Jeff's birthday is just around the corner.
Last year, we were apart on his birthday, because Jeff was on a work-related trip. Ditto for the year before that. This year ... sometime in early January, Jeff told me about a couple of work trips he'd need to take in March and April. "Okay," I said. "Alexa and I will be fine. But you're not going to be gone on your birthday for the third year in a row, are you?"
Fate is laughing at me. We carefully arranged for Jeff's trips to be before and after, but not during, his birthday. For the first time in three years, Jeff will be home for his birthday. For the first time in three years, I will not. I won't be there to bake or buy a cake, to give him his gift, or even to kiss him good morning. But despite my physical absence, I hope for him to know--in his head and in his heart--that I'm with him in spirit, that I respect and love him, and that I am profoundly grateful and proud to be the wife of such a wonderful man.
My wonderful man is a devoted husband. He constantly tells me and shows me that he loves me. From buying little (and not-so-little) gifts "just because" to seeing to my safety when I refuse to do so myself, Jeff makes it clear that with him, I am loved, and I am safe physically and psychologically.
My wonderful man is a loving father. Alexa never will have reason to doubt that she is the apple of her father's eye. In the short time that she has been with us, I have watched with joy and bemusement as she has wrapped her father securely around her little finger. From playing peek-a-boo to changing beyond-dirty diapers with nary a complaint, Jeff quietly demonstrates day in and day out that he loves his daughter more than life itself and that he is devoted to her well-being.
My wonderful man is a diligent provider. He works long hours when necessary to provide the money our family needs. He works under good circumstances and, like now, under less than ideal circumstances. Like everyone, he has times when he just doesn't want to do it, but he always pushes through in order to provide the best service he can at work and to provide for our needs at home. He curbs his own desires in order to ensure that our future needs are met, spending far less today than he could in order to provide for our future as well as our present.
My wonderful man is a good friend, not just to me, but to others. I have watched him maintain relationships that I and many others would have written off, because he sees the good person hidden beneath the thorns. He is a good judge of character, too--I've watched thorns recede to show the world what my husband was able to discern years ago. Through the good times and through the bad times, Jeff is a supportive and dedicated friend.
My wonderful man is a person of integrity. I shared before how his principled stand first attracted my attention. Jeff consistently thinks through the morality of his decisions before he takes action. He was one of the first people I ever heard support copyright law when file sharing services like Napster became popular. Even today, as we look at buying new phones for use overseas (therefore needing unlocked ones), he pointed out how buying jail broken phones is, in effect, stealing from the mobile company that subsidized the phone's purchase in anticipation of future revenues. As a result, we will spend significantly more money in order to buy factory-unlocked phones, but we will be behaving with integrity in the purchase. Jeff wouldn't have it any other way--he will provide for his family, and he will not be wasteful, but he also will not cheat anyone else along the way.
My wonderful man is a person of compassion. He ensures that we give, over and above our tithe, directly to people and organizations that assist the less fortunate. He buys the little packs of Kleenex from Cairo's street children. He gives to beggars on the metro. When I approached him with a request to purchase supplies for the impoverished children of Kentucky--who routinely lose 15 lb over the summer because of the absence of free school lunches, which provide most of their nutrition during the rest of the year--he told me to double the amount I'd hoped to spend. He suggested that we donate to special projects at our church in the wake of the revolution. I know that when he becomes aware of a need, we soon will be looking through our budget, finding a little here and a little there, so that we can help meet that need.
My wonderful man is a man of faith. His strong Christian faith guides him in all of these other areas. His faith informs his beliefs and his actions in every aspect of his life, from his politics to his work to his family life and more. He is a shining example of a man defined and molded by his faith in Jesus Christ.
My wonderful man. All I hoped for in a husband. All I dreamed of in a father for my child(ren). The role model I pray my daughter will look to when she one day chooses a husband and father for her children.
Happy birthday to my wonderful man.
I love you, Jeff.