This is a Post I don’t want to Write

A little less than two weeks ago I had to got through the unfortunate experience of laying my Mother-In-Law to rest.  What a completely different experience than when my own parents passed, but for different reasons that you might think.

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When I picked my wife up from her house and met her mom the first time it didn’t really go very well.  The first few weeks of our relationship took place at summer camp so it was almost a month of us being together before I actually came to her house and picked her up for a date.  I’m a pretty shy person until I get to know someone, although some people may say the opposite.  I don’t recall really saying anything to my future Mother-In-Law, but when I asked my wife about it a couple of days later she mentioned that her mom wasn’t very impressed, or didn’t like me.  I was 19 and this was the first time I had dated a woman to the point on meeting her parents so I didn’t know how to act or what to expect.  Over time I’m pretty sure that she tried to convince my wife to leave me.  I deserved it, I didn’t do anything to change her mind in the early years of our relationship.  I know that as my wife and I both grew up and changed, so did my Mother-In-Law’s opinion of me.

About ten months ago she called my wife and asked her to accompany her to a doctor appointment to have some tests done on some abdominal pain.  My wife immediately thought the worst, I think we all did.  We were right to think the way we did, and we were all correct about the diagnosis, she had developed stage one pancreatic cancer.  The doctor was pretty sure it had been identified early enough that removal and maintenance chemo should take care of it.  This was news to me, because until before this I was under the impression that pancreatic cancer was basically a death sentence.  I understand it now can be controlled similar to diabetes.  She was up for the fight, as I figured she would be, since she had already beaten cancer once in her life.  My Mother-In-Law was a very tough woman in many ways.

After many months of treatment and some other problems that developed, we think from the treatment, Barbara Miller was called home to God on June 23, 2018.  This was a shock.  My wife had just brought her home from a chemo treatment the day before and she was in good condition.  Through her whole treatment she was still eating well, there were a couple of times we had meals with her and it was not uncommon for her to eat as much as I did.  Her appetite was still there.   We knew her time was limited, but we thought we would have a few months yet.  It was a shock to say the least.  We know now that she is now longer suffering, no longer having to be strong and fight.  She is at peace.

This experience with her death is different from what I went through with my own parents.  The obvious difference is that I would go through a different set of emotions than I did with their passing.  I loved Barb, but it goes without saying that this was a different level than what I had with my parents.  The biggest difference in her passing compared to my own parents is my understanding of death.  With the strengthening of my faith I’ve come to a better understanding of what death is all about.  I processed this death from a much different perspective than I did with my own parents.  I’m pretty sure I still would have processed their passing with the same outward emotions that I did, but the everything that I processed internally would have been vastly different.

I haven’t stopped praying for my Mother-In-Law since she passed away.  The prayers I say for her now are for different reasons.  I hope by these prayers she knows that I will do everything I can to make sure that her daughter is comforted as well.  I have to make sure my wife makes it to Heaven so that she can be reunited with her mother as well as with Him.  I have to do this, I don’t have any other option.  This is what I’m called to do.  There has been few things as clear to me in my life as this.  I cannot fail.

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Rest in peace Barb.  Thank you for everything you were able to do for my family while you were with us.

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This Post is Manly

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a man.  I’m not speaking of the scientific definition that is defined by your reproductive system either.

If you go by the definition of a man that you see on social media it looks a lot different to almost everyone.  The most common definition, the one you find according to everyone posts, doesn’t match up with my definition.  That shouldn’t come to much of a surprise to me, as I’ve never really looked at things the same as everyone else has.  That has become pretty evident, especially lately as I’ve turned more to my faith.  As I’ve learned more about my faith, I’ve learned more about myself.  That has led me to where I currently am in my faith formation and my personal growth.

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That most common definition of what it means to be a man can be seen all over the place.  You see if in the entertainment world by how Hollywood glorifies sexual prowess as being manly.  You see it in the athletic world by how athletes brag about how successful they are because of how much money they have or what accolades they have received.  You see it in the business world when people brag about those same two things.  You see if in the everyday man by how boastful they are about their sexual conquests, or how much alcohol they can drink, or how many people they offended by their opinion, or by how much of a lift they have on their truck.  In reality these are all measures of how insecure a man is with himself.

In The Bible we are told that the man’s job is serve.  To serve God.  To serve his wife.  To serve his family.  None of the things in the previous paragraph show leadership.  The only thing they show is that most men really don’t think about anything else besides themselves.  That all started in Genesis with the story of the forbidden fruit.  I’ve heard a lot of men, probably myself included, make the joke about the fall of the human race is all the fault of Eve.  It was she who took the forbidden fruit from the serpent and ate it, and then gave it to Adam because she didn’t die.  And while that is true, guess who was standing right next to her when she took the fruit?  Adam.  And he said absolutely nothing to try and stop her.  When God spoke to him right after what did he say?  He passed the blame on to Eve.  Does any of that sound like he was fulfilling the duties to serve?  No.  It sounds to me like he was only thinking about himself.

As I’ve grown my faith I’ve made the decision that I can no longer be self-serving.  I have to be third.  I must put God above everything else, followed by my wife and children.  Once I have done what I can to serve those two areas, only then can I begin to worry about what I might need.  I knew a few years ago, before I started my faith journey, that I had to do whatever I needed to make sure my wife was fulfilled, and part of doing that was making sure my children had everything I could possibly give them.  I lived by the theory of “happy wife, happy life.”  I was really doing the right thing, I just didn’t have the right philosophy about it.  I have found that the more I put Him first in my service that I usually end up serving my wife and kids too.  There are things I do for Him that don’t always correlate back to my family, but there are a lot of things that do.

So you may be wondering where I’m trying to go with all of this.  I’ve been trying to figure that out myself over the past couple of months.  Earlier this month I attended a men’s conference in Grand Rapids and it started to lead me down the path I feel I need to take this whole topic.  In this society where it is the norm and almost unacceptable to have the viewpoint I have, I feel we need to make a change.  That has never been more evident than before, and it has to start with the men.  I’m not looking to argue with anyone on this, nor do I wish to get into any debates over it.  When arguments and debates happen then there must be a winner and a loser.  In a scenario where you have that you only end up with division, and that is only good for the devil.  The more we are divided among ourselves, the easier it is for him to work his ways.  If he is allowed to continue then we will not have any change and we will only continue down this path that we are already headed down.

So how do we combat this divisiveness?  We can only do that through unity.  I am looking for men who are ready and willing to make this change with me.  I don’t propose anything radical like starting a march on the capitol or some other similar type of protest.  I’m looking for a small group of men who are interested in forming some strong male friendships.  Men who are willing to make themselves third.  If a small group starts of strengthening itself then it will surely grow on its own.  I’m looking for a few MEN who would be willing to get together, probably once per month to start, to be honest with each other.  To be vulnerable to each other about where they are weak.  And most importantly to pray for one another for strength in those weak spots.  I make no effort to hide my Catholic faith, but I don’t want to limit this to just Catholics.  There’s no reason why any group of strong Christian men can be unified in the fight against Satan.  I promise to not try to convert you, because I can’t, only God can.

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Fr. Larry Richards

I’m still working on the logistics of this whole idea, but it’s something I’m feeling called to do.  If you’re interested in becoming the man that He created you to be, then please reach out.

This Post is a Do-Over

February 19, 2018 v5 p6

I had almost an entire post written last Friday about the mass shooting in Florida, I put it to bed for the night with the intent of writing the couple of paragraphs on Saturday.  Then I saw some social media posts and decided against it, here’s why.

If you’ve been following along with me lately you know I’ve been on a faith journey.  I don’t hide any of that.  I’m pretty open about it.  I’m willing to talk to people about it.  I’ve probably shared a lot deeper part of my life than most people are willing to.  All of this has lead me down a path that has proven to be a major transformation.  I mentioned earlier in the year that I wasn’t setting any resolutions, but that I had a pretty big goal for myself, to become a stronger person.  That includes in my faith, my family life, my professional life, and my public life.  This is something I have to do for all of the people listed in there, and for myself.

Last fall I had lunch with a friend.  We’ve only known each other for a couple of years, but sitting down to a meal with this man is kind of like sitting down with someone I’ve known far longer.  He presented me with a book that he had acquired an extra copy of, “Kill the Spider” by Carlos Whittaker.  This is the story of the author’s journey through some intense therapy.  One of the stories early on is about how his father explains that if you have cobwebs to clear out of your mind, you have to kill the spider, or the cobwebs will just comeback.  This hit home.  I started to reflect on my past and how I had ended up where I was.  I could see that I was just doing exactly that.  I would move on from one issue and not clear up the cause for that issue.  I was running away.  I still haven’t identified what that spider is so I can work on killing it, but I’m much more aware of what’s going on in my own mind.

A few years back my wife and I started a Christmas tradition of giving only four gifts from Santa, this was when our youngest was still a believer.  In order to keep spending down we gave gifts that were “Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.”  This year my wife found a book for me that was similar to that last one I mentioned, “Killing Kryptonite,” by John Bevere.  This book has really transformed me.  It points out how a person can put the things they want in front of what He wants for us.  When we do that it weakens us, like kryptonite weakens Superman, and if we continue it will eventually kill us.

Every time you are putting your wants and desires in front of His you are committing a sin.  The more you sin, the more you die.  It may not be physical death, but you begin to stop being what it was He designed you for.  This is just like in Genesis 3:4, But the snake said to the woman: “You certainly will not die!”  While not a physical death, Adam and Eve were no longer allowed to stay in the garden, no longer allowed to receive the gift God had given them.  It certainly isn’t the easiest thing to do, but I have to try.  I have to change my ways so I can be a better disciple, become a saint, help my wife get to heaven, be a better husband and father, and be a better man.

How does this apply to the tragedy in Florida on Ash Wednesday?  The more our society takes God out of its view, the more this type of thing will happen.  As I’ve written before, there has been a trend away from modesty.  There has been a trend toward doing what it is that we want.  The more those trends start to become the normal situation, the more we tend to slip.  We’re on a very slippery slope, and momentum is starting to take us down.

There have been a lot of “solutions” that I’ve been seeing going around social media of late.  Some of them have some merit.  It’s pretty obvious that our current system to vet gun ownership is broken.  I’m not calling for a total ban of guns, that would be worse than the current state of affairs.  However, there must be changes.  It can’t be as easy as it is for almost anyone to get their hands on a weapon.  Another argument is that it isn’t the fault of the AR-15 rifle that was used in the shooting.  While technically correct, you have to ask if a rifle designed to look like a fully automatic military machine gun is something that needs to be made available to the public.  These guns are not being bought for hunting.  Yes, responsible owners are buying them for personal protection.  I have to ask the question though, if it’s this specific rifle being used in the mass shootings, is it necessary?

There is a vast amount of arguments that could be made on either side of this case, but when it boils down to it there is really only one way to go about handling it.  As a society we must be better to each other.  We cannot attack each other for our differences of opinion.  Positing and arguing on social media accomplishes nothing.  You aren’t going to change any one’s mind, you’re only going to make others upset and cause yourself a lot of wasted time trying to defend yourself against others.  That goes on until something else shiny comes along and grabs your attention.  Then all of the outrage starts up again when the next tragedy happens.  Unless you’re willing to take action by helping to hold our elected officials accountable to their constituents instead of the PACs, you’re not doing anything.  Openly mocking the beliefs of your fellow humans on social media doesn’t make your point any more right or wrong than anyone else.  All it does is prove that you’re aren’t as open minded as you claim to be.

In the meantime we can all use a little less kryptonite and a lot more love.  From the Gospel reading today in Matthew 25:40 we are reminded “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”

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.

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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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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coachingforinspirationdotcom

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.

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

This Post is Third

October 4, 2017 v4 p42

One of the many things that I learned from my parents was that I needed to help other people out.  That seems like common sense, but it’s not just about helping, but serving.

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Many people know how active I am in my home town.  I have been heading up the Cub Scout program for nine plus years.  I continue to do that even though my own children have moved on from it because their ages have forced them to move on to Boy Scouts.  I have been coaching my younger son’s soccer team since he began playing back in first grade.  I stepped back into an assistant role one year, but came to the conclusion that it wasn’t going work.  I wanted to be able to teach my son and his teammates in different ways than the coach I was assisting, so that only last one year.  Working with elementary aged kids can be really fun.  It can also be really trying at times, luckily the fun times are greater.

Part of the reason I stepped up to volunteer in these two positions is because I wanted to make sure my son had an enjoyable experience in both areas.  Having been a registered Scout since I was in first grade and having played soccer for just about as long I was confident that I could make that happen.  It has taken me some time to develop my ways of leading in these two areas, but I can confidently say that I have been successful in both areas.  When I see the boys who have gone through the Cub Scout program under my leadership attain the rank of Eagle Scout, and how much they worked to get it, I can tell I had an impact.  When I can see the skill level of my son’s soccer team improve dramatically from the beginning to the end of the season, I can tell I had an impact.  When parents are requesting to have their children placed on my team because they know I will coach them right on the field and off, I can tell I had an impact.

Ultimately that is why I do all of that, to see the impact I make in those young men.  That isn’t the only way that I serve.  I try to do my best to serve in everything I do.  At work I show up and do the best I can to make sure my coworkers have everything they need to get their job done.  I also show up and work as hard as possible to make that happen.  In every job I’ve ever held that is the attitude I went in with every day.  That’s what my parent taught me to do.  Because of that in every job I’ve ever had I have always been given more responsibilities, which have come along with more pay and often times promotions.  The only time I was ever placed into a leadership role during employment without “climbing the ladder” was when I was hired as a Department Team Leader for Meijer.  At that point in my life I hadn’t held any leadership positions in a job, but the Store Director who interviewed me was also an Eagle Scout (still is), and knew with that and their training program I could be a success.

As I’ve grown in my faith over the past few years I’ve been able to find new ways to serve.  I joined the local Knights of Columbus Council at my church.  That has afforded me the opportunity to create some great connections to other Catholic Gentlemen.  We do all of that through service to the church and the community.  The best part of that group is that I’m way at the back of the line of a bunch of men who have the same service mindset that I do.  It’s a refreshing change to just show up and be a worker bee sometimes.  I’ve begun serving my family through my faith too.  I have been living my faith life in a way that it is visible to them.  I try to show my son how to be a better follower of Christ.  My wife and I watch speakers on YouTube in the evenings more often than we watch broadcast television.  That has helped us strengthen our relationship and our family.  There are so many things I wish I could go back and do.

The more I do all of the volunteering I, the more is taxes my personal time.  There are many days, especially in the early fall, where I often don’t get home until 8pm.  That means I haven’t had dinner until late, and it’s almost always by myself.  That’s not good because I’m losing time with my family and because eating that late during the day, close to bed time, isn’t good for a person’s health.  It’s usually about this time of year when I start to get burned out.  In the past I was able to sleep in on or take a nap on the weekends.  Then I started to realize that doing things that way wasn’t allowing my body to recover properly.  Because of my desire to make sure my kids are getting the best program they can I continue to be the one who steps up.  This burn out point is where most people usually end up walking away.  Sometimes I really wish I would be able to just walk away like that, but it always causes an internal conflict.

The time has come for me to walk away though.  For the past nine years I have held the position of Committee Chair for the Cub Scout Pack in my home town.  As I mentioned earlier, I haven’t had a child in that program since February of this year.  I am committed to fulfill that position through the end of 2017.  At that point I intend to move into a different position that I currently already hold, Chartering Organization Representative.  That is the communication line between the Scout Unit and the supporting organization.  I would still be available on a consulting basis because I don’t think I will find a replacement that would have the knowledge on how to run the Pack that I do.  Whoever would take the position from me would then face the same situation I am in and need replacing.  It’s really a vicious cycle.

Just because I would be stepping away from that position doesn’t mean I would stop serving.  Stepping away would allow me to serve in a different way.  The more I’ve been studying and learning about my faith, the more I feel called to serve more within it.  This isn’t something I think that I feel.  There is a definite pull in that direction.  I’m not sure what that serving would like at this point in time, but I never will if I don’t answer the call.  I’ve always gotten satisfaction from the secular volunteering I’ve done in the past, but it doesn’t compare to what I get when I serve in my faith.  Serving in that manner gives me more than satisfaction, it gives me a sense of fulfillment.  It shows me how to receive His grace and mercy.  As much as I want to lead young men to be better leaders, I want to show others how to better live their lives for God.  How to receive His grace and mercy in their own lives.  Colossians 3:17 tells us, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

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I worry about what will happen to the Scouting program in my town if I step away from the program in the capacity I currently serve.  But I worry more about my family and myself more if I don’t make Him first, my family second, and myself third.