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Scenes from my first Christmas

Yes, this is my First Christmas.....as a Deacon of course. Fr. Andrew reminded me and the entire congregation of that, along with the story ...

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Is Michael there?

Well yesterday we were all reminded that winter is still around and we got covered with a bunch of the white stuff. It was absolutely gorgeous looking around town early this morning. There was a beautiful blanket enveloping the city. It looked so clean, and so pure.

Even though the weather is warming up a little bit, the activity in the store is starting to heat up.We have our semi-annual Bucket Sale starting next week and we are pulling out all the stops to be our district's champion again. I always answer the phone at the store the same way, "Good morning Sherwin-Williams this is Mitch speaking , how may I help you?" Quite often I get is Mitch there, and I realize most people aren't really paying attention to my welcoming voice. Today I got "Is Michael there?"  I said yes, speaking. We have caller id and I noticed that the call came from the new federal prison. They are becoming one of my best customers and to see that number pop up wasn't unusual at all. 

This call was very different. The young man stated who he has and then said "oh yeah, Mitch is your alias!"  Alias? I'm then quickly wondering what this was about and then he shared that he would be leading a group for volunteer training later this month and wanted to know if I would be available for that date. I quickly looked at the calendar and committed to something four years ago I said I really never wanted to do. He gave me all the details I needed for that day! Be there by 8 am and bring a picture ID, that's it! Simple enough!

This journey that I'm on has been filled with many interesting twists. If you would have asked me early on I would have said the journey began when Fr. Rich asked me to meet with him to discuss something important. But as I look back this journey was obviously set in motion even before I was born. I look back and see how I was formed along the way, and all these moments have prepared me for what was to come. My family, my time at Guardian Angel School, my years as an Altar Boy, my years as a Boy Scout and Leader, my best friend that I met when I was eleven,  my time at St. Meinrad, my wife and children, my work, my time as a volunteer, my 2 plus years of formation and meeting some of the greatest people I know, and now another calling that tugs deep inside of me. 

How do you prepare for something that is so different? I guess you really can't! This is a change that requires much more than I have inside of me. In almost everything I've done in the past I've felt that I at least have had some preparation for handling the job. This time, I'm really leaving into the hands of the Lord. The Lord has guided me to seek help from my Spiritual Director, who guided me to a prison chaplain, and I also ordered a book to at least shed some light into what I can expect. I've even gone on line to look up information and insight. These are all very helpful but I realize that alone I can't do this, and I think of St. Paul ..............." I can do all things with the one who guides me!"

I'll be praying for patience and guidance awaiting for the date the training begins, but also realizing that the training began a long time ago!

Bonjour et Adieu mes Amis,


Friday, February 22, 2013

I was thinking about you!

Yesterday I went on sales calls with my rep. Yes, even paint companies (at least this one) do outside selling, especially since about 65% of my business is commercial. We traveled to one of our best customers first and we talked up all the "new" products. We also told them about our up coming bucket sale, and our heavier duty products. It was absolutely great and they gave me a bunch of requests to look into for them. 

Next, we decided to do a cold call with a challenging customer. We seem to be up one year and down the next with them. Well, we have a new product to show him so we decided we had nothing to lose. We made the pitch to demonstrate the machine when the snow is gone (hopefully real soon) and once again explained the benefits and advantages of the machine and our products. Half expecting rejection I was shocked to hear "we have money in the budget" and " yes I would love to have a demonstration!" Wow! That was awesome!

Then we saved the toughest one for last. I have been trying to sell to this customer for over 20 years! Yes over 20 years! We tried to think about what we would discuss with this customer, again we were really expecting the same routine that I have received year after year. Well he was off to lunch and there is one cardinal rule for a sales person, "never disturb anyone while they are eating!" We decided to go out to eat and then made the trip back. Again, we were really expecting the "thanks, but no thanks" routine. I even thought that he might just say, "I'm too busy, or I don't have time today!"

We walked in, asked to have him paged and were told that he would be down in few minutes to meet with us. So far so good. After the greetings he said "I was thinking about you..." and we got into a great discussions on how they had a need for a special product that we have, and how much his maintenance guy (who I knew personally) loved our products. Before we knew it we had an appointment for next Thursday to start matching colors and begin the conversion over to our products. He had one concern, and I answered that one quickly..." we deliver in this town three days per week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for free!  We confirmed everything we discussed and then left. 

My rep and I both walked out thinking..."How did that all come about!" Needless to say we were both very excited over the good news!

Last night in prayer time as I reviewed my day I couldn't help but think how the Lord taught me something. He told Peter to lower the nets one more time and to trust in him. Yesterday despite all the past history we had with this customer,  we were given an opening. Persistence, patience, integrity, hmmmm, all the same requirements to be a good disciple and Deacon. It is often too easy to give up even though most would have called it quits long ago. I remember telling the rep that no matter what has happened in the past, we need to still move forward and keep trying. 

I am still discerning my vocations in life and must remember that there will be tough times, where I will face rejection, yet through God's grace I need to stand firm, be patient, be persistent, and always maintain the ideals I have learned in my faith!

Bonjour et Adieu mes Amis,


PS Stations of the Cross tonight, I wonder what will be revealed tonight?


Friday, February 15, 2013

My name is Simon!

Tonight I attended the Stations of the Cross at Church,and it was such a moving experience. In the last few years I participated on Good Friday but I don't think I've started this early since I was in grade school, way back at Guardian Angel. 

It's a new year, a new pastor, and a very aggressive schedule for Lent. There was something special in the air, an indescribable feeling. Our format is "Everyone's Station of the Cross"

At the fifth station where Christ falls and Simon is ushered into helping our Lord carry the cross, we hear Christ talking as to when we are courteous on the road, letting someone go first in line at the store, being patient with others, ......then "my name is Simon!" I've heard this before but I guess I only glossed over it! I actually had trouble reciting my part as I was so moved by this! My attention level was raised up higher than ever before and each and every subsequent station lifted me up! 

With a new wrinkle, our Church through the help of the youth group put on a soup and bread event for after the Stations. I definitely had to go! As I walked in there was an incredible Spirit there, and I saw a young gentlemen whom I've recognized but had never spoken to. He was sitting alone eating his soup and Christ called me to sit with him. I was asked by friends to join them, but I felt compelled to join him. I asked if I could join him and he accepted. His name is Jake and he is from another part of the country and has been here for a few years. We both shared a little from our lives and the conversation went great! He then chose to leave and I said goodbye and then joined those who had asked me before. It was a really great experience from start to finish. I got so much more than I bargained for and I actually didn't want to leave.

Afterwards when I was leaving I was thinking..........."my name is Simon!"

Bonsoir et Adieu mes Amis,


“Exult, let them exult…”

“Exult, let them exult…”

For all you future or current Deacons I wanted to share this with you from a blog that I follow!

Bonjour et Adieu mes Amis,


Monday, February 11, 2013

And today we pray!

I am thankful to Our Lord Jesus Christ for the gift of our Holy Father Pope Benedict and I ask that He continues to Bless him for his service to Christ's Church! I also pray to the Holy Spirit as we await the selection of our next Pope!

Bonsoir et Adieu mes Amis,



Sunday, February 10, 2013

Anxious to swim in the deep end?

I mentioned last week that I would share some of the thoughts that flooded my mind on my sales meeting trip. With Lent only a few days away I thought that this would be appropriate.

I was listening to NPR and the guest mentioned how as we children we all had one goal as the summer went on! We couldn't wait until we were old enough to swim in the deep end. As a child I was relegated to the corded off area to swim only. I wasn't big enough, I wasn't old enough, I wasn't good enough to get there. Well the only way to get there was to prove to others that I was ready. I took lessons, worked as hard as I could, and then that glorious day. You are ready! It was everything, I mean everything I thought it would be. I'm one of the big boys now, and there will be no stopping me. 

Even though I made the grade I continued to work on getting better. I now had to learn how to dive, build up some endurance so I could swim under water as long as possible, and be strong enough when we would make that special trip. The Ocean! I have loved to body surf ever since I can remember. I loved how the waves would drive me to shore if I caught just the right one. Even today I still love that thrill.

Now on the subject of Lent. If I put the same effort into my faith as I did in swimming would I get the same results, or the same thrill? Since I started this journey Lent has meant so much more to me. I want to get out of the shallow end of my faith, and plunge into the deep end. I know it will continue to take effort on my part, and with the grace of God it can be done! 

I've got to become like St. Peter, and say "Lord, if you want me to try again I will!" 

And so we begin on Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, 02/13/13! 

I want to swim in the deep end!

Bonjour et Adieu mes Amis,


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I know you!

This weekend's Gospel we hear about how the "locals" dealt with Jesus when they were reunited with each other in a different setting. Jesus faced the old adage, "No one is a prophet in his own town!" 

Fr. Marc spoke about this in his homily, as to how people seem to save that little bit of information as power over someone they knew. When we have been familiar with someone we tend to feel we know them all to well and our expectation levels are different. You can't be an expert in your own town, is something that I have had to deal with in my business. 

The only exception that I have ever seen of this is when one the locals makes it big on some stage or activity in their lives and everyone seems to want to acknowledge them by saying "They are one of us!" Yet, down inside there probably still is that lingering doubt that comes with familiarity by at least one individual.

My daughter called the other day and stated how she has had to battle views of how she used to be. She commented..........." Can't they see that I have changed, I've grown up, I'm not the same person that I used to be!" Amazing! I told her that Jesus had gone through the same thing she did many years ago, and I'm sure Jesus said they same thing my daughter did! Fr. Marc related holding on to that information as "grenades" that we save and are ready to let go whenever needed!

In less than two years, and God willing of course, Mike and I will be ordained Deacons. It isn't supposed to be a slam dunk that we will be assigned to our home parish, but the likelihood of being somewhere else is pretty remote. 

So, being two local boys that grew up knowing almost everyone in this town we probably will be facing a few of those grenades ourselves. I know we will have to pray and ask help from the expert on this topic, Our Lord Jesus Christ! Maybe they will able to see that we both have changed, we have grown, and we aren't the same persons we used to be!

Bonjour et adieu mes Amis,


Friday, February 1, 2013

What will you be doing this Lenten season?

I'm finally back, and that statement falls on several plains. I have stated in the past that there have been challenges that have changed me. Unfortunately, I had also lost a few things during this period. My posting on this blog has been less frequent, I haven't written anything in a journal for a couple of months, there seemed to be a fire missing inside of me. 

On Sunday I left for my journey to Nashville to attend the National Sales Meeting. On that ride to Manchester I was listening to NPR and felt that the Lord was talking to me through words being shared by the program. They mentioned a few things that touched me deep inside, so much so that I had to stop the car to write them down. I will post them soon but the interesting part was that, the next day in my hotel room I wrote down about three pages of reflections that came to me. 

This journey has kindled a new fire inside of me. I've come back energized, on many levels, but especially spiritually! 

So today I'm playing catch up in my course and reviewed the chat session that I missed on Wednesday night. Again, the Spirit found a way to inspire me. I was looking at the messages posted on "sacrifice", which is something we all feel that it is something we give up for the greater good. Noble thoughts, and extremely noble actions. Yet we learned in that unit that Christ's Passion, His sacrifice was a complete giving of himself unselfishly! All I could see from the others was how sacrifice was more about doing something, rather than giving up something. We all can become more Christ like when we give of our selves unselfishly to others. We do that when we spend time with those who are lonely, those who are sick, being in the presence of those in need! 

So my challenge this Lent will be to find something to do to be more Christ like! 

I'll let the Spirit guide me on that one! After all He helped to get back on track!

Bonsoir et Adieu mes Amis,