theROCK

in Hope

"If you believe it, you will see it."

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I really try to have a positive attitude. More often than not, that serves me well. I have also been called names because of my rosy outlook—Pollyanna rings a bell.

One thing I have learned about living in a glass-half-full world, is that I have to do reality checks from time to time. Not only does this help me find balance, it also helps me build relationships with the people around me. It helps me be aware of those relationships in order to foster them, or not, in some cases. I truly believe that it is important to surround yourself with individuals that will help you become the best version of yourself as God intends.

When I arrived at St. Dominic, I used a phrase with the teachers—“If you believe it, you will see it.” I will remind them of this phrase from time to time especially when we are working together to meet the challenges we face. If we remember who we are and what we are here for, we will see the fruits of our labor accordingly.

As St. Julien says, "All will be well." If you believe in the good, that is what you will see. If you believe in hope, that is what you will see. If you believe that Jesus lives in each one of us, that is what you will see. If you believe that there is joy in the world, that is what you will see. The opposite holds true as well.

Despite my rosy outlook, I do get caught in the muck and mire of life. But I do believe that things happen for reasons. I do believe that God has a purpose for every moment. I pray for the understanding of the potential in those moments - the holy moments. For if you believe it, you will see it.

Flat Tire on a Frozen Night

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It was one of those frozen January nights that zaps a chill through every bone in your body. I was on my way home from work when I made a quick stop at the grocery store. My goal was to run in, grab some lunch items for the week, then head home to my waiting warm house. I dashed through the aisles, paid for my two bags of groceries, then ran to my car. As I started the engine, my auto-headlights popped on…and I immediately saw her.

She stood next the passenger side of her car, a jack in one hand and a tire iron in the other. She was staring at them both, hoping that they would magically reveal instructions on how to use them. Her right front tire was completely flat.

“You should help her,” was the voice I heard in my head. I instantly responded with a litany of excuses: I don’t have proper gloves, this jacket is really thin, I’m wearing dress shoes, I don’t have a hat. I could have kept going, looking for any logical reason not to help this woman. But then I heard another voice in my head: “Do whatever he tells you.” The words of Mary echoed in my brain.

I opened the door and jogged to the car. “Can I help you out?”

Together we discovered how the jack for this vehicle works, finding the notch under the body’s frame to lift the car off the ground. I pried the lug nuts off the tire (after a lot of grunting and moaning). The whole episode took ten minutes. She thanked me with a warm (yet frozen) smile, and we both got into our cars and headed home. I replayed the whole episode in my mind as I drove:

She had told me that she didn’t have anyone to call for help. She just moved to the area, didn’t have AAA, and didn’t even know who to call in the area for things like this. “I know that I should know how to change a tire…somehow I never got around to it. I just said a prayer and asked God to help me figure this out.”

That’s when I was called. And Mary helped me listen. I can list all the excuses in the world not to do something, but there is only one reason to actually do it.

“Do whatever he tells you.”

Painting Beauty with the Ashes

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Often, people will approach me regarding the history of their lives, sharing the mistakes they have made and wondering how God can love them in spite of their brokenness. It’s a question I am sure many of us hear from friends or relatives.

When I visited the Jesuit Retreat House on Lake Winnebago, one of the most inspiring images for me was a tree located near the lake. Years ago it was struck by lightning and the power of the blast hollowed out the tree. The tree is virtually hollow. Just the bark holds the upper part of the tree. The Jesuits were going to remove the tree, until they noticed that it still had life, and every spring it blooms again with new life and foliage.

It’s the same with our lives. God allows difficult or challenging events and experiences in our lives and yet, God is ultimately the One who gives us the strength to grow in the midst of the mess of our lives—using our brokenness to transform the world.

Jesus transformed water into the choicest wine during the wedding at Cana. This is an act of love and communion with humanity. Scripture also tells us of God’s faithful covenant with us; that He breaks into our brokenness and claims us for Himself. It is in that weakness and brokenness that we find our God-given mission in this world. 

What is broken in your past? What are your hurts and wounds that need healing? Believe that God has a very special mission for you at this moment in your life… and know that you belong to Him as His beloved. God beckons us not to focus on our brokenness but on His love, His divine life within us, and being open to use our life to help others. Casting Crowns has a song that I listen to daily, called "Just be Held" ~ “I'm painting beauty with the ashes, your life is in My hands.”

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