I am a woman with many many blessings. I have a life filled with women – women who have taught me more of life, more of living, more of love than is possible to be contained in any book, in any library. God has filled my life with sisters, with friends, with “girls”, with mentors and with torch takers. I am surrounded with women who have made forever lasting impressions deep within my heart and soul.
But today – my thoughts gravitate in this direction…..
I was about 22 years old when my Great Grandmother died. GRAMS… homemade chocolate chip cookies, homemade bread, Perry Mason and Saturday 6pm Lawrence Welk come to mind. When I would stay the weekend with her, this was our line up. She was VERY hard of hearing which resulted in lots of VERY loud “talking”. She was strict but she was loving. For as long as I knew – my Grams lived in a home connected to her daughter’s home along the shore in Oldsmar. That always made weekend stays doubly dosed with grandmother love and I was guaranteed one of them would come out and play and look for fiddler crabs in the bay.
Her daughter – my grandmother – GRAMMY, she was a sharply dressed, very smart business woman who loved the Lord and served Him with all her heart. She too was strict, she towed the line and we were all quite certain where it was and not to cross it. And yet, she poured out her love and the legacy – of a woman who walked hard after God – lingers on. I still think her perseverance in serving God – up to the end of her life here – resonates an example in my heart that I pray never gives way to a sense of needing or deserving a “rest”.
My NANNY – my mom’s mom – she was my “fairy-book” grandmother. She is the woman all the children’s books with giving, loving, giving, protecting, giving grandmas was written about. She was by far the kindest woman ever. She was very independent and true to her generation in forever serving her family. She would board a bus 6 days a week to travel to her same job in a small store in downtown Tampa. She worked hard – well past retirement age, and she loved working in her yard – up to the day she died. She was a God fearing woman who loved with a love that was saturated in HIS grace. She had a rougher road, that I only know from stories as they never succeeded in hardening this woman. She had a way of making everyone of us kids feel we were her favorite and it’s funny to now hear the claims of her grandchildren… oh I love her so… and I am certain… it was I who was her favorite!!!
All three of these women lived well into their mid 90s, in their home, providing for themselves and still actively touching my life.
MY MOM – she too has been a woman who loves, serves and pours out into others. I knew, growing up, that she would always be there for me – and – she has! I learned so much from her, as she did from her own mother. I learned that family was in the top of the list. I learned that her children and family would always be her favorite and most desired company. That the bond of “family” reached deep and rooted with strength. While we haven’t dared spoke it – I can tell in her eyes, that she is likely the one who knows best my heart and the difficulty of being away from family. She truly has given to me with a sacrificial heart and no matter how much I tell her – she could never know how very much I love and appreciate her!!!!
MY SISTER – my big sister – everyone should have one! Her patience was tested but her calm and loving smile always prevailed. We have a closeness that is not touched by time or distance and I have loved sharing my life with her.
My other “MOM” – wow my blessed life continued when I married Randy and received another woman who would pour out into my life. Her graciousness towards me has always been overflowing, another hard working woman who has always been available. And, at 80 years old, while most her age are slowing down – she is out and about nearly every day, taking care of and loving on her friends and family.
My other SISTER – indeed, another blessing I received the day I married Randy. She, too, has demonstrated a life of hard work and much love. Her kind heart is an example I have always desired and I am grateful to now share with her my faith.
My Aunt Bev, Aunt Mary, Aunt Frankie, Aunt Mil, Aunt Mattie, Alma, Anne, and many other “aunts” and cousins also fill my the outpour of influence in my life. All, living and loving with that motherly love that embraces the heart.
So… The day I discovered I was pregnant for the first time – at 19 years old – married just 6 months at the time – I can literally close my eyes and not only recall – but actually feel the very sense of speechless, heart cradling, breath taking, eye raising wonder of that expectation of becoming a mama. Really the only thing I ever remember desiring with such depth as that was all I really ever wanted to do in my life – get married and have babies!!!!
I have loved every season of the lives of my kids. Even the challenges served to be character shapers and integrity builders. My boys filled my first 6 years of motherhood with a happiness that can not be explained. They taught me so much with their curiosity, their forever learning and discovering and… their simple love. I loved the way they played and the way they bickered. Then, I loved the way just a few minutes later – they would be back to playing and laughing and I would inhale, smile and know that sense of family my mother, my grandmother and all these had demonstrated for me my whole life.
The boys were 5 & 2 when I became pregnant for the last time. The day I found out I was having a BABY GIRL – I was beyond joyful and overflowing with dreams, with ideas, with expectation… and each and every one so far has not failed to meet up with my hearts desire for her. The gift I have in having raised my “best girl friend” my “Kasi Girl” is nothing short of heaven sent.
I was never bothered or concerned with Ryan or with Cory having “issues” with a new baby – neither time. I expected their love to grow and… it did!! I loved watching them with each other – I love it to this day. I love that Kasi laughs at her brothers with the deep gut laugh that they along are able to stir. I love how they care for each other and how they always challenge each other in the way only a sibling can get away with.
I love how their arms have opened wide to bring in two more sisters into the fold. I love how my boys have prayed for and have chosen the most perfect women, help mate, partner and friend for their lives. And having prayed for each one – both these women – for their entire lives – my heart could not be more connected to them had I given birth to them myself. I love that Ryan is a big brother to Elizabeth and Cory is to Rach.. and I love that Kasi has sisters that she loves and enjoys being with.
I watch Rachel with her children, calm, peaceful, certain, patient and loving – and I see the amazing children she is raising – and I simply say – PRAISE GOD!!! I see Ruthie and Noomie… I watch their brothers doting and protecting and loving. I watch these little girls who will grow up, who will have their dreams, and I pray, with all my heart, that God will raise them up… to be women with hearts after HIM – just as their mommy.
I watch Elizabeth and Kasi with their nieces and nephews – along with the children of their friends – and I see two women God is preparing to carry the torch of the most amazing job ever… motherhood! I see their gentleness and love and they are pouring it out on those around them. I see a God given desire in their eyes that He has protected from the callousness of this world. And as I pray, I know in confidence that my God, in HIS perfect sovereign will, will fulfill in their lives all HE has designed, all He desires!
So – I am surrounded from the front and from behind, circling the sides — with women who I can only marvel at. Women of distinction and of grace. Women of wisdom and of love. Women for whom I thank and praise my Lord for today!
Mom – I love you more than words can say, thank you for everything! Thank you for all you’ve taught me, all you’ve given me, for all your love for me!!! You are an amazing woman and I am blessed to call you my mom! “Thank you” simply is not reflective of my hearts deep love for you!
Mom (Helen) – as well, I appreciate you with great depth and I love your son with all my heart! Thank you for being an example in taking me in as your daughter and demonstrating a Naomi and Ruth biblical example of love.
And – being far from home – in a place where all women – of “my age” – are referred to only as Mama…. I smile… that I am always, daily reminded of the most amazing role my God has allowed me to take – that of a woman – that of a mom.