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I wore red today.  A small act, really.  I wear red often – one of my favorite shirts is red and my current favorite shoes are red too, so wearing red is nothing unusual.  But today I wore red for a reason.

International Women’s Day has been overlooked by some, focussed on by others.  Some have walked out of work to highlight how much women do; others have given speeches, done marvelous things.  I have worn red.  I have taught my class of students about the women’s movement and suffrage and women who are engineers and pilots and athletes.  I have told my girls that if they want to be doctors and scientists I value that dream and believe it for them.  I have told them if they want to get married and make ‘Homemaker’ their job title, that I value that dream too and believe it for them.  I have taught them that they can choose and believe and do.

I have spent time too, today, surrounded by great women, thinking about great women, and praying for great women.  And while Amelia Earhart and Helen Keller and Harriet Tubman are undoubtably great women, they have not shaped me or taught me half as much as the women I see and have been embraced by day after day.

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I am not a wife, and I am a little ashamed to admit that I have read past Proverbs 31 at times and thought that it did not apply to me.  But today I returned to it and prayed on it.  And what God reminded me of is this:  I am a wife.  I am a bride of Christ, as all His body, the church, is.  Now I see Proverbs 31 as a beautiful painting of a woman of noble character.  He also reminded me of the great blessing He has given me through the many noble woman in my life.   Now, the words are not mere words: they are the faces and voices of the woman He has surrounded me with.

The noble woman whose husband has full confidence in her?  The women of my church who have guided and supported their partners through thick and thin.

The noble woman who selects wool and works with eager hands?  My new American friends who crochets and crochets and crochets – even though they only knows a few stitches so far! – and sews and sews and sews and makes for others.

The noble woman who brings food from afar?  The inspiring woman of my Nepalese family who take so much pride in the generosity of sharing food with those they love.

The noble woman who gets up in the dark and provides for her family?  My mum.  She might be retired now, but for so long she worked and worked and worked.  I don’t know any stronger or more dedicated worker than her.

The noble woman who plants a vineyard?  My mum sure loves planting her vegetables.

The noble woman who works vigorously?  I am blessed with two aunts who work work as hard as they love.

The noble woman who opens her arms to those in need?  My godmother – and my friend -who gives much though she has little and every year calls me to collect that same heavy bag of coins for children at Christmastime.  

The noble woman who makes coverings?  The church sister who sews beautiful things with great talent, whose art hang on the walls for all to see.

The noble woman clothed with strength and dignity?  The girl I watched deal with illness and emerge with God’s grace a beautifully strong and inspirational young woman.  

The noble woman who laughs at days to come?  I have a few church friends who give the best hugs and make me laugh so hard I cry.  Though I have known them only a few years, their loving laughter is such a familiar comfort to me.  

The noble woman who speaks with wisdom?  What wonderful church friends I have who advise prayerfully and honestly.

The noble woman who is called blessed by her children?  My mum.

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What great blessing God has given me to be surrounded by women who show me that while ‘charm can mislead and beauty soon fades, the woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God’ (Proverbs 31:30, MSG).  As I learn from them, pray with them, and embrace them, I set my goal to be a woman of noble character like them.

A good woman is hard to find,

and worth far more than diamonds…

Give her everything she deserves!

Festoon her life with praises!

Proverbs 31: 10 and 31, MSG

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