Before we talk about those 5 little words that have become my latest revelation, let me say this:  I haven’t published a post in quite a while.  It seems like all of a sudden life turned into a whirlwind.  Well, maybe I should say, more of a whirlwind than usual.   I haven’t been able to write about it.  I’ve only had time to live it.  Nothing monumental has really happened and so I was a little taken aback by it all.

These last 7 months…

have included much study about putting websites together, publishing posts, usually 3 times a week, photographing many things we do in our house and that on top of raising and schooling 4 children, running a big, old house and hopefully being a decent wife, daughter, sister and friend.  I’ve enjoyed this blog thing and also felt compelled to do it. I will return to it, on a regular basis, soon, but for the moment…well, read on.

As for the onset of summer…

part of the change I forgot about was that these months increase jobs for the family.  A vegetable garden

In the beginninglettuce

and outside house maintenance just to name a few.

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Add to that a few overnight trips

In Wichita on the bridge overlooking the river downtown.

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and some other odds and ends

IMG_0563like painting our entire kitchen including the cabinets

Before

IMG_1397Just starting to paint.  You can see the new white on the right (looks like it’s still wet) and the old beige on the left.

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After.  Ahhh.  Much better.

IMG_1493IMG_1494and birthdays

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and there you have it.  Slowly I surrendered to no more school and eased into plain ‘ole summer life.

That’s it for the pictures on this post.  We are now getting down to some serious business, ladies.  Hang with me here.  I hope this will bless someone.

This summer there has been one thing in particular…

that I have experienced lately and I want to tell you about it.   I believe it is shifting my husband and me to the next level of life together.  Of marriage.

PART 1

I’m Created To Do What?

Probably about 4-5 years ago, I read the most profound book for women that I have ever read about ‘being married.’  Some of you are going to gag at the title and others of you will understand.  Some of you will throw it across the room while reading it, but you will be compelled to pick it up again.  I was a little put off when I first saw it too, but also felt an urgency to buy it and read it as soon as possible.  It is called “Created To Be His Helpmeet.” As a friend of mine said recently when I mentioned it to her, “Where the heck is MY helpmeet.”

“Well,”  I responded tentatively, “You actually don’t get one.”

Then, later, another friend said “Our helpmeet is the Holy Spirit.”  OK, yes.  I like that.  And maybe it is our girlfriends and children.  Maybe that is why God made women to have the need to talk to and process through every detail of life with our girlfriends.

And Now:  The 5 Words

Anyway, a bit before I read that book, some girlfriends and I came up with the idea of very specifically asking our husbands ‘How Can I Help You.’ We sort of challenged each other to do it with the idea that we were going to have to do specific things to make our marriages better and not wait or expect our husbands to do things we wanted, just because they should!  Sure they should, but it will have to be up to them to decide when that will be. Right?  Do we want to nag it out of them or happily receive it because they wanted to give it from their hearts?

I had 3 children aged 5, 2 and newborn at that time…

and the last thing I could conceive of was asking my husband how I could help him while he was skipping (in my mind) off to work as I stayed home, sleep deprived, nursing, changing 2 babies diapers, feeding people, doing laundry, and otherwise completely dulling the mind I had worked so hard all my life to better.  You know the drill, ladies.

So finally, one day…

as my husband was about to go to work, scared that he would present a laundry list of things he needed help with, I asked him if there was anything I could do to help him today.  He quickly said, “No thanks, see you tonight.”  Whew!!!  Got out of that one!!!  Ok,  I said it.  I did the right and good thing here and I didn’t die in the process.  Yeah me!

I proceeded to do this off and on over the next few years.  Not very well, I might add.  It was infrequent and I was still scared of what the answer would be those few times that I did it.  Ultimately, my greatest fear of being loaded with extra chores and short-circuiting out, while being already overwhelmed with my own self-assigned jobs, was never realized.

Looking back, I think God was having me practice those 5 little words without dumping on me what I would not have been able to handle at that time.

PART 2

My husband has a very busy law practice.

It is a stressful job.  There is a statistic that says lawyers are more prone to depression and suicide than any other profession.  I believe it.  My husband is not depressed or suicidal at all.  But seeing the kinds of things he deals with every day, all day, I can understand how a person could fall into those horrible states of being.  Many times lawyers are dealing with the very emotionally charged details of a person’s very personal life.

The Initial Attraction

My husband is a very smart guy.  That was one of the main things that attracted me to him in the first place.   His job requires that brain power all day, every day.  I don’t know how he does it, but he does it and he does it well.  He loves wrapping his brain around complicated issues and he loves serving the people.  After getting his law degree he then got a Master’s in Public Administration.  So it is just “in him” to help “the people.”  Maintaining the relationship with his clients is his utmost priority.  Well, because of that, the financial side of things was starting to take a back seat.  Just keeping up with it is a job in itself.

The Stress Started To Increase

I guess it’s been the last 8-9 months; the stress level had been climbing a bit higher.  He was coming home completely maxed out from his day – meeting with clients, massive document production needing great attention to detail, trials, hearings, traveling to lots of other towns and cities, emotions flying high, etc, etc.  And on top of the legal side of things, keeping up with accounts receivable.  Things were starting to not be fun and we were both thinking somethins’ gotta change.  There has to be a break here.  A new idea.

The Shift Began

So….once again as we sat in the den and talked about our day, after the children were in bed (like we do many times.)  I said, (with a little more boldness now since I had  some practice) “How Can I Help You?”  And this time something different happened.   There was a shift that we both felt.  A new idea began to emerge that seemed kind of crazy at first, but started to look like a real possibility to both of us.  We got excited about it and neither of us seemed to feel it was a burden.

God’s Plan For Families

Over the last year or two, I have started to believe that God intended our families (He put us all on earth to be HIS family) to, in the ultimate perfect world, be parented by both mother and father.  Equal time from both. 50-50.  And, also, for the trade that brings in the resources for this family to survive, e.g. pay for a house, buy food, etc, to be worked at by both parents working as a team.  Working together.  I’m not talking about 2 separate jobs.  I’m talking about “together” on 1 job. Partnership.

Hey, this is the way it was done ONLY 150 years ago and on back by most people!  Our modern culture has made us believe that dad has to leave the home to make money and mom has to stay at home somewhat acting like a single mom handling the majority of sowing seeds of wisdom and work ethic into the children.  And as any single mom will tell you, that is an almost impossible job.  I know this might sound a little radical, but hey, I’m kind of a radical girl, so what can I say : )

I believe we were put together with our husbands because we have strengths where they have weaknesses and vice versa.  If we can possibly bring these gifts together to ultimately exhibit what God intended, WOW!  Would that not be our greatest joy?  And then to teach that to our children?

I know some of you are thinking…

there is no way my husband and I could work together.  Or there is no way my husband and I could work out a job or career where we could work together.  That is probably getting the cart before the horse.  If this idea tugs at you in your gut, but you can’t imagine how it would ever happen, I can tell you there will probably need to be a whole lot of prayer and evolution of the relationship before it becomes a reality.  We’ve been married 14 years and I’m just now starting to see the possibility of this in our lives.  And everyone is different.  It could be months for one couple and a lifetime for another couple.

A New Way To Live

And so ladies, as we start to approach this possible new way of living (anyone still with me?) … Here is the hard part.  We have to let him lead the way.  Argh.  As much as we think he doesn’t deserve to or that we could do a much better job at it:  That will never work.  And no he doesn’t necessarily deserve this from us because he is, like we are, very imperfect.  As a matter of fact, no one deserves the blessings God gives us.  It is God’s gift to us.  It is His love for us.  And we are to love and serve others in that same way, in spite of what they deserve or don’t deserve.

Regarding these husbands, our greatest trial here on earth, ladies…

is to surrender to the order that God designed which is that the husband is in charge.  And yes, take heart, God says we are to be partners too.  This is not license for him to be abusive, rude or harsh.  No, the Bible specifically says to him, “Do not be harsh toward your wife.  Love her.”   If he has a little smarts, he will realize that being nice to you and loving you is how he can get the best from you.  And if he has no smarts, pray that he gets some!  Don’t fight this, ladies.  You will just end up being miserable.  I promise that when you accept this order of things and your marriage pieces fall into the right places, you will find your greatest joy.

One day we will stand before God to attest…

to how good a job we did on earth.  We won’t be up there saying “Well he did such-and-such AND SO I could only do such-and-such because  he was such a jerk!”  No.  We will only account for OUR behavior and we desperately want to hear God say to us “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Back to our conversation that night in the den.

So we came up with the idea that I would come to his office a few afternoons a week and work the financial side of the business.

Oh my.  I’ve never done that before.  My background is in TV production and more on the creative side.  Could I do this?  What do I say to people?  Can I organize things at home to make this happen?  But I am motivated, because my husband needs some relief, he will be much more pleasant to live with, he will be parenting the children more while I do a few hours of this work, I will get a break, the business will operate how it should be operating, etc etc.  These are all good things.

Part 3

But allow me to tell you about the first night of our new plan.

We got a babysitter on a Monday night.  We ate dinner with the children and then headed to the office at 6:30 pm.  For several years I had already been balancing our books at the office once a week for about 2 hours.  The first thing that happened when we sat down in his office was that we got into an argument.  It was a very worthy argument about whether he was going to put the monthly bank statement envelope into an in-box for me to then reconcile OR whether he was actually going to open the envelope and put it in a 3 ring binder for me to later reconcile.  UGH!  Is that not a ridiculous thing to argue about?  Anyway, he was changing my system, and hey, I want it done my way.

Well, that lead him into a 10 minute monologue…

about why he was apprehensive about me coming down there and helping him with the financial side of HIS business.  He was apprehensive that I would try to take over and give him all my “good ideas.”  (If you have read any of my other posts, you know I definitely have my ideas!)  He continued about how he has been doing this business for 14 years and has in his mind exactly what needs to be done.  I’m not here to save the day.  I am here to help him.  And, yes, he even used the word ‘helpmeet.’  Oh, why the heck did I ever mention that word to him!

So while he is going off on his apprehensiveness…

about me helping him, to my credit, I CHOSE to do the thing I did NOT want to do.  I didn’t say a word. Yes, I was seething inside.  I was mad and really just wanted to give him a piece of my mind and walk out saying “do this thing yourself if you’re going to be such a jerk!”  But I didn’t.  I sat there and didn’t say a word.  I’m sure my arms were folded and the look on my face was not a happy look.  Intellectually, I knew zipping the lips could be the right thing to do.  I had heard that it was.  Yes, I had even experienced it a few times, but darn, darn, darn, I did NOT want to.  But I did.  It was almost like I was doing an experiment to see if all the older, wiser women were right and this was really true.  Surely not.

He began to come to a close on his tirade.

Funny how when there is no one sitting there arguing back, the argument kind of dies down.  I still sat silent.  And so…he didn’t seem to have more to say on the apprehensiveness thing, and I didn’t either apparently.  He does need me.  He needs something right now, and who better to tend to our personal business than his wife, so he transitioned this rant-monologue into talking about the business at hand.

Change The World?  Yes!

He started to tell me the things he thought I could do, the people I could talk to, how if we did this and that and that and this, we could really do well, make a difference, make some money and ultimately be able to give it away to things that mattered to us and do great things in the world.  It had turned into a pep talk and all of a sudden he started looking, well, dare I say it, really sexy.  LOL! (That is “Laugh Out Loud” for those of you not into social media or texting)  What the heck???  But truly, I was seeing that smart, leader kind of guy that I fell in love with and he was talking about how great it could be if we did this thing together.  Isn’t that what I wanted to begin with?  14 years ago?  Four children later, sometimes it is so easy to forget why we got married in the first place.

We were now back on track

Would we have gotten back on track had I been offering all my good ideas at that moment.  No.  Can there be 2 chefs in the kitchen.  No.  Can there be 2 presidents of the company? No.  Can there be 2 husbands.  No.  It doesn’t work.  Ever.   And yes, you can offer your ideas, but ladies, it is all about mastering the art of timing!  (We will talk about that later.)

By the way, if you think I’m some kind of sado-masochistic weirdo that gets off on being yelled at, I can assure you more than anything – I AM NOT!  Just ask anyone who knows me.

I sure like the word “surrender” much better than “submit!”

If we ladies will just surrender to these things, I believe, miraculously, we will eventually find our greatest joy.  That is the paradox in this entire thing.  We think we must just follow our instinct, our gut feelings,  to control a situation.  But our instinct, in this case, is our flesh speaking.  We must crucify that hard-wired self  to find the joy.  How hard a task that is.  But the truth is, nothing worth having comes easy.  Marriage.  Productive, well-behaved children.  Love.  Joy.  Peace.  We have to move beyond our fleshly desires to ever achieve these things.

So, back to that Monday evening.

We spent an hour or so going over cases and me taking notes.  It was fun.  We were actually becoming quite a team I thought.  Finally we had a little glass of liqueur to end the evening and sat on the couch talking about lots of fun things  – the children, the world, our dreams, etc.   I think we will both remember that night as one of our favorites.

After a month of this we are talking alot about our new joint venture.  Honing our teamwork.  He is coming up with new ideas to do it better.  I want to let him do that.  I want to offer ideas when he wants to hear them.  (I have to remember that no one really wants unsolicited advice, especially husbands.)  I will attest that there have been some more hard moments, but that is forcing us to treat each other better, to apologize quicker when necessary so we can get back on track, because we are both highly motivated to make our business productive and to make a difference in the world.

Last night was date night.

He’d had another very long, intense day.  He picked me up at home and we drove to our favorite little hole-in-the-wall mexican restaurant.  On the way, I just let him talk.  I’m finding it is best to let him vent first when we get together at the end of the day, before I say anything about my day.  He was really just calming down from the day.

He stopped at a stop sign, a few feet before…

you would normally stop and took a deep breath.  I said, “what can I do to help you?”  He said, “you know, just a wife saying that to a husband means everything.  It says to me, ‘I have someone to help me even if I don’t really need anything specific.  It means I don’t have to come home and then deal with whatever it is you need from me after I have given all day to everyone else.  If every wife would do that, their husbands would be much better husbands.  A husband instinctively wants to indulge his wife, and saying that ultimately gives me the brain space to want to do that.”

So.  All of that to say, ask your husband how you can help him.  Even if it scares you.  I do believe you will ultimately be blessed by it, if you persevere.

*The Husband Paraphrase*

(Matt 25:35-40)

I was hungry for breakfast, dinner, and sometimes even lunch, snacks, a kind word, a warm hug, to talk to you, to be loved by you… You gave me something to eat.
I was thirsty to feel accepted by you, to take the leadership role in our home, to be admired by you, to be respected by you. I mowed the lawn and needed refreshing and… You gave me something to drink.
I was a stranger; my mood was bad. I had been unreasonable. I had been mean, thoughtless, forgetful, unhelpful, self-centered… You invited me in.
I was naked; you did all my wash even when I dropped it on the floor. You sewed on my missing buttons. You ironed my wrinkled shirts. You let me bare my soul to you. You saw the real me that others never see- with all my quirks and uncovered ugliness, and you never exposed me before our children, family, or friends… You clothed me.
I was sick– you know my colds are worse than anyone else’s. Sometimes I said things to you I didn’t mean. I got depressed and… You cared for me.
I was in prison: my job got to me some days and I withdrew from you. When I was lonely you were there for me. You prayed for me.
When I was consumed with a problem, when I was unforgiving, when I didn’t deserve anything because of the way I’ve treated you and I was so ashamed… You came to me.

… Jesus would say to you, “When you did these things for (your husband) you did them for me.”

God Bless You!

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