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Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Mama’s Kiss #67: Develop this Point

As you know, if you’ve been reading, for quite some time, I’ve occasionally been running little installments called “Mama’s K.I.S.S.” I know that lots of readers could give many more and far more creative ideas than I can offer, but these installments are just a few tried and true and mostly old-fashioned ideas for putting service hearts in our kids.  This is number 67  of a list of one hundred ways we train our kids to serve. K.I.S.S. is an acronym for “Kids In Service Suggestions”.

As our children grew to be upper elementary, middle and high school ages, my husband would choose a premise–any premise– and state it to a particular child. Examples might be:

Christianity does not solve all my problems.

Faith is not a leap in the dark.

Worship has a beginning point and an ending point.

Suffering has benefits.

We live under a spiritual law today.

You get the idea. Then my husband would say “Develop this point.” The child would then formulate, organize and articulate on paper (or occasionally just from memory) a list of ideas and evidences that make the statement true. Then the child would speak the arguments back to Dad and they would discuss why the logic was on target or why it was flawed.

This simple exercise taught our children so many valuable ways we must use complete and unflawed logic to determine our values.

If I were to choose just one of these 100 practical service suggestions that I believe is most valuable in growing servants for Him, this would be the one. Critical thinking skills are largely missing in the generation from which our children emerged as adults. Logic has been replaced by feelings and the result is a lot of young adults who are leaving the reasoned faith. This little exercise is not the answer, but it is a tool for modifying this outcome.

Don’t be discouraged if the first few efforts on the part of your child are simplistic, difficult, or even result in blank stares. Keep the faith about this one and keep trying. Soon your children will be able to stand up and present the arguments for truth articulately. (Speeches, by the way, presenting points for a premise, will naturally come from this exercise. Debaters will emerge!)

How does this relate to service in our kids’ hearts? It relates in every way. When we establish critical thinking skills, the Bible and its directives champion the lives of our children. They learn the eternal value of living life God’s way. Service is the natural outcome of lives directed by the will of our immensely benevolent Father. If we trust God, we are living to glorify Him. If we love Him, we serve our brethren (Matthew 25, 1 Jn 3:10ff, James  2:14ff). Further, your children learn how to be kind and evangelistic. This is an activity that eventually prepares your kids to bring souls to Jesus. That’s the greatest kind of service.

Don’t skip this one!




Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

LADS: More than the Medal

Ezra, Colleyanna, and Eliza Jane with LADS director, Roy Johnson

It’s the most spiritually rewarding weekend of the year. I have never, ever seen an eight-year-old have such a hard time studying for Bible bowl. But he was given a choice. You can do this IF you want to do it. We will help you get to as many practices as we can. We will help you learn the answers to the questions. We will make sure you have every tool you need. BUT, the determination factor is up to you. You have to decide if you WANT to learn a whole lot about Ezra and Nehemiah. And so, Bible Bowl became a daily part of his homework. All the other children on his team were homeschooled. That means their study could be done during the most attentive hours of the day and other subjects could be temporarily rearranged as the re-building of Jerusalem 600 years before Jesus was incorporated into the school day. All the other kids on the team lived in the proximity of the home congregation, so they could attend lots more of the practices. In fact, Ezra did not get to attend one single practice competition at other congregations. SO Ezra needed to apply himself doubly after he made the commitment. He knew he was prepping for both an individual written test in February and a team competition at the convention on Easter weekend. He was doing this while prepping for the speech event, the song-leading event and the oral Bible reading event. He was doing it while his mom was also prepping his two sisters for the song-leading event, the speech event and the Bible reading event.

And there were a couple of times when Ezra wanted to “change his mind.” I did not know it was going to be this hard!” …””I did not know there would be this many questions.”…  “Can’t we just always play the KAHOOTS game online to learn this stuff?”… “Can I practice with Mammy on the phone, instead?”… “Will there be a machine and lights, like on tv, when we get to the real Bible bowl?” 

It was like pulling teeth this first year, but I watched from afar as Ezra learned about things messed up by human sin and then rebuilt by people who were determined to put things back like God intended them. He learned about the vessels, the priests, the importance of the Word and the reverence given to sanctified things. He learned much about the importance of getting back to the Word and its instructions about consecration and worship. He learned about his name’s origin in scripture and he concurrently made his speech about building for our great God and praying “Remember me, O God, for good.” His speech ended with the hope that he can pray that prayer at the end of His work on earth for God. His song was “Make me a Servant” and he learned about that theme from Ezra and Nehemiah.

vintage lads, Ezra’s Mom (left) with founder Jack Zorn.

Even in the midst of the sometimes excruciating lack of focus and strain to keep going, there was a goal that was constant for an eight-year-old. There was the fun of knowing that there would be ten-thousand other people in a beautiful place and that every one of them would be supportive of the good that even an eight-year-old can do for God. While it was like pulling teeth, Ezra’s little sister did pull a tooth, literally, right out of the front of her mouth and the tooth fairy almost collided with the Easter Bunny right there in the Opryland hotel. There was that chance to walk across the stage with siblings while “Thank God for Kids” was playing on mega-speakers throughout that huge ballroom. There was the moment when Ezra’s Papa placed those red-coats on those “teenagers” up there who had done amazing things for the kingdom and were receiving the top award that Lads to Leaders conveys on it’s hardest-working kids.

There was, prior to all of these convention activities, the day that the test was to be taken. Because of circumstances beyond control that prevented Ezra from taking the test at home, Ezra got permission to take the written test at his school with his mom being proctor in a quiet room while his class was having recess. The test was submitted and the studying for the Bible bowl at convention kept happening at home, although it was crowded in between some pretty major school projects, several sicknesses and some fairly heavy-duty life challenges. 

He did keep studying because his mom kept telling herself “It does not matter whether he wins a medal or not. It matters that he made a commitment, on his own volition, to do something for God.” She kept telling Ezra “When we promise to do something for God—no matter how hard it gets, no matter how much we want to reverse our decision, no matter how fun something else looks—we finish what we start. I do not care if you win the Bible bowl. I do care if you keep your promises. Other people are counting on you, too. You are part of a team that needs you.”  Caleb and Clark and Timmy are counting on you. You’ve got this. Just keep on to the finish line!” Ezra developed great respect for Louis Botello, his Bible bowl coach. 

But Ezra’s mother had no delusions. It seemed an impossibility that Ezra or his team would succeed….(Well at least not by the usual standards. It’s our prayer that true success is going to be a reality.) But Ezra was a second-grader on a team of older kids.  Ezra kept mentioning at convention that he REALLY wanted a medal. “Medals do  not come easy,”  we said. We almost left the awards ceremony before they even got to Bible bowl. All three kids had runny noses. Eliza was coughing up a lung and dancing in the aisles. Colleyanna was saying “My body is not used to this many people.” The day had already held eight competitions we’d attended, all told. I could have slept standing up!

Hannah was in the back of the auditorium letting two-year old Eliza run a bit when they called “Ezra GEEEZelback” to the stage. No one could see the expression on his face because he was sitting in the front of our section with all “the guys”. But there was no lack of sprint in his step as he bounded on up to the stage! His mother got so excited that she forgot she had Eliza with her as she headed  to snap a picture. While shooting the pic, she thought, “There’s a child in my lens trying to hoist herself up on the stage….Wait! That is MY child!”” Eliza was almost up there with Ezra and she wasn’t taking the stage stairs! 

There has never been a prouder second-grader than Ezra was at this moment!  There has never been a more shocked Mama than his. It ended up being the first of two medals. Ezra’s team placed second, so his little team of boys got to go up there, too, and Ezra had, not just his dream medal around his neck, but an extra one to boot! His chest was sticking out in the elevator as he kept examining them and he jangled up and down the hallway as loud as he could.

Now multiply this experience times about ten thousand all across American and in India and the Philippines, etc….See brown and white and ruddy and freckled faces in multitudes, See ribbons and trophies and high fives and hugs. See peers encouraging, both those who win and those who win-with-less-points. (There is no “lose,’ though we have been on the win-with-less-points side many times!) See memorization, creativity, prayer journals, scrapbooks, speakers, song leaders, debaters and coaches encouraging. See handicapped children and adults beaming with pride. See their teammates building victory runs down the aisles after their achievements. See red coats and parades of leaders and see new groups being welcomed each year. Just see the greatest faith leadership program I’ve ever seen working in thousands of little lives each year. I hope you can see LADS working in your home and congregation. It was our family’s 30th anniversary with Lads and we are so thankful to God for having seen the program work in our little troupe. 

See, Ezra is not unique. ( I mean, well, he is in some ways.) But his hard work, teeth-pulling study times, and ecstasy in the end, is just a little microcosm  of a great big picture of learning perseverance that happens over and over and over again in the program. This repeated process cannot help but build muscles in the big body—the ability to persevere through some hard times that surely seem to be knocking at our door as the society in which we live pushes out Christianity and its attendant blessings. 

Maggie Colley–her very first medal for Good Samaritan.

Next year’s theme is “I am not ashamed.” Next year’s debate topic is centered on authorized music in worship. Next year’s Bible bowl book is Romans. You still have time to get involved. Let me know if I can help your congregation find its place in a win-win situation for the next generation. 

And you can go here for a little levity. She didn’t know a lot about the program yet, but she did lead her song and do her “reading” and she wanted a piece of the ballroom experience.


Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Wonderfully Simple…(Carol Dodd)

Her kitchen—the center of 

precision and order;

She served from that home, but

Saw just bricks and mortar. 


Her treasures in a house now

That’s not made with hands

She died with bold resolve that 

Only God’s child understands. 


Wonderfully simple,

But wonderfully wise;

Her eye was on details.

Her heart on the prize.


A Titus 2 Mentor

Teacher of youth

Spreader of sunshine

Searcher of truth.

Faithful encourager

Happy note writer

Harry Potter loyalist

Brave cancer fighter.

Faithful wife and mother

Crazy for Don Dodd

Bible class teacher

Servant of God.

Published Christian author

Sermon sheet maker

Confectioner, hostess

Seamstress and baker.

Lover of Ms. Frizzle 

And Anne with an E

Digging Deep, preachers


The void will be deep

The chasm severe.

But God’s family’s so blessed now

Because she was here.


Her doctors were in awe of faith

Her friends of peace in pain.

Neighbors mourned the coming loss.

But she just spoke of gain. 


She talked about the valley 

And of His staff and rod

She spoke of angels waiting 

To bear her soul to God.


She pondered o’er the moment

When her eyes would see his face

Would she cry out in exultant joy

Or weep at saving grace?


“The angels in my living room!

I hope I can be in prayer.

Then while talking to the Father

I’ll look up and he’ll be there!”



Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Living On Purpose

“I didn’t mean to do it.”…The words I’ve said so often

When picking up broken pieces. Harsh words I tried to soften. 

But when I’m introspective and with my heart I’m true. 

The question begs an answer, “What DID I mean to do?” 


I have to mean to live for him. “On purpose” in every detail;

For if I fail to plan my walk, I really plan to fail.

Purposeful living is life with a map, instead of a wandering trail

It’s a definite destination, and a place to avoid, as well.


If I’m to keep away from sin; impulsive times of weakness; 

I have to keep close to the Book—prepare, instead, for meekness. 

If I’m to guard the worst of me, to practice self-control, 

I have to feed the best of me, the manna of the soul.


If I’m to stop the talk that harms and spreads a dark despair

I have to start the talk that heals; the talk of fervent prayer.

If I can bear a burden instead of causing grief.

If I can offer words that heal and offer sweet relief…


That will not be an accident; a careless happenstance.

Heroic deeds are purposeful, and always start with plans. 

Plans to set aside the time to get into the Word.

Lists of those who need the truth and maybe haven’t heard. 


Jotted lists of those in need of comfort, meals or prayers.

And circled on my calendar the dates I plan to share—

A meal, a card, a visit, or a luncheon for the grieving

A Bible study session with a heart not yet believing. 


A facebook group where sisters pray; a house with an open door;

A meal on the table for someone who’s tired, a trip to the grocery store…

A text to encourage an elder, who can hardly stand under the strain…

Coffee with a mom who’s single again; the victim of betrayal and pain.


What did you mean to do today? Exactly what was the plan? 

Was the day you just spent purposeful? Did you firmly take your stand?

Did you cross off something on a list that’s focused for his glory?

Did you tell someone off or did you, as planned, tell someone the old, old story?


Did you wonder today at His greatness or wander in purpose-less “fun”?

Did you bask in pursuits of the world or bask in the warmth of His Son? 

Did you handle aright the word today? Did you marvel at some truth anew? 

Are you planning to fail by failing to plan? Or is God’s purpose living in you? 


Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Winner #5: Debbie Deavours–This one’s most like the foot washing!

For the record, Debbie didn’t want to win. She didn’t really even send this to the right email address. She said “This was not even me! I just wanted to tell you about these amazing women who were doing this wonderful thing every week for so long!” But this one’s just so menial–so wonderfully generous and selfless. (Some of our West Huntsville women also did this for over thirty years. Their hearts grew three sizes in this wonderful ministry and they were already very large hearts for Him!) Here are her words:

This isn’t a story about service today, but past service. I know your service contest is about today, but I wanted to tell you about these three wonderful women from Northport church of Christ. A few years back, I attended on a weeknight a “Boggins for Cancer” group there. This group has been meeting for years making toboggans and throws for cancer patients. I began talking with a lady and she told me what she and two other ladies did on Fridays. They went to a nursing home and washed and fixed hair for ladies who couldn’t afford to pay $25 each week to get theirs done. I was astounded. They were not trained professionally. One lady had done it for over 16 years and the other 2 for over 13 years. They said they could use my help, so I volunteered for a year until Covid struck. We did as many as 13 ladies on Fridays. A challenge doesn’t even describe what took place and those ladies, two in their 70s and one in her late 60s had been doing it for all those years. The ladies paid for everything they used. As time passed, I learned they did so much more. They brought them clothes, books, magazines, snacks, and calendars.  One Friday, the three went on a beach trip with the church group. I knew how disappointed my new friends at the nursing home would be if someone didn’t come. They’d be lined up outside the tiny room waiting. I decided I’d try. I was able to do 8 ladies. Each had their own challenges. Some could lie back. Some could bend forward. Some wanted curlers, some wanted blow-dry. Some used special shampoo. All wanted to talk. Some we could understand. Others not so much. One we brought hair bows for and each week required a new one, because no one could find them. No one understands what those three wonderful women did for so many for so long, but God and me. And what I did was only for a brief time compared. I told my daughter, Peyton, “Your church at Northport doesn’t have a clue what these ladies do each week.” You know, the nursing home never recognized those ladies for all they did, but I’m sure all those smiles each Friday was recognition enough. 
In His love,

And the Foot-washer knows about the hair-washers, too. In fact, he is the recipient of this great work, at times. “Inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these my brethren, you have done it to me.”

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Winner Number 3: Kerri Epling is “Puzzling”


Here’s Kerri’s service idea just as she submitted it:

Last year on a whim we took a jigsaw puzzle to a newly- widowed woman in our congregation. She was having some people stay with her for a few weeks due to her own medical issues, and we set the puzzle out and started it on a table in her side room.  As ladies came to visit and stay with her, they would each put in a few pieces while they talked.   Several of them commented how much they enjoyed the time working together on the puzzles and how easy it made for them to have quality conversations together.  When the puzzle was completed, the new widow had so many great memories of her friends working together on the puzzle. 

(I read this and thought it would also be fun to frame the puzzle when finished and let the sisters who worked on it sign the back and gift the framed puzzle back to the recuperating sister.)

So many great ideas. So little time!