There is a love story I just had to share with you about two friends of mine, lovebirds who live in the City of Roses (Portland, OR). As I attempted to recount this powerful story of giving, I realized that there was no way I could do it justice quite as well as the couple themselves.
Here is Rob and Cherie’s story, in Rob’s own words:
“Cherie and I were married in 2000. We both came from blue-collar, working-class families, so money was very tight in our early marriage. I will never forget when, in the first month after our wedding, we looked at our budget, paid our first round of regular bills, and rejoiced that we had $7 a month leftover above and beyond our expenses.
For those first few years of our marriage, we didn’t have money to buy presents for birthdays and anniversaries, so we would go together to a store like Target and give ourselves some time to walk around alone, picking out gifts that we would buy for each other if we had the money. Then, we would meet in the furniture section to sit down and present the gifts to each other, explaining why we chose it and how we’d love to give it to the other if we could.
I’ll admit, we shed some tears during those bittersweet moments, but we focused on celebrating our love. Still, I remember feeling like a failure because I couldn’t give my wife those gifts that I had picked out. I kept telling myself that someday I would give her much more.
Since then, I have not become wealthy by our culture’s standards, but I have been blessed enough to have my needs met and still have enough money to purchase a gift for my wife whenever I felt like it.
As last Valentine’s Day approached, I reflected on our marriage, and I couldn’t remember any gifts that have had greater impact on us than the ones we couldn’t buy for each other at Target so long ago. I wondered if I could give my wife a gift that would mean more than the dollars I could spend.
I have been a songwriter and instrumentalist for most of my life, but because I am dense, it took me 12 years to consider writing a song for the love of my life. Two concepts contributed to the idea behind the song. First, early on in our marriage we chose the song “Shining Star” by The Manhattans as our special song, and sometimes we would call each other “Shining Star”, or “SS” for short. Second, we have been through some really rough times in the last decade, but we’ve been blessed by the Lord to have each other to hold through it all. Because of those dark times, when I sat down to write a song, I had the image of my wife and I being like stars shining in the dark together.
The song came together on a day I had off from work, and that night when Cherie got home I was sitting in the living room strumming the chords. She asked me what I was working on. I sang her the song in its rough draft form, but told her that it was a song I was writing for a project I was working on. She said she liked it a lot. I smiled to myself and went on with my work.
The next day, on Valentine’s Day, Cherie woke up to find a CD tied to some flowers with a note that said, “The song was for you. You are my shining star.” When I saw that look in her eyes that I remembered from Target a decade earlier – a look that shows me she is touched by a meaningful, heartfelt gesture – I have never felt so full.
I learned a lesson from this experience: Give what you have. I understand that not everyone writes songs or poetry, but no matter what you can afford or what your talents are, you have the opportunity to give someone a meaningful gift-you-can’t-afford-at-Target experience.
It’s easy to buy a card, drop money on a gift, and just go through the motions. But most people don’t want the iTunes card that you picked up in the checkout line on the way to meet them; they want a gift that reflects the unique relationship that only the two of you have together.“
Cherie has given Rob permission to share her song with you. It’s called “Shining Star.” I hope you enjoy.
This is a beautiful example of Revelation #6 from my book The Street Sweeper:
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Make a list of gifts you can give which can’t be bought at Target.
Make a list of possible recepients of your gifts.
Give your gifts away and be blessed in your giving!