You Want to Know What? When?

“What kind of car do you drive?”

I hate that question. It’s a red something. The emblem looks like three shields overlapping each other. The year is probably in the 90’s.

When it comes to vehicles, they are utilitarian to me. Make and model are not important. If it is comfortable to drive, can handle what I need to transport, and the price is right, it’s my favorite car.

I have mostly driven mini vans or small SUVs, in large part because of what I haul for ministry activities. After my favorite carshybrid was totaled in an accident, which was not my fault, God provided a small sedan. I felt like I was driving a Big Wheel down the road. Jerry heard my heartache and wanted to help.

Fast forward to that summer when Jerry and I worked two back to back weeks of camp. I had one day off between sessions.  I chose to spend the day alone, letting my mind wander and refresh for the week ahead. Jerry found himself in conversation with a person at camp who sold used cars. Excited that he could get me a vehicle better suited for me he initiated a trade negotiation.

Upon waking from my nap, Jerry’s first question to me was, “How much money is in our checking account?”

“I don’t know,” I grunted through my hazy awareness.

Believing once I woke up more I could respond with an answer he wanted, Jerry asked the same question a couple more s. As his intensity grew, so did his disbelief that I would not know that information.

I explained we had money in the account and were not overdrawn. Currently my focus was on camp, not our finances. Why was it so urgent to get this information?

Then I learned Jerry had been working with Phil on a car deal, with which he was hoping to surprise me. Shaking the remaining sleep from my head I assured him I was surprised, and quickly asked for details.

“Phil wants to sell the van his wife is driving, and it seems to be just what you need,” he told me.

“Are you kidding me?” I saw the van Phil’s wife drove to camp. It was a full-size van tricked out with a kitchenette, bed, and the comforts of a home away from home. We already owned one full-sized van, why would we want or need a second? Yes, I needed room to haul equipment to camp, and collect wheelchair donations, but a minivan would suffice.

Flummoxed, Jerry didn’t know what to do. Thinking the gentleman’s agreement hecalculator-3242872_1280 made would delight me, he simply wanted to know if the amount of a check he wanted to write to Phil would be good. We looked at each other wondering, what do we do now?

Left with no other choice, Jerry went to tell Phil the deal was off. Embarrassed, my husband told him there had been a misunderstanding, I was not interested in a full-size van.

I was surprised when Jerry came back to me, smiling, with Phil by his side.  Phil asked, “Joan, why are you not interested in the van?”

“We already have a full-size van, and the one Tara is driving is so plush that it would not work for the way I need to use it.”

Phil shared, “That is not the van I am selling. As Jerry described it, you need an extended length minivan. That is what Tara drives at home, and the car we are selling.”

The tension broke and laughter ensued. Jerry realized he had used the term “full-size” when he really meant, “extended length.” We all took a deep breath. The deal was a good one, once we got our communication straightened out. A week after camp ended the trade was made. That van lived a long and full life with us and was the ministry tool we needed, but almost missed.

Years later, Jerry and I reflect on this story and snicker. In hindsight we see how each misstep occurred. At the time we thought each other was operating in an alternate universe.

This story is a microcosm of communication errors that happen in any relationship, but particularly in marriage. One of us hears part of a story and acts upon that. We make assumptions about what the other person said or meant. We take offense if we don’t have the answer to a question someone asks. We may be incredulous that the other person doesn’t know or get what we are asking. We want to resolve the situation now. We don’t understand why someone isn’t appreciative of the effort we made on their behalf.

Communication mishaps are not unique to car buying. Couples need to learn to work on how, when and what we communicate. We do not always get it right, but here are some to the tips we try to remember.

Assume the best. I am thankful for my husband who wants to hear the cry of my heart and make my life easier. Jerry knew that if he could work out the car deal a huge load would come off my shoulders.

Together we find it helpful to offer a signpost before starting a conversation out of the blue. It might be something as simple as, “Is this a good time to talk about my thoughts on that purchase?” or “I would like to turn the page and talk about our vacation plans.” Sometimes we clarify, “Are we done on this topic? If so, can we chat about which lawn service we want to hire?” Remember to respect the answer, and not just ask the question.

Lastly, we try to clarify, particularly about big ticket items, whether we have arrived at the final decision or if this is simply a book mark allowing more time to process. This helps us avoid looking back and saying, “but you said OK, I thought you meant it was a go,” only to learn the other said ok, meaning I heard what you said and will consider that.

arrow-1538686_1920  What is one of the best tips you were taught, practice, or learned the hard way in communicating with your spouse? I’d love to hear!   

Settled!

Hello again dear friends. I am excited to welcome you back to my blog. If you have followed me for any length of time, you may recall that much of 2018 was focused on selling our Pennsylvania home and moving to central Florida.

I have moved more times in my life than I care to count. Based on those experiences, I fully expected to have about four months of my life consumed with packing, selling, moving and settling in. Go ahead and laugh, I am –  now! I had not factored in  leaving a place that was home for nearly twenty years, or the reality of diminished energy as I age. My neat little four month plan turned in to well over a year.

But now . . . there are no more cardboard boxes around, or quick tidy ups needed for a house showing. We are settled.

Settled. 

Wow.

There was a time I wondered if I would ever feel settled again.

Thank you for those of you who prayed for us, encouraged us and shared that you were missing reading my blog. Keep those prayers coming as we embrace this new season of Raising My Ebenezer and Marriage Monday!

What’d You Get Me?

Jerry and I have most of our gift giving occasions between October – December.  That is the timeframe of both of our birthdays, our anniversary and of course Christmas.  The following post was written late in December several years ago, but the truth of it remains in my heart and mind–especially this Christmas day.
My husband and I have this game that we play around birthdays, Christmas or any other gift giving occasions.  It goes like this, “So what did you get me?”  Sometimes it’s said once in passing, sometimes it’s repeated over and over in rapid succession to try to wear the giver down to sharing some clue.  Yes, I know this sounds rather childish for two wellintomiddleagedadults to engage in, but I think it’s one of the casualties of not having children – we sometimes have to play that role in the family.
The morning of December 23 I was having a delightful quiet time with my Lord.  I finished my reading and my pondering, and was just about to put my pen down after recording the last word in my journal when I heard it . . .

“So what did you get me?”
 

I paused and listened to the voice
– but it wasn’t that of my husband.  It was my other beloved’s voice – Jesus!  As I tuned in to His voice I heard, “It’s my birthday soon you know, I’ve seen the gifts you’ve gotten for everyone else, what did you get for me?” 
When I shared this with my husband his response was “Isn’t that just like God to speak to us in our own game and language?”
For the remainder of that day, and the next several days I spent time pondering what I would give Jesus for his birthday. The better question was – had I even planned to give Him anything for his birthday?  If I hadn’t, why not?  And if I was, it was getting late, so I better decide quickly. 

What do you get the Lord of the Universe, who
owns everything and can create anything out of nothing?
The only response I could think of was “to obey is better than sacrifice.”  I think what Jesus was asking for was more of me. All of me in fact.  No need to spend time trying to figure out the hottest gift to give Him but to “just do it!”  To surrender myself and obey what He has already shown me. 
Funny several years later, I think this is still the gift He wants and the one I need to give.
So what about you? What are you giving to Jesus for His Birthday?

Building Sandcastles

Katelyn. our 10 ½ year old grand-niece visited recently. She is a loving girl who thinks deeply. Our family planned a day at the beach while she was here. In anticipation of the trip Katelyn told me she likes to build sandcastles, but not in the typical way with buckets and shovels. She described her method, but it all became much clearer to me when we were at the water’s edge.

katelyn sandShe digs a hole close to where the water laps the shore, allowing the hole to fill with water. Then she digs in and picks up a clump of wet sand. Moving to her sandcastle, just a short stretch away so it is out of the water, Katelyn slowly allows the goopy sand to drizzle out of her hand, creating odd shaped squiggles piled on top of one another. She continues to build it up until the water advances and washes it away, or it collapses on it’s own.

Right away she surveys the situation, digs a new hole and starts a new sandcastle. Then, she looks at me and says,

“Sometimes it gets wrecked, but that’s ok because it leaves a foundation to start the next one.”

Girl, are you really just 10 ½?  You just preached a message your grand-aunt needed to hear and I don’t think you even knew it.

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

It’s All About the Image

I grew up in a wonderful neighborhood in central New Jersey. Grandmom, and later my Uncle, lived in the house next door. I remember our sprawling yard, games of kickball and softball with the neighbors, and riding bikes to my friend’s house around the corner.  Summer cook outs and home made ice cream were a highlight. As far as I was concerned it was the best place ever to be a kid.

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We had a phone number for the town of Pennington, a mailing address of Trenton and my parents paid their taxes to Hopewell Township. When I went to college and people asked where I was from  I had a choice. I started by saying Pennington, NJ which is just outside of . . .  Here is where the choice came in. Pennington is about equal distance from Princeton and Trenton, NJ. Truthfully I spent much more time in Trenton growing up than I did Princeton. But Princeton sounded so much classier because of the University, Seminary and the Governor lived there. More often than not I would identify as being from near Princeton.

Recently I went home again. My parents haven’t lived there for nearly 30 years, but my uncle is still there. Every time I go back, his house still elicits the memories of Grandma.  But the neighborhood feels less like the place I grew up. New retail shops have popped up, traffic patterns have changed. That is to be expected.  Still that does not stop the sadness from coming when I see how run down parts of my beloved street have become, including our own (former) house.

I was amused though, to see how much “Princeton” has expanded.  No, not the town itself, but within the first couple miles of crossing into NJ from PA I began to see signs for Princeton Business Park, Princeton Commons, South Princeton Church, etc.

Much like my own experience, these buildings are closer to Trenton than they are to Princeton.  Somehow it seemed ok when I said it.  When I see these signs I scoff and princeton-97827_1280think, “get over it, you are just trying to seem more prestigious by calling yourself Princeton.  You can probably charge higher rent too.”

I guess I am not the only one who got hung up on image building.

 

I Lost Jesus

We often use puppets and role-play when communicating Biblical truth to students  with intellectual impairments. On this particular Sunday, the students were re-enacting the story with puppets. At the end of the replay, as the students were relinquishing their puppets one of the assistants took the Jesus puppet and quickly put it in a cupboard. She knew one student would lose all focus if “Jesus” was still in view.

After class was dismissed the assistant opened the cupboard to put the Jesus puppet away correctly. Imagine her surprise when Jesus was gone!  She began looking around for Jesus. A few minutes later one of the coordinators came into the room carrying “Jesus.” She also was aware of the one student’s difficulty focusing when the Jesus puppet was around. In an effort to reduce distraction, she slipped in and took him out of the room.

When my friend told me this story she began by saying, “I lost Jesus today.”

I snickered hearing the story.  Then I started to think about my own life. How many times do I put Jesus on a shelf, or tuck Him away – whether mindfully or not?

Misplacing a Jesus puppet is one thing, but mis-placing Jesus, giving Him any other position in my life than as the sole holder of the Throne, is another.

 

Philippians 2:9-11 NIV 

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.