“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”

Proverbs 31:25

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In Lysa TerKeurst’s book The Best Yes, she poses the question “Have you ever felt knocked off~kilter by the unexpected?”

Yes. Many times over.

A short time back an unexpected event in our family knocked us off~kilter.

It was the unexpected. Sudden. The kind of unexpected that sucks the breath right out of you. Causes you to stammer and stumble just a bit.

My precious Mother called me to deliver the news. I knew right away with her choked up voice it was not good.

Her dear friend, an extended family member had passed away suddenly. This sweet lady, known by many, suffered chronic health problems. But this. This was the unexpected.

I felt so helpless as I held the phone next to my ear. I could feel her sadness and pain. My feeble attempt at offering comfort over the miles that separated us rang hollow and empty.

Plans were made. The day was bitter cold and gray. Roads treacherous, as more ice and snow had fallen, with more on the way. I felt some small measure of comfort knowing my brother was driving her and would be there by her side.

I pictured them in my mind. I knew the church. Knew the graveside. Situated on the side of a hill in my small mountain town. Ice blowing sideways on that slanted hill.

I could fell the frozen cold,  hear the howling wind as I waited on her to call. Waited for the unexpected hard day to be over. I needed to know how it went. How she was. How the family was.

It was late in the day by the time she called me back.

She relayed every detail. Every tear. The Pastor’s eulogy.

Described how fitting it was, he preached a funeral from Proverbs 31. How this precious woman had walked it out in her life. Said how much she loved his message. Made a point of telling him.

Then. Then I heard the saddest words. “I told him nobody would ever use the Proverbs 31 woman to describe me.”

I tucked her sadness away in my heart. Weeks had passed. I couldn’t let it go. Somehow, I thought she might have fallen into the trap of comparison, that we women often do.

And well, that Proverbs 31 woman, she sets quite the standard.

The place of our womanhood is the place where we most find it hard to accept His Grace. Especially when we compare ourselves to her. To others. Don’t even look for it or expect it. Just check it off on the list we keep tucked away of all the places we have fallen short.

Then last week, here “she” comes walking across my page.

My scriptures for the day included Proverbs 31.

I read. Read some more. Read it again. I could still hear the words my precious Mama said that day.

I checked and rechecked my commentary. I wanted to call her. I knew better. I am a morning person, she’s a night person. I thought it best to wait. I knew she had a busy schedule that day, and well if I did call, I would just turn into a crying, blubbering, hiccuping, child. She’d panic, thinking something was wrong with me.

But I knew the words had to be said.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity…” (verse 25a)

That woman of noble character, she is a woman of strength. I know no woman of greater strength then the woman that raised me. I praise God every day that I have her grit. Her stamina. Her strength.

“She is energetic and strong, a hard worker…..her lamp burns into the night.” (verses 17&18b)

Sometimes, her vacuum cleaner as well. (Smile) I believe my brother has finally forgiven her for that.

No, she couldn’t hem my dresses or sew my girl scout badges on. I was blessed with a sweet Aunt for that.

And, yes, we hid her gifts in the oven. Knowing it was the safest place. She’d never look there.

My sweet, tiny spitfire of a Granny taught me to cook instead.

My eyes drawn once again to my favorite treasure in this passage of scripture…

“…and she laughs without fear of the future.” (verse 25b)

She laughs. Laughs.

The greatest gift I have received from my Mama, has been the gift of laughter.

My sweet man might even say occasionally at the most inappropriate times.

Laughter in the midst of all we had to grow up in with an alcoholic father, a husband who was never present, was no easy thing to teach and model. Yet, she did.

That precious woman laid to rest that day, yes, she modeled the Proverbs 31 woman. Poured love into a lot of folks in our town. At one time or another she has likely fed us all. Loved her family fiercely. We were all blessed to know her. To be touched by her in some way.

Here’s the thing. We are all uniquely made, intricately and intimately woven together in our mother’s womb by an Almighty God. We are loved. We are chosen. We are cherished.

We are not perfect.

That is why there is Grace.

“Comparison is the thief of all joy.” Unknown 

Graced by God

Tammy Mashburn