What would my life be without this man by my side?
Much less exciting!
Just look at him throwing that hunk of wood! (from our GFA staff retreat last May)
Even as a kid, he was sweet and a little shy, says his mom. He was contemplative and compassionate. I've heard many, many stories of ways he served those around him. We visit many older ladies when we go back to his hometown because they are treasures to Joel and he is adored by them. They tell me what a treasure I have in my husband.
From the moment I met Joel, it was his heart to know and love the Lord that drew me to him. At first, it was friendship. He became my closest friend. He challenged me in my walk with Christ and encouraged me.
When we first met, we served alongside one another in a para-church ministry. One Christmas (before we ever started dating) I was struggling to figure out how I could afford to buy Christmas gifts for my family. I got an envelope on my desk one day that simply read "Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet?" Inside were seven $20 bills. It wasn't until we were engaged that I found out Joel had left the envelope on my desk two years earlier. He has always had a generous heart.
Joel is a hard worker. I give his parents full credit for teaching him early the value of working hard. He doesn't quit and gets creative when he needs to. He doesn't like to sit around much. Consequently, our home is more beautiful because of his efforts, our cars stay clean and tidy, and those he works with are grateful to have him on their team.
Prior to coming to serve on staff with GFA, Joel was a youth pastor. He is a great pastor. The students from his ministry still hold him in high regard. He was open and honest about his failures, but very clear about his love for Jesus. His vulnerability endears him to people. Students knew they could trust him and believe him. I watched him baptize new believers, officiate marriages, help with funeral services, counsel kids and adults, sweep floors, preach, study, and countless other tasks--all with humility and while knowing that it was only by God's grace.
I've watched Joel maintain that same attitude as we have adjusted to life here in Texas.
Joel excels as a husband and father. I have the most fun watching him be a dad. Rylee, Jenna, and Asa are exceedingly blessed. From the moment I found out I was pregnant with Rylee, Joel was nothing but supportive and active as a dad. He went to appointments, learned about childbirth, figured out how to fold cloth diapers, and gained baby weight (hey, keeping it real!). He walked miles around our downstairs trying to soothe Rylee when she was an infant. Since he couldn't feed her, he changed her diapers and insisted on burping her.
He is the most hands-on dad I know. He makes our kids laugh like no one else. He plays a great game of monster and delights Asa with his Lego creations.Joel is my best friend. My life is infinitely more blessed because I have him by my side. I, for one of many, am so grateful the Lord brought us this man 35 years ago today!
Happy birthday Joel!