Browsing Tag

Priorities

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Pokémon and Priorities

 

Last Sunday morning on our way to worship, I got this text from our daughter, who was obviously getting kids in the van and voice texting at the same time. Immediately after the following text, I got another in which she just simply (and sarcastically) said, “Thank-you Siri!”

As you can tell, the first sentence is really to me. The rest is a lesson given to Colleyanna (a.k.a. Call Ana). I could have gone through and punctuated and re-spelled, but somehow the rawness of Siri’s eavesdropping and recording made this even sweeter to me. I’m thankful for her and all parents who are trying so hard to chip away at selfishness and instill priorities of faith and devotion to the Almighty. I know many who have power-packed conversations all day long in Deuteronomy six fashion with absorbent and intentional minds. Yesterday, I went over to Hannah’s  house to join a Bible Study with non-Christian women that she had scheduled at her house. Watching Ezra sit at that table and look up the verses we were using was another palpable thanksgiving moment for me. None of this is likely or even possible without the huge and overarching Providence of a God that knows how to accomplish our heavenward goals for children far better than we can imagine.

Here’s the fun little text about dropped Pokémon cards and priorities:

Please tell us where you’re sitting and get our sermon sheets. OK now call Ana. It’s not his fault that you dropped your Pokémon stuff he didn’t do that. I know it’s easy to blame him but he didn’t do that you dropped him and it’s OK will get them. Will get them organize will get them where they need to be but right now you know how must it make Jesus feel if we’re on our way to worship him and we are way more worried about Pokémon cards then we are about making sure we’re ready to worship and we’re way more worried about Pokémon cards than we are about safety how how much that make God feel I understand that the Pokémon cards are very important to you. I understand that there are things that are important to me too, but we need a set our priorities, straight, OK

So, Thanks Siri.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Guest Writer: April Cothran…In Deep Retrospect

Today’s words are potent. They are from a digger who is soon to be reaching the real treasure that we are all seeking. It needs no commentary. I’ve shared this on my personal feed, but it needs to be everywhere in the spirit of Titus 2. If you are the obstacle in the way of children having what this mother wishes her girls could have had, and you still have time to fix this, make a decision that will be very comforting in your last days. That’s her message.  Here is April. I love her heart.
A friend from a church we attended many years ago recently posted about quitting her job outside the home to take a sabbatical. She is not sure about long term plans on going back to work in some capacity, restarting homeschooling or being a stay at home mom. It is a brave decision to go from 2 incomes to 1. She inspired me today to post a commentary from the perspective of someone with a terminal illness and few days left on this earth. (And I realize no one knows the number of their days in this life, but I have been told last July-12 months to 18 at absolute best—and I know God can change that if it be His will—or it could be shorter—none of that is the point.)
The point—
You really start reflecting on the life you’ve lived when you get this diagnosis. Of course, I reflected immediately on any unforgiven sins in my life and made that right with God. After that you start thinking about what you should have done differently. My biggest regret is working outside the home while my children were with me in my house. Even when I started working from home in 2013, many times my office door was closed while I worked late. I dare not condemn working moms. I know staying home with your children is just not possible for some families. It was possible for my family, and I chose a different path. I could have spent more time with my precious girls. I could have done more work for the Lord. Some of these decisions led us places where we met amazing church families, awesome neighbors, and amazing new work colleagues and friends. There was some good from the decision to work, no doubt. But, my priorities were in the wrong place for too many years!
I missed so much of the really important to do the really unimportant when viewed from an eternal lens. I could have spent so much more time putting God’s word in the hearts of my children. I could have spent more time teaching them how to love others by your actions. I could have spent more time putting better Bible study habits in their lives. They are, thankfully, all faithful Christians now, but I could have done a much better job making sure they have the tools to stay faithful for life. I could have sacrificed more of this world’s goods to store up more treasure in heaven.
Advice from a terminally ill mom to other moms, take it or leave it. IF you have the ability to stay home with your babies, DO IT! From where I am now, I can say you will never regret it, but you may regret not doing it. IF that is just not an option for your family, resolve to limit overtime as much as possible so you can spend that time with your family. In my job, many times my employer didn’t require me to work over as much as I did. I thought it would put me ahead in their eyes. WOW! Why did I care!?
Wish I’d really had the faith to believe and live out the following verse long ago.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you” (Matt. 6:33).
“all these things” = the necessities of life.
May God bless you all!
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Teaching Kids to Pray #1: An Important Job

As I think about the task of teaching our children to pray, I know I need to make the case that developing rich and regular prayer habits are important, in the first place. But then again, surely every reading mom and grandmother can see that the society in which our kids are developing makes their love for and belief in the power of prayer, both hugely practical and comforting beyond what they can now comprehend. 

For today, just four reasons to make teaching kids to pray a priority at your house. Next, we will move to some ways to make talking to God a first-nature go-to as they grow toward faithful Christianity. 

  1. Necessity. God is the only one who can “fix” our problems in this wicked world. It has always been true, but, in an America that has left behind its Biblical moorings and become a secular society, there are many foreboding realities which, while your children cannot assess them yet, will present challenges later that are herculean in nature and for which your children will find no answers outside of appealing to the Supreme One. Our legal system has veered so far from recognition of any relevance of biblical morality (in fact, often punishing its adherents) that your children’s recourse in life may sometimes be limited to appealing to the God in heaven who sees all and finally gets it right. Another way to say this is that there may be times in life when no one else but God will/can listen and respond to our very deep needs.
  2. Obedience. Faithful prayer is commanded and, of course, command-keeping is essential in all areas of our lives. (Mt.  26:41, Mark 13:33, Luke 18:1, 1Tim. 2:1, Eph. 6:18, Rom. 12:12). We want our children to go to heaven!
  3. Priorities.Faithful prayer in the home is one great way to teach our children spiritual priorities. Kids always see what’s important to us by how we spend our time. (If tapping on our phones is all they see us do, even to the exclusion of bowing in silent prayer and opening the Word, they come to examine and know what it is that takes all of our time.) They know. 
  4. Evangelism. Prayer spreads the gospel. It just does. If I’m on my knees in the morning and before I go to bed at night, I cannot help but to be aware of and vocal to the lost people around me in between those times of talking to God.  When I am talking to God, I will be talking to people. And souls are, by far and away, the most valuable of this world’s commodities. 

Today’s reasons for teaching kids to pray are necessity, obedience, priorities and evangelism. If you’re trying to remember an acrostic it’s “NOPE!” Let your kids grow up without learning to pray? 

NOPE! 

Maybe, for the next few days, moms and grandmothers could pray through these four reasons. Ask God every day to help you keep the importance of teaching prayer in your home at the forefront of your vision for your kids. 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang… and Flying

Eliza Jane Giselbach, born a week-and-a-half ago is the best thing that’s happened to this Mammy during the pandemic, for sure. She’s also the catalyst for lots of lost sleep, more than a few episodes of over-excitement in her siblings, and searches for pandemic-safe outlets for kids who are making way too much racket for a mom (and mammy) who are over their heads in unpacking from a move, laundry, cooking and just adjusting to life with a newborn, once again. 

While watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with them, Ezra asked if we could ever really get a car that could fly. After hearing various speculations around the room about the unlikelihood of that happening during our lifetimes, Ezra said this: “…But we are going to fly—just by ourselves—when Jesus comes to get us. We will fly and we will not even need a car or a plane or anything.”

I Corinthians 15 explains to us the very serious nature of his little five-year-old statement. Everything we are and do and every hope that anchors us is founded in the fact that the resurrection from the dead happened in that garden outside Jerusalem 2000 years ago, facilitating His own flight back to the Father; and that the resurrection and ascension will happen again for you and me. That all-encompassing thesis for the lives of all Christians, in fact, is the driving force for all the things we’ve done in the craziness of welcoming Eliza Jane into that household. Papa and I held those wee hands several times during the day of her birth and prayed for her safety and her life in the Lord. We held them again after her safe delivery and thanked Him for their new little sister. We prayed that she would grow up to be a strong and faithful force for good in the Kingdom. Every night before they climb into their beds in that little nursery, we say our books of the Bible, spend time in a Bible account with them and listen to them talk to God. They pray about Baxter, the cat, with the same ardor that they pray for Eliza, at this point, But our whole purpose in these times around the Word is their emergence in, at last and for all time, knowing the difference between things that are temporal and things that are eternal—people who will be raised and things that will not. Every mealtime prayer, every Bible time, every worship assembly, every invitation to neighbors to visit our services, every card of encouragement, every prayer for a lost one, every blog-post, every speaking appointment, every spanking, every ethical discussion and decision, every meal prepared or instance of hospitality offered—every one— is woven into the fiber of life that comes from being certain that He walked away from the tomb. 

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead (I Cor. 15:13-20).

IN FACT.  Those two words about the resurrection are the crux of most of what I will do today. I’m so thankful for the resurrection and for the purpose, hope and certainty it brings to every day of my life. What appears to be chaotic in the moments of a Christian’s life is not really chaotic at all. Even the stressful and sleepless times are purposeful. Even the inevitable moments when we fall to temptation are of value when we right the wrongs and learn from the failures. It’s profound to ponder that something empty in Jerusalem 2000 years ago is making my life full and purposeful still today. Something that shook the earth, then, has given me something unshakeable. Praise God today for the resurrection!

And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it (Matthew 28:2).

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe… (Heb. 12:28).

And praise Him that, leaving our own tombs, we will fly…without a car or a plane or anything!

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance #42: Proverbs 15:16-17–Treasure with Trouble

My husband, Glenn, is sharing these daily lessons for our West Huntsville family as we are necessarily (because of the virus) spending less time physically together in worship, study and fellowship. We may be “socially distanced,” but  we’re a close-knit family and we want to keep it that way! One way to stay on track together, spiritually, is to think about a common passage and make applications for our lives together even when we are unable to assemble as frequently. I’m sharing these daily family lessons here for those in other places, whose families (or even congregations) might benefit from a common study in these uncommon days of semi-quarantine. There are Family Bible Time guides included, as well. You can adapt, shorten or lengthen them according to the ages of kids (and adults) in your family. Blessings.

From Glenn:

Favorite Proverbs: Proverb 15:16-17…

“Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure with trouble. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred.”

This has to be one of our top ten.  If you are recently married, you’d better get this truth into your home before the kids come along and you find yourselves in a dark place.  It has to be instilled consistently and early:  A godly, Christ-centered home where we love one another will always be vastly better than a house with wealth accompanied by trouble, hatred and disobedience to God.  

Think right now about your career. What are you trying to accomplish with that employment? What is the greater meaning of this work? Is work the most important thing in your life?  Does that job support your family or does your family support the job?

Does harmony and contentment thrive in your home because Jesus lives there and is the center of all you do?  Finish this statement: When harmony breaks down in my home it is usually caused by ________________. In many cases you will find that, behind whatever you wrote in the blank, is an emphasis on something material rather than a priority on pleasing God.  

I try to pour this principle into the hearts of people in pre-marriage counseling.  The value and size of a house doesn’t reveal the amount of happiness dwelling inside.  Happiness can thrive in a shack as well as a mansion.  Never assume that where there is wealth there is joy, because they often don’t live in the same place.

Our Lord said “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Contentment is in prioritizing His kingdom and your place in it. 

In your meditation times today, add this important proverb.  Sometime during the day, read it to your family, explain it, and let your children know this is the driving thesis of your home.

Family Bible Time with Glenn and Cindy:

Matthew 5:31ff (continued)

Jesus said “I was in prison and you came unto me.”

  1. Read Matthew 26:47-56 to your children and find out what the disciples did when Jesus was actually arrested–when he became an innocent prisoner. They became so afraid that they reacted in a way that we don’t ever want to imitate. How does Jesus tell us, as His disciples, in our Matthew 25 text that we can be with Jesus when He is in prison?
  2. Of course, most of us today in the United States cannot visit a prison during a pandemic, since there are restrictions against such. In fact, it is difficult to gain permission to enter at any time. But we can certainly, right now, support the prison ministers we know who have given/give lots of hours and  experience physical and emotional stress as they visit and teach the gospel in prisons. Tonight, have your children write letters of thanks and encouragement to a prison minister that you know. If you do not know one, let me recommend a faithful one for your children to write. Have your younger children draw pictures. This will encourage our brother who has devoted years to a prison work here in Huntsville.

Mr. George Coffell

c/o West Huntsville church of Christ

1519 Old Monrovia Road NW

Huntsville, AL 35806

If you have the Hannah’s Hundred CD, sing the Matthew 25 song once more along with the Matthew 5:16 song. Pray with your children. Remember to pray for the prisoners in our land; that the gospel may be taught to those who are in need of salvation and who may listen to the Word.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Curbside-Pick-up Lessons

I’m not adept yet at grocery pick-up, but I’m on the curve. Today I did the Kroger pick-up and then ran through a drive-through to get a sandwich. Needing badly to be outside, to see people and to feel that there’s a whole world out there–a world that’s not wholly sick, but still thriving in key ways, I parked under a tree to eat that sandwich. When I finished, I walked around to the back of the SUV and opened the hatch to get a banana for dessert–a banana for which I’d really been wishing for about three days. (In fact, I’d wished for bananas so badly that the girl who was putting my groceries in my trunk said “Wow! Your family must really love bananas!” She was right. I had lots.

As I grabbed that banana (which was mostly green, but I really wanted a banana) I knocked a half gallon of milk out of the back of the forerunner. I really wanted milk, too, but there it ran, down the little incline and over about three more parking spaces. But since I really wanted that milk and I knew how difficult it would be to replace without actually entering a store,  I put what was left of that slit carton in three plastic Kroger bags and put it in the passenger seat beside me. I got the diaper wipes out of the console and cleaned up the mat in the back as best I could (because, do you even know how rank spoiled milk smells?) and came home as, at last, I ate that green banana.

In my driveway, I realized that those three bags had not really fully contained that milk from the bursted jug. The passenger seat was a pretty big mess. And now my driveway was and my sidewalk, too. So I went inside and got the top to a Tupperware cake-taker and went outside and poured the remaining milk from that jug into the Tupperware. I took my big trash can from the kitchen outside to put those heavy wet Kroger bags into the trash. Then I went inside with my bowl of milk, got a jar and a funnel and poured the milk from the Tupperware into my jar. I got just a little over a quart, for all my trouble. It would have been easier to go down to my neighbor’s farm and ask if I could just milk a cow, for that quart. But, like I said, I really wanted some milk.

That’s pretty much how my week’s been going–about a quart of satisfaction per every gallon-worth of trouble…and a big mess in three different places at the same time.  I know some of you can relate.We’re innovative and independent, but we’re also incorrigible in our routineness. We’re inertia-driven, struggling to stop those routines and find our grooves in what seems a surreal stay-in-place pandemonium. We fight anxiety–about the sickness itself, about political extremism, about people from whom we are disconnected, and about the economy. We worry about how we will ever make up all those cancelled appointments and engagements and events once we do start having schedules again. I’ve wondered many times lately how people do quarantines without prayer and the Word. Knowing there’s no place to go now would be extremely hard if there was no ultimate place to go…for eternity.

But there was also this other moment; a moment that also happened while I was driving to that curbside this week….

My friend, a relatively new convert, called to ask me if I was okay and to encourage me to pray. She said, “We all have to pray. God will give us what we need if we just pray and pray.”

I knew she was right (Matthew 6:33), but I wasn’t sure exactly where she was coming from as we started talking. She related to me that some of her unbelieving friends were in a bad situation in a local hospital. She said to them “You need to let me pray for you. God can help you.” And so she did. Her prayers were answered in God’s great timing and this family is now open to Bible study.

She went on to tell me how very hard she has also been praying for her unbelieving husband. “I believe he is coming around to the point of believing in God,” she said. We talked further and agreed on a book that I’m ordering for her study with him. Then we talked about my friend’s job changes lately.

My friend has, for many months, been working in a restaurant. I encouraged her to tell the management that she could not work on Sundays during worship. She did tell them that, but, in spite of their agreement, they kept scheduling her so that she had to miss worship. At last, a few months back, she told them she would have to leave their employment if she could not faithfully worship. So they let her go; essentially, they fired her. She was seeking first the kingdom and, as she did, the Lord, in Matthew 6:33 fashion, provided another job, working with elderly people in a nursing home. My friend loves this work. Its pay and benefits are what she was looking for all along.

Her next statement was rich. ” Here I am, as an essential worker now; working, getting paid to do something I love, and eating right through this pandemic, while the people who fired me, as restaurant managers , are out of work.”  Can you think of a more practical illustration of Matthew 6:33?  I’d be hard-pressed to come up with one.

See, in a few of the little things, we may look at a quart’s worth for all of our trouble and get discouraged. But, in the big eternal things, let’s be sure to notice that, for our quart’s worth of seeking, our needs are repaid in gallons. Your prayer may not always be answered in exactly the same way or with the same immediacy that my friend’s is being answered. But mark it down: When we seek the kingdom first, the result, even when we wait till heaven to get it, will be fourfold (and more) blessings.

I know another family who was in the midst of trying to buy a home in a new city to which they were moving just last month. Their house sold, in the thriving February American economy, before they even placed it on the market. Finding one in their destination city was proving harder, though. It was a seller’s market there, as well. Many homes were simply snatched up before this good family had a chance to travel to see them. In one case, this family even placed an offer on a home sight-unseen, becoming pretty desperate to find a place to live. Every house they tried to buy, though, was not negotiable to their price range or was sold before they could even take a look. This little family kept praying and serving the Lord and, then, the pandemic hit. That’s when the market flipped. Suddenly, people were no longer buying houses and, just like that, this little family’s dollars would go much further in buying a house. They were able to quickly find a house and negotiate the price in a way that would have been impossible only a few days prior. No one in this scenario was happy, of course, that a pandemic had reached America (or even existed, of course.) But, at the same time, this couple could look back and recognize that, in their former disappointments, God was providing something better, as they continued in His will.

It’s often just like that. Providence can be seen so much clearer in hindsight. And, even in situations that were destructive and for which we would have never wished or prayed, for His people looking back, there was Providence…good things coming from difficult things. Blessings in trials.

Am I saying that God’s always going to fix all the problems for us, as His faithful children? Yes. I’m saying He will. I’m just not saying when. For some of the trials, heaven may be the fix. We may struggle with some hardships for all of this lifetime, as His grace is sufficient for us (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). But Paul’s thorn in the flesh, whatever it was, is “fixed” now. Let’s live in the shadow of Matthew 6:33 and patiently wait for the fourfold blessings, whether they may come in the blessed here and now or in the sweet by and by.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.