Crooked Places

The Letdown

From the look on his face I knew something was dreadfully wrong. But I was just a little indisposed for deep conversation, being firmly ensconced in the dentist chair for x-rays and a cleaning. He clutched Roman, our three month old, just a little too desperately and his eyes seemed suddenly puffy. It dawned on me in that surreal instant that tragedy doesn’t wait for a convenient moment to strike. When the hygienist  left the room for a minute Joel managed to say to me, “It’s all my fault, and I’m going to jail.”

“Just tell me what happened!” I demanded with a calm resolution my heart did not feel. Haltingly, my beloved husband of nearly fifteen years confessed his secret obsession with pornography, an addiction that had spiraled downward to take the form of child pornography. He’d just received a phone call from the church that was our landlord. They informed him that the police had arrived at our house that very morning with a search warrant and had confiscated all of our computers, hard drives, and other media. What timing–we were out of town on a ministry trip! The irony was painfully apparent, but I could not wrap my mind around it.
I don’t remember much of what I said or what he said. Somehow we managed to finish our appointments. Both older boys needed an orthodontic consult for braces. But that didn’t even phase me. Suddenly the expense and inconvenience of braces seemed so common place. My whole life was falling apart. Who could think about braces? It was as if I couldn’t even get my mind to work, to understand the normal, everyday things that were going on around me. I was in a total fog.

Joel and I had been missionaries with New Tribes Mission for over four years. We had spent three of those years serving as youth pastor and teacher at a missions’ school in Venezuela. Our lifelong dream was to serve God through ministering to missionary children (MK’s). We were back in the United States in transition because the political situation in Venezuela had deteriorated so severely.  As a result, the mission school where we worked had shrunk to less than half its original size and no longer needed our services. We had been living in the States for a year, working on partnership development and making plans to transition to another missionary school, possibly in the South Pacific.

Of course, I instinctively knew we would never work with MK’s again. It was doubtful that we could be missionaries ever again or even plan on leaving the United States. Our whole life was changing, our future spinning out of control.
Over the next several days I wandered around in a haze, walking and crying in the rain, poring over the Psalms, clutching my infant son close for comfort and contemplating escape…one sharp turn of the wheel over a bridge or into oncoming traffic. But I knew I couldn’t. I had three precious boys who needed me. And I knew God wouldn’t let me be so reckless with the gift of life that He had given. But I did pray that maybe God would see fit to just let me die. He didn’t.

I remember praying desperately, “O God, you are good and do only good.” (Psalms 119:68) as if it were the only string keeping me from utter desolation and complete insanity.

Jerry Sittser, in his book A Grace Disguised shares similar struggles. In one horrific car accident, his mother, wife and young daughter were all killed. He suggests that “at the core of loss is the frightening truth of our own mortality.” I was finding that to be profoundly true in my own life. My frailty was apparent in entirely new ways as I fought the gamut of raging emotions, from fear, to horror, to desperate sorrow.

One of the biggest struggles I faced, was the randomness of pain and how tragedy strikes without warning. I was suddenly living in the middle of raw emotions all the time, while still having to listen to others discuss simple every day issues. People laughing and chatting about the most recent news in sports, or the flavor of custard at Culvers just seemed so out of place to me. I wanted to scream, “Don’t you know, none of that matters anymore? My world is falling apart. My beloved has betrayed me! Who cares about custard!” I knew I could not expect other people to enter into the pain I felt; it simply was not their pain to bear, it was mine. Further, most people I was interacting with, didn’t even know I was facing such excruciating circumstances.

At first we really did not know how messy the situation would get. Joel talked on the phone with the police officer in charge of the case who told us it would be all right to continue our trip. We had planned to be gone for almost two more weeks. In some ways this was a blessing, as we had a family wedding to attend, some time camping in the Black Hills on the agenda, and many friends and family to reconnect with. In other ways, every day seemed like a prolonging of the inevitable, and although I dreaded “facing the music,” part of me just wanted to get it over with.

The investigator in charge of the case had also told us that Joel would need to go in for a police interview when he got home, but it could take a while for the investigation to be complete and for any potential arrest to occur. Thus the waiting game began.

Knowing so little, we decided not to tell everyone yet, though Joel did contact New Tribes Mission immediately and he also spoke with one of the pastors at our home church.

I, on the other hand, had no one to talk to. Since we were traveling, we were thousands of miles away from my sisters and parents. One of the most brutal struggles I faced in those early days was the overwhelming aloneness. Joel was really struggling with grief, guilt, frustration, and a sense of helplessness. He was also having to deal with related business–our position with New Tribes Mission, the pastors of our home church, and even acquiring a lawyer.

Joel did not think he deserved my love and forgiveness, although he knew I would never leave him. He didn’t really know how to reach out to me and meet me in my suffering without making the pain worse. It was as if he saw himself as salt and thought drawing close to me in my wounded state would only cause more excruciating pain. Both of us were experiencing such a torrent of raw emotions. I think Joel felt like he had no comfort to offer me, and while he wanted to come clean with me about everything, there were parts of his clandestine life that he just could not express in a way that I could comprehend.

So I found myself in an entirely new situation, a path of agony and despair that I felt destined to walk alone, a hurt that my dearest friend and lover could not enter into with me. Yes, Joel was grieving. But we were not standing together against an outside force that had caused us immeasurable pain. Instead, Joel was recoiling at the horror of his own decisions and reaping the consequences his own sin had inflicted, while I was reeling from the utter impossibility of it all.

The Storm Intensifies
On December 18,2008 nearly six months after the initial warrant and interview, we rushed out the door for school, and were met by half a dozen black vehicles and armed federal agents. We had been assured previously by the police officer in charge of the case that this would not happen. She had told us that because of Joel’s honesty and cooperation, he would be ordered to turn himself in when the evidence proved to be enough for an arrest. So this was a real shock. Of course six months of hearing nothing had also fueled our hopes that maybe the call would never come.

It was as if icy water followed by hot coals had been thrown in my face as I took in the scene of my husband’s arrest. I had the presence of mind to usher the boys back into the house where I made them sit and wait in stunned silence. I then rushed back outside, begging to know the charges, and where they were taking him. Joel told me where to find the lawyer’s phone number and to call him right away. After Joel was handcuffed, tears rolling down his anguished face, they let me kiss him goodbye. It was the most agonizing moment I had ever had to face. In a surreal moment I realized that these people standing around in my yard, treating my husband as a dangerous man, had no concept of who we really were. Again, I felt the anguish of a ruined reputation.  Thus began the most excruciating and longest day of my life to date.

I was desolate, and as I reentered the house, I could hear the panicked sobs of Jaden. Marshall sat next to him tears silently trickling down his cheeks.

I will never know how, but we made it through that first hour of uncertain agony. I called Tammy, my sister and best friend, immediately. She was right down the road on her way to the meeting spot for a ride to school, so arrived in short order. I also called my parents and younger sister Dar, all of whom came right away. So I was surrounded by loving, caring family in a matter of minutes.

But none of us knew what to do besides calling the lawyer. A strange emptiness and helplessness pervaded. I was relieved that both boys decided they wanted to go ahead to school because I did not know what I would do with them all day waiting and wondering. One of my close friends was Marshall’s teacher, and my grandma was Jaden’s teacher so I knew they would have the loving support they needed.

The day of Joel’s arrest was our first knowledge of the case having been turned over to the Federal court. When I contacted the lawyer that Joel had previously consulted with, he was not only brusque on the phone, but refused to take the case because it had gone federal. But he did give me a very important piece of information–a referral to a lawyer in Orlando who did take federal cases.

My day was filled with obtaining a lawyer and preparing to be at the courthouse by 3 PM for the bond hearing Joel was to receive. My family jumped to my aid. With little funds of my own, I did not know how I would secure a lawyer. But Joel’s parents offered the financial aid immediately. And even as my brain felt like mush, God enabled me to make wise decisions.

The hearing brought additional agony as the prosecution described pictures,  and videos of a very graphic nature that had been found on Joel’s hard drives. I actually knew physical pain as my heart broke. Joel was clearly broken. I longed to hold him and cry together.

At the same time I was repulsed and horrified at the secret compulsion that had been a part of my  beloved husband’s life, now so boldly exposed. Questions flew through my mind. How could they be saying these things about the man I loved, the man I was married to and committed to for life? I knew him better than this! And yet, the look on his face, and previous admissions to me, let me know these accusations were accurate.  I loved him still, but I wondered if he might actually be broken beyond my ability to help. Finding myself helpless to change my circumstances, and helpless to change my husband was excruciating, yet strangely freeing. It released me from a self-imposed responsibility and threw me at the mercy of a loving and trustworthy God.

The lawyer I had retained was wise, honest, and kind. The judge in Joel’s bond hearing was fair minded and objective. Before we had arrived at the courthouse, the lawyer had called me to tell me the prosecution was requesting that Joel be remanded without bond. This would mean that he would be held in county jail until  his trial which could take weeks or even months. This seemed absurd to me, the kind of treatment that should be reserved for dangerous criminals. I could not make myself understand that they viewed my husband as just that, a dangerous criminal! I was horrified at the accusations the prosecution threw at my husband. Some I knew were true, but others were ridiculous stretches of sketchy information in an effort to malign him further.  Our lawyer, of course, had had little time to prepare any sort of defense, but was well-seasoned in criminal law.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of debate, Joel  was released to home confinement instead of being sent to county jail. The security guard who escorted us from the courthouse told us how “lucky” we had been. “You got the only judge in the district who would release to home confinement on a case like this.” He told us.

“Lots of people were praying.” I assured him. I knew no luck had been involved. The sovereign hand of my Savior and Lord had moved on our behalf to arrange just the right judge, and the right lawyer. My faith was bolstered by this obvious intervention…….


The Verdict is In
There were many setbacks during the time period between Joel’s arrest and his sentencing hearing. We had complicated meetings and phone calls with the attorney as a plea agreement was discussed. I cherished each day we had together, but felt a constant awareness of the impending future.
Finally, the  sentencing hearing was set for May 22, 2009, the boys’ first day of summer vacation. I found myself anticipating that day with a mixture of dread and  resignation. Part of me was just longing to “get it over with.” But at the same time I knew whatever happened on May 22 would really be marking a new beginning for us. Maybe a formidable beginning of many months or even years apart.
On May 5, almost three weeks before the looming date of the hearing I wrote these words in my journal:
My heart feels like it’s bleeding out and tears come randomly. I find myself in this abyss of agony     with a panicked notion that I may sink even further. Ezra 7:28b says, “I felt encouraged because     the gracious hand of the Lord my God was on me.” Oh, God, PLEASE put your gracious hand on     me!
Each day carried its own dread, and I was not used to recoiling from the future. It felt like a strange about-face from the anticipation I had felt while waiting for our wedding. Such a joy that countdown had held. This on the other hand was like watching a car accident in slow motion: one long, drawn-out, panic-stricken wait for the inevitable.  I wondered what it must be like for cancer patients who have been told they have only a few weeks or months left to live. It would have been easy to let the dread consume us, and on some days, it did. But overall we,  by God’s grace made the most of the time we had together and purposed to let Him hold the future.
We spent our last day together, trying to cram in as much time with family as possible.  Joel took the boys out to a movie and to dinner at their favorite pizza place. I wanted to join them because being away from Joel was so painful, but I also knew they needed this time with their dad. So I found my way over to my older sister’s and wiled away the time with her.
Tammy is incredibly intelligent, has a strong abiding sense of justice, is precise about everything she does, and maintains an unusually high standard for herself and those around her. She maintains a high level of decorum at all times and is private about her emotions.  Tammy is also loving, patient, constantly aware of God’s hand in things, though not unwilling or incapable of offering her case up before Him, and perhaps most importantly, is unfailingly loyal. I, on the other hand, have been known to be hasty to a fault. I am energetic, impulsive, and fun-loving. I am strong-willed and don’t mind standing out in a crowd. She and I have always been the most unlikely best friends. However, our friendship has grown from the time we were little girls, and she was the person I knew I could rely on to be with me in the pain I was experiencing on that last day before the inevitable hearing. She would not try to fix my pain or even ease it. She would just be with me.

After their time out, Joel and the boys returned and we regrouped at our house with other family surrounding us with their love and support. When everyone had gone home, Joel and I spent the remainder of the evening and ensuing night sharing in our grief, discussing what we were saying goodbye to, and what we hoped God would do. We ended the night by praying together before fitful sleep mercifully enveloped us both.

Although much grief surrounded May 22, God’s loving care through His precious people is what I will always remember as I look back. The courtroom was full of family and friends. My dad sat at my right and my sister, Tammy, to my left holding my hand.
When I was asked to testify, I felt as if God just pored His words right through me. I declared my love and forgiveness of Joel comparing it to that of Christ for us, though in such small measure. In that moment I knew the love of my Savior like I had never known it before. And I felt a deep, abiding love for Joel  as a result.

Before the judge handed down his sentence, he looked out at his full courtroom and commented, “I do not know if I have ever seen my courtroom this full, especially not in a case like this.” Then he looked at Joel and said, “ You are a truly blessed man to have these kinds of friends.” It was clear how remarkable he found the support and love with which we were surrounded.

As we left the courtroom–Joel having been sentenced to an eternity of 63 months and led away under armed guard–I could feel God’s glory in that place. He had been honored and would be honored in our lives, in spite of our sin and its consequences, in spite of and indeed through the pain of our separation. Romans 8:28 was being fulfilled in and through our own lives.

Nevertheless, I felt as if I had just been tossed into a whirlpool and was being swept away as Joel attempted to call me from county jail that first evening with limited success. For one reason or another we could not seem to connect, and I knew I could not return his calls. I kept hoping he would try again, and fearing that he would not. I knew he was equally desperate to talk to me, but I had no idea how the phone system would work in the county jail and how long he would have to keep trying. A feeling of desperation and helplessness engulfed me.  And my new reality threatened to overwhelm me.

If God had not been so faithfully working into my life, His precious assurances, I do not know how I would have survived that first day. I was reassured and comforted by the prayers and support of our family and friends.

But in some ways this only added to my agony as I kept thinking of Joel alone in an unfamiliar setting, with no one to comfort him. I was nearly frantic as I attempted to process what his new reality must be like.
Facing the Music
Going back to our house and packing up Joel’s clothes  and other belongings haunted me. I did notwant to leave his stuff out lying around, but I did not want to put it away either. Both options were abhorrent, one for the constant reminder that he was gone, and the other for the finality of knowing he was gone. Fresh waves of agony undulated through our home as I sorted his belongings, choosing what should be packed away and kept, and what should be donated to some charity. My sister and mom lovingly joined me in the agonizing task. With methodical detachment I managed to sort his belongings. I was thankful to have something from Daddy’s stuff to give to each of the older boys, a small reminder of their dad even when he was far away. In the end, the task was done, and even though I felt an acute emptiness around the house, I knew it was the only practical step to take given the length of his sentence.

Neither of us had anticipated how rough county jail would be. Fighting was common and Joel spent most of his time in protective custody because of threats against him. Inmates have their own criteria for rating crimes and since they assumed Joel had done more than store illegal images, he was low man on the totem pole as far as most were concerned. Joel, who already felt a deep sense of disgust and self-reproach, felt intensely their rejection and harassment.

Protective custody also meant little to no time in the yard, locked up in his cell 24/7, and limited access to a phone for calls to me.  He wasn’t even allowed regular showers since that meant leaving his cell and required guard escorts. His frustration and helplessness escalated through instances like repeatedly asking for a pencil to write me and waiting for days on end until a guard finally decided to get him one. Simple things like not having a watch or a clock to look at added to the mind game he was playing. Half the time he didn’t know if it was morning or evening. There was no system or standard. Joel was simply at the mercy of the guards’ whims.

Joel was indeed learning through the incredible academy of loss, that Jesus is enough. When everything was stripped away and he found himself helplessly waiting on an uncaring prison guard for even his most basic needs, he found that God is enough. Joel wrote in one of his letters, “I still struggle daily with trusting Him with the details of what I perceive to be my needs, but I keep coming back to the fact that HE IS my greatest need.”

Often, as I lay at night, painfully aware of the emptiness of our king size bed, I would beg God to feel His presence, to know His closeness in a new way that would allay the hurt and let me sleep.  And many nights what kept me from sleeping was my concern for Joel and his safety. There were so many unknowns for him and so much that I could not find out in our short phone conversations and visits every few days.

I remember one day in particular when I went to visit Joel, being turned away. I was told he had been moved into protective custody. Joel had not called me or told me of any move. But he had shared with me just the morning before, that he was concerned for his safety after seeing a story in the paper about his crime. Since I had not had a phone call for a couple days and they would not explain to me what the move meant, I began to fear the worst. Desperate to hear from Joel, I tried calling our lawyer and later the chaplain of the jail. After what seemed like an eternity of waiting and several phone calls, I was informed that Joel was fine, but had been moved for his own safety and the phone in the area where he was moved, was out of order, so he could not make calls. Although I was relieved, I was still desperate to see Joel and talk to him, to know that he really was okay. These kinds of issues, tore at my heart. My helplessness constantly threw me into the arms of my Savior.

I also found myself in the frustrating situation of waiting in line to get a visiting slot and often finding out that his visiting hours had changed and I would have to try again another day. Visiting was a real challenge, but we both were so desperate to see one another, that I worked very hard at following the system and getting there every time he was allowed to have visit.

One afternoon as I was expressing these burdens to my younger sister, Dar Gail, she wisely commented, “I perceive that you are having an easier time trusting God with yourself, than you are with Joel.”

“Of course,” I replied, “Because I know what is going on with us, and we are in a predictable environment.” But even as I answered her, I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Was I really trusting God at all? If I could only trust Him with known circumstances, what kind of trust was that. I had to relinquish control and my desire to fix things and allow God to be enough, not only for me, but also for my precious, suffering husband.

One of the most painful parts of those visits was the glass between us. We could see each other and hear each other, but not touch or feel each other. We could not hold back the tears as Roman, then barely one would bang on the glass and yell, “Dada.”
It was one thing to believe Jesus was enough for me. It was quite another to come to the realization that He is enough for each one of us, whether we are together or apart in this crisis. Joel’s deepest needs would be met by God Himself, even in a lonely prison sell. My children would find comfort in Him. When I could not be both mommy and daddy to them, He would be enough. God supplies our greatest need with Himself.

23 Responses to "Crooked Places"

  • Hi Tabitha,
    Finally had a chance to read this in your blog.. I knew a lot of these details from Jana, but had never been able to read about your perspective of it all. Tough stuff for sure. I can only imagine what that longest day might have been like. But I do know the kind of hard things that throw you on God’s grace alone. The only place we can go to receive grace and mercy in time of need. Oh how wonderful is our Savior. Wish we could see you and have a nice long visit. We are praying for what God has in the future for you all, and for the nitty gritty of getting thru each day. Love you dear.. A. Teresa

    1 Teresa Dyck said this (July 3, 2011 at 9:10 pm) Reply

  • Wow. I cannot thank you enough for writing this all Tabitha! It is tremendous to hear how God has used this incredibly difficult thing to draw you closer to Himself. Thanks for allowing Him to do that in your life!!!
    Love you…Kara

    2 Kara said this (July 4, 2011 at 8:20 pm) Reply

    • Thanks for subscribing to my blog…for your prayers, love, and interest in our family. Love ya!

      3 Tabitha Joy said this (July 5, 2011 at 3:48 pm) Reply

  • Tabitha, all I can say is that Lori and I love you, Joel and the children and we’re praying for the swift restoration of your family. Let us know if there is anything we can do.

    4 John Pfannerstill said this (July 6, 2011 at 3:45 am) Reply

  • Tabitha, this is so beautifully written. I wept as I read of your pain and feelings of helplessness. I look forward to reading more of your story as it develops. God is always doing amazing things.

    5 Helena said this (July 6, 2011 at 4:16 am) Reply

  • Thanks for letting us see into your heart and what you went through. Love you!

    6 Shilo said this (July 6, 2011 at 12:36 pm) Reply

  • I so appreciate you sharing how things went and how they continue for you and your family, it certainly directs how I pray for you. PTL, His mercies are new every morning!

    7 Lori said this (July 6, 2011 at 6:46 pm) Reply

  • You express this so well. I remember those days and the feeling of helplessness and it brings the tears to read of it again. We were all so helpless I remember just fighting for a way to help against the impossible wall of the ridiculous rules and knowing that no matter what we could do to try to help you were the one that was bearing the load of being without him daily as you still do. It makes me think of walking thru the valley of the shadow of death. There is a place that only God can really go with us. Your walk there with him inspires me to know His presence is what untimately matters the most.

    8 Tammy said this (July 7, 2011 at 3:44 pm) Reply

  • So sorry, Tabitha. Sorry that it happened, that sin affects people other than the one who commits it, and that you have to endure such anguish. But you are right — God is there to work some kind of good through the worst of things, and He is clearly there for you.
    Thank you for sharing your heart.

    9 LH said this (July 7, 2011 at 9:56 pm) Reply

  • Thanks for sharing this, Tabitha. I cried through this, but it is wonderful to see what God has taught you through it. I have always said, I would never want to repeat some of the trials God has brought our way, but I am so thankful for the things He taught me through it. To God be the glory!

    10 Cindy said this (July 8, 2011 at 7:48 am) Reply

  • P.S. When someone I care about suffers (sometimes self-inflicted and deserved suffering), I think of a saying — “You don’t love someone because they are good; you love them because they are yours.”
    On the one hand, I think all relationships are a responsibility, so we have to choose carefully to whom we open our hearts completely. On the other hand, I think God has given every single one of us at least one person in our lives who has somehow torn our hearts as we wish we could turn back the hands of time and help them to make different choices for the sake of their own happiness and walk with God.
    In the end, you can only make your own choices, trusting God to help you be faithful and kind regardless of what happens, realizing that bitterness only distorts our perspectives and inflicts further pain, and knowing that He is always, always there for the loved one as well, through the darkness.

    11 LH said this (July 8, 2011 at 9:15 am) Reply

  • Hi Tabitha. I’ve recently signed up for your blog and have been reading about what has been going on in your life. What a journey! It’s such an encouragement to see you walking so close to God. It’s amazing what we can endure when we allow God to lead us. Please tell Joel that we are praying for him. We are also praying for you and your family. God is a redeeming God and His redemptive love is unfailing. I truly believe he will redeem and restore Joel. You are an encouragement to me and I pray that you continue walking with God. May God richly bless you and your family.
    Jeanne Dawson Bennett

    12 Jeanne said this (July 21, 2011 at 8:29 pm) Reply

    • Thanks for your encouragement. I am so glad you have subscribed to the blog! God is a redeeming God. The very fact that he relentlessly pursues us, is beyond my ability to understand. But we see that He is exactly that kind of God–He will never let us go. Thanks for your prayers; they are much needed and appreciated.

      13 Tabitha Joy said this (July 21, 2011 at 9:47 pm) Reply

  • Wow Tabitha, thanks for opening up your soul for us. I can only imagine how very difficult this has and is for your family. You are a blessing and I am sure many are going to take away valuable truths from your honesty. I will be more diligent in praying for you and that through this you will be able to comfort others. Thanks for sharing. – Anita Roundy

    14 Anita Roundy said this (July 25, 2011 at 9:01 am) Reply

    • Thank you for your prayers and encouragement. I am grateful for the opportunities that God has given me to share His goodness and spread abroad the truth of His faithfulness. It is a privilege.

      15 Tabitha Joy said this (July 26, 2011 at 7:53 pm) Reply

  • You are an amazingly brave woman! I can see the very power of God through your testimony here and am amazed at His faithfulness to you. God bless you!!!

    16 Jungle Mom said this (July 27, 2011 at 5:43 pm) Reply

  • Hi Tabitha,
    Thank you for sharing your story. It took a lot of courage! I appreciate your candidness, and it has inspired me to pray even more for you both, and to share your testimony of faith with others who are struggling with trusting God.
    Praying for you,

    17 Judy White said this (August 3, 2011 at 6:57 pm) Reply

    • Thank you, Judy. It is amazing how God pursues us, using anything and everything to draw us to himself. I appreciate the prayers!

      18 Tabitha Joy said this (August 5, 2011 at 10:34 pm) Reply

  • Thank you for your openness in sharing what God is doing in and thru you. You are an inspiration to each one your life touches.

    19 Carol Mahan said this (August 9, 2011 at 4:14 pm) Reply

  • Hello Tabitha, thank you for sharing this. It is a blessing to hear how God has been faithful to meet each need of EACH member of your family. Your testimony really shows the beauty of the Lord and His care for you. My father was in prison for three and a half years. My Mom’s testimony of how God met her needs was similar to yours. It is a unique pain, a lonely one… there would be no real comfort without the Lord and Christians who know something about forgiveness and love. I know you are walking a tough road. Your walk with the Lord is leading your husband and children. I have always remembered the dependence my mom showed upon the Lord and it caused me to grow up with the knowledge of badly we need Him and how He makes a weak one strong. Lots of love from the Schaadts. Praying for you.

    20 Katherine Schaadt said this (October 5, 2011 at 11:35 am) Reply

  • I’m laid up with my second back surgery and now have time to be online more often. May God cover each of you daily with His love and protection. May His strong arms hold you each close and be the EVERYTHING you each need one day at a time. Your journey has been and will be intense as you continue to walk the path called suffering. Thanks for sharing..

    21 Linda Myers said this (March 31, 2012 at 3:29 pm) Reply

  • I have just read the above, words can not express how sorry I am to hear of your story. AND yet of course, God has a purpose in the healing and in the restoration. I understand you have written a book. I am sure you will bless others even in the pain and suffering you and your family has endured. Oh, the Lord is at work even in our failures.
    I would love to hear from you. May God provide for you in this housing need and in all ways. I will be praying for you.

    22 Bev Kish said this (July 8, 2012 at 10:35 pm) Reply

  • We have met at Fort Smith Baptist when we had a condo in St. Pete. I cannot wait to read your book and I will make a point of getting it as soon as I am able. You have gone through something only a very small percentage of Christians could expect to go through. You have done it with dignity, honesty and grace. The Lord is glorified in every blog and only through Him is this possible. Thank you for your faithfulness and dedication to telling the story and I will be praying that your family will be restored to wholeness soon. This is reality and it isn’t pretty but God has been with you, Joel and your family the entire time! He is good!

    23 Melora Sturkenboom said this (July 31, 2012 at 1:55 pm) Reply

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