It was my birthday.

After a hectic day at work I just wanted to go home, change clothes, clean the kitchen and help the girls prepare for bed. (Brandon was out of town).

When I arrived, Hope eagerly gave me a pretty blue necklace that Dana had helped her buy. (You know Dana… our beautiful friend, sitter, caregiver, might-as-well-be-a-member-of-the-family). My sweet girl used her piggy bank money to get the gift.

Rhema threw my purse on my shoulder and took my hand, ready to go for our evening drive. Hope and I chatted about our day in the car and Rhema rocked back and forth in her seat.

Back at home, I was happy to be “in” for the night. We’d only been home for a few minutes when Rhema grabbed my purse and keys again and pulled me to the stairs.

“Rhema, we just went for a ride. We’re done.”

She dragged me down the stairs.

“No. We’re not going. I’m tired. We’ll go again tomorrow.”

She pushed my hand to the door knob.

I was exasperated.

“No! You need to eat and get ready for bed. We just went for a good long ride. No more tonight. I don’t want to go.”

I turned and went back up the stairs, did the dishes. Rhema remained in her spot by the door with my purse and keys. Finally I got her letterboard. (She is currently faster on the letterboard than the keyboard).

“What do you want?” I asked.

“i want to go to the store.”

I groaned. “What do you want at the store? Yesterday you said you wanted to go to the store and we went and we stood in the aisle for 10 minutes and then you wanted to leave. Which is fine. But it’s late now and I don’t feel like standing in the store tonight.”

I should have known. I should have seen it coming, right? I didn’t.

“i want to get something to give to you.”

My heart stopped for a moment.

I knew she knew it was my birthday. She had spelled ‘happy birthday mom’ that morning, and I had marveled at the fact that just a year ago I didn’t know for sure if she even knew what a birthday was. Happy day, indeed!

But this? I couldn’t believe.

“What…? Can you spell that again?”

“i want to get something to give to you.”

My eyes watered.

“Oh Rhema. Thank you. I… I don’t need you to get me anything. I have everything I need and want. You and Hope are the best gifts.”

Then she spelled, “not enough to show our love.”

Oh my Lord. Is this for real? Is this really real? (I said that out loud.)

We drove to Stop & Shop – me in a daze and Hope giddy with excitement to see what Rhema would get for me.

Rhema stood next to a wall of batteries and covered her face for quite some time. Hope said she was thinking…


Then inspiration struck and she rushed to the freezer section.

She grabbed herself, I mean, me a box of Popsicles.



All I ever wanted. Ever.

17 thoughts on “Gifts

  1. Unbelievable…beyond miracles. Praise our God. He is good all the time…all the time God is good! And Happy, Happy Birthday, Jeneil. You have already received “Best Blessings”!

  2. Ian said, “Are we going to give you our presents?” “Do you have a present for me?” I asked. “Oh,” he said. “No.” 🙂

  3. I can’t even express how much I love this story. I was lucky enough to work with Rhema and be her case manager years ago when I first started in the field. I had often wondered about her over the years. I love hearing all about her success. She was one of my favorite students to work with. I am so happy for her and your family that she found her voice. This story and many of the others you have shared have truely touched me (sometimes to tears) and reminds me why I chose to work in this field. Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. Belated Happy Birthday! What beautiful gifts you received! Too bad you can’t keep the popsicles forever! Enjoy your precious, sweet blessings named Hope and Rhema!

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