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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25 Falling-in-Love, Fall Date Ideas

25 Falling-in-Love Fall Dates I’m not sure when it hit me.

But I think it was while we were sitting by the Blue River and simply holding hands.

Not talking and not even really thinking.

Just loving each other.

It was our anniversary and he’d surprised me with a few days in a quiet cabin tucked into the woods.

And you want to know something about that time we had together? It felt right and good.

We both felt it.

Not that we had doubted our love for each other, but it had just been so busy lately and we’d had so much going on.

That we could tell this was what we needed.

This slowing down and focusing on him and me.

Falling in love all over again.

And somewhere along that river,  I got the idea of sharing some more falling-in-love fall date ideas with you.

You don’t even have to wait for your anniversary! You can slip away for a few hours and simply hold hands.

Because if it’s good for us? Then I’m wondering if it might be good for you too.

To slow down a bit.

To stop for a few moments and remember to fall-in-love with each other over . . . and then over again.

25 Falling-in-Love Fall Dates

25 Falling-in-Love Fall Dates

1.  Go out for a pumpkin spice latte.

Might as well start with this one, right? Okay, so I don’t know if I could talk him into a pumpkin spice latte, but I’m fairly certain that I could convince him to grab me one. And that I could count on him to get his usual 16 oz. Americano and that be would be satisfied with watching me enjoy mine.  So that works for me (and him)!

25 Falling-in-Love Fall Dates

2.  Plan a perfect picnic for two.

This one’s easy if you ask me. All you have to do is pack a few yummy sandwiches or maybe pour some hot soup in a thermos and voila! you’ve got a picnic. Grab an old blanket or look for a picnic table and you’re good to go! And if you want to add something really delicious, tuck in a couple of pieces of this Maple Pumpkin Cake. Mmm! He’s gonna love it…Oh, I mean love you! 😉

3.  Head-out for an old-fashioned hayride together.

So I haven’t done this since I was a kid, but I think it would be very fun and rather romantic, don’t you?

25 Falling-in-Love Fall Dates

4.  Go stargazing.

Fall is the perfect time to watch the stars! We live out in the country so we only have to step out into our yard, but you might have to drive out a ways or look for the nearest observatory. There’s something about staring up at the sky to make you  in awe of our Creator . . . and starry-eyed for one another!

5. Get a big bonfire going.

Build a hot fire on a chilly autumn night and you’ve instantly got a romantic evening! Pull up a couple of old camp chairs, throw a warm, wooly blanket around you both and grow dreamy in the dancing flames.

25 Falling-in-Love Fall Dates

6.  Hop on (or rent) a couple of bikes and go exploring.

We did this on our last anniversary and I couldn’t believe how much fun we had! (Or how sore I was the next day….but hey! it was worth it.)

7.   Go see a football game together.

I don’t even like football all that much, but there’s something about fall and football that seem to go together—especially if you or your husband is a sports fan!

Date Crates

8.  Try out a DateCrate.

Okay, so I just LOVE this idea! Matthew and I recently discovered DateCrates and we’re completely sold on these fabulous “dates-in-a-box”! We tried out their Latte Love crate (no big surprise, huh?), but I’ve got my eye on the Glamping  one to try next month… Seriously, these are totally worth checking out!

9.  Roast s’mores together.

Now we happen to have a fire pit just outside our bedroom door (yes, I’m serious! rather convenient), but you can try your fireplace or even the stovetop, if it comes down to it. You can even get creative and try something other than the traditional Hershey bar chocolates. My favorite is probably S’mores with Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, but he likes caramel chocolates in his.

25 Falling-in-Love Fall Dates

10.   Fall is a great time to try a new hike.

So lace up your hiking boots and head out on an adventure together! Pack a few snacks, some water, and a layering jacket and you’re set to go.

11.  Pop new flavors of popcorn.

I don’t know about you guys, but we are big fans of popcorn over here. All kinds of popcorn! In addition to the traditional, butter-and-salt variety, we’ve tried coconut (substituting coconut oil for butter), cinnamon & sugar, Jello popcorn, Rice-Crispie popcorn (melted marshmallow), and caramel popcorn. Caution: once you get going, you might find this surprisingly addictive!

25 Falling-in-Love Fall Dates

12.  Curl up in your very own romantic refuge.

I’ve already shared with you my idea for creating a little romantic place in your very own home and this is still one of my favorite fall-back date places. I’ll send him a text to “meet me in the refuge” and he knows where he can find me (and yes, he does have a home office, but texting makes it more flirty somehow :) ! *My favorite We Still Do pillow is available from EverThineHome.

13.  Try a caramel fondue.

My good friend recently suggested this idea and now I’m keen to try it! My husband loves caramel anything, so I think he’d really enjoy this one. Here are some goodies that would be fun to dip: tart apple slices, chocolate squares, popcorn, peanuts, pretzels, etc. Wowza! Decadent.

25 Falling-in-Love Fall Dates

14.  Take off on a fall foliage drive.

Because we live in the desert, we have to drive out a while before we see much color but it is one of my all-time favorite things. Fill up the gas tank (ouch!) and then grab that pumpkin spice latte and get ready to see God’s glorious creation on display!

100 Ways to Love Your Spouse by Matthew and Lisa Jacobson

15.  A quiet evening by the fire reading and loving one another.

Sometimes we read a book together, but more often he reads his book while I read mine. Or you could both read our books (pictured above) and pick out one of the ways you want to focus on loving the other person.  *Available HERE

Pumpkin Muffins by Catz in the Kitchen

16.   Cook up a batch of pumpkin treats to try.

Like these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins or some Amish Pumpkin Pancakes. Yum!!

25 Falling-in-Love Fall Dates

17.  Go see War Room.

We recently went to the theater to see War Room, the newest movie from the Kendrick brothers, and found it to be very inspiring! This makes for a terrific date night with plenty to talk about after the movie is over.

25 Falling-in-Love Fall Dates

18.  Visit a nearby pumpkin patch.

It’s not just for kids, you know! Pumpkins are for everyone.

19.   Plan a game-night for two.

Once the weather starts turning cooler, bring out the boardgames and challenge him to a game of Settlers of Catan or Monopoly or try a new game you’ve not played before.

25 Falling-in-Love Fall Dates

20.  Go apple-picking.

They taste better when you’ve picked them yourself. I promise!

21.   Bring those apples home and bake up an old-fashioned apple pie.

Nothing says “romance” quite like a piece of hot homemade apple pie. This alone speaks volumes of love. 😉

25 Falling-in-Love Fall Dates

22. Create your own photoshoot.

There’s something about fall that turns even the most amateur of us into gifted photographers. Don’t have a fancy camera? Neither do we.  But you might be pleasantly surprised at what a smart phone can do!

23.  Curl up and watch an old movie together after the kids are in bed.

Okay, confession time: Occasionally he and I turn in early, snuggle up in our bed, and watch a movie together on his computer. Probably not overly mature or creative, but sometimes it’s nice just to veg out and enjoy an old-fashioned romance or comedy.

25 Falling-in-Love Fall Dates

24.  Watch the sunset together.

Brought to you by the Author of Romance.

25.   Sit beside each other and simply hold hands.

Not talking and not even really thinking.

Just loving each other.

And now we’re right back to where we began. 

In love.

Have a happy fall, falling in love all over again!

In His grace,

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P.S. For more encouraging articles on marriage and parenting, check out my husband’s site:!

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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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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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Marriage 101: What Every Married Couple Needs to Know

Marriage 101 - What Every Married Couple Really Needs to Know

My husband is a licensed professional counselor and a pastor, so he performs a lot of premarital counseling for couples. I’m always giving him helpful advice about things he should discuss with engaged couples.

My newest idea is that he should add one hour of counseling just to talk about dirty socks.

First, he should look at the guy and say, “Do you intend to take your socks off and leave them in whatever place they drop?”

Then he should look at the girl and say, “When your guy leaves his dirty socks in whatever place he takes them off, perhaps even very close to but not actually in the laundry hamper, are you going to immediately assume he doesn’t love you?”

Because this is marriage 101.

I asked my husband, a professional counselor but also a sock-leaver-arounder, to tell us what guys are thinking about their socks when they take them off.

“I gotta get these off my feet,” he said. “Aaaaah, that feels better.”

“When you walk away from your socks,” I asked, “are you in any way making a statement about your wife’s value?”

“No,” he said.

Okay, so I’m a professional wife and also a sock-picker-upper, and I used to get my feelings hurt over those dirty socks. I would see them lying there and immediately think Matt didn’t care about me or surely he wouldn’t have left those for me to take care of.

But this is the man who once jumped between me and a Rottweiler that ran at me on a dark street one night.

This is the man who held me close, night after night, while I grieved my father’s death.

This is the man who looked at me in McDonald’s a few weeks ago and said, “You and me, babe. We’re the only ones in the world right now.” And I swooned like a middle school girl.

This man loves me. Ain’t no lie.

So here’s a truth from Scripture that young women need to hear, as part of their premarital counseling:

“…the devil…is a liar and the father of lies.”  (John 8:44 ESV)

The devil wants to destroy our marriages, and it works pretty well to whisper into a woman’s ear, “See those socks? He must not care about you.” And the woman who feels not cared for becomes resentful, and resentment can turn into deep-seated bitterness that will undermine the relationship.

We need to be prepared for the lies.

Marriage 101 - What Every Married Couple Needs to Know

He Loves Me

You know that game we played as young girls? We held the flower in our hands and plucked one petal at a time. He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me. He loves me not.

Well, the devil is going to try to get you to think, He loves me not. He loves me not. He loves me not.

So the next time you see those dirty socks on the floor, pretend you’re plucking one of those “fragrant” flower petals and choose to say, He loves me.

Take time to think of all the ways your guy shows that he cares about you. Remember how he brings in a paycheck so you have a roof over your head. Remember what he’s really good at doing for you.

Be thankful.

Lean into the truth.

Pray for him while you humbly and lovingly put his socks in the hamper.

Let’s give our guys some room to have imperfections, as well as some credit for their good intentions toward us.

~ Christy Fitzwater

*What is one way your man shows his love for you?
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