This weekend I had the pleasure of attending my friend Marilyn’s 70th birthday celebration. Her son and daughter-in-law wanted to surprise Marilyn, and they invited our whole Tuesday morning women’s Bible study group. Marilyn is truly an inspiration to me.
It’s funny how I became part of the Tuesday study. I remember feeling like it would be an atmosphere both for my enjoyment and growth. Marilyn is younger than many of the women in the group, whom I affectionately refer to as my Pilgrim ladies (we attend Pilgrim Presbyterian Church PCA). I wanted to get to know these women better and learn from them. One morning I found myself shooting up a prayer before the church service began. I expressed these thoughts to God, but also confessed that it would be difficult for me to commit to this weekly study. I was already busier than I wanted to be (but conflictingly love to be at the same time). So I made an interesting request to God. I asked for one of these women to invite me to the study—then I would surely go.
That was one of the days that God revealed his sense of humor to me. As I got up to use the bathroom, Marilyn approached me. She taught the Tuesday study. I got a little more than an invitation. Marilyn asked me if I would be interested in being their teacher. Huh? Me? My first reaction was to shoot God a look. But of course, it has been such a blessing to my soul to get to know these women by studying God’s Word with them, and I am probably learning way more from them than they are from me.
When I received my invitation to Marilyn’s party, I was shocked that she was turning 70. Aside from previously leading the Bible study, Marilyn was homeschooling her two granddaughters to get them suited for the private school they are now attending. Their parents are both deaf. Marilyn’s son lost his hearing from meningitis when he was only 18 months old. Immediately, Marilyn decided that she didn’t want to be asking him for signing help—she wanted him to be able to ask his mom. So she enrolled in sign language classes at the local college to become the mom her son needed. He is now married to a beautiful woman from Costa Rica, who is also deaf. Marilyn is a wonderful mediator for her granddaughters between the deaf culture in their home, and the hearing, buzzing culture in their school and the rest of the world. As it is with each woman in my study group, I am constantly learning and inspired from her stories. But this weekend I learned something from Marilyn just by watching her.
Since her family was with us at this party, Marilyn signed the entire time she was there. When Marilyn is signing, you see another dimension to her personality. She comes alive with expression while she appears to be dancing out words. It is mesmerizingly beautiful to watch. And there is some humor to sign language.
Did you know that the sign for “boring” is picking your nose? Well, she didn’t actually put her finger in her nose, but when signing this word Marilyn’s finger touches the outside of her nostril and does a double twist. And there is a facial expression that accompanies the sign to pull it off. My love for Marilyn grew twice its original size from one pretend nose-picking sign.
The way I see it, there are two types of people in the world. There are those who decided on the silent “K”—the same type of people who seem to make up our congress nowadays—and there are those who decided the sign for boring.
That may be the major point of this already long article–the people who dance with their words and call it like they see it. Once again, God used Marilyn to show me his sense of humor. Of all the godly traits this woman inspires me with, I was personally moved to watch her sign-dance with her finger pretending to be up her nose. I’m sure my readers are getting sick of hearing me say that we are studying Hebrews on Tuesday mornings—yes, still! But Marilyn is one gem in my whole group of Pilgrim lady jewels, all part of my own personal Hebrews, chapter 11. She is in my hall of faith even though she is still very much living. It is such a privilege and an honor to celebrate with her.