Monday, December 25, 2017

Let's Sing His Praises!


O Come Let Us Adore Him!



I love symphonies at Christmas. The music allows you to sink deep into your thoughts. For a beautiful rendition of O Come Let Us Adore Him, click here, listen, and ponder all that babe in the manger has done for us.  


And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins...  Matthew 1:21









Saturday, December 23, 2017

Did you ever wonder what wrapping presents has to do with God's gifts to us?


In this season of Christmas, there a lot of wrapping of presents going on. Do you wonder how the tradition began? Why do we wrap presents? Why not just give them unwrapped?

I do, so I looked it up. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, in an online post dated December 9, 2013, says: “The desire to hide the identity of the gift until just the right moment led people to wrap gifts long, long ago.”

How about that?

We began concealing the identity of a present ages ago. Why? Because we’re looking for ’just the right moment’ to reveal the gift.

Makes sense, right?  

After all, I’ve received gifts and waited to open them until the ‘real’ date.  Or I’ve waited to open them until the giver is present to share in the joy.  Or, I’ve waited to open it until I have time to savor it.

I never thought about it, but, yes, we wait to open gifts at ‘just the right moment.’

It reminds me of a particular scene from my childhood.

“Have a seat on the sofa,” my mother said. “We have a surprise for you!”

What? A surprise? I couldn’t imagine what it was, but surprises were always good. I raced to the couch, sat down, and turned my smiling, freckled face her way.

“Close your eyes,” she said.  ”I’ll be right back.”

I squeezed them shut.

Moments later, I heard my parents shuffling something through the room, stopping at my feet.

“Okay,” they said. “You can open your eyes now!”

Delight filled me as I saw the present set before me.  It was wrapped in colorful paper, which I immediately removed.

Underneath was a big grey case. I flipped the latches open, first one…then the other. I gasped with delight when I spotted the full-sized accordion, marble-gray with stunning ivory keys.

What? I’d wanted this forever! At least as long as I’d been taking accordion lessons.

“I love it!” I said, jumping to my feet. “Thank you!”

My parents helped me take it out of the case and adjust the straps to fit my small frame. Moments later, I played a simple rendition of Silent Night.

Initially, when I started lessons, my parents rented an accordion, waiting to see. Would I practice weekly? Would the novelty wear off? Would I still want an accordion months later?

I didn’t tire of the lessons. I enjoyed music. I loved practicing.

So, when the time was right…and undoubtedly, the right deal came along…my parents, delight dancing in their eyes, gifted me with my own accordion…unexpected and unforeseen by me…at just the right moment.

Don’t you imagine this is how God helps us? He’s beaming, knowing he’s got great gifts for us…wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength...to name a few.  Although unexpected and unforeseen by us, we have what we need before we even need it. 

His holy gifts are hidden in the ordinariness of our lives, waiting for just the right moment to arise. And he knows the place…and he knows the time…

You can trust him. Our surprises are always good.


Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, what God, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him.   1 Corinthians 2:9








Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Are you ready for Christmas?



People ask: Are you ready for Christmas? 
Sure, I am, I say.  I'm ready.  My soul knows I'm in need of a Savior.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Are you ready for Christmas?


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Thursday's Thoughts

Because you say, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, 
and have need of nothing," 

...you do not know 
that you are wretched and miserable 
and poor and blind 
and naked


Revelation 3:17

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Yesterday my husband and I made a quick stop into a store for something he needed.  While there, I raced to the toy aisle. Although I'd finished my Christmas shopping, surely we needed just a few more things.

I picked up a little yellow farm tractor, held it at arm's length and studied it. Too big for our infant grandson? Too little?  Suddenly an animated doll caught my attention. Maybe his big sister would like that. Or is that too creepy for a toddler? Next, I spotted a sparkly box containing four toy soldiers. Oh my gosh, what kid wouldn't want that?

I'd already done my Christmas shopping, but, really, is it ever done? With Christmas just a couple of weeks away, I was just, in my mind, trying to figure out who needed an extra thing or two. Did one kid have more than another? Were the parents taken care of? What about my husband's brother and his wife. What, really, did I have for them? And my husband? Gee, did I have enough for him?

Joe found me in the aisle, putting some toy horses in the basket and taking the animated doll out.

"What are you doing?"  he asked.

"I don't know," I said. "I'm thinking I don't have enough things for Theodore. And then I'm wondering about Lynn's kids. Maybe I should get another gift for Ayla...or Dominic? I don't know...I've lost track of what I've bought and what I might still need..."

I picked up a Barbie doll, but, moments later, returned it to the shelf. After all, I'd taken inventory recently and everyone was covered.  But still...were the gifts good enough? Maybe I needed another boy gift? Or perhaps another girl gift?

"Ugh," I said. "I'm so confused. I feel like I don't have enough stuff."

My husband, ever the calming influence in my life, looked at me.  "You have enough," he said. "Christmas Day will come and everyone will be happy. It'll be enough."

Spoken like someone familiar with the abundant love of God...love...that is always enough.


For to us a son is born...a child is given to us.. and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace... Isaiah 9:6


Listening to Hooked on Christmas by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with David Arnold delivers the spirit of the season! Enjoy!

Monday, December 11, 2017

How these words happened to light my path


Years ago, after years of coexisting with the cancer diagnosis, I developed flu-like symptoms...bone pain, muscle aches, headaches, fatigue...I went to our family doctor, who diagnosed it as 'walking pneumonia' and prescribed antibiotics.

It was a busy time in my life. My husband, a salesperson, traveled often in business, and I managed the household. I drove our three children to and from school and chauffeured them to after-school cheer practices, gym meets and horseback riding lessons. I worked part-time in business and also volunteered at school and church. 

I didn't have time to be sick.

It had been years since I'd been diagnosed with cancer, and was still in a 'wait and see' approach to treating it. The  frequent checkups simply served as a reminder that each day is, indeed, a precious gift.  The diagnosis sharpened my vision of God's presence in the ordinary events of my life, and I began writing short, one page stories about it. 

I shared the stories with family and friends, and the insights kept piling up and so did the stories. Eventually, I needed more. I felt compelled to reach beyond my circle of contacts.  I needed to write for publication. 

Back then, there was no Facebook. There was no online blogging. There were no e-books. There was only print.  

Print took time.  If you wanted to publish articles, you had to develop a knack for each publication's style, contact the editor and wait weeks for a reply.  If you wanted to write a book, it would have to be approved by a gatekeeper, who sent it to an editorial review board for acceptance. Most were rejected.  If you were a nobody, like me, it was difficult to break into print. Becoming a published writer was a very competitive, elite field.

It took time...time that I didn't have.  
Then this illness hits. 

I couldn't work. I cancelled volunteer commitments. My neighbors drove the kids to school. Week after week, I kept thinking I'd be better soon. My health, however, continued to decline.  I became too weak to empty the dishwasher, drive my car, or check the mailbox. 

That's when the oncologist got involved. He upped the antibiotics, but when that didn't help, I phoned him and explained what was happening.  I'll never forget his response, "I think this is the lymphoma," he said. "Stay by the phone. I'm going to get you into the hospital. I'll call you back with instructions." 

This was before cellphones. My beloved husband was working, making sales calls, so there was no way to reach him. I phoned a friend, Jan, who agreed to take me to the hospital. She'd arrive shortly.

In those silent, waiting, moments, I randomly flipped open my Bible.

"What I tell you now in the gloom," I read, "shout abroad when daybreak comes." (Matthew 10:27)

 I was so weak I couldn't sit up straight in my chair. Every bone in my body hurt. My muscles ached. My head was pounding. My body was drained.  

But the verse spoke to me.

I'm going to get well, I thought. It doesn't say 'if' daybreak comes, it says 'when' daybreak comes.

And my shouting abroad? That's going to be my writing. 

I was going to get well. I was going to write. I knew it. I just knew it. 




P.S. During my hospital stay, I happened to be playing this song  by Amy Grant (Thy Word is A Lamp Unto My Feet). when my pastor came to see me.  Sorry there are no cool graphics on this one, only lyrics, which I thought were more important. What can I say? I'm a writer. I love words.  And I love that you are here, reading them. May God bless you, my friend!  

Have you ever heard God speak to you? Please leave a comment, or email me at dtomaselli@cfl.rr.com. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

How do you spell r-e-j-o-i-c-e?


Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice! 

Philippians 4:4



Overwhelmed by the lingering effects of last month's cancer treatments and dumbstruck by the possibility of another surgery, I shared those fears and concerns with a friend of mine after Mass Tuesday morning.  "This is so hard," I said.

I knew she'd have something redemptive to say. She's a holy soul. 

"We all have challenges," she said. 

I nodded. We all do. We sure do.

"I know what you are going through is hard," she said. "But try thanking God for it."  

Yep, she's right. I believe it's called the 'sacrifice of praise'...when you praise God despite the circumstances. 

"Once," she said, "when I was struggling with a serious health issue, I heard the Lord say to me, 'I'm preparing you.'"

She looked heavenward, adding, "I said, 'For what?'"  

I'm not sure she got a response.

We looked at each other.

"We don't know what's to come," she said. "Just try thanking the Lord anyway. Trust God."

I left with a spring in my step.

Good advice for all of us.


So let's sing! Rejoice in the Lord Always!   I used to play this song for my kids all the time.  Now I'm playing it for me...and for you...Thanks for tuning in!


P.S. It might help to know the apostle Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians (exhorting them to rejoice in the Lord always) while he was in prison...so you might say he really practiced what he preached!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Be careful what you pray for...you might just get it!

I’m not the kind to pray for a specific outcome. I figure, who am I to dare tell God what to do?Instead, I pray for the gifts of the spirit: wisdom, understanding, courage, right judgment, knowledge, reverence and awe.

But on this particular day long ago, when my daughter Sara and I were visiting colleges, I broke the mold: I prayed for a parking space when we arrived at the university.

With 40,000 students and 10,000 parking spaces, I figured I needed a little divine intervention. Sure enough, we circled the congested parking lots only to find them crammed, until finally, among the last crowded rows, there was one narrow parking spot available.

“Take it!” Sara shouted.

I paused, surveying the space.

“I can’t fit my van in there,” I said.

“Yes, you can,” she said. “Just try!”

The lot, designed for petite Volkswagen beetles, was overcrowded. An enormous sport utility vehicle filled the space to my left. A shiny long green metallic pickup truck occupied the spot to my right. The thought of squeezing my mini-van into the narrow sleeve between the two didn’t equate.

But Sara urged me, and I didn’t want to park miles away and hike in high heels, so I decided to have a crack at it.

I swung wide and aimed for center space. Halfway in, my left headlight nearly shaved the SUV beside us.  On my right, you could floss between the rear corner of the green pickup truck and the side of my grey minivan.

My heart was pounding. My palms were wet with sweat. I sucked in my gut, as if it could help.

Then a young man arrived. He threw his hands over his face as he watched the short erratic movements of my van, wedged between the SUV and the pickup.

I rolled my window down. “Is this your pickup?” I shouted.

He nodded and proceeded to guide me, as I inched to and fro until the van was finally sandwiched between the two vehicles.

Visibly shaken, I backed it up again, and centered it as best I could into the tiny space.

“Thank you for your help,” I told the owner of the green pickup, who was just as relieved as me when I finally exited my vehicle.

“When are you leaving?” I asked him.

“In about an hour,” came the reply.

“I hope your truck is gone by the time I have to leave,” I said. I think he felt the same.

As Sara and I walked away, I looked at her. “Next time I’m going to pray for a parking spot that’s easy to get into,” I said, with a chuckle.

When our meeting ended, the truck was gone and the space remained empty, making an uncomplicated exit. It was another answer to prayer.

Honestly, though, next time I’ll leave the circumstances to God.

Instead, I’ll keep praying for courage, strength, wisdom and peace. After all, that’s all I really needed to deal with the skinny parking space.




Monday, December 4, 2017

Sometimes God asks: Do you love me?


One day, years ago, our pastor asked me if I'd consider leading a small group bible study in our parish. Although it sounded interesting, I balked. What was he thinking? How much time would this take?  

At the time, I had three kids who had to be driven to and from school everyday and a husband who traveled in business. I worked as an insurance consultant, co-led a Brownie troop, and after school, chauffeured my kids to cheerleading, horseback riding and gymnastics lessons. Life was busy.

So I had one question: "How much time will it take?"

"I don't know," the priest said. "There would be some prep time..." He cocked his head, deep in thought, and began calculating. 

I feared this commitment would demand too much time when suddenly, a scripture scene popped into my head. Jesus was asking Peter; "Do you love me?"  
Peter's response: "Yes, Lord, You know I love you."
Jesus: "Feed my sheep."   (John 21:17)

Standing there, pondering this added responsibility, it felt like the Lord was asking me: "Do you love me?"
"Yes, Lord, you know I love you."
And I heard him loud and clear. "Feed my sheep."

I waved my hands, as the pastor was still trying to come up with a response to my question. 

"Never mind," I said. "I'll do it."

That fall, a small group of incredible women joined me as I led a weekly bible study at my home on Wednesday mornings.  Surprisingly, the added commitment didn't drain time away from me. Rather, it simply enriched my life and the lives of those who joined me.   

The bible study ran for five years, and then, unexpectedly, something happened to change it all. I would have kept that routine forever, but, for circumstances out of my control, I had to quit.

The Lord had other plans for me. 


Thanks for reading! The Lord never leaves us stagnant. He's a creative God who continually makes all things new.  (Revelation 21:5)  Come back next week to see what those new plans were!  

In the meantime, you can listen here to All Things New by Hillsong Worship. Enjoy your day!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

One fish...two fish...guess where this is going?

The tiny red and white bobber disappeared under the water for a moment.

"Reel it in," I said.

My granddaughter, holding her little pink fishing pole, looked at me and started reeling.  With that, the hook got snagged. She pulled, the line snapped, and the bobber went flying our way.

I raised my hands, hoping to block potential damage to either one of us, as the line flew by and settled in the grass beside us.

We looked at each other and smiled.

"Let me see," I said.

She handed the little pink pole to me and looked up. Her big blue eyes were framed by dark eyelashes and wispy blonde bangs.

She looks so much like her mother at that age, I thought. I'm the grandmother, not the mom, right? Where'd the years go?

I studied the nylon line. We'd only lost the hook. Probably stuck in a lily pad.

I shifted my weight forward, hoping to retrieve the hook from a nearby plant. The bank was steep. And slippery.

I glanced back at my little granddaughter, sitting in the grass with her knees pulled up under her chin.  From here, I wasn't sure I'd be able to stop her if she tumbled.

Not worth it, I thought. Neither one of us needed to fall into the canal.

Besides, she's 2. She won't even know if there's a hook on the line or not.

I returned to her side and tossed the line back into the water, where the little red and white bobber bounced in the ripples.

The day was sunny, with clear blue skies and a cool breeze.  When I pointed out the green grasses growing in the canal, she surprised me, adding, "And the lily pads."  Yes, she was right. There were green lily pads.

After awhile, we set aside the fish pole and tossed our bait (bread) into the water.  "One, two," I said, "look over there...three, four..."  We counted big fish and little minnows.

Even as it was happening, I knew this was a moment I'd forever treasure.

It was sunshine and blue skies.  It was an instant, yet a lifetime. It was love then and love now.

In that minute, I remembered my own childhood...my own grandmother...my own experience as a mother.  It was an incredible heart squeeze. The love felt poignant. The love seemed endless.

Sitting on that bank, time stood still, and, yet, for an eternity, I glimpsed the perpetual love of God.

So much in one little instant.


But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.   2 Peter 3:8


Monday, November 27, 2017

Sometimes God opens a door before we even know we need it


Following the Leader                                                                         
By Debra Tomaselli


This story dates back over 20 years ago. The events told here took place just months before my dad was diagnosed with cancer.  (You can read his story here).  This story opens a new chapter of my continuing story of God's abiding presence and care.

                                                   
Sometimes God opens a door before we even know we need it.
by Debra Tomaselli

I never aspired to be a Brownie leader. 

When my daughter’s third-grade troop leader announced she was retiring, I slipped behind the curtains, hoping another mom would step forward and play the leading role.  Helen and Carol offered assistance, but nobody assumed leadership.

That’s why, when I awoke one morning, I fought the sudden urge to become the troop leader.  Where is this coming from? I thought.  I don’t want to be the leader.  I tried to suppress the idea for days, but it wouldn’t go away. 

I finally addressed Helen and Carol. “If you’re willing to help, I’ll be the leader," I said. "I don’t really want to do it, so I hope someone else offers.  But if we still need…”  I was swept in and inaugurated faster than I could finish the sentence. 

“We’ll work with you,” Helen assured me.  She mentioned an already-scheduled event that I would oversee—a camping trip with a Girl Scout troop.  The older troop would earn a badge by hosting the camp out, and the dates were set.

“Sure,” I said.  Inwardly, I cringed.  With a husband who traveled for business, and two other children at home, this added commitment was daunting.  Why was I doing this?  What had gotten into me?

Just weeks before the camping trip, I underwent a routine physical.  Although the doctor didn't seem overly concerned, he called and asked me to repeat the lab work.  A week later, the doctor’s office phoned again, citing, once again, that it was probably nothing serious, but they scheduled yet a third lab session, saying it may be due to technical problems. 

I felt a bit annoyed. Especially when Linda, the other troop leader, invited me to grocery shop with her for the trip that same day. I explained the situation and why I had to decline. 

Linda began asking questions about my blood counts, using terms I'd never heard before.
"Are you a nurse?" I finally asked.

"No," she said. "I had cancer years ago...non-hodgkins lymphoma."

With that, she shared information about her former battle with lymphoma, admitting she didn't usually talk about it.  When I hung up, I felt a little less annoyed.  After all, I didn’t have to deal with cancer, just an incompetent medical machine. 

We went on the camping trip that weekend. The time together developed a friendship I never would have found in Linda.  As she shared her experiences with the cancer diagnosis, her faith inspired me.

Just days after returning home, the physician’s office phoned again.  My husband had just left town on a business trip. T(his, I might add, was before cellphones. There was no way to reach him.)

“Due to the abnormalities in your blood report,” the lab technician said, “we’ve made an appointment for you with an oncologist...Cancer appears…”  The conversation blurred as I struggled to comprehend the words.  The news left me reeling.

Shaking, I drove straight to my daughters’ school, even though dismissal was still an hour away.  I didn't know what else to do. The whole way I prayed, “Please let Linda be there…Please let Linda be there.”  I knew she’d understand like no other. 

When I arrived, one lone figure appeared in the breezeway:  It was Linda.  

I parked my car and headed straight over to her.  

She looked up. "Hi," she  said. "How are you?"

I burst into tears, explaining the phone call I'd just received, informing me there were abnormalities in my blood and they'd already set an appointment for me to see an oncologist next Tuesday.

"What problems?" she asked. "Did they give you any numbers?"

Yes, they did. I smoothed the crumpled piece of paper I'd jammed into my pocket, and studied my scratchy notes. When I read my SED rate, Linda burst into tears.

"Who are they sending you to?" she asked.

I read the name: "Dr. Robert Reynolds," I said.

I'd never heard of him. When it came to oncologists in my town, I might as well have opened the yellow pages, closed my eyes, circled my hand above the page and let it land randomly on a name. I knew nothing about anyone in that profession.

"I know him," Linda said. She squared her shoulders and regained her composure. "I went to him. He's wonderful. You'll like him."

I wiped my tears. A surge of hope pumped through my veins.

"Really?" 

"Yes," she said. "He's the best. He is so caring. He called me with my (good) test results over the weekend even though I had an appointment Monday morning with him. I'd never had a doctor do that." 

We sat on the concrete step outside the Catholic school our kids attended as she calmed my storm. There wasn't anything I couldn't ask Linda. There wasn't any fear I couldn't admit. She'd been there. She knew.

By the time the dismissal bell rang and the kids rushed out to us, I was able to carry on, strengthened by her understanding and support. 

Over the weeks that followed, I was diagnosed with lymphoma.  Linda walked beside me, offering inspiration, faith, strength and hope.  I thanked God, who called me to be the Brownie leader, not only for the children, but to show me that He’d be there for me every step of the way, if only I would follow his call.  

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thursday's Thoughts


IN ALL THINGS
give thanks

for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Here's to a little light reading in the chemo lab...



Most of us like having a purpose. We like to interact with others.  We like to set goals and achieve them.  At least, I do. It's a part of who I am...but lately, as I remain housebound, battling the relentless side effects of cancer treatments, I wonder...what is my purpose?

My calendar, once filled with business meetings, volunteer work and social engagements, now tells a different story. It's filled with doctor appointments, ER visits, and hospitalizations.

I never expected to face relentless health issues.

One recent day, the sad state of affairs discouraged me. What is my role? Where are the coworkers? The social engagements? The volunteer activities? What are my goals?

As I pondered these questions, an inner thought surfaced.

Being a patient is your business now...that's what's assigned to you at the moment. 

Suddenly, instead of wishing those medical appointments would disappear so I could get on with my life, I realized this is my life...and while it may not be what I expected, I've been divinely assigned this mission.

Managing my health is work, it's hard work. For now, it's my role. The doctors, nurses and fellow patients are my coworkers.  Who knows what they'll learn from my experience? Who knows what I'll learn from them?

Once again, I've got to let go.  Accept it.

I'm living the life God ordained for me for today. (Most likely, you are too.)

I have a purpose and it's no less important than my former life. My goal is to know, love and serve God...wherever and however that takes me.

Let it go...what a peaceful thought.

That, my friend, is the Joy of the Full Surrender.

(By the way, yes, I was reading that book in the chemo lab last week.)


Thank you for being here. I hope you'll like listening to this beautiful melody by Hillsong, entitled 
I Surrender All. Click here to listen, and have a wonderful day!




Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Wait...did she really just say that?


Sometimes we are surprised by what we say. Sometimes we're enlightened by what others say. Sometimes, as in this case, the words are profound.

This happened long ago. My husband and I had been married a few years. Long enough to have a little daughter. Long enough to want to expand our family. Long enough to have endured three miscarriages.

Sometimes I dealt with the miscarriages by spending time alone. I didn't need to hear that it was better to miscarry, since something was probably wrong with the fetus. I didn't need to hear that God needed another angel. I didn't need to hear someone was glad it happened early in the pregnancy.

Nothing made it right...

But I didn't slip into depression either...Other times, I accepted the love and support  of family and friends.

The miscarriages were a disappointment...a big disappointment...but my husband and I had hope. We were optimistic. We'd try again.  Maybe we'd adopt.

I'd been home from the hospital a few days after the third miscarriage when a neighbor called. I didn't know her well, but she seemed concerned and wanted to come visit.

I remember sitting at the table with her and chatting. I barely knew her, but the conversation was engaging. We talked about our kids and the neighborhood. We shared common interests in tennis and jogging. She asked about my miscarriages and I told her. I learned she was a nurse at the local hospital.

Finally, she stood to leave. "Thanks for having me over," she said.

"Anytime," I replied. "It was fun."

As we walked outside, she paused, turned and looked at me.

"Tell me," she said. "How do you stay so positive? Wasn't it difficult to have all those miscarriages? How do you cope?"

Her question caught me by surprise. I shrugged my shoulders and threw my hands in the air.

"I don't know," I said. "God's will. It's just God's will."

I'll never forget her reaction.

She shook her head and murmured. "Those people with faith...they just seem to handle things better..."

With that, she left.

Her remark struck me as odd. Had she been expecting a little drama?  Besides, at the time, I didn't really consider myself a 'people with faith'.  What did she mean by that? 

She never contacted me again. I don't even remember her name.

But now, decades later, I've never forgotten her visit...or the truth nestled in her comment...and maybe she hasn't either...






Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thursday's Thoughts



Then Jesus said to his disciples, 
"If anyone wishes to come after me, 
he must deny himself, 
and take up his cross, 
and follow me. 

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; 
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

Matthew 16: 24-25


My life hasn't returned to normal since chemo began in 2015. I'm still constricted by the debilitating side effects of the ongoing cancer treatments. Sometimes I just want to get on with my life. Sometimes I feel like I'm doing nothing meaningful. 

As I read this passage, I realize nothing can be further from the truth.

Maybe life isn't rolling out quite the way you expected either. Maybe you are facing unforeseen challenges. But we can find peace. 

We can surrender our will to the will of God. We can choose to carry our crosses...Joyfully. 

There, at the foot of the cross, we find meaning and peace.  

Soon I'll tell you how I read a book called The Joy of the Full Surrender and the impact it had on me.  

But, for now, I share this scripture.  

In a nutshell, it says it all.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ever wonder if prayer makes a difference?

 I was talking to my cousin Sharon yesterday about the helplessness we felt while watching the nightly news. I found myself encouraging her to pray for the perpetrators and the victims when suddenly I remembered the following story, published September, 2014. Sometimes  prayer is 'all we can do.'  Sometimes, as in this story, it appears to be enough. 


Hovering Wings
by Debra Tomaselli

I knew something was amiss when I arrived home to the sound of a helicopter hovering over our neighborhood.  It hung in the air beating an ominous tune while I unloaded groceries from my car, put them away, and headed toward the computer. 

I keep the accounting journal for my husband’s business and I planned to enter a long list of invoices that afternoon.  As usual, I checked my e-mails before starting and discovered a neighbor had issued a warning:  Residents: Lock your doors and stay inside.  A gunman is loose in the area. Will keep you posted.

I shook my head, but felt strangely calm. Rather than fear my own safety, my thoughts turned to the distraught gunman. How desperate he must be, I thought, to resort to hiding behind the barrel of a gun.

With that, I began the tedious task of inputting vendors, dates, dollar amounts, and purchase order numbers.  As each invoice was completed, I checked it off and moved on to the next.

About an hour later, with the helicopter still beating incessantly, another email appeared.  The gunman is holed up in an apartment nearby, it said.  Swat teams are at a standoff with him. 

A wave of compassion swept over me.

How desperate, how alone and afraid, small and powerless he must feel, I thought.  And as horrible as his life must seem now, I reasoned, it most likely was about to get worse.  I whispered a prayer for the desperate gunman and proceeded to enter the next invoice.

Helicopter wings pounded overhead as the urge to pray grew into outright compulsion. Something was pushing me to pray, and trying to ignore it was like trying not to blink for thirty minutes. I couldn’t disregard it.  It was uncontrollable. It had to happen.

Suddenly, I jumped from my computer and raced to a picture of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane that hangs in my bedroom.  There, I dropped to my knees.

The prayers gushed forth. 

I prayed for the gunman.  I prayed his fear would subside.  I prayed he wouldn’t complicate matters by harming others.  I prayed Jesus would intervene.  I prayed for a peaceful resolution.  I prayed for the stranger’s conversion. 

There, on my knees, an intense litany surged forth for this unknown gunman.  Finally, after about 20 minutes, I relaxed.  The prayer was done.  I stood, looked at the picture of Jesus.  He’s in your hands, I said, turned, and walked away.

I returned to my desk and finished invoicing. 

The helicopter still hovered when my husband and I went out to dinner that night, but when we returned, the skies were silent. 

The next morning, I searched the newspaper for information on the incident before finding a brief article:  Altamonte gunman surrenders, it said, after holding police and swat teams at bay for over seven hours. He submitted peacefully at 7:40 pm.  No shots were fired.  Nobody was hurt.



Want to hear a beautiful song? Click here for 'Lord of all Hopefulness'. I love the prayerful lyrics and the images presented in the video and hope you do too. It's something beautiful to behold.




Monday, November 13, 2017

Amazing grace, right?



Does God Speak to Us?

“I don’t know why, but I have to go, and I have to go now,” I said. 

My husband, just home from work, was clinking coins from his pockets into a green ceramic dish on our dresser as we discussed my idea of taking the kids on a road trip to visit my dad. 

At the time, I didn’t realize how profound those words were.

The thought of traveling surfaced weeks earlier, but I resisted it. After all, my husband, due to work commitments, couldn’t go with us. Although I loved road trips, I hesitated to travel alone with our young children.  I felt vulnerable staying in a hotel without another adult.  What if our car broke down? What if I got lost? What if I needed help? (This was before GPS. This was before cellphones.)

My husband, also concerned about our safety, tried to talk me into waiting for a later date.

But I couldn't. By the time he could join us, the kids would be back in school.  

I knew that if I didn’t visit Dad now, it would be another year before we’d be able to consider the trip. With the kids out of school, summer was the perfect time to go. This was my one shot at getting there this year. Despite my fears, I felt an urgency to make the trip.

My own words surprised me: “I don’t know why, but I have to go, and I have to go now.”  

With that, my husband and I ended our discussion. We called Dad, set dates, charted maps, made hotel reservations, and serviced the mini-van. 

I’ll never forget that moment, or the subsequent trip.

The kids and I visited Dad at his vacation home in the mountains of upstate New York. The kids laughed and giggled as Dad pulled them in a trailer attached to his ride-on mower.  He gave them stuffed Dalmatian puppies and battery-operated horses that galloped and whinnied. We roasted marshmallows on an open fire and feasted on gooey s’mores.  When it came time to leave, it was a sad farewell.

That Christmas, Dad planned to come to visit us in Florida, but he didn’t. Health concerns kept him away. A cancer diagnosis followed, and the following spring, Dad passed away.  (See previous blogs)

Had I waited another summer, the opportunity to take the kids on a road trip to visit Dad would have been gone.

Looking back, I believe it was God who, despite my fears, prompted me to take that trip.  When my husband and I discussed the pros and cons that decisive afternoon, God spoke to me and through me. 

I needed to go, and I needed to go then.

I'm so thankful I did.

Since then, whenever a nagging inner voice insists I do something, I listen. I pray. I discern. I respond...not quickly, not impulsively, but over time; days, maybe weeks, I listen to be sure it’s a call from Heaven itself.   

Always, I’ve been amazed at the wonders of His touch.



Click here and let's Shout to the Lord! (Hillsong).


Friday, November 10, 2017

Here's how to love


Often we speak of love as if it were a feeling. But if we wait for a feeling of love before loving, we may never learn to love well. The feeling of love is beautiful and life-giving, but our loving cannot be based in that feeling. To love is to think, speak, and act according to the spiritual knowledge that we are infinitely loved by God and called to make that love visible in this world.

Mostly we know what the loving thing to do is. When we 'do' love, even if others are not able to respond with love, we will discover that our feelings catch up with our acts.

(This is an excerpt from the book Bread for the Journey by Henri J. M. Nouwen)

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Dynamic Catholic leads us in prayer today...let's do this!




Dynamic Catholic's Blessed Reconciliation program is now available! The prayer on page 1 (below) is so meaningful (challenging) that I had to it share with you. Wait til you see it! 

In it, I suppose every person includes even the most difficult personalities...I'm guessing unexpected changes in our plans (like my surprise hospital stay) could be considered an adventure...And I'm thinking a desire to change and grow, as mentioned in the last paragraph, requires sacrifice and commitment. 

Enough. Let's pray it. With a little perseverance, may we be blessed; able to sculpt our human nature into something beautiful, as described here:


God, our loving Father,
thank you for all the ways you bless me.

Help me to be aware that every person,
place, and adventure I experience is an
opportunity to love you more.

Fill me with a desire to change and to grow,
and give me the grace to become
the-best-version-of-myself in
every moment of every day.

Amen.


Thanks for praying with me. One of our granddaughters, who will soon make her first reconciliation, is enjoying this program. Frankly, so are we!

Dynamic Catholic offers enriching books and programs for individuals and parishes.  
Click here for more information.

Announcing....a (soon-to-be) new arrival!! This one's for YOU!

Get ready!!! It's coming soon!!!!  My newest book, My Emmaus Walk through Stormy Waters will soon be available!   Be in...