Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Greatest Gift is Love

As a mother, I know that love is not a word; it is an all-consuming fire and fills every breath, every second and every crevice of your being. There are daily moments when snapshots of life are taken into the heart of a parent, and can bring joy for eternity. These moments can seem mundane to some, but to a mother or father, these are the reasons we embrace the heartaches that come from being a parent too.
The moment you learn you will become someone's mommy or daddy. The moment you feel that little flutter inside of you. The moment you hold your baby in your arms, and look down to see his or her precious face staring back up at you.  Cuddling, rocking, feeding, changing, repeat, cry, repeat.  First words, silly little giggles, bathtime splashing, and discovering new wonders in the world with big bright eyes. The cute baby bottom, to potty training woes, and temper tantrums too. Crawling to shaky baby steps with the death grip on your fingers, as you guide them in their next big adventure. Walking, running and climbing everything.
The first day of school, losing a tooth, and personality traits becoming more apparent. Little idiosyncrasies that a mother can tell are her child's from a mile away. Making friends, overnights, climbing trees, playing in mud puddles, getting dirty, eating all the time, and blowing out birthday candles with grand wishes.  Striking out in T-ball, making their first basket, running across the finish line. Breakups and heartaches, tummy aches, bullies, swear words and bruises. Dandelion and clover bouquets picked with care, and Crayola covered pictures are prized art on the refrigerator. Hugs and kisses and bedtime stories. Movie nights with popcorn and pajamas. Late night stories by the fire, or marshmallows melted just right.  These are just a few of the moments so filled with love no one will ever take away from a parent. They are engraved upon the soul and are brought forth when you watch your "baby" achieve another milestone. Milestones which carry so many other moments dedicated to the heart of a mom's memory like driving, graduation, marriage, deployment, having children of their own. 

Today,  I witnessed love in one of the worst moments a parent could ever experience; burying your child. As silent tears were falling down my face, I watched a dear friend, Heather Hoven, walking arm in arm with her husband, Shane Hoven, and son, Michael Hoven. They seemed to be leaning on one another and pulling each other along at the same time, as they struggled to maintain their composure.  These parents clutched each other and their surviving son, as they followed their 13-year old son, Isaac's, soft blue casket down the carpeted aisle. The pain and angst on their faces were clear, but in that moment,  the feeling of love was so fierce I could almost see it radiating between them.  In that moment, flashed the images of motherhood, and a hurt we fear from the second we become a parent. Yet, I am sure they would not have traded those 13 years for anything, even if they knew how it would end. For, their love was fortified through Christ, and played out in the heart of the boy who made everyone laugh, cared for children, animals and God's earth. This child was a blessing and a gift God allowed this family to love. Isaac gave his life to Jesus, walked the walk of Christ, and had a family who will continue to cherish him; therefore, he knew he was loved. There can be no greater gift than knowing you are loved. Just as 1st Corinthians 13:13 declares, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
It is true, love can be filled with anguish and lamentation so deep it cuts your body open and exposes your greatest weakness.  It can make you feel anxiety, stress and fear just from the mere thought of what "could" happen.  However, love is what drags or carries you through the nightmare of loss. Knowing we are loved is vital to our survival and offers hope in the darkness, which finds its way into our lives.  The moment God breathed life into man, we were loved.  The Lord loved us so much He gave His only son to be sacrificed for all of us. Not only did God offer His son's life, Christ accepted that burden because He too "loved the world." Christ was tortured, brutally beaten and led to the excruciating pain of crucifixion; yet, He still showed love, mercy and forgiveness in His final moments. Isaac's final act of love was the giving of arteries in his heart, which gives new life to two other people. His death also brought lost souls to the Lord. If more people would follow Christ's path and little Isaac's exuberant example, and love in each moment, this world would be a better place.  So, today I ask that you help this family with acts of love by giving whatever you can to this beautiful family, and sharing this post so other's might learn about love through Isaac's story. Please pray for them, and let them know they are loved by their community, family, friends, and their new guardian angel, Isaac.