Saturday, May 9, 2015

Remembering “Baba” – A Proverbs 31 Grandmother

May we all have a blessed Mother's Day, remembering and giving thanks for all the women in our lives who have inspired, encouraged, supported and loved us. For me, that includes all of you ladies, and especially Baba, my grandmother! Hope you enjoy this repost from the archives.

Marya, my mother's mother, was born in a small village near Kiev, Ukraine. As a young girl and teen she was said to be the best folk dancer in her village! Judging from the lavishly decorated, traditional tea towels, aprons and blouses she made and my mother still had decades later, she was also a talented and creative artist. As a special treat on rainy days in childhood, I was allowed to open the steamer trunk containing these linens, their once bright red and purple embroidery faded to maroon and tan, yet still rich in their intricate designs.

When she was 16, Marya fell in love and emigrated to Canada with her husband, a mining engineer, leaving her family and country and following him with the faithfulness of Ruth (1:16-17). They had a hard life in blustery Nova Scotia, and although she gave birth to 10 children, including three sets of twins, my mother was the only one who survived past infancy. The others died from pneumonia or other infections, as antibiotics were not yet available.

Her husband died suddenly when he was 35, probably from a brain aneurysm, two weeks after telling her that he would die soon because he had seen Jesus. Yet she was faithful to God through it all, praying to Jesus, drawing strength from her faith in Him, and serving Him even in the trials (1 Thessalonians 3:8; 2 Timothy 4:7; Hebrews 12:1; Galatians 6:9: Psalm 27:13). 

Although she had never learned to read, write, or speak much English, Marya and my mother moved to New York City shortly thereafter. Marya worked very hard in a bakery in the lower East Side, and became an active and loyal member in the sisterhood of the local Russian Orthodox church. Although she made hardly any money, she scrimped and saved to fund the purchase of a beautiful, full wall mural of Ruth gleaning in Boaz' field (Ruth 2:8) for her church. Her humble home was always open for hospitality, and she was always ready to give generously to those in need (Luke 6:38; Philippians 4:15-19; Mark 9:41; Matthew 6:20).

When my mother married, she moved to a small town in Pennsylvania where my dad worked. Seven years later, when I was born, my parents invited my grandmother to come live with her in the new house they were building so she could help raise me. Imagine their surprise when they went to pick her up at the train station and she was carrying an unassuming satchel containing $10,000 in small bills -- nearly a fortune in those days -- to help with the down payment on the house!

While awaiting my arrival, she cooked, cleaned, and made a huge pair of down-filled pillows for my parents, complete with crocheted-trim linen pillowcases!

When I learned to speak, I called her “Baba,” the Ukrainian pet term for grandmother, or old woman (“babushka”). She did so much more than help to raise me -- she was a great role model of faith and prayer (Philippians 4:13; Colossians 1:27; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Psalm 119:10-11). One of my earliest memories is seeing and hearing her pray out loud in her bedroom, where she kept a framed picture of the Last Supper by a portrait of her husband, and singing the Russian version of “Come, Thou Almighty King.” She was not afraid to discipline me in love when I needed it (Proverbs 22:67; 29:15; 13:20).

One winter vacation in the then-small town of Hollywood, FL, when I was six, Baba spotted a couple of vacant lots in the middle of nowhere and insisted she wanted to buy them "to pay for Laurie's education." Despite the concerned, well-meant advice of my parents, she went ahead and purchased these lots for a song. Ultimately, when Hollywood became a busy and popular tourist destination, proceeds of those lots paid in full for my medical school education!

While leaving me this inheritance, she left me far more -- her shining example of faith and love that can't be measured by worldly standards of education, income and position. Not to mention my penchant for dance and for real estate! When, as a 14-year-old, I helped to care for her in the end stages of stroke and Alzheimer's, she inspired me to pursue a career in medicine, specifically in neurology and in dementia research.

Marya was a true Proverbs 31 woman who blessed her children, her husband, and all those in her household, community, and sphere of influence (v. 12). She was virtuous (v. 10), faithful (v. 11), hard-working (v. 13-16, v. 27), morally and physically strong (v. 17), generous and charitable (v. 20), She had a realistic opinion about herself (v. 18), provided for her family through her hard work and planning (v. 21, 24), and enhanced the reputation of her husband (v. 23). She was kind, speaking the truth in love (v. 26).

How can we become a Proverbs 31 woman, whose family and community recognize that the blessings she gives them are priceless? (v.10, 28, 29). Not by relying on our social skills or our physical charms, but by fearing the Lord – by putting His will for our life ahead of all else (v.30; Matthew 6:33; Mark 10:29-30; Philippians 3:8-11).

May we respect, honor (Exodus 20:12) and cherish our mothers, grandmothers and sisters, by blood or in Christ, while they are yet with us, and may we learn from their Godly legacy of faith, sacrificial love, and service (Proverbs 22:6;6:20; 29: 15; 1 Timothy 5: 5; 2 Timothy 1:5-6; Psalm 103:17). May they inspire us to give such an example and leave such a legacy for those following us! 

© 2013 Laurie Collett

Proverbs 31:10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

children's ministry blogs

Top 1000
Womanhood With Purpose
Adorned From Above
No Ordinary Blog Hop


Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
A very interesting narration of your family's history. Your grandmother certainly seems like one of the women of virtue as King Solomon describes her in Proverbs 31. How she can be such a provider to her household, even to the extent of surveying and buying a field, and yet remain submissive to her husband (who we may refer to as a Member of Parliament, or a Senator today) without walking all over him, can only be achieved by being controlled by the Holy Spirit of God.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
Amen! Only by the power of the Holy Spirit can a marriage begin to resemble God's ideal plan, and only by the fruit of the Spirit can each believer manifest the power and wisdom of God within us without being overbearing.
Thanks as always for your insightful comment, and God bless,

D said...

What a beautiful tribute to your grandmother! What a wonderful heritage! I really enjoyed reading your post and your profile. It sounds like you have a life full of adventure! Thanks for stopping by my blog today and leaving such a nice comment!

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Dede,
I'm blessed by your visit and sweet comment! May God bless you richly for being such an encourager!
Love in Christ,

Crafts a la Mode said...

Hi, Laurie, I love your post and would love to have you link up to my party What to do Weekends. I hope you are well. Linda Crafts a la Mode

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks so much, Linda! I'm blessed to hear you enjoyed the post! Thanks for the invite -- I just linked up!
God bless,

Donald Fishgrab said...

Great post, Laurie.

Today many focus on the actions of the Proverbs woman when, as your grandmother demonstrates, the key is in having the proper attitude. If the attitude is Spirit directed, the actions will naturally tend to be right.

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Donald! Great point -- if we fear the Lord, we will want to please Him in all we do and say. I always appreciate your sharing your insights.
God bless,

cairncottage said...

Oh, wow!! Laurie, what a wonderful family heritage and influence your grand mother had on you and your mother!! I can't imagine moving to a strange country, having 10 children(one who survived past infancy), worked so hard to save, and still wanted to give it away to her child and grandchild!! She is a great example of serving, through Christ. Our society today could learn so much from following her examples in life!! Blessings, Ann @ Christ in the Clouds (

Cheryl said...

I am just speechless...hardly knowing where to begin! What an incredible, Godly, amazing woman!! What a role model for you to follow and emulate! I am SO grateful you shared this story here. It is just so inspiring to read of someone like her, and it just makes me long even more to be that woman God is calling me to be in our generation. Oh, for more Babas! She sounded like she was so selfless and giving and always thinking of others. What a Godly heritage she has left you, and I know those precious memories will follow you all the days of your life. God bless you, Laurie!! I leave her so refreshed and encouraged and inspired. So thankful for our sweet visits today...both here and at my place. :)

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Ann! I'm so blessed to hear that you enjoyed this post. We have so much to learn from our Godly predecessors, not only those in the Bible, but those who bless our own lives and churches. You are so right, that society today could make a complete turnaround just by following the legacy of faith left by our sisters and brothers in Christ.
May you have a blessed weekend!

Laurie Collett said...

Cheryl, your sweet and encouraging words have made my day! You are a great blessing! Through God's grace, may we all be like the Proverbs 31 woman as we yield to His Spirit. Praying for God to continue to bless you and your lovely ministry -- you are being a wonderful role model for all your sisters in Christ who read your blog or who are blessed to meet you in person!
Love in Christ,

Katherines Corner said...

Laura another beautiful and inspirational post . Visiting your blog each week always makes me smile. Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop xo

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks so much, Katharine, for your sweet comment & for hosting! I'm blessed to hear you enjoyed the post!
May you have a wonderful week!

Jas @ All that's Jas said...

What amazing legacy she left behind. I truly am amazed by her story. Such inspiration is your Baba (I also call my grandmother baba - I'm from Bosnia). Thank you so much for sharing at Thursday Favorite Things!

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Jas,
I'm so glad you enjoyed the story of my Baba -- I'm sure your Baba is a blessing too! Praise God for the legacy Godly mothers and grandmothers leave to their children. Thank you so much for your sweet comment & for hosting!
God bless,