This Post is a Do-Over

February 19, 2018 v5 p6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This Post is Slippery

January 24, 2018 v5 p3

There has been a lot of tragic and disturbing items in the news lately.  While those are difficult to deal with sometimes, the reaction to them may be even more tragic and disturbing.

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In November of 2011 a Grand Jury indictment was brought down on former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.  In August of 2016 The Indianapolis Star released a report into allegations of sexual complaints, which lead to the recent news of Dr. Larry Nassar abusing over 150 girls.  Unless you’ve been living in a cave without internet (if you are, how are you reading this?) then you’re most likely familiar with these stories.  I really don’t want to go into the details of what both of these horrible men did.  All that would do is bring more attention to the sick men who perpetrated these crimes.  That isn’t what I want to focus on with this post.  In order to help illustrate what the point I’m trying to make I need to mention these stories.  What led these men to do such horrible acts?  I don’t know.  I don’t want to try and speculate about it either.

The top goal I have set for myself this year is to strengthen my relationship with God.  I have come to realize that by doing that I will be able to take all of the lessons I’ve learned in my past to be a success in everything that I do.  In Philippians 4:13 we are reminded “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.”  This has never become more evident to me than it has in past couple of weeks.  I’ve been praying for His guidance for some time now and I wasn’t really sure that I was hearing what he had to say.  When I realized that I wasn’t doing what Priest I gave my last confession to told me to do, I decided I should at least start there.  After I started the first thing I was told to do it made me realize that it was God who told me what to do through the Priest.  I knew this was how confession worked, but for whatever reason I wasn’t putting it into practice.  Immediately my prayers began to come to life again, they had gotten stale for a couple of weeks.  I didn’t change anything about them, but they certainly changed.  So I continued to do more of what I was told during confession, and more has been revealed to me.

I have always had a problem doing what I knew I should be.  Not really in a sense of my faith, because if you’ve been here for a while you know that really wasn’t a part of my life for a long time.  I would always procrastinate on doing things I knew I should.  I would push timelines to the very last minute, and then stress myself out as I was forced to finally sit down and take care of what needed to be done.  Once everything was completed on time and in a glowing manner I would always look back and say to myself that I just need to pressure of the deadline to do my best work.  That was never true.  I never did anything any different in those last minute rushes than I would have if had started a project weeks in advance.  I was always more interested in what I wanted to do rather than doing what I had committed to.  It’s also not like I didn’t want to commit to these tasks when I made the commitment, but as time went on I would always find something else instead, and it wasn’t always something productive or better.  A lot of the time I wasted was spent on the couch on weekends napping.  I can excuse away those naps in a 1000 different ways, but they were never better than working on what I committed to.

My wife gave me a book this past Christmas which is proving to be one of the best I’ve ever read.  It’s really been eye opening to how I’ve been living my life up until now.  I thought I established a pretty deep relationship with Jesus over the past three years since I returned to my faith, but in reality I’m just scratching the surface.  The section I’ve been reading through over the last few days is all about idolatry.  When most people hear that word they think about the worship of idols.  Idols come in many forms, and for the most part they aren’t small statues that you put on a pedestal and burn a candle in front of.  Anything you put in front of your love of Him becomes and idol.  When you choose to spend money on stuff instead of donating it to a charity, you’re making the money and idol.  I don’t mean you have to give all of your excess money to charity, but if you have some it’s, His preference that you give some.  It’s things like this that are leading us down a slippery slope.

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So you’re probably trying to figure out how this ties to the two sexual assault cases I mentioned at the beginning.  These are both pretty extreme examples, but this is where the slippery slope leads to.  The more you worship your idols, the more you take yourself away from Him.  Those idols then begin to take control of your life.  When idols begin to take over your life you no longer have the free-will that He has given you. In 2 Peter 2:19 we are told, “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.”  You become a slave to that idol and begin to make more decisions the appease that addiction.  Eventually you begin to tell yourself that what you are doing is right.  It then becomes easier for you to add in more or different idols to your life.  If we don’t start changing our ways then there can only be one result, and it won’t be pretty.  If you look back through history to other examples of when people have allowed these idols to take control it never ends well for those people.  If you’d like a biblical reference, just refer to the story of King Saul.  He was told to completely destroy the Amalekites, leaving nothing behind.  Instead he kept the best of the cattle, sheep, and lambs.  He took Amalekite King, Agag, hostage.  He did all of this so he could give his soldiers the best animals for sacrifice, making them remember what Saul did for them instead of God, making himself and idol.  Because of this disobedience Samuel was instructed to annoint a new king.

I have really focused on removing the idols from my life that have lead me down that slippery slope in the past.  I’ve gotten a pretty good foothold, and am ready for the long treck back to the top.

This Post is a Killer

December 21, 2017 v4 p61

We all have something in ourselves that holds us back, if you don’t think so then you’re probably not ready to accept it.  Pinpointing what it is that holds you back isn’t quite as easy as you think.

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A few weeks ago, I met up with a friend for lunch because he had a book for me.  This didn’t really seem out of the ordinary because I know how much he likes to read, and I know that one of his favorite things to do is gift books.  I didn’t quite know how to accept this gift because nobody had ever don’t this type of thing for me before.  I found out that the way this friend is able to gift books like this is because he is often on pre-release lists and gets extra copies.  The fact that he didn’t pay for this gift in no way makes it any less meaningful.  I was extremely touched to know that he had thought that I would be able to get some benefit from reading this book after he had read it, twice.  This particular book is titled “Kill the Spider” and is written by Carlos Whittaker.  It’s a story from the author’s own life and goes into detail about his journey through some therapy.  To be honest, we could probably all use a little therapy.

The premise of this book is that we all need to kill what it is inside of us that holds us back.  One analogy used is that people often state they are going to clear the cobwebs.  There is a slight problem with that.  What happens when you clean the cobwebs in your house?  In a week or so there are new ones.  Why?  Because the spider that is making the cobwebs is still there, making new cobwebs.  So you can’t just address the problem, you have to figure out what the cause is and change that.  This book really hit home.  It came to me at exactly the right time.  I was in a pretty tough spot in my professional career, not really feeling like I was getting the things done that I needed to in order to continue on the path I had set for myself over the past few years.  I was having some doubts myself and my ability to grown into the leader that my company needs me to be.  Coming to this realization was a big step in the right direction.

I thought it would be easy to identify what my spider was that caused all of my self-doubt.  I tried to pinpoint it on my dad.  Growing up he wasn’t the greatest father figure in the terms of leadership.  He always did what was right, or at least tried to.  His heart was in the right place.  He was never one to be too big into sharing his emotions though.  This kind of made me feel like we could have had a closer relationship, one on a different level than we always had.  I tried to pinpoint it on my older brother too.  Growing up I always looked up to him, as most younger siblings do, but the more I look back at that relationship I realize that he wasn’t interested in taking on the role of being the big brother example for me.  So I can’t nail my spider of self-doubt down to just one of those two, there has to be more to it.  Then the holidays really started to get into full swing.  My schedule got busy and this discovery process kind of worked its way to the back burner.  I think just realizing there was an issue to figure out kind of cleared up some cobwebs, but as I mentioned earlier, that doesn’t get rid of the spider.

I’ve been praying for guidance on a daily basis for over a year now.  It kind of seemed to me that maybe I wasn’t getting that guidance I needed from those prayers, so I started to focus my prayer a little more on that.  I added a little extra to my prayer over the past week or so to try and ask for more clarity in what it is I’m being called to do.  I feel like I’ve been heading in the right direction personally and professionally but I think it really became obvious to me earlier this week.  The other day when I woke up I got pretty frustrated with something at home first thing in the morning.  By first thing I mean before I had even started to make my morning coffee.  Well, as most people do, I let that five minutes of bad attitude turn into a whole day of bad attitude.  It really ruined my whole day.  It wasn’t until almost the end of my work day when I realized what I had done.  That made me remember that there was no way I was going to get anywhere with this company by letting that insignificant of a thing end up ruining my whole day.  At the end of the day when my wife and I were going through our examen prayers I asked for His forgiveness for my discretion.  I had to.  If He didn’t know I recognized my own faults and I needed forgiveness, how can I expect anyone else to give me any?

So while I still haven’t figured out what my spider is, I now have a renewed sense of how to kill it.  The past two days have really been different.  I feel myself moving through my day with more confidence.  The end of the year is coming and we have some holidays when work won’t get performed so it kind of escalates everything.  We’ve had some pretty high profile shipments I’ve been having to deal with over the past two weeks, and our customers kind of freaked out yesterday.  My buyer was feeling the pressure from them, but I was able to handle all of her concerns without issue.  It’s moments like that when I remind myself of how high of a level I can perform at that help me take swings at that spider, even if I’m kind of doing it blindfolded right now.  Maybe I won’t need to take that blindfold off until I’ve killed it though.  I have come to realize that with Him aiding me in my fight, there is nothing that I can’t overcome.  I just have to trust in Him.

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I’ve been unknowingly fighting this battle for years, and the past few have started to give me the right tools for the battle.  It was just this week that I discovered that I had the greatest ally with me in this war all along.

This Post Looks Different

December 12, 2017 v4 p60

If we all do the same thing as everyone else, we lose our identity.  Our identity is what makes us unique.

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A lot of people are afraid to go against the grain.  They are afraid to stick out and draw attention to themselves.  I get that.  There’s part of me that wishes I could just go with the flow.  It would be so much easier to just fit in.  But I’m not wired that way.  I never have been and I don’t think I ever will be.   When I did try to act like everyone else I found myself divorced, living with my parents, and at the bar more nights than not.  If I wasn’t at the bar I was probably at home drinking, or in the midst of some other self-destructive habit.  It wasn’t leading me down a very good path.  When I finally realized that if I would spend more of my money on rent than beer I could afford an apartment with an extra bedroom for my son when my parenting time was one thing that helped me get out of that rut.  Since I only had him for three nights per week that left four others that I could still be self-destructive.

My wife and I reconciled and she moved in with us, which helped control some of those behaviors even more.  My life had turned from being a part-time single parent and part-time single guy to being a full-time family man.  There were a lot of bad habits that I had developed over a three year period that I thought I could hide from wife.  I thought I was pretty successful, but really I was just ignorant.  In my ignorance I ended up creating a huge mess.  Through nobody’s fault but my own I was driving my wife away, and my family apart.  I thought I could continue to ask for forgiveness and keep doing what I was.  All that did was drive my wife into a depression that was totally my fault.  It took some pretty major events to change my perspective.  My parents both passed away, she left her job, and we lost our house, all within the span of about 10 months.  When the dust all settled from that I started to change.

At my last job I did a lot of the “going with the flow” stuff and didn’t really push back against my boss.  I showed up every day and did my job to the best of my ability.  That ended up getting me promoted into lead positions.  Along with promotions comes more money, so I was never in a place to turn them down.  What I didn’t realize was that because of the increase in pay the management thought that meant I could be given more responsibilities that two people could handle.  As the amount of work I was expected to perform increased I started to let things slip.  Although I was doing things in the same manner my manager was, she didn’t like it.  If I took the same short cuts she did it was unacceptable.  When I reached the point where I was averaging 65+ hours per week I started to push back.  They didn’t like that.  Everyone else that they tried to do this type of thing would just accept what was being forced on them and went about their day.  I was trying to get the culture changed, they didn’t like that.

Ultimately I left that toxic environment because I was starting realize that if I continued I wouldn’t get anything changed and would only be stressed.  After a couple of months on the hunt I found my current job.  Over the last five plus years with this company I have grown more personally and professionally than I ever have.  It was my first manager here that encouraged me to return to my faith.  That has been the single most vital thing that has happened in my life in my professional life, in my family life, and in every other area of my life.  Returning to my faith has allowed me to find peace that I had been missing throughout most of my life, probably dating back to my days in middle school.  It certainly has changed how I look at things, and I would guess that if you ask my friends they would say that it has changed how I look from other people’s point of view.  That has really become evident as of late.

As I am scrolling through my social media on a daily basis I’m constantly reminded of the life I used to live.  I shake my head almost constantly and wonder if having a social media presence is even worth the stress.  I seriously think about deactivating my accounts on a weekly basis, but then I remember how my timeline has changed.  One of the features on Facebook is to see your “memories” which is just a different timeline of what you posted on that specific date over the years that you’ve had an account, I’m sure you’re familiar with it.  There are two distinct differences in my Facebook history.  The first one comes from anything posted in Mid-May of 2012, when I left the toxic job, and the second comes in early 2015, when I returned to my faith.  There has been an even deeper change that has occurred over that last six months, but that isn’t viewable through that option.  If someone were to scroll through my personal timeline they would see it.

A few weeks ago it really hit home how much different I have become than most people.  I really don’t like getting into conversations with some people because I know it’s going to lead in a direction that I’m not interested in.  I see all of the sexual innuendo posts on social media and in people’s conversations and I try my hardest not to get drawn into that.  But as they say, old habits are hard to break.  I’ve come to notice now how I’m not leading the life I want to when I get drawn into those types of conversations.  It’s almost an immediate thing for me, like when a light bulb appears over a cartoon character’s head.  I began to reflect on whether or not I wanted to look that much different than everyone else.  It didn’t take me long to answer myself with a resounding yes.  If I don’t look different than everyone else then my children won’t either.  I don’t want them to head down the paths that I did.  There’s no hope in that direction.

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In Matthew 5:11 the disciples are told “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”  If I lose some contacts or get insulted because of my faith, then that just proves that Jesus was right.

This Post is Festive

November 29, 2017 v4 p58

This Sunday marks the first week of Advent, the season leading up to Christmas.  I’ve already started to see people begin to decorate, but I hope they remember what this holiday is truly about.

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I remember one of my aunts would always send me and Advent calendar when I was growing up.  It wasn’t anything special to me other than a way for me to count down the days until Santa came.   I remember waiting for it to arrive as soon as Thanksgiving was over so I could start counting down.   It also signified that it was time for me to start making my wish list.  Those calendars weren’t anything too special.  I remember them as a Christmas scene of a house usually, with little flaps that you opened every day to see what was behind them.  I never really understood what the meaning of the pictures behind the flaps were because, as a child, they didn’t make a seamless connection to the birth of Christ.  While I knew what Christmas was about the birth of Jesus, I was really only focused on how soon I could begin opening my presents.

I’m not exactly sure when those calendars stopped coming, but I’m guessing it was sometime around the age of nine or ten.  It was around age five when I discovered that Santa wasn’t real though.  That was my dad’s fault indirectly.  The local Lions Club in my hometown sponsors the Christmas parade every year.  One year in particular I remember sitting on Santa’s lap afterwards and noticing his watch.  It was the same watch my dad wore!  How cool, my dad and Santa wear the same kind of watch!  I mentioned that to my older brother a little later that day, who would have been nine if I were five.  He clued me in as to what was up, but was smart enough to tell me not to let Mom and Dad know I had figured it out, and to not let the rest of my classmates in on the secret.  He didn’t want me to ruin Christmas for anyone else.  That may have been one of the only times my brother had actually looked out for my best interests.

So it was pretty early in my childhood when I discovered that Santa wasn’t real.  All that meant to me was that I knew my parents were the ones who were buying me all of these gifts.  It was pretty easy to make the connection to them doing it as a way to show their love for me.  Unfortunately that made me feel like I should test how much they loved me.  As I got older my wish lists began to grown.  Not only in length but in cost.  Later in my elementary school years I figured I would just make my Christmas wish list an extension of my Birthday wish list.  With my birthday coming only weeks before Christmas shopping season it only made sense to not make two lists.  I would write a smaller amount of things on my birthday list and post it on the refrigerator about the middle of October.  I would then proceed to add to it every time something new would come up, mostly after the toy catalogs would arrive.  All of this would pull me further away from the true meaning of the holiday and the true meaning of why my parents would go out and buy me all of this stuff.

This behavior went on throughout my teenage and early adult years.  The more I wrote larger items on my list, the less I received what was on there.  The only exception to that was the Christmas before I built my first house.  My parents knew I would be needing a lot of tools and stuff for that so they used that as an opportunity to help me out with that stuff.  I distinctly remember my brother getting upset that day because the physically biggest gift in the room, my toolbox, was for me.  What he overlooked was that my mom had taken enough care to make sure she spent close to the same amount of money on both of us, and then wrapped everything so we would have the same amount of packages.  Clearly this was not what the holiday was about.  His actions really made me see how greedy I was being and I was completely humbled by my parent’s generosity.  This was the first time that I really started looking at Christmas in the way it was meant to be celebrated.

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In the years following that Christmas I began to ask for different types of gifts, especially from my parents.   One of the things I would ask for was tickets to sporting events, either for the University of Michigan or the Detroit professional teams.  The request for these tickets was for a pair, so I could take my son with me to these events and experience them with him.  Every year my wife loves to make Christmas goodies.  Every year she is kind enough to make extra enough for me to share with my coworkers.  We aren’t talking just a plate to set in the break room for everyone to share.  We package up individual plates for everyone, based on how many people are in their family.  Both of my places of employment where I have brought these in, they ended up being something that my coworkers look forward to, and usually begin asking me when they’re coming around the 10th of December.  Every year my wife’s extended family gets together on Labor Day and exchanges names for people to buy gifts for.  There is then the great exchange of wish lists as I like to call it.  It kind of makes me sad to see men beyond retirement age hand a multipage list of “gift ideas” to their younger generation relatives.  Especially when it includes items you should be embarrassed to buy publicly on your own.  Personally I usually ask for a gift card, or $25 in single beer bottles to add to my collection.

One of the best things I’ve gotten from returning to my faith is a different perspective on holidays like Christmas and Easter.   My perspective was so screwed growing up, that I didn’t understand how Easter was the bigger holiday in the eyes of The Church.  It was one of the first things that dawned on me.  Yes, the birth of Christ is important, but it was his death and resurrection that proved everything and started The Church.  Both holidays usually include giving gifts.  It is considered a tradition of Christmas that was started by the “Three Wise Men” who came to see the Christ child while he was still in the manger.  It is considered a tradition of Easter as a way to honor the gift the Christ gave us when he died on the cross for our sins.  Both viable reasons to give gifts, but the old saying is that it is better to give than to receive.  This is where things have become skewed.  When we make Christmas more about what or how much people are giving us, rather than how much we can give others (not just in physical gifts either), we start to lose the true meaning.  Jesus was sent to us to better show us how to better love God and each other.  The only commandment he gave us is found in John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

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This message isn’t anything new when speaking about the holidays, but it’s never been more vital to get out.  I will be spending time this year reviewing this with my kids so they can pass it on to their’s.

Showing the Path

November 22, 2017 v4 p56

A couple of weeks ago I was feeling disconnected from my prayers because I was letting my scheduled get in the way.  Last week I made sure to refocus my priorities and right on cue, things came to light.

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It was a little over a year ago when I started telling God that I was ready to do His will in my prayers.  It was a couple of days later that my manager at work let the warehouse know that he would be moving on within the company and that someone else would be taking his position as Supply Chain Manager.  He had told me this a few months earlier, before it was public knowledge to the rest of my co-workers.  He was able to do that because he could trust me not to let it out, and that he knew of my desire to move into management at my company.  By no means did I think that his moving on would mean I would even be considered for that position, but I know that he told me ahead of time so that I could be prepared to lead my department through the transition.  I do believe there was some connection between me telling God that I was ready to do his will and the timing of my manager’s announcement.  I’m not exactly clear on what that connection is, but I know it’s there.

I’ve continued to include my desire to do His will in my prayers.  There have been times when I thought that I knew exactly what that is.  Usually I end up realizing that I may not be right, or that if I am right, the time may not be.  It was about a month after my manager’s announcement that I let him know that I had an interest in the position that was opening up.  I made it clear that I didn’t expect to get the position, but that I really wanted the experience of seeing what going through the process within my company looked like.  That would be extremely valuable in my career.  At just about the same time I had reconnected with an old family friend, and it was actually by accident.  I realized that I must have clicked on the “send a request to all of your contacts” link on LinkedIn.  We were already connected on other social media platforms, but this one led me to reach out more to him.  It turns out that my friend is a C-level executive in Procurement/Supply Chain for a major world-wide manufacturer.  This was the mentor my manager had asked me to seek out a couple of years ago.

Through that mentoring relationship I had started on a course of professional development that was geared more towards my work and a little less on leadership principles.  This was an area I needed to grow.  I had 20+ years of supply chain knowledge, all gained through work experience.  I knew some of the terminology and the basic principles of supply chain leadership, but not a very deep understanding of how they operated or how to implement them at my company.  I did some self-guided studying on a couple of different process improvement initiatives and actually read through the course materials for a professional certification program that my mentor consulted on.  All of this gave me a completely different point of view on the entire supply chain process.  It also showed me that some of the ideas I had going on in the back of my mind were exactly what I could see needed to happen at my job.  The biggest questions I had now were; how do I begin to implement these changes, would the new manager come in and try to change the new things I was implementing, and how did I get over my lack of self-confidence to follow through with all of this.

As I was continuing to pray for guidance, I thought there were other areas I was being called to go towards at the same time as trying to get through this transition at work.  The more I thought I was doing the right, other things, the more I was getting frustrated at work.  Then we brought home the Chalice.  As a family we had a strong week of prayers, then I went camping and fell away slightly.  I was really eye-opening how much just one day of missed prayers would affect me.  As I refocused my prayers the following week I went to one of my go to sources for guidance.  One morning I had four different videos brought to my attention that all spoke to me about what I was going through.  I came to the realization that I was trying to get guidance in too many different areas.  It helped me realize that the one area I really wanted to focus on the most was the only one I needed to focus on right now.  Once I have that area figured out it should be easier to begin to focus on the others, one at a time.  That has allowed me to realize that my job is where He is calling me to excel.

In the past few days I have been able to think clearly about what needs to happen at work to get things in order.  It has allowed me to be calmer when faced with people at work who aren’t yet on-board with what needs to happen to move my department forward.  I have a clear vision of how things need to be handled.  I have regained some of my self-confidence in my vision.  When the warehouse was going through the management transition I was really excelling in my job.  Things were starting to change and people were seeing things the way I had hoped.  When the new manager came in, it allowed my self-doubt to creep in.  Nothing anyone said at work reversed that.  It was my prayers and my inward reflection that led me to that.

discernment

This wasn’t a case where my prayer for something broken to be fixed was answered by a physically evident result.  This was a case of my prayer for guidance being answered by being shown how He has discerned this for me.

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.