A handful of days before I turned forty, I spoke to a room of beautiful women, spanning generations. The Topic: How to consider it Pure Joy amidst various trials - in every season of our lives. I was up front sharing my battle scars of hard earned truth, and the message went deep. Deep into hearts young and old, and mine too. Afterwards Jacqui walked up. Broken, face baptized by tears, shoulders still shaking. I took her hand and we sat together. Out poured her story, mothering 3 small children under the age of 3. Her young at home, her own youth, losing herself in the weary making CHALLENGES of motherhood were all so similar to my own challenges over recent years. Our conversation moved like the tide; she shared, I affirmed, I shared, she nodded, I prayed, she cried, I listened, she smiled. Out came her notebook and we jotted down ideas of how she might set aside time each day to merely abide. Then I asked to come to her home the next week.
Later that day I told my oldest child about Ms. Jacqui, and suggested we find a way to help her. Seven days later we were on our way to her home with a few of my favorite Mama Books of encouragement, and the remnant of Baby Einstein videos I held onto for sentiments sake.
My son was a dear friend to her 2 1/2 year old, strong-willed boy, as I made the twin girls laugh. Then we loaded the children into our car and took them to a park, leaving Jacqui on her couch, with her guitar and bible.
We returned the children home in time for naps, I cleaned a few dishes and Jacqui played a song she'd written. My son helped his little charge pick up toys before we left. I hugged my new friend, that younger woman, and found myself amazed how natural it was to encourage her to love her husband and children well and press on as the keeper of her home. The I wrapped little Joe in my arms and whispered, "You are so lucky to have such a wonderful mum. Now show her what a good listener you can be when she tucks you in for naptime." He looked up and me and then to my son, who nodded his affirmation.
My son, who fought me tooth and nail as a toddler, was encouraging this little one to do it right.
As we drove away I knew a rite of passage had just been traveled. We were passing the torch to the next generations.
Two months later and Jacqui's now a dear friend of mine. I send texts and prayers, when busy lives get in the way of togetherness. Then last night she came over for a cup of tea in my Living Room. My children took her room to room, showing off their treasures. The youngest and his collection of back yard rocks. The middle-est and his shelves of Legos.
My oldest brought out the water color painting of a hummingbird he'd done that day. As Jacqui affirmed his color choices and the way he captured the bird's joyful demeanor, I remembered our easel from years past, stored in the back of the hallway closet. I asked Jacqui if her little ones would like our easel, then sent my boy to get it and take it to her car.
Today I am thinking of the hours of painting my children did on that sturdy easel. When life was filled with moment to moment mothering needs; sleep deprivation colored my perspective on trials and joy as little hands colored large sheets of paper.
Here I am, just barely on the other side of hard, Passing the Easel.
My son, hardly beyond his own willful fits, passing easel lessons of life to a child so like him.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior... teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.
Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds...
I share this story with you, friends, to paint a picture of what Titus 2 relationships can look like. I always imagined "older women" having grey hair, grandchildren, and an elderly husband tinkering out in the shed behind the house. I didn't know "older woman" meant me... now. But it does.
I wonder if you possibly have an easel
packed away in your hall closet,
ready to be passed down.