Sixteen years ago today, it was an unseasonably balmy 50-degree day in central Ohio, and girls all over the state were crying their eyes out because the hot young 21-year-old sports star/cool guy/camp counselor known as Gabe the Babe was about to be officially OFF THE MARKET.

(That didn’t stop one delightfully-desperate young lady in his high school graduating class from calling him up three days before, just in case he had cold feet and might change his mind and marry her instead.)

We were two crazy kids professing our undying love for each other and sailing off into the sunset toward lands and adventures unknown (aka, a little apartment in Warsaw, Indiana where I’d be a substitute teacher and the Babe would finish his college degree).

Three kiddos (and 11? homes) later, we are still madly (and miraculously) in love (hoping to release an e-book later this year about our rough go of it the past two years).

And, in honor of our special day, here (in no particular order) are 16 things I love about Gabe the Babe:

1. He’s ridiculously handsome. (Cuter now than when we first met.)

2. He’s the BEST girl dad EVER. (He was not a fan of our children as tiny, howling infants, but he just gets better and better with time and has some crazy sense of how to relate to our teen and pre-teen daughters, even though he’s never been a girl or had any sisters.)

3. He’s amazingly relational. (People who meet him for the first time are instantly drawn to him. And, whereas, I can often freeze up and not know what to say to someone new, he always has the perfect thing.)

4. He’s super-gifted and knowledgeable about all things computer and internet. (Can’t put a price tag on that one.) (Oh, drat. He just came into the living room and caught me writing this post–it was supposed to be a secret. I put my hand over the screen and asked him not to look, and he said he wouldn’t. He’d just go back to his computer, log into my site, and read it. Nice.)

5. He wants me to succeed–personally, professionally, and in all the other ways–and will do all he can to make it happen. (Like tell the newly-married personal banker at Huntington that he needs to read my book. And take him a copy.)

6. Everyday life has been an extra-big challenge for him these past two years (heart attack, then anxiety), but no matter how many times he wants to just give up, he keeps going.

7. He lets me decorate our new place with a slew of world maps, globes, and Banners by Bethany.

8. He loves God deeply and desperately wants others to know and love (and know they’re loved by) him too.

9. He smiles at my big, crazy dreams without discouraging them.

10. His recent suffering has made him so empathetic toward others in pain.

11. He loves to help and teach others. And he’s really, really good at it (and patient).

12. He’s cool with me not being all girly and curvy and fancy, and he still thinks I’m beautiful.

13. He’s a really (really) good hugger.

14. He’s doing an amazing job with this plant-based lifestyle gig. (And this is a man who spent the first 15+ years of our marriage eating all manner of meat, fried things, desserts, and anything that wasn’t naturally green.)

15. He’s super-creative and thinks outside the box and is all for doing things a bit (or a lot) out-of-the-ordinary and unorthodox.

16. God has some really cool plans for his life, and I’m honored and excited to be along for the ride.

Thanks for the last 16 years, Gabe the Babe. I’d marry you all over again in a heartbeat. Still not sure how I got so lucky. I love you, dude!

If you know Gabe, I’d love for you to share something you love about him too. xoxoxo