One of the greatest things I learned from Stephanie (and continue to learn) is how to love people well. She made an art form out of actively finding ways to make other people feel cared about. And, along with that, joy simply followed her around exploding out into any room she entered.
I am reminded continually of how precious and important other people are and how much better this world is when we love on others, instead of simply looking out for ourselves.
One of Stephanie’s favorite things to do and favorite ways to show love was giving gifts, especially if that gift was something she baked in the kitchen. Many times it was suggested to her that she go into business for herself owning a bakery, but she just couldn’t stomach the thought. She enjoyed giving away what she made far too much to charge for it. The satisfaction of simply making another person smile was enough for her. (Many of my coworkers benefited from how often I came in with goodies. And I was always so excited to be able to email back home with all the “thank yous” and “yums.”)
And this is all something I don’t want to die along with Stephanie. It’s a legacy that I want to continue on. And so, every year between October 1 and October 13, I’m asking anyone who reads this to please buy or bake some dessert that can be given away to someone, especially if they are someone in need of encouragement. It can be anyone you know or don’t know. It can be a co-worker, friend, student, classmate, neighbor or a stranger on the street. But when you give it to them, tell them why. Tell them you just want to bring a little joy into their life and encourage them. And, if you would, please share your story and/or post a picture on the Facebook Operation Baked Blessings event page. The dates are significant as they are Stephanie’s first and last day on earth, respectively.
I hope that many people are blessed by this and feel loved and cared for and that it brightens their day. It’s exactly what Stephanie would want.
Some of the comments from past years:
“We baked cookies for co-workers. Everyone enjoyed the cookies and thought it was a great way to honor Stephanie’s memory. I’m so glad we participated and we hope to do it again next year!”
“I think one of the best ways that Stephanie touched my life is that she showed me by example how to ‘love my neighbor’ in a practical way.”
“I baked shortbread cookies and cut them into leaf shapes and decorated them with fall colored sprinkles last night. I thought of Stephanie the whole time because she loved making (and eating) those cookies, especially in the fall.”
“We decided to bake for a woman who we always see walking around our block. I never knew her name, but I know she’s an avid weight watcher member. We made a WW banana pumpkin bread, drew some pictures, and waited anxiously by the front door at her usual walk by time. We gave her our treats, invited her in for a moment from the cold, and told her all about Stephanie. She had tears in her eyes. She said she had lost someone very close to her in the fall time many years ago, and it still hurts. She kept hugging my boys and saying how thankful she was that we took time out and were thoughtful to make her something on her diet plan. The best part of this whole thing is we learned her name: Grace. Grace was something very dear to Stephanie, and when she introduced herself, I got goosebumps all over!”
“I wanted to share this here because I thought it was neat: last week I baked pecan tassies for my students, and this week one my students brought it pumpkin cookies for all of us because he liked that I baked something for everyone. I hope all of our baking and giving last week inspires more people to encourage others with their baking!”