Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Starry-eyed, and love is all around us

There's a Rome apple tree just outside my window. It's still a bit spindly, but I've had it three years and each summer, I get a few more apples. The birds eye them beadily, and now and then, a brazen squirrel leaps into the branches, shaking the whole trembling tree, until I rap the window with a pen. This summer, I have a dozen blushed fruits, and as they grow, I've contemplated the pie I'm going to bake in a few months. I only need 7 or 8, so even if one goes bad or the squirrel outfoxes me while I'm at work, the potential is there.

But there's plenty of potential beyond cinnamon, sugar, and homegrown apples. I'm always telling people to watch for the miracles and messages. There are little gifts from God all over the place. Last week, when our sprinkler system went wonky and refused to shut off, a mother robin ran to the edge of the runaway spray and flitted, danced, and chirped (in appreciation, I think) as she enjoyed a cool bath on a humid afternoon. Yes, it was a crisis for us, and my husband was in a panic. But I saw the gift, and it was a treat. The sprinkler got fixed. Life went on.

And it will go on, even if I have to buy apples from a store, because one of the gifts this morning is a tiny yellow goldfinch, hopping from branch to branch and pecking away. Never mind that the echinacea I planted to attract him are finally in bloom. He's thrilled with my apples, and I'm thrilled with him.

Rest assured, I'm not turning this into a birdwatching blog. But I think there are gifts and lessons here for all of us. All over the world, and most recently, this weekend in southern Illinois, people have given Sahara, Amy, and Shannon the gift of unconditional love, along with hard-earned cash to help with Sahara's astronomical medical expenses. And while the money is so amazing and so appreciated, I'm willing to bet it's the gifts from your heart that stun them even more. At the very same time, every last one of us who follows Sahara's story, or goes to a pork chop benefit, or a Rick concert, or wears a swirly orange wristband--we've all been handed hundreds of gifts and miracles throughout the year.

Of course I wish Sahara had never developed this horrid tumor. But in the almost 12 months that I've known, the blessings have been coming like goldfinches in an apple tree. They make me believe.

Hello everyone!

Are you ready for this? The dinner/dance in Cairo Saturday night raised a whopping, unbelievable $10,000!!!! Between the pork chop dinners, the silent auction and the cash donations, it was the single largest fundraiser ever held at the Cairo Elks Club. It was beyond amazing! The place was jam-packed, and they even ran out of food, TWICE! We got to see so many people that we hadn't seen in such a long time, and there were so many people we didn't even know, who came out to support our sweet girl. God bless each and every one of you who attended - we were so honored to have you there. And to those who put this party together, wow. The food was delicious, the music was great, and the atmosphere was joyous.

A million thanks to Bobby Pace, the man who put this together and worked so hard to make it happen. He literally works seven days a week at Stop & Shop, making sure that the store has the best meat in the area, and he still managed to pull off the impossible! There are soooo many other people who were involved and helped so much...Jeff Berryhill, Stephanie Dixon, the Cairo Elks, Duke and Joanie Jones and Modern Woodmen of America Insurance, Ned Gunn and Bottom Line, all of the silent auction donors, everyone who sold raffle and dinner tickets, and everyone who helped in any way...THANK YOU. We are so grateful I can't even find the words.

When you see the people that you grew up with still standing beside you as you go through your life, it is the best feeling in the world. We are blessed with a small town history that has given us the best friends anyone could ask for...and we love you all.

Sahara was really overwhelmed by the night - she still can't get over how people come together for her. I don't think she grasps that she is so special that from the moment someone meets her, they never forget her. People can see that she is strong, they see the spark that somehow still burns bright in her eyes, and they see the love that she brings to everyone around her. I thank God for her EVERY DAY.

I hope you'll take a moment to check out the snapfish photo album and look at the fun we had Saturday night! (You don't have to be a snapfish member to see the photos; just click on the link!)

Have a great week!

With love,