~ By Jessie Hietpas

 

When our 20 grandchildren say the word Grandpa or Grandma, it is just the sweetest word of all for my husband Steve and me. We just celebrated 43 years of marriage, and I am thankful for him. We have six children who are all married with their own children.

For many years, every Sunday after Mass, Steve and I and our kids would have brunch at his parents’ house; then afterward we’d head over to my parents’ house and join in with the rest of my family for Sunday supper. It is now a tradition for our kids to come over to our house for brunch after Mass. We are trying to stay with Sundays being a day of prayer and visiting and rest.

Whether Sundays after Mass or at the cottage with our own families, it was all about good food and fun with our families. We learned about ‘getting along’, we discussed ‘life’, but most of all we had a blast. Each family makes their own style of togetherness. God has blessed us.

God tries in so many ways to break into our lives. He gave us a free will which means that He will not force us to depend upon him. He is always trying to show us how much he loves us. It took me awhile to figure out that I could not control situations, nor the people around me. In many ways it was a huge relief to totally surrender to God. After so many years of trying and trying to figure out how life works, it was like a new lease on life to just “let go and let God.”

This big change in my life happened almost 40 years ago and I still remember Steve being a little puzzled about my new attitude. I was starting to understand what a personal relationship with Jesus Christ meant. As I was learning to turn to Jesus every day in prayer, I was experiencing peace and joy and wisdom and excitement for the unfolding of God’s plans. It felt really good to just trust in God to work all things out.

I found that my daily frequent visits with God really made a difference in my life. The fact that God loved me unconditionally was life-changing. There is no perfect person who could possibly always ‘be there’ for us, who can love us unconditionally, and who is always available, like God is.

In order to stay focused on keeping God first in my life, I got involved in many parish and retreat activities . I have been so blessed by every person that I have met along the way, for each has renewed my excitement of following God’s will and not mine. As Fr. Ron has reminded us…we are to help each other get to heaven. Staying involved in Christian activities keeps me accountable and I can often hear God’s voice speaking to me. Sometimes He is reminding me of how much He loves me and sometimes He is teaching me how to be a better version of myself.

So often I think about Bishop Ricken saying, “Just think….we ‘get’ to do good every day.” What a deal! Every morning we can say, “Come, Holy Spirit, help me to love as you love. Show me how I can serve someone today.” It is a privilege to be helpful to someone else. I am grateful to so many of you who have taught me to love and to serve.

It is time to let our ‘best friends’ know we have a new best friend, and his name is Jesus. Instead of only having a personal relationship with our neighbors, relatives, and family, we can turn to God who only wants the best for us. As the people around us become our “#2’s”, we can urge others to ‘give it a try’. Make Jesus #1. Odds are that after a 30-day trial of daily conversations and quiet time with God, there will be no turning back. It is said that, “Prayer is relaxing in the presence of God.” Let’s relax…and enjoy the benefits of God’s peace and joy.