Shortly after my first wife Sue went to be with the Lord in 2001, I sat down and put a number of thoughts on paper. By the time I was finished, I had a book. It was very helpful to me to do this, and I am hopeful that if the book is ever published, it will be a source of encouragement to other believers who have lost their spouses. The title of my book is Let Her Works Praise Her: A Life That Counted. I wrote the book within six months of her death, and some of it was quite raw, reflecting as it does my emotional state at the time. It would be impossible to write those things in exactly the same manner today.
I am a man most blessed. Six years ago, two years after Sue’s death, the Lord gave me another wonderful wife – my Janet – who is my second
Chapter 4: The
Chapter 4: The
“An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.”
If a man truly loves and adores his wife, he will believe she is the best of the best. He will praise God for her and be thankful for every moment he has with her. When I say I had the very best, that is in no way meant to be disrespectful to anyone else’s wife. However, I can truthfully say that Sue was the perfect wife; she was certainly the perfect wife for me. The Lord gave us to each other because He made us for each other. We complemented each other’s skills, abilities, and temperaments. We balanced each other. We were a team. We were one.
At my request, Pastor Jeff Clark of Valley Evangelical Free Church of Hemet read
“An excellent wife, who can find?” (Proverbs 31:10,
Our culture has done great harm to the entire concept of the
God places great value on the woman who lives up to the standards of
“For her worth is far above jewels” (Proverbs 31:10,
When I received the life insurance money, I cried, knowing that no amount of money would ever replace my dear, sweet, loving, precious Sue. Yet I praise her for providing for me in such a way by insisting, just eight years before her death, that we buy a life insurance policy on her. I had provided well for her in the area of life insurance, especially while the children were at home. It was unthinkable to me that she should be left with little or nothing if something should happen to me. However, I never really even thought about the possibility that the Lord might call her home first. Her love and concern for me caused her to prod me into buying the insurance, so she continues to give to me even now. I praise her for that.
She does not demand more than he can provide. “The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain.” (Proverbs 31:11,
“She does him good and not evil All the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:12,
“She…works with her hands in delight…She rises also while it is still night, And gives food to her household…She girds herself with strength, And makes her arms strong…Her lamp does not go out at night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hands grasp the spindle” (Proverbs 31:13-19,
For many years until she began working part-time, she was thought of by some as “just a housewife.” In the minds of many, a term such as “housewife,” or even the more "politically correct" term “homemaker,” is descriptive of someone who is too lazy to work, has chosen to live a wasted existence, or perhaps is enslaved by her husband. Such a view utterly ignores not only the value of the work of being a wife and mother but the amount of work it entails. To presume a woman does not work because she is a stay-at-home wife and mother is to be ignorant of reality.
By contrast, Sue saw being a wife and mother as nothing less than the high calling of God. She believed, as the Scriptures teach, that meeting the needs of her husband, faithfully raising her children, and keeping the family unit intact were far too important to entrust to outsiders. She worked at it, and she did so diligently because she loved her family so very much.
“She extends her hand to the poor; And she stretches out her hands to the needy” (Proverbs 31:20,
While I was aware that she did many good things for others, I really was staggered by how many people she had touched, as evidenced by the approximately 800 people who came to her memorial service on a Thursday at There can be little doubt that, had it been on a Saturday, even more would have been there. She touched many, many lives in many, many ways.
“She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet. She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land” (Proverbs 31:21-23,
Sue so often set aside her own desires for the needs of our family. She had wanted a horse ever since she had one as a teenager, but she willingly gave up that dream for the sake of saving for our sons’ college educations, braces for all three boys, and a multitude of other pressing needs. It gave me such tremendous pleasure to see her joy when we were finally able, after college bills were paid, to buy her a horse by the name of Rebel. She was able to enjoy him for the last two and a half years of her life. That is one of those areas on which I do not have to look back with regret, wishing we had done differently. Her frugal and careful nature would never have allowed her to do something like that before we could afford it, and I praise the Lord that He provided the means for her to have her beloved Rebel before her life on earth ended.
Sue always dressed nicely and looked great. She frequently received compliments on how she looked. Very few people realized that almost all her clothing came from, as we both frequently said, the rag bag. She went to yard sales, thrift stores, and department store sales when there would be 50% or more off the already discounted sale price. It got to the point that it was much cheaper to shop like this than it was to sew, so she saved the sewing time for other things. Many times we would be at church or somewhere and someone would compliment her outfit, and she would quietly nudge me and, with a little laugh, say something like, “Did you know I only have $6.50 in this whole outfit?” She loved that. She certainly took no pride in flaunting some special brand of expensive clothing.
Sue even did her best to make me look good as I went to school day by day, and that was no small task. Left to my own devices, I tend to have what she called “the rumpled look.” Lt. Columbo certainly had nothing on me in that area. Sue used her knack for finding bargains to get quality clothing for me at very reasonable prices. Because of my colorblindness, she would lay out my outfit each day. I praise her for that because I have no clue what goes together. Frequently, people would say something like, “Your wife dressed you nicely today,” and I generally took the opportunity to say something nice about her. I was told that one of my students, a high school girl, upon hearing of Sue’s passing, started crying and said, “Who’s going to dress him now?” This is only one of many illustrations of the fact that much of what I am came from her. We were truly one, and I thank the Lord for that great blessing.
“Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom” (Proverbs 31:25-26,
The tendency among humans in a situation of loss is to feel cheated or gypped. In reality, we must be thankful for what we have rather than complain about what we don’t have. Sue kept a little flip chart of Scripture verses and wise sayings in the kitchen, one page for each day of the year, and when I got back from
Ironic? Yes. Coincidence? Definitely not. The Lord knew I needed to see that. I pray that I will go beyond believing it to feeling it. I know that God does not love me any less now than He did before He took my wonderful Sue home to be with Him. I need to trust in His unfailing love and realize that He has been good to me.
Sue’s simple trust in the Lord and in His Word made her a woman of great wisdom. She never did consider herself particularly smart or intelligent, although I disagreed with her on that. However, that is really of little importance. Too many today value intelligence, or even cleverness, as valuable assets. The best Biblical synonym for the word “clever” that I can find is “guile.” As believers, we are to be without guile.
God’s Word instructs us to be wise, but nowhere does it say to be clever or even smart. Although Sue and I have both been conservative and very careful not to make hasty decisions over the years, there have been many times that I have listened to my wife’s Godly wisdom, and I thank the Lord I did. The biggest regret I have in ministry is related to a time, when because of male stubbornness, I did not heed her wisdom, and we both paid a heavy price for my decision. I truly had a wife of great wisdom, and I thank the Lord that I had enough wisdom to include her in decisions.
“And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (Proverbs 31:26,
“She looks well to the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: ‘Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all’” (Proverbs 31:27-29,
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised…and let her works praise her in the gates” (Proverbs 31:30-31,
Sue was a beautiful woman, inside and outside. That very thing was said to me by one of the nurses in ICU, and it is so very true. However, outward beauty does eventually fade, but the real beauty of a godly woman is the inward beauty that shines through no matter how long she may live and how old she may become. “Your adornment must not be merely external – braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” (I Peter 3:3-4, NASB). My wife, beautiful on the outside, even more beautiful on the inside, has been, and continues to be, praised by the works that were so evident in her life. To have had the privilege of living my life with such a woman by my side was a blessing beyond compare.
Sue was truly a
Her treasures are surely stored up in Heaven. “But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:20-21,