"You're my favorite." If you were to look up the word family in the dictionary you would find a gathering of words that individually don't mean much of anything. Those words gathered together would basically says a group of people who share the same ancestry. A collection of mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, and perhaps you have a collection of these people you call family yourself. However, if you were to ask me about a family that I think anyone would want to be a part of, one that I wish I had been lucky enough to grow up in at least their family dynamic, without question or delay I would tell you about my friends in the Hueston, Maynus, and Cruea family.
From the moment I met them I knew they were different. They have a bond, a connection of faith, that I could only dream about growing up. Spending any time around them makes you a better person because they set a standard of how to love God and love His people. Any one of them will jump in to help anyone.
They are so ingrained within the community that I was once a part of, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who didn't know them. I am blessed to know them. So when tragedy struck everyone has felt it and will continue to feel it along side them because this family makes everyone feel like part of their family. They didn't just lose one of their own, we all did. Everyone is heartbroken and wherever you turn in the community or social media sadness is evident.
Katie Jo had just graduated from high school weeks before. They had just the weekend before her passing celebrated her graduation with family and a few friends after being in quarantine for so long. The next week she was killed in a car accident that could have been prevented by a visible stop sign. An accident that has rocked everyone to their core. Even a thousand miles away the shock waves have overwhelmed us. We weep alongside them from afar.
Let me tell you about Miss Katie Jo, though admittedly I did not know her as well as her younger sister and a couple of her cousins. Here is what I know and what I have gathered. Katie had a smile that would light up a room. She loved rainbows because she was so filled with love and light she couldn't pick just one favorite color. She loved helping others. She served in her church. She worked at a sweet shop called the Hydration Station where she was well loved and served her customers with a smile. She knew and loved Jesus which I think is the most important part.
I don't know what her plans were after high school. But I know she was and still is so very loved by everyone she crossed paths with. She is the favorite. All of her family is. I think that is one thing I love most about them. They tell each other that each of them are their favorites. They love like that as though each of them is the favorite. How can anyone question if they are loved in a family like that? The strength, the faith, the perseverance they have shown is nothing short of miraculous and can only be explained as their unwavering trust and faith in God.
Even in their loss they continue to give. Katie's heart beats in another chest. Her lungs, her kidneys, her liver, her pancreas all giving new life to others whose families would likely still be praying for a miracle or going home to mourn their loss. Katie Jo is as much of a miracle in death as she was in life.
I was thinking about how God mends our broken hearts and puts our pieces back together. Over and over again He is faithful. Psalm 147:3 says, He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. We are all praying for that, trusting for that, because they need this and yet they are showing everyone how big our God is as he is holding them up. Oh God how we love how you love us when we need you most. Holding us even when we can't hold ourselves upright or conceive of it. Sending rainbows of your promises after the most horrific of storms. Rainbows...her favorite.