The other day, I recalled a time of desperation in which I was sitting in a smoky, Austrian coffee shop alone in a dark corner, pouring out my heart to the Lord. "Lord, I am so very grateful for my sweet baby girl that you have given to me. But, Lord, I have not been able to get pregnant again, and I know that you are the only one who can open my womb and grant me my wish. Please, Lord, if it is your will, bless me with a little boy. I am already 34 (like the Lord didn't know!) and I long to have another baby in my arms."
And so, it two months later, I was fully into morning sickness and affirmed in the realization that God was certainly working in my life. Joel was to be my Austrian baby--born in Vienna, the land of music and art and beauty--and so his soul matches this wonderful city. As I was laying in bed at 38 weeks, my water burst at 11:15 p.m. Since Sarah had taken 19 1/2 hours in being birthed, I did not want to go too early to the hospital, and so got up to take a shower and wash my hair--(didn't know what my Austrian room would hold!) and yet, could barely stand up for the pain of my contractions. So, we called my doctor and hurried down the street to the hospital (5 minutes away) and barely checked into my room when Joel popped his head out--barely an hour since my first contraction--and my friend Gwennie just popped her head into the room to say she was there to encourage us and saw Joel pop out into the mid-wife's hands--(It is a law in Austria that midwives must deliver babies--even when the doctor is standing there for medical reasons.)
So, I treasured Joel as an answered prayer and treated him gently, with hands of love, words of life, singing lullabies of beauty and caresses and giggles enjoying the gift of life that had been granted me. And so he continues to become the blessing of God's hand. He was a snuggler, lego man, always humming, very bright and creative, drew thousands of cars and especially jeeps, designed house plans, played guitar, loved computer, peace maker and was the one when we had had a confrontation in our home--heated arguments with children or stressful moments of life--would always come in to say, "Hey, mom. Can I do something for you?" Or "Don't worry, mom, it will all be ok."
Fast forward, through the several year journey of many ups and downs of moving from childhood into the world of expensive adulthood--cars, computers, college, jobs, etc. to the time, when, by God's gracious miracle, Joel got accepted into Berklee college of music. Yet, even amidst the pathway, God was building my youthful son into a man--it was each decision to trust, to work at unfulfilling jobs, to be faithful when no one was watching, where his character was being forged.
So, you can imagine my deep pleasure (and Clay's!) to be able finally to visit him there, in Boston, a couple of weeks ago. Seeing Joel in his brownstone house, downtown Boston, was such a pleasure. How could I have known those 23 years ago, that my grown son. (6'5") would be foraying around this mega city, flourishing and conquering and ruling over the days of his time to become a stellar young man--one who easily makes friends, (he is living in an international home as one of three Americans with house mates from all over the world--the purpose of the house is to reach international students for Christ while they are studying in Boston.)
Joel had so much to overcome in this musical arena, as our lives had not prepared him to know music from a classically trained point of view--yet here he was with a good grade point, working 15 hours a week in the administration office, providing music for his church on Sundays and managing in the streets of Boston and making close friendships with those in his life. And in the midst creating new, breathtaking music.
Now, Joel was leading Clay and me and providing for us in "his" city. He provided a great little cafe, for us while we waited for him to get out of class, he led us through great directions on busy city streets, through the challenging traffic of Boston. He included a great tour of his university, fun tour of Boston, sharing dreams, secrets and ideas and discussions and celebrated one of the best cappucinos I have ever had with one of his friends. A treasured memory of true heart-felt fellowship.
All of this, I could not have imagined, when as a faithful young mommy, I read stories, trained in washing dishes while playing lively music loudly to keep us going and doing mundane chores, corrected attitudes, celebrated life, whispered the secrets of God as He taught me, had late night discussions, believed in dreams--and to see all that God had in mind--in order to bless me, fulfill me in allowing me to be a part of the soul work of this wonderful young man.
Joel, you almost always bring a smile to my face when I just think of you. You are my dear and cherished friend. Thanks for making an unforgettable memory for Dad and me to revisit when we miss you! May the symphonies and songs you write be filled with the greatness and skill of the wonderful soul God has given to you and may you bring light and beauty to people through your music for many years to come. We love you and miss you today!