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Shoveling snow in a snowstorm is a wry term I use for what it is like to be a wife and mom, washing endless dishes that will just get dirty again, moving toys from one side of the room to another, washing laundry you just washed, mopping floors only to have dogs and kids run across them with muddy feet. To shovel snow in a snow storm is to never really see the fruits of your labors, to never fully complete a task, able to sit back and survey your accomplishment. You shovel as fast as you can but the snow just keeps falling.

This is the kind of work that can cause a young and naive husband to come home, look about at all the destruction and innocently declare, “Did you actually do anything today?” I suppose it is not necessary to mention that my eyes turn green when I am really angry or that husbands in general do not consider it a great accomplishment that you did not deposit the children in a Goodwill free box somewhere?

Thank God I was handed those words, “shoveling snow in a snowstorm,” because honestly I don’t think my poor hubby ever meant to sound cruel or insensitive, and without that understanding of what my “work” was going to be like, I would have vented my wrath on him more than I did.

I suspect he was only genuinely puzzled by why his wife was so exhausted and his house looked like a train had driven through it. Worn out after a long day of destruction and tantrums, our kids were often well-behaved and somewhat excited to see their dad at the end of the day, so he got to see a different version of the kids than I did.

There is a huge difference between men and women, in general I think men tend to be more analytical, more interested in concrete results. Recently I’ve read some rather interesting discussions about seeking to have a wife and children that will be cost-effective and provide a return for your investment. I had to simply back out of that room slowly, least I descend into hysterical laughter or deep sarcasm, sure to win friends and influence people. They will learn…..or not.

The entire idea of family being perceived as cost-effective or somehow beneficial to somebody, sure to return your investment ten fold, is completely foreign to me. Perhaps in the olden days when one was giving birth to farm laborers or hoping to have someone willing to look out for you in your old age, the cost effectiveness of marriage and children may have made more sense. I don’t know anybody who falls in love or decides to have children based on logic and reason. The very nature of love is a leap of faith, sacrificial, and often downright dangerous, as in it will cost you everything, with no guarantee of any kind of return.

I do however, empathize with a more masculine perception of results, concrete payoffs, a desire to have produced something, to be able to look around and see the fruits of your labors, to look upon your children and think, hmmm, that was 250,000 dollars well spent.

That would be my mindset too, if I had not spent a lifetime shoveling snow in a snowstorm, caring first for dysfunctional parents, and than siblings, and than children, completely oblivious to what exactly the point of having a family really is? It seems to simply involve going completely broke while serving the ungrateful? All in good humor here, but my circumstances growing up are what lead me to smile bitterly at the quote, “I’ll take the kindness of strangers over the love of family any day.”

My husband as he’s gotten older has taken me around to see the fruits of his labors, the homes he’s built, the remodels, the additions, the roofs, the concrete evidence of his presence on this land. Every home, every building screams, I was here, I accomplished something, I mattered. Look what I did honey, I built that.

He can not see the rest of it as well as I can, the invisible fruits of his labors, the treasures he has stored up in heaven. I am compelled to be his eyes, to paint what is unseen to him with my words, to tell him of a girl he loved long ago, how he saved her even from her own self. I speak to him of the 30 years he has spent teaching me about the true and genuine meaning of family, of how he has restored my hope and healed my faith. I show him those children of ours, four of them at 250,000 dollars a piece, a million bucks worth of investment that paid off, that exceeded our wildest dreams, kids that do not fully understand where their parents came from, what generational curses had to be broken, how blessed they were. And the grandchildren now that are a delight that need no words to describe.

I speak to him of four sets of elderly parents, the way he has always believed in taking care of your own, about how you honor your parents no matter who or what they are, and how you comfort them and ease their suffering at the end of their life.

I speak of sisters, brothers, friends, the strays he has taken in, the neighborhood kids he has fed, the boys he has taught a trade to, those he encouraged and supported while they started their own businesses.

I tell him what his provision has meant, how he has freed me up to do the work that I do, work that as never been cost effective. Work I could not do if I had to keep the lights on. His labors have stretched out, like tossing a pebble in a pond that sends ripples to far off shores.

My husband as been shoveling snow in a snowstorm for as long as I have, but he cannot always see the invisible empire of love that he has built, so I praise him for his roofs and his fences and his additions as if he had built the Great Pyramid itself and I pray everyday that he is given the eyes to see what so often goes unseen in the world.

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:20-21