On January 20, 1997 I became a mom for the first time. Zachary Allyn Woodcock was born at 7 p.m., weighing 7lbs. 11oz. and was 21 inches long. The moment I laid eyes on that baby boy of mine, I knew what unconditional love was. I was smitten!
When it was time for Zach to start school, there was no question where he would attend. He began three-year-old preschool at Peace Lutheran in Saginaw, Mich. Then we moved to Walled Lake, and he began 4th grade at St. Matthew Lutheran School.
Zachary was a typical boy, enjoying everything outdoors and running and playing whenever he could. He had a mischievous side, and a huge heart. He would enter the room like a whirlwind. His smile and laugh were contagious. Zach lived life to the fullest. There was never a dull moment whenever he was around. If you knew Zach, you loved him. If Zach loved you, you were blessed.
As an adult, Zach was a truck driver for Standard Electric. He lived in Merrill, a small town in Saginaw County. Zach loved his family and made it a point to drive his route during the day on Sunday so he could stop in Kalamazoo and have dinner with us. When he worked third shift during the week, he would call me at 7 a.m. so we could talk on my drive to school. I will always treasure those Sunday dinners and my morning phone calls.
On January 20, 2018 my precious son left this earth after a horrific tragedy. The baby boy, whose living taught me what unconditional love is, died, and now I am taught what it feels like to have a broken heart. Death is so painful and grief takes your breath away, but during my time of grief and unbearable pain, I have been given many moments of comfort. Zachary kept the Bible from my first mission trip on his nightstand. When his belongings were gathered from his apartment, the Bible was returned to me. When I opened the cover, inside I found the poem Safely Home. The beginning line, “I am home in Heaven, dear ones” says it all.
As I continued to look through the Bible, I was amazed at the number of verses Zach had underlined, marked, and dated. During one of my bad days, I opened Zach’s Bible and the first verse I saw marked was Proverbs 3:5–6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight.”
My 21-year-old son was in the Word! His faith could not be questioned and I know without a shadow of a doubt that I will be with him again one day.
As parents, we have tough decisions and sacrifices to make for our children. I will be eternally grateful that I was able to provide my son with the benefit of attending Lutheran schools from preschool through eighth grade. Although the seed was planted during his Baptism, his faith was fed and nourished by the teachers who daily shared the Word with Zach. I take great comfort in the fact that my son knew his Savior. Even though my life will never be the same on Earth without Zach, I take joy in knowing that he was in the Word and steadfast in his faith.
If anyone ever questions why a child should attend a Lutheran school, please send them my way. I know my son’s faith walk continued to grow because of his years in Lutheran schools. If you’ve never considered Lutheran education, I urge you to consider it now. It does make an eternal difference.
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