Helen Keller and Your Marriage


We all know who Helen Keller was, and what she became: a brilliant writer, lecturer, and inspiration to millions. But do you recall her beginning?

If you’ve ever read her biography or seen a movie or play about her life, you must remember the famous breakfast-table scene that took place when her parents brought in Annie Sullivan, the woman who would become Helen’s teacher and friend for life.

Helen, the object of her parents’ sympathy (and no doubt, their feelings of helplessness) had been allowed to grow into an uncivilized little tyrant, doing absolutely as she pleased. Her own will was all that existed in her mind.

When her new teacher, Annie, refused to allow Helen to grab food off of Annie’s plate with her grubby little fingers, a brawl ensued that lasted all day, and changed the world for Helen Keller.

She didn’t understand the words Annie was trying to spell into her palm—not yet—but the beginning of all her knowledge was the realization that there were other people in the world whose feelings mattered, and that she could not always have her own way.

To have a happy marriage, we all need to learn to reign in that selfish child who screams, “I want, I want… and I want it MY way.” Our husbands, much like Helen’s parents, may give us our way because they are soft-hearted, because they love us, or maybe just for the joy of making us smile for a moment. And in response, rather than being grateful and seeking to bring happiness to them in return, we may come to expect indulgence, and grow ever more demanding, ever more convinced that our own selfish will is the only thing worth considering.

How easy an existence would that be? “I do what I please and nobody dares to question me or stop me.”

And yet it would not exactly be a good thing for us to be allowed to go on that way. Suppose Helen Keller’s parents had never brought in Annie Sullivan? And what if Annie Sullivan had never fought that battle over breakfast with her little student?  A frustrating six-year-old would have become an incorrigible twelve-year-old, and the twelve-year-old would have eventually become a large, strong, overpowering adult woman…miserable in her complete isolation, screeching and muttering, eating with her hands, having no conception of hygiene, much less manners. Let’s face it; she would have wound up in an early 1900’s mental institution, suffering brutality and neglect, her brilliant mind wasted.

Instead, she became the first blind and deaf person to earn a bachelor’s degree. She read books and wrote them. She met authors and presidents. She campaigned for causes she believed in. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and was elected to the National Women’s Hall of Fame…and all because she learned, little by little, that other people mattered, too. That there was more to living that being given whatever she craved at any particular moment.

So consider that, and then tell me, ladies, which will you choose to be? A childish brat, ferociously battling to prevail over someone who loves you and wants life’s best for you? Or a wise, graceful, dignified lady who knows what deeper victories may come from working with him, not against him, and from loving him even more than you love yourself?


A Teacher of Modesty


Today I am excited to introduce you to a lady and family that I have “known” (that is, been aware of) for most of my life, yet I never see them mentioned or referred to on anyone’s blog. Their teachings and views are in line with traditional  views of femininity and biblical womanhood, but for whatever reason, the current generation doesn’t seem to have discovered them. So readers, please allow me to present a very humble Christian lady whose books have taught much to many. (Click titles for more information on the books mentioned.)

HandfordThis is Elizabeth (“Libby”) Rice Handford, pictured here with her husband Walt Handford. I’ll tell you more about her famous family tree in a moment, but for now please know that she is the author of some very direct and touching books that women today would do well to read; among them, Me? Obey Him?  and Your Clothes Say It For YouI mentioned one of these books in a recent post and it was clicked on many times. But just so you know–I do not happen to be affiliated with the Rice/Handford family nor any booksellers or publishers as of right now. I just want you to know about them because I love them! I believe you will, too.

Mrs. Handford is one of six daughters of the famous evangelist, Dr.  John R. Rice (pictured below).


He had a dynamic life story and while we may not all agree with everything he espoused, he clearly had a huge, pressing burden to win souls, and dedicated his life to it. He was the founder of Sword of the Lord, which was originally a newspaper and is now a ministry which includes a publishing house.  You can visit their website to peruse a wealth of interesting products, especially the books, which are searchable by author or subject.

The thing I love best about Elizabeth Rice Handford‘s writing is her voice. There is nothing preachy or judgmental about her. Her books read as though a very kind, loving, and very devout friend has stopped by to have a cup of coffee and share with you. Sprinkled with stories from her youth and her days as a mother raising seven children, she comes across as so warm and personable that while you may, in the end, have differing opinions about certain matters, you cannot help but respect her sincerity and her testimony. Her sharp intelligence shines through her plain-spoken style as well, just in case you’re tempted to dismiss her words as those of a Bible-belt bumpkin from another era. As strongly as I possibly can, I urge you to check out these books. They are quite inexpensive, by the way.

Mrs. Handford’s sister, Jessie Rice Sandberg, is the author of several books as well. One that I have a immense fondness for is With Love…And A Pinch of Salt. When I was nineteen or so, this book was placed as a decoration on the mantelpiece of the old Victorian house where I worked as a waitress. I picked it up and leafed through it when I was not busy, and was instantly hooked. It’s a unique book, rather like a scrapbook of odds and ends that a mother might give to a daughter as a wedding gift. I believe it was frequently given as a shower gift in its day, and it’s still full of useful, homespun information…everything from “How to Make a White Sauce” to checklists for a Christian bride, to poems and articles about family life, to reminders of small daily things to take joy in. Sadly it does not seem to be available at Sword of the Lord! However I checked Amazon and a few other places, and you should be able to locate a used copy.

Now, to check out a different limb on the Rice family tree, let’s look at Bill and Cathy Rice. (It took me years, by the way, in the days before Google, to figure out exactly how these people were related.) Dr. Bill Rice was the brother of John R. Rice, and also an evangelist. In the 1930′s, his and wife Cathy’s baby daughter was struck with spinal meningitis. While the baby survived, the illness left her deaf. Afterward, realizing how challenging it was to communicate the gospel to a deaf child, her parents then felt led to begin a ministry for the deaf. The Bill Rice Ranch is still going strong today in Murfreesboro, TN. They host FREE camps for the deaf, and camps and conferences for hearing people as well. Cathy authored a number of books about sign language and ministry to the deaf. Their website, http://www.billriceranch.org, has many helpful resources you might like to check out. billrice_founder


But she didn’t always write about the deaf. Cathy Rice was, for me, a little pebble the Lord dropped into my path when I was in high school in the 1980′s. Would you expect a regular old unchurched perm-headed 80′s teenager, the daughter of a smoking, drinking, partying divorced mother, to be eagerly lapping up a 1966 book on Christian submission? Probably not, and yet as I have gotten older, I have marveled at the many such books that found their way into my hands and formed the foundation of my beliefs. It was no coincidence! Anyway…in the school library (this would never happen today, huh?!) I ran across a book entitled The Right Way in Marriage for Women, which was part love letter to Bill Rice (not literally, I’m just saying that Cathy’s adoration for him was quite evident) and partly a guidebook for Christian wives. I believe that this same book now goes by the title of The Right Romance in Marriage, and this one is available at Sword and through Amazon. Cathy’s tone is different from that of her nieces, the Rice sisters…she’s a little more June Cleaver-ish, but I still admire this lovely book from a time when submission was more the norm instead of a radical departure.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about the Rice family and will check out the books and resources. Come back and let me know what you thought!


Standard of Loving


photostock couple

(Image by Photostock, courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.com)

Occasionally we all hear stories of young married couples who are simply unrealistic about the standard of living they will have when they first start out. Sometimes they are spoiled and have a sense of entitlement, but more often they probably just haven’t stopped to consider all the years it took their parents to achieve the lifestyle they’re enjoying by middle age. When young adults have lived all their lives in a comfortable, well-appointed home in a good neighborhood (heck, lots of us have home gyms and maybe a pool)… when they’ve had late-model cars to drive and plenty of new clothes and access to the latest technology…when they’ve been on nice vacations and kicked back on nice furniture and never had to worry about much of anything in the way of material goods, getting married and surviving on entry-level paychecks must feel a lot like a step down.

A young wife and husband might look around at their humble abode and their meager bank balance and feel that something is very wrong; something must be corrected as soon as possible, because this is failure! They got married expecting to be free and happy, not to be less free and less happy than they were back home. Sometimes they are unable to tolerate a period of relative austerity, and they foolishly go into debt to keep up the style to which they’re accustomed. They may blame one another for overspending and under-earning. A wife, especially, may come to feel that her husband’s inability to give her all the things her parents gave her translates into an actual lack of love or dedication.

We should probably all prepare our children from the cradle to expect to start at the bottom of the ladder economically, so that while it may not be fun, at least it won’t be a shock to their systems.

But it occurs to me that young adults may also be failing to realize the years of work it took their parents to find happiness, comfort, and stability in their relationship. My daughter looks at my husband and me and knows that for all of our ups and downs (some of which she witnessed) we have a permanent bond. We’ve been united for as long as she can remember, and she has watched us reaching goals together, spending time together, and now finally settling in for the second half of life together. Meanwhile, though she has a long-term boyfriend, her future is still to be determined.

And my young work-friends in their twenties…they overhear the pleasant phone chats I have with my husband when he calls me during his lunch hour to ask about my day and discuss what we have planned for the evening. I often tell these young ladies funny stories about happenings at home, or mention our comfortable, well-worn marriage routines. Now  I know twenty-somethings never envy the middle-aged; I’m not flattering myself that much! But I do suspect that when their relationships are rocky, or just poorly defined (“Am I his girlfriend or just a casual date?” “Is this marriage really what I wanted?”)…they might be casting a slightly-wistful eye over at me, living in the land of Security.

But, oh, there is so much about us they don’t know! So much they will never be told about the trials we’ve gone through..the temper tantrums, the bad habits and attitudes that were eventually adjusted. I will never tell them some of the detrimental things we blithely did in pursuit of excitement, and I may not ever share the selfish, callous, mean-spirited things we did to break each other’s hearts. Incidents have occurred between my husband and me that were so painful, recovering from them took years.YEARS, I’m telling you, when there were no pleasant giggly lunchtime phone calls. YEARS when we went through the motions, but the love between us had gone underground.  

Thankfully, we’ve forgotten some of it ourselves, now that we’ve gotten the hang of marriage. All of us who have been blessed to be married a long time may get so comfortable that we forget what it was like to be otherwise, and neglect to tell our grown children or our younger sisters or friends that a happy marriage can take a very long time to finally solidify.

I hope these words will give encouragement to any young person reading them in the midst of a marriage struggle.  Don’t assume that your marriage is a failure because you and your husband don’t have the bond and camaraderie that your mom and dad may have. Don’t assume that because things seem to be in a million pieces today, the Lord can’t glue them back together tomorrow. In exactly the way that it takes years to earn material assets, it might take your marriage a while to find its groove. Persevere, pray, and determine to show your husband the same kind of love you did on your wedding day! Don’t worry right now what he’s giving you in return. You are responsible before God for  your OWN behavior, not his. So start there. (I feel compelled to say that if your husband is actually harming your or endangering your life, however, you should seek help.)

  To the more “seasoned” ladies, let’s make it a point this week to share with younger women that our marriages were not always well-oiled machines, but the rewards of staying together make the struggles so worthwhile.


(PS–If you never have, go to my “About Me” page for two pictures that might just make you smile. :-) )

How to Stay Warm in a Dress


Are you new to wearing dresses, and wondering how you’ll manage your first winter as a beautiful, feminine, modest dress-wearer? First of all, congratulations on your decision to dress with modesty. You will never regret looking classy and respectable, and  you will soon appreciate the very significant differences in the treatment you  receive by presenting yourself  as a lovely lady instead of a hot chick. I want to encourage you to make it through the upcoming winter without “growing weary in well-doing,” so I offer you some tips.

First of all, know that YOU CAN DO THIS. There is no question about it! Generations of our ancestors managed their lives wearing dresses in all sorts of weather, without the benefit of central heat, by the way. Most of the time, the adjustment to be made here is psychological in that a dress is not actually impeding your functionality, you simply feel funny wearing one to do certain things. This may be because you don’t own the most suitable type of dresses or skirts for every activity yet, but that will come with time and perseverance. You can do it, and you’ll be so glad you did.

If you work in an office or other indoor setting, please FORGET the idea of wearing dress shoes such as pumps, and leaving your calves bare or covered only by pantyhose (if anybody wears those anymore!). You will be just like some of my silly coworkers, who walk in the door daily in skimpy dress and immediately start complaining that they’re freezing. Be wise about this! The weather won’t change to accommodate your clothes, so you must change your clothes to fit the weather. What you need are some BOOTS. I myself can hardly wait to start wearing boots each year, because for one thing, you can wear your favorite comfortable socks and nobody will ever know, plus you don’t need to be concerned with how your legs look! If your boots seem to look funny, chances are that there is a wrong-sized gap between the top of them and the bottom of your skirt. I think it’s best if there is either NO gap (so your skirt comes down over your boots) or a gap of several inches (if you have that much leg). Just a slight gap looks like a mistake, similar to the look of “high-water” pants. I would caution you, though, when leaving a gap, that “sexy” is not the look you are going for. Keep your skirt at a decent length, and please avoid blatantly sexy stiletto heels. You do realize, my dear innocents, that when you wear shoes like that, it tempts men to picture you wearing ONLY the shoes? I would love to have a man comment and back me up on that, because I am absolutely sure of it.

You are going to want to have skirts or dresses of thicker, sturdier material, that the wind will not cut through. In hot weather, I tend to wear very lightweight, flowing skirts, but winter is the time to change to khaki, corduroy, or thick knits, and denim for casual wear. Obviously, longer is warmer.

Your secret weapon is what you wear on your legs. You will need some or all of the following: tights, leggings, and thermal underwear! Tights are nice when the weather is not biting cold but just a bit chilly, and bare legs would look oddly summery. They are also nice when you don’t feel like boots and would rather wear a mary-jane or some other style of shoe. Leggings are warm and come in all sorts of colors and patterns, but be careful with those patterns if you’re a mature lady. Not all are becoming to us. A benefit to leggings is that they are footless, and since we’ve already decided you’ll be wearing your favorite socks, you don’t want your feet to get all overheated indoors. Thermal underwear is for SERIOUS cold! In the past I owned some actual “long-john” style with the sort of checked-looking pattern. I actually prefer those, because they have a band at the ankle that keeps them from moving around. (Thermal sets are great to sleep in, too, because they stay rather close to your body so they keep drafts from going up your clothes, and don’t get all twisted around as you toss and turn.) Now that I live in Florida where it’s not very cold for very long, I have not been able to find that style, but I have some “Cud’l Duds,” purchased at Walmart, that serve the same purpose.

Finally, if you run low on ideas or have no modest dressers in your daily life that you’d like to emulate, PINTEREST IS A GOLD MINE! Approximately one bazillion people (just kidding) have Pinterest boards labeled “modesty” or “modest clothes” and so forth. I’m sure you could even search “modest winter” or “skirts and boots” or whatever it is you’re trying to work with.

I wish you a wonderful winter and a delightful holiday season…Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year! Be beautiful be festive, be WARM, and be modest and classy, too!



Where Is Your Dignity?

Clown-Stuart Miles

 (Image by Stuart Miles, courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

My son goes to public school, and as we all know, public schools are touchy these days about acknowledging any sort of holiday, lest they get complaints from someone who doesn’t celebrate it. But I was driving him to school yesterday morning, which was Halloween, and I noticed a girl about his age, riding her bicycle down the street in fuzzy pajamas. Well, you never know about THAT anymore–today is the first really chilly day we’ve had in Florida, and I saw kids wearing pajamas in both of the public places I went this morning. It’s a ridiculous habit and I think their parents could use a good spanking…I mean, is it too much trouble for your children–or YOU, for that matter–to at least put some CLOTHES on when you go to a store or a restaurant? I think not!  But I digress.

Anyway, I asked my son about the girl on the bike, and he said it was Pajama Day, the culmination of School Spirit Week. It’s all in good fun, of course, but I was rather glad he hadn’t participated because, as I was mentioning to him, you just never know what a day may bring. I can think of situations where one might really regret being caught in foolish dress.

Here is a real-life example. I once worked at a bank, and we all dressed up for Halloween. I was a cat, and my coworkers were witches and gypsies, superheroes and headless ghouls. One lady, the vice president, dressed as a clown. She was a tall, heavyset, older lady, and she went all-out for her costume, with the typical multi-colored suit, giant colorful curly wig, white face makeup and huge red painted-on smile. It was a great costume…until the vice president had to sit down with a grieving, recently-widowed customer to go over her late husband’s finances. Can you imagine what the vice president would have given to not be dressed like a clown at that moment? She certainly hadn’t meant any offense; she just hadn’t anticipated this meeting. But the end result was that she felt mortified and ashamed, and vowed never again to dress up at work.

I really think there’s a lesson in that. No matter what may happen to us in the course of a day, I think our appearance should give an accurate portrayal of who and what we are.  Whenever a Christian starts talking about standards of dress, somebody will cry “Legalism!” and state how they have freedom in Christ and it doesn’t matter what they put on their bodies. But do a little bit more studying on the subject, and you’re bound to run across the example of “wearing the uniform of the team you represent.” I happen to be watching the Georgia/Florida football game right now, and I can tell you that if a guy came on the field in an orange and blue (FL) uniform and started running touchdowns for Georgia, everybody would be very confused. (Don’t get me wrong, Georgia would be GLAD for somebody to run them a touchdown right about now, but I’m digressing again.) It’s pretty simple, really…if you dress rather simply and modestly, you’re likely to be perceived as a Christian. Dress like a floozy and you’ll be assumed to be a floozy. Dress like a bum or just like a pure-T fool with your pants hanging off your rear and a tattoo of  some silly character on your body—you’ll look like a bum or a fool. So what do you want to say with your appearance? Do you count on your behavior and demeanor to CORRECT the initial negative impression you made? Or just reinforce a positive one?

Ah, here’s another true story. The other day, a 20-something friend related that she had gone into a store (wearing the type of sexy outfit she wears most every day)  to buy a sandwich, and when she came out minutes later, someone had left a gospel tract on the window of her car. She suspected an older man she had seen, but noticed that the tracts were not left on everyone’s car–just hers. Laughingly she told us, “He probably looked at me and said, ‘She can’t be a Christian–she’s too cute!’”  Oh, honey, I wanted to say. That’s not what he was thinking…not at all.

If you are considering the subject of appropriate dress, may I recommend a couple of good books to you? They are written by authors with very different backgrounds–one Catholic, one Baptist. But I find them both very worthwhile and recommend them highly to you.

Dressing With Dignity, by Colleen Hammond. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DJGL240?btkr=1

Your Clothes Say It For You, by Elizabeth Rice Handford. http://www.amazon.com/Your-Clothes-Say-It-You/dp/0873989503


Speaking of reading…watch for emails or updates from me in the next few days, because I’m going to tell you about an awesome BUNDLE…do  you know what a bundle is?? Neither did I, until today, although I’ve seen them mentioned on blogs. Let’s just say it’s a large quantity of materials for a low price. The one I am going to tell you about is the ULTIMATE CHRISTIAN LIVING  bundle. For the very low price of $34.95, you will be able to have access to a large quantity of Christian e-books (please note the E!) in various categories, from marriage, to parenting, to inspirational novels, to devotionals, and more! Download the ones you want to your computer or tablet and have plenty to read for at least a year. Even if you only like 2-3 of them, this price makes it a great deal. PLUS, included in the same price, you will receive Bonus Reward Points from Tyndale Publishing–enough to purchase a physical (real, not E) book of your choice, which they’ll ship to you. You will receive a selection of Day Spring greeting cards. And finally, you’ll get access to a Christian workout program and accompanying DVD. All this stuff would retail for over $1000 if you purchased the items separately!

This is an awesome deal and will only run from November 5th through 10th, so watch for more info from me!


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