When my daughter Monica turned 16 earlier this month, I thought long and hard about the best way to make her “sweet 16” a special occasion. I thought about hosting a surprise birthday party for her, or a family dinner, or giving her a special, memorable gift. The only problem with having a family gathering, however, is that one of her most favorite people would be missing: her big brother, Dominic, who lives far away.
When Monica’s actual birthday came and went without much fanfare, she was still happy that she was able to share good times with friends over the weekend, and for the cards and gifts she received, the bouquet of flowers from her dad, and the delectable chocolate birthday cake. And she was looking forward to her family birthday dinner just two days away.
At the restaurant as we waited to order dinner, Monica was thrilled when she suddenly noticed her best friend walk in to join us (a small surprise I had arranged). After a few moments of conversation, Monica got another shocking surprise as she spotted Dominic walking toward her! Incredulously, Monica turned to me and asked, “Am I dreaming?” She ran to hug him, holding him as if her dream would fade if she let go. She was overjoyed that he had come home to celebrate with her.
Undoubtedly this was the most memorable birthday Monica has ever had. Because no matter how many material things we have gotten (and forgotten) over the years, the special occasions we experience with our loved ones are those times we always remember. There simply is no greater gift than love.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7).
Image courtesy of Photoxpress.com