Praise for a Truly Excellent Woman

All of us know about the truly excellent woman described in Proverbs 31:10-31. We hope we can achieve this ideal, but few of us believe deep down it’s possible. For a long time, I thought my sister-in-love, Judy, may come close. While we wait for our new house to be done, we’re living with Judy and her husband, David. I get to see Judy up close and personal, day in and day out. I know in my heart, she exemplifies the truly excellent woman.

Truly Excellent Woman

An Excellent Woman Cares for Her Household

She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
    and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
    and brings back exotic surprises.
She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast
    for her family and organizing her day.
She looks over a field and buys it,
    then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
    rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
    is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
    diligent in homemaking. (Proverbs 31:13-19 MSG)

Judy is one of the rare women I know who sews. Years ago, she made my maternity clothes. Now, she’s sewing a quilt, dust ruffle, pillow shams, and curtain for my king-size bed.

Every morning, after her time with God, Judy prepares a beautiful breakfast for us. Rarely does she pour cereal; instead, we have variety each day. Scrambled eggs and bacon, oatmeal and grapefruit, blueberry pancakes. Every day, something different, and always delicious. The same is true for lunch and dinner.

But it’s not just for us. If someone in Judy’s life group or a neighbor down the street needs a meal because someone is in the hospital or a spouse is away, Judy prepares beautiful meals and delivers them.

She keeps her home spic and span, but without fussing. Somehow, in the day-to-day business, she manages to quietly make the sink and counter sparkle, carry items carelessly strewn throughout the house to their proper place and fold a load or two of laundry. At the same time, she chats and makes me feel loved and welcome, gets her dog to sing happy birthday to me, and prepares dinner.

An Excellent Woman Encourages Others

When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
    and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
    and keeps them all busy and productive. (Proverbs 31:25-26 MSG)

Judy studies God’s Word faithfully. And then, she lives it. She shows compassion and kindness to others without hesitation. A friend needed a car, so Judy and David loaned them theirs for several weeks. Van and I need a place to stay for a month while our house is still under construction. Judy and David gave us the guest room and bathroom. We’ve rearranged, moved things out of cupboards to make room for our stuff, taken over half of the garage, and their response, “Do you need anything else?” Every day for three months, Judy and David went to our house, took pictures of the progress, and emailed the pictures to us. If they thought something was exciting, they called to say, “Look! You’re going to love what they did today!”

She gently gives her thoughts about problems or concerns. If I worry about something or am unsure about anything, Judy offers wise counsel. Her friends call for advice because they know Judy’s words will be kind, thoughtful, and full of grace.

Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
    The woman to be admired and praised
    is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
    Festoon her life with praises! (Proverbs 31:30-31 MSG)

Judy exemplifies a woman to be admired and praised. She lives in the Fear-of-God. God blessed me when He chose her to be my sister-in-love. I hope I follow her truly excellent example.

Tea and Word Tuesday God-sized Dreams Moments of Hope Glimpses of Beauty, Monday Musings, Inspire Me Monday, Ra Ra Linkup, Trekking Thru, Tell His Story, Writer Wednesday, Woman to Woman, Porch Stories, Coffee for Your Heart, Chasing Community, Heart Encouragement, Tune-in Thursday, Salt and Light

 

 

 

 

Retirement Adventure #4: Enjoy Spontaneity

Easy Spontaneity

The summer continues to speed by, each day full. I looked forward to a Saturday of quiet relaxation. Van wouldn’t be home, the house looked neat and tidy, and a new book beckoned. Little did I know an adventure born in spontaneity awaited.

My daughter, Erin, my son-in-love, Phil, and two oldest grandchildren, Zach and Katie, arrived late Friday night, using our house as a momtel on their way to a reunion of Erin’s high school youth group. Saturday morning everyone expected to leave the house by 9:00, leaving me and my book.

When I woke up at 5:00, Erin sat in the living room, wide awake. She works the graveyard shift and has trouble adjusting her sleeping pattern on her days off. I grabbed a cup of coffee and joined her for a rare chance at some face-time.

“Want to come with us, Mom?” Erin asked.

My heart soared with joy. Join my beautiful daughter and grandkids instead of reading on the couch? Absolutely. They planned on water skiing and rafting; I’d read while I enjoyed some sunshine at Big Bear Lake. I threw towels and my book in a bag, helped make sandwiches, and loaded up my car.

As soon as we arrived, hugs, high-fives, and a little catching up among old friends. Before too long, our family hopped on the speed boat. Erin and two friends got on the huge three-seater raft to get pulled behind the boat. Fun to watch, but not for me I thought. I enjoyed watching Erin laughing while she bounced up and down and the gorgeous scenery provided by God.

When the first group finished and everyone encouraged Zach and Katie to go next, they politely declined. I heard myself volunteer, “I’ll go with you.” But I sighed with relief when they still said no.

Adventurous Spontaneity

Once we headed back to shore, I watched Zach teach one of Erin’s friends how to solve a rubix cube and Katie share her art supplies with a four year old. At sixteen and fourteen, their patience and kindness brought a smile to my heart.

I spent time in the chilly lake chatting with Katie, and laughed when I went bottom over teakettle trying to sit on the floatie. What’s a little sand in my hair when I can hear what Katie looks forward to when she starts high school next month?

Finally ready to settle down with my book, I let myself be talked into riding on the raft instead. “It’ll be fun,” Linda promised. “We won’t go too fast.”

I didn’t let myself think too much. “Yes,” I agreed. And in that moment, another opportunity for God’s goodness arrived. Katie joined me. Linda kept her promise. We didn’t go to fast, and the laughter I shared with Katie is stored in my heart forever. A cherished memory I never expected.

Choosing Spontaneity over My Comfort Zone

God planned beautiful gifts for me over the weekend. But I needed to get out of my comfort zone and accept the gifts He offered. How often do we miss the abundant life God gives because we sit on the sidelines instead of grabbing life with both eyes wide open in gratitude?

What spontaneous adventure waits for you this week? I recommend you say yes when God reaches out with gifts in unexpected ways. I’d love to hear how choosing spontaneity brings unexpected blessings in your life.

Linking this week with: Glimpses of BeautyMonday Musings, Tell His Story, Ra Ra Linkup, Trekking Thru, Woman to Woman, Writer Wednesday, Heart Encouragement, Tune-in Thursday, Chasing Community, Salt and Light, Faith on Fire

 

 

 

 

 

Retirement Adventure #2: Time to Adjust My Thinking

June 26? The last week of June? Already? This month sped by. Where did the time go? What happened to rest, relax, and renew? I feel like I go, go, go. And still there are piles-literally piles-of things I need to do. I’m being interrupted by the urgent things we need to do to complete the sale of our house. And in my determination to s l o w  d o w n, I’m taking longer than I think I will to do things I enjoy.

I keep thinking I’ll get to things like daily writing, going through the turf in my office, cleaning out a drawer or a closet. Maybe even packing a box or two. When I have a couple of hours together, I promise myself. But so far, that hasn’t happened.

I want routine. A completed to-do list, items neatly checked off. A feeling of accomplishment.

And then I remember. I’m retired. I don’t have to hit the ground running at the beginning of August anymore. While I do have a deadline for cleaning closets and packing boxes, Van and I will do that together. Slowly, I realize I focused on the wrong list. Instead of worrying about what I haven’t done, I need to remember who I am in Christ. What are His priorities? It’s time to adjust my thinking.

Continue reading “Retirement Adventure #2: Time to Adjust My Thinking”

Loved by the King: Celebrate Your Worth to God

On Tuesday, Van and I drove two hours to celebrate our granddaughter, Katie’s, promotion from eighth grade. Katie is a special treasure, precious and loved, so the trip was worth it.  We toted our lawn chairs and joined the other families spread out across the lawn for the picnic on the field. Balloons, flowers, and leis added to the festive atmosphere. Music from a live band of dads floated through the air. Families chatted while they enjoyed the late afternoon sunshine. Making playdates for the summer that stretches ahead. Sharing their child’s successes in school.

Katie attended a K-8 charter school, specifically for art and technology. She started at the beginning of middle school, as a sixth grader, but many of her classmates spent all of their school years here.  Every year, VCS does something most schools don’t do; they celebrate every student, from kindergarten through eighth grade. Each one heard their name called and walked across the podium. Big smiles lit their faces and there was a spring in their steps.

Teachers stood on the stage with the students, their faces wreathed in smiles. Hugs and handshakes and quiet words of congratulations acknowledged the strengths of their students.

The eighth graders, the ones the school nurtured the longest, stand out from the other students. Their class, wearing green caps and gowns, march in accompanied by Pomp and Circumstance and sit in a special section to watch the rest of the students.  Instead of a silk flower lei, theirs boast real carnations. In between the other classes introductions, several eighth graders spoke about their time at VCS.

Katie reached a milestone, but she is precious to me. The days I get to spend with her always make me happy, whether we’re celebrating or simply hanging out.

We are children of the King, adopted into His family through faith in Jesus. Although we did nothing to earn it, through His grace and mercy, He shows me us we are worth everything to Him. And that is worth celebrating every day.

We celebrate because

  • We are clothed, not in caps and gowns, but in the righteousness of Christ. I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10.
  • We are chosen. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9
  • We are set apart as holy. We have been set apart as holy because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do by sacrificing his body once and for all. Hebrews 10:10 
Celebrate Your Worth

Don’t wait for a special occasion to celebrate your worth to God. Celebrate every day! With rejoicing. Declarations of His goodness. Sharing the good news.  Walk with a spring in your step. Light you face with a smile.

Celebrate Worth

Linking with

Five Minute Friday

Dance with Jesus

Fresh Market Friday

 

 

Lessons I Learned from Mom: A Legacy of Love

On Friday, February 17, my mom passed away. She had been sick for almost two years. Today, Mom rejoices in heaven. All of her pain, gone. She sees her Savior face to face and casts her crown at His feet. The best parts of me are because of the lessons I learned from Mom. I will miss her all the rest of my days, but the things Mom taught me are a legacy of her unconditional love.

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned from my mom. Wisdom was not found in school, but in the day-to-day examples set by Mom at home. 

Lessons I Learned from Mom

Be faithful to God

Every day, Mom took the Methodist daily devotional, the Upper Room, and her Bible and spent time alone with God. But she didn’t leave the Word in between the pages, she lived the lessons she read there. She prayed for her family and friends. Mom was faithful to go to church her whole life, but she didn’t just sit in the pew. She served however she could: making soup, filling communion cups, being on committees. And she encouraged her sisters, Sandy and Bev to go to church with her. 

Give others the gift of yourself

Mom gave love, kindness, and caring in so many ways. She helped others even if she had something else to do. If someone couldn’t drive, she picked them up and drove them to church or to the market. She baked Christmas cookies and fudge and gave them away. She called people who were alone.

Put your family first

Mom would go without so we kids had whatever we needed. She made sure that there were treats like a candy bar on Sunday afternoon when we stopped at Joe’s Italian Store to get the weekly pasta.  Mom opened her home for Christmas, Easter, birthdays, and holidays so the whole family—grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins—could be together. She and Daddy took my daughters, Kim and Erin, on vacations to Yosemite and Sequoia. When Erin lived in Hemet, she brought Zach and Katie to Mom’s every week to use the washing machine and take the kids swimming. 

Christmas 2013
Let your children be who they are

Mom encouraged each of her three children. She went to every tap dance recital, Girl Scout badge ceremony, mother-daughter tea, and basketball game. To keep me supplied with the books I craved, she drove me to the library every week. But she didn’t freak out when she realized I went into  the bathroom every night after dinner to read and then hid the book in the hamper. She made me stop reading until after the dishes were done though!

Never stop learning and growing as a person

Take risks and venture outside your comfort zone. She traveled with Daddy to the Orient and Europe. When she first moved to Sun Lakes, she took swimming lessons. For twenty years, Mom loved doing aerobics with her friends. At seventy-five, she got a computer and a tablet and kept up with friends and family on Facebook.

Mom and her great granddaughter
Make life-long friends

 Mom and her friend, Marilynn, met in elementary school. In their fifties, they started weekend adventures several times a year. When I was in elementary school, Mom and her friend Alice met for coffee every morning after the housework was done.  Alice moved to New York fifty years ago, but last month, Mom and Alice chatted by phone. Mom looked forward to her Breakfast Club every Friday, and every year on her birthday showed me all the cards she received, “And not one is a duplicate,” she said with amazement. She loved her newest friend, Laura, deeply. Mom was delighted when she got Laura to eat broccoli and fresh cranberries and watch Call the Midwife. And Mom’s life was enriched by Laura’s care.

Never give up on yourself or others, keep trying

Even in pain, Mom made her bed every morning. She tried chair aerobics when she couldn’t do her regular aerobics any more. She liked reading the paper with a cup of coffee while she enjoyed the beautiful view out her kitchen window. “God is always good,” Mom said constantly. “He’s given me a great life.”

My life is better because of Mom and the lessons she taught me. She never said I needed to know these things; this was how she lived.

Her example and her love will always be with me. They are the best parts of me. The lessons I learned from Mom are gifts I will treasure and use forever.

Thank you, Mom. I love you.