Weekly Blog

When the Miracle Doesn’t Come

On February 23, just 4 weeks ago, we lost Amber VanVickle, dear wife to Dave and loving mother of 5 children, including 2 with special needs. Amber was special for many reasons. But she was most special for her love for Jesus and her embracing of the Cross.  

The age-old question of Christianity is how an all-loving God allows tragedy in our lives. Amber eloquently answers that question below, in an article published in the National Catholic Register (NCR), originally in 2019 and then posted again after her death. You can find it and more on Amber at here

Before getting to the article, which is well worth the read and reflection (I’ve read it 10 times), I’d like to point you to a couple other things. 

Dave and Amber were interviewed prior to her cancer diagnosis. The subject was “Finding God in the Midst of Suffering” and is definitely worth the 8 minutes. Other articles authored by Amber, all worth reading and reflecting on, can be found at the NCR link above, just after the main post. 

Finally, if you’d like to support Dave and the kids, please go to: 

When the Miracle Doesn’t Come

In Amber’s words…”I remember distinctly a night that had a great impact on my soul, a night that led to a great searching and seeking.

It was late. I was sitting amid beeping machines around the hospital bed of my newborn daughter. She had just had extensive back surgery for severe spina bifida, only a few days old. She was more tubes and bandages than sweet baby-soft skin. I sat with a broken heart in quiet questioning to our Lord. We had prayed for a miracle that had not come, and the result had been nothing less than torturous — physically for our daughter, in every other way for us.

At this same time, a beautiful miracle had occurred for an acquaintance of ours. Like the miracles of old — a life-giving, awe-inspiring, faith-enriching healing. We rejoiced in it with all our hearts. A letter soon circulated that this miracle occurred, firstly, because of God’s great love for the couple. As I read the letter late that night, sitting next to my daughter, my heart broke even deeper. What did it mean for us that the miracle had not come? Did God not love us?

It’s easy for us to read the Gospel accounts and see only the thread of one miracle story after another. But there are hidden golden threads that seem too often unnoticed, and it seems as if our Lord utters them in quiet desperation: ‘You seek me… because you ate your fill of the loaves,’ ‘Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe,’ and ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.’

Perhaps the Lord is telling us that his love is not measured simply in the physical, in the miracles and the healings, but perhaps even more so, in the absence of those. That his love is shown, even more deeply, in the crosses, the trials and tempests of our lives, in the seeming absence of his power and love. That God permits sorrow and suffering for the very end of drawing us into himself, for an intimacy and sharing-in that could not be achieved any other way than through a share in his passion: ‘You seem, Lord, to give severe trials to those who love you, but only that in the excess of their trials, they may learn the greater excess of your love.’

Too often the spiritual life, that continuous road of handing our lives, hearts and wills to God, is depicted as an effortless adventure, that when we turn to God all will be well. Many times I’ve heard, ‘Just sit back and wait and see what the Lord does!’ as if a firework show awaits around every corner. But as St. Teresa of Ávila says, “They deceive themselves who believe that union with God consists in ecstasies or raptures, and in the enjoyment of him. For it consists in nothing except the surrender and subjection of our will – with our thoughts, words and actions – to the will of God.”

God is a consuming fire, a fire that ‘breaks, blows, and burns and makes us new,’ as John Donne writes. God’s love is one that enflames but also one that purifies.

‘For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid affliction on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us forth to a spacious place.’

The absence of God’s miracles does not signify the absence of his love but the very presence of it, an offering of it and invitation to greater intimacy, a sharing in his life so efficaciously achieved by the stripping and fire of the cross: as St. Teresa Margaret writes, ‘Since Your life was a hidden life of humiliations, love and sacrifice, such shall henceforth be mine.’

Perhaps the sadness and frustration we hear in the voice of Christ is because of his desire for true love, a love that flourishes in the dark valleys as well as the peaks of life, a love that is not dependent on getting ‘our fill of the loaves,’ a love that is pursued and sought not because of signs and wonders but because of who he is, a love that is tested and tried and found pure and true. He gives us this opportunity of love through the cross and sufferings, even more so than his miracles. As St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus prays, ‘O Lord, you do not like to make us suffer, but you know it is the only way to prepare us to know you as you know yourself, to prepare us to become like you… because you wish that my heart be wholly yours.'”

As always, please email me at [email protected] with questions, concerns, comments, or prayer requests. 

God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

Remember…God made you for Greatness!!!

Mark Joseph

Weekly Blog

We Only Have One Savior

Do you ever feel like it all relies on you? You feel all this pressure, believing that if you don’t perform that it’s not going to get done? That without your efforts alone, failure is right around the corner. All is doomed. It’s you or nothing. 

I know that in my past, prior to me experiencing conversion and being on this spiritual journey, I felt like that most of the time. It was especially true for my business life, but to be honest it’s the feeling I had in other aspects of my life too. Unknowingly, I was playing the “savior”. 

Having matured in my faith and having a greater reliance on God, I thought that I had escaped the above. Then recently, through some “spiritual coaching”, I discovered the opposite…I’m still playing the savior. Maybe not in the same way as before, but my behavior would indicate that I still believe it’s all up to me. 

Some things from my notes from that coaching:

  • I need to work at a pace that is healthy and trusting in God, so I can stay in His peace.
  • I need to surrender it all to Him and stop playing savior; it’s more than I can carry.
  • Intercessory prayer is more important than human effort; it’s only God who can change hearts. 
  • The primary agent is God; need to turn all over to Him.
  • Need to say/pray, “Lord, I’m trusting in You”. 
  • There’s a difference between doing something “with” the Lord and “for” the Lord. He wants to work with us. 
  • If it’s going to be saved, it will be by God and not me. 

In a recent blog I wrote, “pray as though everything depends on God; act (work) as though everything depends on you”…often attributed to St. Ignatius and St. Augustine. I like this quote because I think it speaks to the reality of our lives as Christians. Having made us very uniquely and perfectly, God calls on us to use our God given gifts to the best of our ability…but then leave the rest to Him. 

Photo by Alicia Quan on Unsplash

Doing the above is surrender, which we’re reminded of in one of the first prayers we learn, the Our Father, “Thy will be done”. I think that’s my hang-up here. There’s a big difference between surrender and SURRENDER…in all we do. I’ve been talking about all of this for several years now. Truly living it is another thing. Simple, it’s certainly not easy. 

I’ve said before that surrender first requires absolute trust, knowing that God loves me unconditionally, that Jesus would have still died that same torturous death if it were only me on this earth. God made me with unique gifts and talents and put me on this earth for a specific purpose, all according to His grand plan, individually and as part of all of humanity. He wants me to be happy and fulfilled. Even with life’s challenges, God’s given me the ability to live in peace and joy. Lastly, the Holy Spirit lives within me. 

These things are true for all of us. And it’s only in understanding and internalizing them as truth that we can come to this place of surrender. I think I have when it comes to those things that require small “s” surrender. But those BIG “S” SURRENDER things. They’re something different. 

Photo by Luis Quintero on Unsplash

Humility is a part of it, understanding that it’s not really us doing the work, but Him working through us. Connecting it to gratitude, we’re then free to not feel the pressure of the outcome, but leave that instead to God…knowing that all happens for a reason, according to His grand plan.  

We only have one Savior, that’s Jesus Christ. It’s not me and it’s not you. Jesus is our Lord and Savior. I pray that I continue to grow in faith, becoming holier, and living a life of surrender, gratitude, humility, and love. It’s a journey for all of us. I pray you do the same. 

As always, please email me at [email protected] with questions, concerns, comments, or prayer requests. 

God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

Remember…God made you for Greatness!!!

Mark Joseph

Weekly Blog

There’s More to Life

How long have you known, in your heart and your gut, that there has to be more to life, that you were meant for bigger things? (BTW, the above applies to just about everyone regardless of whether they’re struggling, wildly successful, or somewhere in between.)

Yea, I hear you…because I’ve been there.

In reading my weekly posts, you know my story. I had some relative success, building a business from me and a part-time secretary to over 100 employees. From the outside, it looked like I was on top of the world. On the inside, I was struggling. My life was running me as opposed to me running my life. The question became, “why”. Why continue doing what I was doing? It wasn’t making me truly happy. Can you relate?

There’s an expression that may ring true to you, that is “you can never have too much of what you don’t need”. Regardless of what I had achieved, it wasn’t enough. And I’m not just talking about the material things. It was doing things too. I refer to them as the 4 Ps…prominence, possessions, pleasure, and people. I was at a place where nothing was going to fill that God sized hole in the center of my chest.

As the story of my life continues, during a particularly challenging time, absolute tragedy struck, which forced me to my knees. Emerging from that experience, I learned several lessons, not the least of which is that in understanding the unconditional love of Jesus Christ, the unimaginable is achievable.

The statement immediately above may be difficult to comprehend, or even believe. I’m here to tell you it’s true. I found that there’s a different, better way to live….a life of GREATNESS. Having found it for me, I want it for you too. In understanding my God given gifts and identifying my purpose, I’ve learned to live the life God designed for me, the only way of life that was ever going to provide me with peace, joy, and fulfillment.

It’s time to go big, to be all that God has called you to be. I invite you to attend this free webinar to see how you can accomplish the same things for your life. It starts here.




As always, feel free to contact me at [email protected] with comments, questions, concerns, challenges, or prayer requests.

God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

Remember: God made you for GREATNESS!!!


Mark Joseph

Weekly Blog

Week #8 – Discovering God’s Love

This is the 8th of our 14-week program, where we provide Lesson #8, Discovering God’s Love. This is where everything changes…where you begin transforming the challenges of life into true Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment. It all starts here.

The first 7 of these 14 lessons, much like the first half of my book, covered the challenges we have in life and how they overwhelm us…from growing up believing that we have to earn the love of others to that manifesting itself in us having lack of self-love, and living out of our fears. We’re wounded by others hurting us, in addition to the tragedies we experience, often creating resentments. We end up looking for happiness in the wrong places, creating false gods along the way.

In the past 7 lessons, I’ve made recommendations as to how you can overcome each of the above. While each of the things I’ve suggested have worked for me, each is rooted in the following truth…

God loves you more than you’ll ever know, no matter what you’ve ever done.

Let that sink in.

  • God loves you more than you’ll ever know,
  • No matter what you’ve ever done

Knowing this, internalizing it, changes everything in your life. It’s not that you need to be worthy…you’re wanted. You’re chosen. God our Father loves you unconditionally; He forgives you unconditionally.

Photo by Laura Allen on Unsplash

God’s love is so great, that He gave His only begotten Son to die for your sins. Jesus Christ, our Savior, innocent of all, willingly allowed Himself to be killed on the Cross for you. In fact, Jesus loves you so much, that if you were the only person on this earth, He would have still endured that same tortious crucifixion just for you.

There’s only one way we come to understand this very true reality…and that’s through conversion. My conversion changed my life forever. I got there through the tragedy I endured. Others get there in other ways. Regardless of the path, here are the lessons learned.

In understanding and internalizing the unconditional love and forgiveness of God, you know that:

  • The unimaginable is achievable
  • You can live Heaven here on earth
  • There is a very specific path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment

My greatest prayer, the thing I take to our Lord every single day, it that EVERYONE comes to a place of understanding and internalizing the unconditional love of God. As stated above, it changes everything.

Suggested Actions

So, how do you come to know the love of Christ? How do you achieve conversion? Again, there are no “quick” fixes to anything in life. Going from overwhelmed to peace, joy, and fulfillment, which is the purpose of this program and my book, can’t happen overnight. It’s a process that is much more than simply flipping a switch. With that, the process all starts with conversion. I suggest:

  • Do what speaks to you below (all of which can be found on page 71 of my book):
    • Pray for your conversion on a regular basis. It is a gift from God, and he wants to give it more than you want to receive it.
    • Remind yourself often of the unconditional love of God for you. Even if you don’t feel it, tell yourself, “God loves me unconditionally.” Let yourself believe it (there is nothing more true).
    • Pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit to lead you to conversion.
    • If you are Catholic, participate in the sacraments, especially confession and the Mass. I also suggest praying in front of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
    • Engage with a spiritual mentor, such as a priest, religious sister, deacon, pastor, or another wise person in your life who can work and pray with you.
    • Find a friend who is on the journey, who is willing to come along side you, to love you, coach you, and share with you.
    • Read Scripture and do other spiritual reading, especially on conversion and the love of God for us.
    • Seek out and participate in a vibrant Christian community; attend religious events and retreats.
    • Listen to inspiring talks and beautiful, uplifting music
  • During your morning prayer routine this week:
    • Visualize and meditate on Jesus on the Cross. Pray through the love that took from our Savior. Pray on the fact that love exists for you today
  • Watch this Friday’s video on this same subject….it will be emailed to you.

Please join us next Wednesday for Week #9 when we talk about FORGIVENESS AND HEALING, both critical to our journeys forward. As always, please feel free to get to me with questions, comments, or concerns at [email protected].

God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!
Mark Joseph