Monday, June 30, 2014

Our Response

Friends of Faith:

“Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and, when they had finished breakfast, said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He then said to Simon Peter a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” Jn 21: 15-19

Symbolically, Jesus asked Simon Peter for a response three times. And three times Simon Peter said, “yes,” “I love you,” and “I will serve you.”
We too are asked by God for that same response daily: a request and a response to love, to serve, and to pray unceasingly.

We spent a refreshing and joyous weekend in church attending the ordination of three new priests for the Archdiocese of Dubuque and attending their “first” masses. These young men have answered the call to “tend my sheep” for the rest of their lives. But just like us, they will be given challenges to continue to respond to that call every day: to pray, to serve, to be obedient and to do God’s will.
What is OUR response to God’s call? Are we ready to say a resounding yes? Do we pray unceasingly for the grace, and the ability to respond according to God’s will?

Many people have asked Stan and I how we responded to the phone call that our building and offices were on fire just a little over a week ago. Gratefully God continues to reveal himself to us and we were graced to respond and start that day in much the same way as we start every day: with the knowledge that that day, just like every other, was in God’s control, so holding hands we said a prayer – a prayer for safety of the firemen and all that would serve and that through the day and whatever would happen in it His will would be done.
We responded by turning to God in the trust of a prayer.

Our focus now, is to be certain that our continued response is for God’s purpose and not our own. As one of the newly ordained reflected on his responses, his choices, in being called to the priesthood, I reflected on the choices that Stan and I will make over the next few weeks.

I thought back to when we started our businesses and built the building. Then, the choices we made were much more about our immediate needs for jobs and how a new building would be able to accommodate both of our businesses. We focused more on what we needed and how much we could afford to give. God’s call and God’s desires for us to serve Him and his people were “accidental” rather than purposeful thoughts.
Thankfully,  looking back, God had a sure and certain hand in gifting us with what we needed and a purpose for our chosen careers. But, I am pretty sure we didn’t give him the credit he was due, or thank him often enough for all that we were given in and by the serviceability of those buildings.

Our response and our focus now are much different. We are focusing on being patient for the answers to our many prayers of how to rebuild. We pray that our every response and our every choice remain directed by God. We are relying on our faith and trust in him, knowing that He will provide if we make the response and choose to love and to serve.
And our focus on rebuilding is on the thankfulness of the response of others to our needs, of being offered temporary locations at Z Line and Doyles and of the many willing hands who are making these spaces feasible and practical.

While we realize that we ourselves no longer have a “need” for a job, the building or to build we also realize that God calls us to more. He is asking us to serve: our employees, our customers and our community. It is where our response must always be a heartfelt “yes.”
Daily each of us are given challenges and therefore an opportunity to answer “yes” in response to God’s call to serve others regardless of the circumstances of those challenges. Some calls, some challenges, some opportunities are bigger than others, but EVERY choice we make, big or small, is a choice to choose God, to respond to God’s call to love and to serve the needs of others; to pray unceasingly for the Godly responses to the human answers of our “how to” questions.

Heavenly Father, You love us unconditionally and offer us the opportunity to accept you by the responses we make to the challenges placed in our lives. Help us to make choices which show you our grateful acceptance of all that you provide for us daily. Help our love of you be a witness which will convert hearts and hands to more fully love and serve you. Thank you for revealing yourself to us so that we are given the opportunity to respond in faith. May each person who responds to you in faith be given the mercy of peace, joy, hope and comfort in their daily lives. Amen.
What will your response be to God today? Will we be able to say: “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.” 2 Tm 4: 7  

Pray unceasingly that you will answer His call and respond to his message, in love, in service and in acceptance of the gifts of every challenge and every opportunity provided.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday Prayer Requests

Friends of Faith:
Our prayers today are of continued thanksgiving for all the blessings have received: from God in a beautiful rainbow to start Thursday, along with the mass Scripture which spoke to us of how and why we are called to adversity, and the hope he graces us with; to the many blessings we are receiving from each of you in support by cards and emails, hands, prayers, food and a willingness to be there whenever we call.

We would also ask your continued prayers that the insurance and fire marshall/adjuster would finish their investigation fairly and quickly so that we can begin removing contents from the building and again for patience for us and for our customers.

Many of you have asked how we are doing and how we are doing this: The following is a message I received, before it my reply to her. In actuality this applies to all of us, every day, and for every reason, and speaks exactly as to both hows:

Dear Uncle Stan and Aunt Charlotte,
I was reading my devotional tonight and it made me think of you guys and everything going on this week:
"Stay calmly conscious of Me today, no matter what. Remember that I go before you as well as with you into the day. Nothing takes Me by surprise. I will not allow circumstances to overwhelm you, so long as you look to Me. I will help you cope with whatever the moment presents. Collaborating with Me brings blessings that far outweigh all your troubles.Awareness of My Presence contains Joy that can endure all eventualities.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
—Psalm 23:1–4 nkjv
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
—2 Corinthians 4:16–17"

Know of my prayers for you- both of thanksgiving that you two continuously look to The Lord for strength and guidance immediately as obstacles come your way, and prayers for strength that you may continue to rely on God and trust His will completely. I will offer a rosary up for you tonight."

And my reply:
Thank you! That is perfect and exactly why we have been able to stay calm. I told Uncle Stan yesterday almost this exact thing....and wondered how anyone without faith would ever make it through life in general.... not even just in a catastrophe.
Thanks for the rosary. We know God is answering our prayers through Mary's intercession.
Love Uncle Stan and Aunt Charlotte
I won't post again until my regular Monday morning as we will be spending the weekend with Andy at the ordination of three of his classmates. Pray for the graces bestowed on them as new priests and for all of their spiritual mentors who guide them.
May you all be blessed by the grace of God as we are, in faith, in hope and in love,
Through Christ our Lord, Amen!
Charlotte & Stan


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

And they are answered again -- Thursday prayer requests

Friends of Faith:
So I have to admit when I wrote yesterday I didn't have as much hope in my request for Wednesday (tools for the shop) as I did for Tuesdays (the internet) -- but once again your prayers for us are being answered and we are being thankfully blessed.
The insurance company has agreed to let the guys pick out "bare necessities" and get them ordered so they can do basic service and diagnostics hopefully early to mid next week (a new prayer).
Actually tomorrow I hear that they are going to use some "spare" tools located at their homes and work together to put together a Ranger someone needs for the 4th of July and do set up on another unit that is sold.
And more blessings and a request for prayer for Thursday: Please pray in Thanksgiving for Randy and Connie Zimmerman and their faithful workers at Zline who are graciously going to pour more cement in the building they are allowing us to work on.
And pray for the safety of the VanHamme crew who is dropping whatever other projects they were working on to do this for us. By Monday we will be blessed with another 25 foot of cemented work area.
So many other blessings: in Thanksgiving for those that finished setting up my desks and painting a wall and for the Doyle's who are letting us use their building. In thanksgiving for customers who continue to shower us with prayers and well wishes and for all of you who are praying that only know us through some other association.
Thursday prayer continued: Please say a prayer that Ashley will be feeling well tomorrow. We think she may have gotten too much sun on Tuesday guarding our driveway.
Finally pray for patience for those customers who are needing service, that they will remain loyal and wait for our tools to be delivered and the cement to dry. Amen!
Thank you, thank you, thank you -- to all of you, and especially to God for the many blessings he is pouring down upon us.
I close with this famous passage that arrived via the mail today: "Come to Me, all of you who are weary and find life burdensome; I will refresh you. Take My yoke on your shoulders and learn from Me, for I  am gentle and humble of Hear. You shall find rest because My yoke is easy and My burden light." Mt 11:28-30
He is waiting for each of us to have a greater faith ... it makes the burden light and gives us rest,
In Christ,

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Wednesday Prayer Requests

Friends of Faith:

First, thank you so much for your prayers today. The internet is up and working at the new office!!!! Thank you for great "techies" and for "techies" who keep stock piles of older equipment :)
Also thanks to those who worked in the office, painting and putting together new files and desks. You are very much appreciated. Pray that by tomorrow night I will see the office with a few less boxes and a few more desks.

Wednesday requests -- mostly for Stan -- as he has the much bigger challenges: First for patience with the process of counting and inventoring all of the parts and for those doing the job that they can faithfully and honestly discern those parts that will work and those which need to be included in the insurance claim.

Secondly: For more patience -- with the insurance adjusters who are requiring our mechanics to "wait" to buy new tools from a "required vendor." Procedures? Pray also that the claims adjuster might see wisdom in allowing us to use our expertise and buy tools from our loyal salesman who services us on a regular basis -- especially that we/they don't have to wait for a procedure and can get back to work.

Keep up the prayers for continued discernment of God's will as we decide where and how to set up sales and service locations that are accessible to both staff and our loyal customers.

Finally, prayers for a friend who is having a brain scan tomorrow. That whatever the results they will be accepted in faith.

Praying for a bigger faith and the blessing of peace and joy for all,

Monday, June 23, 2014

Tuesday Prayer Requests

Friends of Faith:

Our prayer requests for Tuesday include a smooth completion of our move into the Doyle's building downtown Toledo -- especially that our internet and wireless will connect and let printers and computers and internet work properly.

Stan's phones were connected today and I have a new office built into Doyle's courtesy of my brother-in-laws. Special thanks today goes to them, to those who answered phones, moved files, vaccumed and donated spare computer parts.

We ask your continued prayers as to how to proceed getting the Polaris side back up and running. How and where to best service our customers and get the sales department some "sheltered" space.

Many thanks for all of the offers to help and for all the yummy goodies and water that have been giving the guys energy to do the "heavy lifting."

Blessings to you all,

A Bigger Faith

Friends of Faith: (See the PS at end.)

Just a short month ago in a personal reflection I wrote:
“We are under the mission of God, and it is God that gives us our mission. (Eph 5: 21-33)
“It seems as if every time I have become very comfortable on my journey with God he gives me/us a new mission.
“My life has always been relatively comfortable – not easy, but I have always had what I have needed. Occasionally what I have received has been taken away (examples given)… But I have always been given more… (examples given).” (I used examples of how life’s natural progression (farewells), while sad and sometimes even painful, had enriched me with new and, looking back, greater, and often times unexpected blessings.)
Last Wednesday, as the kids and grandkids who had spent several days with us all headed back to their respective homes, jobs and activities, leaving us once again empty nested and quiet, Stan and I reflected on the many blessings we share.

And we talked about how we hoped that not only did we share the gifts that God has given us together—the faith, the joys, and the blessings—but that we were also wisely discerning and using these gifts for the service of others as God intends and calls us to do.

God really only asks for one thing: to have a bigger faith in him. And he gave us the two greatest commandments so that we would constantly search for that bigger faith—in him and through him.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mk 12: 30-31
A faith and trust in God, and love and service for others. Not a faith to find and then keep to ourselves, but a bigger faith that shares and which searches for and gives outside of ourselves.
On Friday morning, God quite literally “set us a fire.”
He said to Stan and I: “Don’t be comfortable in the faith and blessings I have given you. I have given you much, and to those I give much, more will be asked. I have a new mission for you, and I will guide you: IF you will grow a bigger faith and IF you will let me guide you; if you will love me, if you will trust me, and if you will serve me; if you will serve others by allowing them to serve you; if you will all grow a bigger faith in me together.”
We have already seen many blessings, the biggest of those being the safety of all of our employees, volunteers and the fire crews, for each of you and your prayers, and the not so big, for the many records that were spared.
And we are trusting that our prayers for timely guidance will be answered. We know we will face many more challenges, challenges which will require us to have a bigger faith in God. And it gives us great comfort and peace to know that we are not in this faith journey alone.
Why does God ask or allow us to “suffer?” For the same reason that God asked his Son to suffer, so that thru the example of Christ, we would each become a piece of Christ (just as we are all members of the one body of Christ) so that we would help each other grow bigger together in our faith in Christ.
This journey of life here on earth is not meant to be easy but it is meant to be joyful. The journey here is meant for us all to help each other get to heaven by growing faithfully dependent on Him, by loving and serving Him and each other and in doing that we find much joy.
All of the stuff we may have lost is not even a mark on the ground, compared to all that we have found in shared faith, love, joy and smiles with you over this weekend and that we anticipate in faith in the coming weeks.
Heavenly Father, our greatest blessing is found in our faith in You. Thank you for the love You constantly show us through the many blessings of friends and family. Continue to protect and bless all who serve you, but most especially today those who serve us in any way. In faith, we ask you to guide us and give us our new direction. Just as the two greatest commandments ask, help us to put you and the needs of others first. Grow in us, and through us, a bigger faith for all. We place our trust in You. Amen.
This is only the first I am sure of many thank you’s: for your continued prayers, your love, your support, and your willing hands. We ask that God grant each of you his grace and blessings by growing in and through a bigger faith.
God is trying to set a fire in all of our lives. May we open the door of our hearts to allow God to set us on fire so that we will grow into a bigger faith in Him,
Blessings and our heartfelt thank you’s,
In the Peace of Christ,
Charlotte & Stan
PS: In order not to fill your email boxes (please feel free to use mine) and to give you our daily prayer need updates I will use this blogspot as a “caring page”to update you on a more frequent basis.

Special Fire Request

To all: (Written on June 22)
First thank you for your continued prayers and thoughts. Please pray for our guidance in knowing how to proceed forward. We know God has a plan. We want to do it his way!
Second: Please don't be offended if we don't answer your text and emails right away -- it will however, probably be faster if you text or email me rather than Stan, especially if it needs an immediate answer.
As of now we can only do limited clean up because the fire marshall has to investigate first. We only know that the fire started at the far East end of the building. It will be a slow process as the building is currently not safe and needs to be secured and also everything has to be inventoried for insurance.
We have kept a list of all who have offered their help and will call if we need additional hands.
Again, thank you very much for your prayers, thoughts and support.
Love, Peace and Blessings,
Charlotte and Stan

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Birth of the Christian Church

Friends of Faith:
Christ’s church is built upon rock. That is why the Church still stands 2014 years later. It is a Universal Church who believes in the Trinity (God the Father, the Creator; Christ the Son, our role model; and with the Holy Spirit as it’s guide). This is the briefest history of the formation of the Christian church:

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Mt 16: 18-19

But even Peter denied and protested Christ and the ability of God to prevail. He didn’t believe and he was fearful. Without the Spirit which Christ sent and Peter allowed as his guide, Peter would have been nothing. But because of the Spirit he was able to evangelize and build a Church which continues to lead God’s chosen people today.
Division within the church has been caused by the same denial, disbelief, fear and protests as Peter himself felt when he was handed the keys of the kingdom nearly 2000 years ago.

And likewise, the mission, the vocation, of all Christians (Catholic and Protestant alike)—to lead others to Christ thru the fullness of the teachings of His Church—remains. The hope, joy and peace found through Christ is still being given through the Church, to it’s people, by the leadership of the same Spirit sent by God, through His son, those same 2000 years ago.
I am not sure what it is in our humanity that makes us try to figure everything out on our own but I think Blessed Mother Theresa says it best: “If you are discouraged it is a sign of pride because it shows you trust in your own power. Your self-sufficiency, your selfishness and your intellectual pride will inhibit His coming to live in your heart because God cannot fill what is already full. It is as simple as that.”
Pride tempts us to choose partial truths, the “easy” outs, the happy road, and the “feel good” rules. Consequently, because we do not have enough room for God we also have difficulty finding enough room to fully love our spouses, our families and our neighbors. Pride causes us to believe that we are in power instead of trusting in the power of the Spirit to lead us and giving God real control of our lives.
Like Peter (the first leader of the apostolic church, from whom we trace the successor popes) we are all sinners who sometimes (even often) deny our faith, are in disbelief of Christ’s teachings and His presence, who protest His law (the ten commandments which form His teachings on love and the manifestation of love through our families in the vocation of marriage), and who are fearful of the day to day challenges and sufferings presented by this world.

Come Holy Spirit, Come. Christ promised Your presence as he ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. Help me to set aside my personal pride to follow Your will, not mine. Thank you for my daily bread, for the many gifts I have but that I don’t realize. Help me to open my heart in faith like St. Peter and Blessed Mother Theresa, by loving unconditionally so that the evils of netherworld shall not prevail. Amen.
Without Christ I am nothing. Without Christ’s church I am wandering without the guide of His Spirit. My prayer is always that I find it in my heart to take up my cross and willingly follow Him,

Monday, June 9, 2014

Blessed Are You

Friends of Faith:

Life as we know it here on earth is a constant battle between good and evil: of being challenged to use our gifts so that we can be made aware of the many blessings God gives us or to be tempted by societies promised pleasures which cause us to hide, miss or outright turn away from the peace and joy He promises.
That is why it is so appropriate to follow yesterday’s feast of Pentecost, the sending of the Holy Spirit and the beginning of the Church here on earth with today’s famous blessings of the challenges of the Sermon on the Mount passage.

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.  He began to teach them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Mt 5: 1-12
The fire used to symbolize the coming and the presence of the Spirit leads us by it’s light, moves us by it’s energy, melds and molds us into whatever shape we allow.

God wants us to accept the gifts of the Spirit:  wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord (wonder and awe) so that we can receive the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
In turn both the gifts and the fruits become our blessings when they are used to answer the call of His famous Sermon, the blessings of giving back the gifts and spreading the fruits to others through His Christian Church.

So blessed and loved are we all to be a part of His Church and a child of His through our Baptism.
Come Holy Spirit, Come. May we accept the gifts you present us and use them wisely for the benefit of others. Help us to allow others to see Christ through the fire you light in our hearts by the sending of Your Spirit. Thank you for the gift of your Church which becomes our family and community of support for our faith journey. Amen.

Blessed are you who believe. May your faith burn brightly for all to see,

Monday, June 2, 2014

Spirit Led

Friends of Faith:
“My heart is restless until it rests in Thee.”St. Agustin

This may sound abstract, or like something that only happens when we die, but it came to make more sense for me this weekend when a deacon said: “The devil can imitate many of the things that God can do but the devil can’t give us peace.”

I thought of the inner conflict reflected in Lk 4: 1-13 when Jesus was tempted by the devil with his own words from Scripture. And how we often don't recognize Jesus just as the disciples didn't on the road to Emmaus Lk 24: 13-25. And I was comforted by the following Psalm.
My soul rests in God alone, from whom comes my salvation. God alone is my rock and salvation, my secure height; I shall never fall…Even from my place on high they plot to dislodge me. They delight in lies; they bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse. My soul, be at rest in God alone, from whom comes my hope….Mortals are a mere breath, the powerful but an illusion…Do not trust in extortion; in plunder put no empty hope. Though wealth increase, do not set your heart upon it. …Power belongs to God…so too, Lord, does kindness, And you render to each of us according to our deeds Ps 62: 1-13

It made me think about many of the decisions I make each day, from the little ones, like what food I want to eat; to the big ones, like which thing on the list should be my priority; to the monetary ones like how to charge a client for the work I have done; and to the more moral ones, like how to react to someone who is angry with me.

In each case when my choice was healthy food; giving time to Stan or a family member or a friend in need; based on value not greed; or was a choice of patience and kindness instead of from a competitive—win it all for me nature, I realized that with each decision I had found a sense of peace instead of indecision or struggle. It made me realize why both St. Agustin’s famous quote and the deacon’s advice made my Godly decisions help me find peace, hope and ultimately joy—because I was resting in and choosing God’s will.

Lord Jesus, send us your Spirit so that we may be helped to make our decisions based on Your truth rather than the seeming power and the lies of the devil. Come Holy Spirit, Create in us a stillness so we can hear Your voice in creation and in Scripture, in events and in people, especially in the poor and suffering. May Your word guide us so that we too, like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, may know the power of your resurrection and witness to others that you live now among us, the true source of fraternity, justice and peace. Even when the decision is difficult help us to find rest in You. This we ask you, Jesus, Son of Mary, you who revealed the Father to us and sent us your Spirit. Amen.

May you find peace and joy this week, by choosing God in every decision, big and small,