Who is She?

Have you met the Proverbs 31 woman? Her description has always evoked feelings of awe and annoyance. Sewing late into the night by a lamp that does go out, gorgeous toned arms planting a vineyard, a prominent husband, self-designed purple clothes and children that get up in the morning and praise her? All of that sounds like an unattainable biblical ideal.

One Proverbs 31 woman does exist and she lives on the Amazon River. A few years ago a band of 14 folks from our church braved a missions trip in July on the Amazon. We lived on a boat, helped build a church, ministered to children, slept in hammocks and prayed we wouldn’t get sick. Our boat captain’s wife, Virginia, became our adopted mother. She rose in the dark for her quiet time with the Lord and then began preparing our food for breakfast. Working in a ship’s galley that was about three by four feet, she quietly went about smiling and chopping her way through the day.

In her “free” time, she helped us on the construction site, mixing cement and tamping down dirt with her bare feet. At days end, after serving all of us a not-to-be-duplicated fish soup, she held her husband’s hand and laughed with him as we all played Train Dominoes. She didn’t play, just contentedly sat beside him delighting in the fun he was having. We would worship together singing in Portuguese and English and she was filled with freedom and joy in her Savior, whether she knew the language or not. She had the capacity to love us like her own children with barely a spoken word. Being in her quiet, loving presence was like being with Jesus. I’ve thought a lot about Virginia since the Amazon and concluded that her transient home, a heart on a river boat is one of the perfect homes for him because, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have their nests, but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” Matthew 18:19-21.

Virginia is living in the light of John 14:23, “If anyone loves me he will obey my teaching. My father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” She has daily made her heart his dwelling place and thereby abides in and creates a home from that place. The home of her heart emanates the love of the Father. She has learned to keep him at the center because everything around her is always changing i.e. new boats, new teams, new river communities to visit, new crews on the boats, yet because she makes her heart home his each day she is able to love us all as her own children. Although women in America don’t live in these circumstances, everything around us is constantly changing as well.

Who do you know that is a Proverbs 31 woman? Be on the lookout for her, watch and learn from her ways. Christ’s home in us enables us to effectively cultivate a home for many others as well. Virginia was able to do that without even speaking English, but she did wear a purple shirt.

Simplicity Over A Tub Full of Memory

purple-flowerThank you to all who wrote notes of encouragement to me about creating my daughter’s scrapbook for her graduation, but it’s not going to happen by Saturday.  While delving into the tubs full of construction paper art and cheesy class photos, the amount of time needed to turn this into an artful masterpiece was not available. The emotional fortitude needed to complete it without being overcome by nostalgic sadness was also not available. So, a simpler method became the logical choice…write a poem from my own stored collection of moments.

While visiting colleges in Texas over Spring Break 2012, an early morning moment of startling beauty presented itself along I-35. Unfortunately, my daughter was asleep and missed it entirely so I’ve decided to give this moment to her for her high school graduation gift, along with a far too expensive bottle of Vera Wang’s Princess perfume. We all encounter these “unforgettable moments,” but then we forget them. Carry around a tiny journal in your pocket, use your iphone, find your own way to record them so later when the stars align just right, you can capture the image and share it. With so much digital waste filling space, it feels good to step back and write something down on paper, hold it in your crafty hands and then pass it on. A moment missed, but later realized can be a simple gift of love.

Bluebonnet Girl
College visits come, a prerequisite to growing up,
while garden tea parties fade as seasons extinguish
alongside summer camps, baby ballet slippers, reading logs and AP tests.
The future is wide open on
I-35 north.
Open handed sky, arching this
Texas highway with
a ribboned morning
of March mist,
unveiling sun glinting streams,
upon cattle backs.
Live Oaks stretching out their green shoot shadows
against clammy red clay.
6:30 a.m. and you’re sleeping through it.
Acres of bluebonnets set a cool backdrop
behind your snowy white profile,
fresh faced, mouth dangling, head bobbing, damask hair cascading
freely into the unknown.
Your dreams float across the morning,
like a pale arabesque,
too beautiful to miss,
waiting for the Welcome Center to come.

Scrapbooking First Position

danceWhile emptying the dishwasher yesterday I started crying. The time has come to carry up from the basement the Target tub of memories and create my daughter’s high school graduation scrapbook. All of the coffee filter umbrellas which remind us “April showers bring May flowers” are about to get arranged on a page with the felt lettered headline, The Ark Preschool. Endless pink ribbons from her first pointe shoes to the ones she had signed by A.B.T.’s Gillian Murphy are waiting for me, but I’m not ready. One daughter, one lifetime, clipped and glued together to be wrapped and handed over on her graduation day. Parenting takes physical, spiritual and emotional fortitude and saying good-bye is the hardest part. My running partner reminded me of this on Tuesday when I met her in the parking lot and she was crying about sending her son off to college and he is going to college down the street! It is never easy. We jogged down the Prairie Path reminding ourselves that it is such a blessing when they come home again to visit, both knowing that although this is true, it isn’t the same. We reminded ourselves that God wants it this way. We all grow up together and move through our stages of life in order to be ready to accept what he has for us in each one. Separation anxiety in adults is not attractive.
So, I’ll keep planting seeds in my seed trays and wait for tiny things to grow, all the while reminding myself that the flower doing her homework in our kitchen is a beautiful gift which has to be shared with the world. Ouch! Life is hard and the Target tub is calling.