Mike Rase for BRCLM
August 2018, Witness at Work

Mike Rase: Building Relationships, Our Key to Success

Mike Rase: Building Relationships, Our Key to Success

Mike Rase for BRCLM

By Rachele Smith 

The year was 1995. It was a time when “Still in Love” by East to West topped the Christian music charts, the World Wide Web was taking flight, and kids, both young and old, were flocking to theaters to see Walt Disney Picture’s Toy Story surge in popularity “to infinity and beyond.”  

But closer to home, Mike Rase, the vice president and general manager of Paretti Jaguar Baton Rouge, was just starting out in the car industry, and he was about to experience something that still influences both his personal and professional life today. 

Rase’s story begins with a man driving a Harley Davidson motorcycle onto the lot of a Jag dealership. According to Rase, the man had a dog on his back, sported a long ponytail, and was wearing a T-shirt that said “Satan Sucks.” As the first new sales person at this car dealership in 18 years, Rase was selected to help him.  

“Being young and not one to be a typical car guy, I wanted to treat him like you are supposed to treat a fellow human being, so I waited on him,” said Rase. “He asked some questions and then left. I thought it was all over, but then he came back a few hours later, and said, ‘I want you to know I’ve been to a lot of different car dealerships and nobody would wait on me. You were the only person that greeted me today.’” The man returned later and purchased a car. 

Through the years, that same customer has continued to return and has purchased additional cars. “He just doesn’t want to deal with anyone else in the car business,” Rase said. “He is an extremely religious man and does a lot of mission work. He takes in people who have had drug addictions and gives them jobs fixing motorcycles and gets them up and running and back out into society. He’s a gentleman, and I consider him a friend.” 

For Rase, the lesson learned that day was instilled in him through his Christian faith: human dignity. And by doing what he knew was right and just, a lifelong connection was made. The experience also helped Rase realize his basic business intuition was correct.  

“Certainly, there is a stigma with people (working) in the car business,” Rase said. “When I came into it, I wanted to be different. I didn’t want people to see me as that typical car guy. Every day, since the day I started, I’ve tried to not let anybody see me in that light.” 

Rase has extended that business idea to his employees at Paretti Jaguar of Baton Rouge. “That means being up front and honest and making friends with the folks, understanding their families. We have a lot of repeat business, and I think that’s because we take care of customers at the end of the day,” he said. 

Building relationships is key, according to Rase, who was named general manager of Paretti Jaguar when the Paretti family of dealerships in Metairie expanded to Baton Rouge in 1997.  

“My father-in-law said, ‘We gotta do this (move to Baton Rouge); go make this happen.’ I was a baby in the business. In hindsight, I can’t believe he (my father-in-law) went out on a limb and really fought for me to be able to become the general manager here,” he said. 

Back then, the local dealership had only six employees, including Rase. Today, 36 employees are needed to run the company, which also includes a state-of-the-art Jaguar Land Rover facility. And in February, the Baton Rouge team earned the coveted 2018 Land Rover Pinnacle Award for outstanding overall business performance, one of just 16 dealerships across the country to do so. 

“It’s an all-encompassing award,” said Rase. “It’s not just about how many cars you sell. (That’s) great because it’s not an award for me. It’s an award for everybody here, for 36 people who all equally won that award, and that’s pretty nice.” 

Rase lives in Covington and has commuted to the capital city for 20 years. He admits he is a “people person” and said he enjoys the personal interaction with his customers. “It’s fun for me to hear what’s going on with their families, and I’ve seen the kids grow up and now we’re selling the children cars, and then it’ll be the grandchildren. We grow with them as time progresses,” he said. 

In today’s world of cell phones and emails, it can be hard to maintain that personal connection, but Rase believes there is power in that one-on-one relationship with people. 

“It’s really (about) that connection. Did I make your day or not? Can I surprise and delight you somehow today? (Anything) to be different than that phone going off,” he said. 

Stacey and Mike Rase
Stacey and Mike at the annual Michael J.Fox Kickin’ Parkinsons VIP Gala in New York City

As the father of four children, Rase knows it can be tough finding the right balance between work and family. But he credits his wife with helping him keep it together. “I will say without Stacy, none of this is possible. Having that lengthy commute, I’ve missed an awful lot not being at home. My wife has made it all happen on the home front,” he said, noting his four children, all raised in the Catholic communities around St. Anselm Catholic Church in Madisonville and St. Peter Catholic Church in Covington, have all been successful students in and out of the classroom.  

“Mom takes care of business. She’s the enforcer of a lot of things,” he noted, but when things go really bad, he said, Dad gets a call. “I enjoy being ready and able to go out and tackle whatever that problem is.” 

As his children get older and head off to college and beyond, Rase is realizing he and his wife are very close to that next stage in life. “We’re about to be empty nesters in two years,” he said. ”We’re probably five years before having grandkids, and the best years of our lives are in front of us. I certainly do look forward to it.” 

Rase family
The Rase Family, Shelby, Mike Larry, Stacey, Hadley and Landry at Larry’s HS graduation May 2018




Pinnacle Jacguar Award
In February, the Baton Rouge team earned the coveted 2018 Land Rover Pinnacle Award for outstanding overall business performance, one of just 16 dealerships across the country to do so. “It’s an all-encompassing award,” said Rase. “It’s not just about how many cars you sell. (That’s) great because it’s not an award for me. It’s an award for everybody here, for 36 people who all equally won that award, and that’s pretty nice.”
July 2018, Publisher's Letter

Are you a Door or a Door Mat? Publisher’s Letter

Serving Others…. Are you a door or a doormat?

The truth is, it made me mad. Here I was in church, looking to be encouraged by the sermon. As the worship ended, our pastor stood up and made a statement I’ll never forget. You could have heard a pin drop in the huge auditorium. “Do you want to know how to improve the most difficult relationships in your life?” The crowd was on the edge of their seats. We were all leaning in to take detailed notes. Yes! Yes! We want to know how to improve the most difficult relationships in our lives! “Serve ‘em.”

Really? Is that it? Is that all? Please tell me there is more! That is not what I wanted to hear, likely the sentiment of the thousands of other people who filled the room. He went on to explain that Jesus washed the disciples’ feet at one of his darkest hours. There was a plot to kill him, and he knew his earthly time was coming to an end. Regardless of Jesus’ state-of-reality, this radical act of service demonstrated the full extent of his love for them. Jesus even said in John 13:14-15, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you should also wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”

Wow! Jesus didn’t say wash the feet of those worthy of foot washing. He didn’t say wash the feet of those who were in right standing with you. Nor did he say, “Wait until they deserve it.” There is little argument that serving someone quickly softens a situation where tension could otherwise erode relationships.

There were times in my life where, even though I was angry with someone, one kind act of service changed my attitude and quickly shifted me to a more compassionate position. Not because of the other party, but because in that moment I chose to obey Jesus. There is no better invitation for the hand of Jesus to intervene than when we choose to obey His Word.

There were also times when I ignored this life lesson and just let my anger have its say. Bitter words and ugly attitudes can quickly fester and bring about doubt and fear. Cold silence can be just as hurtful. It’s a tool of our enemy and can allow disobedience to wreak havoc and usher in often unnecessary suffering. Perfectly good relationships have ended over poor communication and misinterpreted feelings.

One of my most personal struggles is this very battle: serve or say. I’m a proponent of clear communication and dealing with what needs to be dealt with. There are frequently times when productive conversations are needed. To clarify and reach agreement with a kind approach is an effective way to strengthen a relationship. What I’m trying to articulate here is that we don’t become door mats, we become doors. Better relationships, based in truth and wisdom, are often born out of someone who humbled themselves in an effort to serve that relationship into health and often happiness.

Jesus sets the example. It’s up to us to choose. Will you serve others?

Beth with Founding Advertiser Karl Weber of PBC Industrial Pipe
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April 2018, Pastor's Perspective

Pastor’s Perspective: Forgiveness, Healing, and the Resurrection by Rev. Charles DeGravelles

Forgiveness, Healing and the Resurrection
By the Rev. Charles deGravelles

Charles DeGravelles is a deacon in the Episcopal Church.

People are crammed into every corner of the room. They spill through the open door into the street. Some have pushed into the crowded room only to listen and be lifted in spirit; after all, the Teacher’s words make all things seem possible. But by now, everyone has heard that the Master can, with a word or a touch, cure any condition or infirmity, and many have come with a secret prayer for healing—for themselves or someone they love. Among those on the street is a paralyzed man who nurtures in his heart such a hope. The two friends who carry him on a stretcher, determined to make this happen, somehow get him onto the roof and, after removing some of the thatching, lower him to the feet of Jesus.

The paralyzed man, his friends, and all who have watched this astonishing sight are disappointed by what Jesus says: “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” Where is the healing in this, they think? Others are offended: “Only God can forgive sins. Does this man think he is God?” (Luke 5:18-25.)

As always, Jesus’ words are a lesson about the Kingdom of God and what it takes to live in it. Forgiveness, the Master is teaching, is an indispensable part of the true healing required to live in God’s Kingdom. It is a deep healing of the soul that transcends the physical. He teaches this lesson over and over again. His answer to Peter’s question – how many times should we forgive – may seem cryptic, “seventy times seven, but what he means is we should forgive a limitless number of times. In the parable Jesus uses to explain this difficult lesson, a king generously forgives the great debt of a man who then refuses to forgive a much lesser debt owed to him (Matthew 18:21-35). The point? God, who sees and loves us as we are, forgives our innumerable shortcomings and expects us to do the same with one another. Lest we think Jesus is exaggerating the importance of forgiveness, among his dying words on the cross are forgiveness for those who condemned, tortured and killed him: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  (Luke 23:34).

In over twenty-five years of ministry—in prisons and in the “free” world—I’ve witnessed the pain, turmoil and despair that we can cause one another, and I’ve also seen many times, even in the most extreme situations, the miracle of healing that forgiveness brings. I’ve experienced it in my own life and that of my family.

Some denominations, including my own, use the season of Lent these days before Easter as a time for deep reflection and self-sacrifice. For some, it is a time of “giving up” something that, in however small a way, reminds us of what Jesus suffered and gave up for us. As we walk with Jesus through his most difficult days, we may want to reflect on where, in our own lives, forgiveness may be called for. Instead of (or, if you like, in addition to) making a vow to give up chocolate or soft drinks or meat, why not make an honest assessment of your shortcomings that may have caused others pain, and also the resentments, angers, or grudges towards others that you are carrying. Ask for God’s forgiveness and for help in forgiving others. The resurrection of Easter will be for you, as it was for the paralyzed man who picked up his mat and walked, a time of healing and new life.

Charles deGravelles is a deacon in the Episcopal Church. A long-time prison minister, he helped found The Chapel of the Transfiguration, an Episcopal congregation at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, and was a spiritual mentor to a death row inmate there. He is a graphic artist, composer and writer whose biography of the LSU football legend, Billy Cannon: A Long, Long Run (LSU Press), won the Louisiana Library Association best book of 2015. He and his wife, Angela, are the proud parents of three and grandparents of two.

June 2016, Millennial Life

The Arduous Odyssey of Self Discovery

by Trapper S. Kinchen

(Editor’s note: Julie is a pseudonym for the counselor interviewed for this article.)

FullSizeRender-6We, millennials, find ourselves in this transient space between who we were as children and who we will be as adults. It doesn’t matter if you are 13 or 35 — undoubtedly you are bound on the great and unchanging odyssey of self-discovery undertaken by each generation since the birth of creation.

Time propels each of us forward on an expedition to unlock who we are, apart from our parents, separate from what we’ve been taught. We work toward finding life-affirming careers, healthy romances, honest friendships and most importantly, an authentic relationship with God. Sometimes, along the way, our newly discovered personal truths and experiences diverge from the sentiments and facts instilled into us as children.

That separation between what we thought we knew and what we now hold to be true sometimes stalls us with a song of self-doubt and dread, and we often find ourselves in need of a little support and encouragement along the way.

I recently sat down with Julie, a friend of mine who works as a faith-based counselor on the Northshore. She specializes in individual and family therapies and works with a great many people our age. Her job is essentially to offer encouragement, and provide her clients with the tools they need to navigate their day-to-day lives as healthily as possible.

Each of the people she treats represents a unique personal history. The traumas, experiences and circumstances that bring them to her practice are incredibly diverse, but the usual motivations that spur her millennial clients into counseling are stress, anxiety and fear. Sometimes these symptoms manifest in varying degrees of depression, compulsive behavior and/or an urge to self-harm.

PI_2015-04-09_teensandtech_05As the 21st century carves its way through American culture, technology continues to play an ever-increasing role in how we exercise our minds, bodies and spirits. Julie sees firsthand the consequences that widespread overdependence on technology is having on millennials. “Comparing ourselves to other people isn’t new. But, with mobile devices, technology is constantly in our face. A general feeling of inadequacy is practically inescapable these days,” Julie said.

It’s undeniable that social media has exacerbated our national obsession with individual success. We are continually bombarded with unrealistic beauty and material standards on platforms like Instagram, and are often left questioning our worth. Are we #important, #beautifulenough, #reachingnewlevels? We wonder why we don’t have a high enough paying job, a house of our own, a new vehicle, a cohort of attractive friends, a beautiful and affectionate romantic partner or a more symmetrical face. The cultural ideals one encounters on social media have the quiet ability to undermine our confidence.

PI_2015-04-09_teensandtech_01Modern technology has the potential to enrich our lives in ways no prior generation has ever been enhanced before. Skype and social media, for example, afford us the ability to maintain visual relationships with people clear across the globe. But like any other obsessive impulse, over time, technological codependence starts to snuff out our humanity.

The Pew Research Center discovered in 2015 that 24 percent of teens “go online almost constantly.” They also found that 71 percent of all teens use more than one social media site while online.  Such a heavy amount of Internet use is disconcerting because when we glut ourselves on visual media, our desire to live life to the fullest is undermined by a compulsion to sustain a captivating online presence.

All of the externally induced self-doubt we carry, mixed with the litany of heartache and worry each of us endures on the path to maturity, can manifest into depression, anxiety, panic, fear, low self-esteem, etc., and these symptoms become unmanageably enflamed when we ignore their underlying causes. The most cathartic way to confront and reconcile the roots of any emotional or psychological unrest is to seek counseling.

When deciding whether to see a mental health professional and what sort of help you might need, Julie emphasizes that there’s a great deal to consider. As a Christian, ministry-based treatment might be the right choice for you. The differences between faith-based counseling and traditional psychological analysis are not terribly deep, and Julie insists that each technique holds merit.

FullSizeRender-7“I use elements of both traditional analysis and faith-based principles in my counseling. How much I include of either depends on the individual I’m treating. Incorporating prayer and scripture into the healing process can be very beneficial if a person is open to them,” she said. The key is to find a counselor with whom you mesh well, and whose techniques you find effective. Pray about it. The Lord will ultimately lead you where you need to go if you ask Him.

It is also important to be proactive and take a dynamic role in your own healing. To start, do some online research on local counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists. Read about their unique counseling styles and approaches to treatment before making an appointment. If you know someone who is seeing or has previously seen a mental health professional, ask if they recommend their counselor.

If you’re a student, either in high school or college, there are already resources in place to help you combat these achingly negative feeling that might be weighing you down. Go to your school counselor or the mental health facility at your university, and they will act as a launching point for your journey to overall wellness. They can either treat you themselves, or recommend someone for you to see in private practice.

If you ever get to a place of total hopelessness and dejection, Julie recommends you go immediately to someone safe who loves you and let them know how you feel. If you do not have a person you can readily approach or trust, call your doctor or go to a reputable hospital and let them know you are severely depressed. Your physician can quickly refer you to a mental health professional, and all hospitals have at least one psychiatrist on staff that can help you in case of an emergency.

Julie emphasized that if someone ever comes to you with the intention to harm either themselves or others, get them to the nearest emergency room as quickly as possible so they can be treated by a medical professional.

Julie also has some suggestions for any parents who might be wondering how they can help their depressed, anxious or panicked child. “Leave judgment out of it,” Julie said. “If you want your teenage and adult kids to feel comfortable coming to you when they have problems, listen to them and offer them love and encouragement.” Additionally, be conscious not to add any additional pressure to your child’s emotional burden. Let them come to you when they seek guidance. Be ready to hear them. Advise them when they seek it, and provide them with a silent ear when they need someone to listen. Let them know they are loved and supported, not as children who need to be soothed or disciplined, but as capable, flourishing individuals.

PI_2015-04-09_teensandtech_10When I asked Julie what she thought most Christians commonly misconceive about therapy, she said, “People often think their problems are ‘all under the blood.’ They sometimes believe the abuse, trauma and uncertainty they experience can simply be offered up in prayer and that’s the end of it. Yes, the Lord wants us to be whole and healed, and he will help you process your pain and anxiety if you’ll let him. But, each of us has to play an active role in our own healing.”

Mental, emotional and psychological illnesses must be treated as such. God has provided us with plenty of resources to help us engage in complete and lasting wellness. Depression, anxiety, panic and self-hatred are, in essence, no different than broken bones. You would not try to set a shattered femur without the supervision of an orthopedist, would you? Nor should you feel you must weather the aftershocks of mental, physical or spiritual trauma alone and unguided. Let a counselor encourage and direct you through the pain.

The route to self-discovery is sharp and twisted. The terrain is perilous, and our missteps will be many, but we don’t have to undertake the expedition alone. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help when it’s most needed and always remember to take your time and enjoy the journey.

Family Life, May 2016

Create Your Own Journey

by Tonya Woodridge-Jarvis

TonyaHeadshotNewLord, I’m on my knees calling out to you. Can you hear me? Where are you? I need you? I can’t do this alone. I’ve tried it my way, it didn’t work. I have no guidance. I can’t figure this out. I want to trust you. I want to have faith. I want to renew my strength and identity in the likes of you but …

This is where a lot of people become stagnant. They wholeheartedly want to trust God, but fear stands in the way of faith.

There are several types of generational curses. Generational curses are behaviors that have been passed down from generation to generation and are prevalent in homes today. We all believe in a higher power, but others my call it something different according to how their generation was raised.

One type of generational curse is the behavior of non-compromising in relationships. Maybe you’ve noticed behaviors that seem not to be removed no matter what you’ve tried. There are things in your life that are not your fault. For example, my mother’s mother and father were divorced when she was young. So, naturally, my mother and father divorced when I was young and guess what, my first marriage also ended in divorce … it seems a pattern has developed. When you go to your mother and father for advice about your marriage, what are you being told?

Maybe for your family it’s teen pregnancy. Often, teens become parents because their parents were also teen parents. Or maybe it is a chronic communication issue of some kind — some men weren’t taught to talk about their feelings. They were taught to be strong and to be good providers, but not good husbands. And that’s because their fathers were taught to be good providers and to be strong, and that those things were the elements of a good husband. But if you ask any wife, that is not enough to classify someone as a good husband.

Another generational curse could be striving to be something that you just don’t want to be (career-wise). You feel the need to carry on the family legacy, which might be practicing law, because your grandfather was a lawyer and your dad and brothers are lawyers as well, but you’d rather be a fireman. Being a lawyer is their destiny not yours. So you must learn to go against the grain in a positive way in order to construct your life the way it was meant to be, which is following in the footsteps designed for you by God, not your family’s legacy.

Sometimes the foundation you have isn’t your fault. Some of those generational curses date back so far that you’re still fighting your ancestor’s demonic spirits. But all of that can change. When you are in your prayer closet, you must declare that all generational curses are broken. You don’t have to be what your parents were — you can be whom you were created and designed to be.

I know you’re wondering if you’re strong enough to break the cycle. The answer is yes, but only with God’s watchful eye. Do you believe in God? Do you have enough courageous faith to see the process through to the end? Everything in life worth having is worth praying for. So get on your knees, cry out to God and tell Him you want to receive what He has already promised you; because you’re not who your mother or father was, you are so much greater than that. Sure, things will get rough but don’t throw in the towel. Believe in yourself and create your own journey.

Family Life, September 2015

Healing for Crisis Relationship Break-Ups

by Suzette Bowen

Suzette BowenGod made us for relationships. We need the comfort of them, we need the support of them, we need the love within them, and most of all, we seek unity with another. We are built for partnership and God uses relationships to sanctify us, even the broken ones. When the status quo of a relationship suffers an explosion, chaos naturally emerges. Many Christians struggle with their faith during the process of loss, however, in such times, recognizing that God knew you before you were in your mother’s womb and is not surprised by the recent shift, can be comforting.

It will test your belief that He is the all-sufficient one. God never wastes pain and He won’t start with yours. It is in His nature to turn chaos into creation and He knows no other position but to be a strong tower and an anchor that holds. His word can begin to become LIVING WATER as you identify with the lives of Job, David and Joseph. The emotional consequences of the loss can be overwhelming, however, leaning on your relationship with God will stabilize your environment, family, finances and daily living routines. Learn to hear Him. Let Him teach you what He would desire for you in His refiner’s fire.

Understanding the stages of grief (denial, anger, depression, bargaining, acceptance) will help normalize some of the emotional changes. After the break-up, searching for another partner immediately is a natural longing; however, reaching externally for your answers may only lengthen the process and cause you to miss the healing that comes with learning how to partner with God. Allow yourself to feel the pain…sit in it and recognize that is a molting process. Pain wants to be acknowledged, so don’t ignore it, but rather, embrace it.

Learn how to DO YOU! Getting to know yourself better is part of the journey. Often during these times, self-identity questions will arise, such as: “Who am I?” “What is my purpose?” “What is love?” “What brings me joy?” God has an answer for all of these questions and He is right with you through the process. Ask Him for HIS answers for your questions. Learn to date you, laugh with you, cry with you…explore your relationship with yourself. A good start is to use this acronym:

PIES: P-physical stimulation, I-intellectual stimulation, E-emotional stimulation, S-spiritual stimulation. Work on nurturing yourself throughout the week by a healthy dose of your PIES

Recognize the shame-based hidden messages of the past. Be careful not to victimizing yourself through negative internal dialogue such as “poor me”, “why me” , I’m worthless”, “I’m abandoned”, or, “I’m never good enough”. These are childhood messages that will surface during traumatic times. The enemy will bombard you with lies that will need to be combated with the truth of “who you are in Christ”.

A Christian counselor may help you in replacing your old identity with a Christ identity. Additionally, journaling is a recommended practice that can help you express your emotions in a non-toxic way. Ownership is a sign of self-esteem, so locate the areas you need to grow and resist the self-loathing messages. Accept that you must go THROUGH this, you cannot go over it or around it; but be assured that this experience will not define you, nor be your destiny, but rather propel you to your destiny, if you trust God with YOU!

Lastly, find a healthy support network. This may be a time to explore which activities and relationships feed you and which ones take from you. If you are a parent, you will need fuel to keep yourself and your children stable, so find those around you who desire to assist. Also, don’t be intimidated to ask for what you need from your current relationships. Those who really show up for you will be the ones that travel to your next destination. Through this trial, if you trust God and lean on Him and not on your own understanding, He will reveal himself to you and you will find that He stuck closer than a brother and that He provided in the storm. HE IS THE GOOD SHEPHARD. BLESSED BE HIS HOLY NAME.

About Suzette: Suzette Bowen, M.Ed., LPC, is the founder and CEO of Couples Care Center. She is a Christian relationship counselor who has a special interest in assisting couples through crisis. She assists in restoring relationships, however, when an alternate outcome is inevitable, she assists the individual partner in their healing journey. She uses a straight forward approach to address both superficial and core relationship and individual issues. She believes in strengthening what remains in order to encourage those in despair and believes that the truth sets people free.