Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy...think about such things. Philippians 4:8
While visiting my grandchildren recently, they got a hold of my phone and were scrolling through the pictures. I heard the usual ooohs and aaahs, but then one of them said, "That's boring." I took the phone and flipped through the pictures until I found the 'boring' one.
It was a picture I took several days ago after a friend of mine texted me an image of a lovely floral, china teacup, set on a table covered in pastel pink linen. Next to it, carefully placed in a fragile white china vase, was a bouquet of delicate purple pansies and yellow sunflowers.
The image was so beautiful, it made me smile. It awakened my soul. It just made me feel good.
In response, I searched my own home to find such beauty and discovered a beautiful white ginger urn with a stunning image of vibrant pink peonies and lush green foliage. I held the precious cup at arm's length, admired it, and set it on a table covered with white linens. Then I stepped back and studied it through the len…
It took me years to wade through the quicksand of grief following my brother's death. These Monday posts are stories of the stepping stones of faith that helped me recover. Incredibly, my unspoken fears were put to rest in this story, which took place years ago, when I attended my first Orlando Magic basketball game:
Does God speak to us? By Debra Tomaselli At age thirty-three, my younger brother,
James Holmes, died in my arms. I experienced his spirit leaving the body
minutes before physical death occurred. While this experience confirmed my
belief in separation of body and soul, a resulting doubt and fear about the
fate of our souls consumed me. I was especially concerned for James,
because he wasn’t a mainstream person.He fought mental disabilities, was unemployed, could not drive, and
possessed nothing of value.He was
uncomfortable around most people except immediate family.He did not attend church and spoke very
little about God.In the measures of
this world, he was last.
To my loyal readers, amazing family, and incredible husband - thank you. You are the wind beneath my wings. You are my inspiration. You are my encouragement. I appreciate that you are willing to share this journey with me, to remind me that the human spirit is not alone, that we are never alone.
Some of you have asked how I'm doing, and here's the update:
As you may know, I underwent intensive chemo treatments from August 2015-November 2015 and while they can't get the cancer in remission, they can keep it at bay. As a result, I will always need periodic, ongoing treatments. (Next month starts a new set of rounds.)
While these drugs are successful at holding back the cancer, the side effects have been debilitating.
There's rashes, intestinal issues, abdominal pain, bone pain, headaches, muscle aches and fevers. As time passes, the issues peel away, each like a layer of skin on an onion, exposing a new set of underlying agonies.
amazes me that the disciples didn't recognize the risen Christ.
he was the gardener. Thomas couldn't believe the other disciples really
saw him alive. The guys walking on the road to Emmaus thought he
was some stranger that joined them along the way.
they not know? How could they miss it?
And it sort
of makes me wonder - How many times have I not recognized the
presence of Christ in my world?
driving home from the downtown dentist when I saw her. The girl
in the yellow shorts was sitting under the overpass, alongside shabby housing
projects. She had her knees pulled up under her chin and was staring at the
ground.Something urged me to help her,
but I didn't know what to do. Maybe I could have rolled my
window down and offered an encouraging word, but when the light turned green, I
drove away. I knew, even as I accelerated, that I'd made the wrong choice. I'm here, Christ seemed to
say. I'm in your world. Can you see me now?
We despised him and rejected him - a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised and we didn't care.
Yet it was our grief he bore, our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, for his own sins! Bet he was wounded and bruised for our sins. He was chastised that we might have peace; he was lashed - and we were healed! We are the ones who strayed away like sheep! We, who left God's paths to follow our own. Yet God laid on him the guilt and sins of every one of us. Isaiah 55 3-6
"Tell me," I said to my housekeeper. "What do you do to draw closer to God?"
She stopped sweeping, leaned on the broom, and smiled.
"I pray," she said. She paused, searching for the right words. "I ask God to change my mind."
Although I generally understood her broken English, this comment stumped me. I cocked my head. "Change your mind?"
"Sometimes we focus on one little problem," she said. She held her hands up and pinched her thumb and forefinger together, "and we fail to see the good that is around us..." She paused, collecting her thoughts.
I could only imagine the problems this humble Hispanic woman had, struggling to learn the language and earning a meager living cleaning houses. "Yes, that's true," I said, nodding in agreement.
"We have so much to be thankful for," she added, "...the family, the friends, the sunshine, the air we breathe."
Years ago, I was still new at this Good Friday thing. Again, I debated whether or not to go, and this time I ended up racing to church as the service was starting. Good thing. Turns out there was a sermon I needed to hear.
I was still struggling with my brother's death. I'd come a long way, but I still harbored feelings of guilt- anger turned inward- for the way things turned out. In fact, I'd resigned myself to the thought that I'd feel miserable about his death forever. Somehow that felt honorable...like the right thing to do.
But I was drawn to God, and for good reason. That Good Friday afternoon, Christ tapped me on the shoulder, letting me know I had more to learn.
I slipped into the packed church. The lights were dimmed. A red cloth was draped over the life-sized crucifix on the altar. The reverence of the congregation was contagious.
That day, Father Tom's sermon had one central message. It got my attention. It was short and direct. It hit home.
Time passed following Jim's death, and God continued to beckon me. Listen to what happened next:
It was Good Friday and although I hadn't attended a Lenten
service in years, something nagged me to bring the family to church that night. I struggled with the idea all day. After all, how could I change our plans? My husband and I took the kids out for pizza every Friday night, and this Friday was no different. If I suggested going to the Good Friday service, it would disrupt our routine. It would rock the boat. I'd have to sell the idea. So I said nothing.
But that night, as we motored to the pizzeria, we passed our church. I noticed the Good Friday service had already started, and the parking lot was packed.
We had to be there. I just knew it.
"Pull over," I said to my husband, who was driving. I motioned toward the church.
It was late. The kids were hungry. The service was well underway. But I insisted we stop. We found space on the grass and parked the car. I slung…