Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Do You Have A Role Model?

I never see my name on pretty pins or stationary in stores,
so I was thrilled to see it on this sign in Paradise, PA
I think role models are really important for widows. As a widow, I was always wondering if I'd make it, and I carefully watched the widows around me. I tried to figure out if they were happy, and how they found contentment. Sometimes I needed to know how they made it through the day! So I hope this blog fills in some of those blanks for you if you're watching other widows like I was.

I became a true fan of widows when I found out about the woman who's name I share.
You probably noticed my first name is unusual, right? It was actually one of my great-grandmothers' maiden names, and as a little girl I'd heard a family legend that in early American history a lady from France named Madame Ferree received some land from William Penn.

So when I was freshly widowed with a little spare time on my hands, I did some research. I found out that Madame Ferree was more than a legend, she was a pretty amazing woman! Her real name was Mary or Marie, and she and her husband, Daniel, were wealthy silk merchants in France in the 1600's. They were also Huguenots (a form of Calvinist Protestant Christianity)---a dangerous label when religious freedom in France was revoked in 1685. Religious persecution flamed and the Daniel Ferree family fled for their lives to the Rhine Valley of Germany.

Along the way they adopted a boy who’s parents had been murdered for their faith. In Germany Palatine their youngest son was born, becoming the 7th child in the family of refugees.

But guess what happened next: Mary Ferree’s husband died. She was a widow, too, like me! Like you! Except I didn't have 7 children, nor was I persecuted and running for my life.

After her husbands death, Mary Ferree and the children took a remarkable journey to Holland, and then to England. There, "by chance" she met William Penn and Queen Anne, who gave her a land grant and outfitting to The New World! Then she sailed for eleven weeks across the Atlantic to arrive in New York in 1710. I can't imagine what crossing the Atlantic must have been like! No electricity or running water on board!

This is a commemorative plate depicting
the welcome Mary Ferree received in 1712
from Tanawa, chief of the Paquaw Indians.
From the port of New York--remember it's only the year 1710, the United States of America doesn't exist yet!-- she traveled up the Hudson River to a French Huguenot community further inland. And in 1712 she and her family made their way to Philadelphia to obtain the title to their land.

From Philadelphia she continued west for another 50 miles, met peaceful Indians, lodged in the wigwams they offered, and declared the countryside to be Paradise, a word which generations later thought fitting to name the village of Paradise, Pennsylvania.

I was stunned by this my ancestor, her struggles, her faith, her life—and especially all she had accomplished as a widow! I’m not sure I could make it anywhere without a car, my cell phone, or a nice warm bed at night!

But what's most important is that you know you have such a role model, too. Here's where you may find her-- or him:
  • your family tree—maybe your mother, or an aunt, or grandma
  • a friend from your past---like a classmate, or a teacher, nurse or co-worker
  • Scripture--is there a favorite Bible character you can really relate to?
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4 (NIV)

Don't you just love this verse? I thank the Lord for everything "that was written in the past," and the people who wrote and lived it. God has given their stories to us for our endurance, encouragement and hope. Who are your role models today? I'd love to hear your stories!


1 comment:

  1. As a new widow I watched three widows in my church. They laughed, they cried, they served the Lord. They showed me there was life after loss. I also thought about my beloved great aunt Grayce. She was a dear friend, and we spent many years laughing and talking and praying together. She was a little younger than I when she was widowed, but she moved forward and found joy in widowhood. Remembering her gave me strength.

    Several months after I was widowed, a lady come up to me at church and told me that I was her role model as she dealt with the death of her mom. She was crushed by her loss, but had been watching me, and she prayed that God would give her the courage, strength and comfort He'd given me—and, or course, He did. It was a very humbling moment, and forced to me spend more time in prayer with God asking Him to use me to help others.

    Great post, Ferree; and I enjoyed reading that tidbit about your namesake.


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