Here we stand today: five women, a testimony to the graces of womanhood and to our mother’s influence. She understood that keeping the hearth of the home was keeping the heart of the home. When we opened her Bible this past week to see what she had found important, we weren’t surprised to see she had marked Proverbs 31 as a scripture she valued and seemed to return to. Solomon wrote this short passage of scripture as his final bit of wisdom to teach the important principals of being a godly wife and mother. We turn to this scripture as we try to define the gifts our Mother gave us.
Proverbs 31:21-22: When it snows, she has no fears for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet; She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
One consistent memory we all have of our mother was her commitment to seeing her children clothed as fashionably as possible. Growing up we would often see her hunched over her green Elna sewing machine through the day and into the night to make us all clothes to wear. We never lacked a new Christmas or Easter dress, and this skill included re-upholstering our furniture and making curtains for the windows. She knew that although how we looked was not an indication of our worth, it was a matter of her heart. The heart from which she tried to give to us all the wealth of the life experience she possessed and in doing so taught us the Biblical principles Solomon wrote about in Proverbs 31.
17: She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. 18; She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.
With six children, Mom knew many long nights holding and comforting her sick children. Often she was at our side even before we were aware that we were sick in the middle of the night. She never left our side to find her own sleep. We all can remember being held and comforted when we felt our worst. Night was no deterrent to her loving care.
Today with our busy lives, breakfast is often a rushed bowl of cereal that we encourage our children to fix for themselves as we rush around to get ready for the day, but our mother was always the first one up and we always awoke to the fragrance of a hot breakfast.
Our Dad was a hard working man who found value in the work of his hands and heart, and that didn’t always translate into a lot of money. Six children required extra money, and Mom continued to take care of her children, finding and foundways to add to the family income. When we were young, she raised chickens and sold eggs to provide the extras we needed; she took in sewing and ironing. She briefly wrote the social column of the Rocky Ford News Gazette; when it was needed, she worked.
23: Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
When Mom and Dad married, there was no expectation of service to the kingdom. She thought she’d married a hard working mechanic who would come home every day with axle grease under his fingernails and a big heart for his family. They were devoted to each other and we saw this as they lived in front of us. She had no idea they would leave the small, southeastern town in Colorado where they’d married and had begun their family. Totally unaware of what was happening in their separate, individual spiritual lives, during one of Dad’s on the road trucking jobs, he found the Lord, and while he was gone, Mom knelt at the altar of our small church and gave her life back to Him. They came back to each other and to us children with a new perspective and purpose in life. Soon Dad felt the call to the ministry and Mom supported him. We all loaded up and left our lives to move to Colorado Springs Nazarene Bible College, and from there into the ministry. Mom worked full time to support our large family even though it took her away from her young children, and she was sometimes overwhelmed with the difficulties of balancing the responsibilities of being wife, mother, working woman and pastor’s wife. There was never any question as to whether she would be there to support and help him. She trusted.
During the course of their ministry, we lost our brother in a horrific car crash. Our family was devastated. Our Father crumbled. He had lost his only son. Mom carried on. She talked about Darin until we all wanted to scream, but by doing this she kept doing what she had always done—she was taking care of her family. She was working out her grief and teaching us how to go on. She held us together when Dad could not. Years later we could see how God used her to heal the wounds and give us a core to keep close to.
30: Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 31: Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
The onset of Alzheimer’s challenged our relationships and ravaged our mother’s mind and body, and we lost her far before her final breath. We saw her change from a beautiful woman to someone we hardly knew, but the lessons of her life are still with us, and so we share those with you today:
Being a woman is an art. It’s more than marrying the right man and having perfect children. It’s craving a life with them that includes giving more of yourself to them than they give to you at times. It’s enriching their lives with simple gestures of love. It’s filling the gap when life seems unbearable to those around you and not giving in or giving up when you feel like you want to crumble. It’s trusting that the Lord always knows what’s best for you and has His hand over you. It’s giving up your children when you want to hold tighter, and it’s learning that life can bring you new purpose and new focus.
Today we celebrate her life and try to fashion some kind of earthly good bye. In our hearts we know that this is only a brief absence before we are reunited again in the arms and grace of our Heavenly Father.