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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archleaguedotorg

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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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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northcountrytraildotorg

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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daytonlocaldotcom

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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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.

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.