Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

December 20, 2013

The holidays mean more than gifts to Jacksonville family who lost son

Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — Seek first the kingdom of God, above all else, and live righteously, and He will give your all

you need.

- Matthew 6:33

Holidays are filled with all sorts of planning. We plan to decorate our houses, our trees. Christmas cards have to get sent out. Oh, and let us not forget that present that we just have to buy. Christmas is filled with a to-do list. No wonder it's become such a pain to us. I have to admit, it has taken a whole new meaning from when we were kids. The biggest worry we had was that one gift we just had to have. Waiting on that next morning when the gifts would finally arrive. Work, money, bills were things we never even thought about. Now, it seems, as adults, that's the only thing on our minds.

We can't wait for Christmas to pass. With six kids, my wife and I would go into debt every year. Every year except this one.

You see, this year we all want the same gift. This year my kids don't have to tell me what they want. It's written all over their faces, with tears and sadness. Last Mother's Day our oldest son, Marcos, was in a car accident that took his life. At the tender age of 19, our baby was gone. Since that day, we have been asking for one last hug, one last kiss, one last smile. Our lives have been a roller coaster of emotions.

If you have lost a child, you know how we feel. Everything we thought was important in life, all of a sudden isn't. All the politics, sports, even work has taken a second seat. To know that last Christmas was the last time all of our kids would open gifts together. The reality that this Christmas we will be without our oldest son is hard.

Yet, we find comfort, as Christians in God's love. That love is what we cling to, that promise He gave us in Jesus. The promise of everlasting life. My son believed and dedicated his life to this promise. On December 25th that promise will be born. Our family has went from an expectation of gifts under the tree; to the expectation of the one true gift, Jesus.

I want you to know that we would truly be lost without Jesus in our lives. We have learned that life is precious. That we must cherish every second of it. Even though we can't see our son, we know that he never really left. He remains in our hearts.

So, this is what Christmas now means to us. It means Peace that God is with us. Hope that one day we will also go home and be with our son, Marcos. Hugs that we must always give to our loved ones. Tears of sadness and joy that we must share with each other and those who have lost loved ones.

Most important of all, it means love.

So, we pray that between all the chaos this holiday can bring, you take time to do these things. Be that example of love that we were created to be. Love your children, tell them how special they are. Hug them often, as if it was the last time you will get a chance to. Show them that they are truly gifts from God. Teach them the way they must go. Love, for a child will be born, December 25. A child that 33 years later will be put to death for the love He has for you and me. Jesus is the reason for the season.

God Bless and Merry Christ-mas.

The Laras and Lopez families