the invisible woman

I received this today through a homeschool email network I subscribe to.  While I am not a mother, I am blessed to be part of the lives of two very special little girls, Abigail and Kerria.  It is good to be reminded that the work you do does have lasting effects.  So, whether you are a mother, father, aunt, uncle, grandparent, teacher, mentor, pastor, or answer to any other title that involves investing in the lives of other people, may you be inspired by the thought behind this. 

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The Invisible Woman

by Nicole Johnson

It started to happen gradualy..
.

One day I was walking my son Jake to school. I was holding his hand and we were about to cross the street when the crossing guard said to him, ‘Who is that with you, young fella?’ 

‘Nobody,’ he shrugged. 

Nobody?  The crossing guard and I laughed. My son is only 5, but as we
crossed the street I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, nobody?’
I would walk into a room and no one would notice. I would say something to
my family – like ‘Turn the TV down, please’ – and nothing would happen.
Nobody would get up, or even make a move for the remote. I would stand there
for a minute, and then I would say again, a little louder, ‘Would someone
turn the TV down?’  Nothing.

Just the other night my husband and I were out at a party. We’d been there
for about three hours and I was ready to leave. I noticed he was talking to
a friend from work. So I walked over, and when there was a break in the
conversation, I whispered, ‘I’m ready to go when you are.’ He just kept
right on talking.

That’s when I started to put all the pieces together. I don’t think he can
see me. I don’t think anyone can see me.

I’m invisible.

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.  Inside I’m thinking, ‘Can’t you see I’m on the phone?’  Obviously not.  No one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I’m invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this?  Can
you tie this?  Can you open this? 
Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being.  I’m a clock to ask, ‘What time is it?’  I’m a satellite guide to answer, ‘What number is the Disney Channel?’  I’m a car to order, ‘Right around 5:30, please.’ 

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude – but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.

She’s going… she’s going… she’s gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in.  I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean.  My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it.  I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, ‘I brought you this.’

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: ‘To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.’

In the days ahead I would read – no, devour – the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

No one can say who built the great cathedrals – we have no record of
their names.

These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never
see finished.

They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the
eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam.  He was puzzled and asked the man, ‘Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will covered by the roof?  No one will ever see it.’  And the workman replied, ‘Because God sees.’

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place.  It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, ‘I see you, Charlotte.  I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.  No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked,is too small for me to notice and smile over.  You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.’

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction.  But it is not a disease that is erasing my life.  It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness.  It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder.  As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.  The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, ‘My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.’ 

That would mean I’d built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home.

And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, ‘You’re gonna love it there.’

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right.  And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

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   “The LORD make (thee) like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel.”

– Ruth 4:11

 

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happy birthday to my mother ~ keeper of the spring

 With joy I wish the happiest of days to my wonderful mother who also has become my best friend and mentor.  She has been and continues to be my most valued source of inspiration aside from the Lord.  The following is dedicated to her. 

Some time ago I heard this story of the keeper of the springs.  I’m not sure where the allegorical narrative originated but I love it.  It could, I suppose, represent many different ideas but the one to which it has been ascribed in my mind is that of the role of a mother in the lives of her children.     

The Keeper of the Springs

Once upon a time, there was a town nestled at the foot of a mountain range where it was sheltered from wind and storms. High up in the hills above the little village, a quiet forest dweller took it upon himself to be the Keeper of the Springs. He patrolled the hills and wherever he found a spring he cleaned its brown pool of silt and fallen leaves of mud and mold and took away from the spring all foreign matter, so that the water which bubbled up through the sand ran down clean and cold and pure. The City Council, however, was a group of hard-headed, hard boiled business men. They scanned the civic budget and found in it, the salary of the Keeper of the Springs. Said the Keeper of the Purse, “Why should we pay this romance ranger? We never see him; he is not necessary to our town‘s work life. If we build a reservoir just above the town, we can dispense with his services and save his salary.”  Therefore, the City Council voted to dispense with the unnecessary cost of the Keeper of the Springs, and to build a cement reservoir. So the Keeper of the Springs no longer visited the brown pools but watched from the heights while they built the reservoir. When it was finished it soon filled up with water to be sure, but the water did not seem to be the same. It did not seem to be as clean, and a green scum soon befouled its stagnant surface.  There were constant troubles with the delicate machinery of the mills, for it was often clogged with slime, and the swans found another home above the town. At last, an epidemic raged, and the clammy, yellow fingers of sickness reached every home in every street and lane. The City Council met again. Sorrowfully, it faced the city‘s plight, and frankly it acknowledged the mistake of the dismissal of the Keeper of the Springs. They sought him out high in the hills, and begged him to return to his former joyous labor. Gladly he agreed and began once more to make his rounds. It was not long until pure water came lilting down under tunnels of ferns and mosses and to sparkle in the cleansed reservoir.  Upon my re-hearing this story on a Focus on the Family radio broadcast a while back, I was inspired to capture it in poetic form.  In fact, my mother and I worked together on parts of it.  For some time it lay dormant with occasional effort on my part to finish it.  Today I present it to my mother as a token of my deep appreciation for the devotion with which she has mothered and mentored me.     

The Keeper of the Springs

By Rachel Hunt, lovingly dedicated to my mother, Priscilla Geralene Hunt on her birthday, August 7, 2007. 

You have been chosen, O fair maiden of the King

Selected by His Majesty to be a keeper of the spring

No other one so aptly could do this special thing

Keeping watch so vigil to ensure the purest stream

  

Day and night you’ll labor to keep its constant flow

Clean and clear and full of life, deterred by ne’er a foe

A little blockage here or there, that oft’ might tempt to hinder

Cannot escape your watchful eye, your hands that ceaseless labor

  

Immediately you start to work, your task cannot be hindered

Others’ lives are in your hands you constantly remember

The smallest of impurities could render slow but certain death

If not for the Keeper who watches close, any harmful thing to arrest

  

The health of all who are refreshed by the charge within your care

Depends upon your faithfulness – whether you are always there

Keeping watch – seen or not – unnoticed or applauded

The work you do relentlessly must e’er be kept unthwarted

  

The highest praise that can be given to one of your description

Would surely be upon the lips of all, your title fondly mentioned

Credit to a work so great must definitely be rendered

This job of such significance must never be surrendered

  

Yet some would fain to undermine your worth and ardent valor

The keeper of the purse declares your funds more elsewhere matter

Society is moving up they say, we’ve bigger, better things

The budget is shifted as a better way is sought, to utilize the springs

  

And so you watched with broken heart as bigger better things

Sought to replace the work you’d done that once made your heart sing

And for a while you wondered if maybe you’d been blind

To new and improved means by which clean water could be found

  

Until the day that told the truth of what advancement proved

Efficiency abundant now but quality far removed

Sludge and slime now filled the stream, no one to guard its health

Sickness raged in every home, threatening a greater kind of wealth

 

 

Something must be done with the town in disarray

The council met again, the keeper of the purse dismayed

Perhaps his dismissal of the lowly keeper played some key integral part

‘T was true that he had never taken the keeper’s importance to heart

  

Could it be the tender care that to the spring was given

Was reason for the flowing stream that once made the town seem like heaven?

Quickly and firmly the conclusion was drawn, the keeper’s job reinstated

And the townsfolk watched in anticipation and with bated breath they waited

  

The transformation they knew would come with the keeper at watch once again

Did slowly but surely make its appearance and with determination began

To produce in the fields and countryside a vivid and deep virescence

Life springing forth with beauty so rare, colors of radiant brilliance

  

And so time did tell the secrets of producing the purest stream

Frothy fountains, babbling brooks, ribbons of glass that gleam

Nurturing flora, harboring fauna ‘long side the grassy shore

Yes – streams that offer so much more than water in a reservoir

  

For you see, the end result cannot be simply measured

By more efficient means through which a budget isn’t squandered

In the broader grander scheme of things, quality is prime

And budget there isn’t which renders excellence, not affording time

  

Time well spent on the little things that matter most in the end

Little things that if not tended yield matters hard to mend

And so it was found in that little town that what made folks hearts to sing

Was because of the humble yet vital role of the keeper of the spring

 

 

About my mother

My mother’s life as a keeper of the spring might also be visually represented as a water wheel.  I chose a wheel because all that she loves and deems important are like spokes projecting from a central point.  That central core of her very being is God.  She seeks to view all aspects of life from His perspective.  Just as a water wheel is constantly retrieving water and re-depositing it elsewhere, so my mother seeks to pass on truths that she has found to others.  Some of the main spokes of her wheel centered around God are these: 

God’s Word

If my mother should have lived in any one Biblical location I think it would have been Berea for she fits well the description of searching the scriptures to confirm what is true and excellent.  Because of this she has become very knowledgeable in the scriptures and possesses a deep desire to live life in accordance with God’s principles.   

One of my favorite things as a child was for my mother to ask my brothers and me Bible questions as we went to bed at night.  Many times we would fall asleep to the sound of her voice as she would be asking questions like, “Rachel, who was the queen who saved her people?”, “Andrew, who did God cause to be swallowed by a great fish?” or “Daniel, who was the boy who killed a giant?”.  My mother (and father) did not depend on someone else to infuse us with the stories of the Bible we grew up learning to love.  We were read, told, questioned about and given dramatized Bible stories on audio.  Those things remain with us to this day. God’s Word is the basis for her every action and decision.  She has made it a priority to know the Word of God and what it has to say about life.  As a result, she is most well versed in the Scriptures and is skilful in the Word.  When I think of my mother the most salient characteristic she possesses is that of ultimate devotion to God.   

Learning 

My mother possesses an innate desire to learn about what is important in life.  She is always reading.  Her favorite topics are the Bible, family, health, Christian living, and biographies of great Christians.  My childhood was filled with trips to the library followed by stacks of books checked out to return home with us. Reading began on the drive home.  With both my parents being bookworms we have collected quite a library.  I have inherited their love for good books and have my own library in progress!  With bookshelves at a premium at our house I am learning that the public library is a great thing and not everything has to be bought.  There’s nothing I love better than stumbling across a great read and inducting it into my personal collection, though!  

Family

A priority of my mother’s has been to learn all she could about the best way to train, nurture, and teach children.   No sacrifice was too great for the sake of her most prized possessions on earth.  Although she could have pursued a teaching career with her degree in Elementary Education she chose to devote her life to home schooling my brothers and me.  Our lives are forever marked by her incredible patience and love.  While academics were important to her, infusing us with a passion for doing things God’s way and the knowledge that His ways were always best was her main goal.  She took seriously her role as a mother and did it with all of her might.  Because she sought to teach me the right way to live, the wrong ways became obvious by default and ungodliness seemed strange and wrong.  She was not content with mediocrity and “fitting in” was not her goal.  Her motto was that anyone can do what everyone else is doing but when God’s Word directs otherwise it takes a strong person with confidence in God to stand alone.  Excellence was the bar and God’s Word the standard.  She definitely took the road less traveled and it has made all the difference.      

Health

My mother recognized the importance of understanding what produces optimum health and made it a priority to learn all she could about it.  To this day she is a perpetual learner in this area, constantly seeking to improve quality of life.  She knows that it is important to be in good health so that the best possible service to the Lord can be rendered.   From a young age we have all been educated to a degree in this area, from whence comes this story. J One of my brothers and my favorite pastimes was “playing church”.  We did it with just the three of us as well as with childhood friends who visited our home.  Naturally, my brothers did the preaching and sometimes came up with the most interesting topics!  The most laughed about one would be that of them preaching about how bad ice cream is for you!  I chuckle now just thinking about it. J  Today, I love discovering ways to prepare healthy delicious meals for our family and friends who visit.  And by the way, I have found a healthy way to make ice cream!     

Travel

Whether vacationing or attending church conferences – my mother’s middle name is go!  She loves to see the beautiful world God created and revel in the glory of God’s handiwork.  Attending church meetings is definitely a love of hers.  She is constantly taking notes and gleaning all she can from the speakers’ words. One place she has not been but has a deep desire to visit is the Holy Land.  I can only imagine her delight in seeing the places she has read and learned about in the Bible.    

All of these loves have now become mine.  She continues to point me to God and His Word as the basis for my life decisions.  The most valuable thing I have learned from my mother is this: I can trust God because His ways are always best.  May my life reflect the passion with which she has served Her Maker.