If you tell me your husband is hard to buy gifts for, I will have zero sympathy. I’ve honestly never experienced anything like trying to choose something appropriate for a man on hospice who can’t eat, drink or leave the house. Videos were good for awhile, but now we mostly use Netflix and apple TV, so DVDs tend to sit on a shelf and never get opened. This year, though, is a special birthday. Steve fought hard for this birthday and I didn’t want to let it slide by without presents. So, we bought ’em – we just didn’t buy them for Steve. Instead, we bought them in honor of Steve. The only guideline I gave the kids was to spend money on something or someone they felt Steve would want to bless. Last night , after reading a few of the (hundreds!) of emails that came in for him (thank you!), we gathered around him and gave him his gifts:
Corey, Whitney and Grey gave money to a young couple’s dream of becoming missionaries. Steve was a missionary kid in Africa for the first part of his life, so this is dear to his heart.
Casey supported some friends’ project to provide school supplies for needy children. We loved how this gift touched so many layers of people.
Tessie gave money to Charity Water (one of my favorite organizations out there), and in Steve’s honor helped provide clean water for 2,000 people.
Victoria researched and found an organization working to empower women in third world countries and they have a strong presence in Nigeria (where Steve grew up.) One of the things I love about Steve Stern the very most is the way he believes in women. Perfect gift.
Josiah gave money to Sparrow Clubs – an organization here in our community that provides help to children with profound medical needs, and uses public schools to do it. Man, I love Sparrow and love that Joe thought of them.
Tess’ boyfriend, David, chose to bless a friend who needed help with his tuition. Exactly the kind of thing Steve would have done because he’s just a dad like that.
As for me, I knew right away what I wanted to do. When Steve can’t sleep, he lays in bed and prays. He prays for us, for our family, for all kinds of personal things – but he has also spent long hours praying about the situation in the middle east and for the victims of ISIS. It’s deep in his heart. After researching several organizations, I gave to Samaritan’s Purse, earmarking my money to go towards displaced Kurds who have fled the violence in their region. In doing so, I felt like I was putting feet to Steve’s prayers and it was so fun. And I didn’t have to wrap it!
As we each told him what we had done his honor, it struck me that this is much like Steve’s life. Though he feels so stuck in his chair and his house all day, the effect of his faith and compassion ripple out all around him through those who know and love him. After gift-giving, we watched American Idol with him, all stuffed together in the room where he spends all his waking moments, critiquing the Idol voices and outfits and just generally making it really hard for him to hear what was happening on his show. It truly ended up being the best birthday ever.