Disability and Real Estate

This is the week we expected to be moving south, and we are still at home in the north.  It has been twenty years since we made a major move and sold a home. Much has changed since then in the world and in real estate. We made some mistakes early on, but with the help of many, we have corrected these things.

A plethora of comments have come our way on how to improve our chances to sell quickly. One is that we need to try to remove all, or at least as many as possible, vestiges of disability from the home.

Wow!

Not only is this our home, but we both work from home, and disability is very prominent in our life. We had our MLS (Multiple Listing Service) pictures cleaned up houseof disability.  I’ve come up with a plan of what I can easily move out of the house when we have an open house or showing. My husband understands, but sees this as another form of discrimination toward disability. People want new homes built with universal design, but don’t ever expect to need to use it. Encountering a home that does throws people off.

Because it has been so long since we’ve sold a home, we did a search on disability resources in real estate  From our exploration we have not found any standard training that is offered to realtors to help them understand disability and accommodations.  Nor is there any clearinghouse or single reliable site to share homes that do have disability accommodations.  It is a check box on the MLS, but that may mean that there is one grab bar someplace in the bathroom.

question-mark-160071_1280           So, dear readers here are my two questions for you. I would really love to get your thoughts!

  • Have you sold a home while living in it with disability (physical, intellectual, or any other type of disability)?  If so please share a tip, or two or three or four that you employed.  I’d love to compile a list to share with others who sell an accessible home.
  • Are you aware of any resources (aside from MLS, or Craig’s’ List) that does serve as a clearinghouse or publication of accessible homes for sale?

I am excited to hear from you!         sculpture-2275202_1280

Little Kindnesses

This week I was the beneficiary of some little kindnesses that impacted me in such a big way I want to share.

Here’s the scene. We were ready to head home from Ohio after a family visit. The drive, with stops, is about 10 hours. We’ve each driven it by ourselves. In more recent years sharing the drive has proved a healthier choice. The problem this time was that Jerry was not feeling well. I felt cautiously optimistic that I could complete the drive home, but still had a few friends join me in prayer.

Man with Binoculars

When packing the van, the hoyer lift always goes in first. I rolled it through the lobby to go out.  I noticed a few business men waiting for someone in the lobby.  I took the hoyer apart, loaded it into the van and came back in just as this group was leaving.  One of the men stepped toward me ever so slightly and looked me right in the eyes and said, “you have a good day.” Odd though it may sound, that small greeting spoke deeply to me.  It said he had acknowledged my responsibility and wanted to share a word of kindness with me. It felt like God was saying to me, “I see what you need to do today, I am watching and will be with you.”

The next load was the shower chair and a portable table.  As I rolled these items out a different man stopped and asked if I needed any assistance.  I’ve done this so long on my own that sometimes assistance is more of a hindrance than a help, and these were easy to pack.  I thanked him but told him I had this ok.  Again, another small kindness that spoke deeply to my soul on a day when I felt an enormous weight on my shoulders.

I doubt I could ever identify these two men, but I am grateful to them.  Likely they will never know the impact their 3 to 5 second phrase made in me.  But that’s ok.  I know. And God used their kindness to encourage my heart and remind me that I was not doing this trip on my own.

I even had back-seat kindness on the trip – whenever Jerry woke up on he checked in to see if I was ok, and then went right back to sleep.  I am glad I could minister to him by letting him rest, and we made it home safely.

I came home grateful, and reminded that it often is the little expressions of kindness and grace we share with someone that matter.  We may not ever know if, or how, our words or actions mattered.  But Proverbs 3:27 reminds us to do good to others when we have the ability to do so (my paraphrase).

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Rumors

Once upon a time, though this is a true story, I facilitated an informal support group of wives married to men with disabilities. Most of the ladies were older than me, most had little exposure to disability prior to their husband’s accident or illness. None of them chose to marry someone with a disability. Each month I listened to their stories and concerns and realized my life with Jerry was easy compared to theirs.  I held back from sharing too deeply from my life because it seemed to pale in comparison to what these ladies shared. They needed a safe place to be able to vent and talk freely.

After a few months I decided enough trust had been built and it was time for me to takehands-2374246_1920 the plunge with them. Jerry and I had recently been through a rough period – nothing earth shattering, but still, unpleasant. At our next meeting I shared some of that with the ladies. They expressed relief to know I/we were like them. I felt like our group had bonded on a deeper level.

Later that week I got a phone call from one of the husbands. After sharing the initial pleasantries he expressed his sorrow  to hear about the difficulties Jerry and I were having. He never thought we’d be on the verge of divorce like this.

WHAT?  I had no idea what he was talking about.

Then he went on to say that his wife had told him about the conflict Jerry and I had and he just hoped we would not split up. After all we were the first couple living with disability in marriage they had ever met.

My first inclination was to say, “Do you have any idea the things your wife has said about you?” Thankfully God held my tongue on that one. Next I wanted to ask to speak with his wife to see if she understood confidentiality. But God said this was not the time.

Instead I assured him that we had weathered a little storm, like every marriage encounters. We were not planning to split, and had never entertained that thought. I thanked him for his prayers and welcomed him to continue to intercede for us.

I learned a few lessons from this experience:

  1.  Groups want and need their leaders to be real. Even if the leader’s life is different than that of the others, authenticity from the start matters. Leaders though, need to  balance being open while also learning with whom and what we are safe to share.
  2. Marriage is hard. Every marriage goes through difficult spots. Don’t be surprised or alarmed when someone you thought “has it all together” shares that they don’t. We are all broken people in need of a Savior.
  3. Unless it persists, there is no need to fight back against the rumors, let them die.  Love one another, take the matter to God, and pray for the other people involved.

family colorful groupWe all need people who will accept us as we are, share real life with one another and encourage honesty and growth in our marriages.  Where do you find that support in your marriage?  If you don’t have someone, pray about finding that support, whether as a couple or individuals.

Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1 NIV

 

In His Words

I am glad you stopped by Marriage Monday.  You are in for a treat – my first guest 15726321_10211085608476976_7999075850110647644_nblogger.  And he is none other than my own husband, Jerry.  You’ve heard plenty about him from me, now hear from him directly.  I am sure you’ll understand more why I love him so.  Thanks Jer for sharing your heart and wisdom here.  

Awhile back, Joan was remarking about Ephesians 5:21-33.  She focused on verse 22 that encourages wives to submit to their husbands. Joan felt it was unfair that she had to submit twice, first to God and then to me.

The passage does talk about wives submitting to their husbands. And we are all admonished to submit to God. In a sense, she is being asked to submit twice.

I suggested she continue reading down to verse 25.  Here we read, “husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church.”  I reminded Joan that while she had to submit twice, I had to DIE!  I emphasized the word die in the most dramatic fashion I could at the time.
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I believe that as husbands are called to die. Perhaps physically, but more likely to my own agenda, to my desires, to my career path even, to my calendar.  We are called to live our relationship with God as the top priority and our relationship with our wives a very close second.  This means that my wife’s growth and well-being are more important than my agenda, my career, my desires.

I am not trying to be a martyr here. But I do want to say that in a world that is self-absorbed, we are called to be other absorbed.  For husbands that is how we are called to love our wives.

I’d like to say that because of my disability and the fact that I use a power wheelchair and Joan has chosen to care for many of my physical needs, that I get a pass from dying to myself. But I don’t see that anywhere in Scripture.  I’d like to be super successful at my career, run a flourishing business on the side, blog, speak, teach. . . seriously I have thought about all of these things.  Not only would that be vanity, but it would not be putting my wife first.  I’ve had to die to some of my ambitions to make the time to love my wife and minister to her.  It is not easy.  It is a death I am called to choose daily.

question-2309042_1920So, my brothers who are reading this — what is God asking you to die to in order to serve your wife in Jesus’ name?

The Clash of Our Love Languages

We had had a couple of long months. Preparation for one of our largest ministry events of the year took much of my emotional strength. Jerry was representing the ministry at a significant conference in Washington DC that same weekend. At home, my mother was in her ninth year of living with us. She did not need physical care from me, but looked forward to us being home to talk with her and offer companionship. I wanted that too, but didn’t always have the bandwidth to offer.

And so it was, that we woke up early Sunday morning, the day after I spent all day ministering to a large group of ladies. Jerry got home late from DC that same day. Mom was leaving to travel with my sister. I saw Mom off and crawled back in bed. Almost immediately the tears began to flow. It did not take long for them to become full body sobs.

Jerry, still lying in bed, gently asked me what was going on, did I know? I don’t recall what I said right then, but he held me as I wept. The truth was, I was done. I had given all empty-glass-3299156_1920my social, emotional, mental, physical and even spiritual reserves and I was empty. I had no reserve to help myself or anyone else.

With a deep level of compassion, and probably a little fear and trepidation on his part, Jerry calmly said, “It will be ok sweetheart, we’ll get through this together.”

That was the final straw! The last tiny piece of my emotional dam broke loose and I cried, not in my most loving wife tone, “Sure it will – easy for you to say because you know I will eventually get up and get you dressed, but who is going to take care of me?”

While Jerry wanted to assure me he would, he knew this was not the right time to offer those words, so he remained quiet.  Later he told me he thought, “Oh crap, she’s right!”

This was not a failure to communicate, but, a classic love language clash.  Words of encouragement do not translate into acts of service.

A short time later I rose long enough to get Jerry up and dressed. He asked what I wanted for lunch. I made it clear that I did not care, he could figure it out. I rolled back over to cry and sleep some more.

Jerry put on his coat and went out the door to get in his van to forage for food.  Having just returned from DC the driver’s seat was still in the van, meaning he could not drive.  Because of their late arrival home Jerry told his friend who drove that he did not have to change the seat out because I could do that in the morning. This was that morning, and my loving husband was not about to come back in to ask me to do that.

He checked his wallet again, and did not have enough cash to order food in by delivery. Considering the options, Jerry started to roll up town to a Wawa, knowing he could get both cash and food there.  (If you are not familiar with Wawa, it would be worth your while to go on their website and plan a vacation to a state that is blessed to have them).

Being a wise, experienced husband, he filled the bags as full as he could carry with a variety of sandwiches, salty treats, sweet surprises and anything else he thought I might like. Then he rolled home, and cautiously entered our room. I was oblivious to how long he was gone; a good hour to hour and a half.

Almost as if he were approaching a den of lions (which I am sure is how he felt with the way I had reacted so far) he sort of tossed the bags of food to me and told me I should have any or all of it that I wanted. If there was anything left he would eat that or figure another plan.

snacks-2199659_1920I believe protein, salt and sweet have never tasted as good as they did that day.

Jerry tried his best to love me, by holding me and offering soothing words of comfort. That did not speak love to me as clearly as I needed to hear it then. The time and energy he put in to serving me by gathering food, spoke volumes to me of his love.

We now look back on that day and laugh, though at the time there was little to find humorous. In hindsight, I was burned out. I had given to the point of having nothing left to care for myself.  Jerry’s care for me was the start of healing.

We learned a lot that day. In the weeks that followed we made some changes. No longer would we leave the driver’s seat in the van, it needed to be always ready for Jerry to drive. We made sure he had the neighbor’s phone number in his cell phone so he could reach out for help. We established a certain level of cash we would always keep on hand in the house just in case we had a need for an emergency delivery. Finally, we became note-415143_1920more aware of my needs and the cues when I needed a break. Jerry will point out when he thinks I need to take a day or two to spend some time on me.

What was one of the hardest and lowest days of our marriage, became one of the best.

Do you know what your love language is? What about your spouse’s language?  You can learn more about love languages here.  http://www.5lovelanguages.com/gary-chapman/

How has knowing each of your love languages impacted your marriage?

“Let Me Help You,” he said

Jerry and I are alike in so many ways, but love languages is not one of them. His is words of affirmation. I, according to my husband, am multi-lingual. Depending on the valentine-614515_1920day, mood and circumstances I may need some time spent together, a hug, or to have him join me on an errand or two. That makes it difficult for him to know which language to try first at any given time. We recalled one of those times recently and found ourselves chuckling.

I had a rough day and knew I was in a foul mood. I was learning to deal with this before the fallout affected others around me. I told Jerry that I just had a lousy day, and I was going to take a hot bubble bath and try to regain my focus. Even as I said that I was fighting back tears, knowing I had no coping skills left.

I gathered my things and made my way across the house. Jerry stopped me to say he wanted to help me. He shared what he thought would make me laugh. It didn’t. I tried to lightly smirk to acknowledge I heard him. That was not the response he was going for. So he tried again . . . and again . . . and again.

bath-water-915589_1920Finally I looked at him with eyes brimming with tears and said, “please, can I just go take a bath? I am trying to be proactive dealing with my craziness.”

That’s when he realized his love language of words, especially comedic words, was not working. He started laughing his “I can’t believe I just did that” laugh and I gratefully headed to the hot bubbly water.

An hour later I came out refreshed, relaxed, and ready to appreciate the way my husband was loving me.

One would hope we learned from that experience. We did. But we still make mistakes. Come back next week as we share a clash of our love languages that created a whole new way to do life at our home.

Please tell me we are not alone . . . do you have a love language story to tell?  I’d love to hear it.

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Just When I Think I Get the Hang of this Marriage Thing . . .

“You can do it AJ.”  (pronounced as one word, coined by my nephew).

This was Nathan’s response to me when I called him a few weeks ago while researching rental cars.  He had driven a hybrid for years. I wanted to know if I could make the adjustment. With him boosting my confidence I reserved the car.

Dragging my luggage through rows of shiny, clean, and polished cars in the airport garage I found mine.

Stowing my suitcase, I sat down to get the keys.  I checked the ignition; it’s push button so no keys there.  Glovebox?  Not there.  Console between the two front seats?  Nope.

Ok, so maybe because it’s a hybrid it does not need a key?  Well, that can’t be, I say to myself.  How would I lock and secure it when I get out?

Having difficulty finding help nearby I pushed the button, put the car in reverse and drove to a kiosk across the garage.  I told the attendant my problem.  He asked where the key was?  I repeated my dilemma – I can’t find the key.  He told me to put it in park so he could get in and check around.

That presented my next conundrum – how do I get the car into park?  I saw the diagram hybridon the screen but could not get the gear shift to move in that direction.  The man pointed out that there was a button labeled “park.”  With a quick push, I was set.

As soon as he opened the driver’s door he reached into the pocket on the door and pulled out the key.  Oops, I forgot that little pocket even existed.  With my confidence and self-esteem waning I began the circular descent out of the parking garage.

“Ok Joan, you can do this,” I told myself. And I did, even becoming very comfortable and familiar with the car in just a couple days.

Until going out for dinner one evening. Parking the car, I clicked the lock on the key fob.  Not hearing the familiar click, i tried it again.  I decided I was too tired and hungry to hear it, and went in the restaurant.

After a satisfying meal, I got back in the car.  “It’s cold in here,  almost feels like the AC is running,” I thought.

I looked over at my console screen.  The AC was running.  “How can that be?” I wondered, and at the same moment it hit me – I never pushed the power button.  I only pushed park.  No wonder the lock didn’t work.

That recognition morphed into alarm as I looked around.  Alarm gave way to thanks as I realized no one stole the running car, and my two computers, briefcase and clothes were still in the car. Feeling embarrassed and grateful I drove to my temporary home.  The remainder of the trip I was hyper aware every time I parked to push the power off button.

That experience reminded me of my marriage.  When we first got married I was nervous, anxious and everything was so new. Could I really be the wife he needed?  Over time we developed our rhythm; a comfortable pattern of how we interact, communicate, make decisions, work and relax together. I start to feel “I’ve got this marriage thing down.”

When I think that, my guard drops a bit, just like it did after a few days with the car.  And then it happens – we have one of those conversations. My confidence and understanding vanish.  I wonder how could we be married 22 years and I still made that same mistake, or am just now figuring something out?

When that happens it’s a reminder to step back, thank God for my husband and our marriage and tune up my attention to the little details in our relationship that carry such big results or consequences.

arrow-1773931_1920What about you?  How do you keep from falling into the “I’ve got this” mentality in marriage?  Where is God asking you to step back and fine tune your relationship?