The Soapbox

A Personal Commentary by Mark Eidemiller

"A Day In The Life (In Appreciation of my Wife)"

From May of 1996 to November of 1999, Karen and I lived with several others of our church in a 'ministry house' arrangement.

It was during that time that I wrote the following tribute.

God bless you, Karen. I love you.

I don't know how she does it. But I praise God that she does.

Six out of seven days a week - Monday through Saturday - Karen's up before the sun, before anyone else, at 4 am or earlier. She's up at that hour to make breakfast for people in the house, a number which can vary between 8 to 12 people at times.

Breakfast's not very elaborate - a hot half-and-half mix of rolled 5-grain cereal and rolled triticale, and a hard-boiled egg on the side - but it's easy to cook and keep warm through the morning. And it's good and nutritious. Some people don't care much for the egg, so Karen's got to keep track of that so she doesn't make too many.

She keeps track of a lot of things with breakfast: who's put in money and who hasn't; how much she's got in supplies; what she's got in the budget, where it's been going and for what; and what's running low (so we can get more in time and not run out).

She puts my portion into a container I'll take to work - and she even peels my egg for me (the personal touch). If there's something I've got set aside in the fridge for lunch, she'll grab it as well.

She's usually in the kitchen when Matthew starts wandering up from the basement at 4:45. She gives him a friendly greeting and a hug (second best thing at times, next to prayer) to start off his day.

Once the cereal is done and set aside - everyone dishes their own, nukes it in the microwave, and puts their dishes in the sink - and the eggs are off to the side, Karen grabs my breakfast and lunch, and comes upstairs for a few minutes' sleep before my alarm goes off around 5:20. We have a chance to cuddle for a couple of minutes, then I'm up and out of bed. Fifteen minutes later, I'm out the door for work.

When I'm leaving, she's always got a word of encouragement or exhortation: "Keep close to Jesus," "Keep your armor on." She switches on the cordless phone, and places it on my pillow so it's close: "But I don't hug it," she assures me with a smirk. She goes back to sleep. However, it's a light sleep, because she's also the chief secretary and message-handler for this house. Ever since we moved in several months back, she's taken that position - and things have never been more efficient. People who never got accurate messages are now getting accurate messages, complete with date and time.

The 7:30 - 9 am block of time usually has bosses calling their workers in the house. Karen's their first contact, and they know her voice, and she knows theirs. And she gets along well with them.

She tries to keep informed, to know who's home and who's away (even if she may not know where they are). When anyone gets a call, and they're in the house, Karen'll track them down to let them know they've got a call. If they're not in the house, she'll take a message. She'll head upstairs to the old electric typewriter, a 3x5" index card already in place. Her accuracy is excellent, considering she isn't able to see the words she's typing to read them. Then she flips the card over, types the name of the person who got the call, and takes it down to the message board, thumb-tacking it name-side-out for privacy.

At some point in the morning, she goes downstairs to clean the breakfast dishes, and any dishes leftover from the previous night. It's a pain at times, facing so many dishes, but it's all part of the responsibility she's accepted.

But it's more than a responsibility. It's ministry, a way of showing love and serving others.

And it doesn't stop once the morning meal's done and cleaned up. There's more. If one of the other ladies in the house needs to talk or pray or whatever, she's right there. And if there's nothing else going on, she'll read, or pray, or just listen to Bible or church service tapes. She'll page my voice mail with news or a prayer request, or to ask me to pick up something on the way home. Sometimes she puts in a code that pages me with the words "I LOVE YOU."

And sometimes she's able to squeeze in a cat nap to recharge her batteries - all the while alert for the phone.

She also helps keep the house clean. While Cheryl keeps the downstairs in shape, Karen's turf is the stairs, landing, and upstairs bathroom (as well as our room). She keeps it clean and (in the case of the bathroom) sanitary, especially on the days after a ministry night.

And there are those "special times" of serving:

Dishing up and serving the breakfast for one of the brothers while his glasses were being repaired, and he was unable to see well.

Playing house-sitter during those times everyone is away.

Bringing in the mail every afternoon, making sure it's safe, and having it on my desk so I can sort through it before we distribute it.

While Karen handles the breakfast, Cheryl handles the dinner. But then it's back to Karen to take care of the dishes - a task that sometimes takes hours, as the dishes keep rolling in. Sometimes one of the ladies will volunteer to help her, or just see the need and act on it. These times are a welcome break.

Sometimes it's not easy, and she gets her share of complaints from dissatisfied brothers and sisters. Most often, it's not her fault. It's just because the person's had a bad day, or is hurting and won't admit it because of pride. If she's on top of things, she'll pray for them and keep quiet. If she's weak, she'll fall to anger. Once God gets through with her, however, there'll be repentance, reconciliation, and pressing on.

She sometimes wonders if she's spending any time with me, what with all that she's busy with even after I'm home. But she does. She's usually there when I come in, with a hug and a kiss, and a "How was your day?" She takes time to talk and relax and just love on me.

But even then, she's always "on-call," available for prayer or whatever. And if the phone rings - even if we're cuddling - she's up in a flash to get it! It's reflex.

Her "workday" is over at bedtime. The answering machine, or whoever's awake downstairs and wants to get it, gets the calls.

Bedtime for her - for us - should be earlier than it is, but it never quite goes that way. By 10 pm, she's one pooped puppy. We try to pray together (although if one or both of us are exhausted, we usually end up praying separately), and go to sleep. Sometimes we'll cuddle in bed and talk, until one of us realizes when she's got to get up. Then we sleep.

And at 4 am, it starts all over again.

She's visually-impaired, but she's not handicapped. I've seen her do many things that no totally-sighted person would dare do. Sometimes, I get so wrapped up in things, that I don't express my appreciation for the things that she does. I complain more about what is not getting done rather than thanking her for what she does do.

From Proverbs 31: (10) Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. (11) The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. (12) She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. (15) She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. (26) She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. (27) She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. (28) Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. (29) Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.

I am a blessed man for having a wife like Karen. I love her very much.

And I just wanted to let everyone know that.

Any comments? Feel free to email me.
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