Sunday, July 9, 2017

Making America Good Again: Perseverance

Perseverance is much on my mind these days.  Thank you to all who are praying for my sister-in-law Kate as she perseveres in her goal to walk again after a spinal cord injury and for her family as they seek to find and provide the best care for her.  

I read through the Bible every year or so and each time a different theme seems to grab my attention.  This year that theme is "perseverance."   I could give you lots of examples:  Moses, Job, Jeremiah and, now that I'm in the New Testament, Paul.

Watch this video for some more contemporary examples: "Famous people and the perseverance: 2.59 mins will change your life forever."  All of these people overcame great difficulties, their own failures, and the opposition of others to achieve their goals.

How did they do it?  What is the "magic" formula?  It's not magic at all.  There are two ingredients:  accountability and a goal.  As a Preacher Girl, let me put this into terms of faith, but I think all of you will recognize what I mean.

I know I am accountable to God who has a plan for my life.  That means I must do my best to not listen to the negative voices and circumstances that distract me from my goal of being who I believe God created me to be.  Deep inside, you know who you are and what you are supposed to be doing with your life.  Call it your conscience if you don't want to call that voice God, but listen to what you know is good and true.

Magic Johnson knew he was an athlete; Oprah Winfrey knew she was a communicator; Thomas Edison knew he was an inventor; Abraham Lincoln knew he was a leader of men.  They persevered because they knew who they were and didn't listen to the naysayers; they didn't give up when obstacles blocked their path;  they didn't surrender when their own failures got in the way of progress.  They persevered.

I'm sure you can think of other examples from history and from people you have known.  Perseverance is one of the traits that describes much of the American spirit, from explorers, to settlers, to inventors, artists and entrepreneurs.  It is a key to their success and the success of America.

So what about you?  Are you ready to be among those who will keep on keeping on, stand your ground, leave no stone unturned, stay the course, plug away and stick to your guns?

As Marie Curie said:  "Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained."

To Make America Good Again, we must persevere as individuals, families and a nation.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Making America Good Again: Independence Day

What are YOU celebrating today?   The founding of America?   Freedom?  The brave men and women who have kept us free for over 200 years?  A day off from work?

These are all good reasons to celebrate, but let's also celebrate the Declaration of Independence itself.  Take some time today to read it. You can do it while you are heating up the grill!  It will take you less than ten minutes. Here is its most famous paragraph:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -"

The entire Declaration can be found here:

Sadly, one of the great divides in America is how relevant the Declaration of Independence is to us today.

Are you among those believe that America has progressed beyond the Declaration's claim of self-evident truth that our freedom and rights come from God?  As CNN's Chris Cuomo said in an interview with Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore a couple of years ago:  "Our rights do not come from God. That's your faith. That's my faith. But that's not our country. Our laws come from collective agreement and compromise."

Does that ring true for you?  Do you believe that the Declaration is a beautifully written document of historical significance, but one with little relevance to us today.?   Perhaps you embrace its principles of freedom and equality but believe that these are enlightened ideas society has developed and that God has nothing to do with it.

Or are you among those, like me, who believe the self-evident truth of the Declaration is true today and will be true tomorrow.  The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and those rights further outlined in the U.S. Constitution come to us from God and it is the government's responsibility to protect them.

In America, you are free to believe what you want about God.  You are free to not believe in God at all.  But America, and its laws, are based upon the premise that God as revealed to us in the Bible and in Nature:  God is our Creator; the giver of moral and natural law; the Supreme Judge to whom we are all accountable; and the One on whose Divine Providence we can rely.  These are the four references to God in the Declaration.  There is no mention of Yahweh, Jesus or Allah.  How we worship God, how we understand God is left to each of us.  But that God IS, is a fundamental principle of our government.

Which side are you on?  Is the Declaration relevant today? Do our rights come from God or government?  Is the Declaration, and the principles it upholds,  the law of the land or is the Declaration a quaint historical document America has outgrown?

All of the division we are experiencing, the vitriol and violence we see daily, has at its root this question:  what is the source of our freedom and our principles - God or man? Our nation is as divided over this question today as it was over slavery.  We are in the midst of a civil war of words and protests.  I pray that America, the America of the Declaration of Independence, will survive.

Those who seek to separate the Declaration from the Constitution and assign it to "quaint historical document" status are wrong.  Dead wrong. The truth is that removing the Declaration from our government's guiding principles is like trying to remove the spirit from a person while leaving the body intact.  The result would be a dead body. The American Experiment will end if this trend of removing God from our life together continues.

The Declaration of Independence - all of it - is the law of the land.  It is as much the law as the Constitution is and all other law must flow from it.  The freedom we celebrate today is given to us by the hand of God, not the whims of government.   And we the people must do all that we can to see that it stays that way.

This Independence Day take a minute and think about the Declaration of Independence.  As you drink beer, eat hot dogs, wave flags and watch fireworks, know that it is time to choose.  Are you celebrating the creation of a document that is dead - or are you willing to fight for one that is very much alive?

And please continue to pray for my sister-in-law Kate. She is making progress but has a long way to go.  Thank you!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Making America Good Again: Hope and Healing

Thank you to all who checked this blog and FB page to see if I'd posted something new.  We've been traveling and then our world was shaken.

While we were away, my sister-in-law injured her spinal cord in a fall and was paralyzed from the neck down.  She has since regained some feeling and has significant arm movement, but she has a long road of rehabilitation ahead of her.  She is an inspiration to her family and friends with her optimistic outlook, sense of humor and sheer determination.  How would you respond if you woke up one morning and your life was so dramatically changed?  I hope I would respond like Kate.

Her accident immediately drove my husband and me to pray for her complete healing.   Jesus encourages us to pray with persistence (Luke 18)  and with "shameless audacity" (Luke 11).  I just read last night how Peter and John healed a lame man: "Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” And the man went with them, walking and jumping and praising God. (Acts 3)   I can just see Kate doing that now, especially the jumping and praising part!  "Kate, in the name of Jesus of Nazareth walk!"  My husband and I, along with many others, continue pray to God for Kate throughout the day with persistence and shameless audacity.

Our prayers are accompanied by helping Kate and her family in the ways that we can.  We've also taken a deep breath and recommitted ourselves to what is important.

Love life.  It is short and precious.  Treat it as the valuable gift from God that it is.  Don't waste your days on things that aren't important.

Be grateful.  Thank God each day for what you do have and what you can do.  Our natural inclination is to ask "why" this happened and perhaps seek to place blame, but that is counterproductive.  Don't wallow in negativity.  Instead, embrace the positive wherever you can find it.  God is there with us, if we will only seek Him out.

Have faith.  Look for good to come out of this.  My husband's family has faced many tragedies but something good has always come out of them.  Often they didn't know what that was until long after the time of sadness.  Since I met them, I have been amazed at how strong, steady and optimistic they are when bad things happen.  They are living proof of Paul's statement:  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."  (Romans 8:28). We have faith that the same thing will happen.

Hold on to hope.  Hope is the most powerful of healers and the greatest of motivators.  Our hope is anchored in the love of God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - and the love we have for each other.   It is not a wishful optimism but a firm reliance on the Creator and Savior of the Universe.

Please pray for my sister-in-law Kate and for yourself.   Take a deep breath and recommit yourself to what is important:  faith, hope and love.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Making America Good Again: Cherry Picking Christians

On the front page of my local Sunday paper, a courageous woman working to revitalize her neighborhood asks:  "How do you say you love the Lord and don't love His people?"  I agree with May Lizzie Jennings wholeheartedly.  However, it is also time to ask the question in reverse:  "How can we say we love His people and not love the Lord?"

Loving each other is an extremely important Biblical principle but not the only one.  Right before Jesus told us to love our neighbor, He told us love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  Further, He linked loving God to obedience:   "Love one another, as I have loved you." And "If you love me you'll keep my commandments."  Love like Jesus.  Keep all his commandments, not just some of them.  We don't get to choose which, we need to love God AND people.  'Both/and' not 'either/or.'

Sadly, it seems to be part of our human nature to want to listen to things we agree with and tune out those things that we don't.  For some reason I don't completely understand, some of us lean toward "conservatism" and some to "progressivism."  Whichever way we lean is the lens that determines how we view the world, what things we choose to believe, and ultimately how we respond to its problems. Each of us "cherry-picks," if you will, the things that confirm our biases and ignores the things that don't.

We all need to take a step back and look at how we can best love God AND all of His creation, including people.  God tells us how through Scripture, the universe around us,  and the lessons we learn from history.  The Declaration of Independence refers to this, "the laws of Nature and Nature's God." Admittedly, there are times that it seems Scripture contradicts itself.  Then we are faced with the greater challenge of working together to see what God intends, focusing on both/and and not either/or. Often we will find there is a new way open to us if we only do the hard work to find it.

I am growing increasingly frustrated with Christians and non-Christians alike who "cherry-pick"  Biblical principles to support various and sundry political points without struggling with the WHOLE of God's revelation.    

What put me over the top this week was all Scripture floating around over Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord.  Many who supported the agreement pointed to God's delegating responsibility for the planet to humanity and our obligation to be good stewards. Others, focused on how the agreement hurts the people on the planet, pointing to the agreement's restrictions on ability of many to provide for their families in exchange for little climate improvement.   There is also another opinion out there that says we don't need to worry about climate change because God is in charge and won't let us destroy the planet. All of these views contain part of the truth, but not all of it.  Our discussion should be about how we can be good stewards to the earth AND use the earth's bounty for the benefit of all, recognizing all the while God's sovereignty.  Emphasizing one principle over the other is a false choice but, alas, easier than doing the hard work of uniting these principles to find a path forward.

We could have the same discussion in many areas of our life together:  do we help the poor by supporting them in their poverty or helping them out of it?   Do we welcome everyone who comes to America or insist that they be here legally?  Do we love and care for women, or their unborn children?   Do we love people whatever their gender and sexual inclinations, or acknowledge that God created male and female to enjoy the blessings of marriage?   And as the news of another terrorist attack comes out of London,  do we love our enemy or protect the innocent?  The hard answer is both/and.

Let's stop cherry-picking Scripture to make our political points and do a better job of loving God and each other by looking to the whole testimony of God, in the natural world, in Scripture, in history and in our hearts.  As much as I love God,  I confess that I am guilty of cherry-picking as well, so don't call me a hypocrite but help me do what is right.  We all, including me, need to intentionally open our eyes and ears and listen to God - and each other.  We won't always get it right, but we will do a much better job of dealing with the mess our world is in if we at least try to follow the Creator's plan.  God created us, and loves of us, and yes, our Heavenly Father knows best.  

So stop with the cherry-picking, or at least recognize that you are doing it. Let's all work a little harder at getting the logs out of our own eyes (like Jesus told us to), and start looking at all that God wants for us - not just the parts that we like.

Let's Make America Good Again.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Making America Good Again: Never Forget

Monday is Memorial Day.  It is a day for Americans to remember all of the heroes who gave their lives in the service of our country.  It was around the time of the Civil War that people on both sides of that awful conflict, mostly women, made a special effort to decorate the graves of both Confederate and Union soldiers, even if they were the enemy.  That is why this national holiday was originally called Decoration Day.

There is something about placing flowers on a grave that spurs our memories.  My husband and I regularly visit the places where family members are buried and remember them.  The ritual is important to us.  We all want to be be remembered and remembering is part of the responsibility of the living.

God gave us the gift of memory.  God told Moses to remember His commandments and teach them to the children.  God also made a special point of having the nation of Israel remember important parts of their history, like when they escaped from slavery in Egypt. In keeping with this Passover tradition, Jesus told his followers to remember His last meal with them.  In more recent times, the phrase "Never Forget" is used to remind us of the horrors of the Holocaust and to not allow them to be repeated.   Remembering our history, even when we didn't know the people involved, is important.

So this Memorial Day, I would like to encourage you to reclaim the tradition of Decoration Day.  Find in your community or local cemetery a memorial to the men and women who lost their lives creating or preserving the liberty we hold so dear - and decorate it.  Take a flag or a flower.  Spend a moment thinking about their sacrifice and your benefit.  Be grateful.  Be humble.

I live in a town called Bradenton in Florida.  Within walking distance of my home there is a memorial to the veterans of World War I at the city pier.  The plaque reads:  "Memorial Pier Dedicated to World War Veterans 1930."   Please notice, they didn't expect World War II.   There are memorials to all Veterans and the Confederacy at the County Courthouse.  There are memorials for those lost their lives in all wars, including Vietnam, Korea and World War II at the Veterans Park near the hospital which itself was originally named the Manatee Veterans Memorial Hospital.  The hospital was built in 1953 and on the back of a picture postcard of it, it says:  "A Memorial to Manatee County Veterans of all Wars. Contributed by the public of Manatee County."  There is nothing yet in our community for the fallen in the Gulf War or the ongoing wars on terrorism.  Perhaps someday, but we should still never forget.

Since this part of Florida wasn't really settled until the mid-1800s, there aren't graves of those who died in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Indian Wars or the Mexican American War but your community might have some.  Think about all of the wars Americans have fought in since our founding.  If you don't remember (or were never taught!)  what they are, here is a list with the numbers of dead and wounded from the Department of Veterans Affairs:

So this Memorial Day, spend some time remembering.  Read through the list of America's Wars and rather than think not about the numbers, think about the soldiers themselves and what they went through.  Think of them as citizens, like you, fighting for their country.  Think of them as  husbands and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters who laid down their lives for a cause greater than themselves.  Decorate the graves and memorials of those who have died to keep us free.  Find some way this Memorial Day to remember, really remember, those men and women who died for you.
Let's Make America Good Again by not forgetting our past.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

An Open Letter to Rev. Olsen about Christian Persecution in America

A family member recent shared an open letter written to Franklin Graham from a Lutheran pastor, Rev. Peter Olsen.  Here is his letter, followed by my response:

Dear Rev. Olsen,

A family member of mine shared your letter on her Facebook page and, being a supporter of Rev. Graham and a pastor myself, I was interested in what you had to say.

Interested - and then saddened - by how you misrepresented him and President Trump.  I was reminded of Jesus' lesson about taking the log out of your own eye before helping someone else take a speck out of their own.  I admit that I often do the same thing and am trying to be intentional in these divisive times to be very aware of my own presuppositions before I speak or put pen to paper, well, fingers to keyboard.  With that in mind, I would like to share my perspective on the persecution of Christians in our country.

You are quite correct that Christians are not being physically persecuted in America like they have been throughout the Middle East and other parts of the world.   Rev. Graham is intimately aware of those dangers through the work of Samaritan's Purse.  Recently, that organization set up a hospital outside Mosul, Iraq. I've been supporting them, other than Christmas Shoe Boxes, since 2014 when they stepped in to help the Yazidi's being murdered by ISIS.   They are on the ground in that region with a front row seat to the persecution of Christians, Muslims and others.  He knows what religious persecution looks like.

So when Franklin Graham talks about the loss of religious freedom in the United States, perhaps we should pay attention and not dismiss him out of hand.   You say in your open letter to him:

 "Of all the things that worry me, the loss of religious freedom for Christians in America isn't one of them. I can't say I have ever experienced anything in this country that could reasonably called a restriction on my religious liberty, much less persecution."

I respectfully suggest that you consider taking the log out of your own eye and look around. The restrictions are there, and I am concerned, like the frog in the pot of boiling water, you just don't sense the change in temperature.

The Founders of America acknowledged that governments are created by God to protect the rights and liberties God has given to humanity.   God is the lynchpin that holds our American experiment together.  The founders did not want a theocracy or even a state sponsored church, but they did not want to abandon God in the process.  Our system of government, John Adams wrote, is dependent upon a moral and religious people.  God would rule, but through the hearts and minds of citizens who controlled the power of government through their votes and participation.

To have a moral society, there must be moral citizens.  Morality, to be binding and consistent, needs to be based in God, not the whims of people.  As America slowly abandons God and increasingly seeks to determine what is good and evil apart from our Creator, we have repeated the sin of Adam and Eve.  You know, all that stuff about wanting to be like God.  

For most of America's history, the majority of the citizens agreed on moral precepts of their Judeo-Christian faith.   Discerning God's will can be a messy business.  Sometimes America got it right, sometimes we got it wrong, and sometimes, like now, it seems that we are increasingly ignoring God altogether.

Why are we ignoring God?  Over the past fifty years or more, there has been a concerted effort on the part of some (call them secularists, progressives, Marxists, or whatever) to steadily marginalize Christians and Christianity.  As a result many have abandoned the faith and many more have not come to faith in the first place.  Our culture is reaping the result of abandoning God as central to American life.

Many of today's Christians faithfully fight daily battles to live out their faith and restore faith in God to our nation.  They feel the heat.   These are the "persecuted" people Rev. Graham was talking about.

Within academia and the political classes there has been an ongoing effort, mostly through the rewriting of American history, to uncouple the foundational principles of the Declaration of Independence from the Constitution.  The mantra of "separation of church and state" and a "godless Constitution" have been repeated so often that folks believe them to be true.  But when Jefferson told the Danbury Baptists that there would be a "wall of separation between Church & State" he was addressing their concern that the government might meddle in church affairs.  He assured them the government would leave the churches alone.  Today's interpretation that the church should not unduly influence the government turns Jefferson's words on their head.  The church, and the moral teachings thereof, are essential  for our form of government to work.

As for our "godless constitution," the principle that "All men are created equal" loses its power  when you take away the reality that it is God who created us equal; people didn't just decide that one day.  If we decide we are equal today, we can just as easily decide we aren't all equal tomorrow.  It is God who gives us rights  - like that "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" stuff.  And God designed that these rights are to be protected by governments.   It is God our "Creator" who has provided us with the "Laws of Nature and Nature's God. "  It is God who as the "Supreme Judge of the Universe," holds us accountable to those laws, and who, in his love and mercy wants us to rely on His "Divine Providence."  Those are all the ways God is described in the Declaration of Independence, by the way.   We do not have a "godless" constitution, we have a God-infused Constitution.    To deny the bond between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution is to deny God's involvement in our political lives.  Isn't that a restriction on Christianity?

The courts have removed The Ten Commandments from view as a "religious" document rather than celebrating it as the best moral code humanity has ever known.  Speaking of the courts,  why are they making decisions about so many issues, like abortion and same sex marriage,  that rightly should be put before our legislatures or in some cases the people themselves.  I would vote based on my understanding of Christian teaching.  Your vote would count too.  Then I would live with the result, but I resent the courts' intervention in these matters. Christians, and all citizens, are being prohibited from having a voice on changes in our laws that impact deeply held convictions.  Isn't that a restriction on Christianity?

Let's think a minute then about the bakers who lost their business. You mentioned the importance of following the law and I agree. But they reached a point where the law violated their understanding of the sanctity of marriage and choose not to participate in a same sex marriage.  They wouldn't cross that line.  Where is the line for you?  Would you perform a marriage for two people of the same sex?  Would you insist that I do?  Under what circumstances would you participate in civil disobedience in order to follow God?  Sadly to say, as laws and regulations in America become increasingly less dependent upon Biblical principles, more Christians will be forced into civil disobedience.  In a nation based on Christianity, why are we people of faith having to decide between right and the law?  Shouldn't we work hard to see that our laws are right and just in God's eyes?   Isn't this a restriction on Christianity?

Our education system fails to reinforce Christian values and virtues taught at home and in churches.  Prayer and the Bible are no longer permitted in public schools, although they were the basis of public education for the first 150 years of our constitutional republic.  How does a Christian raise their children if the schools won't even acknowledge there is a God, let alone that a significant part of human nature is our spirituality?  We are more than the sum of our cells, are we not?   Isn't the outright denial of a Creator in the education of our children a restriction on Christianity?

In popular culture and political punditry, Christians are sometimes demonized, but most often ridiculed and bullied.   TV shows and movies rarely if ever show Christians in a positive light.  Those that do are often cancelled.  And as you know, many Christians are lights whose example would benefit the world.

Again and again I read and hear folks like me - conservative Christians -  referred to as "xenophobic, homophobic, bigoted and misogynist."  It has almost become a catch-all among the main stream media to describe a person of faith.  Often it is expanded to include the "angry, fearful" descriptor you added for Rev. Graham.  Criticizing sincere Christians who don't have a hateful bone in their body is just another way to marginalize and silence people of faith.

For the record,  I am not xenophobic because I love America;  I welcome immigrants who will follow our laws;   I am not homophobic because I believe God designed marriage for men and women;  I am not a bigot because I believe all lives matter; and I am not a misogynist because I believe God created men and women to be different and equal.   All of us are God's children.  All of us are due dignity and respect.  All of us are sinners in need of His grace.  All of us will be held accountable by God for what we do and say.

Following God's will is a whole lot easier if we struggle to discern it together but how can we do that if we are discouraged - and sometimes prevented  - from talking to each other.  It is hard to speak up for your faith when you see people who think like you regularly ridiculed. Making fun of Christians is almost a new sport.  Sadly, it has  chilling effect on the free speech we also hold so dear.  Isn't that a restriction on Christianity?

Now, a bit closer to home.  Do the members of your congregation feel free to express their faith at work or school?  Or have they been shunned or disciplined for having a Bible on their desk, a quote from Scripture on their iPad, or inviting someone to church or on a mission trip?  Have they bought the lie that faith is a private matter, not to be shared in public.  I think Jesus' command to go and make disciples is very hard to do if you can't tell folks about Him.  Do they feel that their Christianity is restricted?

What about you, have you ever been asked to pray at a public event, but been told to keep your prayer generic so as to not offend anyone?  I, too am a Christian pastor (United Methodist), and I pray in the name of Jesus when asked to pray at public events.  I would expect others to pray in their traditions as well. To not pray in Jesus' name would make me feel like I am some how ashamed of Jesus.  And I'm not!  I am not ashamed of the cross, and no pastor in America should be put in that position.  That is a restriction on Christianity.

So while American Christians are not being physically persecuted like our brothers and sisters around the world, there are many in our country who are, and have been, working hard at eroding the soul of Christianity in our nation.   All levels of government, schools,  and popular culture seem hell-bent on denying God in any way that can.  The persecution of Christians in America is spiritual - but no less deadly.  The churches seem to be doing little to fight back.

Even though you say you haven't experienced it, I think you have. Can you see, perhaps a bit, how and why some Christians in America are feeling ridiculed, marginalized and persecuted?  We believe that America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and as the strength of those principles diminishes in public life, so will the strength of America.  We are in a fight for the soul of America.  I hope you can see it now, and will join us.

I'll be writing you another letter soon to respond to other issues you raise in your letter to Rev. Graham. In the meantime,  may God continue to bless your life and ministry.

And by the way, you mentioned pastors doing funerals for people whose conduct we don't "approve of."  I'm not sure exactly what you meant by that, but if you mean how difficult it is to do funerals for some folks,  I know it can be a struggle.   Here is a bit of pastoral advice.  I once had a parishioner tell me that she hated going to funerals because pastors always lie and never tell the truth about the life the deceased had led.  So you know what,  I quit trying to sugar coat the lives of those I buried.   I do the funeral, give an honest (although sensitively worded) account of their lives, and entrust them to the mercy of Jesus.  Powerful stuff.  Trust me, those who mourn do appreciate it.

Rev. Susan Schrier Clouse

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Making America Good Again: Grateful for Mom

Today is a day to tell your Mom you are grateful for her.  No one likes being taken for granted!   See her if you can, call her if you can't visit - and remember her if she has passed on.

In honor of Mother's Day, here is a poem from the Bible's Book of Proverbs (31:10-31).  This was written about 1000 BC.  Then, as now, women are wives, mothers, businesswomen, homemakers, helpers of the poor and needy, and lovers of God. Then, as now, women are virtuous, capable, trustworthy, frugal, energetic, strong, hardworking, productive, prepared, dignified, generous, wise, kind, and faithful.  These are the ways women show love to their children, husbands, communities and Heavenly Father.  My Mother taught me all these things, and I hope yours did too.  May the next generation pass them on.

A Wife of Noble Character

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is more precious than rubies.
Her husband can trust her,
and she will greatly enrich his life.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
She finds wool and flax
and busily spins it.
She is like a merchant’s ship,
bringing her food from afar.
She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.
She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She is energetic and strong,
a hard worker.
She makes sure her dealings are profitable;
her lamp burns late into the night.
Her hands are busy spinning thread,
her fingers twisting fiber.
She extends a helping hand to the poor
and opens her arms to the needy.
She has no fear of winter for her household,
for everyone has warm clothes.
She makes her own bedspreads.
She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
Her husband is well known at the city gates,
where he sits with the other civic leaders.
She makes belted linen garments
and sashes to sell to the merchants.
She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.
When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness.
She carefully watches everything in her household
and suffers nothing from laziness.
Her children stand and bless her.
Her husband praises her:
“There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
but you surpass them all!”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
Reward her for all she has done.
Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

Happy Mother's Day!