.

One of the most solemn questions that could be asked of a lost person is:

“What if you should die in your lost condition?”…Terrible thing to think about….Judgment. One day we will have to stand before the great white throne and give an account unto God for the way we live here. We need to read often Luke, the sixteenth chapter, beginning with verse 19; the story of the rich man and Lazarus, and also the other passages of the Scriptures that teach what an awful place hell is.

Another question just as solemn is:

“What if you should live in your lost condition?” At first, that question doesn’t sound to be very solemn at all, but let’s think seriously about what we are doing when we are living in a lost condition.

First of all, we lend support to the forces of Satan against the Lord; fighting, whether we mean to or not, with Satan against the Lord’s cause, because there is no such thing as being neutral in the conflict between Christ and the devil. Christ, himself, said, “He that is not with me is against me.”

Secondly, we will influence others to be lost. not intentionally, of course, but inevitably. As God uses His children to lead others to salvation, the devil uses all others to lead people into sin and to keep each other in sin. Wicked men and women are used to lure some into evil, but some people will not be tempted by them, so, to reach these, Satan must use good and upright people. For example, wives may keep their husbands from being saved; husbands may lead wives to hell; parents may cause their children to be lost; or children may even do the same for their parents. 

Thirdly, we will live a life less abundant than God intended for man. Jesus came to give life more abundantly (John 10:10). A more abundant life includes many things…for example, forgiveness, hope of eternal life versus no hope, hence no fear of death versus a fear of dying; fellowship with Christ versus no fellowship…and many others.

Fourthly, our hearts will become harder (Heb. 3:13). “But exhort one another daily, while it is called today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” …Hebrews 3: 7,8… “Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, “To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness…” …I Timothy 4:2…”Your conscience will become seared as with a hot iron.”

Fifthly, we will die in our lost condition. It is a mistake–a lie of the devil–to think that we might live in a lost condition  and die in a saved condition. In Numbers 23:10, Balaam wanted to die the death of the righteous, but he had refused to live the life of the righteous. And, if we die in this lost condition, we will be lost eternally. 

In conclusion, if we knew we would die tomorrow, we would want to be Christians, but if we knew we would live to be 110, we should still want to live each day for the Lord. There is one thing worse than dying in a lost condition–and that is living in a lost condition. 

 

My grandfather, to me, was that great friend who took us hiking in the woods in the fall and  fishing in the summer. He was that friend with whom we watched Bonanza on Sunday nights after worship. He was  the friend who went to town on my birthday to buy me the wonderful very hard plastic horse that I  still treasure and the silver necklace with the tiny blue bauble. He is the man who had such a credit rating in this small town that I could go in almost any store in town and pick up whatever he sent me for and simply say, “Put this on John Duncan’s bill.” He could build anything in that garage and he would take me to work with him and let me play on a giant old adding machine on his desk. He taught me to skip rocks and to bait hooks. He was the quintessential grandfather.

But to others, he was more. He did not, to my knowledge, have even a high school education, but he did important things. He faithfully raised two children of his own and three stepsons whose father left them at a young age. He was the progenitor of seven faithful preachers and of six women who married faithful preachers; of three elders in the Lord’s church and of four women who are wives of elders in the kingdom. 

Once, as a child, I enquired about why my grandmother all of a sudden had a lady coming every now and then, to help her do housekeeping chores. I had never seen a maid before and, though my grandmother was kind of ill by then, she was the hardest-working woman I knew. “Well,” she said, “…this lady needed some food and some help with her light bill, so your grandfather told me to try and think of some jobs she could do, so he could help her back on her feet.” I didn’t think so much about that then, but I have thought a little more about it as an adult. It’s a pretty good thing when you can help people without enabling indolence.

The congregation where he worshipped and served is now 99 years old. Next year, as it celebrates its 100th birthday, it will rejoice in the fact that its publication “House to House/Heart to Heart” reaches millions of people around the world annually with the gospel. The congregation will reach thousands who attend its Polishing the Pulpit conferences around our country. Of course, none of this is his doing. It is the doing of our great God who has used lots and lots of ordinary people through the years to keep the work that began with a gospel meeting in the year 1918 by Brother C.H. Woodruff alive in Him for the next 100 years. Each man in Christ is just one little link in a chain of events and lives and opportunities: one chapter in a book that will find its last chapter around the throne. But still, I’m glad for His tiny little part and I’m glad he was my friend.

As I write, I am sitting in the large Houston Cole library (pictured) on the campus of Jacksonville State University. It is one–the last, in fact–of several buildings that my grandfather helped construct on this campus. His secular job was to direct the maintenance operations for this university during several decades of the twentieth century. He was proud of its buildings and grounds and fiercely dedicated to a work ethic and the management of a team of hardworking men. He did not own his own home, but lived in university housing. (That’s me on the porch of that university house with a surprise from under their tree circa 1963.) He did not own his own car, but drove a university truck. His large and productive garden, where I learned how to grow things and what happened to people who didn’t like to work, was planted on university soil. He typed the letter that I am holding on a university typewriter and directed his team from a little university office. His sons would gather in a particular spot in one of the dorms that was acoustically wonderful and sing hymns. I even have a recording of one of those hymn-sings, and those young men were incredibly good for a country quartet. (I doubt that the dorms at JSU are often used for hymn-singing today.)

Now, I know that I am not unique in being able to reminisce about godly influences in my early years. I know that there are congregations all over this world that warm by fires that have been stoked through the years by faithful, yet very ordinary people. I know that my grandfather never once thought about the fact that I might someday sit and reminisce, from this chair, in a building constructed from a blueprint he once held in his hands. But here I am. In the same way, you and I do not know where and how our influence may live in the ensuing decades. But there will be a time and place in which someone will be thinking about me. I will be, to the world, an insignificant name on a grave marker. But to someone, I might be able to make an eternal difference. I hope I can do that for the little souls in my family, Ezra and Colleyanna, and I hope that difference will be for heaven.

My grandfather did not own much as he traversed a tiny little area on this planet. But he owns a mansion now. It would do a lot of people I know an eternally important good if they would heed the words transcribed above from a simple twentieth century shepherd. Can I help you live in a saved condition?

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Not a Minimalist

I will never be a minimalist. In fact, I am a bit ashamed to say I think I am a maximist. ( Since “maximalist” has a political meaning, I made that word up.) It might not be right, but it’s true. So many people have blessed our family through the years with friendship and comfort and then tokens of those sweet relationships…and I am an avowed sentimentalist. I can’t part with anything that was my mother’s. I have a thimble that my grandmother gave to me when I was a little girl. She said it came over on the boat with my ancestors. My grandchildren are wearing the same clothes that my children wore. I even have a very hard time throwing away a dish when it breaks, if it was made by one of my children in a pottery class or given to me for Christmas by my father. 

But lately, I’ve been trying to make myself part with clutter. I’ve been making a conscious effort to trample a bit on the sentimental side of me and “see” what I can throw away. I give myself all those reasons: If you haven’t used it in three years, then…or…Do you want your kids to have to sort through all of this one day?…or…You know, you can remember the day he took his first steps out in the yard without keeping the stick he picked up off the ground. I know…I need this exercise, so, as I put the Christmas stuff away and put the “regular” stuff back out, I tried to put a little less “decor” back out and a little more in the trash. 

And I saw this book that had been lying on a desk in the study. “I’m going to get rid of that,” I thought. “That book always makes me sad, anyway.” It’s one of those journals that mothers fill out for posterity, telling children all about  how they grew up, how they met the children’s daddy, favorite toys and prices of things in the good old days. Our little family had given it to my mom for Mother’s Day during the year that she passed away, so she didn’t even have enough time left to fill it out. So I picked it up to put it in a give-away place…or at least to try. 

But I looked inside and saw our note to her. I saw the four-year-old and eight-year-old signatures of my kids. Then the note from my father when he gave the book back, along with a couple more notes that he’d sent through the years since her passing. The first one I read said this:

Cindy, 

If crying is wrong  for an old man, I’m sorry, but that is exactly what happened when I  came across this book given to Johnnia in her last year here. The pictures are Johnnia’s type thing. She didn’t have a chance to write diary things in it. 

The message of love from you, Glenn, and the children touched me. I thought of how obedient you were over the years and how miserable you would always be if you slipped a little and disobeyed her in a moment of weakness and how eager you were to rectify it quickly. You and (your mother) are influencing me every day of my life. Not unrelated to this is the Duncan-Smith bunch (her family)…fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and cousins…but of the good qualities of all, you got a double dose. 

Then there was another note, written following one of our big family holiday visits to his house:

…The sound of feet stomping…the sound of young voices (and old)…the sound of the bounce of the basketball…the sound of and sight of roller skating…the sound of the ultra-young to the older ones in offering thanks for the food, etc…the sound and sight of the splashing of the pool, in the summer…the much work done here when y’all come (allowing me to sit around). All of this is summed up in one word: LOVE. Cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, maybe a grandparent here and there. 

The sights and sounds described herein, at times have likely been annoyances, but to me, they have become music to my ears…Keep up (your mother’s) traditions. Love…

PS…the part I miss most on these occasions is her voice and joy.

Then next, I noticed a letter of encouragement written to my daughter, Hannah, from her grandfather during her teen years. Among other things it said:

“You have not, in any way, let us down…you are of sterling quality and good for the church and the family…Keep on doing what you’re doing and living like you’re living. I love you…You’re my tweetie!

Funny how I thought I could just throw that book away. Funny how words can re-appear and resonate with encouragement on days when you need it most. Funny how one of the people who’s had the most profound influence on me could make me believe that I could influence him! Funny how someone long gone to glory can still influence so many so deeply. Dad’s little notes made me want to encourage people more…especially in writing. I have friends, especially one (Carol), who do it constantly. But I need to be better at written encouragement. 

I didn’t throw the book away. Instead, I think I’ll write in it’s beautiful pages and pass it on down. Maybe when Hannah is a grandmother or when Caleb is a grandfather, one of them will think about throwing it away on another day. Maybe they can be minimalists. But I doubt it. 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Orphans Among Us

soccer-mom-1The following is an excerpt from a letter I received from a young Christian sister this week. Small editions have been made for clarity and anonymity. I want to thank this sister for giving me a bit of a picture of the struggles and needs of young mothers raised outside the body. Can you help? I know, if you are an older woman in Christ, you can. But WILL you? Here’s the excerpt:
In Bible Class this morning I was shaken up.
One of our congregations ministers  filled in for our class today and talked about Titus 2. The class was mostly older retired men and women.
He was brave enough to ask questions that made it clear God EXPECTS the older to teach the younger which is not only teens but for those in their 50s to mentor those in their 20s and 30s. He called many in that audience to step up to the plate. 
His wife commented and talked about how an older Christian man impacted her and she cried thinking of how he was more to her life than her physical grandfather.
I was especially moved by the wisdom of God because I, personally, have sought older Christian women and, although it’s only two or three women, I have made them the mothers in Christ that I need in order to raise my children in God’s ways and love my husband as God expects; to keep going when I feel defeated and to be my  hope when I do not know if I can persevere. 
I don’t know if you realize that it is hard for those of us who are NOT from Christian families to fit into God’s family because we feel lost many times. We even feel like we are intruding because the ones we look up to have kids (physical families) of their own. We need what older women are to us and are thankful when we get to be in their lives. We are orphans of a sort with emotional baggage but we “cry out” to the people of God and are blessed when people respond.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Titus 2:3-5