Five things to be thankful for.. on a freezing Tuesday

Wouldn't be complete without Maison Kayser's pistachio eclair. Taste of heaven! #maisonkayser #foodporn #foodtrip #foodtreat #pistachioeclair #midtown #mynewyork #manhattan #40thstreet #lunch #withPeterOI am trying to focus on the positive as I just saw that temps outside are in the single digits.  I am already mentally planning my winter attire today, including how many layers I will be wearing top and bottom.   In the meantime, let me get started and hopefully jumpstart my optimism quotient by typing away.  Again, I try to write this as spontaneously as possible to keep it simple and just so it comes from the heart.

1.  Pistachio eclairs from Maison Kayser.  I’m supposed to be on a diet but I did indulge with Peter O last Saturday and am so tempted to go and drop by later today to grab another one.  If you haven’t tried them, they are absolutely to die for.

2.  Warm winter clothes that make me look fab anyway.  (LOL)  I have had a difficult time trying to look fashionable with my one size bigger winter coats which make me look frumpy.  My favorite fuschia pink coat also needs a replacement.. in the right size.  But I am so happy they keep me warm.

3.  Baileys.  I think of Baileys and I think of as close to chocolate heaven as I can get, but I’m resisting the urge to grab a bottle.

4.  Angelo texting me “I like to text.  I love you, Mama.”  He recently got his own iphone and is happily texting away, in COMPLETE sentences, mind you!

5.  Thinking about being in Manila in a couple of weeks time.  Just plain bliss.

Bundle up and hope everyone has a nice day.. I know I will have one..

Five things to be thankful for (at the start of the year)

Work in Progress: my altered bookI try to write these lists as spontaneous as I can — without thinking if I can help it.. I just think they come out more naturally and more honestly that way.

1.  Caramel — my favorite confection of all..

2.  Warm hugs from my little guy who rushes down the stairs to open the door for me every time I arrive, giving me a hug and helping me with my bags, and making sure my slippers are all set on the floor — needing only for me to literally slip my feet into them.

3.  Laughter and swollen noodles..

4.  A large cafe au lait in lieu of lunch..

5.  Friends who will bop me in the head when I need a good smacking, and who will pat me on the back when I deserve it.

Looking back: 14 for 2014

2014Here’s a reprint of my list in 2014 with comments added on how I fared sans the preface.  I actually didn’t ever go back to this list during the year (which I hope won’t happen to my #ThingsToDoIn2015), but it’s refreshing to look back and chime in now that the year it was meant to be for has ended.

IN 2014…

1.  I will be kinder to myself.  Charity, as they say, begins at home — but we always tend to forget ourselves.  After two years of self-flaggelation and of thinking the worst of me, I think I’m ready to move forward knowing I have learned my lesson from my failings and am a better person for it.

Kindness begets kindness and I hope to be able to give more of that after I give myself the same.

Done.  Although it took me a while to actually live it, I took these words to heart beginning the middle of the year when I would have normally just given up.  There were setbacks that would have ordinarily made me pull back, but instead, I reminded myself I WAS IMPORTANT, TOO.

2.  I will get rid of 5 items everyday to unclutter my life.  I tend to hold on to things longer than I should — and although I don’t consider myself to have had a deprived childhood, I am always thinking something worth throwing can become something or be used for another purpose later.  I’m always afraid that I might regret throwing something away.  End result: Clutter galore.  I have so far succeeded in starting one step at a time — trying to find things to put away or throw away when I sit at my desk at the start of a work day, and at home as I end it.

I have to work on this this year, as I barely got off the ground.  Hence, it’s making a come back in this year’s list of To Dos.

3.  I will be more organized and be less of a pack rat. Although related to the previous one, being organized is different from uncluttering.  I’d like to be more efficient at work by going back to practices I had gotten used to before and by trying to keep things in order.

First is the need for just one calendar to keep all relevant dates (like the school calendar, birthdays, etc.).  In the past, I had kept separate calendars and ended up getting confused and not being able to see everything together.  Thanks to the iPhone I now carry, I’m hoping to keep that all under control.  Same with notes and addresses.  I also want to create a hardcopy address book — another project in the making.

I want to see my journals all lined up and ready to pick up when I have an entry to write.  I want to have my art supplies — particularly the ones I use for jewelry making — more organized.  Putting them in individual organizers by plating (gold plated, antique brass, sterling silver, polymer clay) is a start, but because of the size of my stash needs a better approach.

Work in progress!

4.  I will try and learn to let go and forgive.  I am human, but I tell myself I was created to be better than just being one.  The past two years have been challenging and painful, and while I keep hearing that letting go and forgiveness will help me move forward, it hasn’t been quite easy.

Forgiveness is another journey that I must make, and while I can see my destination, I am trying to figure out how best to get there.

I want to be able to let go so that if something ends up hurting me, I wouldn’t be hurt as badly because I am holding on to that loosely.  I don’t want to hold it too loosely to let it go, though — just not too tightly that it would end up feeling like losing such a big part of me if it ends up not being meant for me.

There are many things that 2014 taught me, and while I had the best of intentions writing what I had written above, things turned out very differently.  And yet, as I mentioned in one of my year end posts, I have learned to give forgiveness — more for my benefit than the one forgiven — and it has been instrumental in helping me move forward.

5.  I will save more. My best motivation is to think more of myself.  With what I make, I should be comfortable and I’m getting there.  I want to be financially independent and to get back into sound economic shape.  I want to be ready for any eventuality and to be able to fend for myself money-wise.

I had a moderate degree of success in this regard but I intend to keep working on it in 2015.

6.  I will reopen and pursue my entrepreneurship with passion again. My life seems to have been in suspended animation for the last two years, leaving one of my personal accomplishments on the sidelines, withering away.  This year I promise to work more earnestly on my crafting and in selling my work through my Etsy Shop.

For starters, I’m reopening the store this week, even with just ten pieces for sale.  I am reworking my packaging and marketing, and will be gearing towards improving my craft by taking classes along the way.  I will try to do at least two fairs to be able to sell to the public directly, but not after feeling more confident about my work.

I also need to figure out if jewelry making is really the niche I want to attack or should it be papercrafting?  Should it be something else like repurposing or upcycling?  My heart and resources are really into jewelry making but I need to focus and begin again, and I hope that I can get this off the ground in the first 100 days of 2014.

I tried.  I guess there were just too many distractions in 2014 that kept me from focusing clearly on things beyond myself, and I am hoping that having regained my footing at this point in time, 2015 will enable me to reboot the store.

7.  I will try to read more. I am reading more right now and have committed to read the entire Bible in one year.  I also hope to finish the books that are just floating around my Kindle app from Steve Jobs’ biography to the latest from Grisham.  I am saddened that Tom Clancy is now on the other side, but I managed to enjoy Robert Ludlum despite his being gone, too.

I want to diversify my reading list and hopefully get at least 14 books down for 2014. (Wish me luck!)

I know I am starting to sound like a broken record because this is the one “resolution” or “to do in the coming year” that has appeared year in and year out on my lists.  It has been frustrating that I haven’t had the chance to even get to a level of “can do” or “will do” but it is a forever wish to be able to just immerse myself in reading as much as I can.

I’m hoping the History courses and the required readings, some of which are good non-fiction and not necessarily textbook materials, will actually help me move on and accomplish reading the six books for 2015 I’ve set as a goal.

8.  I will do more personal art. My projects had lain dormant and unattended and are now being resurrected with a newfound zest to express myself.  I have words, phrases, sayings I want to see executed in mini-canvasses.  I was inspired by the works for sale in the previous iteration of the Shops in Bryant Park this Christmas 2013.

One of my more ambitious ideas is to be able to produce a set of postcards I can sell to benefit my chosen causes.  I am seriously considering studying producing limited edition postcard sets from amateur photographers, particularly young Filipino camera enthusiasts whose talent need showcasing.

Another is to go to more art classes and maybe be able to draw a face by end of the year.  (My hand tends to go the way Picasso’s went — and I’m no Picasso.)

While I did a lot of personal art compared to 2013, 2014 saw a lot of “starts” that are still ongoing and will hopefully find fruition and conclusion in 2015.  This has been a true source of comfort and therapy, and I hope to continue with my altered book (now including 2015), and maybe even begin a new one sometime in the year.  I’m taking it a page at a time, and I’m quite happy with the progress I’ve made.

Again, I say I’m not an artist.  I’m a crafter.  No pressure.  It’s all for my own self-expression.

9.  I will be more thankful and celebrate life again. I am not quite there yet, but throughout the time I was being harshest on myself, I found hope in counting my blessings.  I learned to appreciate what I had in the face of what I thought I didn’t.  I guess it is what has helped me to be strong in the face of what seems like a huge chunk of my life being taken away from me, because I still felt there was something I had been given.

I have mourned, I have cried, I have wallowed in sadness and heartbreak.  I have to force myself out into the sunlight because I cannot let life’s disappointments get the better of me.  I will try and write my Five Things to be Happy about/Thankful for list more often as a constant reminder of my blessings.

I will celebrate life myself without waiting for others to celebrate it with me.  It is an acknowledgment of the blessings I have received, and the blessings others have given me.

While my Five things list has wallowed in limbo and has popped in and out throughout the year, I’m going to start a weekly reminder on my calendar to make sure I stop and write that list sometime during the week in 2015.  

I can, however, say I have made strides in being more thankful, even if my Thank You Postcard Project is still in the works.  I have made a pronounced effort to thank others directly by way of a note, an email, a text message (particularly during Thanksgiving), Instagram, a phone call, or a longhand letter when I can.  

And I don’t just say Thank you — I write a note explaining why I am saying thank you and what it means to me.  Sometimes it freaks people out, but I’d like to think I’m paying it forward.  I know how it is to be appreciated and acknowledged, and I’m hoping it spurs the ones I thank with the grace to thank others who make a difference in their lives in return.

10.  I will strive to stay healthy and become more fit. I managed to lose 20 lbs in the latter half of 2013 and I hope to lose even more in the next 6 months and get healthy.  As I grow older, I’ve realized that taking care of my body is becoming more of a necessity rather than an option.  Otherwise, my body parts might just start conking out on me.

Done!

11.  I will share more of my time and resources. I really prefer to give than raise funds but when the need is great, I don’t hesitate to put my name out there and ask for donations.  I have come to discover that although my own financial resources may be limited, I have a way of asking people that makes them want to give.  I did that for a friend who was trying to raise money for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, being a native from Tacloban herself, and with one appeal and less than 38 hours, we raised $500, my measly donation included.

Coming from a third world country that is always in need even during its best days, I have realized my blessings are abundant enough for me to give more — not necessarily moneywise, but there are other ways to make a difference, and I’d like to make a difference in 2014.

I tried raising money for my mother’s annual Christmas party for the poor folks in her hometown of Barangay San Vicente in Bulan, Sorsogon, but the effort came a little late.  I promise to do better in 2015.  However, I did send my contribution which was enough to cover the party and allow the children a decent holiday party.

12.  I will put my “teacher” hat on. When I was in law school back in another lifetime, my classmates liked getting what we called case digests because they were good summations of otherwise long and complicated cases.  When a plot was too complicated, I’d take to the board and explain in simpler terms.  I also had a gift for giving textbook like definitions I pulled from context and stock knowledge.  It wasn’t that I was a genius, I just had this knack for explaining things without thinking you knew what I already knew.

My class is all but one person whose little brain I am trying to mold like my own, knowing he has the smarts and the aptitude and even more than I possessed.  My first debacle is learning American History in earnest, and the fact that it’s his favorite subject doubles the pressure on his poor mom. (Me!)  I also want to teach him cursive writing which is not offered here.  I have started already, trying to prepare my little guy for the Statewide tests happening in April.  I know I can do this, and I WILL do this.

Done.  He did much better in the 2014 tests which was a relief, but I have fallen greatly behind in teaching him cursive writing.  (Project for 2015!)

13.  I will enjoy New York City and do something “New York” at least once a month. I have been a New Yorker for almost 14 years now, and I’ve been thankful that whole time to live in one of the greatest cities in the world.  It is not lost upon me that both for Americans and the world outside our borders, New York City is THE destination to see.

Unfortunately, living here has made it ordinary despite its being extraordinary.  I wish I could do more to explore this wonderful city and I intend to do that from hereon.  Visit new places — like trying new things and new restaurants, even on my own.  Enjoying a play or two.. watching a concert once a year.. and maybe one day making it to the Opera or to Lincoln Center to watch the world renowned New York City Ballet.

I tried to do something towards the end of the year but my life has been constantly in flux.  I have put this on my 2015 list again and will hopefully be more successful and deliberate this coming year — actually accomplishing something.  Watch out for my updates so we can keep track together.

14.  I will be more fervent in my pursuit of a closer relationship with God.  It’s not just because I believe that we are never truly down and out — that when things seem to be at its worst, we receive or are blessed with something good or even greater.  Through the worst of times, I am forever grateful that I have never felt closer to God, and I have never felt his presence stronger in my life.  When I asked a question, he answered clear as day.

My journey in this respect is far from easy.  And I take that as His way of showing me that this is the most important relationship in my life because it is what takes the greatest amount of work.  While it may be the hardest to be good at, it is the most rewarding in the end.

Countless times, I found myself crying and lost in anger and pain — and the only thing that gave me comfort was the thought that He was holding my hand through it all.  I want to keep working at being a better person, and a more deserving daughter to Him.  It is such a struggle given all that I am going through, but I know I will make it because He is there with me.

I have tried and continue to try.. and will keep trying.  Sometimes we want to think that we can easily do something we so badly want, but our human nature intervenes and keeps us from doing just that.  But my faith has never waned, even when my heart was ready to throw the towel in.  It has kept me going through all the challenges I faced in 2014, and it is what I’m looking to to keep me moving forward this coming year.

———

So how did you do against your list, if you had one?

Five things to be thankful for

It’s Sunday evening and like every Sunday in my daily readings from Kerygma Family, I look back at the blessings of the previous week.  I was sort of sidelined by a bad infection which threatened to take over my immune system but I made a strong come back after resting it away at home.  No fever, but my neck ached liked crazy due to swollen lymph nodes.  I’m okay now but still exhausted — so I’m trying to take it slow.

Tonight, I’m thankful and happy about…

1.  Finally some good temperatures that are not in the teens and which actually allowed us to go out with jackets but no scarves today.  (40s!)

2.  Getting Angelo’s science project going.  (We conducted the experiment but still have halfway to go with his partner, Ryan.)

3.  Finding a ring I had misplaced.  I wear three rings daily — and I take them off when I do my chores.  One, somehow, found its way to another bin away from the two, but they’re a happy threesome again.

4.  Family lunch at Waterzooi, a place we used to visit and went back to again.  Loved their Baked French Onion Soup (upper right picture in the collage below) and shared Alan’s Paella Moules Frites (bottom pictures).  Ended up eating Angelo’s burger, but I’m not complaining.  The promise of doing things differently.. keeps me hopeful.
Food trip: Waterzooi Belgian Bistro fir lunch and Banana Nutella Crepe for snacks on Super Bowl Sunday

5. Completing my “HOPE” multi-page layout for Art Journal Every Day in my altered book.

Art Journal Every Day: Hope Multi-page Layout (pre-journaling)This one was done quicker than I had thought it would be, although I’ve had to retake the layout graphics over and over again because of changes to the drawings. The journaling pretty much stayed as is, then I had to blur them out.  I’m happy to be able to work consistently on journaling no matter how short my window to work on the pages may be.

I’m now working on another multi-page layout, “BELIEVE”, but will write a feature on “HOPE” before I post anything on any other work in progress.

Another week and another month ahead… can you believe January has ended?  And yes, we’re officially into the Year of the Horse which is my year although my element is Fire…  That only means I’m turning 48 (because I’m certainly not turning 60 YET)… another year.

Thankful and happy, and feeling blessed I am.

 

Five things to be thankful for

1.  A warm and cozy home to go into when the temps outside dip down to 27 degrees.  (Thankfully, we didn’t get a ton load of snow again.  Just another regular winter snowfall sometime this afternoon.)

2.  Instagram.  18 followers.. my most popular posts are a series of photos I’m tagging #jeepneystories.  Come and take a look and let me know what you think of my photos.

3.  A nice dinner of tuna sashimi and shrimp tempura with rose wine.  I’m trying to be good with the diet… tuna shashimi at 1 pt each and 2 shrimp tempura.. plus a glass of wine.  Life is good..

4.  Getting on with my altered book and Art Journal Every Day project.  Finally drawing and writing again.  (Writing more about it at Gotham Chick.)

5.  Watching “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” with my boys.  Makes me miss Tom Clancy.  I’m sure he left a ton of story ideas that will see more of his genuis on the big screen.  I love Chris Pine as Jack Ryan and I’m keeping my fingers crossed he will come back for the next installment.  I would love to see him do the succeeding ones eventually.  But the even more intriguing thought for me is if they will ever do John Clark who is my favorite Tom Clancy character of all.  I totally enjoyed  seeing Kenneth Branagh who, it turns out, was also the director of the movie.  I have long been in love with this Knighted Englishman from the moment I first saw him in one of my forever favorites, “Much Ado About Nothing” some twenty years ago.  (Which he, again, directed and starred in.)

I have around two hours more to go before I hit the sack and I have a corner I want to attack and weed out stuff that needs to be disposed of.  I’m on my second cup of tea and hoping to write another post before I hit the sack in a bit.  I hope everyone is having a good weekend, too… despite the cold for us here on the east coast…

We should all count our blessings.

14 for 2014

14 in 2014Everyone is into making lists with the start of a new year upon us.  So here is mine.  I had written this down in one sitting in as spontaneous a way as possible in the order it occurred to me.

I like the way the list shaped up because it started with me, and ended with who should be the most important one to all of us.  Read on..

IN 2014…

1.  I will be kinder to myself.  Charity, as they say, begins at home — but we always tend to forget ourselves.  After two years of self-flaggelation and of thinking the worst of me, I think I’m ready to move forward knowing I have learned my lesson from my failings and am a better person for it. 

Kindness begets kindness and I hope to be able to give more of that after I give myself the same.

2.  I will get rid of 5 items everyday to unclutter my life.  I tend to hold on to things longer than I should — and although I don’t consider myself to have had a deprived childhood, I am always thinking something worth throwing can become something or be used for another purpose later.  I’m always afraid that I might regret throwing something away.  End result: Clutter galore.  I have so far succeeded in starting one step at a time — trying to find things to put away or throw away when I sit at my desk at the start of a work day, and at home as I end it. 

3.  I will be more organized and be less of a pack rat. Although related to the previous one, being organized is different from uncluttering.  I’d like to be more efficient at work by going back to practices I had gotten used to before and by trying to keep things in order. 

First is the need for just one calendar to keep all relevant dates (like the school calendar, birthdays, etc.).  In the past, I had kept separate calendars and ended up getting confused and not being able to see everything together.  Thanks to the iPhone I now carry, I’m hoping to keep that all under control.  Same with notes and addresses.  I also want to create a hardcopy address book — another project in the making.

I want to see my journals all lined up and ready to pick up when I have an entry to write.  I want to have my art supplies — particularly the ones I use for jewelry making — more organized.  Putting them in individual organizers by plating (gold plated, antique brass, sterling silver, polymer clay) is a start, but because of the size of my stash needs a better approach.

4.  I will try and learn to let go and forgive.  I am human, but I tell myself I was created to be better than just being one.  The past two years have been challenging and painful, and while I keep hearing that letting go and forgiveness will help me move forward, it hasn’t been quite easy.

Forgiveness is another journey that I must make, and while I can see my destination, I am trying to figure out how best to get there. 

I want to be able to let go so that if something ends up hurting me, I wouldn’t be hurt as badly because I am holding on to that loosely.  I don’t want to hold it too loosely to let it go, though — just not too tightly that it would end up feeling like losing such a big part of me if it ends up not being meant for me.

5.  I will save more. My best motivation is to think more of myself.  With what I make, I should be comfortable and I’m getting there.  I want to be financially independent and to get back into sound economic shape.  I want to be ready for any eventuality and to be able to fend for myself money-wise. 

6.  I will reopen and pursue my entrepreneurship with passion again. My life seems to have been in suspended animation for the last two years, leaving one of my personal accomplishments on the sidelines, withering away.  This year I promise to work more earnestly on my crafting and in selling my work through my Etsy Shop

For starters, I’m reopening the store this week, even with just ten pieces for sale.  I am reworking my packaging and marketing, and will be gearing towards improving my craft by taking classes along the way.  I will try to do at least two fairs to be able to sell to the public directly, but not after feeling more confident about my work.

I also need to figure out if jewelry making is really the niche I want to attack or should it be papercrafting?  Should it be something else like repurposing or upcycling?  My heart and resources are really into jewelry making but I need to focus and begin again, and I hope that I can get this off the ground in the first 100 days of 2014.

7.  I will try to read more. I am reading more right now and have committed to read the entire Bible in one year.  I also hope to finish the books that are just floating around my Kindle app from Steve Jobs’ biography to the latest from Grisham.  I am saddened that Tom Clancy is now on the other side, but I managed to enjoy Robert Ludlum despite his being gone, too.

I want to diversify my reading list and hopefully get at least 14 books down for 2014. (Wish me luck!)

8.  I will do more personal art. My projects had lain dormant and unattended and are now being resurrected with a newfound zest to express myself.  I have words, phrases, sayings I want to see executed in mini-canvasses.  I was inspired by the works for sale in the previous iteration of the Shops in Bryant Park this Christmas 2013. 

One of my more ambitious ideas is to be able to produce a set of postcards I can sell to benefit my chosen causes.  I am seriously considering studying producing limited edition postcard sets from amateur photographers, particularly young Filipino camera enthusiasts whose talent need showcasing.

Another is to go to more art classes and maybe be able to draw a face by end of the year.  (My hand tends to go the way Picasso’s went — and I’m no Picasso.)

9.  I will be more thankful and celebrate life again. I am not quite there yet, but throughout the time I was being harshest on myself, I found hope in counting my blessings.  I learned to appreciate what I had in the face of what I thought I didn’t.  I guess it is what has helped me to be strong in the face of what seems like a huge chunk of my life being taken away from me, because I still felt there was something I had been given.

I have mourned, I have cried, I have wallowed in sadness and heartbreak.  I have to force myself out into the sunlight because I cannot let life’s disappointments get the better of me.  I will try and write my Five Things to be Happy about/Thankful for list more often as a constant reminder of my blessings.

I will celebrate life myself without waiting for others to celebrate it with me.  It is an acknowledgment of the blessings I have received, and the blessings others have given me.

10.  I will strive to stay healthy and become more fit. I managed to lose 20 lbs in the latter half of 2013 and I hope to lose even more in the next 6 months and get healthy.  As I grow older, I’ve realized that taking care of my body is becoming more of a necessity rather than an option.  Otherwise, my body parts might just start conking out on me.

11.  I will share more of my time and resources. I really prefer to give than raise funds but when the need is great, I don’t hesitate to put my name out there and ask for donations.  I have come to discover that although my own financial resources may be limited, I have a way of asking people that makes them want to give.  I did that for a friend who was trying to raise money for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, being a native from Tacloban herself, and with one appeal and less than 38 hours, we raised $500, my measly donation included.

Coming from a third world country that is always in need even during its best days, I have realized my blessings are abundant enough for me to give more — not necessarily moneywise, but there are other ways to make a difference, and I’d like to make a difference in 2014.

12.  I will put my “teacher” hat on. When I was in law school back in another lifetime, my classmates liked getting what we called case digests because they were good summations of otherwise long and complicated cases.  When a plot was too complicated, I’d take to the board and explain in simpler terms.  I also had a gift for giving textbook like definitions I pulled from context and stock knowledge.  It wasn’t that I was a genius, I just had this knack for explaining things without thinking you knew what I already knew. 

My class is all but one person whose little brain I am trying to mold like my own, knowing he has the smarts and the aptitude and even more than I possessed.  My first debacle is learning American History in earnest, and the fact that it’s his favorite subject doubles the pressure on his poor mom. (Me!)  I also want to teach him cursive writing which is not offered here.  I have started already, trying to prepare my little guy for the Statewide tests happening in April.  I know I can do this, and I WILL do this.

13.  I will enjoy New York City and do something “New York” at least once a month. I have been a New Yorker for almost 14 years now, and I’ve been thankful that whole time to live in one of the greatest cities in the world.  It is not lost upon me that both for Americans and the world outside our borders, New York City is THE destination to see.

Unfortunately, living here has made it ordinary despite its being extraordinary.  I wish I could do more to explore this wonderful city and I intend to do that from hereon.  Visit new places — like trying new things and new restaurants, even on my own.  Enjoying a play or two.. watching a concert once a year.. and maybe one day making it to the Opera or to Lincoln Center to watch the world renowned New York City Ballet.

14.  I will be more fervent in my pursuit of a closer relationship with God.  It’s not just because I believe that we are never truly down and out — that when things seem to be at its worst, we receive or are blessed with something good or even greater.  Through the worst of times, I am forever grateful that I have never felt closer to God, and I have never felt his presence stronger in my life.  When I asked a question, he answered clear as day.

My journey in this respect is far from easy.  And I take that as His way of showing me that this is the most important relationship in my life because it is what takes the greatest amount of work.  While it may be the hardest to be good at, it is the most rewarding in the end. 

Countless times, I found myself crying and lost in anger and pain — and the only thing that gave me comfort was the thought that He was holding my hand through it all.  I want to keep working at being a better person, and a more deserving daughter to Him.  It is such a struggle given all that I am going through, but I know I will make it because He is there with me.