Ephesians 5:33b: And the wife should respect her husband.
Respect is his primary need, his deepest desire.

I Put My Followers First

Friday, December 24, 2010

Appreciation Is Essential

It has been a tough economic year in the Cohen household.  I was laid off in April and Bruce's hours were cut from 40 to 3 per week.   Meager would define Christmas 2010.   

But, we are both "grownups" and able to handle those little disappointments.   We could live without all the ribbons, without all the tags.  We could live without packages, boxes or bags.

Okay, the truth.   I was depressed.  Terribly. 

I avoided decorating for Christmas until I just couldn't take it any more.  

Little by little I brought things out of storage.  But I would not put up the 7-foot artificial tree this year. 

"Too much trouble," I told my husband. 

Silently, though, I had already decided.  "Such a big tree should not overshadow the limited number of presents to lay beneath it."   And the darker thought, farther back in the dark recesses of my mind, was whether there would be anything at all to open on Christmas morning. 

But then a few small gifts began to arrive from our family and friends out of town.  My spirits were brightened but I did not believe I needed a tree.  I justified myself.  My mother has had Christmas for decades without a tree and she enjoys her holidays quite fine.  I decided that I had reached "that age".

And then, God inspired some very special people and we were blessed by their generosity. 

With the cash we had received, Bruce set out on his own to buy his wife a Christmas present.   He left the house for the 9:30am bus on Christmas Eve Eve.  Two days to go and he was going to shop.

Please, let it suffice to tell you that this is new for him.  He is a convert from Judaism, suffering from a communication disorder post-stroke.  Shopping for presents is not something he does without great stress and fear.  He has gone out each Christmas since our marriage in 2005 with his mother-in-law or another friend in tow.  It has been a "huge dot deal" to overcome his fears about the whole ordeal.  And it is so touching to watch him try.

Yet, this year he decided to tackle the task alone.  Whether that was truly a free choice or a circumstance, I do not know.  But he left early and shopped.  He came home hours later with a large plastic bag from Pier One Imports (good sign) and stood staring at the empty space where the Christmas tree should be.

"I don't know what to do."  His face was so forlorn.  He had learned that presents go under the tree but where do they go when there is no tree?

"You can hide them."  I suggested a few hiding places but he was not convinced that hiding them was the right idea.   

He finally agreed, trying to hide the disappointment on his face.  I could put them in the steamer trunk with the other packages we'd received from out of town.  He was satisfied with the solution but he was not pleased.

When I got into the trunk this morning to hide the gifts I had purchased for him, I could not help but notice that the Pier One Imports bag held gift-bagged-and-tissue-concealed presents.   

Wrapped?   For me!

He had handled the wrapping and presentation himself.  This was bigger than big.  It was grander than grand.  This was every wife's Christmas dream wrapped up and handed to little old me.   

This was the kind of moment that deserved a monumental display of appreciation.   My one-handed-man had conquered gift-wrapping!    

It almost made me cry.  

Well, I did cry.

He had conquered wrapping and I had hidden his efforts away in the trunk.   

I devised a plan.

When Bruce left again this morning to meet his new "sponsee" at an AA meeting, I went immediately to work.   Three hours later I had finished.

I think his gifts deserve to be showcased beneath the Christmas tree.  

Don't you think?

Merry Christmas everyone! 

I testify that Jesus lives and loves each of us.   He is aware of every circumstance and mindful of every need.   I have been poignantly reminded of that fact - once again. 

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Whose Birthday Is It Anyway?

I shared a Christmas message on my other blogs and hope you don't mind me posting it here as well. I believe the message bears repeating.

I heard the retelling of a significant story while I was at a meeting last night. I will try to do it justice here.

The woman tells a story of a wonderful family event that occurred this past year. Her father turned 80 years old and the family gathered to celebrate.

My grandfather was also honored in similar fashion many years ago. I was unable to attend, being so many miles away. But I was included in the planning and outpouring of love.

It is wonderful to honor the life and contribution of people we love late in their lives.  But I digress.  Let's return to the story being told at the meeting last night.

The teller of the tale then asked the audience to imagine the preparations for her Grandfather's birthday.  It was shaping up to be quite a celebration.

She spoke of the preparations and the planning, the assignments and the purchasing, the scrubbing, the cleaning and the polishing.  The flurry and the frenzy of frantic activity continued for weeks.

And then, the big day came.  All was ready.  The decorations were spectacular.  Incredible smells from an elaborate feast wafted from the kitchen.

The guests poured through the doors and the gifts piled higher and higher at the front of the room.  What an incredible celebration!

But then, the teller of the tale added a twist.  She paused, looking slowly around the faces in the room and asked . . .

What if the guests began to pass the gifts around amongst themselves?

What if they brought presents for everyone except Grandfather?

And, what if Grandfather wasn't even in the room?

What if no one remembered to invite him?

What if everyone had lost sight of him?  

Christmas commemorates Christ's birth. 
Has He received His invitation to your celebration?

Have you decided on your gift for Him?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


I am so grateful to return.   Did you miss me?

I have spent the month of November (all of it) writing the first draft of a promised manuscript.  It is tentatively titled "Made Perfect In Weakness".  It is the story (fictionalized) of my husband's and my "courtship".  

During the process, I enjoyed recalling the tender mercies of God in the miracle that is our relationship.  I have spent one month trying to recapture and then convey each precious moment in words.

While writing the book I relied heavily on the audio files that my husband created when he communicated via email.  (If you're late coming into our story - my husband lost the ability to read and write due to a massive stroke he suffered before we met.)

One of the MP3 files that took my breath away made its way into the book in a prominent place.

The recording was made in response to gospel principle questions asked by a teacher from church, named "Chris".   My husband was to ponder each question and respond in a voice recording that he would then send via email.  (What a wonderful tool that was for him!)

I share this recording with you today as a way of honoring my husband and our Savior.  It is a reminder to me of the calling I have received to be a help meet to my husband, to be his companion and to stand proudly at his right hand.

When I listen to that testimony, I am amazed.  Why?  Because it represents an incredible miracle.

My husband was born into a Jewish household, raised without knowledge of his Savior.  He wandered far from all things right and good until he had damaged his soul so terribly that he nearly died from the effects of his addictions.

He knows and declares that the massive stroke was a gift from God.  The stroke brought him to his knees and humbled him.  

And in his coma and after, Christ came to him and loved him and taught him until one day, one incredibly special day, the Lord asked me to help in His efforts.  All He asked of me is that I honor and respect this broken man.

Jesus knew that with the companionship of a woman willing to honor him, my husband could thrive and grow to be more like his Savior.  

Our relationship - our marriage - is not different than any other marriage.

God has asked that the wife honor her husband (Ephesians 5:33).

I suggest (based on experience) that a husband who is honored, will give glory to God.

Can I get an Amen?