Browsing Tag

New Year

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Replacing the Calendar Again

When I hang a new calendar, looking over the spent and tattered one I’m putting in that file cabinet…the cabinet that now has a stack of gridded sheets that represent the business, the slammed schedules, the birthday parties, the travel. as well as the mundane housecleaning, cabin cleaning, and mending days of the past year, I always try and think about the big picture. Every little square in that twelve page card stock and pocketed book that I’m filing away was a day of movement. Every square was movement toward heaven or away from it. We live sadness and hope. We live purpose and appointments. We live fun and fervor. But we never live static. Each turn of the page is a progression toward eternity. What makes each square so precious is that one square will be the last one. 

…Which makes me think about empathy. With the passage of time in each of our lives, our experiences multiply. I mean, I used to have no clue about grandparenthood. (Who are all these crazies who are obsessing over a dimple or the color of a baby’s hair?) Now I know. I fully empathize because my realm of experience grew. That happened on one of the squares in 2014. I used to come up short in the empathy department for those who were caring for elderly parents. Not any more. That happened slowly on lots of squares in the past ten or so calendar records. Experiences have simply broadened my scope of empathy. It was never that I didn’t have sympathy for those in the sandwich generation. But empathy is a whole different thing. Empathy is what make you give grace and truly feel WITH another who is experiencing something you’ve known firsthand. Remember, empathy is what makes our Lord the GREAT high priest that He is. We do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. Rather, we have one who has been tried in every point, just like we are tried, yet He did it without sin (Heb. 4:15). Empathy qualifies him to be my mediator and I am so thankful for His divine empathy. 

On that page, let me list a few scenarios of which I will not be critical this year. Experiences produce empathy. Empathy produces grace. So here:

  1. I will not criticize young mothers who are struggling in worship services to make toddlers behave. 
  2. I will not criticize young families who are occasionally late for Bible class.
  3. I will not criticize young moms who show up for Bible class on Wednesday night in jeans and a milk-stained t-shirt. 
  4. I will not criticize older people whose eyes occasionally close and whose head sometimes inadvertently bows during the sermon on Sunday.
  5. I will not criticize bragging grandmothers.
  6. I will not criticize grandmothers who buy too many baby clothes.
  7. I will not criticize the careful choices made by children about the care of aged parents.
  8. I will not criticize the families of faithful elders and preachers about matters of judgment.
  9. I will not criticize people who occasionally cry in public–people who others may classify as “emotional basket cases.”
  10. I will not criticize the eating and exercise habits of busy people.
  11. I will not criticize those who do not take every call at the moment it comes.
  12. I will not criticize busy people who lose keys, phones, glasses and other essentials frequently and who sometimes forget appointments.

There’s a little list of a few of the many decisions that experience has helped me make. Experience is my friend. Gray strands are my teachers. I know that our realms of empathy are not all the same. But the world might be a gentler place if we allowed the scenarios  and circumstances we’ve faced to teach us grace. Notice that I did not say “indifference to sin.” We have to care deeply about what grieves God. But empathy makes us also care deeply about the “infirmities” of His people. Experience makes us keenly aware that we might not know details that are crucial in decisions being made by others. Empathy makes us better people.  

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Resolutions Kept

Some of the resolution makers in 2010.

Today I ran across this article written ten years ago. It was packed with resolutions that have been honored in lives that are, ten years later, bringing honor to God in ways that we could not have known in 2010. Most, if not all, of these resolutions have materialized into glory. All of those who made these resolutions on that late night ten years ago are somewhere striving to faithfully serve Him. The preteens are in college now.  Two of the college students are parents. For those who were in the room and for those who are working hard to bring glory to Him through your families today, and for the sweet souls added to this number, I repost.  The patriarch has gone on to glory since the first writing. Both his influence and that of his wife, who had left us years before were palatable in the room that night and still today.

Some of the resolution-keepers in 2020.

It was 27 minutes till the dawn of 2010 when we turned off the TV and stopped the festivities at my dad’s house. Getting serious for a few minutes in front of the fire that would warm us into the new year, we first went around the room and all the guys chose a spiritual song to lead. It was really pretty singing: Anywhere with Jesus and Nothing but the Blood and others. Then we all listened as every person in the room– cousins, aunts, uncles, parents and children—told us all exactly and specifically how he/she was going to do something in the new year to be a better person.  Here are some of the resolutions we heard:
1. (from a mom) I am going to put my prayer list in a place where I can more easily access it when I’m actually before the throne.
2. (from a pre-teen) I am going try to stop arguing with my brothers and sisters.
3. (from a college student) I am going to add to my daily Bible time a short time in a good spiritual study guide.
4. (from a young child) I am going to give more hugs.
5. (from a teenager) I am going to work hard to get the “me monster” out of my life.
6.  (from a graduate student) I am going to spend more time preparing healthy meals, so I can feel better to accomplish important things.
7. (from a mom) I am going to pick out a day of the week or even a day of the month to take my kids to visit sick people.
8. (from a young child) I am going to share.
9. (from a dad) I am going to work really hard to sell a piece of land that’s getting in our way of being all we want to be spiritually and financially.
10. (from a high school student) I plan to be kinder and friendlier to people who might not treat me nicely.
11. (from a college student) I was not prepared for all the things college life would throw at me and I’m determined to go back this semester armed and ready for the challenges. I am going to stop making excuses for my mistakes and be responsible for disciplining myself.
12. (from a pre-teen) I am going to get up in the mornings and get cracking on my school work, so I will have more time for fun things.
13. (from a dad) I am determined to be an encourager.

I have a feeling these resolutions will not be perfectly kept. I know there will be times when Dad will discourage someone. There will be times when Mom will not be the prayer warrior she wants to be. There will be times when the child will be selfish. There will be a morning when it will be very hard to get up and get busy; and there will be times when Bible study is abbreviated, at best. Life happens and we deal with it. But resolution is still a very good thing. We plan to evaluate these self-challenges in a year. And, if the resolve moves us in the direction we want to go, then the resolutions, in another year, will be a little more mature, a little more challenging, and, certainly, will bring us a little closer to heaven. When the resolve becomes weak and the temptation becomes strong, we still have the Father to shorten our faith gaps, promising us that there is no temptation so strong that He will not provide that way of escape (I Cor. 10:13). We want to look for God’s  out in 2010. I hope fellow Christians will pray that we will always find the escape route.  At the end of 2010, we want to be better people.

…And then we prayed. When we finished praying there were 47 seconds left in 2009; a year that had been full of undeserved blessings; a year of days that change all too quickly from pending to past. We counted down the final seconds and embraced each other into the New Year.

It’s a good life. It’s a wonderful time in a good life. It’s a good family with good intentions. And we serve a great God who can solidify the intentions of his focused people.  We will soon have turned all of the corners of 2010 to find both the unexpected and the predictable eventualities. Everything on the agenda will soon be in the memoirs. When we look through the pages of the 2010 chapter, may it be a good read.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: 2019! It’s a Perfect Time to Join the Study!

Happy New Year! 

At our house, today is the “Christmas” gathering for the children and grandchildren of my mother and father. This is the first time we’ve not been able to gather at my dad’s house. It will be different, for sure; but I know, just like in the church, it’s the people who make up the “house.” So, we still have the house and, one day soon, the entire house will assemble again in a locale that will be permanent and never unavailable for any reason. I love the hope that’s in the Word!

The new year is a perfect time to get into the Word. I want to personally invite you to jump into  our Digging Deep study on “Authority.” We begin a brand new month today called “But Isn’t My Heart the Most Important Thing?”.  It begins like this: 

But Isn’t my Heart the Most Important Thing? 

As I write this study, I am taking time out, every few minutes, to try to work with a young friend who has lost her way. She has gotten into some trouble because of her sin. She is facing some consequences that she didn’t really think through at the time of the commission of her sin. We all do this, at times. Statements like these keep coming in texts from her:

“But I never stopped loving God and this just doesn’t feel fair.”

“But I feel so broken and alone.” 

“But does God really want me to be so miserable?”

“I can’t do this. I just don’t feel this is what God wants for my life.”

“I know this worship may not be what is right, but I just felt so alone when I worshipped over there.”

We live in a world that’s all about feeling. Back in the days of early television, there were the cops and then there were the robbers. There were the Snow Whites/Cinderellas and then there were the wicked queens/stepmothers. There were the brave sailors and then there were the greedy pirates. Now the lines are a little more blurry. The good guys are not really always so good and the bad guys are often just victims of a bad society. Additionally, there are lots of shades of grey in between the blackness of sin and the purity of righteousness. It’s really not even so much about the goodness or evil of the actions, themselves. It’s more about the heart of the perpetrator of evil. What was he feeling and how much of that feeling can be blamed on how many other people? 

The big cultural shift to emotionalism is all around us. Philosophers call it ethical subjectivism. That’s the belief that we base our decisions on what we feel is right, rather than having a standard that instructs those decisions.  This philosophy emanates from many places today, but it has gained a mighty momentum in Hollywood. Oprah’s advice to young girls recently on Good Morning America is an apt sampling of this new dose of the same old “better-felt-than-told” subjective philosophy. 

“Every one of us has an internal guidance, a GPS…if you follow that you will be led to the highest good for you, always. That’s why all the voices of the world mean nothing if your voice is in alignment with all the voices of the world.”

I am not sure what that even means. There’s a glitch in the wording that makes it nonsensical. But, in any case, the inner voice is what is felt, not what is instructed.  

Marilyn Monroe said “A woman knows by feelings, by intuition, what is best for herself.

Then there’s this one that might be on your refrigerator already. It’s simply attributed to “the Universe”: “Choose feelings over logic, adventure over perfection, here over there, now over then, and always LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.” 

Now this all sounds sweet, but it is so very opposed to the teachings of the Creator of said universe, that we as Christian women must activate our debunking radars each morning before we leave the house or turn on the computer. The world is full of sweet sounding meaningless bunkum and balderdash that is in direct conflict with the instructions of the One who has already navigated our path safely through this life to the other side. 

There is a way that seems right to a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death. Proverbs 16:25.

Let’s examine, this month, the  impact that the homage to “feelings” is having on the church and on our individual  responses to the authority of the Word of God, particularly as it relates to our worship of Him. 

If you are one of those women, like I am, who benefits from a plan and a sisterhood of sweet accountability, don’t wait. You can download the study free at https://thecolleyhouse.org/store#!/Digging-Deep/c/20688312/offset=0&sort=normal or purchase the notebook, if that works best. Happy New Year: 365 days, if He wills, to give Him glory!

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: You’ve Got Something New!

Providence always seems to make our Bible studies very applicable to our lives. Here we are in the initial days of 2017, trying to make our lives better this year for His glory and our study coincides with a new journey made by His people of old from a life of bondage to a life of freedom and, ultimately, rest. God is good! Their passover was in their first calendar month and, from there, life changed in some very good ways for Israel. Today, let’s notice some of those new  experiences for Israel and how they correspond to the new lives that we have in Christ. Here’s the list from last night’s podcast. It will make you appreciate the cross and the deliverance from your bondage of sin even more. These are taken from Exodus 14-24.

  1. A new camp (14:2). Christians are moved to a new place, too. Colossians 1:13, I Peter 2:9.
  2. A new champion (14:4). Don’t miss these great passages: Romans 8:31-39, Hebrews 13:6.
  3. A new guide (14:19). We follow the Lamb (Rev. 14:4)
  4. A new song of praise (chapter 15). This was the song of Moses. But we get to sing the song of Moses and the Lamb (Rev. 14:3).
  5. A new promised inheritance (15:17). Heaven is our inheritance. Are you an heir (I Peter 1:3,4, Revelation 21:7)?
  6. A new voice (15:26). Matthew 17:5. Are you listening (Hebrews 1:1,2)?
  7. A new source of sustenance (16:1-10). He always provides for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28).
  8. A new urgency about bread (16:16-18). We should seek the Bread of Life every day, too (John 6:35; Luke 4:4)
  9. A new priority (16:26). Their sabbath took precedence over gathering bread. Matthew 6:33 says our priority is seeking the kingdom and He will provide the bread!
  10. New battles within the camp (17:4). Do Christians have discouragements within the church? (Take a cursory look at the book of James and the book of I Corinthians. The devil doubles his forces when people become Christians!)
  11. New battles from without the camp (17:16). Ephesians 6:12-13. Living for him is spiritual warfare.
  12. A new evangelistic thrust. (18:11). If we live for Him, the great commission (Mark 16:15, 16) becomes second nature to us. There are those, like Jethro, who will naturally be impacted by our faith. 
  13. A new clean (19:14). We are washed (I Corinthians 6:9-11).
  14. A new priesthood (19:22). Praise God for our high priest and for the fact that he made us holy for the priesthood (Hebrews 4:14-16)!
  15. A new freedom ((20:2). We are no more servants of sin (Galatians 5:1)!
  16. A new purity (20:20). We are done with intentional sin (I John 2:1).
  17. A new law (21:1; 24:12). The law of the Spirit in Christ has made us free from the Mosaic law of sin and death (Romans 8:1,2). We, too, have a new law!
  18. A new standard of morality (chapter 22). The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 is replete with “You have heard…but I say unto you.”. Jesus’ way is a path to a new morality.
  19. A new rule of giving (22:29-30).  Leaving the tithe behind, we give as we have been prospered (I Corinthians 16:1,2). 
  20. A new passover feast (23:14-19). Christ is our Passover (I Corinthians 5:7) and we memorialize our Lamb in the Lord’s Supper as instituted in Matthew 26:26-29.
  21. A new covenant (24:4-7). Have you signed on to the covenant that required His blood (Hebrews 8:6)?

Catch-up on Recipes! Here are three more from the December contest: 

Chicken Tortilla Soup

(This recipe, from Lindsey Cella, sounds good for Alabamians today! Brrr!)

Ingredients:
3 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cubed (We use 1 (48 ounce) bag of Tyson’s boneless skinless chicken thigh strips, it works out the same)
1 (10 ounce) package frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
1 onion, chopped
3 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
2 (10 ounce) cans tomatoes and green chilies
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon minced garlic
(Tortilla chips and shredded cheese added by bowl, if you want it. We always want it.)?
Directions:
•Combine chicken, corn, onion, broth, tomato paste, tomatoes and green chilies, cumin, chili powder, 1 tsp of salt, and garlic in large crockpot.
•Cover and cook on LOW for 5 to 7 hours or on HIGH for 3 hours to 3 hours and 30 minutes(essentially just cook it until the chicken isn’t pink that’s what we do?)
•serve with Tortilla chips and shredder cheese serves about 6 to 8 (that’s what our recipe says, it’s a lie, this makes tons?)

Easy and Delicious Peanut Butter Fudge

Ginny Vines

1 package of white almond bark
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 16 Oz jar of peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)

DIRECTIONS:
Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.
Melt the almond bark according to directions on package.
Stir in peanut better until smooth.
Stir in condensed milk. You must do this quickly because it will start to harden.
Put in refrigerator until cool and hard, cut and enjoy!

Pineapple Casserole 

Janice Knight

This goes great with ham.
2 tall cans pineapple chunks with juice
6 Tbs. flour, mixed with 1 cup white sugar
1 sleeve town house or ritz crackers
1 cup shredded cheese
1 stick butter or margarine, melted

Using a 9×13 inch dish, pour in the pineapple.  Then stir in the flour/sugar mixture till combined.  Put half the cheese in next, and stir. Crush the sleeve of crackers and distribute crumbs evenly on top. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on that, then drizzle the melted butter all over.  This makes it shiny and crunchy.  Bake till brown (about 25-30minutes at 375 degrees F.  This is good hot or cold.  Greg at church eats it for his dessert.

(from cc: Shout-out to Greg, I guess! This is a favorite at the Colley house, too!)

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: How about a Little Empathy?

When I hang a new calendar, looking over the spent and tattered one I’m putting in that file cabinet…the cabinet that now has a stack of gridded sheets that represent the business, the slammed schedules, the birthday parties, the travel. as well as the mundane housecleaning, cabin cleaning, and mending days of the past year, I always try and think about the big picture. Every little square in that twelve page card stock and pocketed book that I’m filing away was a day of movement. Every square was movement toward heaven or away from it. We live sadness and hope. We live purpose and appointments. We live fun and fervor. But we never live static. Each turn of the page is a progression toward eternity. What makes each square so precious is that one square will be the last one. 

…Which makes me think about empathy. With the passage of time in each of our lives, our experiences multiply. I mean, I used to have no clue about grandparenthood. (Who are all these crazies who are obsessing over a dimple or the color of a baby’s hair?) Now I know. I fully empathize because my realm of experience grew. That happened on one of the squares in 2014. I used to come up short in the empathy department for those who were caring for elderly parents. Not any more. That happened slowly on lots of squares in the past ten or so calendar records. Experiences have simply broadened my scope of empathy. It was never that I didn’t have sympathy for those in the sandwich generation. But empathy is a whole different thing. Empathy is what make you give grace and truly feel WITH another who is experiencing something you’ve known firsthand. Remember, empathy is what makes our Lord the GREAT high priest that He is. We do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. Rather, we have one who has been tried in every point, just like we are tried, yet He did it without sin (Heb. 4:15). Empathy qualifies him to be my mediator and I am so thankful for His divine empathy. 

On that page, let me list a few scenarios of which I will not be critical this year. Experiences produce empathy. Empathy produces grace. So here:

  1. I will not criticize young mothers who are struggling in worship services to make toddlers behave. 
  2. I will not criticize young families who are occasionally late for Bible class.
  3. I will not criticize young moms who show up for Bible class on Wednesday night in jeans and a milk-stained t-shirt. 
  4. I will not criticize older people whose eyes occasionally close and whose head sometimes inadvertently bows during the sermon on Sunday.
  5. I will not criticize bragging grandmothers.
  6. I will not criticize grandmothers who buy too many baby clothes.
  7. I will not criticize the careful choices made by children about the care of aged parents.
  8. I will not criticize the families of faithful elders and preachers about matters of judgment.
  9. I will not criticize people who occasionally cry in public–people who others may classify as “emotional basket cases.”
  10. I will not criticize the eating and exercise habits of busy people.
  11. I will not criticize those who do not take every call at the moment it comes.
  12. I will not criticize busy people who lose keys, phones, glasses and other essentials frequently and who sometimes forget appointments.

There’s a little list of a few of the many decisions that experience has helped me make. Experience is my friend. Gray strands are my teachers. I know that our realms of empathy are not all the same. But the world might be a gentler place if we allowed the scenarios  and circumstances we’ve faced to teach us grace. Notice that I did not say “indifference to sin.” We have to care deeply about what grieves God. But empathy makes us also care deeply about the “infirmities” of His people. Experience makes us keenly aware that we might not know details that are crucial in decisions being made by others. Empathy makes us better people.