Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Little Tykes... Not So Little

Greetings and blessings in Christ my friends!

Blessed John Paul the Great had a profound interest in building up and nurturing the youth of our Church. He was convinced, as am I, that the future of the Church is in the youth. As much as this seems like an obvious statement, I look around and see how we are preparing the youth of our Church, our country, and the world for the future and I shudder. Our youth are no longer coming from healthy, happy unified homes. Our youth are coming from broken homes; they are coming from abusive homes; they are coming from homes with two mommies or two daddies; they are entering high school having already lost their virginity; they are already partying, drinking, and doing drugs before they even reach college; many of them have lost friends and family to gang violence or addictions; teen suicides are at an all time high; religious education is falling by the wayside and our youth have less and less theological background to the faith that they profess; parents aren't encouraging their children to go to church; moral relativism has been packaged in a neat pretty bow and shoved down their throats in school as the only truth; parents let their daughters go to school in hardly anything. It goes on and on. The youth of our Church wake up every day and must prepare themselves for a battlefield.

But there is hope! I just had the privilege of volunteering at the REZ (Resurrection) Retreat for the churches in my area. This is the first time I have been to a retreat as an "adult" (I use that term loosely) helping run the show for teens. It was a completely eye opening experience. It was also an extremely encouraging one. We had teens who hadn't been to the Sacrament of Reconciliation in years coming out of Confession with tears of joy in their eyes. We had teens who rarely go to Mass receive our Lord in the Eucharist with profound reverence. We had teens who had never been to Adoration kneeling inches away from the monstrance with passion and love for Christ that I sometimes don't even see in myself. How absolutely incredible! How absolutely beautiful!

Now, I could go on and confess my worry and sadness for the teens that will go back to broken homes, abusive homes, and the enormous challenges of life and will not remember that time they spent with God this weekend. But the awesome love and mercy I witnessed God pouring down upon these youth over the weekend was just too incredible. You want to talk about something positive! This wasn't just one small positive experience. This was an entire weekend of positive explosion!

The youth are the future of the Church. We must nurture them and encourage them so that they can overcome their struggles. More importantly, I implore anyone who reads this, no matter what denomination you adhere to, I beg you brothers and sisters in Christ, pray. Please. Pray for the youth, that they may find peace and joy and love in Christ and that it will sustain them through whatever struggles they are going through! Pray that the Grace of God will overflow upon them and give them strength and courage! Please pray for the youth!

God bless you and stay positive!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Fake Empire

Hello Friends!

I am sorry for not writing anything yesterday. It was an insanely busy day for me. So many positive things have happened the past couple of days, I don't know where to begin. However, I can say that I had a very big heart-to-heart with myself so I suppose that is where I should start.

So, for the past year and a few months my wife and I have had one vehicle. On the surface that doesn't seem like a big deal, except that it's a 30ish minute drive to work and my wonderful wife wakes up at all hours of the morning to drive me there and then, instead of driving back home before she goes to work, she finds a coffee shop in the area to go to for almost three hours before she starts her own job. Wow. I mean, it never ceases to humble me and amaze me that she does that for me, day in, day out, rain, snow, or shine. For the past couple of months especially, I have been getting really aggravated with the whole "one car " thing because I know what a sacrifice my wife is making dropping me off and picking me up every day. It's a waste of gas even with her not going back home... I could go on about the inconveniences but I won't.

Anyway, so we also like to spend the time driving to work every day saying a rosary and I have to say, this has had a tremendous impact on our relationship. Our Lord and Mother Mary have just inspired us and blessed us so much through our daily prayers. I don't share this to brag, or to try and seem pious (because I am NOT), but rather to show the positive. What a habit to have going for us! It is such a great time, in the midst of the chaos and mayhem that is the traffic in the area, we are able to pray for our relationship, for our family, and our friends. So I decided that, no matter how much of an inconvenience it is, I am just going to continue being completely humbled by my wife's love and dedication and completely grateful for this wonderful time of prayer we are able to have every single day!

God bless you all! Stay positive my friends!

Monday, February 4, 2013

The BBQ Bowl

Dear Friends,

Greetings and blessings in Christ! Today, I have to say that I was able to find something positive in getting four hours of sleep and waking up at 0430 in the morning. How cool is that?

For starters, yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday as we all know. Thanks to my friend Lynn via my pal Rocky, I was able to discover ribs for $1.00 a pound. WHAT? So my wife and I got four racks of ribs for about $4.50 each and then 30 wings for about $5. Talk about a steal! So, not only that, but it was a dream come true last night as I was able to go to my friends Genevieve and Brett's house and use their grill to cook it all. Sweet BBQ dry rub, Texas BBQ, and Carolina BBQ. Needless to say, it was absolutely delicious and I think I found my calling... grilling food! More proof that I really am Texan!

Ok, so you're probably wondering how on earth this applies to the whole "four at 0430" thing. Being able to eat a ton of delicious food and watch the Super Bowl with such incredible friends kept us out late last night. Yet, when I sat at work this morning, extremely tired and trying to hang on until I could get a cup of coffee, I knew without a doubt that it was totally worth it. How blessed am I to have such an amazing wife (because I do, she's the best!) and such wonderful friends? How blessed am I to have a stable job with great benefits? How blessed am I that my family is loving, faithful, and intact? How blessed am I to have a God that loves me unconditionally and is so merciful that He forgives me over and over and over again no matter how dumb and sinful I am? Isn't that wonderful? The best part about it is that I get to share my God with the rest of the entire world! He's not just MY God... He's EVERYONE's God, whether they realize it or not. Pretty incredible if you ask me!

So, who cares if I only got four hours of sleep? Who cares if I had to wake up ridiculously early? Who cares if I struggled to stay awake at work today? I am so extremely blessed and I got to spend some quality time fulfilling my dream of grilling ribs and wings and hanging out with friends!

So the next time you're exhausted at work, think about how blessed you are! Also, if you have a chance to stay up late and hang out with friends, even if you have work the next day, do it because it will be worth it! At least, I think so!

God bless y'all, and stay positive my friends!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Initial Thoughts

Hello and welcome to what I humbly call "A Little Dose of Positive." This is my first real attempt at blogging so please bear with me. However, my hope is that I can share some positive thoughts, musings, etc. throughout the coming year.

I guess the idea started the other day when I was eating lunch in this coffee shop and the news was on. It was probably the most negative load of cow manure I've seen in a while. For the hour I sat there eating, it was nothing but "so and so got shot in downtown Norfolk," "so and so got robbed in Newport News," and so on. I sat there and was just stunned that the news folks didn't report a single positive or happy thing. Period. That's sad, isn't it? Because let's be honest, as much as there are a lot of negative things that happen in our world, I can guarantee you that there are lots of positives, too. Perhaps that's part of everybody's problem (myself included). We focus so much on the negatives that we just end up being negative people. So, here's my attempt at bringing just a little happiness into your life. It's the least I can do!

Yesterday morning, Saturday, my wife and I went to a meeting called "Zip Code Fellowship." It's an idea our pastor came up with. Notionally, what it's supposed to be is folks from similar zip codes getting together and developing relationships, growing spiritually, and hopefully revitalizing our dying parish. I had my own doubts about this meeting as I was afraid it was going to turn into one of those "let's all get together and complain about our church" sort of things. I was happily surprised! We showed up and, while we lowered the average age there by at least 25 years, the five other people there all were extremely positive. We spent an hour and a half sharing stories about our lives, about our experiences, and about what we were hoping to get from the Zip Code Fellowship venture. Candidly, I think I was also able to convince everyone that we needed to start looking outwardly and asking not what can our parish do for us, but what can we do for our parish.

Then again, it wasn't really me convincing anyone. I just felt moved by the Holy Spirit. Ya know? It was just one of those  "I think God really wants me to say this" moments. I love those! It ended up being an extremely positive experience and I hope and pray that slowly but surely this expedition will be successful, that people will continue to meet and grow closer, and that our church will feel the breath of the Spirit renewed within the hearts of the parishioners.

Isn't it interesting though? The other people there all expressed consternation about the Zip Code Fellowship idea. Personally, I know that I have even discussed all sorts of shortcomings of the idea with other friends from church. But isn't that completely hypocritical? I mean, none of us even gave the idea a chance. Just like the parable in the Gospel where Jesus speaks of the seed that falls on soil and begins to grow but is choked by thorns, we gave up on the idea before it even started. Now, I'm not waving the flag of victory just yet, either. There are a lot of folks who still haven't met and it may very well be that this venture flunks. However, I would put to you that we shouldn't give up on such things without trying them. How can you say you don't like guacamole if you've never tasted it? How can you say you don't like Zac Brown Band if you've never listened to them? How can you say that an idea will fail if you've never actually tried it out?

So, in short, give being positive a chance! It might just make your day!