Father’s Day Meditation

Father’s Day Meditation–given at Salem Presbyterian Church
Sunday, June 16, 2013

Two Shepherds

I want to honor two fathers who have been vitally important to this church family and to my own family, for the past 50 years. In the hallway collage, there is a b/w picture of these two men, taken about 1965-66. At the top of the picture, my father, Pastor Floyd Doud Shafer, stands in the church doorway, greeting parishioners who are leaving the service, while my husband Max Bedwell is shepherding his young family—Deanna, Steve, and their mother LuAnn–down the steps. That’s how I think of these two men—as shepherds, guiding and directing their own families, as they guided and directed others in their professional lives.

My father and I had a prickly relationship. I greatly admired his scholarship and knowledge, but thought he was too harsh with me—and that his knowledge of how to raise girls was adolescent, at best. He did better with my sister, who is nine years younger, having had some difficult learning times with me. Where my father excelled was as a grandfather, greatly enjoying his six grandsons and one granddaughter, inspiring his oldest grandson to become a scholar, and supporting the education and development of his other grand-children. He had the joy of knowing two of his great-grandchildren, Zoey and Anthony.

Those of you who knew my father probably remember his witty conversation, full of jokes, irony, satire, literary illusions, and sometimes brilliant remarks. He loved to joke and laugh. He loved repartee—-conversation with him was scintillating and fun. My childhood was filled with laughter.

My father was born in Grayville, Illinois; his father was a Presbyterian minister and his mother was a teacher. Sadly, Grandfather Shafer died when my father was 14, leaving my grandmother and father to struggle with poverty during the Depression. After graduating from Hanover College in 1938, he studied for the ministry at the Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, earning a Master of Divinity in 1941, and was ordained to the ministry of the United Presbyterian Church in Valparaiso, Indiana in 1941. He entered Union Theological Seminary in New York City where he was thrilled at his good fortune in studying with the theologians Paul Tillich and Martin Buber, receiving a Master of Divinity in 1942. All of my life, I heard my father speak with wonderment that he, a poor kid from rural Indiana, was privileged to study with the greatest theologians of the 20th Century. In March 1942, he and my mother, Carol Jeanne Parsons, were married, a union of 54 years. From 1944-1946, he served as a Chaplain in the U.S. Army, the 96th Division, 382nd Regiment, 2nd Battalion, accompanying the troops in the landing and invasion of Okinawa, and also serving in the South Pacific.

My father always wished to be called “pastor,” seeing his role as that of a shepherd. He served pastorates in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. In his younger pastoring days, he enjoyed working with the youth. I remember church picnics, youth camping trips to the mountains, and fishing and swimming in the lakes of several states. Here in Salem there were hot dog roasts, outings to the Bogg’s cabin on the lake near Brownstown, and swim parties at the DeJeans & Haags’ swimming pool.

A writer as well as a pastor, he wrote Sunday School lessons for Crossroads, the Presbyterian Sunday School series, as well as numerous articles, book reviews, and a book on liturgy. Many of his articles were written here in Salem in his study in our home on Main Street. A scholar, my father studied Latin and Greek all of his life, always carrying around little books with verb or other declensions. He loved books and amassed a collection of 15,000 books, which he left to his grandson, Jimmy [Professor James B. Apple, PhD]. In his ministry, my father took great pride in the written and spoken word. His powerful sermons were literary and erudite, uplifting and intellectually stimulating. When he retired from the active ministry in 1981, he served the Sciota Valley Presbytery as a pulpit supply pastor, retiring in 2002 when his health declined. He spent sixty years as a pastor.

He and my mother, Carol Jeanne, loved Salem Presbyterian Church, finding the years they served here–1960-1968—rich in friendships and shared Christian service. Serving the Church of the Savior out in the Delaney Creek Valley was a joy for him and he loved spending the day or evening in Doc Lopp’s cabin.

The other strong and loving shepherd in my life, and in this church, is my husband Max Bedwell, a father of two, a grandfather of four, and a great-grandfather of eleven. He is also the proud and caring step-father of Jim & Shinobu Apple and Dan Apple. I first knew Max as my brother’s football coach and later as the high school principal for whom I subbed back in the early 1970’s. After he hired me in 1977, I worked for him for 20 years. Max was such a great principal; he shepherded his small town high school with strong values, much inspiration, intense dedication, and a clear vision. The term “slave driver” comes to mind, as he pushed his teachers and his students hard, demanding that we strive to do our best. During his 27 years as principal, Salem High School had 12 National Merit Scholars, five students with National Merit commendations, and at least nine students who were later Phi Beta Kappas at Indiana University, including our own Christopher Beck. That is an amazing record for a small town high school. We all know that our students’ education is a collective, community effort, but Max thought of and spoke of the students as “his”—always so invested in their success. Many of his students won scholarships; many students went on to study at our great universities, earning degrees and doctorates; and many have served with distinction in the United States military. Today, hundreds of his students lead their businesses, churches, and communities. Max wanted his students to excel and he knew that education was the road out of poverty and the road to solid citizenship.

Max has served on numerous boards and now enjoys volunteering and gardening, raising lots of vegetables for his family and friends. For over twenty years, he has represented Salem Presbyterian Church in the Presbytery of Ohio Valley. He served a term on the Presbytery Commission on Ministry and now serves on the Camp Pyoca Board. He is serving his second or maybe third term on our Session. Each Sunday, he is here, faithfully, often with his beloved Addi and now with his loving daughter Deanna.

I want to share a story—an example of the kind of Christian leadership which is so typical of Max.  I wrote in my blog…..

“February 12, 2009:  Our church has been having weekly soup suppers, inviting anyone in the community who wants to come. We have enjoyed this activity no end and several people have joined us regularly, to eat and to visit. Tonight, someone came who really needed help. This man anxiously asked for Max, who had been there earlier to set up the tables and had gone on an errand. The man was agitated, disheveled, and obviously so poor.  Some of the workers kindly greeted the new man,  trying to be helpful and calming. Just then, Max came back. Recognizing the man as a former student, Max got a bowl of soup and sat down across from our guest, chatting in a kind and friendly manner, treating the man with respect and dignity.  The guest began to relax and enjoy the meal. Max asked how we could help and a conversation developed. Soon, we were all chatting and joking.

When I encounter very needy people, my heart is full of compassion. But, I am afraid–I am so frightened that I do not know what to do or say. I think I will be too condescending or too bossy—or too friendly or too helpful. I am not sure how to show proper respect. Max knows exactly what to say and what to do.  He talks in a friendly and conversational manner, making the person feel reassured and comfortable. And then Max thinks up helpful things to do– useful and practical things.”

Max experienced hardship and poverty in his youth, growing up on their family farm in Sullivan County, Indiana, late in the Depression. They weren’t destitute, but his father drank up money that should have been used to help raise his family. Max went to college on a dream and a prayer, working his way though Indiana State, and later earning a master’s degree and a specialist’s degree from Indiana University. Hard as this early start was, instead of making him bitter, Max’s struggles made him compassionate and caring. He began his career as a teacher and coach, and later became a principal. In his long years at Salem High School, he shepherded hundreds of students, guiding them through the transition-to-real-life process; it gave him particular satisfaction to make the phone calls or to write the letters to help poor students to attend college on a scholarship or to help them get a job. Later, when he worked in real estate, he often gave up part of his commission to help needy clients—and he gave mountains of free real estate advice and help to clients and people in need.

Nothing gives Max more pleasure than helping other people; he has a big heart.

The garden he and his friend Verne Ratliff created has just been sold, but Max still has our large backyard. He’s teaching his beloved great-granddaughter Addi to garden, passing on the skills he learned from his mother. His little Greats live around the country and in Germany, so we communicate on Facebook, through email, and by phone—which is not nearly as much fun as when they visit and race each other to the creek.

A dedicated father, Max shepherded his children through the tragedy of their mother’s too early death. He guided Steve and Deanna, and also his stepsons Jim and Dan, and Shinobu, with their educations and career development. He has guided his beloved grandchildren with long phone calls, and visits of support, and tireless directions, and generally patient explanations, and by example. His little Greats play at his feet, and he treasures all of the things they say and do.

His life of dedication and hard work is the model he has shaped for his family.

On this Father’s Day, we honor all of our fathers and grandfathers.

For me, there are these two men who frame my life:

* devoted to their families
* devoted to this church
* devoted to education and learning
* both leaders
* both shepherds
* each an example of what it means to be a loving father and grandfather

Happy Father’s Day to all of the fathers and grandfathers with us today.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the fathers and grandfathers who have shaped our lives.

Dancing in his Heart—my Father and Greek Culture

Professor Alexander Nazaryan, http://proof.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/30/the-tipsy-hero/, blogs in the New York Times about  Greek language, culture, literature, and philosophy. http://proof.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/30/the-tipsy-hero/ As I read his rich and erudite post, I thought of my father, Floyd Doud Shafer, who as a young man from rural Indiana attended Hanover College back in the 1930’s where he studied Classical languages, Greek and Latin. All of his adult life, well up past 85, he carried around small cards with Greek and Latin verb declensions or lists of adverb and adjective forms or vocabulary lists, which he studied diligently. If I needed a Latin phrase translated, I sent a letter, to which he gladly responded. Sadly, for him, and me, when I attempted Latin as a high school freshman, I hated it. I don’t think he ever forgave me.

At age 86, diagnosed with his final illness, he held my hand and asked me, “How does a philosopher come to die?” Since he had been an ordained Presbyterian minister for over six decades, I was startled momentarily by his question, until I thought about his life-long study of Greek philosophy, philosophers, and language. When the end came, he turned to his greatest love—Greek philosophy. How I wish he had been allowed the Greek tradition of sharing wine with friends. Instead, raised in a Calvinistic home, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvini, with a mother who was a devout member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WCTU, the pleasure of a draft of beer or a glass of wine with friends, came into his life later, in his middle years.

Mostly, though, I thought about my father’s love of literature, language, and Classical cultures, especially Greece and Rome, and how he passed that love of language and literature along to me and especially to his oldest grandson Jim, now a scholar of Tibetan and Sanskrit, and other Asian languages and cultures. Interestingly, the Doud in my father’s name came from his mother’s family, the Douds being early Puritan emigrants, arriving in the Colony of Connecticut about 1636. Their dour outlook was carried to the Midwest by my father’s grandfather Davis Rogers Doud in 1848 when he pioneered in Illinois with his family. Maybe dour is an unfair term; they were serious and somber, and devout Christians.

My father was a wonderful preacher and writer, filling his sermons and articles with the history of the Reformation, quotes from Shakespeare, and his vast knowledge of the Greek and Roman civilizations and cultures. Well, of course, there was the Christian aspect, too. But, even as a child, I realized his Christianity was broad; he saw the Universe as God’s creation and could not abide the Fundamentalist version of Christianity. His family, founders of the Seventh Day Baptist Church on one line and strong Mennonites on another, with lines of Brethren, along with the Presbyterians, has a fascinating religious history. He carried that with him, impoverished child of the rural Midwestern Depression, studying first at Hanover College, then the Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, and the Union Seminary in NYC. Through all those years of rather grim Christianity, his love of the Greeks and their culture danced in his heart. And, at the end, he chose to die with their philosophy as his guide.

Basketball ruined my life??…well…..not really

In my last post, I came down pretty hard on professional athletes, a group
for whom I have no particular dislike, I just didn’t want my sons to be one
of them. Jim told me at age nine that he was going to be a university professor–and that was the dream I wanted to hold. Jim was a gifted student with an early, age 18 months, pronounced love of books and reading. His brother Dan had an early love of business, a toy cash register being a favorite toy.

I had an early and pronounced dislike of anything athletic—so, of course, I
had two athletic sons and eventually married a football player/high school
coach, who had become a high school principal. And attended endless athletic events and spent several years in weekly/daily phone calls with recruiting coaches…..blah.

Now that the athletic part of my life is over—and behind me by 20 years—
I hope to finally face the devils in my memories.

As a child, I hated activity games and competition–dodge ball, soft ball, even red-rover. While the other children were playing games, I was always wandering around the edge of the playground, lost in my imaginary scenarios. In junior high I was on a volleyball team…..and a complete dud. I never ever tried out for any teams in high school, though I fostered a secret dream to be a majorette and strut down the football field. But, I could not play a musical instrument and probably could not have marched in time anyway.

So, I had a son who early on loved sports, one of his first words being “ball.” He loved to compete. We would not allow him or his brother to play little league baseball, due to the behavior of the parents, which appalled me—a mistake on our parts. Finally we relented and let the boys play little league football, with me in the stands in terror of injuries. Jim, a wonderful runner, was a terrific end, scoring often. Dan did not like being shoved around by the other kids or getting his clothing dirty. In sixth grade, Jim went out for basketball, having spent several previous years shooting baskets in any available hoop. We were the kind of parents who reluctantly, finally
put up a basketball goal on the garage roof after realizing that our kid was really good at basketball. We did not put up a goal early and encourage him to shoot. He showed he loved to shoot, so we dragged ourselves along. We gave him so little advance help that I always wondered what would have happened if we the parents had set the goals instead of Jim.

Jim’s whole basketball career was like that. He set the goals and dreamed the
dreams—and his parents kind of grumbled along behind him, trying not to thwart him. We were not pushy sports parents. In fact, when Jim was a high school freshman and it was obvious that he was going to play varsity, I begged the coach to not play him for a semester. The week before the season started, the athletic director came to me and said, “Jeanne, Jim is going to play Varsity.” My heart sank and I requested that he not start at first. So, he was the first sub in at the first game of the year and for several games, until the coach told me, “Sorry, he’s earned the right to start.” In his first game, the score was close at the end and the opposing coach kept shouting, “Foul the freshman!” Jim marched up to the free throw line three times, each time scoring twice, and we won the game. I was amazed at how cool he was—-and quit pestering the coach to keep him
on the bench.

Jim was poetry in motion on the basketball court and he loved the game with a pure and whole-hearted devotion. He seemed oblivious to the spite and grumbles around him, wanting everyone to love the sport as he did—and dedicate the time he did. The summer between his freshman and sophomore years, he shot 10,000 free throws. His step-father-to-be, Max, the high school principal, would often go into the gym and retrieve balls for him. Of course, the other players were not that devoted. And, I finally had to put my foot down at Jim’s intensity—no more than six hours in the gym practicing, a day—and then he had to go do some other activity, such
as ride his bike around town or go fishing or do something besides basketball. As one of the coaches pointed out, he was about a half-step short, which eventually led to the end of his career. Not being quite fast enough is a killer in college basketball, though he did okay in high school. Jim was a wonderful shooter, with a graceful left hook. He set the school scoring record, which he still holds, and was on the top-ten in the state
free-throw list his senior year, week after week. He set 26 school records in all and was named an Indiana All-Star.

I didn’t love basketball and spent a couple of years when Jim was in middle school being coached in the techniques of the game by the high school athletic director, my friend Paul Scifres. I was so proud when, finally, after months of trying, I could discern a “moving pick.” “Picking corn”—I never did figure that out. I loved to watch Jim play, though I cringed at every mistake and was wounded at every nasty remark from the crowd. It took all my courage to endure it. Odd to think how horrible it was for me when so many parents would truly enjoy having a child who was a gifted athlete.

Dan, who was not as athletic as Jim, preferred sports like golf. His skill in managing developed in middle school and he was a manager for football and for basketball all four years of high school. In his freshman year at IU, he was a student manager for the Men’s Varsity Basketball team, under the direction of Coach Bob Knight. Dan’s business skills were obvious and useful, early on in his life. Of course, I went to the games to watch him “manage,” a tradition of support in my family. When he was at IU, I was delighted to watch him on TV, rushing out to wipe a spill on the floor or handing a towel to a player. Reliablility, another skill recognized early, caused him to be often sent on road trips to film and later edit games of opponents.It was time consuming tasks like that which led him to give up being a team manager after his freshman year.

Both of my sons eventually learned that sports can consume one’s life and that there might be other interesting things in the world to do. Athletics, starting in Jim’s sixth grade and proceeding through college, took 10 years of my life. I learned a lot of lessons about life and people, but I never stopped wishing that my sons were competing in the world of ballet or opera. They scoffed at such silly ideas, so I endured athletics as best I could, but I never found it an ennobling experience. It was something I endured because I loved them, but those were dark and hard years in my life.

The Aneurism

Oh….well….so much for “Adventures in Third World Medicine.” It got a LOT worse before it got better!

Max and I are safely home after a week’s “adventure” at Jewish Hospital in Louisville, KY. On Wednesday afternoon, March 5, Max drove himself to our local hospital with chest pains—-he seems to always drive himself to the ER. When nothing showed up on the EKG, our local internist insisted on “aggressive measures,” so Max was sent to Jewish, in Louisville, a nationally ranked heart and lung facility. Since he refused to go in an ambulance, I drove him down there, arriving after dark. We wandered around until we found the ER, and finally he got to his room, which was full of SIX people from another family. Good Lord! The next day he had a heart catherization, or at least they tried. When the probe would not go through, the cardiologist sent him for a CAT scan, which revealed a massive abdominal aorta aneurism. The cardiologist came out into the waiting room, grabbed my hands, and pulled me over to a seat, saying we had “big trouble.” I didn’t quite grasp what was wrong at first—I though he had a brain aneurism. The cardiologist kept saying, “None of us have ever seen anything this big!!” Oh…my! Since we were in a nationally known heart & lung center, I realized we had a big problem. 

Finally, the cardiologist took me back to see Max, who was already full of tubes and quite upset, as they really were not sure he could live through the night. Dr. Stokivoc, the cardiologist, was very blunt and had also told Max he was in “big trouble.” Surprisingly, I appreciated their bluntness — better to know exactly where you are in a crisis. The family arrived late in the afternoon and we were allowed to see him in the critical care unit several times, each time progressively sadder and more frightening as our awareness of the seriousness grew. In Critical Care, two nurses hovered over him and a huge array of machines blinked on and off. Numerous IV pouches hung on the rods and he had tubes everywhere. A sense of crisis hovered in the air as we all knew that he might not live through the night or through the surgery. He was already bleeding internally and the aneurism could “blow” at any minute. The time of surgery was changed several times—from “this evening” to Saturday and then to Friday morning. The family was teary—there was that awful sense of no time left to say all the things that needed to be said. A squeeze of the hand and “I love you!” had to express all we wanted to say. 

As I drove home on the dark and silent roads late that night, I was determined to send him to surgery with a spiritual focus. When we gathered in the Critical Care Waiting Room on Friday, our pastor, Sara, joined us. We were allowed to see him before surgery in small groups. When grandson Ethan and I were alone with him, we held his hands and the three of us repeated the 23rd Psalm and The Lord’s Prayer. After that, the family came in together, with Sara, who led us in a beautiful litany. When the others left, I stayed with Max as he waited to go to surgery. I held his hand, and he and I repeated The Jesus Prayer together, again and again. Finally about 11:15 am, the surgery team arrived and I went with him in the elevator to the door of surgery. I kissed him good-by and good-luck—and went off to join the others in the waiting room for a very long afternoon of waiting. The ladies who run the surgery and critical care waiting rooms are tough—and we were assigned seats in order for the doctor to find us quickly. The surgery to repair the aneurism took four-five hours. The surgeons had a mix-up and neither came out to talk to us, so we had to wait for Dr. Rumisek to finish another surgery. Then Max popped the stitches fighting the ventilator as he came out of anesthesia and was rushed back to the OR for three more hours of surgery to repair the graft and completely re-close the wound. The very weary surgeon told us at 10:30 pm that he had ordered Max to be “completely out” all night. Max was in surgery from 11:30 am until after 10:30 pm. In the midst of all this, Louisville had a blizzard Friday night, so I was trapped down there a couple of nights—got low on cash, clothing, etc., as everything in the city ground to a halt.

Saturday and Sunday in ICU were just awful; the more anti-agitation medicine they gave him, the more agitated he became. He kept pulling out his tubes, driving the nurses nuts. He removed the ventilator tube on Saturday morning and the stomach tube on Sunday morning, way ahead of schedule. The nurses have terms for removing-tubes- without-approval, and shook their heads angrily about Max. Sunday, he was even more restless, and kept moving from bed to chair–and then back again–which is quite a chore with tubes running everywhere. No sooner would we get him settled in bed then he would insist on moving to the chair. Sunday afternoon, I thought he was going to pull out the swan clamp in his jugular vein, and I was beside myself. This clamp is a 8-9 inch tube surgically inserted into the jugular vein and then used to inject meds directly into the blood stream. The nurses took me into the hall and explain that if he pulled it out–and blood spurted—they would be there in 30 seconds with pressure pads to “save” him. The image of that possibility was not comforting. Finally, late Sunday afternoon, Dr. Rumisek, the surgeon, was called. He came in and after examining Max, ordered the clamp removed. Then, Max became even more upset and told off the nurse, refused to lie down, and kept trying to escape. The nurse finally called security. Suddenly, four burly security guards arrived in the room. Max, shifting into principal mode and his
authoritarian principal voice, kept telling them he had to go down the hall and fix a problem. He really was not rational at all. The nurse said his condition is called ICU psychosis and the doctor later said it was drug induced– [Refuse to take Adavant!] –and exacerbated by the noise and lights of ICU. 

Finally, Dee and I were sent home and his lights were turned off, the thought being that no-stimulation would calm him down….Wrong! As soon as I got home, the phone rang, with the nurse supervisor on the line, saying Max was more agitated than ever. I called several family members for advice and then I called the nurse back and requested that he be allowed to walk around some to calm him down, telling her I was sending Master Sergeant Rick Smith, our son-in-law. I knew that if Max could walk, and regain a sense that he was in control of his body, that he would settle down. The doctor agreed and our son-in-law and our grandson walked him around the ICU, taking about fifteen laps. After that, Max agreed to lie down again. This ICU was for patients on respirators—-someone up and fighting like Max was not in their protocol. Fortunately, that night he had a male nurse who calmed him down—the female nurses tended to be bossy, which set him off. He went to sleep and slept for 22 straight hours. In the midst of that, the doctor sent him to a private room, with an executive decor, saying he wanted to remove Max from the distraction of noise and lights in ICU. That move helped, too. They asked me to stay with him Monday night and brought in a recliner for me, so everything calmed down. When he awakened on Tuesday at 4 a.m., he was himself again.

By Wednesday, he was up walking around and recovering rapidly. The doctor sent us home two days earlier than expected—and it is so nice to be home again. When I stood in the living room the night before the surgery, I wondered if he would ever come home again. 

When we asked the surgeon to describe the aneurism, he gestured with his hands—-
the whole length of the aorta was the size of an orange in width. They also had to remove the spleen as its aorta was also greatly enlarged. Dr. Rumisek, a man of few words, said, “He beat the odds!” Later he told us “The aneurysm was the size of a football.” No wonder the surgeon and cardiologist got so excited and told me Max was the luckiest man alive, in that they caught it in the nick of time. They were astonished that he had survived. I teased Max, saying the operating room video will probably make all the thoracic/vascular conferences. Max’s scar is a good 14 inches; this was quite
a surgery—none of that LAP stuff. They cut him wide open and removed his internal
organs to get to the aneurism.

We were on many prayer lists. Our family, our friends, and especially our church family
have been beyond wonderful. We felt we were carried along during the ordeal by their
prayers and love.

Mother’s Day 2007

Mothers’ Day, 2007
Salem Presbyterian Church

My mother, Carol Jeanne Parsons Shafer, was a member of this congregation from 1960-1968. While she was here, she was a wife, a mother of three including two teens, a homemaker, a “minister’s wife,” an occasional organist, the director of the Children’s Choir, a university student working on her teaching certification and later her master’s degree, and an elementary teacher, among other duties. The word “multi-tasker” describes her life; she was busy. She was an equal partner with my father in all of her duties. When I read the following scripture, I think of my mother and the devoted care she gave to her family, her church, and her students.

Just as we know from the Parable of the Good Samaritan that everyone we encounter is our neighbor, we also know that we are all mothers and fathers to each other, husbands and wives to those we love and to the institutions we serve. I invite you to listen to this ancient scripture— those who are mothers, those who mother others, and those who have been mothered—and to think of how these ancient words describe a woman who is the CEO of her home and family, the administrator and manager of her life and the lives of her extended family—- a woman, single, married, divorced, or widowed—any woman who uses her skills to be the creative source within her home and her world, watching over, nourishing, protecting, caring, and mothering those who come within her realm.

Proverbs 31: Verses 10-31 are an acrostic poem, each verse beginning with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

Proverbs 31:10-31

“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still dark; and provides food
for her family and portions for her servant girls.
She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable; and her lamp does not go out at night. 
In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. 
When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. 
She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom and dignity, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.
‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 
Give her the reward she has earned and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”
“This is the Word of the Lord”

The Proverbs 31 woman is charitable, entrepreneurial, fashionable, financially astute, healthy, industrious, loving, managerial, productive, prudent, resourceful, responsible, reverent, self-confident, skilled, trustworthy, virtuous, wise, praiseworthy as a wife and mother. She represents the essence of womanliness and is the mother to us all.