This week I was inspired by Rachel Held Evans and her explanation of Proverbs 31, a well known biblical poem about wisdom. In her post, she explains that the Hebrew phrase for “woman of valor” is “eshet chayil“. Many recognize these words in the Bible as “virtuous woman”.
Rachel’s Jewish friend, Ahava, shared with her “that she and her friends cheer one another on with the blessing, celebrating everything from promotions, to pregnancies, to acts of mercy and justice, to battles with cancer with a hearty “eshet chayil”!
I love it.
And I wholeheartedly agree with Rachel when she explains that valor is not embracing only one particular role as a woman, but living out whatever role you have with valor. She explains it this way:
“According to Ahava, [her jewish friend] valor isn’t about what you do, but how you do it. If you are a stay-at-home mom, be a stay-at-home mom of valor. If you are a nurse, be a nurse of valor. If you are a CEO, a pastor, or a barista at Starbucks, if you are rich or poor, single or married—do it all with valor. That’s what makes you a Proverbs 31 Woman, not creating a life worthy of a Pinterest board. “
And for mother’s day, I want to honor the many mothers of valor that I have the privilege of knowing. Single moms. Working moms. Homeschooling moms. New moms. Soon-to-be-moms. Grandmoms. The list of amazing moms is long.
There is no way to list all of the women in my life who amaze me, but I’d like to start with a few on my mind today:
Eshet Chayil: A Mother’s Day Tribute
1. My childhood BFF. A successful career woman. Also a mom of four boys, including a set of triplets in the mix. Yes. This means that at one time she was nursing three babies and caring for a two-year-old.
Just exactly what did that look when the family went to the pool?
It looked a little fun and a lot of crazy. Her children are 5 years old, 3ish years old, 3ish years old, and 3ish years old in the above photo.
Superhero? Yes. No question about it. She has taken on life’s insane moments with a beautiful spirit, endless love, and a great deal of humor.
In the years since starting her own family, life threw a curveball at her. She lost her own mother, who felt very much like my own in many ways growing up. It was a devastating loss. My friend walked through this difficult time period with honesty, strength, and courage.
This friend is a true woman of valor AND the most fashionable superhero that I know.
2. Friends caring for their parents and their children. I have two close friends who have become the main source of help for their own parents while still raising young kids.
Both generations, the one before and the one to follow rely on them. The emotional and physical toll is stressful at times. Yet I watch both of these women continue to put one foot forward and do the next thing. These friends are women of valor, loving both generations with a generous heart.
3. Friends fighting hard for the heart of their kids. It’s true. As I move toward the teenage years in my house, so do many of my friends. And our children begin to write their own stories, and sometimes the stories aren’t the fairytales we hoped for.
Bad choices. Big mistakes. Bitterness. Distance. And the road can be tough. foggy. unclear. seemingly hopeless.
Yet, these friends hold on to hope. They cling to love and pursue relationships with their teens with everything they have. There is anger. There are tears. There is forgiveness.
And in it all, there is deep love as they pursue a relationship with their child despite heartbreak, difficulty, and struggle. They are women of valor, writing a story of love in the hardest places.
4. Good friends, now single moms. This was not the fairytale ending they planned for. And through the hurt and the pain, their beauty has risen from the ashes. I watch as they find themselves again in new ways.
Dreams take on new forms. new jobs. new addresses. new normals. Slowly, they embrace a new future and I watch them flourish. These two friends are women of valor, continuing to thrive when the path took a very unexpected turn.
5. A woman who made the big move. Thirteen years ago she and her husband had a goal and a dream. They worked together to achieve it. Now they are living their dream in a new state, far from what was familiar.
The process was slow until it was fast. Too fast.
But she did what had to be done and she did it with laughter and heart of gratitude. Watching her bloom where she has now been planted is a joy!
She is a woman of valor, achieving with her family what they set out to do.
UPDATE: She has since moved across the country. And then moved again. They have embraced the adventure and continue to bloom in areas across this country.
My mom. She also made a big move less than a year ago and set out on a new adventure with my dad. Leaving the state she has lived in her entire life, she moved away from all that was familiar. If you know my mom, then you know this was HUGE.
After the passing of her dad, my Pop, she wanted to be near her mom again. They have not lived near each other since I was a little girl and my mom knew it was time.
I have watched her take care of and enjoy her mother in a way I haven’t been able to see during my life until this point. They laugh, watch TV and work out together. In fact, because of my mom, my Gram now has earned her “100 workouts” shirt at Curves.
One hundred workouts at 79 years old, each one because my mom has driven her there and encouraged her to be strong and healthy!
My mom. A definite woman of valor, generously giving as both a mom and a daughter.
To these and the many other women of valor who are celebrating Mother’s Day today, I say, “Eshet Chayil” interpreted loosely as “You go girl!”