Vern ~In my life this happened through High School and into my middle twenties. I call them my minimalist years. Thanks be to God he did not abandon me. He continued to make the first move pouring grace and mercy on me. Just enough to stay involved during a long slow period of learning and growth, slowly getting to know Jesus. A million little moments spread over 30 years or more. God kept putting opportunities in my path, most of which were missed as wealth, power, honor, and pleasure kept me too busy to notice.
Bonnie and Vern ~Things began to change as our children left the nest and daily influence over them melted away. Suddenly prayer took on a whole new meaning. We always had our individual prayer time but now it seemed natural that we spend more time in prayer together. We had a common need. The increased prayer time slowly led to the start of a relationship with the Trinity. So, in a way our children became the initiative from God that required a response of faith from us. Our response, more prayer time, then opened us up to receive more grace. We are sensing this repetitive cycle with God where He initiates, we respond in faith, He initiates again, and on and on. Each time the amount of grace seems larger.
Vern ~One fruit from this cycle was noticing my desires change. When MHT first started the Heart of Jesus Holy Hour, I used to marvel at the volunteers that sat through the entire Holy Hour. How could they enjoy just sitting in church that long? Now nothing seems more important to me. I hunger and thirst for opportunities to pray and help others get to know Jesus. The parish retreats met this need perfectly. Initially through attending the retreats and then later being asked to help in the presentation of them. Being invited to assist with the retreats was nothing less than God putting another opportunity in our path. In the last couple years this new abundance of grace has manifested itself with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon us. The pinnacle of this was the Encounter Ministries Conference 2019. I came home changed. Prior to the conference I would be hesitant or somewhat intimidated to pray with others. This has been replaced with a boldness unknown before. In Ministry School they have this saying, “crossing the chicken line,” which speaks to being too timid to follow through with opportunities God puts in our path like praying with people or giving a witness. The chicken line is quickly disappearing for me. As the cycle of faith and grace continues things that used to trump faith activities have lost ground. Prayer, worship, praying with others, ministry school, and anything that has to do with faith has taken the top of my desires. It was not too long ago when I thought this kind of happiness could never be found from doing God’s will. To the contrary, as I come closer to being and doing what God created me to be, I am finding true happiness.
Bonnie ~Vern has always been one to jump into everything. I have a hard time stepping out of my comfort zone. Over the years he has talked me into some crazy things that I never thought I would do. For example, riding the DALMAC bicycle tour and starting a youth group and leading it for five years. The latest challenge is attending the Encounter Ministries School. So many times, be it little or big, I go to prayer to help with the decision. God has responded by giving me the grace I need to say yes. Every time I step out in faith and say yes like Mary did, I feel God has truly blessed me and our marriage.
So we want to push you our of your comfort zones. Please consider attending our Parish Retreat. This is an opportunity God is putting in your path. Pray about it. We promise God will deliver.
Bonnie & Vern Thelen