I first met Mariel in 2000 while we were still in high school. I was immediately and completely drawn to her kind, joyful, playful attitude and her selfless care for, and sincere interest in, others. I was blessed by becoming her friend and getting to know her better over the next several years, and we married in 2006. It is a supreme blessing to be married to such a caring, loving woman, and as our marriage grows, the more these deepest characteristics of her heart are evident and reinforced and the more intensely I love her for them.
God blessed us with our first child in 2009. I experienced with Mariel a tearful joy in welcoming our daughter to the world. Both our hearts overflowed with love. God granted us this same joy three more times with three boys over the next 6 years and each time, I was utterly overwhelmed by the happiness and love beaming from Mariel as she held our children in her arms. Our children are now ages 8, 5, 3, and 2 and growing fast. I have seen firsthand Mariel's motherly love for them all these years, and it has never wavered. She has lovingly given all of herself to caring for our children, selflessly sacrificing for their benefit and joyfully dedicating herself to being their mother and teacher. She finds endless satisfaction in engaging them in new ways each day and cultivating a home that nurtures them physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. She has instilled inquisitiveness, thoughtfulness, concern for others, and love for God in each of our children in a way that only a loving, Faith-filled parent could. As a result, our children have thrived in their homeschooling, and the qualities I love so much in Mariel are budding in their hearts as well. She spends such intentional time with all of them that it has a direct impact on them and our whole family has grown immensely close.
She is one of the most patient people I've ever met. She listens sincerely, disciplines firmly but gently, and lovingly redirects our children's normal boundary-pushing and rowdy behavior to other constructive behavior while also teaching them to work on managing their emotions as they grow. She takes constant care to turn even the most ordinary activities (i.e. a trip to the park or the zoo) into an activity that engages them on many levels. She is also an expert time manager, planning and getting ahead of things throughout the day to prevent frustration in our children. I have always been amazed at the way she disciplines and guides the kids with an infectiously positive attitude that has deeply influenced them and me.
Two things that have permeated our family life thanks to Mariel are Bible memorization and hymn singing. Some of the sweetest moments I've enjoyed with our family include the times we all recite Bible passages and sing hymns together. I also love watching Mariel sing softly and pray over the children while they lie in their beds in their darkened room at bedtime. Mariel is fully committed to her goal to make our home one that is filled with truths about God and which constantly points to Jesus. Because of this, I've seen many times our kids praying, singing, and reading their children's Bibles on their own, and seeing them discuss God over bowls of Cheerios in the morning is a fantastically common occurrence. Mariel's strong faith has been evident from the moment I've met her, but especially in the midst of difficult times like our current one, it has shone forth even brighter and is a huge inspiration to me and those around her.
Mariel's loving care hasn't been limited to our own children. For the last several years she has cared for a few other children of friends through church, and I've also been there to see her overflow with the same love and joy in having them in our home as well. These children are like our own when Mariel is caring for them, and the gentleness and love shown to them by her has clearly been evident to our children, who as a result also became very close to them and have shown them the same gentleness. Our daughter especially has taken great joy in helping get diapers and milk for, playing games with, and in general helping care for these other children as if they were her own siblings (whom she has also always gladly helped care for in clear imitation of her mother).
The woman I love, my wife, has been blessed by God with an endlessly giving and loving heart--that has been gloriously obvious since the moment I first met her. I have seen her interact with, love unconditionally, and give herself for both our own children and those others whom she treats as her own. I have been graciously absorbed into her family (by her two sisters and her parents, who share the same God-given attributes as Mariel's), and have seen her show the same love, patience, and kindness to my family, her many nieces and nephews, and all of our friends and their children. My parents and siblings adore my wife. We have had countless sleepovers, birthday parties, play dates, and other celebrations, and what always rings true throughout them all is that Mariel absolutely adores children. As we navigate this very difficult time together, I have seen her faith shine through and her concern and love for others flow forth even in the midst of it. I am eternally grateful that God blessed me with a marriage and parenting partnership with such an amazing woman and have been greatly encouraged and inspired by the impact she has had on so many others. It utterly breaks my heart that anyone could be led to believe that she is capable of harming any child. Anyone that has known Mariel, even for a short time, knows that she carries in her heart nothing but love and devotion to her own children and all other children she meets.
Many things are uncertain in this season, and I’m praying fervently that God would not allow our family to be divided or my lovely wife and our kids’ loving mother to be separated from us.