Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Hats We Wear...Virtuously

"Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain:  
but a woman that feareth the Lord, 
she shall be praised."
Proverbs 31:30

A Virtuous Woman Series - Part 4 of 8

(If you wish, to better understand this study, please read
Part 1,
Part 2, &
Part 3
of the Virtuous Woman series first.)

The Biblically-described virtuous woman had many obligations,
just as you and I change hats many times throughout our modern day.

Like her,
our daily roles vary...
from one moment to the next....
based largely upon the needs of our husband, children, parents, and loved ones.

For years, I was in the position of having an elderly, widowed mother,
and a very young, active, dependent son at the same stage of life.

Mom used to love to go.
She just wanted to ride...
to get out of the house.
After she had a serious accident in 2005,
she was no longer able to drive.
To say that losing this pleasure....this freedom....
 devastated Mom...
is quite an understatement.
She had always dearly loved driving.
Being under the wheel always relaxed her,
and adjusting to a phase of life where she would never
be able to just pick up and go whenever she wanted
was a very hard challenge for her.
She felt like a burden.
She hated being beholden to others.
Don't we all?
My heart went out to her in innumerable ways, 
as I watched her lose her own independence.

Seeing your parents age, 
lose their mobility,
lose their faculties,
become growingly dependent on you,
turn into someone elderly in front of your eyes,
is one of life's most difficult, agonizing things to watch....
let alone live out.
Those who are in this stage or have passed through it will agree.
Those of you who are still young enough to have parents who haven't gotten there yet,
will one day be less judgmental of those of us who have....
for, if God permits, you will one day walk this road,
and you will much more clearly understand the demands that come with the territory.

Perhaps, you won't criticize us as harshly...
after you have walked in our shoes. :)

There comes a point when the parent literally becomes the child....
and the roles are suddenly, completely, and irreversibly reversed....
and the one you are accustomed to turning to for help,
is now helplessly turning to you.
When your Mom and Dad become someone you look after
more than someone who looks after you...
you are undoubtedly and without contest
thrown into the face of one of life's hardest, most painful transitions.

When I reached this point with Dad,
I had not yet become a mother...
and I still had a mother....
to pick up a lot of the slack...
to make the transition easier.

I remember the day...
the exact moment...
when I realized Dad's role was forever changing.

He and Mom had gone to the DMV office to renew his drivers license.
On their way home, they stopped by the bank where I worked.
Dad wanted to talk to me.
My desk was the first desk on the left when you entered the bank lobby,
so my face was the first face customers saw when they came in,
and usually I was the first one who saw them.
I will never forget the look on Dad's face that sunny Florida day
as he opened the door and entered the bank.
It was a look of total disbelief...
and dejection.

"They wouldn't let me renew my driver's license."
Dad's voice matched his facial expression
as he slowly, dejectedly walked towards my desk.

"What?" I was stunned....
the realization of what he had just said
washing over me with an overwhelming thud.
In a moment,
the impact rushed over me...
straight to my heart.

"What do you mean, Dad?
My heart went out to him...
I felt like I would cry.

"My eyes.  I couldn't pass the vision test."

I instantly understood.
His diabetes was literally attacking and destroying his eyesight.
We knew it was coming.
I had been there with him and Mom
when the doctor called us in to show us the increasingly growing darkened spots
behind his eyes that showed up on his most recent eye exam.
They were no longer able to fit him with corrective lenses.
His vision was changing...
and deteriorating...
very rapidly.

Yet, to hear him say the words....
to see him acknowledge the reality....
to watch him reluctantly relinquish such a huge part of his independence....
was heart-wrenching.

My mind went back to hundreds of memories....
over the years....
him teaching me to drive in our old, green Gremlin...(remember those?)
showing me how to make donuts on the pavement of a snow-covered empty parking lot....
trips we had taken....
miles we had traveled.
He would sit behind the driver's seat no more.
Someone else would be required to transport him...
from one place to the other.
He couldn't just jump in the car and take off...
and be independent.....
any longer.

I saw a part of Dad die that day.
I'll never forget it.

Mom learned to pick up the slack,
to stop depending on that part of Dad,
and she adjusted.
She was there,
so it didn't impact me in a big way....
(other than the emotional hurt)...
to watch my strong, independent Daddy...
become weaker
and feel less like a man.

When Mom reached the point of not being able to drive
after her car accident in 2005,
I was the mother of a sweet, active, rambunctious four year old little boy.

Life was much different for me then.
Thankfully, I no longer worked outside the home,
and I was blessed with the freedom God knew I would need
to be the daughter He needed me to be.
We hadn't started Kindergarten homeschooling, at that point,
and due to Zachary's birthday being when it is,
we didn't have to begin for over a year after.

For the next seven years,
I was blessed with the opportunity of taking Mom along,
nearly everywhere Zachary and I went.
I would call her and ask if she wanted to ride along...
to visit the sick in hospitals,
to pick up and deliver donated clothing for the needy,
to pick up and deliver donated bread for those who needed it,
to grocery shop,
to go to Wal-Mart,
to visit the homes of those who called for and needed prayer,
and so many other occasions and trips.
There were very few times that she would turn down my offer....
even if it meant she just rode along to sit in the car.

Bless her dear heart,
she was such a great help to me with little Zach.
I could not have made it through those years without her.
I could not have reached out to so many.
I could not have fulfilled the call of God on my life....
without her sweet support...
in the background...
quietly doing all she could to help me with Zach.

She used to tell me how worthless she felt...
she didn't feel she was contributing anything...
that she was doing anything at all for God.
She and Dad used to have a wonderful ministry
in visiting those who were sick,
going and doing for others,
doing personal work in the Kingdom of God.
Now, she couldn't drive,
Dad was gone,
and she felt very unnecessary.

I used to tell her how she was working for God.
She was helping me.
That I couldn't do what I did without her...
supporting me, helping me with Zach,
giving me peace of mind knowing he was with someone who loved him dearly,
and being that rock for all of us to lean on.

I don't think she ever believed me...
or realized how much I appreciated her and all she did for me.

She is reaping a great reward now.
How that fills my heart with joy!
Even though I miss her so deeply and still cry so often when I think of her.

There were times I couldn't take Zach in with me,
and the two of them had grand times playing "I Spy" in the car 
while waiting for me to come back from visiting a hospital room.
Zachary has wonderful, bittersweet memories of those days.
While he didn't enjoy certain aspects,
while he would have preferred to be home or outside playing,
and some of the trips were hard,
we sometimes traveled in discomfort in the heat,
and the car was prone to have problems,
he loved and valued his time with Nana and me.

She loved getting out.
I'll never forget the many times we would be riding along together,
and I would look over to see her little head bobbing forward...
she was sound asleep...
relaxed and content...
just knowing she was with Zach and me.
I would glance over and my heart would 
be so filled with pity....
and love...
the realization of her age and dependence...
becoming more and more real.

She hated being alone.
So riding along was a great pleasure for her.
Zach and I seldom got in the car during those years,
without making sure we stopped by her apartment
to pick her up and take her along.

Can I tell you how much I miss that now?

I won't say it was always easy.
Going in a restaurant for a sit-down meal was one of our favorite things to share...
and one of my biggest challenges.
Trying to make sure Mom was okay and settled and safe,
while chasing a very active, adventurous, ever-exploring little boy,
was quite exhausting...
not only physically, but emotionally.

What I wouldn't give...
just to do that...

Towards the end,
it became more difficult...
to get out with Mom.
I worried about her.
Zach and I rushed through stores a lot.
When she wasn't able to go in with us,
I hurried through visits a lot more.
I hated leaving her in the car.
But, she would insist on going...
even though I know she must have sometimes felt afraid...
and alone...
while waiting for Zach and me.

As Zach grew older, he began to feel resentful.
There were days that he would beg...
and literally plead....
for a day out with just him and me.
He loved his Nana....dearly.
But, he longed for one-on-one time...
with me, too.
I was caught in the cross-fire...
almost continually....
forever being caught in the middle...
so in tune with Mom's needs,
yet very empathetic to Zach's.

God only knows the times I cried....
and felt overwhelmed with despair and inadequacy.

I can honestly say that I did the best I could...
for both of them.
Somehow, I lost myself many times in the process,
and I often felt like a mechanical robot...
going through the motions....
of making sure everyone around me was happy.
Never mind personal cost.

Can you relate?
Life isn't easy.
Who said it would be?

Now I enter a stage of life where I still feel I need Mom.
I need her....
won't I always?
She is not here.
To take along.
To make me feel more safe.
Even though she became increasingly frail...
and feeble...
and dependent on me....
I always felt more secure...
if she were in the car...
if she were near me.
Mom's presence exuded security...
I clung to it.

Mom had that kind of strength...
I drew from it all my life.
Now I have it no more.

It is really a different life when you are without a mother.
You learn to step up to an unfamiliar plate.
It isn't easy.

The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 must have faced similar challenges.
She no doubt had difficulties that were like yours and this day.

Being torn this way and that.
Seeing what she needed to do,
yet feeling spread so thin she felt she would break...
and snap in two.

Let's continue reading about her...
and admiring her...
while keeping in mind she had real-life challenges...
just like you and me.

"She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands." Verse 13

Her heart is in her home.
She looks for the things her family needs.
Their needs are more important to her than her own.
She looks ahead and seeks supplies.
She seeks out what needs to be done....
and she does it....
willingly and without complaint.
She has ambition....and do what needs to be done.
Taking care of the ones God has placed in her life comes joyfully to her.
She is thankful she has a family to do for.
Nothing is a sacrifice.
Her work is driven by love...
and a willingness to serve.

"She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar." Verse 14

Difficulty isn't a deterrent to her.
If it's hard, she just tries harder.
She makes sure her family has something to eat.
They don't have to worry about it.
She plans, shops, cooks, and makes sure they are fed.
She is diligent...
and steady...
and dependable...
like the ships of merchants who have promised to deliver goods.

"She riseth also while it is yet night, 
and giveth meat to her household, 
and a portion to her maidens." Verse 15

She denies herself for the sake of those who live in her house.
She is always thinking of their needs.
Even when it requires giving up sleep, she is up doing what needs to be done...
so their lives are more comfortable.
She looks ahead to the day that it is coming,
and she makes sure her ducks are in a row.
She is organized and thorough.
She never forgets the ones who help her.
She puts their needs ahead of her own desire for sleep.
She makes sure they have what they need.

"She layeth her hands to the spindle, 
and her hands hold the distaff." Verse 19

She is ambitious and diligent.
She seeks for the most efficient way to get the job done.
As the virtuous woman of days gone by utilized the distaff to assist in her spinning,
allowing her to keep the unspun fibers untangled,
the modern day virtuous woman utilizes the resources
God provides to better care for her family.
She is not lazy.
Her hands are not idle.
She realizes the value and benefit of staying busy...
doing something productive and worthwhile....
always seeking the good of her family.

So, what is on your proverbial plate for today?
How many hats will you don before the day is through?

Feeling overwhelmed?
Wondering where you and your personal needs fit in...
to the equation...
of your responsibilities?
Trying to figure out how you can be "virtuous"...
in the middle of life's chaos,
and demands?

Many of you have the added stress of working outside the home
piled on to what is expected of you inside the home.

This is to all of the women who are reading this....
whether you are a stay-at-home mom,
a woman who works outside the home,
a homeschooling mother,
a mother of grown children,
 a woman without children,
a grandmother...
may I just say that I salute you?
I commend you.
What you accomplish in any given day...
is admirable...
and virtuous.

You fear the Lord,
and you deserve to be praised for it.
You do the absolute best you can do...
day after long day...
and you are one special person.

Don't despair when you don't measure up.
Reading Proverbs 31 together is a sharing experience...
a learning experience.
None of us are an epitome of this woman.
But, all of us would like to be, right?
All of us want to improve...
to do better...
to strive harder...
to be the woman God seeks.

If you're feeling inadequate,
unequal to the task....
be encouraged.

Your desire to be virtuous brings joy to His heart...
even when you fall short...
even when you don't quite make the mark.
He knows you want to.

Please stop and consider this:
Maybe the virtue lies in wanting to be 
the woman He longs for us to be.
God looks on the heart, remember?
He knows how hard you try.

Here is how He feels about you.
"The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty;
He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy;
He will rest in His love,
He will joy over thee with singing."
Zephaniah 3:17

You are not a failure.
Don't ever buy that lie.

You make the heart of God sing.

You are valued above rubies, my friend.
You are matter which hat you are wearing.


  1. Thank you for sharing this lovely post about your mom. I'm so glad you all had these years together!

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving encouragement behind, Helene! I am so thankful for every year I had with my dear mother, and I miss her now more than words! God is faithful to send comfort when the grief reaches an unbearable point. We must keep pressing forward and keeping the faith! Have a wonderful day in Him! Love, Cheryl

  2. Thank you for sharing about your mom. Driving is the hardest thing for us to give up as we age. This was a very sweet post.

    1. Thank you, Judith! I so appreciated your kind comments. I miss her so much, but I know she is rejoicing with Jesus in a land where we will never grow old! I want to be faithful to God and meet Mom and Dad over there one glorious day! What a day that will be, indeed. Thank you for your encouragement, dear sister. Love to you, Cheryl