I was doing dishes praying for Karl (something I don't do nearly enough--pray or dishes) and I thought I should do a tribute to how I feel about him. WARNING: For those of you skeptics, this is probably going to be way too sappy, romantic, idealistic; however, it will hopefully also be true and breathe life into those who believe true, lasting love is highly improbable.
Karl Jay Black has many dimensions. Some see him as a highly gifted youth pastor. He has been, after all, for 10+ years. Even though he left his own youth--as far as the numbers go-- many years ago, he has always been able to connect with them. Even on bad days, he touches teens with his ability to listen. Not many of us do that anymore. I'm too busy trying to come up with something funny or meaningful to say. But not Karl. He is a good listener. This may be surprising because of his fairly severe ADHD, but it is true. Oftentimes after meeting with different youths, I've asked him what he said to them. While there are bits of wisdom that is shared, mostly he just listens deeply--with his ears, eyes, heart, and his spirit. Sometimes this has been hard for me to accept. I mean, what the teens were saying was wrong, darn it! He should tell them that! He should stear them along the right path! He should change their false perceptions! Yet, Karl knows that even if their thinking is wrong, speaking about it to someone who isn't receptive, is a waste of breath and time....so often, he simply listens.
Karl knows how to have fun. Whether it's with teens, his buddies, family, our kids, or someone he's just met, he's definitely not boring. Oh, the stories I could tell! Some that come to mind involve bungee jumping, wrestling on the floor with the boys, any sport imaginable, late night Playstation sessions, games at the Duell's, great fort-building, hot tubbing at Stahly's, wave surfing, camping, rock climbing, and climbing to the top of Oxbow's tower buck naked. There is always an abundance of laughter when Karl's ready for a good time.
Loyal doesn't begin to describe how Karl stands by people. The only time he got suspended in high school was when his best friend, Bryan Jones, was getting strangled on the basketball court and the refs didn't notice. Karl cleared that bench so fast...and a brawl shortly followed. Similarly, Karl may go years without talking with old friends, but he'd be there in a second if someone needed him. As a wife, I have also felt the weight of his loyalty. There are times (Shock!) when I have desperately failed in my "wifely" role. And yet these have been some of the times when I have felt the most grace, love, and compassion from my husband.
"God loves a cheerful giver." If there was no other verse to assure God's love, Karl wouldn't need to worry. He is always giving to others, and if he's not, he's frustrated. I remember when we were dating, I was blown away with the gifts Karl would give me. It was obvious that he knew how to bring joy through giving. He once told me an approximation of how much he spent on Christmas gifts for his surrogate family and I about fell over! Karl's giving, however, does not just extend to those he knows. Supporting missions agencies, the police, fire department, you name it. I used to get mad when we were first married because if any kid showed up at our door, I knew Karl would buy something from them. Later on in marriage, Karl would send all the youth group kids selling stuff to me so I could be the bad guy and tell them no! Now, Karl's giving heart does not just involve monetary gifts. He is also constantly giving of his time and his talents as well. This can be a challenge, in my opinion, when you're good at so many things! However, while he gives to others, he also gives to his family. I know it must get exhausting at times, trying to balance between all of us who need him, but he manages incredibly well.
Lastly, my husband is a man of integrity. For several years in college, he didn't call himself a Christian because he knew that the way he was living didn't match up with that name. The other day he made Braden put a little animal figurine in our neighbor's garage because he found it on the street by their driveway. He called the insurance company to confirm it was okay to sign some paperwork because he thought what he was agreeing to might not be true. He won't say something unless he lives it, and he won't live it unless it's right.
This may be one of easiest things I've ever written. I honestly could go on for many more paragraphs praising my husband, but then I might even make myself throw up. It's good to remember, though. When life gets crazy, relationships get strained, or a new beginning is fast approaching, it's so important to reflect on all that you love and respect about a person. These are a few of the things I love and respect about Karl. And whenever I see a teen's eyes light up or our boys run into their Daddy's arms when he they see him, I fall in love all over again and find myself in awe that I was blessed enough to marry this incredible man.