Last week I picked up a small necklace in the hospital gift shop. All of my jewelry had been left behind at home in the rush to get our girl to the ER, and really this sparkle-lovin’ Mama just wanted to have something that felt normal.

The necklace reads FAITH HOPE LOVE.

Although it’s just a piece of cheap, gift shop jewelry, these words stamped in metal remind me that no matter what happens, we are going to be okay.

Faith sustains us – we so needed to know last week that the although our situation seemed out of control, Someone was in control and was not surprised by all these events. The God of the Universe still held us in the palm of His hand, loved our daughter dearly, formed us as a family for a reason, and He had purpose in all of our mess. This faith protected us, undergirded us, helped us press through.

Hope lifts us – every day was a roller coaster, with improvements and crashes. If not for a persistent, solidly-grounded hope, we would have been crushed by the ups and downs. This is the hope that allowed us each day to lift our heads and trust that there was more to come.

Love carries us – Love is the piece of this 3-word promise that got really active. I didn’t believe that we could love our Sweet Girl more, but we do now. I couldn’t imagine not being this wee girl’s mother, but my mother heart dug down even deeper as she struggled to breathe and was too sick even to cry. My beloved and I have never held hands so tightly and needed each other more as when we followed her crib down the hall to the surgery. We have never wept together so much, and I love him the more for it.

And we were loved by so many. Prayers were lifted around the world for us. Meals delivered to the hospital. Hugs and more hugs. Shared tears. Our clothes packed up and driven down to us so that we wouldn’t have to leave Sweet Girl alone. A miraculous opening on the wait list at Ronald McDonald House and the most comfortable bed that we could have asked for. Kindnesses even from Starbucks staff (can we talk about how that is a grace? Starbucks across the street from the hospital?).

Shielded by friends and family who gave us space to breathe. This was love in action.

We met other parents who were hurting terribly and fighting a hard fight, and their stories and grief were enough to break us. But the love that carried us gave us the ears to hear these stories and remember names and offer hugs – wee ones with brain aneurisms, babies battling persistent cancer, a young teen left unresponsive and profoundly disabled from self-injury… every day brought a new story. And as we knew that our wee girl was very sick, we also knew that she was receiving great care and that she would eventually get better. Because we were well loved, we could pour out of our overflow, love these other parents and spend time listening to their stories.

Last night, my beloved and I admitted to each other that with the craziness of the past two weeks – 2 days in ER’s, 7 days with our baby in ICU, transitioning to home with a still-sick child, getting back to work and life – neither of us had a gift for Valentine’s Day today. The card I was making sits unassembled on my craft table. The roses my beloved bought as an early gift were passed along to a friend when we realized that I’d not get to enjoy them. The Hubster said “I know I had planned something, but I can’t even think of what it was now.”

It’s okay, because these last two weeks have been our Valentine’s days, in a way. Not romantic, to be sure, but deep, abiding love.

Today I’m wearing my necklace reminder: Faith, hope, love. And oh friend, the greatest of these is love. Happy Valentine’s Day.