I am a very "visual learner," and walking through my 84-year-old grandmother's days when I get to visit her teaches me how I want to be as I grow older. Here are some of the qualities I have observed in her this week, and what we "younger" women can learn from a Godly mentor like her.
- Stay active. She stretches and and exercises everyday, starting before she even gets out of bed. She has a routine of stretches she does while lying in her bed that help "get her going" before her feet even hit the floor. When the weather is nice, she goes for a walk each morning as well. She greets her neighbors as she's out, stopping to check on those who can't get out and even stopped awhile back to pray with a woman who stopped her, who just felt like she could confide in her even though she didn't know her very well. She's available like that.
- Stay in the Word. She has taught her Sunday School class for years. I sat this week and gingerly thumbed through her taped-up, wrinkly-paged, well-worn, marked-up Bible. I can only imagine how those living and active words have been soaked up by her all these years. She has bookshelves full of classic Christian books that I know she has read repeatedly. She attends Bible seminars and listens to pastors young enough to be her grandsons and always takes notes.
- Keep giving of yourself. She volunteers at two local nursing homes. We went on her "rounds" with her on Monday. She has creatively worked out something with the local grocery store manager to donate a big stack of those free weekly magazines with the TV listing, crossword puzzles and small articles. She takes those up to the residents and walks around, looking into their faces with a smile, greeting them by name and lovingly touching them. Some of them brighten the minute they see her, others look at her blankly... but her manner is the same with all of them. She talks to them whether they seem to be aware of her presence or not. It's just precious. Many of them are younger than her, too! She's also involved in an apartment ministry in her town through her church. She goes once a week and shares the gospel with those who are so much different from her. There is a young woman who has only been "clean" for four weeks from her drug habit and she seeks Grandmother out at these meetings and asks her questions.
- Stay teachable. I wish I had a recording of what I am listening to right now. She is in the other room playing hymns on the old violin my grandad brought her from Japan during World War II. She never knew how to play it until a couple of years ago. She began "fiddling" with it, just to see if she could do it. She has a dear friend that has taught her how to play, and now they play together at the Senior Citizens Center each Thursday, leading hymns. (They are practicing right now. I stopped writing this post and went in to listen and join them. I couldn't help going in to sing "There is a Fountain" and "Because He Lives." It is beautiful!) She also has become quite techno-savvy, having a computer and a digital camera. She even sent me an e-card for Valentines Day! That's something for someone who grew up in a world with no electricity or phone!
- Include others. She plays her "fiddle" in a group with three other ladies. Someone at the Senior Center named them the "Fantastic Four" which evolved into the "Funtastic Four." She had them change it to "The Funtastics" because that way they could leave room for anyone else who wanted to join. When she's going to a church get-together or out for a hamburger with a friend, she always invites someone to go. She hates to see anyone feeling left out. There has always been room for one (or 5 or 10) more at her table for dinner.
- Live in fellowship with others. Even though my sweet Grandad went to be with the Lord almost 10 years ago and her kids don't live in her town, she has not allowed herself to become a "loner." A few years ago she started a system with some of the other widow women in town, where they call each other every morning to check on one another. In the mornings here, starting at around 8:00 AM her phone starts ringing and she starts calling. It is so precious to hear her morning greetings, listening to those dear women touch base, telling their plans for the day. A short greeting and a "how are you feeling today?"... it's practically a hug through the phone. What a great way to start the day!
- Laughter is the best medicine. It's true! She's always been a "cut-up." Those who know my "humor" and have been around my grandmother frequently have told me "I see where you get it." We have laughed and laughed this week.
- Work hard. She has never worked outside the home (except during WWII when so many women went into the work force, she and her sister ran a gas station together) but she always works very hard at home. Her home reflects the fact that she takes good care of it and takes pride in it. In fact, the first thing I noticed when I went into her kitchen when we first arrived were new handles on her all her (many) kitchen cabinets and drawers. When I asked her about it, she was told me how she did it and proudly showed me her favorite battery-powered screwdriver! This morning she was investigating a leak under her kitchen sink. She has rewired lamps and light fixtures. She is quite handy around the house, and has always done all of her own painting and wallpapering. She is the epitome of the "keeper at home" and always has been, since the days before all of the modern appliances which make it so easy for us today.
- Be frugal and content with what you have. She shops the grocery store sales and the end-of-season department store sales. Her home is full of things she has used and reused for years in her effort to conserve and be a good steward. She also takes care of her things so they will last. She clips coupons and watches for bargains, rarely paying full price for anything. She is thrifty when she decorates and a dollar store aficionado. But she always looks like a million bucks!
- Attitude is everything. She has all the aches and pains that aging brings. She wears a hearing aid in both ears, deals with glaucoma, and has other medical issues that must be monitored. But throughout all of her medical check-ups and issues, she remains thankful for her health and prays each day to be used by the Lord. She smiles and laughs, even when you can tell she's hurting or tired.
- Be strong when others need you. Recently she was on the scene minutes after her brother-in-law collapsed in his yard and later died. She was so strong for her sister-in-law and their family throughout the ambulance ride and hospital stay. She has buried her parents, her husband, brothers and sisters. She is not afraid to enter into other people's painful experiences alongside them. She mourns with those who mourn.
I could go on and on. Someday I might. I am so blessed to have her in my life, and pray that I could be a fraction of the godly woman she is. All of us have so much to learn from the older generations. In fact, it is biblical to seek out relationships with older women and prioritize learning from them. If you don't have a godly older woman in your life, I encourage you to pray that God would provide you with a relationship where you can be mentored and encouraged by one. I believe it is His will for each of us "younger" women. (Yes, I'll be forty soon. Forty is still young to an 84 year old!) I believe praying to have a godly older woman in our lives is to pray in God's will. And I know that praying to be one someday definitely is. I pray that for all of us, whatever our ages!
If you have lessons you have learned from godly older women, please share them in the comments, or if you post on your blog let me know. I think it is invaluable to share what we are learning from those precious Titus 2 women whom God has sovereignly placed in our lives.