Three for Thursday:Week 10

November 9, 2017 v4 p53

With such high profile games being played weekly you’re bound to have a let down from time-to-time.  The weather is starting to become a factor too, but more in the time of games, not the actual gameplay.

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Michigan – The Wolverines sank Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck’s boat in his first appearance in The Big House and The Little Brown Jug rivalry.  The Michigan ground game was able to do pretty much whatever it wanted to do, whenever it wanted to do it last week, hopefully it’s a sign of improvement and not a sign of ineptitude on behalf of the Gophers.  While the victory was easy, I still would like to see more from Freshman QB Brandon Peters, although he certainly stood in there and took some shots.

Michigan State – The Spartans endured a three hour storm delay and came out on top against the higher ranked Penn State Nittany Lions.  Saquon Barkley was pretty much a non-factor, and the Spartan defense seems to have returned to the level Coach Dantonio had them playing at earlier in this decade.  The Spartans control their own destiny in the conference title race, but will winning it be enough to get them into the playoffs, probably not with two losses.

Ohio State – After an emotional, come from behind fourth quarter victory at home against Penn State in week nine, the Buckeyes travelled to Iowa and laid an egg.  It was just an ordinary egg, but an ostrich sized faberge egg.  Iowa had a pick six on JT Barrett’s first pass, and the game never got closer the rest of the way.

Penn State – Heisman hopeful Saquon Barkley is showing that he is human, mustering just 63 yards on 14 carries, maybe he should have been more worried about the game than updating the opponent on the Ohio State game.  After being considered as one of the top two teams in the country by some people around the nation, the Nittany Lions have looked like they may not be one of the top two teams in their conference division.  There’s still an outside chance to make the conference championship game, but it needs a lot of help.

Big Ten West – Wisconsin continues to be the measuring stick on this side of the table, remaining the only undefeated team in the conference after blowing out Indiana.  Northwestern won their third consecutive game in OT, that’s three straight games that went to OT, the first time it has ever happened in the FBS.  A lot of people think and undefeated Badger team is the conferences only hope to get into the CFP, and that will be tested as they host a hot Iowa team in week 11.

Notre Dame – The Irish continued their winning ways with an easy 48-37 victory over Wake Forest, that wasn’t as close as that score reflects.  This win would mean more in my eyes if they were an actual member of the ACC conference.  Notre Dame should find themselves in the CFP at the end of the season if they can win out, which won’t be an easy task starting with undefeated Miami (FL) this week.

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SEC – Georgia looks to be the team to beat in the conference, and the nation as they clinched a divisional title as they rolled over South Carolina.  LSU finally scored a touchdown against Alabama, but still fell short in a 24-10 loss, tied for their lowest scoring output on the season.  Mississippi State and Auburn are both hanging around with two losses, looking to play spoiler to somebody down the road.

ACC – Clemson remained in the hunt to repeat as national champs as they held off a late charge from NC State for a 38-31 victory.  Miami remained the only undefeated team in the conference with an easy 28-10 victory over Virginia Tech.  Despite having not lost a game the pundits keep Clemson atop the conference, a couple of narrow victories for the Hurricanes seem to be hampering them, all they can do is continue to survive and advance.

PAC 12 – The Washington Huskies look to be the team to beat once again in the conference, as they rolled Oregon to the tune of 38-3, the opposite of how this matchup looked about five years ago.  USC held its own against RichRod’s spread offense, and continues to impress.  This may be one of three conferences left out of the CFP if things shake down the right, or wrong, way.

Big 12 – In a game that featured a score almost every time I looked up at the TV, the Oklahoma Sooners showed they are the front runners in the conference with a 62-52 victory over Oklahoma State.  The winner of the game between them and TCU will have the only chance to represent the conference in the CFP, but they will most likely be one of a possible three conferences left out.  Baylor picked up their first victory of the season, but against Kansas, which is definitely a basketball school.

Western Michigan – Playing in the MAC doesn’t get you much exposure on Saturday, which is why the conference plays a lot of its games during the week in November.  As I’m writing the Broncos are leading Kent State on senior night.  A victory tonight makes them bowl eligible for the fourth straight year, which would be a program record.

Maryland – The Wolverines come into this matchup heavily favored against former assistant coach DJ Durkin.  The ground game should continue to flourish, but the passing game needs an opportunity to work in some game situations if Michigan has any hopes of being able to win in their last two games.  Maryland has lost four of their last five after a promising start to the season, and with games against Michigan State and Penn State to finish the season, making a bowl game doesn’t look hopeful.

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There looks to be a distinct possibility that both Georgia and Alabama will make the CFP along with the winner of the ACC, and Notre Dame if they can win out.  That leaves three of the Power 5 conferences out of the loop, which helps make the case for expansion.  I can’t wait to watch how it all works out.

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This Post is Praying

November 8, 2017 v4 p52

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three for Thursday:Week 9

November 4, 2017 v4 p51

Week nine in college football features the first College Football Playoff rankings.  It also featured a lot of key matchups, and those will continue as the season winds down.

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Michigan – The Wolverines bounced back nicely against perennial conference doormat Rutgers, but it didn’t come until the midway point of the second quarter.  The change at quarterback from John O’Korn to Brandon Peters certainly sparked the team on both sides of the ball, and this looked like the Michigan team from September.  A lot of people were saying that the QB change didn’t have say that much about the team, but both players were going against the same defense.

Michigan State – The Spartans always seem to stumble against Northwestern, whether it’s in football or basketball.  The defense did well to keep them in the game, leading most of the way.  However, because of a lack of offense in the second half they weren’t able to maintain a lead and ultimately had to put together a game tying drive at the end of regulation, only to end up losing in three overtimes.

Ohio State – The Buckeyes looked like they were going to be exposed as a fraudulent top 10 team as Penn State jumped out to a big early lead.  A strong defense and lots of skilled players on offense helped them claw their way back into this matchup of the top two teams in the conference.  A combination of Penn State’s defense being gassed late and OSU having a chip on its shoulder from last year’s loss in Happy Valley is what ultimately propelled them to victory.

Penn State – After earning a spot in the weekly review the week before by demolishing Michigan, the Nittany Lions looked to be headed to an easy victory in their biggest game of the year.  The problem with winning all of your early season games easily is that your defense doesn’t play much late in games, and that leads to a lack of game conditioning.  By the fourth quarter the skill of Ohio State’s offensive players proved to be too much for the defense to handle, sending them to their first loss of the year.

Big Ten West – Definitely the weaker division of the two in the conference.  Undefeated Wisconsin didn’t look very impressive in their 24-10 victory over Illinois, easily the worst team in the conference.  Northwestern showed that they are still a team to be dealt with before the season is over by winning a triple overtime thriller against one of the top defenses in the conference.  The rest of this division continues to beat up on each other, making a bigger case for more balance through realignment.

Notre Dame – The Irish had no problem dispatching NC State last week with an easy 35-14 victory.  This should be their toughest matchup of the season outside of the Catholics vs. Convicts matchup against The U next week in Miami.  That should be a good indicator for both teams and could be a potential conference championship matchup, except wait, Notre Dame doesn’t think they need to join a conference….

SEC – With Alabama on a bye during week nine it gave some other teams a chance to shine, and shine they did.  Georgia rolled over their biggest rival Florida, but how can you really evaluate the Bulldogs against a Gator team that is on a downward trend and ended up firing their head coach for fabricating death threats.  That win and the Crimson Tide bye propelled UGA to the top ranking in the CFP, but as this conference begins to have the top teams matchup this week we’ll start to learn more about all of them.

ACC – Top of this conference keeps winning, and the bottom keeps losing.  I don’t see a lot of upsets from the lower teams as the regular season plays out.  The usual suspects of Clemson and Miami are in the top, but NC State is solid and Boston College and Florida State seemed to have switched rolls this year.

Pac 12 – Stanford seems to right the ship after a couple of early season losses.  Washington looks to be the team to beat, but watch out for Rich Rod and Arizona, he seems to have found a quarterback to run his spread offense.  Washington State and USC are still top teams here too, but everyone else not mentioned is all muddled up together around .500.

Big 12 – For a conference that had 60% of its teams in the top 25 heading into last week’s games you would think there would be a better case made for them in the CFP.  Iowa State is proving to have a very good home field advantage, as they knocked off a second undefeated conference foe in TCU.  It’s still hard to evaluate this conference, but Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State this week should start to clear up the picture.

Western Michigan – The Broncos looked to be poised to run over the rival Chippewas, both literally and figuratively as they opened the game with over 100 yards rushing from the top RB Jarvion Franklin.  Freshman Quarterback Reece Goddard showed his lack of experience as WMU had problems getting anything going on offense through the air.  This allowed CMU to stage a three touchdown fourth quarter comeback that led them to win the Cannon Trophy for the first time in three years.

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Minnesota – PJ Fleck brings his boat to The Big House this week in his first experience in the Little Brown Jug series.  He said his team needed to treat this game like a Michael Jackson concert, start out hot, keep it hot in the middle, and finish on fire.  A young Gopher team under a new coaching staff may have some difficulty against one of the top defenses in the country and an offense that seems to be able to run the ball well and is renewed under a new starting quarterback.

The matchups in week nine were really starting to get better, no more cupcakes on the schedule.  The final month of the season promised to have a lot of energy, an it’s starting off with three very key matchups this week.  I can’t wait.

Connecting the Dots

November 1, 2017 v4 p50

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three for Thursday:Week 8

October 28, 2017 v4 p49

Week Eight in college football didn’t disappoint on the field.  In my heart however…..

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Michigan – The Wolverines showed that they are not where they need to be in order to compete for a conference championship, let alone a trip to the CFP.  Quarterback John O’Korn had one of his best games in the winged helmet, unfortunately the rest of the team seemed to have their worst.  A lot of the fan base is calling for another change under center, and some are calling for a new coach, only one of those calls is really viable.

Michigan State – The Spartans showed struggles on offense through the first three quarters of their contest against Indiana.  It was a higher level of talent that ended up being the difference in the end.  This team will go as far as the defense will take them.

Ohio State – The Buckeyes enjoyed their week off by watching Michigan getting trounced in Happy Valley, something they probably enjoyed immensely.  They were also able to see some game tape from Penn State, their next opponent, that will be helpful in their matchup this week.  The game of the week in college football will show us if Braxton Miller has improved at quarterback since the loss to Oklahoma, or if their weak schedule is really just boosting his numbers.

Penn State – After last week’s dismantling of the Wolverines we get a new entry into the mix.  Coach Franklin has his team running on all cylinders and they look to be the cream of the crop in the B1G.  They can probably give Alabama a run for their money, but I still have a hard time picking them to win it all as long as Nick Saban is around.

Big Ten West – The weaker half of the conference showed its ineptitude again as pretty much every school had struggles except Wisconsin.  Rutgers has won two straight conference games for the first time since joining the league, both against west division teams.  PJ Fleck was able to right the ship and secure his first conference victory, against Illinois, a team that should probably be relegated if there were that type of system in place.

Notre Dame – The Irish may quietly be making a case for the College Football Playoffs, as they continue to win and look more impressive every week.  Normally when top rival USC comes to town it’s a pretty close game.  This one was over before the Penn State blowout of Michigan.

SEC – The closest game in this conference was 16 point victory by LSU over Ole Miss.  There is a definite divide between the top and bottom of this conference.  Alabama continues to roll, and they don’t look like they’ll be tested very much before The Iron Bowl.

ACC – Miami leads the pack as the only undefeated team left in the conference, they look like UGA made a mistake by firing Mark Richt.  Clemson may be the only team to really challenge them for the league title.  After strong showings last year, both Duke and North Carolina are reminding us why they are basketball schools.

Pac 12 – This conference is the picture of parity.  There are four teams that have two losses or less, Washington, Washington State, USC, and Arizona.  The rest are all muddled together right around a .500 record.

Big 12 – This conference may be the biggest surprise of the year.  Last year watching these teams was difficult, this year 60% of the conference is ranked going into week 9.  The conference will most likely be decided in Norman OK as TCU travels to face the Sooners on 11/11, but I’m not sure the winner will have a good enough case to make the CFP.

Western Michigan – The Broncos traveled to Ypsilanti to face perennial conference doormat Eastern Michigan, but this isn’t your dad’s EMU team.  They grey field turf is difficult to look at, and after a game ending injury to starting quarterback John Wassink, the offense was able to control the ball enough to hold on and make it to overtime.  After missing a potential game winning field goal at the end of regulation the Broncos were able to convert as they had the ball first, then a missed field goal by EMU gave them a victory and kept them on track to face Toledo later in the season for a trip to the conference championship.

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Rutgers – The Scarlett Knights won back-to-back conference games for the first time since joining the B1G in 2014.  Last year they were blown out at home 78-0 against Michigan, and in 2015 they really didn’t put up much of a fight in the Big House.  This is a huge game for the Wolverines, the need the victory to prove to themselves that they are a good football team, get some younger players a look at game action, and to keep the ever-doubting fan base at bay.

The weather is getting colder and the games are getting hotter.  In a sport where your championship dreams can be crushed before Autumn, it’s survive and advance from the first time toe meets leather.

This Post is Strong

October 26, 2017 v4 p48

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

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

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

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

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

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

strength

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

Three for Thursday:Week 7

October 19, 2017 v4 p47

Week four in college football featured a lot of top 10 upsets.  Since this was the first loss for most teams it is hard to say if this tells us much about those teams.

Image result for karan higdon vs Indiana
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Michigan – The Wolverines travelled to Bloomington to face a Hoosier squad that they had beaten 21 straight times.  The offense struggled in any facet other than the run game, as Karan Higdon has clearly taken ahold of the starting job with a 200 yard, 3 touchdown performance.  The defense was forced to be on the field a lot in the second half which allowed Indiana to tie the game late, but they came through with an interception to seal the game in the first overtime.

Michigan State – The rains seemed to have followed the Spartans from Ann Arbor to Minnesota in this week’s game.  There were still turnover issues, but those can be more attributed to the weather than poor play on the field.  LJ Scott reminded everyone why he was a highly touted RB heading into the season, having his best game of the year to date.

Ohio State – Urban Meyer has his Buckeyes playing really good football right now as the rolled to their fourth straight victory where they’ve scored over 50 points.  I still have to question the validity of that streak as they only added Nebraska to the list of teams they’ve reached the half-century mark.  They’ve only played two teams with records over .500, one the lost to and the other is Army, not exactly powerhouse it once was.

Big Ten West – Wisconsin is clearly the best team in the division, being the only team with a winning record.  There is some bad imbalance of teams in the B1G as a whole.  I think they were expecting to have expanded again by now and would realign.

Notre Dame – The Irish looked to rest up this weekend on their bye week.  The early-middle of the season is a great time for a bye as it allows for minor injuries to heal more before the long, cold month of November.  Notre Dame is making a run at the College Football Playoff and could make a great case if they run the table the rest of the way, which is definitely a possibility.

SEC – Alabama and Georgia showed that they are the teams to beat this year, leaving little doubt to that question moving forward.  Auburn was one of the top 10 teams to fall victim to the upset bug this weekend.  South Carolina and Tennessee set the college football world back almost 60 years.

ACC – The conference started the top 10 upsets off this weekend with #2 Clemson losing on the road at Syracuse.  Losing their starting quarterback early in the second half may have more to do with that than anything.  Miami was able to come out with a last second victory in the rain, but nobody seems to be paying any attention to Virginia, who is quietly 5-1.

Pac 12 – The conference boasted two top ten, undefeated teams heading into the week.  Both lost.  USC squeaked out a narrow victory over Utah, setting a stage for an interesting final few weeks as these teams get ready to face off against each other more.

Big 12 – TCU remained unbeaten and Oklahoma seems to have righted the Scooner as they won in the Red River Rivalry.  Oklahoma St rolled to a big victory over once strong Baylor, they have fallen far.  The only other ranked team, Texas Tech, lost to West Virginia so I really don’t know how strong any of the teams in the Big 12 are.

Western Michigan – Rain was a theme for the weekend as the Broncos homecoming game had to be postponed to Sunday after Waldo Stadium was flooded by over 1,000,000 gallons of water.  Despite out gaining Akron both on the ground, and the air, the Broncos came up short in a game that was played under some pretty difficult winds.  The running game in Kalamazoo is very strong as Jarvion Franklin went over the century mark for the fifth straight game.

Image result for waldo stadium flooded
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Penn State – Michigan travels to Happy Valley for what should be the best game of the week.  The Nitny Lions boast Heisman front-runner Saquan Barkley, who will be chased all night by Devin Bush, one of the top LBs in the country.  This game will come down to how well Michigan’s defense can stop Barkley, for Penn State’s sake, I hope it doesn’t come down to a long FG attempt at the end by the Wolverines.

The weather and the upsets prove that nothing is for sure in college football.  That’s part of why I love it so much.