I have had the blessing of knowing and being loved by many extraordinary women in my life. My beautiful and talented mother, Louise. For thirty-seven years she has comforted and encouraged me, taught me how to pick my battles, how to recover -and even learn - from defeats, how to love myself enough to love those around me, where to find my true value, the importance of making others feel valuable, how essential a kind word and a genuine smile can be, how to keep going when I think I can't, how to use humor without belittling others, how to bend without breaking.
Even as a teen-ager I didn't think it would be such a bad thing to be like my mother and now I fervently hope that I am.
Somehow I've failed to pick up on much of her patience, but I'm still working on it.
Thank you, Lord, for giving me my mother. You picked well.
Besides my mom, I have had the privilege of knowing both of my grandmothers: Arvilla Copeland and Ida Edgar. Both were immensely talented, amazing, God-fearing women and I cannot overstate the effect they have had on my life.
Grandma C. was an English teacher (among other subjects) and loved literature. She loved her family and was the only person I've ever known who loved me without seeming to notice my faults. I need a lot more people in my life who know my faults and encourage me to get rid of them! But it was a blessing to have one person who always thought I was the best at whatever I did, even if it was just being a girl.
Grandma E. was a pastor's wife extraordinaire. She had a gift and a flair for hospitality. I love to use her china because she loved to use it. She gathered whoever she could - from visiting pastors to Harold Giles, the farmer down the road who kept potatoes in his pockets to ward off the rheumatism - and made them welcome at her table. She was not a fancy cook, but made delicious, "plain" food, served with so much love her guests never missed the bouillabaisse.
These women continue to be a blessing to me even now and I thank God for them.
My mother-in-law, Mary, is another extraordinary woman the Lord has been kind enough to put in my life. So many people have funny and not-so-funny horror stories to tell about their mothers-in-law and I must say that I feel robbed in that department! Mary is a loving mother and grandmother, always willing to help in whatever ways she can and I thank the Lord for her in my life.
Besides these four, I have Pat, Katie, Carla, Joy, Jody, Joyce, Beverly, Shirley and I know there are some I'm forgetting at the moment.
The Lord knew that I needed all of these women in my life - I need all of the examples and encouragement I can get! Now that I look at the list, I am humbled by how far short I fall of the examples I have had. These women have shown and continue to show me Christ and I thank them for that and pray that some day I may be such an example to other women.
For now, I'll do what they have shown me to do: do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with my God.