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

I Put My Followers First

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Proverbs 31 Work at Home Woman

A Wise Woman Builds Her HomeToday, I am happy to join a "link up of all the great ideas that are out there to inspire us on how we can help contribute to our homes monetarily and bless our husbands and families" called "The Proverbs 31 Work at Home Woman".

When I married my husband in 2005 I knew that our financial well-being would depend on me. My husband was permanently disabled by a major stroke in 1995 (six years before I met him). I had a decent job with an adequate salary. He was employed a few hours each week and drawing a disability check. He began vocational rehabilitation training shortly after we married which he completed three years later.

He went to work for Target Stores where he hoped to operate the cash register as he had been trained. But, his duties are limited by his disabilities which are both physical and language related. He cannot read or write due to aphasia. To relearn reading has become the "impossible dream". Having the full use of only one hand reduces his speed so his tasks are not time sensitive. But Target has been gracious to keep him employed though his hours seldom exceed 16 hours per week. Except, except when miracles happen - as they sometimes do.

Then, last February, I was laid off from my full-time job. Necessity IS the mother of invention, so I began designing and selling greeting cards to fulfill "Your Husband's Deepest Desire".  


The Respect Dare Husbands love spectators - think gladiators, organized sports, etc. Dare you today to let your hub know in a special way that you are his number one fan!

This remark started a firestorm of creativity this morning!  One of the wives wrote:
Just called him @work and told him "I'm your #1 fan and I love you"♥
I love to hear his heart giggle♥
I just love that "heart giggle" comment.  Anyway, I remarked that I could replace the political yard sign out front with a sign declaring that I am my husband's number one fan.  Then someone suggested buttons that say the same thing.  I decided on a bumper sticker - nothing fancy.

The whole conversation suited a concept I'd been mulling over for a few days.  I have been considering a new category of products for the Zazzle store based on the words "aged women" found in Titus 2.  Here are just a few of the highlights regarding the responsibilities of the "aged woman".
But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine . . . (that) The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, . . . teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands . . . To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
One aspect of Your Husband's Deepest Desire blog is to encourage women to join with other women who are eager to learn the will of God in their marriage and to encourage one another in our efforts.  As recommended in the Titus 2 passage, and because I honor her wisdom, I turn often to my own "aged woman" for guidance and encouragement.  (However, I must recognize with every bottle of Nice-N-Easy that I empty - I am rapidly becoming an "aged woman" myself).  But I digress.

My mother's name is "Pat" and it is in her honor that I named this new category.

One of my mother's favorite words is "Patina".  The Barnhardt Concise Dictionary of Etymology claims that the word was first used to convey a “sense of refinement and cultural sophistication” in 1933, when patina became more generic, describing the cosmetic evidence of handling and weathering on virtually any artifact.  In the world of antiques, patina adds value.  I suggest that in the teachings of God, patina or wisdom acquired through experience also adds value.

I think that Patina is the perfect name for this new line of products to encourage one another and, in the process, encourage our husbands.

My Husband Is Prepared button
My Husband Is Prepared by Your Husband's Deepest Desire
Browse more products for the wives in Patina

~ ~ ~

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Strawberries, Chocolate and A Captive Audience

So, you ask, where could I possibly be taking this "G" rated post when I start with a title like that?

My husband offered to take me out for lunch today.  I went almost immediately into a fit of frustration.

I have SO much to do at home, on the computer.  I have a manuscript to prepare for Smashwords; I have a blog post to write and over one hundred to read; I have comments to respond to and greeting cards to design.   The list goes on and on and on.  And I began to tell him so.

What kind of time would it take?  What amount of effort?  We rely on public transit so we would surely be gone two or three hours.  That's a huge chunk of time!  I could do "oh so much" in that amount of time.  

And, I knew, he would not utter a sound in protest.  He loves me and he respects me.  He does value my time and he was not asking to take my time away.   He wasn't "dissing" my efforts.  He was asking if he could do something for me; something that he knew I would enjoy.




I value my husband and his time, hopefully as much as he does mine.  I appreciate his attention to me and his desire to please me.  I pulled out an imaginary scale and set my choices upon it.  His desire to please against my reasons to refuse.  My reasons to refuse tipped the scale as for numbers, but, honoring his love and respect was by far the weightier matter.

We went to the Golden Corral, a buffet to beat all buffets.  He could eat what he enjoyed and I could eat my favorites.  However, when we visit the buffet he is challenged.  It is interesting to watch the "one handed man" balance a plate while filling it with food.  Onlookers are either perturbed by the inconvenience of waiting for him or discomforted by his disabilities.

Did I say "interesting" to watch?  For me it can be as nerve wracking as watching a man juggle fire within inches of my nose.  Disaster was imminent.  I stopped what I was doing to help build him a taco - a feat requiring three hands.  Then I left him again - to his own devices - out of respect.

My husband is not an invalid or a child but I am his helpmeet.  Never are the duties of my role more apparent than at a buffet service table.  My job is to respect and honor his independence while simultaneously being willing, able and present to assist.

When we were both back at our table, we ate in silence for the first course.  I'm sure that the onlookers, if any, could not sense anything special in us.  There were lots of couples eating quietly, each caught in their own little world - oblivious to all about them - including each other.

My husband made a second trip to the buffet as did I.  When we returned to our table, some of the people seated in our area began to observe his disabilities made manifest.  He struggled to sit in the booth - his paralyzed foot refusing to avoid the table leg.  Try and try again - the impotent leg versus the immoveable object - until others in the area grew uncomfortable with the effort.  Finally, he was seated and enjoying his meal once again.  The mood in the room was restored.

The opportunity was ripe.

Yes, Ripe!
It was time to teach, by example, this similarly aging and captive audience seated all about us.

I told my husband I was going to fetch some strawberries.  Before I could finish asking him, he smiled broadly and declared, "Yes!  I want some too."  Quickly followed by, "If that's okay? If it's not too much trouble."

I filled a cold salad bowl with about 10 medium to large sized strawberries.  On my way back to the table I planned to stop for a small bowl of whipped cream.  Nuuuummmmy!

When I got to the dessert tables, I discovered the hot fudge.  A scathingly brilliant idea was born! I filled a small bowl with hot fudge and another small bowl with whipped cream.

When I got back to the table I placed all the bowls in front of me and out of his reach.  Then I went back and got a clean plate.

I slowly hulled a strawberry - as I silently stared deeply into his eyes with "that look" that leaves little to the imagination.

I then sliced the strawberry in half, leaving one half on the plate.  With the knife I painted the strawberry with hot fudge.  With a spoon I heaped on the whipped cream.  Then I reached across the table, with all the smooth sultriness I could muster, and placed it on his tongue.  I then prepared one for myself while he grinned from ear to ear - in silence.  We repeated this exercise until all the strawberries were gone.

Long before I prepared the last one, the room had become still and silent around us.  The frenzy of consumption had slowed to a hum.

What were they thinking?  I chuckled to myself as I considered the possibilities.

~ ~ ~

Thursday, September 23, 2010

He Is Not Fluent In Cards

Let me say it once again.  I appreciate reader comments!  I have been so motivated in the past 24 hours by just one of the comments that my keyboard is smokin' and my mouse is weary!

Continuing from Your Comments Make a Difference I want to address a very real concern expressed by my reader in her Facebook comment about The Reluctant Wives:
"While I like the message of your cards, my husband is not a card person. Whenever I've given him any card, whether a meaningful or a humorous card, he doesn't seem to care. Soon after, he always asks if it's ok if he throws it away or if that would hurt my feelings. I have learned to accept that this is not one of the ways he prefers to receive love. We all have our love languages, and he is not fluent in cards."
If you feel that your husband would not appreciate a card, you are not alone. Emerson Eggrichs, in his book "Love and Respect", explains the dilemma:

"Greeting cards are a clue into the minds and needs of women. Market studies show that overwhelmingly, the majority of cards in the United States are purchased by women and given to women. Greeting cards are a multimillion-dollar business. Now, the card companies are not interested in ideology. they don't want to change anyone's mind. They are out to make money, so they produce what sells."
Note: I DO blog about an ideology (God's word regarding marriage) and I produce cards that DO support the ideology.
". . . you won't find any greeting cards that wives send to their husbands, saying, "Baby, I really respect you." Why not? Because they don't sell either. When women buy greeting cards for their husbands, they want to express love for them; they don't even think about respect. Sadly, the deepest yearning of husbands goes unmet because wives (and the card publishers) are locked into relaying sentiments of love."
Excuse me? Women are not "locked" into anything. We are quite capable of changing our minds. I realized that Mr. Eggerichs meant that women were not being given choices of love and respect cards. I read that as a challenge. I knew I could create cards with messages that convey the respect we wives do feel and demonstrate for our husbands.

I understood that, far too often, men had been throwing cards into the trash. I knew that women would be reluctant to spend money on something that lands in a waste basket. I was willing to take a chance, in hopes that some women would take a chance.

I personally know one woman who epitomizes my most unlikely customer married to a man most likely to throw out a card.  My friend was advised by her pastor to give her unbelieving husband one card every week and continue to follow God's word regarding her conduct in the marriage. She does and she has. Her husband keeps his cards - every one. One day he received a card from his wife and he placed it with the others. He soon pulled it back out, took it to work and displays it on his desk.

I am so grateful that she took a chance - and not because she buys cards - but because her marriage has changed course.  Praise God!  What once seemed like the darkest condition I had ever known of marriage has begun to see the light of hope and the grace of God.  She is following the word of God in all that she says and does.  The respect cards reaffirm her "chaste conversation coupled with fear" and assure him that her efforts are sincere.

I pray that every woman who accepts the challenge to follow God's word for her marriage, will stay the course and reap the rewards like my friend.

Your Comments Make A Difference

Your reactions often determine the course of events in my life!  I truly appreciate receiving comments from my readers.  It is my intention to answer every comment.  However, there are times like yesterday when Blogger hiccups and the comment section is not working.

I do have a personal Facebook page and a Facebook Fan page where I also connect with my readers.  Yesterday, I received a comment on Facebook in response to my post, The Reluctant Wives:
"While I like the message of your cards, my husband is not a card person. Whenever I've given him any card, whether a meaningful or a humorous card, he doesn't seem to care. Soon after, he always asks if it's ok if he throws it away or if that would hurt my feelings. I have learned to accept that this is not one of the ways he prefers to receive love. We all have our love languages, and he is not fluent in cards."
I really appreciate her comments.  She motivated two blog posts out of me!  This is the first.  Her comments motivated me to begin a task I had been avoiding for far too long.   My Facebook response to her should explain:
Thanks! Sorry for taking so long to respond. I've been busy today - answering your remark. Not writing an answer - but answering to your need and the possible needs of other wives. 

I have begun (finally) creating a gift line to support the greeting card line at Your Husband's Deepest Desire.

Seem backward to you? Not to me.

The things that we feel for and then "say" to our loved ones are the most precious gifts we have to give. Those are the thoughts and feelings that I try to capture in the respect cards. The tangible gifts that we give are meant to remind the people we love of how we feel for them.   
In time for the Holiday 
Armour (KJV) mousepad
Armour (KJV) Mousepad

Water Falls mug
Water Falls - Mug, Commuter Cups and Steins

Peace and Joy tie
Peace and Joy - Neck Tie

While You Are Away mousepad
While You Are Away - Mousepad

I will be creating more items as the season fast approaches.  I am anxious for feedback on the items I've created so far (see more at my store) and I would be happy to take suggestions.  

I look forward to your response.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

But, What About Him?

Dear Reader -

You are not the first nor will you be the last to ask "what about the husband doing his part in the marriage".

I feel called and comfortable teaching wives what I have learned. I do NOT have that same sense of peace addressing the husbands and their responsibilities.

I can pray - and I suggest you join me - for your husband to listen to the promptings of God.  This is why I made the card that tells the husband his wife is praying for him.  She is not saying "My prayers are working!"  She is saying "I pray for you" without laying a guilt trip on him.

I recall the scripture where Peter addresses the wife, telling her how God expects her to behave when her husband does not or will not obey the word of God concerning him.

1 Peter 3: 1-2

(1) Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; (2) While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
"Our husbands need to observe our chaste conversation coupled with fear. What is God talking about here? Chaste means pure ... pure conversation ... I'm thinking sweet, clean, holy and uplifting conversation, aren't you? But not just that alone ... God says "coupled with fear" ... what do you think He means here? God is saying that your husband should hear pure conversation from your mouth to the point where he actually can tell that you fear God (respect Him, reverence Him, obey Him). Do you think your husband thinks that you fear God when you're snapping at him? I don't think so." (Kate Plourde)
Embrace the teachings of this passage and trust in God with all your might, mind, and strength. He is true to His promises.

It is in support of Peter's exhortation (for wives to engage in "chaste conversation coupled with fear") that I created the respect cards.

My cards are designed to instruct and assist the wives in learning the language (of "chaste conversation coupled with fear") and to provide a way for her to begin "speaking" it without saying a word.

I have come to love you and I pray for you. I know it is hard (counterintuitive, really). It may be the most difficult thing you ever are called to do. But, I beg you. Hang in there - it is SO worth it.

~ ~ ~

The Reluctant Wives

As sales of my respect cards have dwindled to nothing, I've been pondering the reasons why.   Why are women, who appreciate the card messages, reluctant to give them to their husbands?   

photo by Brandon Cohen
Sometimes the wife says she cannot respect her husband because he doesn't deserve it.   

Sometimes the wife is trying to change him into something more respectable.

In each case, the wife does not see the worth of her husband as God does. 

Sadly, a wife's attempts to change her husband are always contrary to the efforts of God.   

In either case the wife has rejected the man that she married for an imaginary future personality she expects to inhabit his body.  

I've done both.  The marriages failed.  Lives were ruined.

In the midst of all these thoughts, my stepson posted the photograph of a swan.  It reminded me of the story of "The Ugly Duckling".  I loved that story as a child.  I could relate to the ugly duckling and the belittling, badgering disrespect of those who said they loved me.

The moral of the story was not lost on me then and it is more pertinent now.  The swan achieved the beauty designed in him by his Creator after he was removed from the ridicule.

As a wife we must be careful not to disrespect the necessary ugly duckling stages of our husband's life experience but respect the man God created him to be.  

A related post with additional parallels can be found in "A Little Respect", by Gorges Smythe. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Strength, Structure and Stability

Today I highlight the marriage of a remarkable couple.  Courageous pursuit of their dreams causes me "to pause and celebrate the moment. Not what will be or what is to come, but what is real and true this day."

I was privileged to attend the wedding of my husband's son and his bride a few years ago. They have both since finished their studies, received  degrees and begun the next phase of their pursuits.

My stepson recently moved to Scotland to study veterinary medicine at the University of Glasgow for the next five years.  This past Saturday he uploaded his first Glasgow photos to his Facebook page.

This photograph stood out for me.  We share a love of architecture, it would seem.

It is difficult to distinguish the personalities or purposes of the people who are caught in the shadows beneath the lofty ceiling.

But, I was overwhelmed by the structure, not the people or the shadows.  

I was impressed by the strength and stability of this structure.  I compared it to the stability and strength of my stepson's commitments - to his education, to his career and to his marriage.

I also could not help but recognize the quiet stability and strength of his wife as she sacrifices for his dreams.

It is a remarkable thing that they have just begun.      

In their honor and to their credit, I enhanced a cropped version of his photograph and created a new card for Your Husband's Deepest Desire.  

Strength, Structure and Stability

The message inside is for any wife to recognize her husband for
his commitment to her, to their future and to their dreams.

I am participating in Tuesdays Unwrapped from Chatting at the Sky.  

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

They Help Us Love

I have been recognizing a common theme in many of the blogs I've been reading recently.  Although it does not relate directly to the theme of this blog, I cannot help but to share it.

I know that when a wife is offended, rejected or injured by her husband, God will make her trial work for her good - if she loves Him.  (Romans 8:28)

I also know there is a strength and power that is made available to sustain her when a wife thanks God in all things, including every trial of marriage. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

None of this is new to me.  I started learning this lesson in 2007.  My mother sent me a copy of the book "Prison to Praise" by Merlin Carothers.  In a nutshell, he teaches that the greatest balm for the pain of trial is to thank God for it while it is happening.

I really struggled with this teaching at first but God made sure I had a chance to learn it and learn it well.   I suffered my stroke soon after reading the book.  I experimented with thanking God for the stroke.  At first, I was timid and tentative in my efforts.  I began with a sincere desire to obey and it became a sincere sense of gratitude.  

I was amazed at how quickly the blessings came.  Personal relationships that had long been estranged were soon repaired.  My neglect of personal health was soon converted to weekly visits and diligent medical oversight.  

More recently my resolve was refreshed when Bruce was injured at work and when Lara, from This Adventure with The Most High, posted an entry she titled "Praise. Regardless."   The title caught my attention and lingered in my thoughts for days.  I began to more earnestly seek for opportunities to praise God in the daily trials of living.

And, sure enough, God was not finished making His point.

Yesterday as I was reading through the entries in my blog feed, I found more entries to support the theme.

Stephanie, at Mormon Mommy Blogs, posted an entry entitled All Things Work Together for Good where she was discussing finding purpose in our challenges.  In leaving my comment for her, I became too verbose for the comment field, so I shortened it, posted it, and came here to elaborate.
The most important thing that I learned about trials is to be grateful for them while in them. I was learning to praise God for my trials when I had my stroke. I found myself in the hospital thanking Him, sincerely, for the stroke. I did not have a reason why except to praise Him because I knew that He was at work in my life and I knew that it would be for my good. It did not take long for me to see the benefit of having the stroke. I continue to see the blessings that came as a result of my stroke. (I have also had many other trials with which to test this phenomenon.)
I have come to know that trials are The Refiner's Fire and that the end result is always worth the anguish. God does promise to make all things work for good for those of us who love Him. "All things" includes our trials. He has also asked that we thank Him in all things. I do thank Him because I do love Him and I know that all things do (eventually) work for my good. They work for my good immediately when I thank Him immediately.
When we can turn from our wailing and whining about the trials in our life; when we can thank God and praise God while in our deepest anguish; He will enable us to experience a much greater love than we have ever known.  We will experience a love that manifests in healing and forgiveness.

Just as I began to think that "by George, I think I've got it", another blogger shared a video that riveted me to the screen.   Here was a man who had taken his trust in God to a higher level than my gratitude and praise in trial.  Here was a man who trusted the Lord so much that he harbored no ill will despite having lost his wife and children due to a drunk driver.  I began to realize that praising God in trial is a step toward honestly trusting God in all things.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Reverence and Respect

Before I write my 100th blog post I thought I might finally take a moment to clarify.  What is it, exactly, that I blog about?   

I blog about wives respecting or reverencing their husbands in the way God asked them to (Ephesians 5:33b).  

It wasn't until this 98thth post that I realized that I  never shared my research with you, my readers.  
I begin by finding the meaning of the words that describe the subject, in this case "reverence" and "respect".  (Edited from 99th to 98th - my math ain't so good.)

I first gather synonyms.  I might even “dig down” on a particular synonym to  broaden my understanding while discarding others for their obscure connection.  Finally I consider the dictionary definitions. 

During the collection process I simply want to collect and present.

I ask you, the reader, to draw your own conclusions or to identify examples in your life that amplify your understanding of how a wife can “reverence” or “respect” her husband.   


admiration, adoration, appreciation, approbation, approval, awe, consideration, courtesy, deference, deification, devotion, devoutness, dignity, esteem, estimation, favor, fealty, fear, genuflection, high esteem, homage, honor, love, loyalty, obeisance, obsequiousness, ovation, piety, praise, prostration, recognition, regard, religiousness, repute, respect, reverence, testimonial, tribute, veneration, worship

Related words and phrases

abide by, accede, accept, acclaim, accommodativeness, accord, acquiescence, adhere to, admiration, admire, adore, agree to, amenities, applaud, appreciate, approve, assent, attend, attentiveness, attraction, awareness, be attached, be awed by, be big on, be constant, be crazy about, be crazy for, be devoted to, be faithful, be fond of, be kind to, be loyal, be mad about, be nuts about, be stuck on, be sweet on, be true, be wild about, bear in mind, bear respect for, bear with, believe, care for, cherish, cleave to, commend, compliment, comply with, concern, conform to, consent to, considerateness, consideration, courteousness, credit, defer to, delight in, desire, devotion, do honor to, enjoyment, esteem, esteem (approve of), extol, favor, find congenial, follow, forbearance, friendliness, glorify, go along with, go for, go with the flow, good behavior, graciousness, grin and bear it, hail, hallow, have good opinion of, have high opinion of, heed, high regard, hold a high opinion of, hold dear, hold in respect, homage, honor, idolize, indulgence, kindness, laud, like, live with, look up to, look upon, love, maintain, make allowance for, make room, marvel at, mercy, mindfulness, moon over, notice, obligingness, observe, pat on the back, pay attention, pay homage to, politeness, praise, prize, rate highly, recognize, reflect, regard, regard highly, remember, responsiveness, revere, roll with punches, satisfy, savor, sense, sensibility, sensitiveness, sensitivity, set store by, show consideration, show courtesy, solicitude, stand by, stand for, submit to, support, sympathy, tact, take into account, take pleasure in, think highly of, think much of, thoughtfulness, tolerance, tolerate, treasure, understanding, uphold, value, venerate, veneration, view, want, wonder at, worship, yield to 


1. a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe; veneration.
2. the outward manifestation of this feeling: to pay reverence.
3. a gesture indicative of deep respect; an obeisance, bow, or curtsy.
4. the state of being revered.
5. ( initial capital letter ) a title used in addressing or mentioning a member of the clergy (usually prec. by your  or his ).

rev·er·ence –verb (used with object)
6. to regard or treat with reverence; venerate

1. a particular, detail, or point (usually prec. by in )
2. relation or reference
3. esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability
4. deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment
5. the condition of being esteemed or honored
6. respects, a formal expression or gesture of greeting, esteem, or friendship
7. favor or partiality.
8. Archaic . a consideration.
re·spect–verb (used with object)
9. to hold in esteem or honor
10. to show regard or consideration for
11. to refrain from intruding upon or interfering with
12. to relate or have reference to.

This was probably the tenth time that I have compiled this list.  (I'm really bad about saving research notes.)  I saw phrases I had never seen before and was humbled by others.  When I think of how I treat my own husband, these words have instructed me again.

How about you?  Did you learn anything new today about the wife's job description as envisioned by God?  Do you feel as I do, a little less diminished and a lot more empowered?

~ ~ ~

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Word to the Wives Wednesday

It has been an interesting couple of weeks in my home.  I was released from jury duty after a couple of days at the courthouse.  It would have been an interesting trial and I knew a few of the folks who were in the jury selection pool.  It was an amusing way to spend a couple of days.  But, I also wanted to be at home.

As I wrote last Sunday, my husband had the accident at work but recovered quickly and was back on the job before the week was up.  He was scheduled to work for two days, three hours each day.  This week he was scheduled on Monday for three hours beginning at the crack of dawn.  He is also working Friday for three more hours.

And then they cut his hours to three per week beginning next week.

Retail business can be a roller coaster ride for everyone involved.    But there are many businesses suffering this type of decline and many employees are affected as we are.  More and more couples are facing under-employment, unemployment or both (like us).

There is an up side to all of this.  As an unemployed wife I am able to focus a lot of attention on what is needed to support him.  I am also at home to receive and to recognize his efforts on my behalf. I am learning a lot about encouraging a husband through the ups and downs of employment success and crisis.  My husband truly expects to support and provide for our household.  It makes no difference - his ability or disability - he seems to hold himself to the same standard as able bodied men.  It is best if I treat him equal to his peers.

When life events derail his expectations, his sense of self worth is affected.  I have to be careful how I respond.  I cannot suggest that he not worry -  using silly, unfounded statements like, "Don't worry.  Everything will be okay."  "Business will pick up soon."  "Give it time, honey.  I'm sure they'll give you more hours during the holidays."

I tried just one of those phrases and he gave me 'that look' before he responded, "But what if it doesn't get any better.  What if I don't get anymore hours?"

My words were about as empty as his hope.

I had created today's feature card with this type of life event in mind - for others.  It did not occur to me that I would soon be needing to present it to my own husband.  And now, after preparing this post and reviewing the card, I realize that it would also make a wonderful "Get Well" card.  Not mushy or gushy or sentimental.

It speaks a fact that men like to hear.   I am told that they derive strength from the prayers of their wives.  Consider this the next time your husband is disheartened by health or trial of faith.

Peace and Joy

Word to the Wives ~ ~ The power of a praying wife cannot be measured but it can be shared. Your husband will draw strength from the knowledge that you pray for him.

~ ~ ~

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dear Struggling Wife

I am honored that you would turn to me for advice in your time of trial.  I am sorry that you are struggling in your marriage but you need to know that I am not a professional and have no training but what I have acquired through personal experience.

I believe that God is in charge - of this universe, this world, and all the individual parts.  He can permit, alter, and adapt the course of human events to every individual's choice - using the effect of human behavior for His purposes.  

What I mean to say is, "I know that God is in the details."

Understanding and accepting that "God is in the details" is vital to comprehending my point of view.

I do know what it is to be injured by my husband. Unfortunately I did not know then what I know now and the marriage ended.  Actually - three times, three major offenses, three marriages ended.  They all had one common problem – me - and my lack of understanding of God’s plan for my life.  I felt that the only way to end the game was to quit.  It was obvious that I could never win and losing was much too painful. 

I have never been so wrong in my life.

I don't know what gave me the idea that marriage was a sport or a competition. 

I don't know why I thought that life and marriage were designed to be fair. 

In both assumptions I was so wrong.  Life and all of its experiences were designed to try us, to test us, to perfect us - to refine us.  Life experience – including marriage - is the Refiner's fire.  Every human being, every child of God, must be brought through that Fire to reach the Lord's desired result. 

Each individual requires a different process - some more than others - some less - but each process is immeasurably different than any another.  There is no measuring in a tit-for-tat fashion. What may be required to smooth my rough edges are totally different from that required of you – or of your husband.

Sometimes the Lord uses the bad behavior of one individual to smooth the rough edges of another.  In my case I know that the abuse I suffered as a child created the strongest parts of my character.   More importantly, the act of forgiving that abuse forged my faith.   I am grateful for what God did with the abuse I suffered.

Every time we are mistreated is an opportunity for God to refine us and to purge us of impurity. As soon as I recognize the Lord’s hand in my trial – I receive the benefit. As long as I rebel against it – for any reason – I will not receive the benefit.   The longer I rebel, the longer the process takes. 

The Lord will do whatever is needful but it is my pliability that will make His work effective in me.  The same is true of my husband.  The Lord will do whatever is needful but it is up to my husband and his cooperation for the Lord’s work to be effective.  Fair and equal have no place in this process.

I can either help or hinder the Lord’s work in me. If I kick against His efforts, it may not be accomplished before I leave this earth.

I have been called to be my husband’s helpmeet.  I am not the Refiner.  I can be the fire or I can be the cooling water where he finds relief.  That choice is mine.

That choice is also yours.  Do not measure, judge or discredit any effort that your husband is making.  Doing so makes you the fire of his trial.

Do not measure your efforts against his and declare your efforts greater, grander or harder than his.  It is not a contest.

The devil would have you think that marriage is a contest – a win/lose game with rules of fairness and equality – but it is not.  As your mind continues to clamor for “fairness” remember this:

The sooner you quit the devil’s game and stand behind God in His efforts in your marriage, the sooner you will find happiness.

P.S. Don’t beat yourself up when you fail.  You have as many “do-over’s” as it takes to get it right.  Never, ever forget that.

~ ~ ~ 

Thanks for reading. I am participating in Marriage Mondays blog hop sponsored by Julie Sanders at Come Have a Peace.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Would You Be That Woman?

If God created a special woman, perfectly suited to be your husband's helper,
would you be that woman?
(Debi Pearl)
Today's post derives from remarks that began to overflow the comment box on today's post at the The Generous Wife.   To provide "Hubby Care', Lori advises the wives in her audience to "Do what you can to help".

As my readers know, my husband is a stroke survivor.  He suffered a massive stroke at age 34 which robbed him of speech, reading, writing and mobility.  For 11 years before I married him, he struggled to regain those lost abilities.  His efforts were valiant, his progress miraculous, his prognosis - permanently disabled.

It is my life's work to assist him through this life - to cheer him when he is discouraged - to appreciate his efforts - to acknowledge his fears.  My husband had done all that he knew to do before I came into his life.  Now it is my job, my calling, to stay at his side, as his help meet.  I like to think that I was appointed to be at his right side, his paralyzed right side, to do for him what he cannot do for himself.

That arrangement has worked well - for the most part - since we married.  There really is little that he regularly requires of me on behalf of his right hand.   He had learned to manage rather well with the abilities he had remaining to him long before I came along.

His right hand can grasp like a vice-grip, which is great for opening jars and such.  But, his right hand is difficult to command.  As my husband says, "The hand has a mind of its own."  Among other things, he cannot use his right hand for eating, drinking, writing, brushing his teeth, combing his hair, or buttoning his shirt.  These are just some of the things that he learned to do with his left hand.  (I am sure that you can think of many things to relearn if your dominant hand were permanently disabled.)

My husband had surgery on his left wrist last fall.  To immobilize the wrist he was fitted with a cast that covered the palm of his hand and continued to just inches short of his under-arm.

Look Ma - No Arms!  His left arm was purposefully paralyzed by a cast and his right arm is permanently paralyzed.

So there he sat.  Unable to lift a hand - let alone a finger - to help himself.  Seriously.

Although he could raise the left arm, the angle of the bend made feeding himself impossible.  

We got a drinking bottle that was tall enough so he could get drinks for himself.

But, out of necessity, I learned to shave him,
to brush his teeth, to feed him, to dress him.

I even held a tissue so he could blow his nose, and, to put it in delicate terms, I helped him with other necessary details relative to the expulsion of bodily waste and personal hygiene as required.

I did what was necessary.  

Until the day of sweet relief!

My husband is extremely capable - all things considered.  He is especially ecstatic to have his - hmm - personal life back.

In spite of his coveted independence, my husband realizes just a little more poignantly, he is not expected to do it alone.

After our experience last fall, we both recognize that there is a reason that God created woman to be help meet for her husband.

My husband reaches for the stars to be all that he can be for God and for me.

I am my husband's natural "cheer-leader", his assistant, his confidante, his friend, his lover.  I am my husband's help meet.

God created me to be a special woman, perfectly suited to be my husband's helper.
 I am happy to be that woman.
~ ~ ~

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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Waiting to Catch Him

My husband thinks he has a quick wit and sometimes says things that “backfire” on him.  It was early in our marriage when he first said something that “came out all wrong” and I felt so hurt.   But, just as my heart was breaking into pieces and rage leaped forward to fill the void, I was blessed with a priceless insight.

In an instant I was shown a sharp image of myself.  Some part of me had been waiting to catch him in something he might say.  (see Luke 11:53-54)

We really didn’t know each other very well when we married, so I paused to give him the benefit of the doubt.   I am ashamed at how difficult it was to remember that everyone, especially those that I love, are “innocent until proven guilty”.

I asked, “Did you really want to hurt me?”

He looked at me with such bewilderment and said, “Huh?” 

“What a surprise,” I began to inwardly seethe with sarcasm.  He didn’t even know that he hurt me.  That was worse than intentionally hurting me.  If he loved me he would know that what he was saying was hurtful. 

That was the moment I realized a truth I had denied in all of my relationships.  I am not a mind reader.  I really had no idea what had caused my husband to say what he had said.  I did not know his motivation, his thinking, or his intention.  I judged him on every point and reached a conclusion, a snap decision, without any consideration for his perspective. 

I had not even paused to consider that he loved me.  He loved me enough to want to spend his life with me and to protect me from harm. 

If my husband realized that his remarks could cause me the slightest pain he would reconsider his words or he would not speak.   After all, I married a man who would walk through fire to rescue me from danger, a man who would give up his life for mine. 

What sense of logic would lead me to believe that he would purposefully do or say anything to hurt me?   Sure, if I had said something hurtful he might be justified to react with something equally or more hurtful.   But that was not the case.  He had been trying to say something funny but it had come out all wrong.  

My husband cannot always forecast how I will react to the things he says or does. I am a girl, a foreigner speaking a foreign language to him.  We most assuredly do not think alike and he cannot read my mind. 

Many years from now, when we have spent decades together and learned much of each other, there will remain things about me that he will not comprehend.   He may assume many things but he will not always be right.  Even if he took the time to think it out before he speaks, he might reach the wrong conclusion.  

There have been many times since that memorable incident when my husband has said things that I took the wrong way.   When I was first learning to change my behavior, I flew off the handle and stormed out of the house to “walk it off”.

As I have sought God’s help and practice, practice, practiced; I am more often successful at more immediately reaching the right conclusion.

My husband has no intention of hurting me; and, 
whether I feel hurt or not, is my choice.

~ ~ ~

Sunday, September 05, 2010

In Case of Emergency

I apologize to anyone who follows me on Facebook for the duplicate posting here in blog form.  I need to take advantage of a few shortcuts as I must make quick work of this post.

I received a call yesterday from the Fire Department.  I was told that my husband had sustained a head injury due to a fall while working at Target and was being taken my ambulance to UC  Davis Medical Center.  I could not comprehend how a fall on a store floor could result in a head injury.  And, just what constituted a "head injury"?  I pictured a lump the size of golf ball somewhere on his skull which reminded me.  For a moment, I imagined the worse.  My husband had a shunt placed in his head after his stroke.  If it moved or became dislodged it could kill him.  In anguish I sighed a desperate prayer.

I thank God for answered prayer and the comfort of the Holy Ghost.  I "knew" that my husband was "fine".  

I phoned a dear friend from church to take me to be with him.  (I no longer drive or own own a car.)   She arrived in moments and I got to the hospital while my husband was still in triage.  When they let me back to see him they had moved him to Unit 3, Bed 36 - our "home" for the next five hours.  

They were trying to remove his shirt and under-shirt when I walked in.  He was being ornery - a good sign. When I reached his bedside, the staff was pulling off his red shirt.  Under that I could see that his under-shirt had also become a deep, deep red.  His cuts were covered with gauze and his head held stationary with a neck brace

I could hear him asking the faces above him as I approached, "Is that my wife?"

His face beamed as I appeared to his view.  

What a welcome sight were those big brown eyes with the sparkle that appears each time he sees me.  It has not faded.  In fact, I sometimes think that it has become stronger and more steady.    

Now, this is where my story deviates from "the norm".  

I knew that in whatever hours lay ahead of us, whatever the prognosis, it was up to me to either make a wonderful memory or a horrible nightmare of our experience.  I chose the former.   

These are my Facebook posts after the experience:

Sharon Cohen is grateful to have her husband home. Bruce took a bad fall at work resulting in two severe lacerations to the head (17 stitches).

Thanks to Lisa Powell for being our angel through all of it - nearly 10 hours devoted to tending our needs! We're all tired - praying for a good night sleep.

Sharon Cohen I hope he lets me take photographs. Under all the caked on blood what they found was ALARMING. One of the cuts could more rightly be described as a "slice" - like a V slice of his scalp that the doctor could peal back and irrigate under before setting it back down and sewing it back into place.  
I later discovered that the "slice" was actually in the shape of a "J".  If  you "read" the top of Bruce's head, as it appears over his left shoulder, it looks like "JI".  I'm still discovering all the words that begin with those letters.  
Sharon Cohen Thanks Lee Ann and Anne. He is resting quietly but he won't be able to wear his CPAP machine. It will be a LONG night.
So many prayers were offered by so many people.  He was able to wear the CPAP machine.  The straps did not cross over the lacerations!  God is SO good.  

Sharon Cohen and Bruce rested well. Your prayers were answered.

I spent a little time getting Bruce settled for the morning.  I cut his hair as close to the scalp so it would not become matted in the stitches and the still oozing blood.  He agreed to stay down and give the blood  a chance to clot.   

I left for church and was greeted, one by one, by church leaders and friends.  Each was eager to hear what had happened.  The concern for my husband was overwhelming.   My heart was so full.
Sharon Cohen I bore testimony in church today and will share a portion of it here. I am very, very grateful for this trial in our lives right now. We both know that God uses injury and illness to grow us quickly, in spurts which net immeasurable spiritual gain. For that reason, above all others, I am grateful.

In answer to prayer, we are very aware that God is personally and intimately mindful of us. He perceives that we are ready, willing and able to withstand another measure of refinement by fire.

I have shared this testimony with Bruce and he declares the same perspective. He actually grinned when I told him that it seems we've grown accustomed to being "smacked upside the head" when God is wanting for us to learn and grow. We know that great blessings come from these tutorials.

He does appreciate the attention, the prayers and the love - more than I can share. His eyes spill over with tears when I tell him of your concern. These things matter - immensely.

In Case of Emergency - give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

~ ~ ~
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Saturday, September 04, 2010

Myths, Fears and Following God

“ . . . society's accumulated myths and fears about disability and disease are as handicapping as are the physical limitations that flow from actual impairment.” (William J. Brennan Jr.)

I had the opportunity to sit and talk with a young woman who works with my husband on the sales floor at Target.  We enjoyed a supremely candid discussion.

It all began when Bruce called to let me know that a female co-worker was driving him home.  He calls me every time he accepts a ride from a woman.  He says it is the “proper” thing to do.  Either he knows that I greatly appreciate this sign of respect or he fears a jealousy he has never seen in me.  In either case, I appreciate his honesty. 

After a meet and greet at the door with our happy-friendly Basset hound, I enjoyed a two-hour conversation with this young lady (she’s under 30 years old and married). 

I always enjoy hearing other people describe their affinity for my husband.  As with most people, she was at first put off by his gruff voice, his biting sarcasm and his obvious physical limitations.  She admitted that she had originally thought that he was not only mean because of his physical disability, but she thought he could possibly be mentally challenged as well.

Interaction and time have shown her otherwise.  She admitted that getting to know my husband has given her patience.  I laughed and shared my own personal experience with that phenomenon.  To be actively compassionate with a disabled person requires patience, deliberate self-control and intentional listening.  These are not prevalent skills in 21st Century America.  The by-product of acquiring those skills is increased patience.

She learned, as I once did, that behind his language deficit was an intelligent man eager, anxious and brusquely trying to progress.  It translates to “mean”, “gruff” or “angry” to the casual observer. 

As we all interacted she began to notice a difference in the way that I communicate with Bruce.  Being an incredibly astute young lady, she noticed that there was distinct tone of respect and consideration in my language with him.   She was so taken that she actually remarked, “I love the way you said that.  That is so much more respectful that what I would have said.”

I then took the opportunity to explain the premise behind my cards, “The Respect Dare” and the challenge for wives to model their marriages after the pattern established in God’s word.   She remarked that she isn’t “religious”.

But, undaunted, I told her that a wife does not need to be “religious” to follow God’s word about respecting her husband.

My Husband's Love 
I have been pondering that little piece of our conversation for hours.  Was it inspiration or folly - that tidbit that "just popped out" of my mouth?  

Bruce was raised Jewish.  He turned his back on that religion after his mother died when he was fifteen.  I don’t even know if he knew how to pray when he woke from his stroke.   

But, I do know that my husband did not have to be “religious” to follow God’s word and receive a miracle in his life. 

Some time after his stroke, when the world was still fuzzy and voices sounded like the teacher in Charlie Brown’s classroom, Bruce was feeling very alone.  Without language and without voice Bruce cried out for someone to understand him.  

A loving God heard him.  In his heart, Bruce “heard” a voice of encouragement.  The voice firmly and repeatedly told him what to do.  Bruce began to stand.  Six months later, he banished fear along with his wheelchair and walked again.  He continued to listen to the still, small voice that warmed his heart and he soon discarded the cane.  

My husband ignored the myths that stroke survivors have a limited window for recovery.  When I met him in 2001 he could use about 100 words in conversation.  He now has thousands of words at his disposal and his vocabulary increases every day. 

After talking to his friend from work, I puzzled about her fear of following God's word when she was not "religious".  I likened my his experience to that of hers and of other marriages in need of strengthening – marriages in need of healing – or marriages simply in need of growth.

I wanted to call the young lady and tell her that following God's word should not be limited by society's myths and fears about religion.

It led me to reword the quote that I used in opening this post, just a bit.
“ . . . society's accumulated myths and fears about religion and God's word are as handicapping as are the eternal limitations that flow from spiritual deprivation.”

~ ~ ~

Can I get an Amen?