Thursday, November 29, 2007

In Honor of Those Yet Living...

The other day I was reading someone’s blog. The author's mother had passed away. In remembrance of her he told a hilarious childhood story and added other wonderful things that she would have been so blessed to hear. That got me thinking: it's so common to wait until someone is gone before we honor them.

That blog also made me think about my own mother. She’s still here and Lord willing, will remain for many years to come. I love my mom. I tell her all the time. My respect, love and admiration for her is no secret. Today I want to honor her by telling YOU about her. (This is going to be a bit of a long post, but bear with me, she’s worth it!)

My mom was raised by conservative Advent Christian parents in Maine. She grew up on a farm practically an only child. She had an older brother, but he was 11 years older. It wasn’t long before he grew up and out. Her parents were committed, loving parents who followed the Lord and raised her to do the same.

Alice & Arnold ~ My mom's parents

She met my dad at Berkshire Christian College and fell in love. She was a year younger and her dad wouldn’t give them his blessing for marraige unless she first graduated and worked one year as a teacher. After some ‘high-level’ negotiations (says dad) they managed to talk him out of the one year of work. Then she put her nose to the grindstone and managed to graduate a year early. How romantic is that?

My mom and dad are a team. There is no other way to put it. As newlyweds they worked to became missionaries. They intended to go to Mexico; in fact, I came very close to being born there! However, God had something else in mind. Dad became a pastor in a little church in Clearwater, Fl. and they were there for 24 years.

My dad wasn't just any pastor. He was the real thing. He was a true shepherd and people loved him. They are currently co-leading a Messianic congregation in Raleigh, NC, but that is only a portion of their ministry. Their heart is for Israel. Their primary ministry as they see it (they’ve been praying about this for the past two years) is to help people see the current prophetic importance in what’s going on in Israel and also locally. Their prayer is Elisha’s prayer in 2 Kings 6:15-17:

“And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, and said, “LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

Their sights have been raised from pastoral, ministering to individuals, to apostolic, ministering to the nations.

But I don’t think he could’ve been who he is today without my mom. She was always there for him. She has played many of the typical rolls of pastor’s wife (especially in a small church); secretary, teacher, singer, counselor, and with dad, confidant and friend. I think the best way to describe my mom is as ‘The Proverbs 31 Woman’. I think anyone who is familiar with this passage wants to be her. My mom is.

Proverbs 31:10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

noˈbility1 [-ˈbi-] noun: nobleness of mind, character, or spirit; exalted moral excellence, quality of being excellent or rare. This describes her perfectly. Ask anyone she knows.

11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. 12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

My dad will ABSOLUTELY be the FIRST person to tell you this. She is committed and loving. She takes care of him and he cherishes her. She loves him. She is his partner. You will not hear her say a bad word about him. He knows this. He trusts her and values her opinion. They make joint decisions. They are equals.

13 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.

My mom sews. I used to fall asleep near Christmas time to the sound of the sewing machine in the next room. She made us clothes and many other things. One time we realized the night before school started that I didn’t have a pencil case. I woke up the next morning and she had made me one with my name on it. (I still have it!) She made clothes for my doll. She made us costumes. When I was little I really wanted a Ziggy doll. (Remember those?) She made me one. I still have that, too. If she had gone out and bought it for me, do you think I’d still have it? When cabbage patch dolls came out my sister really wanted one, so she made one for her. She made my other sister a ceramic doll that she hand painted, sewed the clothes and used my sister’s own hair for the head. Another thing I still have is my wedding gown that she made for me. It’s made out of silk and French lace and she did a beautiful job.

She also made my sisters’ wedding gowns.

She is very crafty and creative. In the course of my life I have seen her sew, knit, paint ceramics, learn calligraphy, make jewelry, quilt, paint with watercolors, you name it. And she’s good at it! She’s also very musical. She sings beautifully and currently helps lead worship at their church. She plays the flute, the piccolo, a bit of piano and has even learned how to play the harp.

14 She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. 15 She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family…

My mom is a great cook. She always cooked for us. (Something I especially value now that I have to do it!) Our family used to vacation at Roan Mt., TN in the summer. Our favorite breakfast was when we grilled fresh trout and had mom’s fried potatoes and homemade applesauce. Now, we meet at Roan Mt. every other Christmas and we always look forward to her yummy Brunswick Stew. One favorite tradition was on our birthday we got to choose what we wanted for dinner and she always made it. One year I asked for Lasagna (she makes the best lasagna) with cabbage/vinegar on the side and I think strawberry cake. I know, it doesn’t sound very appetizing, but she made it anyway. On my 16th birthday I was a little depressed because my dad was out of town, and I had to go to SCHOOL on my BIRTHDAY! The HORROR! But mom redeemed my birthday when she walked into my choir room right in the middle of class with a huge birthday cake.

16 She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. 18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. 19 In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

While her chief ‘vocation’ has been to help my dad in ministry, she has often needed to help supplement their income. Among other things, she was a real estate agent, a school teacher, and a free-lance artist making clay jewelry for a local company.

20 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

I don’t think my parents will ever have a huge church. Their ministry tends to be towards those not always excepted in ‘popular’ society for various reasons. Yet, they are welcomed by my parents. Because of their interesting and eclectic ‘followers,’ not very many mainstream people stick around very long. It’s too uncomfortable for some. My mom once had a vision of a giant harvester, (one of those huge machines that mows down and collects the grain from a field), representing the large churches, reaping God’s harvest. In her vision their little church walked behind the machine, as gleaners, picking up the pieces that were dropped and left behind.

21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. 22 She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

As pastor and wife of a small church, we weren’t exactly rolling in the dough, but we always had what we needed. Often our home was decorated with objects of her own creation. And the ‘has no fear for her household’ comes from her unwavering faith and trust in God's provision. Do you know that one time, my parents stood and watched their house burn down and all of their plans go up in smoke along with many family heirlooms? My mom stood there watching the 40 ft. flames and said, “I’m glad I wore my comfortable shoes!” They said they experienced the supernatural ‘peace that passes understanding’. (Philippians 4:6-7) Everybody said it would hit them eventually in a few days or weeks. It is now seven years later and it hasn’t hit them yet. They knew that the heirlooms were just things they couldn’t take with them to heaven anyway, and that He had plans for them that were in a different direction from the one they had been heading. God would provide for their needs. And He did.

23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

My dad is wonderful. People love and respect him for many reasons of his own making. But how long would that respect last if his own wife bad mouthed him every chance she got? What if she complained about every little thing he does that bugged her? What if she argued with him in public? She doesn’t. One time when I was a teenager, someone told me they could not imagine my parents fighting. They never heard a cross word. I thought that was funny, because of course, I lived in the same house with them. I knew they fought. However, I never heard them disrespect each other, and anytime they fought in front of us, they made sure we saw them resolve the issue. If my mom respects my dad, how can others not do the same?

24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.

As I’ve mentioned previously, she has often sewn or made things as needed, for us, for others, or to help earn money for the family.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

My mom is a classy lady. I have to give some of that credit to her mom. My grammy did a great job. I have never heard my mom use foul language. She is firm in her faith, and lives what she believes. She is HAPPY. (I’ll give my dad some credit for that!) My parents are the true representation of Christ and the church. She is secure and confident in God’s ongoing provision in their lives.

Les & Doreen ~ my parents

26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

I cannot express this any better. ‘She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.' I seriously value her opinion and trust in her knowledge of God and the bible. I’ve always felt like when it comes to God, my parents have access to the RED phone! You know, I am 38 years old and I still call my mom for advice on just about anything, from spiritual matters to how to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving without an oven. She is on my side. When I was in 5th grade I was having some trouble with a teacher. I felt the teacher didn't like me. Naturally, her response was to support the teacher and council me that it wasn’t true, which is good and right and, one would like to think, usually true. However, after a parent/teacher conference, she came home and told me, “You’re right; your teacher doesn’t like you.” And you know what? I didn’t care one whit. I cared that my mom didn’t approach my teacher with blinders on. She looked for the truth and supported me when called for. What a blessing to have that confidence in her.

When I was a teenager she always took time out for me. I had two sisters, so having a little one-on-one with mom was special. We used to go to the Village Inn Restaurant to have a piece of pie and talk about boys. My parents had been praying for my future husband since I was a child. So she was (as any mother is) interested in my romantic life. We shared these moments until I met the right boy. I talked about Dean and how much I loved him and missed him (long story, long distance relationship). Mom gave sage advice. I followed it, and the rest is history. We haven’t really done the ‘pie thing’ since I got married 18 years ago, until last year for Christmas. She gave me a card with a picture of a piece of pie on it. The card stated that she was taking me to Charleston for a three day weekend. Just us.

27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her house is always clean. She may scoff at this and I didn’t exactly live in a museum growing up, but I now have three kids of my own and I can say with 100% confidence that her house is clean. I know this because mine is NOT.

28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. 31 Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.


Anonymous said...

I am honored and humbled by your blog. You made me seem really good! Of course I remember all the things you didn't write. The times when I was too harsh. I yelled a lot. I expected too much of you when you were little. And I didn't always cook - remember "grab it?" So I definitely have to credit the Lord for making your memories the good ones. I do know that I love you with all my heart and am especially blessed to have you as an adult friend. You have always made me proud to say "That's my daughter!" YOU are a wonderful wife and mom and I am continually blessed by you and your family. I can't wait to see you all at ROAN MOUNTAIN! I love you, Mom

Anonymous said...

Man, even her blog comments are stellar.

- Dean

Debby said...

Angie, what a beautiful love you have for your mother and your mother for you. You and your family are truly blessed by God

Mary said...

Moved to tears-
is this the only comment i ever make on any of your sites?
maybe it is because i really did have a front row seat and many times was lucky enough to be selected for "audience participation" roles :)
I know every detail to be true, i witnessed it. I had dreams of my own , birthed right in your house, Inspired by your beautiful mother and loving dad- really, i have no complaints about how i was raised and loved and nurtured at my own house... i just feel extra blessed to have been welcomed into yours.
It made for such a lovely childhood.
WOW! the wedding dresses, though i have seen them before and known of their beauty and that your Mom had designed and sewed them- WHooo- took my breath away in the context of the verses, and grouped all together at once. What a Mother of the Bride- she is our hero! i love u very much