By Marshall Hauge

Jesus said to the apostles: I give you a new commandment: love one another.  As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.  John 13:34

There is a belief, that to truly have a successful life, you have to experience this world to its fullest. You need to take on exciting adventures, learn new ideas, build great things.  This also includes building ourselves, becoming more aware of our existence, trying hard to understand the human condition and where we fit into this extraordinary world that God has created.
We build our lives, we build our families.  We build our friendships and relationships.  We try to build lives of significance, lives that matter.  What we do each day creates a tale of what our lives on this earth are about.  It will be our story forever.  We turn to God and ask Him how we should create this tale.  We ask Him for His guidance in finding the meaning in each part of the tale.
In short, we are trying to write the best story possible.
This concept of life as creating stories was introduced to me through Don Miller’s book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”.  I took this book to heart and started to look at people as story tellers of their own truth.Each of you in this sanctuary today has a story that you have written and it is told through the life you choose to live.  Each story is unique with no two stories being exactly alike, each with its own special meaning.
These stories are Epics of love and triumph, tragedy and loss, stories of tenderness and mercy.  But in the end, all these stories are written by those that are living them. 
I came to realize the essence of a good life was to actively write, to create a good story, one worth telling; maybe not in this world, but definitely in the next.  I believe these will be the stories that we will share with God when we see Him.  Did we live lives of compassion and love in this world?
I am not the sharpest pencil in the box and anyone that knows me can tell you that the eraser on my pencil is worn to a nub.  But in spite of the edits I’ve had to make along the way, I keep trying to write a good story.
When I met Livia Grace, my new found theory that life was an epic story each of us was writing, started to unravel.  This beautiful little girl who could not talk, was unable to walk without someone by her side, how could she write her own story?  How could she create her saga of how she engaged with this world?  How could she create her own personal odyssey?  And if she couldn’t write her story in this world, how could creating stories be the reason for being?
This is when I started to learned something about Livia.  Livia was an amazing author of her own story.  And also, she was an amazing editor of mine.
When I would sit with Livia and hold her hand, touch her cheek, the world would close in to just the two of us.  And I would find myself in the pure joy of just being. In that moment was when Livia would take out her pen and would turn open the cracked and worn cover of my heart and start to write on the pages within.
And what she wrote on my heart would change me forever.  
She taught me that it was alright to be weak.  That in my weakness others could be my strength.  
She taught me to be humble.  Being humble allows God to work through me.  
She taught me to love as a child with great joy for today.  
All of this, and more, she taught me without saying a word.
But it was not just my heart that Livia would write her story on.  
You too have had this wonderful girl write on your own heart’s page.  And what she wrote there is so special and so meaningful to you.  Each time you touched her, each time you cared for her, she changed you.  Each time she made you stronger, each time she made you more open to love, each time you became more tender.
She touched you and you grew. And you were changed.  
Each of you that have touched Livia, cared for her, have loved her with no expectation of her being able to return your affection, have written on Livia’s heart pages as well.  You have ministered to her through care and touch.  Even the simplest of things that you did for her wrote deep loving verses. 
And by loving Livia unconditionally, you have allowed Livia to write her story.  You helped to create her story to fill her heart of heart.
Her story is how she changed your life.  How she helped you write a better story.  How she took your simple tale and turned it into a deep and pure love story.  Her being in this world had to be.  She had to write her story that affected so many lives.  
Her story is the simplest but at the same time is probably the most profound story that anyone could write.  She has shown us how God loves unconditionally…and she did that by letting us love her unconditionally.
George and Cindy, Jim and Karin, you were Livia’s first coloring books.  Not the kind with outlines of pictures, but books with great, big open pages.  Livia would open these huge books that are a grandparent’s heart.  And then Livia would stand back and hurl huge buckets of amazing color, one after another, and the colors would splash and run.  And you would find yourself caught up in the moment and you would pick up your pails of color and find yourself adding to the glorious rainbow that was forming.
And then, you would sit back with Livia and marvel at the creation you had made with her in such a short time.  No words were needed.
You and Livia wrote on each other’s heart in a language that only a grand-daughter and a grandparent could understand and share.  You loved her unconditionally as a grandchild from the day she was brought into this world. 
Jake and Kelly, it is because of you that Livia was able to have such an impact on this world.  You created the space in this world for her to live and be loved in.  You were able to create the family Livia needed to carry on her journey and write her story.
You understood how sacred Livia’s life was.  And you re-affirmed how sacred Livia’s life was each day.  You understood how right it was for her to be in this world.  You would welcome all to come be part of this grand story.  You constantly invited strangers to embrace who your daughter was.
But Livia saved her greatest story writing for her mom and dad and her little sister, Finley.  She had to write the story that would transform her family forever.  She wrote a story of how important a family is and how love grows through acts of tenderness and kindness.  Her story was written about how special her family was and how you loved and cared for each other.
From the day that you met your daughter, you would never be the same.  You had been changed forever.  You had to let go of who you thought you were and place your trust in God and let Him carry you through each day.  God was with you.  You were not alone on this journey.
Each day you took care of her and you touched her.  You held her tight and surrounded her with love.  Each day you nurtured Livia’s soul and heart.  Each day, love grew in your family.  This love would spill out a thousand fold far beyond your family.
One of my greatest joys in this life was to be invited to join in bed time prayers with the Hubert family.  It was the time when I knew there truly was a God and that He was truly with us.  Each time you prayed as a family, you opened your hearts and lives to God’s love.  
You trusted in Him and you continue to trust in Him now. This is the miracle that God revealed to your family through Livia. Your family is the miracle that glorifies God. 
Because of Livia, your family has grown far beyond the walls of your home.  Because of Livia, your family is here, all around you.  Their love surrounds you and holds you close.  You are not alone in this moment.  All you need to do is hold Livia your mind’s eye, and the love of this family will swirl around you and embrace you and will hold you always.
Jake and Kelly, your amazing, lovely daughter Livia has created a story so powerful, so beautiful, and so deep, it must be retold again and again.  This story must continue to be lived by all of us she touched as she wrote here story so sweetly, so lovingly. 

And finally, Kelly and Jake, I know where Livia is right this moment.  And in that knowledge, I am today, joyful.