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  • Writer's pictureJoel Elliott Mooneyhan

Forty One.

Sometimes a year passes and a few things happen that overshadow everything else. It makes it feel like a year where the entire world shifted, while at the same time feeling like not much else has happened at all. The past 12 months have been one such year.

Stacey and I had our first child together, a little boy. He’s happy, strong, and healthy, with big bright eyes that capture the attention of everyone he sees. He’s the perfect Little Brother to his Big Sister, and she in turn loves him to the moon and back. Watching the two of them as they both grow into new roles in this big wild world—I’m glad that they have each other, and that Stacey and I have them.

We also grieved the loss of a pregnancy together. There isn’t much more that needs to be said about it, other than to say that no matter what stage of life a child is in, it is in fact a child, it does in fact have value, and it is a tragedy to lose one. But between our love for each other, our love for our kids, and God’s love for us, Stace and I have weathered the storm and emerged stronger together.

We started some side hustles: a bounce house business and a photography business. We landed at a new church. We’ve had various other ups and downs throughout the year, but none have moved the needle so much as the joy of new life and the grief of a life not born. In all of what we’ve been through together in the past year, there a few things that I know for certain:

I know I married the right woman.

You want someone who you more than just “get along with.” You want someone who is strong in the places you are weak. You want someone who helps you see your blindspots and isn’t afraid to call you out when you’re wrong. You want someone who you can pray with and who you can weep with. But you also want someone who you can laugh with—big, loud, laughter, where you lose your breath and your eyes water and you both look silly. You want someone you can carry on long, deep conversations with about big ideas. You want someone you can carry on insignificant conversations with just to pass the time. You want someone you can sit in absolute silence with just because you enjoy each other’s company.

You want someone who you can share your thoughts, your emotions, your hopes, and your fears with, no matter how unrealistic or silly they may seem, and know that the person you’re sharing them with hold them in trust and help you see them through, no matter what comes with them.

You want someone you can share the mundane things with—there are plenty of big moments, big reasons to celebrate or grieve, but those are fewer and further between than cooking meals, doing chores, running errands, feeding the kids, getting them off to school and picking them up. Those are the things that happen every single day. If you can handle those things together, and handle them well, then when the big moments come, you’ll handle those even better.

Stacey is my Great Love, and I’d never have made it through the last year—let alone the two before it, without her.

I know that my parents were right about so much more than I could ever have imagined—about life, about being a good Dad for my kids, about how to be a good husband for my wife. My parents embody a sense of partnership and self-sacrifice for one another and for their family that I have always hoped to emulate and now have more chances to practice than ever. Their wisdom shared and love given to Stacey and me over the past year has been immeasurable.

I know that I come from a great family. My sisters and brother and their families have always been a source of strength and encouragement. If you’re lucky, that never really goes away as your grow older. Call me lucky, then.

I know that when I married Stacey, I became a part of another great family. Every man hopes that he’ll wind up with in-laws who he likes and who like him—that’s the bare minimum you hope for. But when you find a woman whose family treats you like their own, who cheer you on and encourage you, who share in their culture and their history, and truly welcome you to become a part of it, you’ve got something wonderful.

Most importantly, I know that God is good, even when circumstances are not. I know that Christ saves us not only from sin, but from despair. I know that the Holy Spirit empowers us not just to do mighty things, but more often than not, to simply get through another week. That I get to share faith with someone as beautiful as Stacey, that I have the chance to pass that faith on to our kids, that I come from and have been made a part of families with deep reservoirs of that faith, is all the more a blessing.

What a year to look back on.

As for what’s to come, who can say? But I’ve got a wonderful companion beside me, a beautiful family around me, amazing people behind me, and a risen Savior ahead of me. That’s all I need to know to know that I’ll be okay.

Y’all take care and be good to one another.


September 25, 2023.


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