Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.
Some may like fifty shades of grey,
but it is those five shades,
that I will remember best.
When she was young,
she had black hair.
During her child rearing years,
she was somehow able to balance
raising four children, working a night shift job,
caring for an aging grandmother,
and serving on several ministries within the church.
To many folks, she was Wonder Woman,
but in my childhood years,
she was simply mom.
She was the one who consoled me when I had a boo boo,
paddled me when I disobeyed,
read to me stories of the faith at bedtime,
prepared supper daily at 5pm promptly,
canned and froze vegetables from the garden
sewed my clothing,
washed my laundry,
corrected my grammar,
helped me with my homework
and held me in her arms in the evenings.
I’m not sure how she managed
on such little sleep,
but I quickly learned that she was no normal mom.
During our teen years,
or perhaps because of them,
mom’s hair slowly became peppered with grey.
By then she was
driving us to every school and community activity known to mankind,
now caring for the other aging grandmother,
singing beside us in the pews as we worshipped,
still making dinners for us each evening at 5pm,
punishing us when we stepped out of line,
still harvesting food from the garden in preparation for the long winters,
still working the graveyard shift,
still leading in many ministries at church
and still holding us in her arms at the end of the day.
It was in the next years that her hair color became the most curious,
At times, the increasing amount of grey would present itself
in the most peculiar fashion.
This would be particularly so when she
would watch my brother’s baseball games in the bright sunlight.
The blue coat that she wore, would reflect off of her hair.
People who didn’t know her would say,
“Look, at that lady. She has purple hair.”
As a young adult,
who knew little about the refractory patterns of light,
or the gradation of the aging hair follicle from black to grey,
I would simply say,
“Uh, that’s my mom.”
It was this purple haired lady,
who helped us through college,
who took on the role of grandmother,
who continued to provide us with savory meals,
who made the most amazing dinner rolls and other pastries known to anyone in the zip code,
who celebrated our achievements,
who prayed us through our rough times,
and continued to hold us in her arms when daylight faded.
Years before brazen dye color jobs were accepted as fashionable,
Mom wore her purple coiffure with dignity and class.
As the years rolled by,
the grey began to dominate her mane.
Instead of coloring it in a season of denial,
she embraced it and if possible, became even more beautiful.
In these greying days,
this strong woman buried her husband,
retired from work,
mastered the art of grandmothering,
and continued to pray for her family.
In her grieving,
she learned how to be thankful in her newfound singleness.
Instead of dying with her husband or dyeing her hair
she chose to live her remaining years with dignity and purpose.
In her last years,
the grey fully enveloped her crown,
and dementia began to invade her mind.
Although the disease began to slowly rob her of her mind,
it could not touch her spirit,
and it could not claim her soul.
Those who met her in the last years,
knew they were meeting a woman who had led an extraordinary life.
She was the gentle and quiet spirit mentioned in the book of Peter, (1 Peter 3:4b)
yet she had a strong fortitude to lead like Deborah, the Old Testament judge and the Marys of the New Testament
In the last days,
it was our turn to feed her,
in grateful response for all the years that she nourished us.
But even when the dementia took control,
she continued to pray for us
and hold us in her arms as darkness approached.
Our culture gives us a distorted perception of women and their value.
50 shades of grey shows me nothing about the value and strength of a woman.
The five shades that I witnessed tell me the truth………
that my mom knew what it meant to be a strong and confident woman
because she found her identity in the Lord who birthed and purpose her life.
She was a woman of noble character.
She did not find herself inferior to any person
and yet she willing submitted her life to serve others.
In part, because of that,
I am the man that I am today.
And for that,
I am forever grateful.
Mom, thank you for giving me so many reason to remember you.
“A woman who fears the Lord,
she shall be praised.
Give her the product of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gate.”
Proverbs 31: 30b-31