I was recently talking with a new friend about a book she is writing which is partially about the study of family blessings and family curses handed down through genetics. We discussed the blessing that a strong woman passes down from generation to generation. And it got me to thinking…
Strong women are hard workers. Strong women make strong decisions. Strong women face their fears head-on. Strong women get up when they get knocked down. Strong women do whatever it takes. Strong women are survivors. Strong women raise strong children.
Here’s to strong women!
May we know them.
May we be them.
May we raise them.
Credit where credit is due: My mom has spent a large part of her adult life working on the genealogy of our family. She loves it. I’m so glad because when I need some information or photos, she’s got them. Typically it’s all in her head or at her fingertips, dates and all. It’s astounding. Thanks, Mom!
My Great Grandmother… not much is known about her but in asking my mom I am able to share a little bit about her. Based on what we do know, we have to assume she was a strong woman. In those days, labor was the name of the game. You worked hard or you didn’t eat. Strong women are hard workers.
Her name was Mary Lou Seymore Smith. Her mom died when she was very young. She was married to a farmer, farming is not for wimps, and they had their first child in 1898. There are records showing their generosity towards others in paying for medical bills, etc. Her husband shot himself for reasons unknown 2 years before she herself would die by being struck by lightning in 1920. Her daughter, my Granny, was 14.
My Granny… Ethel Ola Smith was born in 1906. As I said before, she was 14 when her mom was killed by lightning. She would have been 12 when her dad committed suicide. Her family would have been left with a lot of debt. She ended up caring for her siblings for a while since both parents were now gone. She picked cotton, she hunted and she cleaned the animals she killed.
She married my grandfather, Manuel Jones. Her grandfather willed her a small plot of land, a feather bed and $50. She and my grandfather would live there and over time, would end up having 10 kids, losing 3 at birth and raising 7. They would move to a new city, Velasco, Texas, grow their family, with no help, no mom, no family and live in a tent for several years, buy a small piece of land to build a small house on until my grandfather became a foreman at Dow Chemical and they could buy a real house that my mom remembers thinking it was a mansion. An 1800 square foot mansion.
As my mom was telling me more about my Granny, she mentioned that her strength came from knowing Christ. Initially from the laws of Christ because she always believed in God but it wasn’t until later in life, when she was 56, that she actually believed with her heart. 4 years before that my grandfather died from lung cancer. He smoked, most did then, and he worked in a plant with asbestos. My mom and dad got married in July 1958, he went to the doctor soon after the wedding. He found out he had cancer and it progressed quickly and he died that December. Granny was left to raise the youngest two boys who were 10 and 12 alone.
For the longest time, my grandmother had 2 dresses. She wore one while the other was washed and dried. They had little but she was fine. She survived the hardship of working on a cotton farm, two parent’s tragic deaths, raising her siblings, two house burnings, a house devastated by Hurricane Carla and the death of three babies and her husband. Strong women face their fears head-on.
I never knew my grandfather. I was 16 when my Granny died. She was my first experience with the loss of someone I loved. One of my favorite memories of her, when I was young, was how she made a business out of garage sales. One week she would go buy things and the next week she would have her own and sell them for profit. Another top favorite memory was her making peanut brittle. She taught my mom and my mom taught me. It’s one of my most favorite things to make as I think about good things passed down through the generations.
My Mom… Jane… She grew up with 6 siblings. That’s enough to make anyone come out fighting. She lost her dad to cancer, watched her mom survive and learned from her. She married my dad, a sailor, and moved off to military land. Had her first daughter without any support from family nearby. She had her second daughter prematurely, then lost the third at birth. Medically, she should have stopped there but went on to have me and one more sister.
If that’s not enough to qualify her as strong, she moved her family overseas with my dad’s job in the 70’s without Skype or iMessage or any kind of music technology to listen to on airplanes. She has fought roach and flea and mosquito infestations. Oh, and lice… so many lice in all of our blonde hairs. She figured out how to make root beer from scratch and we had homemade pizza before Dominos was even a thought. She has planned and prepared for countless family trips. She got out of our car in a busy 4-way intersection in Brazil to stop traffic so we could get through. This woman is strong! Or crazy… haha! Strong women do whatever it takes.
She cared for her mom when she was ill and stayed with her until she died. She also raised 4 daughters. Can you just imagine the monthly issues involved in that??? Not to mention the shopping trips and homework drama and just general drama All. The. Time. She raised me. That is a strong woman qualifier right there.
Me… I’m putting myself into this genealogy of strong women. I’m a fighter. No seriously, I could throw things and throw punches like no other. I’m feisty and opinionated and vocal and determined. I have learned in my older years how to reign some of that in, I haven’t punched anyone in a very long time, but ask my sister about that handprint on her back that one time. Or how my mom had to chase me around in circles to make contact on my behind with the belt. Or how I persistently asked annoyed my dad to let me throw a dart when I had no business handling anything that sharp. No one has ever called me a quitter.
Like my mom and dad did, we too took our family overseas. My strength and my “I’m not a quitter” mentality served its purpose here. I didn’t ever have to get out and stop traffic but everything about my world and how I’d lived it was different. We had Skype and iMessage and music on airplanes but the cultural differences and loneliness were at times hard to manage. I would often say, “it is what it is”. Strong women get up when they get knocked down.
My life has actually not been so bad. Like everyone, I’ve had issues to deal with, some even really painful, but the strength that these strong women before me have passed down has paid off. I’ve tried, and I think succeeded in passing it down to my daughter as well.
My daughter… Tori… I learned the depth of my own strength from her. Giving birth is not for wimps. She made me a mom. Being her mom is one of my most favorite things to be. Moms are strong.
She’s also a feisty one. Yes, she got that from her momma. I knew she would be strong when she learned how to throw fits. Goodness!! Homegirl could tantrum like no other. Strong-willed? Perhaps but we called it Leadership. I determined when we had kids that I would not squash their God-given personalities but would try to guide them to a positive path. She’s the little bit that told me “You’re not the boss of me!” Oh…. she had no idea. haha! We later found a sign at an old general store that said, “I’m not bossy I just have better ideas.” SO her!!
When she was in middle school we found out she had Scoliosis. The day she got her brace I remember strapping her in at night before she figured out how to do it herself, and she didn’t cry. I went to bed and cried like a baby. I couldn’t believe I just had to strap my girl in a body cast of hard metal and plastic to sleep in. She shed some tears during that journey but her strength amazed me. Through the brace wearing for 23 hours every day to eventual spinal fusion surgery, to a staph infection at the bone graft site and more surgery and hospitalization to a scratched cornea (which she said hurt worse than the surgeries) during the surgery process from the tape over her eyes, to not being put under when the port was inserted and being on home care for months after because of the infection. I tear up just thinking about all that she went through. All that I couldn’t protect her from. Strong women are survivors.
She has traveled to Kenya, China, UK, and all over Asia. Her heart for Jesus and missions around the world ended up breaking up a dating relationship. He was a nice guy but she wasn’t going to put up with anyone who asks her to go against what she believed in. Fortunately, the right one came along soon after. Strong women make strong decisions.
When other moms and dads were moving their kids into the dorm, we were overseas. I’m so thankful for my sister and brother in law standing in for us but she moved to college without her parents. We were never there for parent weekend or to take her care packages or do any of the things that normal parents get to do for their kids in college. She didn’t have a home to come home to on weekends, or a closet to leave her stuff in, or her parents or siblings to hang out with on holidays. She lived her college years mostly on her own except for occasional trips that would connect us. But she did all the hard on her own. She found her way and she did it so well.
She is now a mommy herself so she knows. She is passing on her strength to him in all the best ways. And guess what, her son is a very strong fit thrower. *insert sinister laugh Strong women raise strong children.
Before I end this post, I need to make sure I say that strong women are strong because we know weak. I’m not sure if my great-grandmother believed in Christ but I know that from my Granny on, we all are. I know plenty of strong women who don’t believe in Christ but the strongest women I know do.
Strong women accept their weakness because they know the Source from which their strength comes.
9 and finally He said to me, “My grace is enough to cover and sustain you. My power is made perfect in weakness.” So ask me about my thorn, inquire about my weaknesses, and I will gladly go on and on—I would rather stake my claim in these and have the power of the Anointed One at home within me. 10 I am at peace and even take pleasure in any weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and afflictions for the sake of the Anointed because when I am at my weakest, He makes me strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
What was handed down to you through the generations? What are you handing down to the next generation?