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New Year

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Praying Children in this New Year.

Happy New Year! 

When you married the Lord on that day when you were immersed for the forgiveness of your sins, you made vows to love, honor and obey Him in sickness and health, in adversity and prosperity, for better or for worse, for richer and for poorer—to have and to hold Him till death unites you with Him forever and ever. 

I hope this year is health and prosperity. I hope it is better and richer. I pray, for our Colley family, that it will be an easier year than the past year.—the year that has certainly been our most challenging year to date. I’m praying for all readers and for us, that no matter the ease or difficulty of the 365 days ahead of us, that it will be a year full of loving, honoring and obeying the One who died for us. I’m praying we will all have Him—His mercy, His correction, His salvation and His advocacy throughout the coming year. I’m praying we will all hold Him, clinging tenaciously to His sovereignty and His promises that are as good as accomplished. I pray that we will all have the security of claiming Romans 8:28. 

As a new year dawns, I’m thinking about the children who depend on women who may read this blog regularly. I’m thinking about their place in a world that has become so secularized that it often mocks those who even believe in a Creator. It’s a world that rejects absolute truth and the idea that one system of morality may be better than any other. It  is a world that calls what is really evil, “good,” celebrating what God terms “vile affection” and giving adherents of sin the moral high ground in society. 

There’s a big group of mamas today who are determined to make spiritual heroes and heroines of the little souls entrusted in their care. There’s an army of truth defenders arising from among our ranks in a time when the challenges for this army will be greater than any time in our country’s history. 

Some of these mamas have asked for resources for teaching our kids to pray. “How do we practically teach our kids the value, the necessity and the how-to of daily prayer? How do we help them develop this personal communication with the God Who has promised to be the refuge and strength in a time of trouble?” I surely do not know all of the answers, but I’m learning from those of you who are working so hard to do this important mama’s job. 

So for the next few posts, let’ s absorb and integrate some of these ideas and help our children and grandchildren grow up around the throne in prayer. Watch for these!

Finally, it’s snowing in north Alabama! This is Maggie’s first time to see snow and it happened at Mammy’s house! She’s three and she’s my Florida girl, so she’s pretty excited about the snow. She kept telling her mom that she could not wait for the snow to start falling while they opened up their Christmas presents (in Florida!). Well, this is our morning for cousin Christmas gifts—our first day to have them all here (without extended family) to attack that big stack of gifts in there…and Maggie’s snow has just fallen! God is good like that! 

Happy New Year! Let’s give every day of it to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!

(And the podcast is tomorrow night!)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

March for Life: A Walk to Remember

 last year’s little group!

Happy New Year! Here we are in 2021 and just four weeks out from the March for Life in Washington, DC on January 29th. It’s very much a happening thing and I need to get final numbers for those who wish to attend. I need those numbers by January 10th at noon. Once I have those numbers, I’ll be able to cancel any superfluous rooms reserved, have our hoodies made, and make arrangements for a meal together on Thursday night as well as a devotional later that night. I believe our group will be small, but full of faith and full of love for life! I think we will encourage each other and take home memories we’ll treasure and blessings of strength that will help us through what seems will be a challenging few months to come, in many respects. Please contact me at byhcontest@gmail.com and let me know if you plan to attend. I need you to accompany that reservation with a $50 deposit payable to The Colley House. You can mail a check or paypal the money to colley@westhuntsville.org. These funds will be applied to your hotel room. If you share a room with three others, your cost will be roughly a hundred dollars for both nights (Thursday and Friday night).  (Private accommodations are also available for a higher cost.) If possible, please make your reservation through me rather than directly through the hotel, since we have already reserved a block of rooms at the Westin in Olde Town Alexandria. Your additional costs will be for any food or incidentals you purchase on the trip and each person is responsible for her own transportation to the area. There is also a charge for riding the metro to all the places you will go with the group (or on your own) after arriving. A three day pass is $28.00 and will accommodate all your travel needs within the city. (I’ve found the DC metro to be safe, clean and very efficient.) Those passes are bought quickly as you enter the metro station near the hotel. You do not need a rental car if you choose to fly. Some are driving and some are flying to Reagan which is about 11 miles from the hotel. Once you arrive at the airport, there’s a shuttle to the hotel. 

You can find all info about the March itself at https://marchforlife.org.

Hoodies will be as reasonably priced as I can make them for those who are making the investment already to go. Once we have a final design and cost on those, I’ll make them available (by pre-order only) to those who are not going for a slightly higher cost. 

Notice: Even if you have already told me you are going, please confirm again at the above email address. (Exceptions are Hickman and Thomas and those from West Huntsville who are planning to ride the van.) Many plans have changed and I’m sympathetic to that. However, we REALLY hope you can come. We will be launching a study about that time of the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” and our time together will be a very practical application. I promise a dose of immunity from discouragement! It will be both a way to help sustain precious unborn life while giving needed sustenance to your own spiritual lives. You can be a channel for His blessings on this purposeful trip.

I cannot tell you how very much you encourage me. Let’s make 2021 a year in which we dig harder than ever before. I somehow think we are going to need this spiritual nourishment more than ever before. May we emerge stronger and more fit for heaven. 

“…you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary” (Revelation 2:3).

“Thus says the Lord who made you and formed you from the womb, who will help you…” (Isaiah 44:2).

We can do 2021 for His glory. I know He will help us!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

2020: What was I thinking?

I looked back this morning at what I wrote as 2020 dawned. Three observations:

1.  I thought flash flooding in Huntsville was the “lion” of 2020.

2.  A little Christmas stomach bug was a hijacking virus.

3.  I thought I was returning to a routine for the New Year.

One simple statement is enough:  this mind-blowing wisdom from the Holy Spirit…May I allow Him to guide me through every day of 2021:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

And below is the innocence and naivety of my “Happy New Year” message one year ago….I needed the “Come  now” of James 4:13-16. One thing I got perennially right, though. There’s still a blessing trail for me and every reader. Here are my musings one year ago (and notice in the group photo that Ezra was the only one having a 2020 premonition):

In Huntsville, Alabama, 2020 brought great torrents of rain. Glenn and I telephoned 9-1-1 from our car last night to report some pretty serious flash flooding across streets that were still open and being treacherously navigated. As he made the call, on this evening in which the last of our sweet holiday company had flown back home, I thought “This is a pretty apropos ending to a torrentially blessed, but chaotic season. All we need now is to be stuck in this raging deluge.” 

But they say, “When it comes in like a lion, it goes out like a lamb.” Maybe there will be some “lamb” days—some gentle and serene days in 2020 for work and contemplation and especially for Digging Deep (https://thecolleyhouse.org/digging-deep). I’m ready to put the house back together and search for some semblance of routine. Remember, the December podcast is next Tuesday night!

We had a ton of fun company in this house (that included a suicidal squirrel…https://thecolleyhouse.org/and-prior-to-the-lesson-this-morning), a lightning storm (that took out our largest backyard tree, our internet, Roku, modem, router and a window in the cabin), a virus that hijacked our Christmas morning plans, and one awful day when they could not hear a heartbeat from my grandchild that’s still in the womb.

But you know, there’s always that blessing trail (https://thecolleyhouse.org/the-blessing-trail). All of our children, viruses and all, were here with us. (My husband is going to speak at a baby’s funeral this very morning.) We are wealthy enough to be extremely dependent on our internet. The most stressful part of its absence was that I was falling behind on my Digging Deep research and my communication with the greatest group of encouraging sisters in the world! My husband, who was standing only a few feet from that giant oak tree, is alive and well (although his hearing may be a little worse for that wear)!  Our baby was just hiding the heartbeat, after all, and went galloping like a champ during the next, more intensive sonogram. The man, who came to work on our internet, took the time to talk with me about God’s plan of salvation, about baptism for the remission of sins, and he even tested the internet by going to our West Huntsville page. He says, “My wife and I will definitely be visiting your church. It sounds like you are teaching just the Bible and that is a rare thing.” The blessing trail, now and always, just goes on and on. He is so good.

He is good, not just to those like me who are in a season of extreme prosperity in so many ways. He is good, even to those who are suffering horrible reversals today. It’s my prayer during 2020, that I can behave, EVERY day, as though I really believe He is glorious and good. When there is stress and when there is peace; when there is encouragement and when there is sharp criticism; when there is devastation and when there is exultant joy; when there is danger and when there is safety—may I constantly be reminded of his supremacy and ultimate blessing in my life as His faithful daughter (Romans 8:28). 

I know the Digging Deep study will help me to keep my mind focused in exactly this way. I’m going to invite someone to do this study with us this very week. I hope you will, too. As women are making their New Year’s resolutions, it’s a great time to ask them to jump in and make this a deeper year in His Word.

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!