the life and legacy of Ruby Jean
Ruby Jean (Gee) Briles 1926 - 2016
I have heard it said that in life what you do with the "dash" is what is most important. In November of 1926 a beautiful soul took her first breath and entered the world to forever change it. In the middle of the night on Friday, she took her last breath on this earth. She may be absent physically from this world but her legacy will never be forgotten. She ran her race well. I would have loved to be a part of the scene when she met our Father God face to face. Although I am confident of what took place as he looked upon her and said, "well done my good and faithful daughter, welcome home!"
When I think of my grandmother, I think of strawberry pie and hanging clothes on the line in the yard. I think of drinking sweet tea on the dock of their house on the lake. I think of hundreds of cards and homemade treasures she sent to me while we lived an ocean apart and throughout highschool and college. I think of the many months she cared for me each time my dad was reassigned to a new base. I think of sitting on the front hump seat in between her and my Papa of that blue car with the air conditioning blowing right in my face. I think of hundreds of card games and stories and playing dolls. I think of cooking the fresh fish that we had just caught that day in the lake. I think of daily prayers and bible reading and watching her write down prayer requests as loved ones called to share them with the woman they knew would pray for them. I think of listening to her teach the Bible to generation after generation at her church Sunday school class. I think about her love for the poem "The Touch of the Master's Hand". I think of her paintings like this one..... the one that became my entire world for months while i was so sick, unable to get out of bed, when I was pregnant with London.
And I think about Proverbs 31.
"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land."
My grandmother, Ruby Jean, a valuable gem to her husband worth more than her namesake. I love my Papa with all my heart and he was an incredible man who loved God, but he could also be very stubborn and difficult sometimes. My grandmother's love and support of him, even in hard times, was always unwavering. She was his greatest cheerleader and helper. And he knew it and cherished that relationship. They had a beautiful love and dedication to one another. As a team they were stronger than on their own.
"She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks."
In a time when most women did not work outside the home, my grandmother worked as a grade school teacher. She got up early to make sure her home and her children were ready for the day, spent her working hours pouring into the lives of hundreds of children over the years and then went home to spend her remaining waking hours pouring into the lives of the children in her home, her church and her community. She worked hard to provide for her family and also to make sure they were never neglected and always felt loved. I have heard many stories over the years from her past students and know that she made a huge impact on many, many lives.
"In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes."
In the midst of working full time, caring for her children and home, and volunteering at church, my grandmother somehow also found the time to create beautiful garments for her children. She was very creative and sewed, crocheted, painted and crafted needlepoint. I am blessed to have some of her artwork to cherish for generations to come. One of my favorite items is this beautiful tablecloth that she and my great grandmother made together for my wedding.
"She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy."
My grandmother was a very generous woman. There was always room for one more around her table or in her home. She and my Papa gave a large portion of their resources to helping the rest of the family, their church and to communities all over the world. If there was a need, her immediate response was to see how she could help. Dependable. Trustworthy. Compassionate.
"She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness."
My grandmother was full of joy in all circumstances because her joy was in the Lord. She was full of peace because she knew the Prince of Peace. When her mouth opened wisdom poured out because she was dedicated to studying the wisdom of God. Whether she was teaching a class or speaking one on one she allowed the Holy Spirit to speak His Truth. She worked diligently and faithfully but she also knew how to stop working and sit and listen. You always felt loved and valued when you where with her.
"Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her; Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all."
It is not just her children who arise and call her blessed, not just her husband, but her grandchildren, her great grandchildren and all who have known her. If you were blessed to know my grandmother, you were truly given a priceless gift. She was never famous. In fact by the standards of our culture she may not even be perceived as successful. She lived a simple life of working hard, caring for family, and living modestly. But when you take away the fame and fortune of this world and look instead an the invaluable riches of faith, love, humility, devotion, character.... in that she was a millionaire.
"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."
My grandmother's last years were difficult ones. Her body failed and she became a prisoner in her own skin. Her mind didn't always know exactly what was going on but her soul continued to praise the name of Jesus. Some of her last words spoken were of her love and dependence on her Savior. She is now completely restored and dancing in heaven with Papa and Ma and Pa and Moses and David and Her Savior Jesus Christ. She needed to go, it was time for her to go. We will greatly miss her physical presence in our lives but rejoice in knowing that she has joined the "great cloud of witnesses" in heaven cheering us on. And her legacy on earth will not die. Her three children and seven grandchildren and eleven great grandchildren are committed to continuing on in her example.
"For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations." ~ Psalm 100:5