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.

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This Post is Objective

 

September 26, 2017 v4 p40

I’ve been really trying to focus on writing about my faith for the most part, but in light of recent events I’ve felt compelled to give a response.  I wrote one on Sunday that you can read here, but decided to only post it to my page instead of publicly because it didn’t really convey my message how I wanted.  Here’s my take on the whole Colin Kaepernick/NFL/President Trump issue.

Truth can be defined by two simple words, what is.  There are two kinds of truths in the world.    One type of truth is subjective truth, where something is true about a subject. The other type of truth is objective truth, where something is true about an object.  An example of a subject truth would be the statement that I prefer Coke over Pepsi.  For me Coke tastes better.  For someone else Pepsi may taste better.  Does the fact that I prefer Coke to Pepsi in my cola choices make it any less true for someone who believes Pepsi is better?  No.  This type of example can be applied to a lot of different ideas.  An example of an objective truth would be that the colors of the American Flag are red, white, and blue.  That is an objective truth that cannot be changed.  If you change the colors of the American Flag, then it is no longer the same thing.

So let’s apply this principle to the situation that is currently the hot topic on social media.  Former NFL Quarterback Colin Kaepernick chose to protest police brutality by sitting during the National Anthem prior to an NFL preseason football game.  After a couple of weeks and consulting a former NFL player turned Green Beret, he decided it would be better for him to continue his protest by kneeling.  Over time more players showed their support by doing the same thing, in the NFL and other sports.  Over time the total number of players continuing this protest was down to four during week two of the NFL season.  Did Colin Kaepernick have the right to perform his protest in this manner?  According to the United States Flag Code, Section 9 (http://www.military.com/flag-day/us-flag-code.html) he did.  The code only specifies that non-military personnel should stand during the hoisting, lowering or passing of flag.  The key word in here is should.

On Friday September 22 President Trump remarked at a speech and then posted on Twitter the following day that players who don’t stand for the National Anthem should be fired.  The President of our country does not need to be concerning himself with the personnel decisions of a private entity.  According the United States legal code, that is in fact illegal (U.S. Code > Title 18 > Part I > Chapter 11 > 227).  The list of public officials mentioned in that code that cannot influence employment decisions by private entities list everyone, up to, and including The President.  I’m pretty sure this is being overlooked for the time being.

A lot of arguments are being made that it is a person’s First Amendment Right to protest by kneeling during the National Anthem.  A lot of counter arguments are being made to state that right is not protected while performing your job.  I have seen multiple social media posts of screen shots of the NFL rule book regarding the playing of the National Anthem.  It states nothing about the players being required to be on the field.  It does say players on the field and bench area should stand at attention.  There’s that key word again, should.  It goes on to state that players violating this rule are subject to discipline.  I cannot recall anytime a player has been disciplined for kneeling during the National Anthem.  A lot of people have pointed out that the First Amendment isn’t protected in your workplace.  Based on the lack of discipline from the NFL and their response to President Trump last weekend, I’m going to guess that they are going to allow their players to exercise that right.

So where does the truth come in to this whole issue?  A lot of people feel it is disrespectful for these types of actions to go on.  That doesn’t change the fact that the objective truth about the matter is that unless the NFL forces it’s players to stop the protests, they will be allowed to continue.  The President has no right to force any person to stand for the National Anthem.  That has gone on in places like Nazi Germany and present day North Korea.  Our country has always been a democracy, not an authoritarianism.  Another way the truth has to be applied to this whole subject is whether or not it is disrespectful to the U.S. Flag, our military personnel (both currently serving and veterans), and to our country.  According to the law it is not, that is an objective truth.  That cannot be untrue just because of how you feel.

In response to the NFL’s show of unity an increased number of players and their team owners took a knee or simply just stayed off the field during the National Anthem on Sunday and Monday a lot of people who are against this protest have begun to find ways to show their patriotism.  One of the ways they are doing that is by adding a U.S. flag border to their social media profile pictures.  Since everyone was so enraged by a citizen exercising his First Amendment Right by “disrespecting” the flag I thought I would take a look in the U.S Flag Code for some answers.  Paragraph Eight of the code is entirely dedicated to respect for the flag.  I speaks about how the flag should never be displayed upside down, touch the ground, or be carried flat, or horizontally (the NFL may want to take a look at that one).  What it does go on to describe is how it shouldn’t be used in advertising, profile pictures are advertising you.  It also speaks about how it shouldn’t be printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard (Paragraph 8, Article I).

That last point really raised some questions in my own life.  I thought about whether or not I owned any clothing with the flag on it.  I wondered how many times I used a napkin at a Memorial Day cook out, wiped my dirty face with the U.S Flag, crumpled it up and threw it out.  Then I started seeing all the people who were denouncing the protest as disrespectful on Sunday, and noticed that more than a few of them had clothing with the flag on it.  I’m pretty sure they aren’t going to be treating that clothing the same way they would the flag.  When the clothing becomes too worn to wear anymore, would they hold a proper retirement ceremony and burn them?  Probably not.  In the flag code it states that any form of mutilation of the flag is a misdemeanor punishable by fines of up to $100 and 30 days in jail.  I know I’ve been guilty of that on more than one occasion, but my ways will change.  This is the letter of law, another objective truth.

While I don’t agree with Kaepernick’s protest, I do believe in his right to perform it.  The main reason I don’t agree with his protest is because he isn’t accomplishing anything towards the subject he started protesting about, police injustices against minorities.  If he truly wanted to invoke change in this matter he would do more than just kneel during the National Anthem.  He chose to take this stand and has paid the consequences.  A lot of people believe that the main reason he isn’t an active player on an NFL roster is because of the protests.  I wouldn’t be surprised if that were true, but it’s hard to prove that after the response from the league last weekend.  I’m not in favor of the protests myself because I choose to stand during the National Anthem to show my respect.  If you or anyone else chooses protest in the same manner, I believe you have that right.  I cannot change that, but I also won’t have to deal with the consequences that come forth following your display.

All of this bickering back and forth on social media really doesn’t accomplish anything.  The only thing I see it doing is causing division between friends, family, and our country.  The last thing we need right now is for us to be more divided.  We have fellow citizens in the Gulf of Mexico who face the prospect of not having electricity for multiple months.  Most of us have a difficult time going without it for hours, let alone days.  Try not knowing when it will come back on, or if it will at all.  In times like this we must be reminded of what Jesus tells us in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”  I don’t see a whole lot of that going on in our country, not just related to the issue with the flag.  It’s becoming a problem.  It almost seems as if we are in the midst of our second civil war.

I don’t claim to be perfect.  In fact I am a terrible sinner.  But I’m making a conscious effort to change my ways.  I’m making a conscious effort to evangelize the word of Christ in hopes to help even just one person change.

Matthew 7: tells us “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is your own eye?”

Or maybe your closet.

This Post is Eye-Opening

September 5, 2017 v4 p33

When I started writing this blog almost three years ago it was to share my opinion about the University of Michigan football program.  I always wondered if that was the right platform for myself, and that answer became clear to me last week.

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Over the years I’ve touched on a few different subjects.  I’ve written a lot about sports.  I’ve written about the death of both of my parents.  I’ve written about parenting.  I’ve written about my faith.  I’ve written about fitness, and I’ve written about leadership.  So it’s really been a wide range of topics.  The subject matter that has received the biggest response is my faith.  So that’s where I plan to continue to put my focus.  A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about how I was rebuilding the four pillars of my life based on the most important one, my faith.  Most likely I will continue to write about most of these topics, but just like rebuilding my life based on faith, most of my posts will be built around how they are tied to my faith.

When I do write about sports it will most likely be about college football.  In my mid-twenties most of my personal life was centered on sports.  College football has always been my favorite, followed by college basketball.  I would watch the NFL too, but not with the interest I had in college football.  Once March Madness was done I would begin to pay attention to the NHL, then the NBA, as that was the order those leagues would finish their season.  After that I would kind of half-heartedly watch Major League Baseball.  When the Tigers began to turn their team into a contender I started paying more attention earlier in the spring.  As time has gone on I’ve just become less interested in sports other than college football.  I pay just enough attention to the NFL to be able to know what’s going on with my fantasy football team.  College basketball is still something I enjoy watching, but it’s been narrowed down to the last couple of months of the season, after football is over.

It’s hard to tie college and professional sports back to faith.  You always see athletes praising God for their touchdown, or home run, which is good, but they should be praising them in their everyday lives, not just the contests that they compete in that allow them to make millions of dollars.  It’s rare to see athletes take that praise into their personal lives.  When they do, they are often ridiculed for it, for example Tim Tebow.  He makes no attempt to hide his faith and always praised God for his talents, not just his results.  Yet a lot of “fans” think he should keep that to himself and off the playing field.  I would guess that there are more athletes and fans that support Colin Kaepernik and his protest of injustice than Tim Tebow and his show of faith.  While Kaepernik is doing nothing illegal, it is certainly causing a problem in his career as he is currently being passed over for open positions in favor of less talented, retired players.

As I’ve grown in my career and my faith my life priorities have changed drastically.  I’m now more interested in growing myself in my faith and my leadership.  I began telling God I was ready to do His will last winter and things have really changed in my life.  My career has taken a major uptick.  My faith has begun to follow that same path.  I continue to tell Him every day that I’m ready to do His will.  I pray for knowledge to see the path He has chosen for me, the wisdom to choose that path, and the strength to complete the journey.  It really has been a game changer for me, to borrow a sports cliché.

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I’m going to continue to my weekly analysis of college football because I really do enjoy it.  It’s hard to tie it to my faith though, other than the fact that Jim Harbaugh is Catholic.

This Post is Wobbly

August 15, 2017 v4 p31

When you aren’t standing firmly on all of your bases, your life gets a little wobbly.  Lately I’ve noticed that I haven’t been firm on all four of my basis, and it has become noticeable.

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For the longest time I thought I only need three footings to build my foundation on.  Those were family, friends, and fitness.  I have always put my family first.  When my oldest son was born I did everything for him.  When my wife and I reconciled, I did everything for her and our son.  When our youngest child was born I did everything for all three of them.  I tried to maintain a social life through that period, and really only ended up with a few very close friends.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  There are people from the past that I still maintain contact with, but it’s not at the level of friendship that those close friends have.  There are some people that I don’t maintain contact with that I wish I did get in touch with more often.  But we’ve all gone our separate ways, and when we do reconnect it is always good.  My fitness wasn’t really a big focus for me other than not really eating too poorly.  I certainly didn’t follow any specific diet, but I tried to maintain a fairly balanced diet.

A couple of years after we moved back to my hometown I began going to the gym.  That really had an impact on me.  Fitness was now the number two focus of my foundation, and I actually dropped to weights that I hadn’t seen in almost 20 years.  It felt nice to be able to put jeans on that were smaller than the size I wore in high school.  Granted I think the fashion industries measurements aren’t the same as they were 20 years ago.  I hadn’t felt that trim since I was a teenager.  Then I began running.  That doesn’t sound like something that would cause weight gain, although it isn’t uncommon if you’re training for long distances.  What running led to was injuries.  That always led to excuses.  Which in turn, would lead to more injuries.  For the past five years I’ve started a solid workout routine, only to injury myself and have to take weeks off.  That is always followed by a tough time getting back in to a routine.  This is where I’m at right now.

Then my manager encouraged me to reconnect with my faith.  It was the single most life changing event in my life.  The more I allowed myself to follow where I was supposed to go, the easier everything else became around me.  I’ve seen in my own life how the power of prayer has worked.  That’s why I continue to pray every day.  Sometimes I feel like my prayers are getting a little stale, or that I’m praying for the wrong thing.  Then, as He always does, He reveals to me that I’m praying for exactly what He wants for me.  That is always enough to remind me that no matter how stale my prayer may feel, it’s always enough for Him.  I never thought that anything would become a more important footing for my foundation than my family.  I truly believe that my faith is the most important of those footings.  It is the basis from which all of the other footings are formed.  I brought my family with me, and began making more friendships at my church, building a strong foundation.

Then I read “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey.  Of all the professional development books I’ve read, this is a top three influencer for me.  One of the last principles that Covey speaks about is the four parts to your foundation.  This was an eye opener for me.  The first one he speaks about is your faith.  I’ve put that first already.  Then there is your family, they are what drives me and encourages me to do what I need to get done.  At the time I was going to the gym five days a week, so that was covering my fitness foundation.  With all of that going on it didn’t leave much time to build on those friendships.  I’ve made a few that I fully hope will become stronger, but nothing yet like the ones I have with those few close friends from my early adulthood.  Between church, sports, and scouts almost all of my evenings were booked up.  It didn’t leave a lot of time for socializing.  My wife and I didn’t get much of a chance to go out without the kids, and some of the other socializing went by the wayside.  So I knew it was that area that I needed to work on.

I still haven’t figured out how to fully transition to a four footing foundation.  While always concentrating on my faith and family, I tried to focus on friends, and that has caused my fitness to fall off.  Well, at almost 42-years-old it doesn’t take long for your fitness level to drop off.  I rehabbed my recurring injury and was able to start running again.  I continued with the simple strength exercises that I had learned through PT and was able to run at a good pace.  I trained for and ran a 5k last October.  Then I stopped.  Not sure why, but my GPS watch tells the story.  There was a four month period where I was running three or four days per week.  Then nothing.  I started back up in the spring some, then twisted my knee coaching my son’s soccer team.  Again, nothing.  The stress of having your oldest child graduate from high school and then get ready to go off to college is really starting to show.  It’s starting to show every time I look down.

I’ve always had a hard time controlling my eating.  In the past I didn’t eat a lot of junk.  There were always donuts, and ice cream, and candy bars.  Before I would have only one of those three in a month.  Lately I haven’t been doing so well.  Then there is the issue with my portion sizes.  About 10 years ago we made the conscious decision to switch to the seven inch plates in our cabinet for dinner, unless we were having a big holiday meal.  That helped some.  It still doesn’t stop me from piling the spaghetti higher, or getting a second helping.  A few weeks ago I started doing some speed and footwork drills with my youngest son to get ready for the soccer season.  We do those two days a week, then run around the neighborhood three days a week.  After the first week I determined that my knees are going to hold up to that schedule, so I started adding more distance to my running.  Last weekend I was able to go two miles without stopping.  It was the slowest two miles I’ve run on pavement in six years.  I don’t like it.  This may be the kick start I need.  If I can get my diet straightened out it will help a lot too.

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I started rebuilding my life on my faith foundation.  I’m almost done rebuilding my family, and I’m just starting to rebuild my fitness.

This Post is Addicting

August 2, 2017 v4 p30

There were a lot of things I was looking forward to when I returned to my faith.  Coming face-to-face with my worst faults wasn’t one of them.

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I began looking for more content about my faith a couple of years ago.  I came across a bunch of different speakers on YouTube.  Fr. Mike posts all of his podcasts there so I put his name into the search bar.  It returned a bunch results that weren’t his weekly podcasts.  It seem that he is a speaker in high demand around the country at Catholic Conferences.  I started listening to his talks at some of these conferences while I do my inventory control work, where I’m out in the warehouse away from the rest of my team.  It is something I look forward to every morning.  My wife and I started watching them together after the kids go to bed and they turn control of the TV back over to us.  There are a lot of the other speakers from those events who have their talks posted as well.  They are all great, and very insightful to me.  There are two besides Fr. Mike that I listen to regularly.

After a few months I started to notice something in common among most of the male speakers I listen to.  Almost all of them have admitted to having an addiction to pornography earlier in their lives.  That really hit home, because one of those faults I wasn’t looking forward to meeting was what I’ve now come to realize was my own addiction to porn.  This has been a significant thing for me to come to grips with.  I’ve listened to the speakers describe how the women are usually drunk when performing, forced into performing, and generally treated as a slave.  It help me put together that by watching porn I not only backed the people enslaving the performers, but I was more or less treating all women the same.  It really made me think about how I treated sex in my own marriage.  I’ve apologized to my wife for the way I approached out sex life.  It’s allowed me to take my faith to a whole new level.

There are some pretty astonishing facts about the porn industry that actually shocked me.  The porn industry in the United States makes more sales than all four professional sports leagues.  The average adolescent boy has seen a pornographic image by the age of 11.  I was way ahead of the curve on that one, thanks neighborhood high schoolers.  So it’s out there, everywhere.  It’s never been as easy to access it as it is right now.  There was a report done on the local news on how a teenager could access porn in less than 10 seconds on their mobile devices a few weeks ago.  It showed how simple it is to find it on search engines.  We do image searches to see what kind of parts we’re looking for at work.  The joke used to be how far you would have to scroll down on the results before you came across a result that was NSFW.

It’s starting to make its way into mainstream media as well.  As people become desensitized to what they see in private, it takes more for something to grab your eye in public.  That has caused marketing teams to gravitate towards more immodest advertising.  Clothing industries start making their clothes smaller.  Sports media groups start publishing magazine article with athletes posing nude.  It’s hard to go on the internet and see articles that show how little a celebrity wore to the beach.  Which famous person is in the latest sex scandal.  These images are the biggest struggle I have with my addiction right now.  I struggle to not click on the articles or scroll through the slideshow in the magazine article.  To help combat that I don’t do much surfing on the web.  I spend more time on the internet than most people because of my job, and that help’s too.  I honestly can’t remember the last time I watched what most people would consider pornography.  Unfortunately I have many images stuck in my head that I have to struggle against for the rest of my life.

I gain the strength to fight this addiction from my faith life.  The speakers I listen to.  My deepened love for my wife, our marriage, and our Covenant with God.  My daily prayer life is centered on asking for forgiveness.  I have been to confession for this, and it was at that point when I began to feel the His forgiveness.  It also lead me to more introspection about myself.  Through that I have been able to be more of the man my wife needs me to be so that I can fulfill my Covenant by making sure she makes it to heaven.  I have come to realize that is what I am here for.  Through all of our past I always felt that it was still meant to be.  We took a tough road to get here, but I hope my wife can see how I have changed and trusts that I will do everything I can for her.  I can never say I’m sorry enough for the pain I put our family through due to my addiction.

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They say addicts are never really fully cured.  I guess for now you can say that I’m “on the wagon.”

Relay for Life 2017

When you hear commercials for drugs they give you all kinds of statistics about what disease or illness they help fight, they then go on to spend the other 85% of their air time telling you about how their drug can kill you.  There are a lot of statistics about cancer, but no drugs that can cure it.

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Every year starting in 2001 my family has been participating in the Relay for Life in some form or another.  The early years of that was through our employer.  After my mom passed away in 2007 from brain cancer we decided to form our own fundraising team.  This was for her memory, and to honor my mother-in-law who is a 20+ year survivor of breast cancer.  Over the years we’ve had other people join our team and leave our team.  We aren’t too picky about who is on our team, just as long as they’re trying to achieve the same goal we are.  Trying to find a cure for cancer.

The one statistic I want to bring up every year is that 2 out of every 3 people will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetimes.  I sit at my desk and look at my other 3 coworkers and know that most, if not all of us will end up with this horrible disease at some point in our lives.  I have a hard time finding people to talk to who haven’t been affected by cancer in some way.  Either they were diagnosed themselves, or they know a family member or friend who has.  This disease knows no age limits.  It doesn’t discriminate in any way against age, gender, race, color, religious beliefs, political affiliation, or sexual orientation.  It is rare that I go a week without hearing of someone I know personally who is diagnosed, or being examined for, this horrible disease.

Until recently this hadn’t hit home too much other than my mother.  My mother-in-law’s fight came before I knew her.  Last fall as my wife and I were waiting for our youngest son’s basketball game to start one Saturday morning we ran in to a longtime friend who had supported our team in the past.  We asked him what was new, and he seemed a little distraught and asked his wife to take their daughter into the hall.  Earlier that week he went to ER to be treated for what he thought was gall stones.  About 36 hours later and a bunch of testing he was home, with a stage 4 colon cancer diagnosis.  This is a man who is only three years older than me.  I still have a hard time grasping what he’s going through.  Not only with treatments, but also knowing that he has a grim prognosis and there is a distinct possibility that he will lose his fight before his children graduate from high school.

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Examples like this have helped me realize this is truly why I participate in the Relay for Life.  I still love to remember my mother, and honor my mother-in-law, but if I can be a part of something that potentially could help my friend live to see his kids graduate, walk his daughter down the aisle, or hold his grandchildren, then sign me up.  If I can help raise money for an organization that wants to see the same things I do in regards to this horrible disease, then sign me up.

This year has turned out to be a little more challenging when preparing for the Relay.  Our oldest son graduated from high school this past spring and is getting ready to head off to Western Michigan University in late August.  That’s caused some schedule changes in our personal lives that we’ve never had before.  So our participation in the year’s event is going to be much less significant that in the past.  That doesn’t change any of the need for what we do.  I have yet to see a legitimate news story that is about the cure for cancer.  There are many stories out there claiming that there are certain foods or supplements you can take to cure cancer.  Those claims are pretty baseless, because while they may help, if they were truly effective then the FDA would be regulating them.

This year we have made the decision to be part of the event in a lessor role.  We plan to spend a majority of the first day walking and visiting with all of the people we have come to know through our local event.  We will be attending to luminary ceremony and lighting up a few for those close to us.  This doesn’t change the need for your donations, and there’s still time for you to donate, but this year’s event is coming up quickly, 8/4-5, so don’t delay.  If you would like to make an online donation (preferred method) you can go to www.relayforlife.org/barrymi and still make a donation to the event.  If you prefer not to make an online donation you can mail or drop off a donation at my house, please hit me up for directions.  If you are writing a check please make it out to the American Cancer Society and we will make sure it gets turned in.  If you can’t make a donation by check right now there are other ways to donate.  One of the ways I’ve been raising money is through bottle refunds.  My coworkers have been brining me their returnable bottles and every one I turn in goes towards our fund-raising efforts.  If you’ve got a bunch lying around the house let me know and we can make arrangements to get them.

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So while our time wasn’t able to be put towards the Relay for Life as much as we would have liked this year, it doesn’t change the need for funding.  I hope you can find time in your day to donate, it may save your own life later.

On the Anniversary of Our Covenant

June 19, 2017 v4 p23

Today I celebrate 18 years of marriage with my wife Denise.  That’s in the eyes of God, not the State of Michigan.

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The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament (7:1601 CCC).  I stood in front both of our families and our friends and entered into this covenant with you on June 19, 1999.  I promised to love you through everything.  I entered into it without coercion, freely and whole heartedly.  I promised to love and honor you as long as we both shall live.  I promised to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.  I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.

Despite a bumps along the road, these vows never changed.  Even in times when we weren’t together in the eyes of the state, I always felt like we were in still in the covenant.  I don’t know how else to describe it.  You have told me how every other guy you dated while we were separated was compared to me in your mind.  I did the same thing.  When I told my friends that we were reconciling they gave me a hard time.  They knew how much it really took for me to get over our separation.  Although I never really was.  I tried to do what I could to get our relationship back to where it was that day when we stood in front of God and entered that covenant.  You probably got annoyed with me a few times over that.  I’m glad that I never stopped “annoying” you.

Over the past few months some pretty big events have taken place in our family that have reminded me of this covenant we entered.  When our youngest son was welcomed fully into the Catholic Church I felt the receiving of the sacrament.  I didn’t know it at the time, but that’s what it was.  It was truly great feeling to see how He was blessing our family.  I was completely shocked at how receptive our oldest son was to attending that event, given his previous lack of interest in the church.  To sit with you and our son at The Mass every week is another time I experience this sacrament.  When we join hands to pray “The Our Father” it doesn’t feel like there is an extra person between the two of us.  It’s as if I was standing right next to you, holding your hand.

I have been feeling the same experience when we have been attending events that are tied to our oldest son’s high school graduation.  I couldn’t explain it after the awards ceremony but it came to me at the graduation ceremony a couple of days later.  The sense of joy, pride, and excitement I felt for him, and our family was the fruits of our covenant and what felt receiving the sacrament all over again.  Once all of the dust settled and we were able to participate in his grad party I felt it again, although on a much smaller scale.  I would feel that same feeling I do at The Mass when I would get up with him early in the morning while we were staying at my parents.  I would put him in bed with me to try and get a few more hours of sleep out of him.  Lying in bed next to him felt exactly like lying in bed next to you.  This can only be from our covenant.

Through the past 18 years we have certainly had our ups and downs.  That doesn’t change any of the vows I said on the day we entered into this covenant.  I look forward to seeing how God guides the rest of our live together and how we will continue to receive this sacrament of matrimony.   This excites me more than anything else about our marriage.  To see how we have grown together over the past two and a half years since we returned to our faith is awesome.  The best dates I’ve had with you have come in that time period, and have all taken place at our church or with other people we know through Holy Family.  Things are a little rocky right now, but we will make it through with His help and the strength of our covenant with God.

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This Friday marks 13 years in the eyes of the state, but it’s today’s anniversary that has proven to be the truth.  I love you Denise!  I look forward to see where the rest of this covenant journey takes us!