This Post Looks Different

December 12, 2017 v4 p60

If we all do the same thing as everyone else, we lose our identity.  Our identity is what makes us unique.

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A lot of people are afraid to go against the grain.  They are afraid to stick out and draw attention to themselves.  I get that.  There’s part of me that wishes I could just go with the flow.  It would be so much easier to just fit in.  But I’m not wired that way.  I never have been and I don’t think I ever will be.   When I did try to act like everyone else I found myself divorced, living with my parents, and at the bar more nights than not.  If I wasn’t at the bar I was probably at home drinking, or in the midst of some other self-destructive habit.  It wasn’t leading me down a very good path.  When I finally realized that if I would spend more of my money on rent than beer I could afford an apartment with an extra bedroom for my son when my parenting time was one thing that helped me get out of that rut.  Since I only had him for three nights per week that left four others that I could still be self-destructive.

My wife and I reconciled and she moved in with us, which helped control some of those behaviors even more.  My life had turned from being a part-time single parent and part-time single guy to being a full-time family man.  There were a lot of bad habits that I had developed over a three year period that I thought I could hide from wife.  I thought I was pretty successful, but really I was just ignorant.  In my ignorance I ended up creating a huge mess.  Through nobody’s fault but my own I was driving my wife away, and my family apart.  I thought I could continue to ask for forgiveness and keep doing what I was.  All that did was drive my wife into a depression that was totally my fault.  It took some pretty major events to change my perspective.  My parents both passed away, she left her job, and we lost our house, all within the span of about 10 months.  When the dust all settled from that I started to change.

At my last job I did a lot of the “going with the flow” stuff and didn’t really push back against my boss.  I showed up every day and did my job to the best of my ability.  That ended up getting me promoted into lead positions.  Along with promotions comes more money, so I was never in a place to turn them down.  What I didn’t realize was that because of the increase in pay the management thought that meant I could be given more responsibilities that two people could handle.  As the amount of work I was expected to perform increased I started to let things slip.  Although I was doing things in the same manner my manager was, she didn’t like it.  If I took the same short cuts she did it was unacceptable.  When I reached the point where I was averaging 65+ hours per week I started to push back.  They didn’t like that.  Everyone else that they tried to do this type of thing would just accept what was being forced on them and went about their day.  I was trying to get the culture changed, they didn’t like that.

Ultimately I left that toxic environment because I was starting realize that if I continued I wouldn’t get anything changed and would only be stressed.  After a couple of months on the hunt I found my current job.  Over the last five plus years with this company I have grown more personally and professionally than I ever have.  It was my first manager here that encouraged me to return to my faith.  That has been the single most vital thing that has happened in my life in my professional life, in my family life, and in every other area of my life.  Returning to my faith has allowed me to find peace that I had been missing throughout most of my life, probably dating back to my days in middle school.  It certainly has changed how I look at things, and I would guess that if you ask my friends they would say that it has changed how I look from other people’s point of view.  That has really become evident as of late.

As I am scrolling through my social media on a daily basis I’m constantly reminded of the life I used to live.  I shake my head almost constantly and wonder if having a social media presence is even worth the stress.  I seriously think about deactivating my accounts on a weekly basis, but then I remember how my timeline has changed.  One of the features on Facebook is to see your “memories” which is just a different timeline of what you posted on that specific date over the years that you’ve had an account, I’m sure you’re familiar with it.  There are two distinct differences in my Facebook history.  The first one comes from anything posted in Mid-May of 2012, when I left the toxic job, and the second comes in early 2015, when I returned to my faith.  There has been an even deeper change that has occurred over that last six months, but that isn’t viewable through that option.  If someone were to scroll through my personal timeline they would see it.

A few weeks ago it really hit home how much different I have become than most people.  I really don’t like getting into conversations with some people because I know it’s going to lead in a direction that I’m not interested in.  I see all of the sexual innuendo posts on social media and in people’s conversations and I try my hardest not to get drawn into that.  But as they say, old habits are hard to break.  I’ve come to notice now how I’m not leading the life I want to when I get drawn into those types of conversations.  It’s almost an immediate thing for me, like when a light bulb appears over a cartoon character’s head.  I began to reflect on whether or not I wanted to look that much different than everyone else.  It didn’t take me long to answer myself with a resounding yes.  If I don’t look different than everyone else then my children won’t either.  I don’t want them to head down the paths that I did.  There’s no hope in that direction.

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In Matthew 5:11 the disciples are told “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”  If I lose some contacts or get insulted because of my faith, then that just proves that Jesus was right.

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Three for Thursday:Week 13

December 2, 2017 v4 p59

The final week of the regular season brings all of the traditional rivalry/trophy games.  This is a great way to bring an end to the college football season.

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Michigan – The Wolverines jumped out to an early 14-0 lead by the beginning of the second quarter and then became complacent, by the players own admission.  I would guess that if you look at the box scores of this season you would find the Michigan had its biggest struggles in that quarter.  The youth and lack of skill in key positions, OL and QB, ultimately led to the Wolverines not being able to keep up with Ohio State in the second half.

Michigan State – The Spartans traveled to New Jersey with hopes of finishing strong.  After a slow start in the first half, Michigan State was able to dominate in the second half and cruised to an easy 40-7 victory.  There’s a lot of youth in East Lansing as well, making the 2018 season one to look forward to all of the football fans in The Mitten.

Ohio State – The Buckeyes traveled to Ann Arbor for “The Game” with the confidence of most people that they were going to win pretty easily.  Michigan came out and landed the first punch, and the second.  A championship program can withstand multiple punches and continue to win, even if their starting quarterback gets sidelined in the middle of the second half.

Penn State – After a strong start the Nittany Lions seemed to fall off the radar.  They won easily in Maryland, the worst team in the B1G East division.  Back-to-back losses in the middle of the season doomed the season, but they can still hold their heads high about the way they performed this year.

Big Ten West – Wisconsin completed their first undefeated conference season in program history by defeating an over-matched Minnesota team in the “Battle for the Axe.”  Northwestern finished the season strong with a seven game winning streak.  Their week two loss at Duke kept them from a double digit victory total.

Notre Dame – With very slim College Football Playoff hopes still alive the Irish traveled to Stanford for their season finale.  Unfortunately they showed that they are still a little bit away from being included in the national championship picture.  The Irish are much improved over 2016, but a .500 record against their top four opponents won’t get an independent into the playoffs.

SEC – The Iron Bowl is arguably the second biggest rivalry game in college football behind Michigan/Ohio State, and one could argue that over the past few years it has been bigger on the field.  Auburn hadn’t beaten Alabama since the “Kick Six” win when they returned a long missed FG at the end of regulation for the victory.  Outside of the top three teams in this conference; Auburn, Georgia, and Alabama, the SEC isn’t as good as it was five years ago from top to bottom.

ACC – Miami really made the conference championship games more interesting by dropping their first game of the season at Pitt.  Coach Pat Narduzzi is making a habit of getting his team ready to knock off the top teams, surprising Clemson last year.  Florida State handled Florida and kept themselves in line to earn a bowl bid in a season that has been decimated by injury and weather.

Pac 12 – The Cougars came into the Apple Cup with a chance to get to the conference championship game, and they proceeded to lay an egg.  Stanford took advantage of that loss and beat Notre Dame to get into that spot, surprisingly after a rocky start to the year.  The rest of this conference being down, aside from USC, is what puts this conference as the first one on the outside of the College Football Playoffs.

Big 12 – Oklahoma finished the season strong with an easy 59-31 victory over West Virginia.  Without the loss at Iowa State, which proved to be a tough place for everyone to play this year, Oklahoma would probably be the number one team heading into the conference championship weekend.  The bottom of this conference is worse than the Pac 12, but Oklahoma may be the best team in the country.

Western Michigan – The Broncos really didn’t put up much of a challenge for the Rockets, who are easily the best team in the conference in 2017.  After starting quarterback Jon Wassink went out against Eastern Michigan with a shoulder injury, it became tough Western to maintain the same level of play as they had experienced early in the season.  A fourth straight appearance in a bowl game will help ease the pains of ending the season where their expectations may have fallen a little short.

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This weekend brings the conference championship games and the release of the four team playoff pool.  There are so many different scenarios of who could be in it can be kind of mind-boggling, and I love it.

This Post is Festive

November 29, 2017 v4 p58

This Sunday marks the first week of Advent, the season leading up to Christmas.  I’ve already started to see people begin to decorate, but I hope they remember what this holiday is truly about.

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catholicsundotorg

I remember one of my aunts would always send me and Advent calendar when I was growing up.  It wasn’t anything special to me other than a way for me to count down the days until Santa came.   I remember waiting for it to arrive as soon as Thanksgiving was over so I could start counting down.   It also signified that it was time for me to start making my wish list.  Those calendars weren’t anything too special.  I remember them as a Christmas scene of a house usually, with little flaps that you opened every day to see what was behind them.  I never really understood what the meaning of the pictures behind the flaps were because, as a child, they didn’t make a seamless connection to the birth of Christ.  While I knew what Christmas was about the birth of Jesus, I was really only focused on how soon I could begin opening my presents.

I’m not exactly sure when those calendars stopped coming, but I’m guessing it was sometime around the age of nine or ten.  It was around age five when I discovered that Santa wasn’t real though.  That was my dad’s fault indirectly.  The local Lions Club in my hometown sponsors the Christmas parade every year.  One year in particular I remember sitting on Santa’s lap afterwards and noticing his watch.  It was the same watch my dad wore!  How cool, my dad and Santa wear the same kind of watch!  I mentioned that to my older brother a little later that day, who would have been nine if I were five.  He clued me in as to what was up, but was smart enough to tell me not to let Mom and Dad know I had figured it out, and to not let the rest of my classmates in on the secret.  He didn’t want me to ruin Christmas for anyone else.  That may have been one of the only times my brother had actually looked out for my best interests.

So it was pretty early in my childhood when I discovered that Santa wasn’t real.  All that meant to me was that I knew my parents were the ones who were buying me all of these gifts.  It was pretty easy to make the connection to them doing it as a way to show their love for me.  Unfortunately that made me feel like I should test how much they loved me.  As I got older my wish lists began to grown.  Not only in length but in cost.  Later in my elementary school years I figured I would just make my Christmas wish list an extension of my Birthday wish list.  With my birthday coming only weeks before Christmas shopping season it only made sense to not make two lists.  I would write a smaller amount of things on my birthday list and post it on the refrigerator about the middle of October.  I would then proceed to add to it every time something new would come up, mostly after the toy catalogs would arrive.  All of this would pull me further away from the true meaning of the holiday and the true meaning of why my parents would go out and buy me all of this stuff.

This behavior went on throughout my teenage and early adult years.  The more I wrote larger items on my list, the less I received what was on there.  The only exception to that was the Christmas before I built my first house.  My parents knew I would be needing a lot of tools and stuff for that so they used that as an opportunity to help me out with that stuff.  I distinctly remember my brother getting upset that day because the physically biggest gift in the room, my toolbox, was for me.  What he overlooked was that my mom had taken enough care to make sure she spent close to the same amount of money on both of us, and then wrapped everything so we would have the same amount of packages.  Clearly this was not what the holiday was about.  His actions really made me see how greedy I was being and I was completely humbled by my parent’s generosity.  This was the first time that I really started looking at Christmas in the way it was meant to be celebrated.

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Denise Baughman

In the years following that Christmas I began to ask for different types of gifts, especially from my parents.   One of the things I would ask for was tickets to sporting events, either for the University of Michigan or the Detroit professional teams.  The request for these tickets was for a pair, so I could take my son with me to these events and experience them with him.  Every year my wife loves to make Christmas goodies.  Every year she is kind enough to make extra enough for me to share with my coworkers.  We aren’t talking just a plate to set in the break room for everyone to share.  We package up individual plates for everyone, based on how many people are in their family.  Both of my places of employment where I have brought these in, they ended up being something that my coworkers look forward to, and usually begin asking me when they’re coming around the 10th of December.  Every year my wife’s extended family gets together on Labor Day and exchanges names for people to buy gifts for.  There is then the great exchange of wish lists as I like to call it.  It kind of makes me sad to see men beyond retirement age hand a multipage list of “gift ideas” to their younger generation relatives.  Especially when it includes items you should be embarrassed to buy publicly on your own.  Personally I usually ask for a gift card, or $25 in single beer bottles to add to my collection.

One of the best things I’ve gotten from returning to my faith is a different perspective on holidays like Christmas and Easter.   My perspective was so screwed growing up, that I didn’t understand how Easter was the bigger holiday in the eyes of The Church.  It was one of the first things that dawned on me.  Yes, the birth of Christ is important, but it was his death and resurrection that proved everything and started The Church.  Both holidays usually include giving gifts.  It is considered a tradition of Christmas that was started by the “Three Wise Men” who came to see the Christ child while he was still in the manger.  It is considered a tradition of Easter as a way to honor the gift the Christ gave us when he died on the cross for our sins.  Both viable reasons to give gifts, but the old saying is that it is better to give than to receive.  This is where things have become skewed.  When we make Christmas more about what or how much people are giving us, rather than how much we can give others (not just in physical gifts either), we start to lose the true meaning.  Jesus was sent to us to better show us how to better love God and each other.  The only commandment he gave us is found in John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

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This message isn’t anything new when speaking about the holidays, but it’s never been more vital to get out.  I will be spending time this year reviewing this with my kids so they can pass it on to their’s.

Three for Thursday:Week 12

November 24, 2017 v4 p57

In a sport that can really be survive and advance from the beginning of the season there isn’t a lot of room for error.  That’s why every game in late November can make or break your season.

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Michigan – The Wolverines were holding their own and seemed to be in good position to hand Wisconsin their first loss of the season.  Then Brandon Peters was knocked out, literally, and so was their chances.  It’s obvious who the rest of the team wants under center as Michigan looked like a totally different team once Peters was carted off the field.

Michigan State – The Spartans held Maryland scoreless through three quarters, but only managed to score 17 points themselves.  This team is definitely improved over last year, but has a long way to go before it can be considered in the national picture again like it was just two years ago.  When your Quarterback is your top rusher, the strength of your offense isn’t where it needs to be to contend for a CFP appearance.

Ohio State – The Buckeyes rolled big over Illinois, putting this game away with four 1st quarter touchdowns.  This was a bit of a warm-up for “The Game.”  The only good thing that can really come from this type of game before your matchup with your top rival is avoiding injuries.

Penn State – The Nittany Lions have kind of fallen off the radar since losing back-to-back games.  September Heisman winner Saquon Barkley has done the same.  A big second quarter was really all needed to hold off a less than Nebraska team and stayed on pace for a New Year’s Day bowl game.

Big Ten West – Wisconsin remained undefeated, although they showed some vulnerability against Michigan.  Northwestern continued to roll, winning their sixth straight in a shut out of Minnesota.  Iowa stumbled at home against Purdue, showing how weak the rest of this side of the conference really is.

Notre Dame – The Irish played traditional rival Navy for the 91st straight year.  This one ended like most of the rest with a Notre Dame victory.  It’s hard to call this a rivalry, but kudos to the Irish for keeping them on their schedule to honor the help the Navy gave Notre Dame to keep the School open in the early years of this rivalry.

SEC – Usually cupcake games are played in September, but not in the south.  Putting teams like Mercer, or Louisiana Monroe on your schedule isn’t unheard of, but those are usually played before the leaves start changing colors.  This is another strong case for teams in Power 5 conferences only having teams from other Power 5 conferences on their schedule, especially this late in the season.

ACC – Miami and Clemson continued on their collision course in the conference championship game.  Outside of those teams it seemed like a pretty standard conference weekend.  That is if you take out a few more late season cupcake games.

Pac 12 – USC held off crosstown rival UCLA to keep its conference championship hopes alive.  Stanford appears to have turned things around and is actually in the hunt to make the championship game themselves.  The Washington Huskies were the only other school with a shot and they won, setting up a very important Apple Cup to end the regular season.

Big 12 – It was pretty classless for the Kansas team captains to not shake Baker Mayfield’s hand before the coin toss.  It was equally classless for Mayfield to act like a child on the sideline during the game.  Thankfully both schools acted appropriately and stripped the captain rolls from all of the players involved, the biggest impact on Mayfield who won’t be a captain or start in his final home game for Oklahoma.

Western Michigan – The Broncos seem to be limping to the finish line this year, a big difference from a season ago.  Losing a program record setting quarterback, the nation’s top receiver, the hottest coach available in the land, bringing in a rookie head coach, then losing your starting quarterback mid-way through the season will do that.  There have been plenty of times this year that lead me to believe that Tim Lester will be a decent MAC head coach, but we’ll have to see how he recruits moving forward.

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Ohio State – The Buckeyes shouldn’t have any problems getting up emotionally for their biggest rival in the Michigan Wolverines.  Having already secured a spot in the B1G Conference Title game shouldn’t lower their desire to win, as they still hold an outside chance to get into the CFP.  But as with any big rivalry game there is always a chance something crazy could happen, but I wouldn’t count on it too much if Bandon Peters isn’t on the field.

As we head into the final weekend of the regular season there are some pretty big rivalry games that will have a big impact on the CFP picture.  Perhaps the best part of this final weekend is all of the trophies that mean so much to each individual rivalry, something you don’t get in football games played on Sunday.

Showing the Path

November 22, 2017 v4 p56

A couple of weeks ago I was feeling disconnected from my prayers because I was letting my scheduled get in the way.  Last week I made sure to refocus my priorities and right on cue, things came to light.

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It was a little over a year ago when I started telling God that I was ready to do His will in my prayers.  It was a couple of days later that my manager at work let the warehouse know that he would be moving on within the company and that someone else would be taking his position as Supply Chain Manager.  He had told me this a few months earlier, before it was public knowledge to the rest of my co-workers.  He was able to do that because he could trust me not to let it out, and that he knew of my desire to move into management at my company.  By no means did I think that his moving on would mean I would even be considered for that position, but I know that he told me ahead of time so that I could be prepared to lead my department through the transition.  I do believe there was some connection between me telling God that I was ready to do his will and the timing of my manager’s announcement.  I’m not exactly clear on what that connection is, but I know it’s there.

I’ve continued to include my desire to do His will in my prayers.  There have been times when I thought that I knew exactly what that is.  Usually I end up realizing that I may not be right, or that if I am right, the time may not be.  It was about a month after my manager’s announcement that I let him know that I had an interest in the position that was opening up.  I made it clear that I didn’t expect to get the position, but that I really wanted the experience of seeing what going through the process within my company looked like.  That would be extremely valuable in my career.  At just about the same time I had reconnected with an old family friend, and it was actually by accident.  I realized that I must have clicked on the “send a request to all of your contacts” link on LinkedIn.  We were already connected on other social media platforms, but this one led me to reach out more to him.  It turns out that my friend is a C-level executive in Procurement/Supply Chain for a major world-wide manufacturer.  This was the mentor my manager had asked me to seek out a couple of years ago.

Through that mentoring relationship I had started on a course of professional development that was geared more towards my work and a little less on leadership principles.  This was an area I needed to grow.  I had 20+ years of supply chain knowledge, all gained through work experience.  I knew some of the terminology and the basic principles of supply chain leadership, but not a very deep understanding of how they operated or how to implement them at my company.  I did some self-guided studying on a couple of different process improvement initiatives and actually read through the course materials for a professional certification program that my mentor consulted on.  All of this gave me a completely different point of view on the entire supply chain process.  It also showed me that some of the ideas I had going on in the back of my mind were exactly what I could see needed to happen at my job.  The biggest questions I had now were; how do I begin to implement these changes, would the new manager come in and try to change the new things I was implementing, and how did I get over my lack of self-confidence to follow through with all of this.

As I was continuing to pray for guidance, I thought there were other areas I was being called to go towards at the same time as trying to get through this transition at work.  The more I thought I was doing the right, other things, the more I was getting frustrated at work.  Then we brought home the Chalice.  As a family we had a strong week of prayers, then I went camping and fell away slightly.  I was really eye-opening how much just one day of missed prayers would affect me.  As I refocused my prayers the following week I went to one of my go to sources for guidance.  One morning I had four different videos brought to my attention that all spoke to me about what I was going through.  I came to the realization that I was trying to get guidance in too many different areas.  It helped me realize that the one area I really wanted to focus on the most was the only one I needed to focus on right now.  Once I have that area figured out it should be easier to begin to focus on the others, one at a time.  That has allowed me to realize that my job is where He is calling me to excel.

In the past few days I have been able to think clearly about what needs to happen at work to get things in order.  It has allowed me to be calmer when faced with people at work who aren’t yet on-board with what needs to happen to move my department forward.  I have a clear vision of how things need to be handled.  I have regained some of my self-confidence in my vision.  When the warehouse was going through the management transition I was really excelling in my job.  Things were starting to change and people were seeing things the way I had hoped.  When the new manager came in, it allowed my self-doubt to creep in.  Nothing anyone said at work reversed that.  It was my prayers and my inward reflection that led me to that.

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This wasn’t a case where my prayer for something broken to be fixed was answered by a physically evident result.  This was a case of my prayer for guidance being answered by being shown how He has discerned this for me.

Three for Thursday:Week 11

November 16, 2017 v4 p55

There was a lot of big games during week 11 of college football.  I was camping with my son so I didn’t get to watch any of it, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t do my research on what happened while I was in the woods.

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Michigan – The Wolverines cruised to their third straight victory in pretty convincing fashion against Maryland.  The offense was able to do more than just run the ball through their opponent, but with the WR corps having minimal catches during this three game winning streak makes you wonder if the offensive line is really the weakest unit on this offense.  The defense pitched a shutout in the first half, and almost finished it with a pick six.

Michigan State – After an emotional and rain delayed win in week 10 the Spartans looked to continue to control their own destiny in the conference title race.  Unfortunately it seems as if they forgot the game was in Columbus and not East Lansing.  Going up against a team that was looking for revenge from an embarrassing game the week before, plus greater team speed, is usually a recipe for disaster, and this game was no different.

Ohio State – After laying an egg in Iowa the Buckeyes came out with vengeance against the Spartans.  That motivation combined with greater overall team speed proved to be too much for Michigan State.  This team looked more like the ones from earlier in the season, and is in firm control of the B1G East division.

Penn State – The Nittany Lions travelled to New Jersey in week 11 to face Rutgers.  This is where everyone goes to get well in the conference.  Their two losses in conference mean they need a lot of help to get into the conference championship game.

Big Ten West – Wisconsin answered any doubts that they are the best team in this half of the conference.  Northwestern continued to roll in their fourth straight victory and it didn’t have to come in overtime.  Minnesota coach PJ Fleck has the Gophers one win away from being bowl eligible in his first season in a power 5 conference.

Notre Dame – In the revival of the 1980s rivalry “The Catholics vs. The Convicts” this one wasn’t as classic as some previous matchups.  Starting out slow and only mustering eight points in the second half makes it difficult to win very many games.  If the Irish wish to make the CFP, they need a lot of help.

SEC – Georgia played its toughest opponent since Notre Dame in week 2 in Auburn, and the Tigers showed why some consider them the best team in the conference.  Alabama pulled away from Mississippi State in the fourth quarter to remain as the only unbeaten in conference.  There’s still a solid chance that two teams from the SEC make it into the CFP, but there’s still the Iron Bowl and a conference championship to be played.

ACC – In what was billed as probably the biggest conference game of the year during the preseason, Clemson really didn’t have any difficulty putting away a Florida State team that doesn’t look like itself.  The turnover chain came out a lot as Miami remained unbeaten and rolled to an easy victory over Notre Dame.  The rest of this conference is having trouble getting out of its own way, which isn’t helping the top two teams in the national picture.

PAC 12 – Nobody wants to win this conference.  We’re once again looking at an Apple Cup game that could send one of the two participants to the conference championship, but this time they both already have two losses.  With everyone having at least two losses I think the PAC 12 is probably the first conference out of the CFP this year.

Big 12 – At one point 60% of this conference was ranked.  Then it imploded.  Oklahoma beat TCU to show that are the only real contender in this conference, and have solidified a strong case to be invited to the CFP.

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Western Michigan – The Broncos rolled to bowl eligibility with an easy 48-20 victory over Kent State.  And by rolled, I mean ran over, around, and through to the tune of 292 rushing yards against 37.  Featured back Jarvion Franklin is a beast and backs down to no one, which should do him very well next year when he’s carrying the ball on Sundays.

Wisconsin – The Badgers are one of only four undefeated teams left in the country.  They haven’t really been tested this year as they’ve navigated through the weaker half of the conference, and certainly not against a defense like Michigan’s.  This game should come do to which of the two quarterbacks can manage this game better for their school.

I may have missed the biggest weekend in college football this season, but seeing my son step up to help the younger Scouts was worth it.  There will be plenty of more college football, but less opportunities to watch my son grow up.

 

This Post is Disconnected

November 15, 2017 v4 p54

I’ve been trying to figure out where my prayer life needs to go.  Last week I think I discovered that I definitely have to make sure I stick with it.

Things have been a little hectic lately.  I recently started going to a chiropractor to try and get my back pain eased.  It’s added some extra things for me to do during the week.  I’ve had to dedicate my lunch breaks to going to those appointments.  That caused me to have to rearrange my schedule some.  Because of that I didn’t take my lunch break on Thursday and go to Adoration like I had been.  There were some things that I had to attend to that I had put on hold so I could keep my appointments.  I did kind of feel like I was missing out on something the rest of that day.  I had a feeling that it was something to do with that, but didn’t put things together right away.

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Last week my family brought home the “Chalice for Vocations” from our church.  This is a gold chalice that families have been taking home for a week at a time and praying about.  There are a bunch of different prayers for families to choose from throughout the week.  The purpose of the prayers is to support those who have chosen a religious vocation for themselves.  That would include Priest, and other Clergy, Nuns, Deacons, and any kind of support staff.  Some people who have had the opportunity to go through this have been called to new vocations themselves.  I know of one family who took it home for a week and one of their children was trying to discern whether or not he should enter seminary and answer the call to be a priest.  It was during this week that he made the decision to follow that calling.  We didn’t experience anything to that level while we had it, but I could definitely feel our prayer life as a family strengthen.

Last weekend I attended a campout with my son and his Boy Scout Troop.  It was a lot of fun and kind of relaxing because I was able to sit by the fire all day to make sure we had heat to keep warm.  It was really nice to see how the Scouting program works again, and how the boys are learning and growing.  It was especially great to see my own son stepping up to help out in areas that other boys weren’t willing to.  It reminded me of a lot of the leadership principles I learned through Scouting.  As I laid in my tent at night I was able to go through my nightly Examen prayers.  It was a little strange going through it myself.  My wife and I usually sit together on the couch right before we go to bed and say them.  Laying on the ground in my sleeping bag was a little different.

Normally every morning I read a chapter in The Bible, currently I’m going through the Gospel according to Luke.  I didn’t have my Bible with me on the campout and no cell phone signal meant that I couldn’t pull up the next chapter on my phone app.  I had anticipated that and didn’t think it would be much of a problem.  My plan was to say my morning prayers before I got out of the tent that day.  It was pretty cold Saturday morning and as I rolled over and woke up the cold air I immediately had to use the bathroom.  There are no bathrooms in the tent.  So I was up for the day and started right in on getting the fire going, finishing setting up camp for the rest of the day, and before I knew it there wasn’t any time to get back to my prayers.  The plan for Sunday was to pack up right away and head home so my family and I could get to breakfast at church before Mass.  As we were pulling out of the campground my son mentioned that he thought we could make it to the service before breakfast if we hustled when we got home.  The thought of being home for the day before 11:30 a.m. was inviting, so that’s what we did.

I was able to say my normal prayers before Mass when we got to church, but I still didn’t get my chapter of The Bible read.  For the first time in a while I felt like my prayers were off.  I have had a feeling where my prayers feel stale, but I’ve always gone through them.  This time was different.  They didn’t seem the same.  As Mass started I to understand what was going on.  I could feel myself being brought back.  As culminated Mass in the Eucharist I was filled with the realization that the off feeling I had during my prayers earlier was a disconnection.  I had spent three of the previous four days not making sure that I was putting my faith first.  I had a renewed spirit for my prayer life.  As I kneeled to pray after receiving the Eucharist I felt renewed.  I knew what was missing.  I knew what I needed to do moving forward.

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One of the priests that I follow on social media has a saying, “No Bible, no breakfast.  No Bible, no bed.”  I always liked that, but never felt how much of an impact it would have until now.