Thirty years ago today, at 10:50 pm the world was given a gift like no other. He came in the form of a little white-haired, blue-eyed, beautiful baby boy who we named Joel Chesley Watters. God breathed into this treasure a gentle and kind personality, a strong work ethic and a winning smile. Today I remember this son of ours. Happy Birthday, Joel!
You were the one sent to be our glorious "middle" child. The one who never tried to fix anyone but who always made an effort to get along with everyone. You made us laugh and asked us to throw that ball one-more-time as you sang and whistled with a bounce in every step. Climbing trees, huge rocks and walls gave you unique ways of exploring and experiencing "dangerous" wanderings. You were the one everyone liked; the one boy in the Sunday school class full of girls. The one who adored his big brother and played endlessly with his little sister. The one who smiled and cried exuberantly, who so wanted to get it right. The artist. The musician. The team mate. The good reliable friend. The runner. The prom date. The violin player. The one who listened and embraced. The one who put that angel on the Christmas tree - every year- while balancing on your dad's back. The one who cut open his chin on the air conditioner, and the first to get stitches while mom nearly passed out watching you. Your love of big old trees led to countless visits to Old Henry at the Indian Creek Nature Center and the pointing out of favorite oaks on every car ride anywhere. You are the one who ran beautifully, like the breeze, while fully embracing cross country running, teammates and great coaches.
Five years ago you picked a wife who is just right for you! You have become a real doctor, a carpenter, builder, painter and restorer of an old house, antique lover, writer and book maker. You do laundry, cook, change diapers, read stories and wrestle, coming alongside Rachel to parent well. You come home happy, eager to play and make your children laugh. You take your faith seriously and truly want to be an honest follower of God. Aware of your own brokenness you strive to be real which makes you able to come alongside others. You enthusiastically play basketball, ultimate frisbee, flag and fantasy football. You cross country ski, go biking and have plans to visit all the National Parks. Taking care of people in physical pain is your gig and with gentle firm hands you guide them to wholeness. Your insistence has led to many years of White-Watters' foot ball games during Thanksgiving weekend and your desire for family time has led to watching innumerable games while packed in our little TV room in our big old house.
While honoring and encouraging us as parents, you aren't afraid to let us know when we mess up. At the same time you are quick to forgive and to invite again. You and Rachel have given us two darling babies to love and embrace. Your love of home and family truly blesses us.
With open heart, a genuine desire, you are one to be respected.
God has been gracious to our family by planting you in our midst. We love and remain truly thankful for you in every way. May you feel celebrated today.
(Thanks to Hannah White for photos.)