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 Forgiving

September 19, 2017 v4 p37

Christians are called to forgive those who anger or offend us.  This week’s readings at Mass were a clear reminder of why.

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I’ve been trying my hardest to remember that I must forgive my fellow man.  It’s been a something that I had trouble with in the past.  Before returning to my faith I would make sure that I would go out of my way to try to get back at those who would did things to cause me difficulties.  I felt that I should just do the same thing to them that they did to me.  What I was forgetting was that if I considered myself a Christian, I still had to live a Christian life, even if I wasn’t attending church.  Ultimately what that would cause ended up being worse than the original offense.

As I started to learn more about my faith I began to see how wrong I was in the past.  I began to forgive people that weren’t really involved in my personal life.  Driving is a perfect example of this.  I used to get road rage really quickly, and really bad.  Every one of us, including myself, is guilty of driving like an idiot.  I really believe this is the root of a lot of problems in our society.  Almost everyone starts their day by having to drive somewhere.  Whether it’s to work or to drop the kids off at school, we’re in our cars.  It is rare lately that I go somewhere and I don’t see someone else do something on the road that really makes me shake my head in disbelief.  It’s not just texting or other distractions, although those are a big cause of it.  Too many people just don’t care that everyone else on the road has somewhere to go as well.  If you’re in such a hurry that you must drive in such a manner that you cause others anger, then maybe you need to plan your time better to allow yourself more time.  This way you don’t have to drive so fast.  If you needed to drive that fast then your vehicle would have lights on top and sirens.

More times than I can count I have gotten places and have been so riled up by the way other people have treated me on the road that my attitude has really gone sour.  That sets the tone for the rest of the day.  Nobody tries to go out on the road and be a jerk to everyone, if you do then you’re just a jerk.  Unfortunately too many people have been treated like jerks, get to their destination, and then treat other people like jerks.  I’ve learned that nothing I can do, on the road or afterwards, is going to change whatever reason people feel it necessary to act so selfishly when they drive.

On a personal level I’ve become much more adept at knowing when I need to forgive people.  There are still occasions where I have a tough time forgiving people.  Through my learning I have discovered that I don’t always have to give people the forgiveness they deserve right away.  I am allowed to be upset about how people have treated me, and try to figure out if there is something I’ve done that could have caused it.  I’ve been known to stew on things for much longer than I should.  It’s those times that I must turn to my prayer life to find it in myself to forgive.  Only after that can I truly put the incident behind me and move on.  Sometimes I’m not always able to get away and into that prayer that I need, and it causes me to hold onto that anger longer than I should.  I’m finding ways to get to a place where I can pray quicker, because holding onto the anger is never good.

In Matthew 18:22 Jesus tells us that we must forgive our brothers “Not seven times, but seventy times seven times.”  That doesn’t mean literally 490 times.  It means that we must always forgive our brothers.  I had a former coworker who really showed this to me.  It was on a weekly basis, sometimes daily, that his actions warranted me have to forgive him.  He didn’t necessarily do something directly against me, but his actions and words continually would cause problems.  I would often come home and complain to my wife about it.  Unfortunately when I did that she felt that I was yelling at her, not directly at her, but I would get so riled up over things that I would be raising my voice in disbelief of his actions.  I would then forgive him and finally be able to move on.

It was during some of my studying about my faith that I came across this passage in scripture that I realized how I needed to change.  I would continue to forgive him but I couldn’t understand how long it would have to continue.  I would start to ask my wife why anyone would continue to act in these ways and not see how it was effecting everything around him.  Then I realized that he wasn’t going to change, but wondered if I needed to continue to forgive him.  I don’t remember what resource it was that I was reading on this passage in Matthew’s Gospel, but it finally clicked.  I was going to have to continue to give forgiveness as long as this situation was a part of my life.  There would be no end to it, and if I didn’t continue to forgive, then there would be no end to my frustration.  After I realized that I found it easier to deal with the poor attitude and actually found enough confidence in myself to try and find a way to point out to him what his actions did, without flat out calling him a jerk.  Eventually his poor attitude ended up being his downfall.

I’m still faced with the need to forgive my coworkers because of their attitudes.  For the most part everyone I work with is great and will go out of their way to do things right.  There a few who have a cynical outlook, and really don’t care if they offend others.  I don’t have to deal with them much on a professional level so I am faced with the need to forgive less than before.  This past week however it did come up, and it wasn’t about anything work related.  As I heard in last week’s Gospel reading, I went to him and he wouldn’t hear out what I wanted to say.  Others agreed that he wouldn’t change.  So as I learned in Matthew 18:17 if he still won’t listen, then I should “treat him as a pagan or a tax collector.”  I said my prayers, gave him the forgiveness I needed to and decided that there is no need for me to talk to him unless it had to do with something work related.  Doing anything else will only continue to cause me problems.

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Forgiving someone who sins against you is sometimes the hardest thing to do.  Maybe if everyone tried harder to forgive then there would be less need for it to begin with.

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.

Won’t You Join Me?

July 27, 2017 v4 p29

One of the first things I knew when I returned to my faith was that I needed to be more involved than I was growing up.  I have been trying to figure out how to do that ever since.

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When I made the decision to return to my faith I wasn’t sure where it was going to lead me.  I’ve shared that whole story a couple of times I believe.  After a few months I began to get the feeling that I needed to serve more in my church.  I began to pray to God and let him know that I was ready to serve in whichever way he wanted me to.  It didn’t take too long for that way to be revealed to me as I was approached about joining the local Knights of Columbus Council at our Parrish.  I had figured I would end up joining them anyway before I started those prayers because I could see how they were active in both the church and the community, much as I am through Scouting and was through the Lions Club.  It was pretty much a no-brainer.  I joined and immediately felt welcomed to the Council and began volunteering whenever I could.  The older members have been more than appreciative for my support.

I was told a few months later that it didn’t take long for my name to start coming up for leadership positions.  That doesn’t surprise me.  In every job I’ve held I have showed up and done my job to the best of my ability.  That has always resulted in me being given more responsibilities, and ultimately promotions.  All of that coupled with all of the other leadership positions I’ve held in volunteer organizations explain to me why those conversations were happening.  I had hoped it would be a couple of years before I was approached about taking a leadership position, but I kind of knew that I could only delay the inevitable for so long.  I stepped up this year to take on the role of treasurer, which I’m sure is the first of many positions I will hold in this organization.

One of the directives of the Knights is evangelization.  I’m fairly certain that this is tied to the Pope’s call for a new evangelization of the church.  I began sharing some of the Catholic blogs that I have been following with my wife and some fellow Catholic friends.  They have all found them very helpful.  But those are the easy people for me to evangelize to.  They are already active in their faith, and while everyone needs to continue to grow their faith, there’s a different audience I would like to reach.

I know a lot of people that were involved with the Catholic Church growing up.  Most of them, like myself, strayed away throughout their late teen and adult years.  During that time is when the Catholic Church began to fall on hard times.  There were multiple sex scandals, the beliefs and teachings of the church were skewed in the public eye.  There really wasn’t much of a reason to stick around.  That’s not why I left my faith, but I am fairly certain those may be some of the reasons that some of them did leave.  These are the people I would like to reach.  These are the people I would like to share more of my journey with.  These are the people I would like to be a part of their journey.

One of the biggest factors in my faith formation as an adult was reading The Bible.  Not just a few of the books, or specific chapters.  I read then entire Catholic Bible, from cover to cover.  After I finished it I tried looking for a different way to continue my faith formation.  I tried simply reading the daily scripture readings, something I had picked up during my first reading.  It was nice, but I was feeling like I still needed more.  A few months ago I decided to read all of Letter’s from the Apostle Paul, in chronological order.  That’s been pretty insightful.  I’m almost through all of them and need to figure out what area I want to read next, I’m leading towards the Psalms.

Aside from reading my Bible on a daily basis there are a few Catholic speakers that I get a lot of good content from.  One of them is Fr. Mike Schmitz, a younger priest from Minnesota.  Most of the rest of the speakers that I’ve listened to have mentioned him in their talks.  He seems to be the unofficial face of the new evangelization.  He is very well spoken and is very engaging.  I have shared a few of his posts on social media and get a positive response from Catholics and Protestants alike.  Another one of the speakers I started following early on is Jeff Cavins.  He is a former Protestant Pastor who was raised Catholic, left the church in his late teen years, only to be called back to Catholicism by The Lord.  His journey is a really fascinating story.  Both of these speakers publish their podcasts through the Catholic media company, Ascension Press.

Along with their weekly blogs they produce faith formation materials.  They range from studies of The Bible, adult and teen faith formation, and historical studies of the Catholic Church.  During some of the podcasts I subscribe to from Ascension they run short ad spots for their study programs.  In each of them they mention that some of them are free if you get a group of four or more to participate.  I haven’t looked too far into that but this is where I feel my calling to evangelize is leading.  I’m looking for a deeper understanding of The Bible.  The program I’m particularly interested in going through is “The Bible Timeline.”  This study takes the participants through the entire Bible and dives deeply into each period of salvation history.  There are multiple ways to read The Bible, and chronologically is one I’d like to try.

This is where you come in.  If you’ve been interested in deepening your faith and understanding of The Bible, I believe that this may be one way for you to do it.  If you’re looking to get back to your faith, Catholic or Protestant, this may be one way for you to do it.  I’m not looking to try and convert anyone to Catholicism, but if it happens I will support you any way I can.  What I hope to get out of this is a deeper understanding of my own faith, to help other people gain a deeper understanding of their faith, and possibly strengthen some families or friendships.  Feel free to reach out to me if you’re interested in joining me this fall.  I don’t know what the study group would look like yet, but that’s something I will figure out along the way, much like I have the rest of my faith formation.

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So if you were Catholic, have always been Catholic, are interested in learning more about the Catholic Church, or are a Christian looking to strengthen your faith, please consider joining me.  What have you got to lose, except everything you could gain by participating?

This Post is Selfish

July 13, 2017 v4 p27

Whether it’s in someone’s personal or professional life most people are always looking out for one thing.  Usually that one thing is themselves, but that usually isn’t what gets the best results.

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One of the most transformational books I’ve read over the past couple of years is “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey.  One of the biggest principals he teaches is to begin anything you do with the end in mind.  I took that to mean for me to see the whole picture, not just how things would look when I was done.  In that whole process you must take in to account how your actions will end up effecting other people.  To me if you get something accomplished, at work or at home, and it caused more work or a hardship for other people, then it really didn’t accomplish what needed to be done in the first place.  If you only do what’s best for you to achieve a (your) desired result then you haven’t done what’s best.  I put the word “your” in there because often times what is best for you isn’t often the best for the whole.  If you aren’t trying to make your efforts improve everything for everyone then your efforts are selfish.

The CEO of Service Express Inc., Ron Alvesteffer, will tell you that one of his favorite quotes on leadership comes from Zig Ziglar.  It goes, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”  This has far more implications than just in leadership within the business world.  One of the reasons I help out with so much at my church, volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America, and do all of the charitable work I do is because I see how what I do makes things better for others.  It truly is a great feeling when you see that.  I try to do that at work too, but not everyone seems to see things the way I do.  Having spent almost a decade in a manufacturing environment it was common practice not to cause a stir.  If you were to point out ways that people were causing the systems to fail it would put a target on your back.  Regardless of if you were right about that or not, you were just better off to adjust your attitude and move on.  I’ve been given the assurance that isn’t the case at my current job.

I’ve been doing a lot of studying lately on Lean processing and other supply chain management tools.  All of the principals that I have been reading about are right in line with what I have been trying to implement at work.  I’ve been focusing on my own department, finding small areas that we could improve throughout the warehouse.  As I have been helping my team to be more efficient I am starting to see how other areas of the company that I have to deal with are causing inefficiencies.  The problem is that the main culprit doesn’t seem to be aware of the extra work he causes.  Any other time I’ve seen people try to approach him about changing work habits it hasn’t been received well.  The biggest principal about all of this process improvement I’ve been studying is that it’s most difficult to get people to buy into the fact that there is a need for change.  Most people are set in there ways and don’t want to admit that they may be wrong about something, or that someone else may have a better solution.  I get it.  Nobody likes to be wrong.  Nobody likes to be corrected.  My guess would be that if you asked them if they like to create unneccesary work for others they would say they don’t.  Unless they’re just out right selfish.

So that whole paragraph kind of sounded like a rant about one of my coworkers, and it kind of was, but it is something that will be addressed.  The issue with all of this self-centered thinking is really what it causes outside of the immediate action.  When people leave those situations and then continue to have a selfish attitude it translates to other areas of their life.  It causes them to be short tempered in areas like driving.  I’ve made it clear that I believe road rage is a root cause to a lot of problems in our society.  When you carry a selfish attitude into other areas it really starts to compound.  If you’ve ever read “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy you know how this can apply.  For those of you who haven’t, let me sum it up.  The compound effect is the principal that says if you take one penny and then double it every day for 30 days you would end up with more money than if you had taken $1,000,000.00 on day 1.  Most people are looking for the quick answer and aren’t patient enough to see the effects of this principal.  This can also have a negative effect as well.  If one small, negative thing doesn’t get corrected right away then over enough time it will become a bigger problem.  There is no way around that fact.  I’ve seen it happen to myself.  I’ve seen it happen to others.  I’ve seen it happen in both directions for businesses as well.

This brings me back to a lot of what I’ve been writing about lately.  When we act in this selfish manner we don’t live the way Christ taught us.  The more people force everyone to give them what they want without giving anything in return, the more self-centered out society becomes.  This leads to women dressing in more immodest clothes.  When men ridicule women who don’t dress that way it’s for their own selfish reasons.  What that can lead to is a dark path towards the wrong thing.  Men force women to do things they don’t want to do, maybe not physically, but emotionally.  When women give in to what the men want they usually do it to get attention.  This isn’t the true love that they are truly seeking.  When the men realize that they only like a woman because of how she looked when they met they will eventually get bored.  Without that emotional connection that is gained from courtship they will move on to the next “shiny” object that catches their eye.  This causes the first woman to then ask what it was that she did wrong to cause that, often spiraling out of control.

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Jesus gave us the 11th Commandment to “Love one another as I have loved you.”  Not to love one another only if it benefits you.

This Post is Hectic

June 8, 2017 v4 p22

During the end of May and early June are always hectic for me, this year is no different on my calendar.  The difference this year is where I am drawing my strength to get through it all.

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This year things really started escalating on my calendar when my oldest son turn 18 on May 11th.  It was exactly two weeks prior to graduation, and they seemed to go by with lightning speed.  During those two weeks I had to coach my younger son’s soccer team, take him to scout meetings and go to work.  That doesn’t sound like much, but when you throw in a couple of busy days at work that make my day a little longer it adds up pretty quick.  Then in the mix of that two weeks one of my coworkers was let go in my department so I had to pick up the slack left there.  I was rolling along and managing this quite well, only having to stay over work for about 10-15 a day, not enough to warrant claiming overtime.  Then on graduation day the other shoe dropped.  One of my other co-workers in the warehouse was let go after an incident the day prior where he really didn’t handle some work that came down to us late in the day.  Thankfully the rest of my coworkers, including multiple from other departments, knew that I had to be at my son’s graduation that night and were able to step up and get everything done.

Back in late April, shortly after I had taken a week off to paint our house, I submitted for what seemed to be a bunch of random days in early June.  These were days that I needed to commit to both of my children as they are both going through pretty significant life events this spring.  I used some of my charitable hours, PTO from my employer to volunteer, to help at field day for my youngest son.  If this hadn’t been his last field day in elementary I probably would have given the time up and just worked.  As it was though, I came in early and spent about an hour getting a few things taken care of and then came back after for three more hours to make sure everything was completed for the day.  The next day I spent taking my oldest son to college freshman orientation.  He was accepted into the honors college at Western Michigan University which meant he was able to register for classes in April, ahead of the rest of his class, and then attend a single day orientation instead of three days later in the summer.  This is a life changing event for him and there was no other option than for me to go.  It helped that it was national donut day and I could take him to one of the top ten donut shops in the country, Sweetwater’s.

If that wasn’t enough crazy for you for two days we drove directly from orientation at 5:15 to one my son’s classmates grad party.  I met my wife and younger son there to enjoy the whole thing, as brief as it was.  I say that because after about 30 minutes I had to leave with my younger son to go to the end of the year Cub Scout camp out.  We hadn’t originally planned to stay the night, but my son needed one more camp out to be able to advance to the next rank in Boy Scouts, so I slept in a tent.  It was all worth it when he came home on Tuesday from his Troop meeting and proudly announced that he had passed his board of review and would be awarded the rank of Tenderfoot.  We left the camp out a little before 8 and unloaded our gear into the garage.  About 10-15 minutes later we were back out the door again to go set up a canopy that the Boy Scouts rent out, he earned $50 for his scout activities for about 2.5 hours of work.  Next we had to get home and be ready for a Court of Honor for another scout who was receiving his Eagle rank.  Later in the afternoon we dropped our youngest off at a sleepover and headed to Portage for another grad party.  No rest for the weary.

This past Tuesday I spent the day with my youngest on his last field trip of elementary school.  Again, thanks to my coworkers for stepping up and helping cover my department while I spend this important time with my children.  I came back to work on Wednesday and everything was busy as usual.  I left work and went straight to an officer’s training for the Knights of Columbus.  I only saw my kids that day to say good night to them after they were in bed.  That part sucks, but they understand why I do the things I do.  Today at work has been nothing but putting out one fire after another.  I have a to do list that I have to be done with before I can start my weekend, which was supposed to start at 5:00 pm today so I can spend all day Friday preparing for the grad party at our house on Saturday.  That may mean I have to be here until way after I had planned today, but oh well.

There are two reasons I am able to get through this kind of schedule.  First is because of the company I work for and my coworkers.  The culture at Service Express is one that allows me to continue to take time away from work to be with my family for these important events.  My coworkers are totally bought into that culture too, which is why they are all so willing to step up and help, also because they know full well that I would bend over backwards for any of them in the same situation.  I really can’t express enough how much I appreciate every one of them, and that’s why I’m bringing in lunch for them all on Monday.  The second reason I am able to get through this type of hectic schedule with little or no stress is because I put all of my faith in God.  He has a plan.  Every day I pray for Him to give me strength, knowledge, and wisdom in everything I do, and that I am ready to do his will.  All of this that I am going through is part of his plan, and I will know when that plan has been fulfilled by His grace.  I will then be ready to move on to the next plan He has for me.

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At previous places I’ve worked I had to maintain this type of schedule, but it was all work related.  I know that this is different because I can see that there is an end to it.  Also I know that I can get through anything with the grace and power of God.

Looking at Myself

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I have been debating on a couple of different topics to write about this week.  Some of my recent blog traffic has pointed me in a certain direction.

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Last year, about this time of year I wrote THIS BLOG about discipline.  It got a few hits when I initially posted it, right around my average for my weekly post.  Someone who was going through my archives found it and read about 5 months later, not unusual.  When I started writing about my beliefs back during Lent there was a pretty significant uptick in my blog traffic.  I was starting to get more views from people on Facebook, and that’s awesome.  The biggest change I started to see though, was that more people who are on the WordPress site to find blogs to read were beginning to click on mine.  That began to show me that I’ve been writing about things people are looking to read.  Not only has my activity in readership gone up on through that site, but I’ve gained a handful of new subscribers through WordPress.  That’s pretty awesome because when I post something new they will get an email sent to them to let them know I have new content.

Not only has that grown my views on my regular posts, but people are then going into my archives and reading older posts.  I’ve never really paid too much attention to which posts they reading until the other day.  My post on discipline from May 2016 has been making a resurgence.  As I looked over my statistics just now that is my most read post this year, not counting new posts.  So I was wondering what it was exactly that I wrote about, so I looked into it.  That post was a lot about how people say they know what they need to do, but ultimately don’t follow through.  This shows a lack of discipline.  It’s something I’ve struggled with for my whole life.  It’s something that I’m sure a lot of people struggled with throughout their lives too.  How many times have you said, “I know I need to….” But then never follow through.  I’m not as bad about it as I used to be, but it still rears its ugly head from time to time.

One area I’ve been trying to focus more discipline on is my faith.  Not just getting up every Sunday and going to Mass.  Not just praying every day.  Those things are both necessary in order to be strong in your faith, but if you don’t live it out in your day to day life what difference is it making?  This is evident to me in so many other people’s lives.  I don’t claim to be perfect myself either.  In fact, if they asked all of the sinners to line up I would be the first person to make the movement to get into that line.  I have no problem admitting that I’m a sinner.  I’m doing a lot to try and make myself more disciplined in my faith, which will help me to not sin as much.  That really started taking off last summer when I discovered the Act of Contrition prayer on the back cover of the hymnal at my church.  I started praying that every Sunday and eventually worked it into my daily morning prayers.

Over the winter I flipping through the TV channels and there was really nothing on that I found worth watching.  We don’t have cable so our choices are pretty limited.  One day I was listening to one of the YouTube videos I had found from one of the Catholic speakers I listen to on regular basis.  I was about to share it with my wife but I stopped myself.  I had been sending her some of the videos I was listening to at work, but I know she was having a difficult time remembering to watch them, or would get busy with housework and forget to.  So for this one I decided to save it in a playlist so we could watch it that night after our boys went to bed.  That was helpful.  She really enjoyed the fact that I wanted to sit and watch those videos with her.  I went through some of the channels I subscribe to and created a pretty big playlist for us to watch.  Now most of our evenings are spent watching those types of videos instead of the poor programming on TV.

Earlier this spring I attended the parish mission speaker series at my church and listened to a speaker by the name of Thomas Smith.  He spoke to use about a couple of different ways we could pray.  The first one is called Lectio Divina, Latin for divine reading.  This is a method of prayer that includes reading the scripture and meditating on them before praying about them.  This is what I had been doing for some time already.  On the second night he spoke about Examen prayer.  This is a method of prayer to be done at the end of the day as a reflection, or examination of your day.  You start off by thank God for the day, then pray about how you walked in his word that day, and where you may have taken some missteps, you ask for forgiveness of your sins and the close with an “Our Father.”  Every night before bed my wife and I sit next to each other and hold hands while we silently go through this exercise.  On the first weekend we both fell asleep on the couch watching TV and decided just to go to bed.  The next day we both said to each other how we missed that prayer time together.  Now we go through that prayer every night, no matter what.

What that has done for me has been pretty profound.  When we first started this I would have to purposely think about what areas I had taken steps away from the Lord that day.  After the first couple of weeks it took me less time to determine where that was.  Now, it’s almost like a switch.  As soon as I do whatever it is I need to admit to that night, I know it.  Whether it’s some action, words, or whatever, I know.  I know it immediately and will apologize to the party that I may have offended immediately.  It’s become very eye opening to say the least.  It’s certainly changed my thought process on how I approach my daily life.  Through those changes I have been able to be more disciplined in my following of Christ, I hope others are seeing too.  Earlier this week my wife and I didn’t watch any of those YouTube videos I mentioned earlier.  Then as I went to say my Examen prayers the other night I wondered why I was struggling.  Not to find where I wasn’t walking with Him, but why was I having so many cases of where I wasn’t walking with him.  Then it dawned on me that we hadn’t been watching those videos for a couple of days.

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What does that have to do with discipline?  I discovered that if I don’t have the discipline to continue to look inside myself that I won’t change anything that shows on the outside.