It was exactly 2 years today when my cousin and dear friend, Stephanie, began the end of her journey on this earth. She had just turned 33 years old on October 1st 2010, was in the prime of her life with 2 adorable little ones, a thriving home business, and a dear husband whom she adored. She had started having unexplainable seizures just less than a year before. They did all the right things for her. She was on medication. It was supposed to be manageable. However, on October 3rd, 2010, she had a series of seizures, leading to cardiac arrest. Though her heart was revived, there was a great loss of oxygen to her brain. We gathered and prayed in the Cleveland Clinic’s neurological ICU for 10 days, pleading for a miracle and talking and praying at her bedside. On October 13, 2010, we said goodbye to my dear friend and cousin. If you have a moment, please read her husband’s blogged journey here. It will truly touch your heart. (Make sure you have tissues near!) It is a vulnerable, honest account of this unforeseen event-but in all of this God is given such glory!
If you have ever had the privilege of coming into contact with Stephanie, you remember her. She was always smiling, and actively looking for ways to be a blessing to others. She was funny...I mean, really funny. She was spontaneous. She literally was the most thoughtful person I knew. Not only was she a fantastic wife and mother, endlessly spoiling her family, her heart extended far beyond those closest to her. Whenever she heard of someone who needed encouragement, or who had a new baby, or was sick, she always made something for them. She was so creative in so many ways, but one of her loves was baking. She didn’t have to know you, she’d send you cookies. She didn’t have to know the details of your situation, you’d get a handmade encouragement card with something sweet on the side.
Her untimely death has taught me so much. One of the most important lessons that I have actively tried to pass along to my kids is to make every day count. She did that. She didn’t let her busyness at home keep her from going out of her way for others. She didn't let excuses get in the way of going out of her way. She didn't let the fact that someone was a stranger or a simple acquaintance get in the way of pouring out love. She loved like no one I had ever known.
Psalm 90:12 says: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
My cousin was the best example of someone who walked out that verse.
On the two year anniversary of her hospital stay and her passing, her husband, Brad, along with her family and friends, want to keep her memory alive. Not only do we desire to honor Stephanie and remember her, but we want her legacy to continue on. We want to turn something that is filled with sadness into pure joy!
Brad has delcared that the next 10 days shall be deemed Operation Baked Blessings! He is asking that everyone who hears about Stephanie’s life, even if you never knew her, takes some time and bakes something to give to someone they either know, or a stranger that you might feel led to bless. We hope that when you pass on this tangible treat, you can share that we are honoring the memory of an amazing woman who endlessly blessed others, and we don't want her desire to spread joy to end though her life has. You can read more about Operation Baked Blessings here, and post pictures and any testimonies on his facebook event page here.
Please consider firing up that oven, mixing together something amazing, and passing it along! And please share it with us so that we can be encouraged and know that Stephanie's compassionate heart has not only forever changed those of us privileged to know her, but continues to lift up other countenances through all of us!
Thank you for being a source of comfort and inspiration in participating in this very hard time!