Ever since high school he knew an ominous kidney disease lay dormant in his body. However, with no symptoms and plenty of youthful optimism, college life was good. I met him in college. We were in love and our friendship was blossoming. I remember the night he called to disclose his medical diagnosis. He wanted to know, would this alter my decision to continue the romance which seemed destined for marriage? The prognosis for degeneration was a future far from the present. The carefreeness of being twenty- something had me believing we could beat the odds. And we knew our God was still very capable of mircles of healing.
Not until a toddler and an infant later in our 8 year marriage did slight symptoms show up. We adjusted and altered our life-style as needed and hoped for the best, relying on God's grace for the journey ahead. As the disease became more invasive Joe began dialysis treatment and was eventually added to the kidney donor list at the Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis. Life expectancy and quality of life after transplant was very promising.
Almost a year after starting dialysis, other unrelated symptoms developed. A month later he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and 29 days after that, Joe, at age 42, died and entered eternity with Jesus who he loved and anticipated meeting face to face.
I was privileged to share life with this wonderful man for a short time. This past Wednesday marked 19 years since his death. Today, I am remembering and honoring a man who loved and served well.
-- loved God and his family
--obtained a graduate degree in Social Work at 31 years of age
--served as an elder and four years as assistant pastor at our church
--full of wisdom and a sought after counselor
--overcame a rather severe speech impediment
--had no fear of death because he knew his God
Our three grown children are trophy's of God's grace. They have struggled and sorrowed and still bear the loss, but the Father of the fatherless has been faithful. I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death and have overcome the fear of evil and am convinced that my God is with me. One of my life's verses is Psalm 46:1. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. There were difficult and lonely days, but He never let go of me. Grace for unthinkable trouble can't be imagined ahead, but when faced with walking through the valley, God's grace is reality. You can count on it.
I am grateful to be married now to another wonderful man who has expanded my family to five children and at last count, 9 grandchildren.
What Joe taught our family by example and word will always be a part of who we are. We remember you today!