Photo Credit: Christa Taylor Gutschenritter
We were recently at a family wedding and had a great time getting to see many relatives and friends. We all stayed a couple of days after the wedding to visit. One special person we got to be with was Joel’s Grandmother. She and I have always been friends, ever since I went out to stay with her with Joel’s family before we got engaged. At one point she took me aside and said, “You’ve really bloomed! I really notice a change in you.” She remembered the shy, quiet girl that came to visit her all those years ago, and was sweet enough to mention to me the change she saw.
Change happens to you so gradually, sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint why and where, and how it all happened. Motherhood has certainly radically changed me. Both the love of my girls, and the great sacrifice it has been to care for them. And yet, that is not the biggest factor in change. The greatest factor has been my husband.
Like most married people, we can irritate each other, and because we are imperfect our marriage is too. Yet, increasingly, as I have noticed change myself, and felt it in my heart, I’ve realized how crucial my husband has been to my growth as a person.
He has sacrificed with grace for me, and for our children. He has steadily loved me. He has stood by my side, held my hand, and encouraged me to do things I never would have done without the confidence of knowing that he would support and love me no matter how much I failed. Our commitment to each other has kept us steady in loving each other.
Joel is one of those extraordinary beings who love to help other people succeed more than they care about pushing themselves forward. I have been one of the recipients of his help. This blog, my salad cookbook, and my new cookbook (to be given to the publisher August 1st) were done completely because of his support.
He managed to not only get himself through college, but he graduated top of his class, spoke at the graduating chapel and received two awards (one for each of his majors). For a busy father, working while in college, it would have been really easy to limit how much he helped me. But he didn’t.
And let me tell you, I don’t always make it easy for him! I agonized over whether to take this new book contract. He encouraged me to do it. He has patiently listened to me gripe about the work, gush about how much fun it is to do all of the work, patiently paid for all of the food I’ve bought beyond our grocery budget to experiment for the book, and done a lot of watching the kids so I could write this summer.
He pretty much has made it possible. And this is just one small example of the type of person he is.
But it is not just about the book. It’s about the change he has made in my heart. With him to love and care for me, I have become a much more confident person, willing to step out more, willing to fail, because I have him, and all that he is to me. We have had some pretty crazy things to walk through together as a couple – many of them were no fun at all. Yet, walking through those crazy things and learning better how to love each other has made us stronger.
Our family has been listening to the soundtrack to the Beauty and the Beast musical (which has additional songs). In one of the songs, Belle sings to the dying beast “Don’t you know how you’ve changed me?” That line resonated with me, because I feel how much Joel has changed me too.
Joel, as I wish you happy birthday this year, I want to say, thank you for loving me, supporting me, and helping me. You never sought to change me, yet your love did. I will forever be grateful for you being in my life.
To my readers, if you have ever appreciated the work I do here, I just wanted to let you know that my husband deserves a lot of credit for it.