CORI SALCHERT, AFTER HEARING THE SONG “What It Means to Be Loved” at a Mark Schultz concert, knew immediately the direction of her next ministry. With her experience as a neonatal nurse, as well as a bereavement specialist assisting families whose baby had died on the labor and delivery floor, Cori dreamed of becoming a hospice care provider for a child no one else had the desire or the ability to care for.
For 3 years after hearing the song “What It Means to Be Loved,” Cori prayed that God would open the door for this to happen. But door after door seemed to close. Cori’s health took a turn for the worse and she was unable to work for a year. Then the program at the hospital of which she was the program supervisor lost its funding and closed down leaving Cori without a job. Although Cori didn’t see it at the time, God was closing doors so one could open. And on the same day Cori went to her place of employment to gather up her personal belongings, Cori met the first hospice baby she would care for – Emmalynn.
Emmalynn’s physical condition was so frail and complicated that when it finally came time for Cori to take her home from the hospital, Cori knew there was a good chance Emmalynn might not survive the trip. Yet knowing this, Cori was willing to take the chance. Cori knew she couldn’t change the fact that Emmalynn would die, but she could care for Emmalynn and love her for the short time she had on earth.
In Cori’s words, “This baby was not going to feel the least bit unwanted. For whatever time she spent in this world, my family would give her open arms and open hearts. God had numbered her days before the beginning of time. He was fully aware of when she would be called home. I was confident He would carry us through whatever lay ahead.”
Well…Emmalynn survived the trip home and lived several more days. She experienced the unconditional love and care of Cori and her family and many others.
On the eve of Emmalynn’s 50th day, Cori sensed her time was near. Wanting Emmalynn to be as comfortable as possible, Cori removed the baby’s clothing except for her tiny diaper. Tucking Emmalynn’s cool body up against Cori’s warm skin inside her bathrobe, Emmalynn couldn’t get any closer to Cori’s heart as her head rested on Cori’s breast. Emmalynn relaxed and Cori began to pray over her and sing to her – their hearts beating together as close as humanly possible. Shortly after midnight on the 50th day, Cori loved Emmalyn into the arms of Jesus.
When I read Cori’s story, I couldn’t help but think that we, like Emmalynn, are all hospice babies.
We are all hospice babies.
We entered this world with our days numbered. They were numbered before time began. Some of us may live longer than others, but eventually, we will all be called home.
Some of us were born with physical ailments that can never be cured. Some of us have emotional scars that debilitate us daily. Some of us made choices that caused us and others great pain and anguish. And some of us have experienced great pain and anguish through no choice of our own. Yet despite our earthly condition, we all have one thing in common.
We all long to be loved.
Well, loved ones, our search is over. There is someone who loves us unconditionally despite our wounds. His name is Jesus Christ, and He is our Savior. Jesus came to this earth to show us what it means to be loved.
Jesus Christ came to earth to show us what it means to be loved.
Jesus offered His body on the cross as the perfect sacrifice for all our sins. His shed blood and broken body are proof of His unconditional love for us.
When we lift our hearts in thanksgiving for His great sacrifice, we can feel His gentle eyes upon us and His loving arms wrap around us, drawing us close to His bosom. We can feel Him cradle us in His arms.
We can feel the love of the one who gave His body in death so that we could live forever in his presence.
We can know…if we truly seek…what it means to be loved.
“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us.” (1John 3:16, NLT)
Prayer: Father in heaven…You loved us so much that You sent your only son Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins. We don’t deserve the unconditional love You shower upon us, but that doesn’t matter to You. Despite who we are and what we’ve done, You continue to invite us to snuggle up close while You wrap your loving arms around us. And one day, You will love us into eternity where we will be with You forever. In our Savior’s name, we pray, Amen.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: When was the last time you snuggled up close to Jesus? Do you feel His unconditional love? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.
Salchert, Cori. (2018). I Will Love You Forever: A True Story about Finding Life, Hope & Healing While Caring for Hospice Babies. Uhrichsville, OH: Shiloh Run Press. jmasshardt, "What It Means To Be Loved - Mark Schultz," Youtube Video, 4:11, January 22, 2011, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrXmHaBP-A4.