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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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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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.

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.

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.

This Post is Praying

November 8, 2017 v4 p52

One of the things I’ve learned about prayer is that sometimes it can get stale and you have to push through it or change it up some.  What I wasn’t prepared for was a call to change my prayers to something completely different.

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I only started a daily prayer routine a little over 18 months ago.  I didn’t know if I was doing it right.  I didn’t know if praying for my own intentions was selfish.  I didn’t know much of anything about prayer.  I hadn’t been really shown how to pray while I was growing up.  I used to blame my dad for not properly evangelizing me while I was growing up.  I was always told that we go to church on Sunday because that’s what Catholics do.  Come to find out, I think my dad was brought up the same way by his mother, so he probably didn’t have a good way to explain it himself.  We used to say grace before dinner every night while I was younger, but at some point we stopped.  I’m not sure when or why, but it was probably when my dad started sitting down to the table and filling his plate and eating as my brother or I was still bringing the food out of the kitchen.  I know that this wasn’t my mother’s favorite act.

Prayer for me first started off by asking for God’s forgiveness, and it still does.  I would always finish up with the Our Father and a Hail Mary.  That eventually expanded to the opening sequence to a Rosary, the Our Father, three Hail Mary’s and a Glory Be.  I had picked that up from my Knights of Columbus meetings, it felt powerful.  I started to feel selfish by only asking for my own forgiveness.  If I was truly going to put myself third, I had to have prayer intentions for others.  I started praying for my wife and children.  As more and more of my friends and family became stricken with cancer, I added them to my prayers.  I’ve prayed for coworkers who were struggling with lost pregnancies.  I pray daily for the leadership of our country.  I pray for all of the people who have chosen religious vocations for their life.  The part of my prayers that were for my own intentions were quickly becoming the smallest portion of my prayers.

That routine had been pretty standard for a few months, and it felt like I needed it to change.  It wasn’t a feeling like it needed be different, just enriched.  One morning as I was getting ready to finish with my sequence of the Rosary I wondered to myself how much longer it would take to complete a whole decade of the prayer.  For those of you unfamiliar with the Rosary there are five decades made up of an Our Father, ten Hail Mary’s, and a Glory Be.  It didn’t seem to make any difference to me, so that had become my new part of my daily prayer.  The Rosary is often dedicated to the different mysteries of the Catholic Church.  Each day is dedicated to a series of mysteries, and each decade is dedicated to a different mystery that makes up that part of the series.  Every morning after reading the daily scripture readings from that day’s Mass I read and meditate about the mystery for that day.  It helps me to focus my decade while I say it.  For example, one of the mysteries is about the scourging of Jesus on the pillar.  As I prayer my decade I think about what I have done to put the whip in my hand and lash across His back.

For a long time I wondered why people would pray daily.  I wasn’t sure what was going to happen when I started a daily routine.  I felt that if so many people throughout the earth were doing it, there must be some validity to the whole process.  I haven’t had any huge moments where I heard God’s voice, but I have definitely felt his presence.  A month or so ago as I was going through my decade I felt an overwhelming pull backwards.  I fought against it and then felt a pull forwards.  I fought that too, holding myself straight up on my knees.  The more I recited my prayers the louder it seemed to get in my head.  By the time I was finished I felt like I was almost having to yell over a strong wind in order to be heard.  In reality the only sound in the room was the clock on the fireplace mantle going tick-tock.  When I finished the decade I collapsed to the floor and was completely out breath.   I wasn’t sure what had just happened, but it was something.  Other things have happened that have lined up with my prayers, but nothing to this magnitude.

All I know now is that I must continue to pray.  I have been attending Eucharistic Adoration on a weekly basis for a little over a month now, trying to find some clarification as to the direction I need to take to better serve Him.  The signs are starting to show themselves.  I still haven’t “heard His voice” but I am getting a clearer picture.  There are times when I’ve been wondering if I’m understanding things right and then I come across a blog/podcast/video from one of the people I follow that point back exactly to what I understand that I’m being told.  It’s kind of an affirmation.  So lately I’ve been hearing that I need to pray more.  Not for different things, but more.  I’ve been finding different ways to accomplish that.  My wife and I pray together at the end of our day, and examination of our conscious.  This week is my family has been praying for religious vocations.  This is through a program our church has set up.  It was our son who reminded us we needed to do our daily prayer before he went to bed last night.  That really warmed my heart.

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I didn’t know what I was doing when I started a regular prayer routine, or if I was doing it right.  I do know that I have to continue to grow my prayer life.

Connecting the Dots

November 1, 2017 v4 p50

There are times in our lives when we think we have all of our ducks in a row and that we have everything figured out.  Then something inevitably comes along and completely throws all of that out of whack.

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When my parents died and my wife and I made the decision to move back to my home town I thought I could see the direction I was supposed to go.  I used to think that living in a larger city meant that I wouldn’t be able to make a big difference.  When I moved home I was in a much smaller community where I felt I could be a pretty significant influence.  The first thing I did was pick up a leadership role in the Cub Scout Pack that both of my parents had a hand in leading throughout my time in Scouting as a youth as well as for many years after that.  Not too long after that I joined the local Lions Club, following in my footsteps.  These were two areas where both of my parents had been leaders in this community, I felt I needed to honor them by following them in their footsteps.

Before we moved back my wife and I had become active in The American Cancer Society Relay for Life events in the area we were living.  Moving didn’t change that participation, it just changed the event we were a participant at.  This was a new area for me to show my leadership, one that my parents hadn’t been involved in.  It allowed me to use the leadership skills my parents had instilled in me through their example and through the Scouting experience in a different way.  It felt right.  It felt better, but I didn’t really know why.  Over a couple of years I realized that I was still able to honor my parents by leading in different areas of the community that my parents weren’t involved in.  My schedule became very full between Scouts, Lions, Relay for Life, and coaching my children’s sports teams, something had to go.  The easiest one to leave was the Lions Club.  Not because I didn’t believe in the mission but because at the time we were not financially stable and the only family member me stepping away would have an impact on was me.

I stayed active in Scouting after my oldest son left the program because my youngest son was about to join as a first grader.  I needed to stay active in between the two, about two years, to ensure there would still be a program for my younger son to join.  When he did I tried my hardest to take a different role.  For the previous three years I had been the administrative head of the program, the Committee Chair.  I tried to find someone to take that position when my son joined so I could be his Den Leader.  If you’re unfamiliar with the program each grade is set up in a “Den” and they do all of their advancement together.  I really wanted to be able to impact his experience with the program by leading that group, but nobody would step up to take my other job.  In order to support the rest of the organization I stayed in that position.  My son has since moved on to the Boy Scout program, older boys, and I no longer have a child in the Cub Scouts.  I’m still working to get someone to replace me before the end of 2017.

In the spring of 2012 I walked away from my job.  I didn’t have anything lined up to replace it but I knew that I had to leave.  I was working 60+ hours per week and there was no end in sight to the overtime being reduced.  There was also a factor of a 45 minute commute one, so an hour and a half in total each day.  Combine all of that with a toxic work environment that was fostered by the leadership of the company I worked for and I finally broke down.  At the time I didn’t have much of a relationship with God, but I had hope that I had enough to put my trust in him.  After a few weeks of struggling to find anything I took a temp job to pay the bills, it wasn’t the best, but it paid the bills and it was nice to be able to punch in, do my work, and punch out.  One morning as I was waiting to punch in a connection on social media from high school posted that he was hiring.  I asked for the details and applied.  As soon as I got off the phone with from the initial phone interview I told my wife that I knew I had to get this job.

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Getting hired in to the company I work for isn’t the easiest thing to go through.  It can take anywhere from six weeks to six months to go through the entire hiring process, depending on how urgently the need for the position you are applying for is needed to be filled.  Your company doesn’t get voted to all of “Best and Brightest” award lists by hiring without thoroughly vetting its candidates.  Your company doesn’t organically grow fast and stronger than any other company in your industry without the right team.  Everything about the company I work for is done for its employees.  The company vision is tied directly to helping the employees grow.  When it looks at expanding or starting new ideas it applies how those effect they four core objectives of the company; employee engagement, revenue growth, margin retention, and customer service.  Probably the biggest one of these objectives is the employee engagement.  By concentrating on helping your employees grow and that they are happy, they will in turn do their best work.

When I started working in the warehouse there were only four of us.  We were pretty small yet, and with four employees we were over staffed.  Through meetings with my manager and company updates I could see the growth plan for the company would warrant the need for a manager over just the warehouse.  I had always worked hard at my jobs which have always ended up in me being promoted to leadership.  I had put this goal down for my manager to see so that he could help me work towards it.  We read some books together that would help, and they did, and we had some discussions about what other things I could do that would help me achieve my goal of becoming the warehouse manager.  During one of our monthly meeting he showed me a path that I had already begun to look at.  One of the common threads among all of the leadership gurus I had begun following was a faith element.  My manager asked me if I had ever been involved in a church.  We talked a little about the faith I grew up in, and he suggested that I take a look at getting back to that.

Here was another source telling me I should add this element back into my life.  I told my wife, and she wanted to join me on this journey, which made it easier.  I’ve written more in detail on my faith journey before and those posts are available in my archives, check them out if you’d like.

As I’ve grown more in my faith I’ve been trying to discern a better idea of what it is that I’ve been called to do.  Through prayer and contemplation there are three things that keep coming to me.  I feel a calling to serve God, to serve my family, and to lead others, specifically in a return to their own faith.  I’m finding it easier to serve God and my family, but something has been holding me back in that third part.  I really didn’t know what it was that could be holding me back.  I’ve been writing about how my faith has been helping me.  I’ve been trying to get through to some people I know who have shown that they need a stronger relationship with God, or just a relationship with Him to begin with.  But there’s something that is holding me back yet.

This leads me back to some of those books I read with my now former manager (he moved on to a different position in my company).  We read a book called “Start: Punch Fear in the Face” by Jon Acuff.  I began following Jon on social media and it was that book that actually started me writing this blog.  I had written a post about one of the 5k races I ran and shared it within his private group.  Another member who lives in the area read it and we became connected on social medial.  Over time we’ve had some very good discussions about leadership, and more often faith.  Although we are members of different denominations of Christianity, we seem to have a pretty similar view of how faith should play a role in people’s lives.  One of us posted something a couple of weeks ago and he mentioned that he had a book for me.  We finally worked out the details and met up at the local Chick-Fil-A for an ok meal and a great conversation.  The book he gave me was “Kill the Spider” by Carlos Whittaker.  It’s a story of the author’s journey through therapy to help him get through what was holding him back.  I can’t say that I’ve had a harder time putting a book down.

Without revealing too much of the book, I’ve spent the last five days on a journey of self-reflection.  I’ve come to realize that not feeling like I can really have an impact on people to strengthen their faith journey is just like the lack of self-confidence I have to lead in my professional life.  This is the basis of the metaphor in the book.  I’m not quite done with it, but I already have discovered what some of the reasons are that I’ve been holding myself back.  I really see that this is something that I need to work on.  I need to identify what is at the core of my lack of confidence.  I used to blame the undermining from my toxic manager at my old job, but it was there before.  I’m starting to see that this lack of confidence goes back further into my life.  I’m still unpacking all of this, and I’ve discovered that all of this is part of why I have trouble letting go of anger and resentment that I hold against people.  I have a new journey.

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spoonflowerdotcom

As I move from dot-to-dot in my life I’m starting to see why things connected the way they did.  I start my 43rd trip around the sun with a new perspective on how my next set of dots are going to be connected.

This Post is Strong

October 26, 2017 v4 p48

When it comes to being a man most people associate that with strength.  While that may be a truth, a lot of men are trying to project the wrong kind of strength.

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There are times when I don’t feel like doing what I know that I should.  In fact that’s one of my weakest traits.  I have always been a procrastinator.  I would put off things until the last minute, choosing to do things I wanted to rather than what I needed to.  When it came down to me not having the extra time to work on those things before the deadline, I would put my head down and get everything done that I needed to.  This would often lead to me needing to put a lot of other things on hold, including in some cases my family.  While I may have been home, I would be tuned out to them in order to finish what I could have done days before.  A lot of times it cut into m sleep, but I continually did it.  I would always get things that were needed done, but it wasn’t always my best work.  That wasn’t enough to motivate me to change, because I knew I could find the strength to get it done in the end.  Or at least what I thought was strength.

While it may have taken physical and mental strength to complete those tasks, it wasn’t the type of strength I needed.  I always knew that I needed to act differently, but I never really knew how to go about working on it.  I’ve tried creating deadlines, writing things down on calendars, setting reminders, but ultimately I was always able to justify putting things off that I know I should do.  It’s a lot easier to skip doing things to spend time with my kids.  On the rare occasion that I didn’t get things done that I needed to I was easily able to write it off as having too much on my plate.  One example of that is some of the jobs I have to do as the leader of the local Cub Scout Pack.  The amount of responsibilities I have to handle in that position is considerable.  Over the past few years I have been asking other parents to step to take some of those responsibilities, but with no luck.  So when I miss a deadline or something gets forgotten, I could easily explain how much I juggle in that organization and most people accept that excuse.  Rarely has anyone stepped up to take some of those responsibilities off my plate.

As I’ve been on this journey into my faith over the last three years I’ve done a lot of looking at myself.  Trying to figure out what it is that I need to do in order to be the best I can.  There were a lot of things that I did in my past that I had to come to terms with.  That I had to make right with God and with myself.  As I’ve been making my peace with those things it’s allowed me to focus more about the areas that weren’t so obvious to me.  I’ve been focusing my prayers on what it is that God has discerned for me to do.  I feel like I’m beginning to see where that path is supposed to lead.  There are times when I can focus on my prayers.  There are times when I have difficulty getting through them.  The more I’ve been focusing my prayer on my discernment, to more certain areas of my life are trying to distract me from faith.  It’s becoming quite obvious to me what I must do.

I have to follow what God has discerned.  If I’m truly going to be love Him the way He loves me, this is not negotiable.  The second area I have to serve in is my family.  I must help my wife and kids to find the discernment that God has for them.  I must have the strength to get my wife and children to heaven.  This is not negotiable.  I’ve been trying to figure out how I go about that, and it hasn’t been easy.  The biggest obstacle I have to overcome in that area is my oldest son.  When my wife and I returned to our faith he was 15.  We didn’t want to force him to start going to church when we returned.  We both agreed that taking that route would not work, and that it would probably end up forcing him away further than he already was.  There was a lot of stuff I wanted to talk to him about before he left for college, but that was one of those things I found easy to put off.  Now I’m trying to find a way to still talk to him about all of that stuff.  This is a prime example of one area I need to be stronger in, and it has nothing to do with muscles.

One of my favorite verses in the bible is “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13.  It really is true.  I’ve found some new speakers to listen to who have been showing me the way to grow this strength that I need.  I am figuring out ways to address these two very important areas that I need to strengthen.  When I get stronger there it will cause me to become stronger in other areas.  As I lead my faith life and family life better it will allow me to be a stronger leader in my professional life.  That will allow my career to advance, which allow me to be able to better provide for more growth in my faith, and to better support my family in what they want to do.  It all ties together.

strength

I need to strengthen myself physically.  But more people in my life depend on me strengthening myself as a better man.