Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Kat's Christmas Movie Recommendations

I have often times been asked to share what some of my favorite Christmas movies are so I thought I would share some of them with you. Mind you, they have changed over the year and as I have gotten older, my tastes have been refined a bit by the classics most people don't even know about. In no particular order they are:

1. White Christmas: I mean nothing gets better than Bing Crosby. I prefer the simplicity of the story. The tale of love that is struggling to find a place in people's hearts, in this case Bing's character. It also blends the story of Bing's past serving in WWII, and we find him returning back to help his old General save his historic inn. The music is beautiful and the wardrobe is classic in every way. When women still dressed up no matter what they were doing.

2. It Happened on Fifth Avenue. I actually found this one while looking for Christmas Classic movies that I might have missed and it truly does offer something that will embed itself in your heart long after you finish watching it. It tells the story of a homeless man who finds lodging during the Christmas season by taking advantage of wealthy homes that are left vacate. It is a true classic comedy in every way with a compelling message.

3. Holiday Inn: Once again back to Bing Crosby in which case you can never go wrong. He stars with Fred Astaire as a couple of entertainers who have now decided to break up their act. Bing decides to open an Inn that is only open on holidays. It isn't so much a Christmas movie but it wraps up with the opening at Christmas time in which old relationships are mended and new ones formed.

4. The Bells of St. Mary: Another Bing Crosby classic. This movie tells the tale of a home for wayward boys who suddenly find themselves looking for funds to rebuild. Bing plays the Catholic Father O'Malley for the home and soon finds himself at odds with one of the Sisters played by Ingrid Bergman. They hope that a wealthy real estate man will offer to donate a new home for the boys if they can only persuade him to give up his latest project which is adjacent to their home.

5. It's A Wonderful Life: Life truly doesn't get any better during Christmas than watching Frank Capra's beloved classic about George Bailey (James Stewart) and Mary (Donna Reed) who fall in life during their childhood and soon marry after George returns home from college to handle the Bailey Building and Loan for his ailing father. The message of hope and redemption is a clear as the ringing bell on the Christmas Tree and this one is by far one of my all time favorites.

6. Miracle on 34th Street (1994) I love the more recent remake of this movie over the classic 1947 version. There is something wonderful of watching an underdog rally the city and it's residents to help fight the greater good in the belief of Santa Claus. I love watching this one during Thanksgiving and love Richard Attenborough, Elizabeth Perkins and Dylon McDermott. Their chemistry gives you the "Ah!" factor.

7. The Shop Around the Corner - This is the original movie where You Got Mail was remade. Once again James Stewart plays a shop clerk Alfred Kralik and Margaret Sullivan plays Klara Novak who find that the person they have been writing letters to are actually the same person.

8. Christmas in July - I actually discovered this one way before Christmas for the first time, browsing Turner Classic Movies one day and wondered, how did I ever miss it. An office clerk, James MacDonald (Dick Powell) loves entering contests in the hopes of someday winning a fortune and marrying the girl he loves Bettie Casey (Ellen Drew). His latest attempt is the Maxford House Coffee Slogan Contest. As a joke, some of his co-workers put together a fake telegram which says that he won the $25,000 grand prize. As a result, he gets a promotion, buys presents for all of his family and friends, and proposes to his girl. When the truth comes out, he's not prepared for the consequences.

9. Holiday Affair - The Christmas-season romance of a young widow and a sales clerk who (thanks to her) is unemployed. Hol­i­day Affair is a roman­tic com­edy star­ring Robert Mitchum, Janet Leigh, Wen­dell Corey, and Harry Morgan. Set dur­ing the Christ­mas sea­son, this clas­sic movie cen­tres on a war widow who can­not afford to buy her son a toy train for Christmas. When a war vet­eran dis­cov­ers her plight and offers to buy the toy, a com­pli­cated hol­i­day romance begins, one that is not with­out lively com­pe­ti­tion for the widow’s affections.

10. Boys Town - While not exactly a Christmas movie per say, the theme surrounding this one has it in my much watched collection each Christmas. Against all odds Father Flanagan (Spencer Tracy)starts "Boys' Town" after hearing a convict's story. Whitey Marsh(Mickey Rooney) comes there. He runs away but, hungry, returns. He runs away again but, when friend Pee Wee is hit by a car, returns. He runs away and joins his brother's gang. Flanagan and the boys capture the crooks and the reward saves the town.

That wraps up my Christmas Classic Movie list. If  you haven't taken the time to watch any of these, trust me you'll want to add them this year. I'll be adding my Hallmark Movie Channel favorites tomorrow! Let me know what your favorite Christmas movies are in the comment box below.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Great Household Tips - What works from Pinterest

I found it interesting yesterday when I went through my Pinterest board "Household Tips" to find the recipe for cleaning my stovetop grates, how many of these I have pinned but never tried, even when I could have used those tips so many times in the past, and struggled with stuff that hasn't worked. I thought I would share some of what I have found in hopes that it might make your life so much easier and to get through those chores we all dread.

It is funny, that some of the chores I dreaded doing as a child, I know LOVE doing as I am older. I actually LOVE doing laundry. I find it gives me some time to catch my breath and I love folding clothes and smelling how fresh and clean everything is. I even pray over some of my families clothes knowing that each article of clothing can be a blessing in some way. My family never knows what putting those clothes on is really doing for them. One day they will :D

Glass Shower Doors: My first dreaded chore, that I abhor is cleaning my bathroom shower. I have one of those kinds with glass doors that seem to collect hard water stains like most women collect shoes and like I, collect books! Because our shower is pretty small, it is hard to get in there and really scrub the areas on the glass and tile to get all that shampoo and soap reside off along with the hard water stains. I've tried several tips from slicing grapefruit and using salt, (DOESN'T Work but smells great!)

What I have found that works fairly well and smells pretty good is toothpaste. Take some inexpensive toothpaste and put it on a sponge. I used a tube of the stuff we get when we go to the dentist, I have several of them and wanted to see if it would really work. I would have to say it got rid of all my soap and shower scum from the glass as well as about 50% of the hard water spots. I had to work pretty hard on some of them just to make a dent in the hard water spots. But I have to say, I was more than impressed, plus my shower smells minty fresh.

Next to clean the dreaded Shower floors. Since ours are textured, it makes getting most of the grime hard to get off, and takes a fair amount of scrubbing. I discovered Magic Erasers (Bath Scrubber).

Within a few minutes my shower walls and floors looked amazing with a fair amount of elbow grease. Trust me, these babies work great. A word of caution, apply a little elbow grease not too much or you might wear down the surface, especially if you have had yours reglazed before.

Stovetop Grates: Because my stovetop grates are double what most people have on theirs, I found most of the tips on Pinterest are for the small grates. I opted to take my grates and do the same thing, but on a larger scale. You will need Ammonia, (You wouldn't believe how hard this was to find in the stores) and a couple of large trash bags, and rubber bands. Take your stovetops grates and place them inside a couple of trash bags, carefully to avoid ripping your bags. We actually used about 4 since ours are so big and bulky. Add about 1 cups of ammonia to the bag, keeping your face far from the bag opening. Tie a rubber band around the bag. It is the fumes that cut through the baked on crud, for me about 10 years worth. LEAKS: Yes the ammonia will leak from the bag so please make sure to place it well away from sensitive plants, I placed mine in the sun on the concrete.

Wait about 24 hours, and then carefully open the bag, again away from your face. The fumes are pretty powerful. Wash off the grates in warm soapy water. If there is still stuff remaining, place them back in the bag for another treatment. I had one grate that needed more time in the bag because I removed them about 14 hours and thought they might be done. I am fully impressed because I had tried Bar Keeper's friend, Soft Scrub, and you name it, and NOTHING worked. Now my babies look almost brand new. Only the area around where the flame comes into contact with the grate is still discolored but I think this is a success. Dispose of your bags following directions according to the back of the ammonia bottle.

Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide: Making a paste of these simple ingredients will take all the discoloration off your stainless steal pots and pans. I used it on my tea kettle and cookie sheets and now these look amazing!!! Simply make a paste and rub the stains off using a paper towel or cotton rag. Then rinse clean.

Stainless Steel Appliances: Best trick I've discovered it using WD-40. That's right that can that probably exists in your garage if you have a husband.

Simply get a cotton cloth and spray a small amount into the towel. A little goes a long, long way. And wipe down whatever it is you're cleaning. I did my sugar canister to show you the before and after I captured here. I use it on my microwave trim, my stove front, dishwasher and canister sets, but it works amazing!!!

That's it for now. I will be posting more tips including how to get your whites really WHITE next week. I'll be sure to post before and after pictures too, since I didn't consider that before trying these tips! Would love to know how these worked for you or if you have any ideas to share!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Christmas Tradtions from the Smith Family

It's that time of year again as Christmas draws closer, decorations begin to go up and shopping malls are packed to capacity. I thought I would take a moment and share some of our families Christmas traditions with you and hope you might share some of yours with me.

Because the month of December and Christmas in general is my favorite time of the year, I can't wait to get all my Christmas decorations up. I have been collecting them since my mom worked at Hallmark years ago and now with yard and garage sales being so plentiful, I am still scoring more to my collection every year.

In fact, I try to get my house ready before Thanksgiving, much to the disappointment of my youngest daughter Kailee who believes that Thanksgiving is being sadly overlooked. But honestly, who decorates their home for Thanksgiving? Sure I have fall decorations but those go up before the end of September and stay up til the Christmas ones come out.

Most of the time, it's just me and Steve putting up all the decorations, pulling tubs out from our storage shed and hauling them into the house, where we plug things in to make sure that they work before putting up garland, bows, and lots of antiques I've found through many of my searches.

The one thing we hold off doing until the entire family is here is decorating our Christmas tree. We take the time to go through all our ornaments and remember those special times in our kids lives or even our own as each ornament tells its own story. In fact that is a tradition in our home. Each year, the kids pick one ornament that identifies a year in their life. It might deal with sports, a career, an interest but something they feel represents them.

We write their names on the bottom so that one day when they move out and get their own homes going, they have a pretty good starter collection going.

Another tradition, like most, is baking cookies. Each year I have vowed to reduce the numbers of varieties I bake, but usually end up making them all. Caitlyn's favorites have been magic bars, Steve's are Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls and Kailee's are Candy Canes.

Even my brother Mike, has his favorite, Spiced Pecans. I make a huge batch for him each year, and make sure he has them.

I make sugar cookies and wait for a time when all of us are together again, and we have a Christmas Cookie decorating contest, with the winner getting a $10 gift card of their choice based on votes from our Facebook posts and comments telling us which one they think is the best. 

Another tradition is visiting the Christmas lights in Alta Loma. My husband Steve, grew up there and it has been something he has done as part of his families tradition, plus he knows just how to get there and find the best places to park.

We usually rent a SUV or mini van to take whomever wants to come, and we all head out.

I give the kids each $5 to support the families who put on the event to buy a cup of hot chocolate or soft pretzel while we take part walking around and enjoying the display.

We even try to take a picture to make it a memorable event.

One of the Christmas traditions, my husband brought with him that we started in our new family is painting of plaster houses. We try and get each person to paint at least one to add to our growing collection each year.

We sign and date them and once again, when the kids move out, those will go with them as well. They have grown so much over the year with friends of the kids painting them that we are struggling to find a place to put them.

On Christmas Eve night, the kids each open a gift, even though they aren't really kids any longer. They already know what it will be, a set of pajamas to wear either to bed or for Christmas morning. When the kids were much younger, I used to include a Christmas book to be enjoyed that night before bed. We usually order dinner out that night because we know we'll be cooking all day on Christmas Day. We top it off with a movie or two from our Christmas movie collection.

Christmas Day is savored because it is over too soon. Coffee is made, music is ready and playing and Steve and I are usually showered and ready before waking our kids up. Now that they are older, there is no rush to wake up early.

We all take our time and do stockings first, each person revealing with they have, while I diligently write it all down, because no one can remember what they got from one year to the next.

Then we move on to presents and we each take the time to watch each person open their gifts.

Once the gifts are opened, showers begin while breakfast is being made. Phone calls go out to family that are home celebrating their own Christmas'. We generally watch Christmas movies all day long with each family member picking their all time favorite movie for us all to watch. They change ever year. Dinner preparations begin early with each person requesting different things. Steve has to have beets (yuck on my end), Kailee needs sparkling apple cider, Caitlyn wants Deviled Eggs, and I love stuffing. We make sure that we have plenty of fixings so that Caitlyn can take left overs home for a few days. We make turkey, stuffing, gravy and mashed potatoes, corn, green beans with bacon, biscuits with honey and butter, deviled eggs, and for dessert either apple or harvest pie, a blend of cheesecake and pumpkin pie.

That is how the Smith family celebrates Christmas, what traditions does your family incorporate that have been passed down through generations? I'd love to hear.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Why Making Memories is So Important

Shopping on Black Friday, yes as crazy as the thought seems, it is on my Bucket List. Not that I haven't experienced it before, but I wanted to add it to this year's Bucket List to see if I can find a way to put a positive spin on the day.

Yes, there is bound to be pushing, shoving, grabbing, fighting, chaos and drama while people simply set out to find the best deals for their hard earned money. But what if in the midst of all this is a way to impact people in a positive way. To show the true meaning of Christmas in spite of all that most people shy away from. From fighting for that coveted parking space in a packed shopping lot, to standing in endless lines, that seem to go on forever. What if in the midst of all this is the greatest adventure, the ability to show kindness, love and the true meaning of Christmas to the world.

What if instead of bickering over that parking spot, you let someone else have it? What if instead of complaining why they won't open another checkstand while in line, you find time to share a smile and a kind word? What if instead of rolling your eyes, while your waitress takes too long on bringing your order, you leave your comments inside your head, and thank her for doing her job as best as she can and leave a generous tip?

What if life that day was simply about enjoying making other people's day just a bit better?

All I know is when I look back on trying to remember what I got for Christmas last year, I honestly can't recall a thing I got. You know why?

Because it isn't about stuff, it's about making memories and spending time with people. I can tell you I remember waiting to decorate the tree because it was important for my oldest daughter Caitlyn and her boyfriend to be there to help. It was about looking through the ornaments we have collected over the years with the kids and remembering a time when something was important to them. Caitlyn's soccer ornaments remind us of how hard she worked to play soccer in Rhode Island and how she learned not to be afraid of the ball hitting her in the face. I look at the Sesame Street ornaments, and remember how fond Kailee, my youngest was at watching these shows on Television during her childhood or looking at her gaming ornament and remembering how much she loves to play computer games.

Each of these memories are what I truly treasure. It's why material things don't really matter. Oh sure, if you got a new car or something large it might spark a memory. But I lay you odds it's the traditions you create with your kids, the events you take part in, that will last forever. From taking your kids to see the Christmas lights and finishing it off with ice cream sundaes, or helping the homeless out with coats and a meal, to making Christmas cookies with your family. These are what matters the most.

I would encourage you to have your family write a letter outlining their favorite memories they remember from Christmas' past to share with one another each year. If you're like my family, you will begin to realize how much all those memories really means instead of all those presents they have opened during the years. Try creating some new ones this year.

Just like the movie, It's A Wonderful Life, even George Bailey realizes by the end of the movie, it isn't about stuff, it's about his family and friends that truly matter the most.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

SEE Them!

I've been questioned by non Christians how we hear from God. Is it an audible voice booming down from the heavenly clouds or is it something subtle like a breeze that comes out of nowhere, gently caressing your face and then it's gone. I would have to say it's both and probably more.

I believe when you are actively spending time with God, through morning devotions, reading your Bible, praying, and following in the path that He has laid out for you, it becomes easier to hear his voice. Sometimes it sounds like your own voice in your head and the way I can tell the difference is how it measures up to God's Word and my will.

Sometimes music can even lead us to something God wants us to address. For me, it has been extending my own world beyond the population of one. The song by Matthew West addresses the point perfectly. If you haven't heard the song before I would encourage you to listen to it. But more than that, let it move you to do something beyond listening and push you to the doing part. Here are the lyrics:

In my own little world it hardly ever rains
I've never gone hungry, always felt safe
I got some money in my pocket, shoes on my feet
In my own little world: population -- me

I try to stay awake during Sunday morning church
I throw a twenty in the plate but I never give 'til it hurts
And I turn off the news when I don't like what I see
It's easy to do when its population -- me

What if there's a bigger picture?
What if I'm missing out?
What if there's a greater purpose?
I could be living right now
Outside my own little world

Stopped till the red light, looked out my window
I saw a cardboard sign said, "Help this homeless widow"
And just above that sign was the face of a human
I thought to myself, "God, what have I been doing?"
So I rolled down the window and I looked her in the eye
Oh, how many times have I just passed her by?
I gave her some money then I drove on through
And my own little world reached population two

What if there's a bigger picture?
What if I'm missing out?
What if there's a greater purpose?
I could be living right now
Outside my own little world, ooh, my own little world, ooh

Father, break my heart for what breaks Yours
Give me open hands and open doors
Put Your light in my eyes and let me see
That my own little world is not about me

What if there's a bigger picture?
What if I'm missing out?
What if there's a greater purpose?
That I could be living right now

I don't wanna miss what matters
I wanna be reaching out
Show me the greater purpose
So I can start living right now
Outside my own little world, my own little world, my own little world!

So the point, opportunities for us to increase our own little world population exist every single day. But I warn you, you have to also question your motives. Are you doing it because you feel lead or simply to try and fill your heavenly warehouse with more rewards? God's going to test all the things we do to see if they past the fire test. Only those that fall in line with His perfect will, pass without being burned up.

God creates these divine appointments every day. They could be the fact you have a little extra cash laying around and it could really bless someone. Perhaps getting the man sitting outside the local Starbucks a cup of coffee and a muffin. Perhaps it is giving someone money who asks, or even offering to help someone out without expecting anything in return just because you can.

The thing that God brought to my attention yesterday was two simple words. My A-ha moment.
"SEE THEM." Which meant not simply noticing they are there but to look them in the eyes as the song suggests. How many times do we avoid eye contact, because they might just ask us for something and we simply don't want to give them anything. But we are missing something greater.

The ability to thaw and break our hardened hearts. To feel again, something more than what is in it for us.

One of my intuitive senses is to be able to look at someone and get an idea of what they are going through despite what they tell me. Sometimes I see pain, shame, anger, hurt, and a desperate need to matter. Yet we miss it because we don't see them. We don't want to see them, because then we would be accountable to God someday for why we didn't do anything.

These people are crying out not to be ignored any more. To matter. To know that not everyone will simply pass them by. Lord, let the ones reading this be impacted in the most amazing way to act as Your hands and feet today in some way. Like the words from Clarence in It's a Wonderful Life , Strange isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives, and when he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"

Oh how I pray that each time, you come across ANYONE, you look them in the eyes. That you offer a simple smile, a kind word, a compliment. I hope God pushes you so far out of your comfort zone, to go out of your way to do something, that when you do, the emotion you feel afterward will be enough to leave you smiling for a long, long time and the memory never fades.

I hope that when you see someone, that you simply pray and ask God how He wants you to handle it. I guarantee it won't be nothing. So my goal for you today, is for you to increase your own little population to include a whole lot more people. This is the time to make a difference, but remember, check your motives. But I promise you, it will be worth more to you, than what you do for them.

Remember what the Bible says in Hebrews 13:2, "Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Child-Like Faith

As the Christmas season approaches, I tend to get excited. The essence of this time of year causes us to celebrate the joy of the season. The smells of cinnamon and nutmeg on a steaming hot cup of cocoa, to the warmth of a crackling fire while the ground outside is covered in a blanket of snow. The streets filled with holiday shoppers, the Christmas decorations laced throughout the stores, the soothing lulls of traditional Christmas carols add to the all around sense of what Christmas means. None more sacred than the story of Jesus' birth is the reason for all this celebration.

I wasn't brought up as a Christian, but I do remember attending Christmas Eve mass with my mother, which was such an awesome experience to be out late and the silent reverence of being inside a church with beautiful stained glass windows. I remember the stories of St. Nicholas but failed to catch the meaning of the Nativity except that it was simply something we got to place beneath our tree. I remember watching the Little Drummer Boy in the midst of all those children's Christmas movies that came out this time of year as well.

It seemed like that was my child-like idea growing up that Jesus was special. He was part of the divine and untouchable. He was to be worshiped and respect. I lacked the idea of what a true relationship with God was like until I became a Christian and got to know Him through the Bible and through celebrating Christmas much different than when I was a child.

Now I understand what child-like faith means. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 19:14, when the disciples rebuked those who had brought little children to Jesus. He reminds them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." This is that child-like faith Jesus is speaking of.

If you have young children, they have such incredible imaginations. You can tell them anything, and they won't question it, they simply take it on faith that it is. Ask any child if flying is possible, they will undoubtedly tell you it is. Without question. I remember believing when I was a child and saw Mary Poppins for the first time, that if I possessed an umbrella and opened it, I could literally float from a high place and be just fine. I tried it, from the roof of my house and I have to tell you, despite my child-like faith, it didn't work.

It's sad when reality dispels those child-like faith moments. When we learn that Santa isn't real, or that magic is just a slight of hand or illusion. That the moon really isn't made of cheese and fairy tales are simply stories of make-believe in a book. That wishes on stars sometimes come true, but more than often, they don't. Or we simply don't remember making them.

Jesus loved children, that is clear in everything we read in the Bible. Jesus sees value in children even though they haven't reached their potential just yet. Children approach life differently than we do. Just watch a child look at ants for the first time, that child-like sense of wonder and awe that they get as if they're seeing it for the first time. The reason is that they are. The first time watch an ant march across the sidewalk or a leaf falling from the tree, or a snowflake falling. Don't miss that moment. It's so rare to us because we've seen it all before. See it from their eyes.

Children aren't jaded by their opinion of the world yet. They are imaginative, light-hearted, humble, and adventurous. They are fearless, simply ask any parent, they will undoubtedly confirm that with a resounding YES!!!

So where does that child-like faith go?

Like Peter Pan fears, we simply grow up. Like my experience with an umbrella, we realize that the things we believe aren't true. Our expectations because jaded. We rationalize things, and lose our fear and sense of adventure, rationalizing the outcome before we even try. We hide things deep inside for fear of letting others see the real us. We begin playing it safe and settling for whatever life hands us. Rather than living by faith, we complicate things and get in our own way. We even try to prove our worth to God by doing things not by faith, but out of a sense of what we should be doing instead of letting our hearts lead us. We believe we are content, but are grasping at straws for trying to achieve that something more we believe might make us happy after all.

I believe we need to get our child-like faith back. Open ourselves up and letting people see us for how we are. To ask for help when we truly need it instead of pasting on our fake smiles and saying everything in our life is O.K. when it is falling apart. We need more than anything to believe in ourselves again like a child does. He never doubts whether he can do anything until he proves he can't. We need to remember that God didn't choose people to make a difference from the finest and most qualified people.

It's just the opposite. He chose flawed people. People like you and me, that doubted themselves. People like David, a lowly shepherd but whom would be crowned King, slay a giant no one else would, and from his descendants would come the greatest gift to the world. 1 Corinthians 1:27 puts it all into perspective, "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong."

Isn't it time to discover our child-like faith again and go out with God's help and do something incredibly amazing and stop letting the world dictate what we are capable of. I believe in you, imagine what possibilities might exist if you tried, knowing you would never fail? What would you do?

More importantly...

Why aren't you?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Husband's Need Help Too!

Sharing a story I got a few days ago that really hit home for me in so many ways, I just had to pass the message along for others who could benefit! Enjoy!

A Plea for Understanding

by Charles R. Swindoll

I want to confess that for too long in my ministry I took unfair advantage of Job's wife, especially since she was not present to defend herself. I think it was probably due to immaturity on my part. Furthermore, I hadn't been married long enough to know better than to say those things. I cannot leave this one snapshot of Mrs. Job in the story without clarifying the record in her defense.

Now that you've seen the incredible disaster they shared, isn't it a little easier to understand how she could suggest, "Job, darling, let's just pull the plug. Don't go on. You can't keep living like this, I can't stand it. Curse God, and let Him take you home to be with Him." I think so. She's reached her limit and is willing to let him go. I'm not justifying the woman's reasoning as much as trying to understand it.

Always guard your words when your husband is going through terribly hard times. I want to confess something about us men. Mainly, I want you to remember: going through sustained hard times weakens most men. For some reason, hardship seems to strengthen women; we admire you for that.

But we men are weakened when times of affliction hit and stay. In our weakened condition we lose our objectivity, sometimes our stability. Our discernment is also skewed. Our determination lags. We become vulnerable, and most men don't know how to handle themselves in a vulnerable state of mind. So in light of all of this---hear me---we need your clear perspective, wisdom, and spiritual strength. Most of all, we need you to pray for us as you've never prayed. We need not only your prayers, we need your emotional support. We need you to take the initiative and step up.

We need your words of confidence and encouragement. We even find it hard to say, "I need you right now." My wife could tell you that she lived with me for our first ten years of marriage before she ever thought I needed her. I finally admitted it and learned how to say it. In the lonely hours of a man's great trial, nobody's words mean more to him than his wife's words. That is one of the God-given reasons you and your partner were called to be together. When we husbands lose our way, you wives help us find our way back.