05/02/2013 11:54 am ET Updated Jul 02, 2013

National Women Build Week: Reflecting on Mom

As Mother's Day approaches, I'm reflecting on the most influential woman in my life, my mother-in-law. Her name is also Elizabeth Crossman.

She just recently passed away. Although I am grieving, I am so grateful to God for bringing me into her family. In the nearly 50 years I have known her, her wisdom, strength and loving heart have been a treasured force in my life.

Mom was born in 1924. She graduated from Stanford with a degree in biology, was married for 65 years, was a teacher and raised three wonderful sons. This was a time when only a small percentage of women graduated from college, and even fewer majored in the sciences. She inspired her students to love learning and she beautifully demonstrated how a woman could have a career, raise a family and build a home that nurtured not only her own family, but all who were welcomed through her front door. Mom never talked about balancing her work and family life; she did it with grace. I spent several years working in public education, and I know my decision to do so was directly linked to mom's influence and example.

From the first time I met her, she treated me like her daughter. Her home was always filled with love, laughter and lots of her sons' friends. Everyone who entered her home was considered extended family. Through her example, I saw the woman I wanted to become.

As Mother's day approaches, I encourage you to share your story of a woman who inspired you. Maybe she helped build your home, filling it with joy and laughter. Maybe, like my mom, she also helped build your heart.

In addition to reflection, please consider joining other inspiring women May 4-12 at construction sites across the country for Habitat for Humanity's National Women Build Week. National Women Build Week challenges women to devote at least one day to help build affordable housing in their local communities.

Habitat's Women Build program, underwritten by Lowe's, is a great opportunity to make an impact because the program benefits more than the homeowner family. It also helps raise awareness about Habitat's mission and the importance of decent, affordable housing for families. For women volunteers, it provides the opportunity to learn new skills and work together to accomplish something very tangible. That's why thousands of volunteers join Habitat every year for National Women Build week and since the Women Build Program was created in 1998, more than 2,100 Habitat for Humanity Women Build houses have been constructed in partnership with low-income families.

To learn more about 2013 National Women Build Week events in your area, please visit.