Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Birthday Reflections

As I celebrate 49 years of life on this earth today (I really can't believe it has been that long!!), I can't help but think about the women who have greatly impacted my life and helped to make me who I am today.



Of course, I would not even be here today if it weren't for the sacrifices of my precious mother, who prayed fervently for my conception and carried me and gave birth to me despite strong medical advice to the contrary.  My birth was difficult and the whole ordeal took its toll on my mother, who was not well to begin with, and she ended up spending the first couple years of my life in bed with a relapse of rheumatic fever.  

She went on to sacrifice much for me through the years, as mothers do, but even more so because she was never strong physically, but repeatedly pushed herself beyond her limits for the sake of her family. Although she would be the first to admit that she was not perfect, she had a heart for her husband, her children, her home and her God that is rare to find in this day and age.  She was my first glimpse of the Proverbs 31 woman in action, and I've learned much from her through the years!

Sadly, however, I did not always appreciate my Mom's example or her sacrifices, finding her ideals and lifestyle "old-fashioned."  This was reinforced in college, where I learned to be a "modern woman."   :(


However, God answered my mother's prayers by bringing a woman into my life that modeled Biblical womanhood in such an attractive manner that I could not resist it!  Fran was a precious and godly lady who influenced me at a crucial time in my life as a young mother.  She taught me much about home management and organization and modeled being a godly wife and mother.  She also introduced me to the concept of homeschooling and to the riches of the IBLP ministry, while giving me free access to her vast library of books, some of which proved extremely influential in my life.  I loved watching Fran interact with her husband and four children, and found her gracious and godly lifestyle simply irresistible.  I desired to learn at her feet and emulate her as much as possible.


Unfortunately, my husband's job forced us to move away from this precious, godly woman, but God had another chosen vessel ready to influence my life -- Carlotta.  She was my Sunday school teacher, mentor and friend, and she challenged me to trust in God's sovereignty in the area of childbearing.  She also modeled for me how to be a faithful Christian woman who loves God and others, a loving, respectful wife, and a patient and wise homeschooling mother. I have watched her through the years persevere in the faith through the dark valleys of testing, never wavering.  Today she has nine children, two of whom have special needs, (plus two grandchildren!) and she continues to pour her life out in service to her family and her God.


The next woman to influence my life was Jean Ann.  I went to church with her for many years, and had many opportunities to observe her godly life.  She was the epitome of a gracious southern lady and taught me much about gracious hospitality and loving service to others.  In all the years I've known her, I've never heard her say an unkind word about anyone!  A woman of great strength and character, I have watched her serve others by changing a tire on a car, as well as by hosting a formal tea party!  She is truly a "steel magnolia" type of woman!!


All of these women fulfilled pivotal roles in my life as they faithfully performed the duties of the "older women" according to Titus 2:2-5, teaching me by doctrine and example how to love and obey my husband, love my children, be kind to others, and manage my home.



I was also influenced by other women through the years who weren't necessarily "older women," but just other moms in the trenches with me.  We worked side by side trying to figure out how to conquer the challenges of the homeschooling, large family lifestyle that we had embraced.  I was especially influenced and encouraged along the way by my dear friend, Lori.  We have been on the same path, comparing notes, exploring ideas and sharing our hearts, for the last twenty years!!  It has truly been an "iron sharpening iron" type of relationship!!


I am so grateful for all of these women, and many others, whom I have not named here, who have knowingly or unknowingly influenced my life and encouraged me to be the type of woman that God says will be praised (not for fleeting beauty or deceptive charm, but for the enduring character that comes from fearing the Lord).  I would definitely not be who I am today, if it weren't for these precious ladies who invested time in my life!   



"A gracious woman retaineth honour . .  "  Proverbs 11:16.

8 comments:

mommyx12 said...

What a great post. Happy Birthday to you, I hope you have a great day. You look very stunning in the photos and don't look 49 at all. (whatever 49 is supposed to look like!)

blessings,
Tricia

Rebecca's Refining said...

What a sweet post!

Mom is an excellent example of a Proverbs 31 woman! I too wish I had appreciated and absorbed more of her wealth of wisdom, Godliness, and homemaking skills!

You have been fortunate to have such an abundance of Godly friends and mentors to help encourage you in the Lord! You are truly blessed!

Whiddon Family said...

Happy Birthday Mrs. Ours!!! May God richly bless you this year and always.

Sincerely,
Mallory
for the Whiddon family

Noel said...

Happy Birthday! You DO NOT look 49! :D What a blessing you are to all of us who read your blog. God bless on your birthday.

Brandi said...

Beautiful post! It has caused me to reflect on my own circle of influential friends... Happy Birthday Ms Elizabeth!

Fran said...

Dear Elizabeth,
Well, I am speechless and humbled to read your blog. You have always blown me away with your faith and desire to obey your Lord. I am honored to be named among your mentors. Those were precious days. I remembered when Alan asked you to write a paper on homeschooling and how he was convinced to allow you do it. I should have known you would be blogging one day. Love your posts. Happy Birthday, my precious friend. You have done very well. My love to you and all of yours. Fran

Happy Busy Mama said...

John said, "thank the Lord that Elizabeth has been their to entertain at least "some" of your ideas. roflol

Homequeen said...

Dear Elizabeth,
Wishing you a wonderful birthday!
What a touching post, and such beautiful photos.
Blessings to you and all your family.

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