|Kristin and Ethan|
Have you ever noticed how often gifts are given when love is involved? Love is often expressed by the giving of a gift. Some years ago my husband and I attended an I Still Do conference. Dr. Joseph Stowell was presenting a concept until that point I had never heard of. He shared with us the 5 love languages as described in the book, The 5 Love Languages written by Gary Chapman. Those languages are the manner in which a person best receives love, they are Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Physical Touch and Receiving Gifts. None of those really woke anything in me up until he went into the detail behind the feeling loved by being given gifts. It was like a big warm and tingly meteor hit me. My childhood flashed before me. My father enjoyed bringing things home for my brother and I. He would bring things to me that I found to be wonderful. He had impeccable taste, in my child's mind, in clothing. We are talking the 60’s here folks. Big hot pink flowers on bright turquoise background on my shorts and skorts with poor boy tee shirts brightly embellished too. Then the go~go boots and ... well you get it. He did this regularly. I grew up and became a giver, I thoroughly enjoy giving to people, and that is how I receive love. Now, when I got a little revelation on that being my love language, I felt incredibly shallow. Some years later I got another revelation.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16
Let’s read that again.
For God so loved the world that He GAVE His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Take a look at those 5 love languages. I have never read this book in its entirety, but God began to remind me of those languages and you know what??? Those are 5 different manifestations, ways to show love, but at the heart of each one, the person showing that love is GIVING something of themselves. I determined I was not the shallow person I thought I was. God shows love by giving. I want to go into so much here about the things God has given us, and I will do that at a later date. For now, I have something I deeply wish to share.
I have a wonderful friend whose name is, Carol. She has a son and three daughters. Her daughters are the ages of my three daughters and they grew up together. All four of her children are amazing and love the Lord with every thing in them. Carol and her husband have modeled that before them all of their lives. The youngest of Carol’s daughters had a beautiful baby boy in May 2008. June of last year, June 19, 2011 little Ethan Ryder Hazen Brown passed away, he sustained a head injury that took his life. This injury was brought about by his step-mother Stacie, who was charged with battery resulting in the death of a minor. I see no need to go into the horrible details of this awful thing, but on Valentines Day I do see it appropriate to share the love side of this story. I look back on those days of Ethan being in the hospital and the days following and my stomach still cringes and I still well up and cry. But I in no way can walk that horrible dark road that dear family had to walk. And therein is what I want to share. Were there moments of anger and maybe rage and certainly unbelief, absolutely. Did they choose those emotions to dwell on and fester about? No. Did they assume a vindictive and hateful stand against the step-mother that committed this heinous crime? No. This lovely family pulled together and became closer than they had ever been before, and they were quite close to start with. But most of all, they ALL drew on the love of God. The mother of that little boy and the family as a whole have not made hateful remarks about the woman that did this. Instead, they have asked for prayer for her. They have not highlighted the fact that Ethan is gone, they have expressed thankfulness and praise to God that he is in Heaven being held by Jesus until they can hold him again. This family knows what God’s love is and they know how to show it, and have done so in the worst of circumstances. I find it most appropriate to tell you this on this Valentine’s Day, a day set aside to honor love, because this morning was this woman's sentencing. Today from about 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Ethan’s family was in a court room reliving all of this with Stacie who committed this painfully grievous crime. This is s snippet of the message my friend Carol sent out just hours after they left the court room.
We have returned home after four long hours listening to evidence, deliberations, statements, judgments. Stacie Brown has been sentenced to 50 years in prison- more than we dared expect. God held us very tight through all the emotion. We all got to share a statement about our relationship with Ethan, our loss, and our trust in God. I believe your prayers were answered as we were spared any details we did not already know. The gospel "appeared" more than once in our statements- so we can pray now that God uses His Word which will not return to Him void. And so, there is a certain sense of closure, no satisfaction, really, but some finality.
Thank you with all our hearts for your fervent prayers on our behalf. There is not despair, there is victory because of our Lord Jesus Christ. All praise and honor and glory be to God on high.
Carol and Tom (and the whole bunch of us)
This is a portion of what Ethan’s mom Kristin put on Facebook this afternoon.
I know so many of you have been praying and I want to say thank you! God was listening and carried us through this long morning... We were there from 9am to almost 1pm and Stacie has been given a 50 year sentence, which was the maximum. I'd like to say it feels great and I'm am grateful to see justice served, but it doesn't take away the pain, just as expected. But we praise God for getting us through this difficult morning and as we all had a chance to tell Stacie we've forgiven her, we continue to pray for her. And we ask those of you who have lifted us up this morning to pray with us for her. A thousand thank you's to you all. I believe everyone left the courtroom today knowing that no matter the devastation life can bring, God is still good and He loves us ALL.
There is no way I could have shared that with you and done it right. I think what these amazing women have said deserves to be read straight from their heart.
God loved us so much and He wanted us back in fellowship and right standing with Himself. He wanted to fellowship with us so much that he offered up His perfect Son. Jesus loved us so much though perfect was willing to pay the sinners debt by being mocked and brutally murdered, and God the Father endured it in the name of forgiveness. Now there is a gift of love. Forgiveness is a most tremendous gift, and God freely gave it to us, we only have to receive it.
Carol and her family have in the most painful of situations given Stacie their forgiveness. Their hope is that she will receive Jesus and though in prison physically be freed spiritually. That is a story well deserving to be told and commemorated on this day honoring love, Valentine’s Day.
Tom, Carol and all of your family, I am so thankful for all of you and so honored to have been in your lives. I love each of you and want you to know that. I have not talked much at all about this, I have found it so painful and I grieve for you. But today, I wanted to honor you, memorialize your dear Ethan and give glory to God by sharing your testimony of faithfulness and love, real and true love.
|Kristin and Ethan|
There may have successfully been a defining of 5 ways to show love for the purpose of building better relationships so they can last, but love, real God love, the unconditional agape style love is eternal because God is eternal and God IS love. That love as we can see in my friend, and her family is understood in every language.