Did you get some awesome gifts on Christmas? I hope you received the perfect gift. However, even if the gifts weren’t that great, I hope you had a few precious moments that will stick with you for many years.
Reflecting on my holidays, the greatest gifts I’ve received were relatively inexpensive. They were the personal gifts given in love that left the biggest impact on me. A simple hand-drawn picture from my children, a personal note from a close friend, or a meal prepared in love are some of my most precious gifts.
I’ve kept the pictures and the personal notes as reminders (I still need to figure out how to keep the baked goods). These unique gifts continue to brighten my day- not just on Christmas. They remind me that the best gifts in life keep giving long after the holidays.
Last week, I had a chance to interview one of my heroes in the cause of freedom. Jill Stevenson has given her only son in defense of our country. However, how she handled her son’s loss has impacted me deeply. Jill made a courageous decision during one of the most challenging moments of her life, which has changed many people’s lives. Jill gave the gift that keeps on giving year after year.
The gift of legacy
When Jill’s son, Ben, was diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state, she had to make the terrible decision to remove him from life support. I watched this courageous woman sign the forms to remove her only child from life support while sitting beside her in the hospital.
A legacy continues long after the wrapping paper and bows are discarded. Legacy inspires people to action for years after the greatest gifts wear down.
Jill left a legacy when she followed Ben’s wishes and donated his organs and tissues after his death. Ben’s legacy impacted me personally. Immediately after returning from my trip to visit her in the hospital, I changed my ID card to denote that I wanted to be an organ donor like Ben.
The gift of love
Personal gifts often leave the greatest impact, because they are gifts of love. Anyone can go to the store and buy an impersonal item. However, highly specific and deeply personal gifts often leave the biggest impact.
Bill Lunn was so moved by Jill’s strength and Ben’s story that he was inspired to write the book Heart of a Ranger. In this book, he describes a mother’s love for her only child when he comes home facing a combat deployment that he knew would be different and dangerous. Lunn explains the legacy that Jill left because of Ben’s life-giving tissues and organs.
The gift of life
Of course Jill loved her son. She wanted to honor her son’s wishes when she decided to donate his organs and tissues. This decision would go on to change the lives of many people. And Jill continues to touch people’s lives today by supporting other Gold Star families who lose a loved one.
Jill gave the gift of love when she chose to help others in need. As a result of her decision, more than 60 people’s lives were changed by Ben’s organs and tissues. Several people’s lives were even saved because of Ben’s vital organs.
If you want to give a gift that will touch lives for many years, look for a gift that leaves a legacy. Give a gift that shows your love, which might also change someone’s life.