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Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Tombstone Tipping and other Heavy Stuff…

This has been one of those weeks. Among other minor catastrophes, I went walking in an ancient forgotten cemetery with the grandkids and they gathered colorful weeds and little branches from a beautiful Bartlett pear tree to put on the various old tombstones. In the process, I leaned on a very large tombstone (and, yes, it was very much already leaning, for those of you who already have your mouths open) and I tipped that thing to the ground. I was leaning forward on it with my hands on the top of it, and that thing fell toward me. I have a very large thigh-length bruise on my leg, BUT I do realize the leg could have been crushed if I had not backed away lightning fast. 

So my husband said “Well, at least it was in a forgotten cemetery and not at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier or something.” The eternal optimist.

The next day, my husband was saying something personal and flirtatious to me (something I would never say to the world) and he was telling me to “go ahead and type that to your friends.” So, since I was sitting next to him and he could see my screen I typed that right into that facebook group. Of course, I was playing with my husband  and OF COURSE, I was going to click delete. So yes. I accidentally clicked “return” and there was my comment for the whole fb group. And all of their blue and green emojis were already lined up. That screen lit up like a firecracker. Gifs, Emojis, exclamation points and, from my daughter, vomiting faces were all over that laptop screen. My husband said “Cindy!!!! Well at least it was you and they know you would never say anything like that to the whole world and, at least it wasn’t the whole world—it was just a little group.” The eternal optimist. 

But let me tell you that facebook group was way too big at that moment. So was that tombstone. (Three big people tried to hoist it back up and we did not budge it. It’s going to take a tractor with a hook or something.) Ezra was petrified when I told him we were going in the little shop next door and confess. “They might take you to jail, Mammy.”  He was already envisioning visiting his grandmother who was convicted for tombstone tipping. 

I’m glad I have a husband who looks at the bright side. I need that right now. I’m thankful I have a Father who dwells in the eternally bright side. We constantly say, “If worse comes to worst, we will…” But the real worst never has to happen in a Christian’s world. The worst thing, of course, is eternal damnation and that never happens. “There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ” (Romans 8:1). I cannot love that passage more. Every parent should do the very hardest things to make sure their children, even adult children, are constantly walking after the Spirit. Sometimes those things are excruciating. Every wife should maintain the most difficult spirit  of 1 Peter 3:1-5, doing hard things to enable her husband to come to be “in Christ.” Husbands who love their wives should make the temporal sacrifices, no matter how deep they are, to give their wives and kids whatever it is that best promotes their spiritual development each day.  Sometimes very hard things for a short time result in easier things (even blissful things) for a very long time. 

Our brothers and sisters in Ukraine are keeping the faith in the most difficult of times right now. I know there are temptations to lie, to take things that do not belong to them, to seek personal safety before thinking of the needs of others, to give up on faithful prayer and assembling together. I know this is the case. They are experiencing worse times than I will likely know. But even they are not experiencing the worst of times. The worst of times is reserved for the devil and his angels and it is described as a lake which burns with fire and brimstone (Rev .20), where the worm cannot die and the fire cannot be quenched (Mark 9). That’s the worst and it is not reserved for those Ukrainians who are in Christ. May God provide a respite soon for them. But if not, may they cling to the truth that worse will never come to worst.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

In the Bucket…So much Hope

One of my bedrooms looks like this right now. I’m collecting essentials for those displaced by the shelling of their homes in Ukraine, of course. It takes my breath away to even say that sentence. Did you notice it began with ONE of my bedrooms, indicative of the fact that I am wealthy? I have more than one bedroom. These Home Depot buckets are being filled quickly, (over 200 of them by our congregation alone) to be shipped to Poland for distribution to those who are desperately trying to survive the Putin invasion of  their homeland.   

And then, the explanation above ended with the words “of course.” It ’s a relevant truth that nothing is a matter of course right now in the country of Ukraine. Nothing that was normal, nothing routine, nothing that was a matter of course…is, anymore. 

I’m putting soap in my buckets. It  occurs to me that I’ve never needed anyone to give me soap. I’ve never been “refugee-dirty”, escaping a war-torn city with no time or space for provisions and no place to stop for baths and sleep, medical attention or re-stocking of provisions.  

I’m putting a clothesline in each bucket. I’m collecting these goods in a spot right beside my laundry hall—only a few feet from my extra-capacity electric clothes dryer. I have never in my sixty years lived in a house that didn’t have both a washer and dryer. (My daughter is now temporarily living in a little house without a washer or dryer, and she’s shocked at how much she’s taken for granted the luxury of an in-home laundry in years past.) We are rich.  

I’m putting a bottle of Dawn dish detergent in each bucket to wash the four mugs and 8 place settings of silverware that are going in the buckets. I routinely take things like these mugs and inexpensive forks and spoons to the thrift store, or even to the trash can, when my shelves and drawers get too full. I am wealthy. I’m placing thin dish towels in there, too. I guess my list said “thin towels are fine’” because “thin” will dry faster on the clothesline.

I’m putting bandages and anti-biotic ointment in each bucket. I have Peppa Pig and Snoopy bandaids at my house that are mostly for fun when the grandkids get a tiny scrape or skinned knee. They make boo-boos better fast. I’m pretty sure the bandages and ointment in the buckets will not really be sufficient for the injuries that many of the people who are fleeing Ukraine will sustain. I can’t bear to watch the shelling and the devastation that the bombing has inflicted.

One vegetable brush will go in each bucket, too. I imagine my own friends in Kharkiv who have now moved farther west scraping beets with these brushes and dicing them with the paring knives that are going into the buckets—two per bucket. I think about them washing the diced vegetables for their borsch and draining them in the colander that will be in the very bottom of the bucket. I know my sisters in Christ will not get my bucket, but maybe they will get someone’s bucket. I pray that all my sisters will have enough borsch. I pray that soon they can be nourished again in their own rebuilt houses and flats in their own free country. I’m praying for a shorter path to peace than I fear. 

I pray for sustenance for them; sustained  hope, sustained food supplies, sustained health and sustained life. 

I am also remembering that the sufferings of this life are but for a moment (2 Corinthians 4:17). There is a real sense in which my brothers and sisters who are fleeing Kharkiv are rich, too. People of faith have the substance of the things for which we hope. We have the evidence already of security that we cannot yet see (Hebrews 11:1). There will be safety and security and sustenance and freedom in that country. We desire that country (Hebrews 11:16).