Prov. 31: 25
"Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all. Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised." Prov. 31: 29-30
I became a fan of "No Fear" gear in the mid 90's. I loved their take no prisoners attitude and slogans on their t-shirts. I think the Proverbs 31 woman would have liked the message. Although the chapter primarily deals with a husband's praise for his "excellent wife," the remarks found in v. 30 include all women young and old, single or married. I love the picture I see of a strong woman, standing tall in the middle of the storm and never losing sight of her destiny. She smiles at the future, not because it is easy to stay on course, but because it is a challenge that brings the best out in her. She is not seeking a safe harbor, but sailing her ship into the gale. She has the rain in her face, the wind in her hair, and an air of excitement about the undiscovered adventure that lies ahead.
When the old, black and white "Drag Net" series was popular in the fifties, I always enjoyed hearing Jack Webb's detective character say, "The facts ma'am. Nothing but the facts." He was a man on a mission and would not digress to the inconsequential. I will try to do the same as I introduce you to a Proverbs 31 woman that you may not know. She is my excellent wife, Dana Walker Miller, and today she shall be praised." So here are the facts about Dana:
- Dana has been the love of my life for over 35 years. I was 24 when I met her in a friend's home on Monday night, Sept 9, 1974. I was newly arrived from two years in East Africa, and a first semester student in seminary. I attended classes in the morning and worked all afternoon running a jack hammer. When I saw her walk through the door, she rocked my world. What a Gospel Fox! I made sure I sat across from her at the card table to get better acquainted. For me it was love at first sight. For her, not so much. She thought I had Parkinson's. Remember the jack hammer. When I rested my hands on the table it would visibly shake. The ordeal of getting food to my mouth and keeping tea from spilling out of my glass was not pretty. Not a great start, but the chase was on.
- Dana and I were engaged Sept 24, 1976. I will never forget her words, "I'm allergic to inexpensive jewelry." I knew what she meant, but it just came out wrong. The truth is she wasn't kidding. She wanted to pick out the ring. Not alot of trust in those days. I was working for the church and she knew my pay so it was probably a wise move. Still, I wanted to surprise her. When I picked up the ring, I called and told her our credit had been denied. She was very disappointed. When I "surprised" her that night with the good news, it was not a Hallmark moment. Note to self: Never lie to Dana. She just looks little.
- Dana married me on January 1, 1977. The church flooded after a severe freeze burst a pipe in the Bride's Room. Missed the Joe Montana comeback in the Cotton Bowl. Spent the whole day with 50 men and two fire companies pumping the water out in time for the wedding. Found her wedding dress floating in a plastic bag in the Bride's Room. Never told her, but didn't lie. Progress being made in that area. At the appointed hour a severe ice storm hit. After the ceremony the kitchen in the fellowship hall caught on fire. DFW was closed down. When we arrived to spend the night. The lobby looked like the fall of Saigon. Couch space was going for $100.00 a person. Things were off to a rocky start. After 32 years and ten months, we can safely say that we have celebrated at least 1o years of happy marriage. In MLB those numbers will get you in the Hall of Fame.
- Dana has made 17 moves and decorated seven homes and assorted parsonages, apartments, patio homes and guest houses. Hence the batting average listed above.
- Dana has been an invaluable partner and team mate in ministry in the nine churches we have served in four different states. Three of those churches have been in the oil patch during the flip side of prosperity. Retirement is as remote as the next boom.
- Dana has helped me pick out and drive 22 cars over a 1,000,000 miles in 45 states.
- Dana has borne two beautiful children. They are now accomplished, strong Christian women. We have an empty nest. They emptied the nest, but filled the garage.
- Dana talked me into one cat. It left. Never came back. My story. Sticking to it.
- Dana interceded for our girls to get a puppy. They had been praying for a dog and she didn't want them to lose faith in God. I resisted. I told her disappointments build character or something like that. I was on thin ice. She said I ought to be glad they weren't praying for a pony. PTL! God gave them a puppy. When it died of natural causes, I almost died of grief. I buried "Duchess" in my golf bag. My heart and my golf game have never been the same. No more puppies Dana!
- Dana has no grandchildren to report, but she does have terminal grand baby fever. Pray for the antidote.
- Dana has been my best friend and personal prayer partner for 29 years. I had the toughest time praying with her in those early years of marriage. She coached me into being a better husband and a stronger Christian by helping me understand the mind of a woman. She said, "I am not looking for perfection from you, but I am looking for you to get direction from God."
- Dana is a pastor's wife or "The First Lady"as one congregation loved to call her. She has had no peer. She walks slowly among the people. She touches their lives with a winsome word and a gentle touch that is a perfect balance of my "chihuahua on a hot plate" personality. When she walks into a room she still rocks my world and lights up the place.
- Dana will always be the beautiful high school cheerleader from Mansfield, Texas. For me she has been an amazing cheerleader and team mate rolled into one. She encouraged me to pursue three seminary degrees, survive middle school ministry, disciple students, take numerous ski trips, organize countless camps and retreats. She had her home open for small groups four nights a week before small groups were cool.
- Dana has a wry and potent sense of humor. One night when the members of our singles ministry were saying some kind words, she came on stage to make the final response. Several had said they appreciated the way Dana was so patient when I was helping them, and not able to be home to her. She took the mike, turned sideways and with a deadpan look and sarcastic voice said "Obviously he found his way home at least one night." She was nine months pregnant with our second child. She brought the house down! I was speechless. What a woman!
- Dana has developed creative women's ministries, birthed a radio ministry, and launched a television ministry. She has helped start and guide a crisis pregnancy center. When a huge hail storm ravaged the community around our church she climbed up on dozens of roofs to assist with our disaster relief ministry. One day we were spreading plastic on a roof across the street from the church. I was instructing her, "If the wind gets under the plastic let go....let go....LET GOOOOOOOOOO!" She was up in the air about three feet. She calmly let go of the wind filled plastic, and landed with the grace of a ballerina. She stuck the landing and moved on with the job. She was wearing her leather tool belt, work boots, gloves and earrings. She had her game face on, make up and all.
- Dana has accompanied me to mission trips to Hong Kong, Japan, Switzerland, Tanzania, Germany, and Kenya. While we held a bush crusade for a small church in Kenya, we slept in a tent next to the church. When she found out how far women were carrying water for her to bathe, she limited herself to one cup of water a day for 10 days. This won the hearts of the women in the village. She carried on women's ministry all day long, and we held services at night. She still laughs about finally getting to the hotel in Nairobi, and shampooing her hair six times before all the red clay dust was washed out.
- Dana has provided compassion for 500 funerals and direction for 300 weddings. She has been a conference speaker, retreat leader, and a hostess renowned for her hospitality. She has held open houses over the past 30 years that have earned her the title, "The Czarina of Christmas.
- Dana has nursed me through several relapses of malaria, and three major car crashes in three different states. I couldn't remember my name in the first wreck. I had been a passenger in a '57 Chevy hit broadside by a car going 60 miles an hour. The impact spun the car around and into an auto parts store. I tore out an eight-track tape deck with my right knee. When she arrived at the site, she climbed into the wreckage, and was weeping and calling out "Gary! Gary!" I remember thinking Gary was one lucky guy. I wasn't blind! I just had a brain concussion. The girl was really pretty and she seemed to know me. This wasn't a bad a deal at all. She rode with me in the ambulance to the hospital. Good times.
- Dana is fearless. She fears God but does not fear man. The closest I have ever seen of fear in her life came on the drive to the hospital for the birth of our first child. She said,"I've finally gotten myself into something I can't back out of." It didn't last long. She was a real champ. When we were driving home with our newborn the fear hit me. I blurted out, "We don't know what we're doing. We have a license to get married, but we never got a license to have a kid." I ranted and vented about how unprepared we were. She said in a calm, steady voice, "I know exactly what I'm doing. I've been preparing for this my whole life." She is made of velvet steel. After our second child was born, I returned home with our first born for the evening. Dana called before the lines went dead. "Can you come back to see me, I'm bored." Even during Hurricane Alicia '83, she was up for a party.
- Dana is a promise keeper. During those early days of tight money, and expanding family she became an accomplished seamstress. She was true to her word. Standing by me looking at a new sewing machine she said, "If you will buy that I will save you a ton of money." I did and she did. People have always asked where she got her beautiful clothes. The Proverbs 31 woman would have smiled at this too.
- Dana has worn many hats to make ends meet: licensed hair stylist, accomplished chef, challenging cheerleader coach, unmatched special events coordinator, and successful sales rep just to name a few.
- Dana is a warrior. For the past two years she has suited up with the Armor of God in her battle with breast cancer. I have watched her fight for her life with six months of chemo, complete loss of hair, and radical surgery. She has turned a struggle for survival into a call for revival. She has never lost sight of our destiny together. She has always wanted to be part of something only God can get credit for. One of her favorite lines during the months of chemo was, "Nothing goes with chemo better than a new pair of shoes." After each treatment, we would go to Brighton's. She inspired everyone there with her fighting spirit and her great taste in scarves and footwear.
- Dana is faithful. During the past two years she has never missed a Sunday. She said she didn't want cancer to rob her of her favorite day of the week. She is the greatest cheerleader and most faithful prayer warrior a preacher husband could ever have.
Someday I hope to meet the husband of the woman outlined in Proverbs 31. I believe he would agree with me that most men are part of a Band of Brothers who married way over their heads. I know I did. For that reason, I offer praise to God for allowing me the privilege of being the unworthy husband of an excellent wife. His grace is so amazing to me. I praise God for Dana.