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Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Blessing and Cursing at the Fair

My daughter and I decided to surprise her three kids and take them to the fair one afternoon last week. What were we even thinking? We knew that my daughter, Hannah, had an appointment at 7 that evening, but I’d be fine with them for the short time between 7 and our departure to come back home. The kids were over the moon when they found out. They had never been to a real fair before. 

I HAVE been to a real fair before, so what was I thinking? 

When we arrived at the parking area, a very friendly woman said with a southern drawl “Welcome to the fair! Tonight there is no charge for parking or admission, so have fun and follow my parkers over there…God bless!”

Then one of her “parkers” showed me to a parking spot, motioning me forward till I was pretty positive I had hit the car in front of me. He said “Have a great time at the fair. God bless!”

I told the kids how sweet it was that they all said “God bless!” …”You just don’t hear people use God’s name in a good way too much anymore. I love being in small towns in the South!” 

So off we went. We went into the exhibit place where the kids were enthralled beyond amazement. Pumpkins so big that they would not even fit on the steps on Halloween night. A potato the size of a pumpkin. Cotton vines that went on for seemingly miles. Plus all the outfits and handmade items put together by all the 4Hers in the area. There were sheep and cows and goats and chickens and a place to “Harvest” where kids could dig and pick and exchange their findings for an ice cream cone in the dairy area. But, when it was time to “harvest”, the children could not enter that part of the exhibit because the local “weather girl” was “live from the fair.” It was old Americana to the max. 

It was also 15-dollar-armband-night  for the rides. The kids had seen that ferris wheel, that “dropper” (as they called it) that takes people up to the top of a very high spire and then “drops” them, the bumper cars and the carousel. They could not wait. Three-year-old Eliza was dancing everywhere, of course.

We had lots of time while standing in line to get our armband, since it WAS 15 dollar unlimited riding. Once you got the armband, you could ride all you wanted till closing. It was a long line. We talked about the blessing of being able to come. We talked about the importance of staying right with Hannah or me all the time. Ezra could not stop running down his list of “brave rides” that he was now “big enough for.” Eliza could not stop dancing and talking about the “caaaah candy” and Colleyanna could not stop jumping up and down. This was, they concurred “the best night ever.” Eliza danced until it was time to get the armband. Then she had a little melt-down. She has a strange phobia about armbands. I think she got one once at the ER.

We finally got in there. I took Eliza to ride the teeny kiddie rides while the big kids did bumper cars with Hannah. Eliza thought it was Disney World (or she would have if she even knew what that was!) It was perfectly magical. Three rides later, we were sitting on a grassy spot eating corn dogs and buffalo chicken sticks that cost about as much as eating steak at Outback. But it was way more fun than eating steak at Outback, so that was okay. We had survived that amazing ferris wheel with all three kids and they could not stop talking about being on top of the world! Eliza ate a whole corn dog and then danced while we finished up.

It was time for Hannah to go and the big kids were all about that “dropper” thing, so off I trudged with the three of them to the other side of the fair to wait in that long “dropper” line. I kept asking them “Are you positive you want to ride this? Because I DON’T want to ride this! Are you sure?” They both had been busily showing me that they were tall enough on the color-coded chart to ride this and that they could not wait! Eliza Jane danced and danced in expectation of watching them! 

It’s amazing the difference one minute makes. They quickly went from “I cannot wait! to “I will never do that again as long as I live!”  From “This is going to be so fun!” to “That was the scariest thing I have ever done!” When they got to the very bottom, they were both shouting “Help! Help!” to the workers because they were locked in the seats and they thought they were going to have to go up again. “Mammy, I could hear my heart beating up at the top! Mammy feel my heart. Can you feel it jumping out, still?!” We were not going to have to worry about that long line ever again. Eliza danced and said  “That is a “cary ride!”

But then, it was that giant slide that you come down on a piece of burlap. ‘Liza wanted to do that in the worst kind of way, so I climbed those 23987643 stairs with her and bounced down pretty hard on the top of that slide with her in my arms and we flew down that thing right behind the older two. Just as I was huffing and puffing and walking to the next thing, I realized that my right arm felt very light. Sure enough, my little wallet had somehow disconnected from my armband keyring and it was nowhere to be found. I started retracing and we slowly retraced as we searched all the way back to the giant slide. I prayed I would find that thing. All my credit cards and my eighty dollars and my thumb drive full of ladies lessons was in that thing. I needed that thing. 

When we got back to the slide that man, was waving that little wallet in a big six-foot-wide motion for me to see. Ezra climbed those 23987643 steps for the second time and profusely thanked that kind worker for that wallet which had every cent still securely zipped in there. I thanked God. Eliza danced. 

We rode and rode and then it came time for the amazingly expensive treat I had earlier promised them. Eliza was stuck on “caaaaah candy” and soon it was stuck on her—everywhere. Ezra was bound for the funnel cake, which was promptly knocked from his hand  by our little dancer and landed plate-down on the pavement. Colleyanna was specifically only interested in ice cream and only chocoiate, even more specifically. That was easier said than found. But, you know, I am a grandmother. At last we settled into the grass, one last time, and watched those horses with the trainers on the board, on the back, as they raced around a 2 mile track. “Chance for Change” was the winner and Ezra was thrilled to get to see that horse up close. Eliza danced. 

Then it was one last trip to the restroom, which had all of four stalls, most of which did not have locks on the doors, for 4000 people. Colleyanna was our door-holder. Eliza, the potty -training one was celebrating success in there and she danced. I washed hands (which took all I had—chocolate sticky, funnel cake sticky and  “caaah candy “ glue— and we were off on the long trek up hills and through a maze of cars to our vehicle. 

Ezra wanted to know if we could go in those exhibits and see if the weather girl was finished and get our ice cream. (What in the world?)  It was still relatively early in the evening. We threaded some needle-eyes and finally recognized our car by the stickers on the window. (Sometimes you are thankful for less-than-pristine vehicles.) The kids were thanking me for a great time at the fair and trying to get in the locked car. But it was not doing that automatic unlock thing. There was a reason. Those (now-unattached-to-the-wallet) keys were on top of the paper-towel holder in the restroom. 287490298 miles back through the cars and down the hill. I prayed. Eliza danced. The big kids wanted to know if we could ride something else while we were in there. “ …But not the dropper…But we do still have these magic armbands.”

And there they were. Still right there on top of that paper towel rack. My apple watch was telling me I’d closed my exercise ring for the day. (“There are easier ways to do that,” I was thinking.) Eliza danced. And we all started off on that parking lot pilgrimage again. 

Then it happened.  A cattle truck was attempting to weave through that mass of vehicles to go to the cow barn and pick up his cows for the night. But he was just a hair away from hitting someone’s car. Those workers who had, only a few hours earlier, been “blessing” everybody in the name of the Lord were shouting profanities and screaming and running toward that cattle truck. Colleyanna was oblivious, not hearing anything she even remotely recognized as profanity. Eliza danced. 

But Ezra heard it. He said “That man shouted the worst word you can ever even think of!” In fact it was the four letter word for an eternal place to which I intend NOT to go.” and, to Ezra, there could never be a worse word.”

So, the cattle truck made its much acclaimed exit just as I got them all buckled in the car. As we drove past the “parkers” at the gate, those same men shouted “Thank you for coming! God bless!”

And there it was! The Bible come to life, right in front of our eyes! What an amazing opening for the Bible time we were going to have on our way home!

But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. (from James 3)

God is so good. He gives us all we need to be moms and dads and grandmothers and grandads who can do that Deuteronomy 6 thing. 

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

But if you are going to to teach Eliza diligently, you probably need a phrase in there that says “when she dancest, by the way.”

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Ironic Living

Funny thing happened to me on the way to the auditorium in one of my recent speaking engagements. On this particular day, there was a donut breakfast prior to the seminar. It was a pleasant fellowship brunch held in the lobby of the auditorium of this church building. Upon speaking to one of the elderly women, she rather scowled at me and said, “Whoever heard of having donuts and coffee in the lobby?… I just don’t approve of this at all!”

Well, she said it with a coffee cup in her hand, so I smiled and responded, “Well, perhaps you should put down your cup, then, if it bothers you.”

She said, “Well, it does bother me!”

I said, “Well, do you think it’s okay down the hall in the fellowship room, then, but it’s not okay in this room?”

“Just a minute,” she responded, “and I’ll tell you what I think.” She proceeded to scoot around the table to the coffee dispenser to refill her cup.

While her inconsistency was a little more blatant than most, it occurred to me that, in most of us, there may often be an unrecognized clash between what we say and what we do. Here’s a sampling. You may have heard similar statements.

“Mom, Jamie doesn’t bow her head when we are praying.”

“I just hate Sophie. She’s always bad-mouthing people.”

“Honey, I wish for once you would stop being so selfish and think about what I need from this relationship.”

“I know I need to get serious about this, but I just don’t have TIME to think much about ETERNITY.”

Facebook status: “It makes me sick how people on facebook are always so negative.”

“I always sit all by myself. Why doesn’t somebody come sit with me?”

…or my personal favorite… “I can write good. That’s always been my favorite subject. Can you tell me how I maybe could write a book?”

These are funny examples of ironic self incrimination. But, in a more serious vein, perhaps we should all taste our words to be sure we are not spewing forth like the fountain in James 2:

Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?
Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh (James 2:12, 13).

And one final word from the One Who has the final word:

“…So practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger (Matthew 23:3,4).”