Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Open Christmas Letter to the far away "Darlings" of my Life and anyone else who wants to read it too...

I love Christmas music - and the songs by the Carpenters (of 70's fame) are, to me, some of the timeless best. My favorite is probably "Merry Christmas Darling". My greeting cards have not all been sent, and at this late date they won't be. So I decided to do a sort of "open letter" to those I love and care for (and if you're reading this, that probably includes you.)

This year, the holiday will find me at my own home, with my daughter, our cats, and our "adopted" just for Christmas puppy - Charlee. While this means a lazy,cozy, and loving Christmas morning with my daughter (and a pan of homemade cinnamon rolls) all to myself - it also means there are many "darlings" I won't see that I'll be thinking of and missing a whole lot...

Mom - truly one of my best friends, the person I want to call first with any news (or any "no news") and the one who always made sure each and every Christmas (even this one coming up) was spectacularly special and filled with moments of wonder - she gave more than presents, she gave lifelong memories that I will cherish always. For instance: I remember being just 7 and getting my first record player (the kind in the box with a white plastic handle) and my first album "Frampton Comes Alive" - name another 7 year old who received a classic rock album for Christmas! Too young to be "stoked", I was really, really excited! Classic Rock n Roll - the gift that keeps on giving, really. (I also received Olivia Newton John's "Totally Hot" that same morning - which was....not a classic). Thanks Mom!

Daddy - I miss him every day, just especially so at Christmas. Best Christmas memory ever...Daddy at Carswell A.F.B., dressed up as Santa. Sarah (our babysitter) takes us to the base to have our pictures made with "Santa". Upon our arrival, from across the room I point and say "That's my Daddy!" I wait in line, and when I get on his lap he says (in his best Santa voice) "Ho ho ho and Merry Christmas!" I giggled and said "You're not Santa, you're my Daddy." He asks "Why do you think I'm your Daddy little girl?" I say "Because you smell like my Daddy!" Thank you Givenchy - makers of Grey Flannel and Givenchy Gentlemen - to get a whif of either fragrance causes instantaneous tearing of the eyes in this woman who will forever be her Daddy's little girl. (*Side Note: 6 months later found me sick as a dog, Daddy took me to the doctor on base and afterward to his office - where what do you know was hanging in the corner - yep, Santa's hat and beard!)

My sisters - Emmy and Lydia. We have so many shared holiday memories - there's nothing quite like a sister. I remember the year we got the Ping Pong table and Lydia and I were up at 4:30 a.m. - Mom and Dad told us we'd have to wait until 6:00 before we could wake them and Emmy up. We sat beside that ping pong table the entire time full of excitement, counting down the minutes! I also remember the year I asked for the Holly Hobbie EZ Bake Oven, only to wake up Christmas morning to find it in Lydia's gift pile. And I certainly remember the Christmas Eve that I planned to sleep on the couch so I could confirm whether Santa was real or not. I discovered he wasn't - but what a joy to remember what I DID see that night....Emmy and her best friend Erin, putting out the presents. Everyone should be lucky enough to have a big sister love them so much they fill in for Santa! Everyone should be lucky enough to have 2 great sisters like mine.

Aunt Katy & Jason. Awww man, without a doubt, the best Christmases ever included these two. Aunt Katy always made everything extra special - I'll never forget her hiding Jason's Cowboy Hat for Christmas on top of the ceiling fan. Such fun! I need to make plans for a trip to Ohio sometime in the next year or so. Aunt Katy is my Godmother, and not one Christmas of my life has passed without special gifts just for me under the tree from Katy. My favorite is one I still have and look upon daily, my pink iridescent candy dish from the glass factory near Bellaire. It's as beautiful today as it ever was and always makes me think of these two precious members of my family.

Meagan, Layne & Courtney. My sweet and beautiful neices, I love you girls so much. Christmas Mornings took on a whole new meaning after you all joined the family! I never had so much fun shopping as I did when I'd shop for your gifts. I always wanted you to have a TON of presents to unwrap. Noki - ALWAYS sick at Christmas, so someone always had to stay home with you and miss Midnight Mass. Meagan of course, is my Godchild, so I have always tried to carry on the tradition of getting something extra and special just for her. I hope this made you feel as special as you are Meagan - you all three are so precious to me, and the best gift you've ever given me is your friendship now that you're all grown. It means so much to me that we're so connected! Ok wait, the best gifts are really sweet Elizabeth and Elise, I'm just sayin'. (and you know it's true anyway.)

Andrea - Don't worry Stella, I was just saving the best for last. What can I say to you that you don't already know. You're the sister I would've picked if I could've picked one for myself. You've been there through the good, the bad, the everything. I know we don't talk every day - you've got the little one, I've got the teen one - but it doesn't mean I love you less or think of you less. No matter what, I'm just a phone call or a text away. I'll never be too far, I can't be, you know all of my secrets! You're my Bestie! My True Blue! And I love you Original Dr. Drea! Kiss that baby girl for me!

So to all of you - my darlings mentioned in this blog, and to all the darling friends and family I didn't mention (but I DO think of, I promise! and you all deserve a specific mention even though there's just not room) - I wish you Merry Christmas, Happy New Year too. I hope this Christmas is a very special one for all of you and that the year ahead is full of happiness!

Ok, now you have to listen to my sappy Christmas song for you. Don't balk, just do it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Letting Go

I received this today as a forwarded email, the originator of the 1st email says this is By T.. D. Jakes - I'm not sure how to verify that tid bit, but I can tell you it certainly sounds like something T.D. Jakes would say. I agree with every bit of it so decided to post it here in my blog so I can always find it. At times in my life I have been walked away from, and at times I have done the walking away. I believe you have to know how to move beyond being walked away from and you have to know when you should be the one walkin'. Anyway, I hope everyone enjoys this as much as I do:

"There are people who can walk away from you. And hear me when I tell you this! When people can walk away from you: let them walk. I don't want you to try to talk another person into staying with you, loving you, calling you, caring about you, coming to see you, staying attached to you. I mean hang up the phone. When people can walk away from you let them walk. Your destiny is never tied to anybody that left. The bible said that, "they came out from us that it might be made manifest that they were not for us. For had they been of us, no doubt they would have continued with us." [1 John 2:19]

People leave you because they are not joined to you. And if they are not joined to you, you can't make them stay. Let them go. And it doesn't mean that they are a bad person it just means that their part in the story is over. And you've got to know when people's part in your story is over so that you don't keep trying to raise the dead. You've got to know when it's dead. You've got to know when it's over.

Let me tell you something... I've got the gift of good-bye. It's the tenth spiritual gift, I believe in good-bye. It's not that I'm hateful, it's that I'm faithful, and I know whatever God means for me to have He'll give it to me. And if it takes too much sweat I don't need it. Stop begging people to stay. Let them go!!

If you are holding on to something that doesn't belong to you and was never intended for your life, then you need to......LET IT GO!!!

If you are holding on to past hurts and pains .......LET IT GO!!!

If someone can't treat you right, love you back, and see your worth......LET IT GO!!!

If someone has angered you........LET IT GO!!!

If you are holding on to some thoughts of evil and revenge..... LET IT GO!!!

If you are involved in a wrong relationship or addiction......LET IT GO!!!

If you are holding on to a job that no longer meets your needs or talents........LET IT GO!!!

If you have a bad attitude.... ...LET IT GO!!!

If you keep judging others to make yourself feel better......LET IT GO!!!

If you're stuck in the past and God is trying to take you to a new level in Him.........LET IT GO!!!

If you are struggling with the healing of a broken relationship. .....LET IT GO!!!

If you keep trying to help someone who won't even try to help themselves.. ....LET IT GO!!!

If you're feeling depressed and stressed ............LET IT GO!!!

If there is a particular situation that you are so used to handling yourself and God is saying 'take your hands off of it,' then you need to.......LET IT GO!!!"

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What I Love About Kefir

And no friends, I am not speaking of Mr. Keifer Sutherland (although one mention of Jack Bauer and I'll admit it - it makes me wish I was abducted by terrorists just so he could come rescue me!).

What I'm talking about is Kefir - kinda like yogurt in that it's got a funny sounding name, tastes tart, has good bacteria in it and it's a cultured milk product. That's where the similarities end.

Kefir is wonderful! It's not as thick as yogurt - it's more liquidy, which I find makes it a better base for smoothies or topping for fresh fruit.

In addition to having the same good active bacteria as yogurt - Kefir has even more good and active bacterias: Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter and Streptococcus species.

Kefir also has "good for you" yeasts that counteract and destroy that "bad for you" candida yeast. So forget the old wisdom of eating yogurt when you take antibiotics - eat or drink Kefir instead - it'll really make a difference.

Kefir actually helps your digestive tract do it's job! Activia-smivia, you don't need their added pro-biotics - you just need Kefir.

My favorite Kefir is the plain orignal variety by Lifeway. Visit their website for more about the nutritional benefits of Kefir, learn about different varieties of Kefir and to find Kefir recipes:

Melissa's Favorite Kefir Treat:
1 Bowl
1/2 - 1 Cup of raspberries, blackberries or strawberries (I use frozen and thaw them a bit)
1/2 - 1 Cup of Plain Kefir
2 Tbsp. of Honey or Agave Nectar

Place berries in your bowl, top with kefir, drizzle with honey or agave nectar - enjoy!

If using honey, I prefer raw honey, which is not in liquid form usually - solve this by a quick spin in the microwave.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tomorrow's Another Day - and I Am Not Afraid

So recently my dear friend Donna and I were musing over why the fall seems to be the bearer of stormy weather in my life. Nothing life threatening usually - just really inconvenient, hard to deal with, hassle after hassle after hassle that I don't have the time (or the money) for. Last year it was the first kidney stone attack, black mold in one apartment, bed bugs in another and two moves inside of 5 weeks. This year it was the death of a Nissan Sentra - with no money anywhere in sight to replace it and then crappy homeschool Science curriculum - again with no money to replace it.

Last year when the storms hit - I was practically panic stricken (ok, not until the bed bugs started eating me alive!). But then God sent his people - my family, my church family and even loose aquaintences into my life with furniture, money, and a willingness to move me into my current house the day before Thanksgiving. It was a traumatic time, but a time that taught me to never doubt that God really will show up - my family really does love me - my friends truly can be counted on - and the Body of Christ moves into action with a speed and efficiency that is miraculous!

This year, while the car dying on the way home from work was an inconvenience, I didn't panic. I kinda knew in the back of my head that this was it for the car. But I felt really calm about it. I had no idea what I'd do for transportation - but the first thing I did (after calling my sweet neighbor for a ride home) was sit and pray. I was truly able to thank God for the knowledge that even though I didn't know what the immediate future held - He did and that He loves me and would provide for me one way or another. How wonderful to feel at peace during a situation that once upon a time would have caused me to become hysterical, depressed and angry. Not only did my neighbor come get me and bring me home, she and her husband loaned me their car for the weekend. Another friend showed up at church with a car for me to use until after the new year when I will hopefully be in a better position to replace my dead car.

Then over the past few weeks I've realized that I can't stand the Science Curriculum I'd purchased for Rebecca this year. I knew of another one that I'd reviewed and really liked, and who several other women whom I trust use with their homeschooled middle-schoolers. It's $100 just to get started with it brand new. I posted a message on a Christian homeschooling support web group asking if anyone had a used copy they'd sell me at a discount. A woman I've never even met just GAVE me hers to use! Another problem SOLVED. Plus, I met the nice woman when I went to pick up the curriculum and now I have a new friend!

Life throws us curve balls. For some odd reason my curve balls do seem to come in the fall. But I'm not afraid of them so much anymore - I'm not at bat alone. I am so thankful for a God that always has my back!

I love this song - it's been an anthem of mine as a single parent a long time - and I think goes well with this blog (I also hope if you're reading this and dealing with a storm or two of your own it will encourage you a bit)...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

So Far Away (or...Why I Cried Yesterday)

From Easter 2007

Andrea, Rachel and Adorable Ashleigh arrived at the Atlanta Airport Friday afternoon - and what a wonderful sight for my eyes to see! I was so excited I could hardly stand it!!!!

Andrea, who was worried to death about flying - did a wonderful job navigating the Baton Rouge and Atlanta (Hartsfield International) airports - with a teenager, a 17 month old, a stroller and a car seat in tow - a HUGE accomplishment for anyone - seasoned traveler or not!

Ashleigh came right to me, wanting me to hold her from just minutes after they arrived - WHAT A THRILL! Ashleigh and I were thick as theives the whole time they were here. I taught her all kinds of fun things like how to jump on the bed, how to pretend to sleep and snore, how to make a sound (you'd have to hear it) and pinch her fingers together, and how to grab something really quick hold it to herself and shout "That's Mine!" I fed her chocolate and cheese cake (well, ok, she helped herself to the cheesecake - see how much she's like her Godmother!) I think that other than her mother, I am her new favorite person in the whole world - which is cool, because that was precisely my plan!

All of us did several of me and Becca's favorite things while they were here: ate at The Cheesecake Factory, shopped at Lennox Mall - where I bought...what else? MAKE UP (people I am totally hooked on Bare Minerals!), visited with Andrea's Uncle and Aunt (Becca and I don't normally visit with these two nice people, but we do love to visit with people), shopped some more at Wal-Mart, went to church on Easter Sunday, ate overly loaded cream and chocolate filled donuts from Dunkin Donuts, lounged around and ate dinner Easter Sunday afternoon and evening - when I dyed eggs with Rebecca and Ashes, and went to Waffle House (YUM) on Monday morning.

Then, Andrea and Rachel packed up all there stuff, we loaded up the truck (long story - it'll be another blog at another time) and headed to the airport (Becca went too, I kept her home from school). We got them all checked in for their flight home, found the line for security - they got bumped to the front because of Adorable Ashleigh - which caused us to have to give quick hugs and kisses and go our seperate ways.

As I was leaving the security area, I was thinking to myself "WOW. That went well. I really thought I'd cry when it came time to hug my BEST FRIEND IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD good-bye!" About 2 seconds after having that thought, I busted up crying right there in the middle of the airport - and I cried all the way back home (which is quite a while in case you're wondering).

The few days that Andrea was here passed in the blink of an eye and were ever too short. It's like this, before I moved to Atlanta, I knew I would miss her and would miss her more than I could have imagined then. After I moved here, it took a lot of my energy and focus to get everything going here for me and Becca, and I missed Andrea, but there was no real time to sit and think about how much I missed her. Once we were settled in, I knew I missed her, but we talk almost every single day - sometimes more than once or twice - so we're still up to date on everything, just via phone. But having her here, in my physical presence - where we don't just get to have conversation - but also those moments of smiles, widened eyes, conspiratory glances and such that become a second language among folks who are lucky enough to have the kind of friendship Andrea and I share...made me realize THAT'S what I've been missing. That unspoken connection of someone who GETS ME and ACCEPTS ME - faults and all - and just loves me anyway.

People: If you have only ONE friendship like this in your lifetime, you will have been truly blessed. Never, not for one moment, take your truest friendships for granted. They really are a gift from God and are his way of physically being able to wrap his arms around us.

I miss my friend. I miss being able to be in a certain situation and catching her eyes and KNOWING that she is thinking EXACTLY what I'm thinking - and that while it may not be a nice thought - it sure is FUN! I miss being able to run over to her house when I have something to laugh about, something to cry about, something to whine or complain about, something to sit there in silence about - or for something I want her to cook so I can eat it!

I miss the way her ever-steady and calm demeanor, tempers my all-over-the-place, gotta do it now demeanor.

And...I MISS THAT BABY ALREADY! Andrea, you better kiss her face off for me! And don't let her forget all the tricks I taught her! T' Missy LOVES HER SOME Ashleigh! And I love you too girlfriend, YOU ARE THE BEST.

As almost always, I need a theme song for this moment in my life -
Carole King's "So Far Away"

So far away
Doesn't anybody stay in one place any more?
It would be so fine to see your face at my door
Doesn't help to know you're just time away
Long ago I reached for you and there you stood
Holding you again could only do me good
Oh, how I wish I could
But you're so far away
One more song about move along the highway
Can't say much of anything that's new
If I could only work this life out my way
I'd rather spend it being close to you
But you're so far away
Doesn't anybody stay in one place any more?
It would be so fine to see your face at my door
Doesn't help to know you're just time away
Traveling around sure gets me down and lonely
Nothing else to do but close my mind
I sure hope the road don't come to own me
There's so many dreams I've yet to find
But you're so far away
Doesn't anybody stay in one place any more?
It would be so fine to see your face at my door
Doesn't help to know you're just time away

Comfort Food & Small Affirmations

Another 2007 Blog

This isn't a new finding, but a reminder to me of what makes a comfort food such a comfort. I think it's food that reminds us of a time when we felt especially safe and loved - and if we're lucky, that sense of loving security comes from somewhere along the path of our childhood.

This morning I made Cream of Wheat - haven't had it in 9 years. Don't turn your nose up just yet - the way I make it is awesome: boil it in whole milk with a pinch of salt, when it's finished cooking add real butter, sugar and 2-3 tablespoons of half & half. It's the ultimate comfort in a bowl.

Why haven't I had it in 9 years? Because it, along with Kleinpeter Egg Nog was all I could eat for about 2 weeks (9 years ago) when I had my Wisdom Teeth removed and got a dry socket. During that two weeks, I was home from work, spending every moment with Rebecca and sharing my many bowls of Cream of Wheat with her.

So this morning, Becca comes in the kitchen and says "Something smells good!" I said, "It's Cream of Wheat" she asks for a bite, I give her one from my bowl and she lights up and says "OH MY GOSH MOM! I remember that from when I was a baby! It's just so YUM!!!!" My child knows what it is to have a sweet taste on her tongue, a warm meal in her belly and associated feeling-memories of happiness and love as a small child. Thank You God for small affirmations that I'm not completely botching this Motherhood gig!

Why I Think Zac Efron Might Be the Anti-Christ

Hey Everyone In Bloggetyville! I am working on moving some blogs I wrote on MySpace over the past few years to this blog so I have any that I especially like all in one spot. This is actually a blog I wrote in 2007. I hope you enjoy it. And just to make it more current: We still have a Zefron fan in our home - but the list of celebrity crushes has grown and is much longer these days. We no longer have a dog named Charlie. I survived the event I write about below, but definitely have the gray hairs to show for it!

Start 2007
Sunday I took Rebecca to see the movie Hair Spray because she's been seeming to have a little crush on Zac Efron - complete with about 15 pictures/posters of him on her wall - and because I heard the movie was just really good. It was! It was the most fun I think I've ever had at the movies (and I used to go see the Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight in Ft. Worth y'all!) If you haven't seen it, you NEED to. It is awesome - the music, the dancing, the message - Interracial Harmony and Love.

Queen Latifah was incredible - woman has some serious pipes!
Amanda Bynes - I love this wholesome girl, she's funny, pretty and much smarter than the ditzzy character she plays in this movie to perfection. When you see the expressions on her face throughout the movie, you will crack up!
Nikki Blonsky - lead character, first time on screen and a complete and total smashing success! She was a joy to watch from the first moment you saw her on the screen. She can sing. She can dance. She can act. Better than many who've been entertaining us for generations.
Michelle Pfieffer - Still beautiful, still a good actress, plus we get to hear her sing and see her dance (a little) in this role.
Elijah Kelly - in a word: HOTNESS. Can this man move or can he move? Wonderful dancer, superb in the role of Seaweed. I'd pass out if he touched his forefinger to my lips too. That's all I'm sayin' and I ain't sayin' no more!
Christopher Walken - one of my all time FAVORITE actors of all time anyway - wish we'd have seen him sing and dance a bit more - he's excellent at both, and was a pleasure in this movie as well. Really funny.
John Travolta - did an excellent job - and I went in skeptical. He pulled it off and is such a natural dancer - the fat suit didn't make a bit of difference in his gracefulness. Even if he does pray to Xenu. ;)

So now we're left with the Anti-christ himself:
He was...actually... AWESOME. Cutest thing in the world - with the dark hair, the curl in the middle of his forehead, cerulean blue eyes - that he winks with often, and dance moves that look custom made for his little tush. What girl wouldn't fall in love with him? ME. That's who. Wanna know why? Keep readin'.

After the movie, all afternoon and well into the evening, Rebecca kept going on and on and ON about how much she just LOVES Zac Efron, how cute he is, how EVERYTHING he is. She even told me her favorite dance move of his was when he does this Elvis-inspired leg popping thing that ends with a big ol' HIP THRUST! (Believe it or not, I maintained a constant and pleasant facial expression with no hint of the seed of contempt that was then and there planted in my heart for this Devil's Spawn called "Zefron" by his minions of fans!)

So we're sitting on the couch and she kisses our dog and says "I just love kissing Charlie on the nose." And I said "Would you rather kiss Charlie on the nose or Zac Efron on the nose?" And do you know what my heathen little 11 year old monster answered???? She said..."I'd rather kiss Zac Efron on the LIPS!"And there it was. The end of my darling daughter's innocence splayed out before me in all of it's gory ugliness.

Because of Zac Efrons eyes, hips and lips - my little girl has discovered BOYS and she thinks they might be fun to kiss. It was truly one of the saddest moments of my life as a mom so far. It made me realize that, not yet, but gradually over the next few years, I will cease to be the center of her universe. She will find the things some stupid boy has to say infinitely more interesting than what good ol' Mom has to say. And my hugs from her will be fewer and farther between because some icky person she's infatuated with will be stealing her affections. And you know what??? I just can't stand it, and I'm not ready now and I won't be ready then either. And the pain of knowing the inevitability of it all is heart wrenching, isn't it?

The worst thing is the fact that the ONLY way to keep a solid bond with her and keep her communicating with me is to allow her to dive headlong into her boy crazy phase and to even revel in it with her. I find myself having to giggle with her over Corbin Bleu's dimples and floppy hair, then listening for hours on end and she tells and retells me the same trivial facts again and again about Zefron, Orlando Bloom, and all of their friends! It's a hard row to hoe, I know that much. End 2007

In retrospect, her entire innocence is not gone - she is growing up and becoming a young woman all the same. It's wonderful but bittersweet, and on more than one occassion has caused tears to pop into my eyes and a choke of melancholy to grab my chest. I wouldn't change a moment of these times.

Rebecca's Favorite song at time this blog was orginally written was "Ladie's Choice" from the movie Hairspray and sung by the boy who might possibly be the Devil himself...Zac Efron.
Click Here to watch and listen for yourself--> Enjoy it if you possibly can.

Hey little girl with the cash to burn
I'm sellin' something you won't return
Hey little g irl take me off the shelf'
Cause it's hard having fun playing with yourself
Once you've browsed through the whole selection
Shake your hips in my direction
A prettier package you never did see
Take me home then unwrap me
Shop around little darlin'
I've got to beThe Ladies' Choice, (Ladies' Choice), Ladies' Choice
Hey little girl with the ford for sale
Test drive this American male
It's gonna take cash to fill my tank
So let's crack open your piggy bank
Hey little girl going window shopping
I got something traffic stopping
Hey, little girl on a spending spree
I don't come cheap but the kisses come free
On closer inspection I'm sure that you'll agree
I'm the Ladies' Choice, (Ladies' Choice), Ladies' Choice(ahhhhh, ahhhhh, ahhhhh, ahhhhh)
Hey, little girl on a spending spree
I don't come cheap but the kisses come free
On closer inspection I'm sure that you'll agree
Hey little girl, listen to my plea
I come with a lifetime guarantee
And one day maybe we'll find that baby makes three
It's the Ladies' Choice...I'm the Ladies' Choice

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Single Mother's Prayer...Set to Music

There are many struggles a single mom faces - and she faces them largely alone. I've been a single mom for 13 years now. I've learned to keep my chin up, put one foot in front of the other, smile when sometimes I feel like crying, take my daughter by the hand and move forward in faith. But there are, every once in a very great while, times when my chin feels heavy, my feet are tired, my mouth can't form a smile, and when faith seems not enough. These are the times when I have difficult but prayerful discussions with the Lord.

I heard a song today that I haven't heard in quite some time, "Gratitude" by Nicole Nordeman. It's a song that as a single mom has made me cry each and every time I've heard it. The lyrics hit home with me as it overwhelms me to hear my heart's deepest and difficult prayers put into eloquent words and set to beautiful music. (I've included the lyrics below.) Hearing the song also reminds to me that in spite of the struggles I face, I have so much to be thankful for. God does indeed send rain my way. He gave me a wonderful and supportive family from childhood through present-day. He seems to always save me from myself and He gave me salvation! He's provided me with a wonderful church where my spirit is fed. He's brought many wonderful friends into my life who love me, love Rebecca, and who go out of their way to make sure we have what we need - whether it's a hot meal when I'm ill or injured, a ride to school or work, a thoughtful email, a hug, or even a simple prayer - these Heaven-sent friends rain on us often with warm soothing showers of love.

Of all the earthly gifts He's given me, I am MOST grateful for Him giving me the incredible gift of my darling Rebecca. I always wanted to have a little girl, I prayed for a daughter, even years before her conception and birth. I wouldn't trade her for anything including what I may perceive to be an "easier" journey in life than the journey of single-parenting I am on. If God never answers another of my prayers, never bestows another blessing on my life, never gives me one millionth of just one of the many desires of my heart - for giving my life Rebecca I will praise Him always. Because during those hard, dark times, when I feel alone, my smile fails me and my faith seems weak, I've only to set eyes on my daughter and I am reminded that HE LOVES ME.

Let us always remember that in good times, bad times, easy times and hard, God is there in all times -always providing much we can be grateful for, He loves each and every one of us, He hears our deepest prayers and He responds and answers in ways much more magnificently than we can even imagine.

GRATITUDE ~ by Nicole Nordeman

Send some rain, would You send some rain?
'Cause the earth is dry and needs to drink again
And the sun is high and we are sinking in the shade
Would You send a cloud, thunder long and loud?
Let the sky grow black and send some mercy down
Surely You can see that we are thirsty and afraid
But maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways
And if that's the case . . .

We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
For lessons learned in how to thirst for You
How to bless the very sun that warms our face
If You never send us rain

Daily bread, give us daily bread
Bless our bodies, keep our children fed
Fill our cups, then fill them up again tonight
Wrap us up and warm us through
Tucked away beneath our sturdy roofs
Let us slumber safe from danger's view this time
maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways
And if that's the case . . .

We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
A lesson learned to hunger after You
That a starry sky offers a better view if no roof is overhead
And if we never taste that bread

Oh, the differences that often are between
What we want and what we really need

So grant us peace, Jesus, grant us peace
Move our hearts to hear a single beat
Between alibis and enemies tonight
Or maybe not, not today
Peace might be another world away
And if that's the case . . .

We'll give thanks to You
With gratitudeFor lessons learned in how to trust in You
That we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream
In abundance or in need
And if You never grant us peaceBut Jesus, would You please . . .