How One Woman Can Fight Poverty {& Make Your Family Rich}

How One Woman Can Fight Poverty

It wasn’t how he planned to spend his day off, on a summer afternoon –under the covers with a rolling stomach.

But there he was, so I kept going upstairs to check on him and kiss his forehead.

“What am I smelling?” he asked.

“Jell-O,” I said.

He turned five.

“What kind of Jell-O?” he asked.

“Red.”

“Oh, red. I like red,” he said.

So when the Jell-O stood firm in the goblet and his stomach stood firm enough to beg for something to eat, I brought him red Jell-O and a spoon.

“My mom used to make Jell-O in special Tupperware cups,” he said. And for a few minutes he forgot about feeling icky and traveled back to days when great happiness came jiggling in Tupperware, and his mom was taking care of him when his stomach was upset.

How One Woman Can Fight Poverty

Handfuls of Gold

While my husband was upstairs sick, I had been reading what is now one of my favorite books, suggested to me by our very own Lisa Jacobson. It is West with the Night, by Beryl Markham –her story of growing up in Africa and flying a prop plane as her adult vocation. It stands, in my mind, next to Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for brilliance in writing.

Beryl tells of flying into the tiny village of Nungwe, where she is asked to visit with a man who is near death, because he longs to hear news of the outside world. She describes entering his hut:

“It was a tiny hut with the usual single window blocked with corrugated iron, the usual thatched roof, old and dropping its leaves like a rotted tree, and the usual earthen floor paved with burnt matchsticks, paper, and shreds of tobacco.

There never seems to be any reason for filth, but there are occasions, like this one, where it would be hard to find a reason for cleanliness. ‘Poverty,’ an old proverb says, ‘is not a disgrace, but a great swinishness.’ Here was poverty –poverty of women to help, poverty of hope, and even of life.

For all I knew there might have been handfuls of gold buried in that hut, but if there were, it was the poorest comfort of all.”

As I was pouring red gelatin into boiling water, all I could think of was that phrase “a poverty of women to help.”

Here was this poor man, dying in a hut in Africa, and his greatest poverty was not having a woman around to make things clean and comfortable.

Can you imagine gold buried under our homes and yet our families still living in poverty because we are not bringing a richness of comfort to them?

Can you imagine a man with a stomach bug and no woman to make him Jell-O?

I thought about this again later on, as I was pulling my guy’s underwear out of the dryer, folding it, and making a neat stack of it.

“I am making my family rich right now,” I said to myself.

His face when he talked about his mom and those Tupperware cups filled with Jell-O –if you could have seen the warm look that came into my husband’s eyes and the deep peacefulness that shaped his expression. A look of being well cared for. Does his mom know that she gave him one of his sweetest memories, with nothing more than red gelatin?

Ladies, you make your family rich every time you clean or do any action that creates comfort for them.

Socks in a drawer.

Hot soup on a cold day.

Sparkly clean toilets.

You are one woman pushing back the poverty of filth and discomfort.

Blessings,
Christy Fitzwater

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100 Ways to Love by Matthew and Lisa Jacobson

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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 fall 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)

Blessings,

Susan

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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?

Right.

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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One Simple Way to Lighten the Load for Your Small Child

One Simple Way to Lighten the Load for Your Small Child

Maybe you find it strange.

That I would even think this way.

But I’m going to tell you anyway . . . with the hope that you somehow understand.

So are you ready?

I don’t like ordering for myself at a restaurant. Not if I can help it anyway.

You can ask my husband and he’ll tell you. He knows because I usually ask him to order for me.

And do you want to know why?

It’s not because I don’t have an opinion.

It’s not because I’m weak or don’t know my own mind. Or tastes. Or whatever.

It’s just because I find that I have to make decisions ALL DAY LONG. And it’s exhausting.

I have to decide what I’m going to wear. And I have to figure out what all we need to do today. I have to decide what goes on the grocery list and how many errands I can squeeze in between appointments.

Also, how I should respond to that one email, make that other phone call, and how I’m going to get everyone . . . to every place that they need to go. On time and, preferably, in one piece.

And what to make for dinner tonight (the worst!).

So you see? If I’m so lucky to have a dinner out with the Man-I-Love, then I want to be freed from making  one more decision.

To simply sit there and be served. It’s really nice.

Because you know something about making lots of decisions?

It’s a whole lot of hard work.

But I’ve noticed this recent trend in mothering where we’re encouraged to allow our young children to make all kinds of decisions. To give them choices and plenty of them.

Do you want the blue cup or the red cup?

Do you want grapes or bananas or cheese for lunch?

What do you want to wear today?

Do you want to play with this toy or that one? Watch this show or the other one?

Do you think you’re ready for bed yet? (Please…)

And so on and so forth.

So if I (a relatively mature grown-up) find it exhausting making so many decisions day after day? What do you think that does to our young children?

That’s a heavy weight for their small shoulders to carry.

And while I’m all for children learning to make decisions – as it’s truly an important life-skill – we need to be careful we’re not asking their little shoulders to bear the weight of so many decisions.

Rather than “empowering” our children (umm…is that what we’re really after, anyway?), I find that it leads to discontented or insecure children. And sometimes both.

So let’s lighten the load for these little ones.

Just hand them the blue cup and serve them grapes and cheese for lunch. Smile brightly and teach them to respond cheerfully in return, “Thank you, Mommy!”

Then, after you’ve read a short story or two, let them know it’s time for their nap. You don’t even need to ask if they’re tired or ready.

Why? Because you’re the mom.

And you wisely know what’s best for your young child and he or she can learn to trust you in this.

Then maybe . . . just maybe when your child wakes up well-rested, you can ask if the two of you should bake something special for dessert that night?

Because that’s an easy decision to make, don’t you think?

Now the only question is what to make…..? 😉

In His grace,

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Marriage 101: What Every Married Couple Needs to Know

Marriage 101: What Every Married Couple 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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How to Let Your Man Know What You Truly Need from Him

How to Let Your Man Know (1)

You wouldn’t have to know me long.

Before you concluded I could use a break now and then.

You’d soon be saying, I bet that lady needs a tall latte.

Maybe even a dark chocolate truffle.

I wouldn’t need to explain all this.

You would just know.

As a woman, it would be obvious to you.

You’d take one look at my full-to-overflowing days . . . and you’d understand exactly what was needed.

A small retreat.

Away from the noisy house and the busy children.

Yes. I’m thinking a 16-ounce latte and a quiet, uninterrupted conversation with a tall grown-up.

Preferably him – the one who thinks so clearly and has such broad, caring shoulders.

Oh, yeah, definitely him.

Now isn’t that readily apparent to you?

But for some reason it was NOT apparent to my husband and I had a hard time believing he couldn’t see it.

An Eye-Opening Conversation

So one day we had a conversation about this need of mine.

It began by my asking, “Can I tell you a little bit about me?”

Yes…

“Well, I love being your wife.

And I love being a mother.

And I could keep going on like this for the rest of my life.”

Small pause, so he’d see I was sincere.

“But you know something else about me? I do sooo much better when I get to step away from here occasionally.

“Not only get away, but go out and have time together with you. It would do me a world of good.”

I drew breath and then finished with, “So do you think we could pull that off? You know . . . arrange for that on a regular basis?”

He started to laugh (though I didn’t really see the humor).

His response? “Strange. I never looked at it that way.”

My turn. “Ummm….So how do you look at it, Dear?”

“Well, I guess that since I’m away from the house all day, my favorite thing is to come home to my family. I love it when we’re sitting around together and don’t feel a particular need to go back out again. And I thought you felt the same way.

So as it turned out, he really was unaware.

I had to explain what I was hoping for and even what that looked like to me. I wasn’t asking for a Mediterranean Cruise or an expensive dinner out – just a latte, please (though chocolate wouldn’t hurt).

Mostly I wanted time with him.

But in his mind, our evenings together at home counted as “time.”

It didn’t count so much with me.

He didn’t know what I needed. That was something he had to hear from me.

How to Let Your Man Know What You Really Need From Him

How to Let Your Man Know What You Truly Need from Him

Pray.

Bring it before The Lord first. Ask Him to help you say what you want to say in a loving manner. Also, ask Him to prepare your husband’s heart to hear you.

Come clean.

Let go of any bitterness or resentment that might have built up before this. Come with a fresh spirit.

Prepare him.

Let him know you’ve got something on your mind and you’re looking forward to sharing it with him.

Approach him.

Gently. With words seasoned with grace. Not accusing or demanding, simply laying down your needs before him.

Be patient.

Don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to sink in. Or if you have to repeat your request periodically and in different ways. Patiently and lovingly remind him of your needs.

Show appreciation.

If he tries at all, then express gratitude for his efforts. Don’t only say it in words, but also in your attitude. Make sure he sees what a difference it makes in your life.

Be willing to leave it there.

This might be the hardest one. Some needs can go for a long time before they’re met. Others never will be met. At least by him. Because God is the only One who promises to supply all you need (Phil. 4:19).

So go ahead and let him know what you need. Whatever it might be.

And, of course, what I need these days is a tall latte.

Chocolate.

Above all, some time away with my Man.

But you already knew that…. 😉

In His grace,

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