"How can I say thanks for the things you have done for me...things so undeserved, yet you gave to prove your love for me....”
These words were penned by one of America's most prolific Christian composers, performers, and arrangers, Andre Crouch. His music effortlessly expresses the awesome majesty of God while quietly reflecting a humble and thankful spirit. Crouch was asked by a friend to write a song that would be heard around the world for generations to come. After he had spent some time in prayer, these lyrics were written and put to music and, as we often say, “the rest is history.” As he shared this powerful song with his friends for the first time, he was overcome with emotion and emphatically declared that all the glory belonged to God. Although he had struggles in his walk with God, he was thankful for the opportunity to share his gifts with the world.
Recently as I listened to this hymn of gratitude and praise, I felt compelled to recount the blessings that God sends my way each day. Sometimes the blessings are found in uncomfortable situations or seemingly, insurmountable obstacles. But then there are the tremendous blessings found in the extraordinary people He has placed in my life.
One such person was my dear sweet cousin Carol, whom I affectionately called “lovely lady.” We often addressed each other using this playful term of endearment. Although she is now asleep as she awaits Christ' return, her lovely character and legacy will live on in the hearts of her family and friends. I am glad to have been able to discover the depth of my cousin's love for God and for me as I remember the fragrance of her smile and the thoughtful words of this “Lovely lady.”
Although I am no longer able to address my dear cousin with our affectionate greeting, God has provided many other women, who by their character and love for God are able to carry the title of “lovely lady” with distinction. But what does it mean to be a lovely lady? Webster defines a lovely lady as one who has developed qualities that inspire love, affection, or admiration. It speaks of a beautiful person, someone who is exquisite, deemed moral or spiritually attractive, gracious, or very pleasant.
Scripture also speaks of the virtues of a lovely lady in Proverbs 31. Here we are told that she is faithful, wise, resourceful, industrious, protective, kind, nurturing, and the list goes on. Although the woman spoken of in Proverbs 31 is not referring to anyone in particular, the qualities that she possesses are seen in many of the women with whom I have the privilege of interacting on a daily basis. It is to them that I write today.
To the single mom who creates a pleasant and nurturing environment for her children; to the widow who selflessly uses her wealth of experience to counsel with those preparing for marriage; to the sister who spends her days in the courts of law fighting for justice and righteousness for those who are unable to fight for themselves, thank you for your strength and boldness, for it challenges me to do the same in my immediate community.
To the dear grandmother, raising your sweet grandchildren as your own; to the single lovely lady navigating life with passion and distinction, using the gifts with which God has endowed you; to the married woman...the tender ways in which you care for your spouse and children while prayerfully placing a protective hedge around them – you are all wonderful examples to be emulated as I strive to love my family in purposeful ways.
To the sick and ailing sister, your faith is sufficient and your prayers on behalf of others and me have not fallen on deaf ears. Your sweet and patient spirit speaks volumes and gives evidence of your acceptance of His promises.
And to all the lovely ladies within the walls of Sligo Church and beyond, as each of you lives out your life in boardrooms, in government, in the classrooms as student or teacher, in your homes, in homeless shelters, in prisons, in the pews, in pulpits or even in hospital beds, continue to bloom wherever you are planted.
How can I say thanks for all these “lovely ladies in my life? Well, I’m really not quite sure, other than to follow the example that you have provided for me and the countless other women whose lives you have touched and continue to touch each and every day. Because of you I am a stronger, kinder, wiser, gentler woman. And because of your godly example, I am confident that I am not the only one.