So What Exactly Does It Mean to Be Your Husband’s “Helper”?

So What Exactly Does It Mean to Be Your Husband's Helper

Lately I’ve been reflecting on a largely unremarkable, yet poignant scene a photographer friend of mine witnessed as she snapped photos of a rather illustrious couple.

As she offered directions in a brief moment during the shoot, the husband became momentarily confused as to what to do.

At that same instant my friend noticed the slight pressure of the wife’s hand on her husband’s back, guiding him into the next steps fluidly.

In that moment of grace, the man lost no dignity in not knowing what to do, thanks to his wife.

She was silently, and wonderfully, his teammate and ally.

One might even say that in this situation, she respectfully led her husband.

Barbara Rainey

Due to a project at work lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about this whole idea about Eve’s creation as Adam’s “helper.”

It’s a delicate subject, this one.

Sometimes I’ve received some rather blistering thoughts from constituents on this topic—often because “helper” is seen as a demotion of women as inferior, or as propagating abuse. But these implications are against all we stand for: the intrinsic value of women and their critical, life-giving role, without which Adam’s situation was declared “not good.”

Sometimes the desire not to step on toes can cause us as Christians to dial back the breathtaking design idea fashioned into each woman as God crafted her.

You may have heard before that this term of “helper”, the Hebrew word ezer, elsewhere in the Bible refers both to the Holy Spirit of God Himself, and to military allies.

The concept is not for the faint of heart.

Rather, it is endowed with innate strength.

Acting as wingman is never a demotion.  Neither is the Holy Spirit less than the Father or Son. His leading of us, of me, is always gentle yet also with pure truth.  His guidance of me is always with my needs in mind.

Eve was “fashioned” for Adam—in that way, I suppose their union and likewise any married couple is not unlike a 3-D puzzle.

I see it in my own marriage, and my husband would be one of the first to tell you: I excel at design while he tops me any day of the week in finances.  Yet even these two descriptors are not thoroughly helpful because Dennis does have a good sense of design and though spreadsheets give me a headache I am not completely inept with numbers.

There are ways every wife distinctly and uniquely complements her own husband.

And of course, he’ll offer his fortes to complement her areas of lesser strength as well.

In some ways, through “helping”, we’ll actually be gently, graciously leading. Abigail and Esther are both shimmering examples of women who wisely, shrewdly, and respectfully “led”—saving untold lives through their astute courage and foresight.

Any coach worth his salt will tell you that’s what a team is all about: not domination, superiority, or self-service, but on moving fluently with what each player brings to the team, toward your common goal.

Each member maximizing his or her gifts in their position makes for a winning game.…Or photo shoot.

And it’s one of the nuances often found in the team of two called marriage.



Barbara RaineyBarbara Rainey, wife of 42 years. Empty nester to 6 kids and 22 grandkids. Cofounder of FamilyLife. Creator of Ever Thine Home. Author & artist. Inspires women to see mundane moments as sacred and meaningful. Still in awe at being loved by God.

You can learn more about EverThineHome HERE. And follow Barbara & EverThineHome on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Creating a Romantic Refuge in Your Very Own Home

*The above photo of the former governor and wife is with special thanks to the talented Nancy Nolan Photography

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4 Kinds of Talk that Will Save Your Marriage

4 Talks to Save Your Marriage

We’re skipping church because we’ve been gone all weekend.

We’re watching it instead, online, Pastor Mark Hughes’ Church of the Rock, and we’re watching a sermon on marriage on separate couches, while our boys climb all over us. Trent and I look at each other across the room and sigh, roll our eyes and there’s a splash of sunlight on the floor, falling from the sky. Just a splash but it’s enough to make the room feel warmer.

Marriage is hard with kids, and it’s hard without kids too. It’s just plain hard.

Not because of anything except that you are two sinful people with different ways of communicating, different ways of seeing and perceiving the world and suddenly you’re apparently one body and not only that, you’re expected to raise two very impressionable young children while being consistently “on the same page”.

And you try to have date night which basically means sitting on the couch with your feet up watching something funny because you can’t handle serious after the kind of day you had and suddenly the boys are yelling at you from bed because they want more water or another song or they’re hungry.

And you do that thing where you look at each other and even though you’re side by side you feel miles apart.

“Who are you?” you ask, not only to the person in front of you but to the person that you are, because you forget. You forget what makes you laugh. You forget what you used to do when you had free time, you forget what romance is because you’re so tired when you fall into bed it’s all you can do turn out the light before you’re snoring.

But I want more.

Making It Home By Emily Wierenga1

I know, my kids are 6 months and four and five and a half and we’re both neck deep in our careers and yet, I don’t want to lose “us” before the children are out of the house and suddenly we don’t know what to talk about anymore.

But more than that, I want to have the kind of marriage that makes my kids want to get married.

They say that your eyes should light up every time your son or daughter walks into the room. I think we should aim just as high when our spouse walks into the room.

But it’s not just about the eyes lighting up. It’s about talking to your other half–really, truly talking. According to Pastor Mark Hughes of Church of the Rock–the program we were watching on separate couches while our boys tugged on our hair and flipped across our laps, there are 4 kinds of talk that will save a marriage.

  1. Small Talk: You know, the kind in which you discuss the weather, the day, How was work honey, Did you get the mail like I asked you to, Why didn’t you get the mail like I asked you to?! Yeah,  that kind of talk.
  2. Sweet Talk: Trent and I call each other Babes, but that’s about the extent of our sweet talk, so we realized we needed to work on that. So I told him one night that I liked his butt. He told me he liked mine too. It’s a start.
  3. Serious Talk: This is when you discuss a heightened version of Small talk, concerning more crucial topics, like health, finances, relationships, careers. People often think they’re having an intimate talk if it’s about something serious, but in fact, it’s not. Yet it’s still important to do.
  4. Soul Talk: This is the most intimate version of communication. This is where you ask each other a “soul” question, like “What are you afraid of?” or “If you could accomplish one thing with your life, what would it be?”

So Trent and I have started soul-talking. Because we’ve realized we’ve been living mostly off of small talk, serious talk and a crush on each other’s butts. But our marriage was feeling flat because there was no soul.

You gotta have soul.

So set aside one night a week where you ask each other a question. Put the kids to bed early, pop some corn, pour each other a glass of bubbly and sit out on the deck.

It’s worth it to one day have the kind of marriage that makes our kids say, “Hey–I want one of those!”


Friends, I’m celebrating the release of my new memoir today, Making It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity and Purpose.

Making It Home By Emily Wierenga2

What does it mean to be a woman and to make a home? Does it mean homeschooling children or going to the office every day? Cooking gourmet meals and making Pinterest-worthy home décor? In Making It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity, and Purpose, author and blogger Emily Wierenga takes readers on an unconventional journey through marriage, miscarriage, foster parenting and the daily struggle of longing to be known, inviting them into a quest for identity in the midst of life’s daily interruptions.

Get your copy HERE. Proceeds benefit Emily’s non-profit, The Lulu Tree.


Get FREE downloadable chapters from Making It Home HERE.


Making It Home by Emily Wierenga

Sign up for the FREE Making It Home webcast featuring Liz Curtis Higgs, Holley Gerth, Jennifer Dukes Lee and Jo Ann Fore (with Emily Wierenga as host), 8 pm CT on September 10, 2015, HERE. Once you sign up you’ll be automatically entered for a giveaway of each of the author’s books!

Emily Wierenga Bio Picture

Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, columnist, artist, author, founder of The Lulu Tree and blogger at Her work has appeared in many publications, including Relevant, Charisma, Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, Christianity Today, Dayspring’s (in)courage and Focus on the Family. She is the author of six books including the travel memoir Atlas Girl and speaks regularly about her journey with anorexia. She lives in Alberta, Canada, with her husband, Trenton, and their children. For more info, please visit Find her on Twitter or Facebook.

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4 Ways to Escape the Trap of Emotional Divorce

4 Ways to Escape the Trap of Emotional Divorce

Have you ever found yourself feeling:

“I’m just so mad, so hurt—again. I’m not going to share my heart with him anymore. He doesn’t understand. It is too painful. We’ll live in the same house but he can do his thing and I’ll do mine.” 

Most of us, if we are really honest, have felt this way about our husband from time to time.

I call it falling into the trap of emotional divorce.

Imagine a solid glass patio door.

Emotional divorce is a bit like slamming that patio door shut on our hearts.

We still see the person on the other side, but there’s a strong, sealed panel between us.

We begin to close up our heart to him.

This trap can occur during stressful transitions in our lives-a move, a job loss, financial pressures, a new baby, caring for elderly parents, a child in crisis, etc. We are stressed and if each of us responds differently to the issue, we get irritated.

We are too exhausted to communicate.

We are afraid, and we unintentionally take it out on one another.

What do we do when we find ourselves falling into this trap?

1. Recognize what is happening and refuse to let that “patio door” separate you.

2. Make the decision to take a sledgehammer and begin to chip away at that glass wall. Thick patio doors don’t usually splinter into pieces all at once. It takes a steady chipping away at a tiny crack until the door dissolves.

3. Talk to a godly older couple and ask for their help. Most churches have older couples who would be happy to mentor you, pray for you, and encourage you. Get counseling as needed.

4. Remember God is for your marriage. He is the strong “super glue” holding you together. You can rely on Him. He will bring you through this time and your marriage will be deeper and stronger as a result.

“For nothing is impossible for God.” (Luke 1:37)



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Two Powerful Forces That Drive Your Teen’s Activities

Two Powerful Forces That Drive Your Teen's Activities

I have a ridiculous love of apocalyptic movies, so I watched Tommy Lee Jones in Volcano.

Because of course a volcano is going to erupt in the middle of a city. In great heroism, though, Tommy Lee creates a new path for the lava, so it goes to the ocean instead of destroying the metropolis.

It could happen.

I think teen souls are like hot lava that is going to flow. You can’t put a cap on their lives and keep them contained, but you can take powerful, heroic actions to direct where they’re going.

I have an 18-year-old and a 21-year-old, and they are everything I ever hoped they would be.

They love and serve Jesus.

They’re honest, hard-working adults who are pleasant to be around.

I’ve been trying to put my finger on how this happened, so I could share some practical advice with you.

Something I think we did well was to steer our kids in the direction we wanted them to go using the tools of permission and funding.

The Power of Permission

My son was a senior this past year, and he and his friends started scheming about making a big road trip after graduation.

Can you imagine how not excited we were about that?

But then one of the moms suggested that instead the group go to Hawaii and help a small church with their Vacation Bible School.

My husband and I were thrilled with this idea, so we gave Caleb our blessing to go do this Vacation Bible School, on a small island in Hawaii that is spiritually impoverished. He and his friends had a fun time playing in the ocean, but they also made a difference in the lives of little kids.

We started when our kids were very small –giving a hearty yes! to any activity that would benefit our children’s growth in their relationship with God and with godly people.

We signed permission slips and drove them to events and volunteered where we needed to.

We encouraged them to go hang out with good people at good activities.

The Power of Funding

We’re people of modest means, living a middle class life. We drive old cars and have more month than money. But we have used what money we have to direct the activities in which our kids have participated.

We paid over $300 apiece so our kids could go to Creation Festival, which is a three-day Christian concert and speaking event.

We paid for the kids to go to camp.

We paid for them to go to retreats.

We paid for them to go skiing and ice skating and backpacking with people of good character.

We spent money investing in their talents. We paid for voice lessons and bought guitars. My daughter is 21, and I keep buying her art supplies, to encourage that amazing gift she has.

Just about any activity comes with a price tag, so we showed our kids what was important to us by writing checks to fund a good life.

One thing our kids learned was that we loved to say yes.

We would give an excited, “Yes!”, with money to back it, when they chose excellent activities that honored the Lord.

They knew we would make personal sacrifices to help them live well. They also knew it pained us when we did, for some reason, have to say no.

So parent, be encouraged that you have great power in permission and funding. Are you using that power to funnel your child down a good path?


~ Christy Fitzwater

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Sometimes Love in Marriage Comes Down to the Smallest of Things

Sometimes Love Comes Down to the Smallest of Things

How can one jar of peanut-butter cause so much trouble?

No kidding, that’s what I wanted to know too.

Because apparently it was A Big Problem and he made that quite clear.

My husband was fed up with the sticky, slimy mess dripping down the sides of the peanut-butter jar and insisted we put a stop to the madness.

“Why can’t we keep this jar clean?! There’s no reason we should live like this and it’s driving me nuts!” He didn’t yell, but I could tell by his tone that he really meant it.

Oh, but there was a very good reason as far as I was concerned and protested against his somewhat ridiculous request.

Actually, there were eight good reasons. You see we have these things called children and one mother can’t be on top of everything!

Why so unreasonable? So demanding?

Now on his behalf, I have to tell you that my husband is not a complainer.

He doesn’t make negative remarks about my cooking. He doesn’t complain about having to throw on his robe in the morning and search for the essential items in the laundry room (oops! meant to fold and put those away…). He’s even good about patiently sitting in the car and waiting for me to get out the door. And that can be a pretty long wait sometimes.

But the goopy peanut-butter container? That just about does him in.

So how many of you moms can I count on to side with me on this one?

I mean, we have a bunch of kids and they all make their own peanut-butter sandwiches. Even the three young boys. Let’s face it – it’s a sticky, slimy world we live in.

And I basically communicated to him . . . .

Sorry. But that’s just the way it has to be. 

That we were going to have to learn to live with it. That he was asking the impossible. And I left him in the kitchen feeling quite justified in my defensive and huffy response.

Except for one thing . . . . 

Sometimes Love Comes Down to the Smallest of Things

Epiphany in the Parlor

I left the kitchen to recover and regroup in our front sitting room – our “parlor” as we call it and my very favorite room in the house.

It’s a special place.

The Parlor has pretty pillows, a tea tray, and a clear glass (yes, that would be GLASS) coffee table.

The kids are not allowed to eat in this room.

Or have their electronic gadgets.

No Legos, dirty socks, or rollerblades are permitted in the Parlor. Happy sigh.

I love this room.

Now wait! Are you beginning to wonder how it is that I can keep an entire room looking pristine even though we have all these children? With a glass coffee table, no less??

Well. It’s because it’s important to me, of course. Really important.

But I can’t keep the peanut-butter jar wiped down?


Yeah, that’s the question that got to me too.

You see, I have this tendency to take my priorities very seriously. And this room is one of those.

Not only that, but when the rest of my family do their best to keep it the way I like it?

It makes me happy.

I feel respected.

Maybe even loved.

I know. It’s a small thing. So maybe you don’t see why it’s a big deal to me.

But it kinda is.

If at all possible.

So maybe I don’t understand why all the fuss over the sloppy peanut-butter jar.

But if it’s important to him?

Makes him happy?

Feel respected?

Maybe even loved…?

Then I can do this small thing.

In fact, I’m determined to have the cleanest peanut-butter jar in town.

And if you ever find yourself anywhere near our area, I hope you’ll stop by ’cause I’d love to make you a peanut-butter sandwich. Or have that youngest son of ours make you one. He makes the best.

It’s true that you might have to step over a heaping pile of rollerblades on the front porch and overlook the baskets of clean laundry waiting to be folded in the living room.

But there should be a nice place for you to sit in the parlor.

And you’ll be sure to admire the amazingly spotless peanut-butter container, won’t you?

Because he sure does.

He likes it that way.

But better than that?

He loves me.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. ~ Philippians 2:4

In His grace,

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*Parlor photo is with thanks to Allison Harp
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35 Healthy Habits I Hope My Daughter I Want for My Daughter {and Me}

35 Healthy Habits I Want for My Daughter and Me

I don’t know why the article caught my eye.

But it sure did.

I don’t think it would normally have intrigued me so, except that I have a daughter who is getting ready to leave home.

She’ll soon be boarding a plane to fly across the country to attend a new college. Nearly 3,000 miles away.

2,682.7 miles to be precise.

And about 2,682 miles too far, if you ask me.

So in this article was a list of a bunch of habits every girl should have, or something to that effect.

And I had that momentary mommy-panic that we all get now and then.

Oh no. What habits will that girl of mine take with her now that she’s leaving home?

This particular post was from a secular source and, while there were some things I could agree on, there were plenty that I found either empty—or even worse.

Habits I did NOT want her to have.

So that got me thinking. Why not come up with my own list? Why not share with her the habits that I would want for her to have?

My daughter Vienna

35 Habits I Hope You Take Along, My Dear Daughter

  1. Make your bed. Every morning. First thing. An easy way to get off on the right foot.
  2. Drink lots of water. Because it’s good for you.
  3. Smile. It will make your day go better, and that of those around you too.
  4. Dress for success. Take a little trouble to wear something clean and nice.
  5. Start each day in the Word. No better way to begin your day.
  6. Pray. About all things.
  7. Count your blessings. This habit alone could change your life. Or at least your perspective.
  8. Stand up straight. It will improve your appearance and add to your confidence.
  9. Get some fresh air. You’ll feel better if you do.
  10. Exercise. A few minutes each day, if at all possible. Even a good, brisk walk counts.
  11. Eat something green. Preferably dark green and organic.
  12. Limit the carbs. They are not your friend.
  13. Dip into your stash of dark chocolate. It’s full of antioxidants and can be a real mood-changer.
  14. Don’t even think about fast-food. Junk, junk, junk.
  15. Breakfast is still the most important meal of the day. Even if you’re in a hurry, try to grab a piece of fruit and a boiled egg.
  16. Brush and floss your teeth every day. Twice a day. But you already knew that.
  17. Invest in at least one item that makes you feel pretty. A scarf, a bracelet, or a fun hat?
  18. Always arrive on time. If at all possible. Maybe even show up a little early.
  19. Regularly attend a good, solid church. Find a strong Christian community for love and support.
  20. Don’t ever use your credit card. Save it only for emergencies. A real emergency.
  21. Don’t spend more money than you make. A simple rule that will save you a lot of trouble.
  22. Put away a small amount in savings every month. Because you just never know.
  23. Wash your face before going to bed. Improves your complexion.
  24. Get enough sleep. Your body and mind will thank you.
  25. Keep a journal. Cheaper than therapy and interesting to look back on.
  26. Keep in touch with a few good friends. Take the time, no matter how far away they live.
  27. Laugh a little each day. It really is the best medicine.
  28. Make sure your nails look nice. Clean, neat, and maybe a light polish.
  29. Don’t forget your vitamins. Preferably a good women’s multi-vitamin and Vitamin D3.
  30. Take Echinacea.  Pop a couple of capsules whenever you feel like you’re coming down with something.
  31. Keep the Sabbath. Not out of law, but because a day of rest goes a long way.
  32. Read a good book. Something rich that doesn’t have to do with work or school.
  33. Early to bed, early to rise. The early bird gets the worm and all that. :)
  34. Always remember you’re a princess. A child of the King.
  35. CALL YOUR MOM. Every day. Okay, at least often.

Now if you practice these habits – that you’ve hopefully learned at home – then you will be well on your way to a happy and healthy new season of life.

And the wonderful thing about good habits? They really do add up more than you might think over time. You’ll be glad you took these with you and you’ll see what a difference they can make.

So I wish you God’s richest blessing as you follow Him in this next adventure across the country.

And I’ll be praying for you.

Every day. 

Because that, my dear daughter, is your mom’s habit. 

With much love,


*Your turn! Anything to add to this list or advice for our daughter who is leaving home? 

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