“Well, who do you think is pretty?”

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When my daughter Jane was ten and carrying on about the latest Hollywood sensations, John pulled a face at her taste.  “Well, who do you think is pretty?” she demanded.

“You.  Your mother.  My mother, my granny, my sister,” he replied.  Out of all the brilliant things John has said, that was one of the most brilliant.

That was years ago, but this morning I awoke thinking about how our society makes heroes out of quite and very unheroic women, at least as compared to those near and dear to me.  What, I wondered, would I say to anyone asking me, not who was pretty, but who was beautiful, heroic, worthy of praise and emulation in my life?

“My mother, my grandmother, my mother-in-law, my sisters-in-law, my friends, my daughters, daughter-in-law, and granddaughters.”

I remember my dad talking about my grandmother chasing a poisonous snake who was trying to escape under their house.  “You’ll not get near these children,” she shouted as she brought a garden hoe down on it, severing it’s head.  When I was little she used to put The Happy Goodmans on to play for me.  She deftly peeled what may have been the world’s best tomatoes (grown in her weedless garden) with her ever sharp paring knife, sliced them into thick, fat, juicy slices and served them to me with salt.   One day, I vowed, I would do that for someone.

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But how would I ever emulate my momI’ll never be as strong as she is was my silent concern.  She never stopped moving except maybe once on “slow” days for a cup of coffee and a Lucky Strike.  She was up before us to put a fantastic breakfast (a platter full of meat, eggs, biscuits, gravy) on the table, to starch our jeans, and then off (for the second time) to her many-thousand chickens.  She was up waiting when I got home from basketball games (once it was 2:00 a.m. and there she stood, leaning on the kitchen counter for support, smoking her Lucky Strike).  She didn’t say “I love you” she did love.

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And then there’s my mother-in-law who taught my manly man husband to cook, can, sew, clean, iron, and to always be clean, neat, and presentable.  So when our youngest, Seth, was born, John brought the older three to the hospital looking like little dolls.  The nurses went on about it.  “Who dressed those kids?” one asked.  I was bewildered.  Who do you think? 

“John did,” I told her.  “Well, I never!” she said.  “Just look at them.  All spit and polish!”  And so I looked.  Their clothes were ironed, Benjamin’s hair parted perfectly, the girls’ hair curled, their eyes shining.  In other words, looking like kids should look when they’re coming to see their new sibling and their mother.  Did other dads bring the kids to see mom looking any other way?  Evidently.  Talk about dumb as a post.

And who was to thank for that?  My mother-in-law.  Well, and John being smarter than a post.

And then there are my sisters-in-law (brothers’ wives) who stayed with my brothers through thick and thin, who are excellent mothers, citizens, and friends.  As for John’s sister, even when her life was falling COMPLETELY apart, she was fun, kind, and positive.  How many women “leaders” can say that?  These sisters of mine!  All of them are absolutely indispensable to the welfare of all of us blessed by their presences in our lives.  I really could never say enough about any of them.

I won’t even start with my friends, except to say that my dad was right when he said to me years ago, “Bev, you’ve always had truly good friends.”  Indeed I have.  They have filled gaps, dried tears, inspired, listened, commiserated, advised, and loved me through some pretty dark days.  Real women, that’s what they are.

And then there are my daughters, daughter-in-law, and granddaughters.  Let me just say right here that there aren’t a handful of movie stars in history as lovely as these young women, as brilliant, funny, kind, or true.

I’ve said all this to say that we might stop taking note of celebrities who we’ll most likely never even meet, and start celebrating those women near and dear.

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Early Morning Rain, Jesus, Testosterone, Good Books, Babies, and so Forth

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I cut and pasted these from my 2009 Facebook “25 Things” because it made me happy to read, and because I think it will be fun to add to it.

1. I love quiet time with Jesus early, early in the morning, and a nap in the afternoon.
2. I love putting in a load of laundry at 4:00 a.m. before I build a fire, make a cuppa or indulge in my latest new coffee, and settle in for quiet time.
3. I love being a member of the revolution Jesus started 2000 years ago.
4. I love rain. And more rain. Long, grey, dreary rainstorms.
5. With good books, like five or ten, fiction and non-fiction.
6. And a journal with colored pens, and a legal pad for absolutely mindless scribbling.
7. I love sending letters on nice stationery with lots of stickers and a pretty stamp.
8. I love watching my kids out the window on their sleds.
9. I love it when they wipe out and shriek with laughter, only to be pounced on by the dog, and get up and do it again!
10. I love John.
11. I love men who are so manly the testosterone drips off them, but they wear pink proudly, and are really good at comforting babies and changing diapers (John).
12. I love men who sing country love songs and hold my hand and sound like Vince Gill (yes, you guessed it – John).
13. I love men who love like Jesus – John, and also my dad.
14. I love my friends and all my family, especially all those little babies I have never seen.
15. I love big hardwood trees in the fall.
16. I love Fall.
17. I love God’s new mercies every morning.
18. I love color, lots of clear, bright color, or soft, muted colors. And light – iridescent, translucent, luminous, shimmering light.
19. Like on water. I love water, especially the Pacific ocean, but any water will do. I even love mud puddles.

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20. I love to travel. Even if it’s just a new dirt road close to home.
21. I love conversations with friends.
22. I love home schooling, and all my great teachers – my children.  And talking about home schooling with other home schoolers.
23. I love studying my kids, discovering them, marveling at God’s genius in creating them.
24. I love marriage. And chocolate.
25. I love whipping the devil’s butt when he tries to make me afraid. I love Jesus.

April, 2015 – And smiling teenagers teaching themselves without any Mom-prodding.

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