August 23, 2013

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

Somewhere, over the rainbow … we will see …

Debra TomaselliI love writing. The art of writing has taken me to places I never would have been and given me glimpses into the heart of God in ways I might never have seen.

Like the time Catholic Charities asked me to write a story about the Brown family.

The family, whose 17-year-old daughter, Ashley, was suffering from lupus, sought financial assistance.

Ashley’s life consisted of endless visits to rheumatologists, pulmonary specialists, cardiologists and internists. Unlike most teens, she walked with a walker and breathed with an oxygen tank. Besides the emotional drain, deductibles, co-payments and out-of-pocket expenses strained the family resources.

Additionally, her dad was laid off, and finding suitable employment required an out-of-state move which depleted their savings and detached them from friends and family.

They were down and out.

Ashley’s mom, Trish, was quick to express gratitude when Catholic Charities paid their rent. She was overwhelmed when, unexpectedly, they invited her to “shop” in their pantry and load her car with free groceries.

“Some weeks I have to decide between buying medicine for my daughter or groceries for the family,” she told me.

That was an unforgettable quote. I had to help, but how?

Well, I had written an article about the president of a local bank. I contacted him and we set up a trust fund so readers could donate money to the family.

I enlisted the help of fellow parishioners who prepared meals for the family, mowed their yard and raised funds. When her parents hoped Ashley could have a memorable Christmas, others purchased presents, roasted turkeys, baked pies and strung lights.

All along, we were experiencing something divine.

One day, Trish phoned. Their only vehicle, an aged Chevy, was disabled, leaving her husband with no way to work. I wasn’t sure how to help, although it seemed to calm her just to talk about it.

After I hung up, I struggled, knowing we couldn’t afford to fix their vehicle. Fellow parishioners had already given so much, and I’d tapped all my resources.

We had nothing to offer—or so it seemed—until later that day when I was pondering my upcoming article, a story about a 6-year-old good Samaritan. I’d interviewed him and his dad, Mike. Didn’t Mike say he owned an auto repair shop?

Once again, there was miraculous provision.

Not only did Mike own a garage, but it bordered the Brown’s neighborhood.

I phoned Mike, who listened to my plea.

“I’ll have to charge for the repairs,” he cautioned.

However, after meeting the family, Mike offered to maintain their vehicle, free of charge, indefinitely.

Last I heard, the Browns returned to Ohio. Ashley’s condition remained stable. Before they left, we gathered and recalled the series of events and the string of helpers that entered their lives during those days, delivering a strong message of God’s unending love and provision.

Summing it up, Ashley said, “I’ve learned that when it rains, there’s always a rainbow … there’s a silver lining in every cloud.”

Rest assured God is doing the same for you and for me. He knows our yesterdays, our todays and our tomorrows. He is orchestrating all things for the good of those who love him.

(Debra Tomaselli writes from Altamonte Springs, Florida. She can be reached at

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