From the very moment of Steve’s diagnosis, friends and family raced in to serve, to love, to hug, to heal, to help and to try with all their might and muscles to right our tipping ship.
I am so grateful.
Receiving is hard. I’m not sure I was built for it. Most pastors I know don’t choose this line of work for the pay or the perks, they choose it because it enables them to give. To serve those less fortunate. To reach out to those in need. In my first eight years as a pastor, this was my privilege and delight. Truly. And that’s not to say it’s all been well-motivated. I love being the girl with the answer. I like feeling like my life is at least enough together that it is a resource for someone else. And for 45 years, my life was fairly well stuck together. Then ALS. Then friends saying, “how can we help?’ and me saying, “Thanks, but I think we’re okay right now.”
And then I found myself on an ordinary day, stuck in Costco and feeling like the walls were caving in from grief and fear and sorrow and I was coming undone…drowning in my own lack of togetherness. I found myself on a day when I wasn’t enough and my studying wasn’t enough and my sheer love for Jesus wasn’t enough…I needed people. I needed help. I needed someone to brave the hallowed halls of Costco for me.
That moment launched a long season of receiving for me. We have received help with our home, with our wood pile, with cooking, with shopping, with the snow in our driveway, with kids, with finances and with really just about any thing that we used to be able to handle ourselves. It has been incredible and awesome and unspeakably humbling. Jesus has taught me to be more like Him in His suffering, in His lowness, by being served than I ever learned by serving.
Last week was maybe the busiest week of my life. We had the Walk to Defeat ALS and I launched the bible study that I have been dreaming of, planning, studying and writing for the past four years. Both the Walk and the first session went off without a hitch…but only because the past eighteen months have changed me. These events were only successful because I am learning (finally!) to let people in. Not just to let them offer, but to say yes when they do. One friend came to fix something at our house that I broke (when I backed over it with my car which is a story for another time) (no it isn’t – I’m never telling that story.) Two did grocery runs for me. One is bringing us dinner every Tuesday night in September. Two friends take Josiah into their homes like their very own when they know that I’m on overload. Countless friends showed up to help at the Walk and the Pancake Party. Steve’s army of friends meets him for coffee and lunch and checks on him nearly every day. One dozen incredible ladies are handling nearly every single detail of this bible study from filming to crowd control to getting notebooks assembled to making sure my mascara is waterproof (heh.) I have never been more certain of the truth, “two are better than one for they have a good reward for their labor.”
This supernaturally recruited dream team is laboring with us, for us and, consequently, we are accomplishing far more as we walk through the Shadowy Valley of Death than we did when we were blissfully living like we had all the time in the world. It’s proof of His intelligence, goodness and generous love if ever I’ve seen it.
So, I guess this is mostly a thank you. And also a statement of faith that the giving & serving years of Steve and Bo Stern are not behind us, but ahead. We long to bless you as you have blessed us. Through rolling tears, I type it: we long to pay you back for all the love that you have shown. But we are trusting our good Father to return your gifts to you, pressed down and shaken together…running out all over your world as they have run all over us.
Oh, how we love you, friends.
With gratitude and love,