Tag Archives: Hope

Promises, Promises

I have a climbing rose bush by my garage that I cut back every winter by about half in hopes that it will bloom better in the spring.  All winter long it has looked nothing short of pathetic.  Each year I look at the stubby branches and am convinced it will never grow back.  Miraculously, it is starting to bloom again as my entire lawn and garden are coming back to life.  That is the magic of spring for me – the whole world seems to come alive after a brown and dreary winter.  God never lets me down – each spring He puts on a show which gives me a little spring in my step after a cold, lifeless winter.

God does not go back on His promises.  He is faithful.  He brings the spring back each year.  He breathes new life into us when we are feeling down or hopeless.  He takes care of our families.  He brings us and our children peace and healing as they receive their college acceptances – or not.   He has the back of a child who is struggling with academics or social pressures.  He holds our aging parents in the palm of His hand.

One of my favorite Bible verses is “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28.  God does not just bring about good in the big things.  He brings about good in ALL things – even the small things – in the little details of my life.  I know that despite my short and long-term worries for my family, God will keep his promise to me and take care of my family in ways I cannot even understand.

Just this week Pope Francis talked to a Vatican audience about how God promises the “impossible.”  He asked the audience to hope against all hope.

“Our hope is not based on human reasoning, predictions and assurances,” Pope Francis said.  Real hope arises “where there is no more hope, where there is nothing left to hope for.”  True hope “is rooted in faith and, precisely for this reason, it is able to go beyond all hope” because it is built on faith in God and his promise, he said.

“There is only one price” to be paid for this, he said. “Opening your heart. Open your hearts and God’s power will carry you forward. He will do miraculous things and he will teach you what hope is.”  Just “open your heart to faith and he will do the rest,” he added.  (Source:  CNS)

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope, without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. – Hebrews 10:23

 Your faithfulness endures to all generations;  you have established the earth, and it stands fast. – Psalm 119:90

 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:22-23

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Ladybugs and Cardinals

My daughter and I experienced a “God moment” this week together.  I do not know if there is a formal definition of “God moment,” but I could define it as a way that God speaks to me in the ways of my every day, normal, mini-van-driving-mom existence – through an unexpected experience, a “chance” or not-so-chance encounter with someone or something, a song on the radio, or a scripture reading – however you might define it.  But it clearly leaves me with a sense that God and His Holy Spirit are truly with me.  And I do not mean that in a creepy way – just a true sense of what I already know in my heart and soul but often forget – that God is with me at every moment of every day if I would just open myself up to Him.

I think we all know that God speaks to us in many ways:  through His Word, through other people, in the Sacraments, and the list goes on.  It is not every day that we see a billboard from God screaming:  “Hey!  Yeah!  YOU!  I’m talking to YOU!”  However, God chooses to “wink” at us all the time in unique and personal ways that says, “I see you.  I’m here.  I want you to hear my voice today and always.”  The trick is opening your heart, mind and incredibly busy existence to how He wants to speak to us.

My daughter is going down a path that is different from many of her friends and classmates as she prepares for her future.  It is right for her, but may not be right for others.  Some of her friends are supportive, encouraging and curious.  Other friends are disdainful and making her question her choices and her dreams.  We were watching a program on TV the other night together, and the excitement it created in her was contagious.  We took what we learned and jumped on the internet to learn more.  We were both excited, and knew that this very random show on a random night was no accident – no coincidence.  A God-incidence, perhaps?

A friend of mine shared with me a story about a special sign in her life.  She was going through a challenging time with one of her adult sons.  In the midst of it, lady bugs began to visit her daily.  They literally starting appearing all the time and in many different places.    As a devout Catholic, she looked up the significance of this.  She learned that the lady bug is actually named for “Our Lady’s Bug.”  In the middle ages, a pestilence invaded the land, and the people asked Mary to intercede on their behalf.  Lady bugs swarmed the land, and ate the pests.  My friend knew in her heart that the lady bugs in her situation were there for her uniquely – it was her mom (who gifted her the special devotion to Mary) letting her know to give it all to Mary and to trust in her intercession with God.  She loved the lady bug visits, and through them, she learned to trust.  One day, she realized that the lady bugs had not been to visit in a while.  She realized that her son was in a wonderful place, and that peace, at least for a time, had come back to her family.  She prayed that the lady bugs had moved on to someone else who needed those sweet little visits as much as she did.

I have also heard that cardinals have long been a Christian symbol of visiting those who have been saddened by a loss – in particular, a “Cardinal Loss” or a heart-rendering loss of a loved one.   I am no theologian, so please do not quote me, but birds have long symbolized the soul’s ascent to God above material things.

The cardinal has traditionally held spiritual meaning in the Christian faith. The cardinal’s distinctive red color symbolizes the blood of Christ, representing the everlasting vitality of Christ’s blood and the fire of the living spirit.  (source:  reference.com)

I first heard of the visit from a cardinal from a very devout friend of mine after her long-time partner died of cancer.  When I saw a bright red cardinal by the marsh where my dad and I always loved to fish, I was shocked and amazed – I had never in more than 20 years seen a cardinal there.  Now, after losing both my mother and father in a few short years, I regularly see male and female cardinals outside my kitchen window – and cardinals mate for life.  Coincidence?  Easily.  A God-wink from my Father in Heaven letting me know my parents are OK?  Possibly.

Either way, my faith is renewed, and my hope is restored.  Bring on the cardinals.  Bring on the lady bugs.

To the God-moments and God-winks in our lives!

 

Hello 2017 – Nice to Know You!

Everyone rings in the new year in different ways – some quietly with family, some spending fun times with friends, some with hardly a nod to the fact that the date has even changed.  My family had a fun cookout with another Marist family (in Florida of all places) before watching TV as the fireworks were going off outside to mark midnight.

On the one hand, part of me is so relieved to say “arrivederce” to 2016.  I have been more than ready to close the door on this year.  It was even a little frustrating to hear at Mass on January 1st that just because the year changes, it does not mean that this year will not have its share of heartaches, disappointments and challenges.  Intellectually, I know this.  I just always want to believe that there are better days around the corner.  I want to have hope in 2017.

Somewhere in the last week I read, “Your year may change, but God remains the same.”  It was comforting to know that no matter what this year brings – happiness, peace, sadness, family challenges – that God does not change, only my circumstances do.  God is with me in the hardest of times, bringing me peace or helping me to cope.  God is with me in my happiest moments, celebrating along with me and reminding me that He is good and all good things come from Him.  God is with me as I make continued attempts to change for the better – you know, those darn New Year’s Resolutions.  Or Lenten resolutions.  Or July resolutions.  God is always with me, and wants to see me become a better version of myself.

I have been blessed to know Fr. Josh Allen, who heads up Georgia Tech’s Catholic Center.  He had some interesting thoughts about resolutions that he posted to Facebook (and I paraphrased a bit):  “Friends, if you are thinking about resolutions for the new year, don’t bother.  If you’re serious, you’ll start whatever it is today without delay — this very moment even.  If you’re waiting for an arbitrary point of the earth rounding the sun to make a change in your life, you’re not gonna make it.  Want to be a better person?  Do it now.  When our Lord calls, he does not tarry with delay.  Each of us can change with God’s grace.  Even the most profound changes.  But we can’t schedule an appointment with God’s grace sometime in the future.  The only moment that matters is now.”

I usually have far more resolutions than any mere mortal can be expected to follow through on.  This year, I’m going to consider this one:  I will recognize that God is truly with me at every moment, and to try my hardest to act in accordance with that truth – to trust more and to have more hope.

Hoping for a Little More Hope

My daughter, husband and I just got back from our first official trip to look at colleges.  First of all, I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence.  Second, I want to go back to college.  But I digress.  Of all the things that surprised me about this trip, the thing that surprised me the most was the college students I came into contact with.  Their excitement, enthusiasm, and passion for what they were studying and what they were hoping to do with their degrees was absolutely contagious.  With all the discouraging words being shouted by talk radio and the news media about the state of our union, it was so refreshing to hear positivity and hopefulness coming from these perky tour guides and students.

Maybe you still have the enthusiasm you did when you were 21, and the world was your oyster.  Maybe you are at mid-life and are rethinking how you want to move forward with your time, energy and passions.  Maybe you are feeling really hopeful right now, or maybe you need a reminder of hope with all the uncertainty that life as an adult brings.

Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta said,

“You and I have been created for greater things.  We have not been created to just pass through this life without aim.  And that greater aim is to love and be loved.  Give yourself fully to God, who will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in his love than in your weakness.  Never think that a small action done to your neighbor is not worth much.  It is not how much we do that is pleasing to God, but how much love we put into the doing.”

So maybe we aren’t going to conquer the world like we thought we would when we were in college.  But we can still find that “greater thing” that God has created uniquely for each one of us.  And I have to keep reminding myself that the “greater thing” may not be worth talking about at a party, get reported in the Atlanta Business Chronicle or make me tons of money.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” – Hebrews 10:23

“The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” – Psalm 121:7-8

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Today I’m just going to try and be more hopeful.  That’s a start.

 

Jesus Christ – Superstar!

Happy New Year!

It’s that time of year again. The magazines are encouraging this time of resolutions and change with headlines like “The Year of You!” and “The Makeover Issue.” Personally, I like the times in the year that I have the opportunity to re-boot. The new year represents a fresh start and a chance to change things about myself that prevent me from being the best version of myself that God calls me to be.

My family and I were blessed to have been given the gift of a cruise by my mom for Christmas. We had a great young priest on the ship who did the homily on the Feast of the Epiphany. He talked about the three kings and how they went to great effort to follow a star which led them to their Lord and Savior – Emmanuel – God with us.

He then used examples of “false stars” in our lives that we sometimes follow. He used examples from the cruise – gambling, partying, and overeating. We think they are going to make us happy, but they never truly do deliver. There are also examples in our everyday lives – figurative “stars” we pursue in hopes of happiness. The other stars we follow (popularity, excessive focus on work and success, unobtainable physical beauty, etc.) will only leave us lacking and seeking something more. If we are honest with ourselves, we know deep in our souls that the only true happiness can be found in our relationship with God, which then translates into love of others.

In his new year homily, Pope Francis also touched on this idea. He discussed the hope that we have in following the star of Jesus Christ rather than the stars of the world. He warned this is not “an illusory hope based on human, frail promises, nor a naïve hope, which presumes that the future will be better simply because it is the future.” Rather, it is a hope based on God’s blessing, containing the “greatest message of good wishes there can be, and this is the message which the Church brings to each of us.” (Source: www.ncregister.com)

So this year, I resolve to try and pursue the “stars” that lead me closer to the manger, rather than the stars that lead me to false illusions. Not an easy resolution, of course. But neither is getting off this weight from the holidays! I’d better start praying….and exercising.

“The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)