For in him we live and move and have our being…Acts 17:28

Webster’s dictionary defines a hero as one greatly regarded for his achievements or qualities. I’ve been thinking a lot about heroes lately--not the typical kind like soldiers or firemen but a different kind of hero. The hero I’m thinking about never wore a uniform or wielded a weapon but she went to battle daily. She fought to protect and support her family, defend her faith and uphold things that encourage us all to be good, honest and faithful. The hero that comes to mind was named Evelyn, and in my book she was a beautiful hero whose whole life was a lesson. She was a Catholic Mom extraordinaire and a few weeks ago she died surrounded by the family who adored her. Today I’d like to honor her memory and some of her lessons because this world would be a much better place if we all had a little more Evelyn in us. The best way to be a great Catholic Mom is to pattern your life after one!

*A hero likes big numbers. Fourteen is a good one! Evelyn carried, delivered, loved, adored and constantly prayed for fourteen kids. If you think about it, that’s 98 cereal bowls a week, 140 slices of bread a week for lunchtime sandwiches and more than 52,000 diaper changes. What’s even more amazing than those numbers is that each bowl of cereal, each brown bag lunch and each new diaper was offered with a smile and probably a quick prayer. Too much time and too many tasks were not a part of Evelyn’s thought process; it was about loving and serving in a big way.

*A hero is unselfish. Evelyn knew that life was about giving away and not taking or storing up. It didn’t matter if it was homemade bread, hugs or rock-a-bye baby minutes, she gave all she had away. The greatest act of unselfishness a woman can offer is the gift of her body for the creation of another one. All the aches, pains, morning sickness, and fatigue that go into growing a little human is a true labor of love. Evelyn lovingly and happily spent more than ten and a half years of her life pregnant…saying YES to life no matter the cost to her.

*A hero is joyful. True joy is knowing you’re right where you’re supposed to be, doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing according to God’s plan. That sums up Evelyn’s life and boy did she live like she knew it! She loved being a wife and mother more than being well-rested and living out her vocation brought her more joy than an uninterrupted night’s sleep. She found joy in baby arms around her neck instead of pearls and little fingers tangled around her fingers more than gemstone rings. She knew some days would be hard and long and that some months there would be more bills than money but there was still great joy because trusting in God means you know He is bigger than any problem.

*A hero prays hard one day and harder the next. Being a farmer’s wife and mother to fourteen can either cause a lot of worry or inspire a lot of prayer. Evelyn chose prayer! She told me once that there was no such thing as enough prayer and everything that happened in a day was an occasion to talk to God. Evelyn not only prayed the Rosary daily, she also made Rosaries to give to others so they could pray too.  Over the years she made and gave away more than 14,000 Rosaries. To say she was a prayer warrior is the understatement of the decade!

*A hero is content. I think if we all had Evelyn t-shirts, a great slogan to sum up her life would be; “I love what I have and I have what I love.” Life wasn’t about cars, clothes, homes, jewelry or stuff, it was about the simple, the delightful the “God-given” things. That’s where she put her energy and that’s where she got her peace and beauty!

*A hero finds their happiness in others. Rocking a fussy baby, singing her praises with the choir, watching her kids and grandkids “do their thing” and offering her lap like throne for dozens of grandbabies were just a few of the ways she found her happiness. She was always the giver of love and laughter, not the seeker of it. She was completely and genuinely interested in the person she was with at the moment.  She celebrated, cried, laughed and prayed with others and did it so sincerely and genuinely that you always walked away with a lighter step and a fuller heart.

*A hero realized giving love is about multiplication and not subtraction. Evelyn showed everyone who knew her that the more you love, the more love you have to give. I think she would want us all to know that there is absolutely no such thing as too much love. It’s Evelyn math…how else could she have raised fourteen faithful, happy, giving, positive, truly lovely children if she didn’t use her love multiplication formula dozens of times a day!

*A hero always leads with the smile and knows without a doubt that giggles trump complaints every time! Every conversation I ever had with her began with a giant smile, the touch of her soft warm hand and a beautiful “Oh Sheri, how are you?” I can still hear that sweet, cheerful voice. I never heard her gossip, make a negative comment or criticize anyone or anything. She was a kind and gentle soul with words to build not break.

I learned so much about being a strong Catholic woman and mother by watching Evelyn. She never once tried to influence anybody, she was much to humble for that but what she probably never realized is that it was her example that taught and not her words. She wasn’t perfect, but she was perfectly God’s and that’s what made her such a hero! Thank you for living your life so beautifully! May you watch over us all as you live in the presence of the Angels and the Saints, sweet Evelyn!

A Seed To Plant:  Pick an Evelyn lesson or two and make a plan to live it!

Blessings on your day!

Copyright 2015 Sheri Wohlfert
Image Credit: Amy Hengesbach Cook. All rights reserved.