Today I am thankful for my husband, Joel. You may be wondering why I waited so long to get around to him, but today is our 17th wedding anniversary. In some ways, I can't believe its only been 17 years because it seems so much longer (I mean that in the very best way). We dated for six and a half years before we got married and had been good friends before that. I can hardly remember a time where he wasn't a part of my life in one way or another. And yet in other ways, I can't believe its already been 17 years. It seems like just yesterday that he proposed to me on the stage at the very same youth camp where we'd decided to begin dating six years before. It doesn't seem so long ago that I walked down the aisle of the church where we'd both grown up and saw him, my groom, waiting for me, smiling.
In junior high and high school, I had a pretty serious, but on-again/off-again boyfriend. It was not a healthy relationship. I isolated myself from my girlfriends and allowed him to determine my self-worth. My senior year, I finally had a maturity growth spurt and realized that was not how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. This was due in large part to long conversations with Joel and his best friend, Jarrod. They helped me see that I deserved better. Yet, honestly, I never could have guessed what the Lord had in store.
When we first started dating, I'd just graduated from high school , but because I'm 5months smarter (ok, older) than Joel, he still had one year left. I assumed we'd go out through the summer, but that when I left for college, he'd want to be "free" to enjoy his senior year. Instead, he wrote me a letter every. single. day. of my freshman year. Seriously. That was back (in the Dark Ages) before cell phones, texting, or even email, and yet...a letter every day.
Joel is often described as a "big teddy bear." He truly is one of the most genuine people you could ever have the privilege of knowing. He is kind and gentle, yet strong at the same time. He is good at whatever he puts his hand to. He is an amazing father. He's smart and funny and handsome, too. His smile and warm brown eyes still melt my heart the same today as 23 years ago. I feel safe and loved and happy whenever he's around. And I still, after all these years, cannot believe that God blessed me with a soulmate like Joel. As a matter of fact, next to sending His Son to die for my sins, having Joel in my life is one of the most tangible ways I feel God's love demonstrated. I'm sorry. I know I'm being terribly sappy, but I honestly cannot say enough about the man I married on this day, 17 years ago.
For Joel, and the godly husband and father he is, I am so very thankful.