Gentle, Generous Joel
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
How fun it was to be able to share a post about how God blessed Joel the very time God allowed some great encouragement for him on yesterday's post. The performance in Rome was received so well. But now you get to hear the rest of the story, and why Joel is my hero. Joel has loved, longed, wanted to do music for many years. He is one of those whose steadfast heart helps him keep being diligent.
After he graduated from Berklee, where he worked 3 jobs, carried full loads, and finished in 2 1/2 years to save money, he had high hopes of what his future would hold. Joel moved to California by faith, where he hoped he would be able to begin getting some jobs. Slowly, he began to call person after person to see if he could work himself into a job. However, music is a very difficult industry, and so living very frugally, he persisted in making just enough money to get by.
However, just as he was finding his feet, my mother became deathly ill after suffering for 7 years with ill health. As life would play out, I was approaching my 30th anniversary with Clay. We had hoped we would be able to celebrate our anniversary by taking a trip to England together, where we had always wanted to go together. Instead, after mysterious back pain and challenging medical issues, with no clear results, Clay awakened one morning and was quietly walking towards our circular stairway that led down to our main floor, when his legs gave way and he fell all the way down the stairs. Finally, the doctor agreed to do an MRI. The results were quite serious and he was in constant pain and had to be scheduled for a very serious 4 hour surgery, involving nails, nerve cutting and bones scraped and cut out. But before this surgery could take place, my mother died.
Clay could not attend the funeral with me because he was in bed. So, 3 of my children were able to drive just to the funeral, but Joel had to leave his apartment in California to move home to help me with my overwhelming load. He helped me buy a used car. He went with me to divide up my mother's estate. He drove a rental truck full of old stuff home 1000 miles, bumping along the lone Texas and New Mexico barren highways and helped me move everything into my garage, while Clay was laid up in bed-- all this, driving home on my 30th anniversary.
Clay would have a long recovery and so, Joel moved home. We could not do our mom's conferences without his help. All authors have to pedal their books in heavy boxes all over the universe when they speak. Clay, my trooper husband, planned all the conferences and traveled with us, but we needed help with all the books and equipment we hauled to conferences. So Joel, leaving the possibility of actually getting into his career, spent 8 months, helping me take care of Clay, the house, and hauling all the boxes and cash registers to all the mom's conferences and working hours on end, to help preserve Clay's back. He daily encouraged me amidst very challenging circumstances., while struggling to figure out if he was ever going to get to work in the music industry.
I kept telling him that I just knew God was going to bless him for being so faithful to our family. Every day, I kept asking God to open doors, even here in our very quiet home for Joel. Finally, Joel got a job at Apple and worked long hours, still helping me and working on his music, tucking it in between work and living and helping me at home. It was in this dead, quiet, "nothing happening season," that God miraculously gave him a contact with a composer in Los Angeles named Joseph Julian Gonzalez. A friend had recommended him to Joseph, and even though there were thousands of musicians in California where Joseph lived, he gave Joel a chance to help him orchestrate his original music, and from across the states, Joel worked at home and began to add all the instruments to Joseph's beautiful music.
Finally, Clay got better, and Joel was able to move to California to begin working full time on his music with many opportunities. Then, once again, life struck. Last spring, Clay's mom had a stroke. Again, Joel came home to help. He had to drive the 1000 miles again, eventually our sweet Nana died, and one more time Joel had to drive to Texas to clean out one more house, pack up one more truck and drive once again home. The past few months, with lots of people in and out of our home, lots of overwhelming responsibilities for me and for Clay, with more health issues, Joel has faithfully lived at home, helping me constantly with deadlines, work at home, while writing and orchestrating his music.
So many days when I needed a word from God, or an encouragement that this season of challenges would pass, Joel talked with me, bought me coffees, prayed with me and encouraged me in the Lord. The ways his life invested will never be measured this side of heaven. And so, it was while he was hidden, serving, giving, loving and believing in the times ahead where hope of easier days was born in his heart, that he found out by phone from Joseph, that their music had been picked up for the festival in Rome. God did a miracle for Joel while he faithfully helped out his mama and daddy.
Thank you, Joel, for all the dishes you washed this year, the meals you made, the boxes you carried, the times you served us and encouraged us tirelessly. That is why you are my hero.
When we look to the heroes of the Bible, we see that Joseph was in prison for 10 years before he became prime minister. Moses was in the desert for 40 years before he became the deliverer of the Jewish people. David was anointed king, but did not inherit both kingdoms and become king for many years of wandering in the desert without a home, in constant danger.
Sometimes I think mamas are the unsung heroes, working diligently every day, unseen, but shaping the world. And God faithfully sees and makes their work a treasure of beauty.
Joel and me in Boston, several years ago when he graduated from school.
God build heroes slowly because he wants them to have the character to sustain the integrity that true heroes have. it has been so with all of my children. They have all had battles to fight, choices to be faithful, hidden years when it seemed nothing was happening at all. These are the years we stay on our knees pounding the doors of heaven, giving words of encouragement, affirming that God is really listening even when it does not seem like it, and hoping to see Him work according to His promises. Sarah wanted to attend Oxford since she was 12 years old--she waited 18 years and finally God worked it out for us to be able to work out the finances at at time when she was accepted.
God calls very few to a life in the public arena, but He tests all of us as we follow our pathways, so that our hearts will learn steadfastness, humility and the devotion of living by faith--believing in what we cannot see.
So, as you are shaping your heroes in your home, and possibly waiting for some of your own dreams to begin working out, know that God is indeed at work, and He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it.