This Post is Wobbly

August 15, 2017 v4 p31

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Post is Addicting

August 2, 2017 v4 p30

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the Anniversary of Our Covenant

June 19, 2017 v4 p23

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking at Myself

May 18 2017 v4 p20

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.

Mëmë, Ana, Majka, Okaasan, Mueter, Mom

May 11 2017 v4 p19

As Mother’s Day is approaching I’d like to take a moment and pay homage to the day and some of them who have been a pretty big influence in my life.  Everyone owes more than they can ever repay to their mother.

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Most people think that Mother’s Day is just a “Hallmark Holiday.”  While some of that is true there is a deeper meaning to it.  The holiday as we know and celebrate it today was started in 1908 by Ann Jarvis.  It was named an official United States holiday in 1914.  Later in her life Ann actually lobbied to have the holiday removed from the calendar because she didn’t like the way it had been commercialized.  Early celebration of Mother’s Day were actually called “Mothering Sunday.”  This was a Christian celebration that was observed on the fourth Sunday of Lent in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe.  This was a time when Christians would return to their “mother church,” the one that was the main church in the area they lived.  It was a time to prepare to return to the church in observance of the death and resurrection of Jesus.  In more recent times the day has been used to launch feminist movements.  In 1968 Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King Jr’s wife, used the date to organize a march in support of underprivileged women and children.

Everyone has at least one mother.  Whether that is their birth mother, step-mother, or adopted mother, they all have one.  A lot of people grew up very close to the families of their friends and often refer to their mothers as a second mother.  I didn’t grow up that close to my friend’s mothers, but there were a few that were always looking out for me.  The neighbor across the road always had an open door for me, and would offer a place for me to hang out.  She also makes one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever eaten.  The mother of one my best friends from high school always let us utilize her house after school as we waited for soccer practice to start (the coach was an elementary teach and his day didn’t end until about an hour after the high school).  She opened her door for more than one of her child’s friends.  She also opened her door for me to stay with them for a summer while my parents were traveling.  This was at a time in my life when I should have taken that path instead of the one I did, but none the less, without her I wouldn’t have had that option.  I am extremely grateful to have had these women in my life.

There are three other mothers in my life that have had a profound impact on my life.  The first is my Mother-In-Law, Barb Miller.  When my wife and I first started dating I always got the feeling that her mother didn’t really like me.  Being a single mother of three since her daughters were all under the age of six would make one very skeptical, I’m sure.  Over time she grew to accept me, and I feel that she even began to like me.  Even through the divorce she was always cordial with me and didn’t give me any difficulties when I would stop by to pick up or drop off our oldest son.  That was a great example of some of the grace and mercy she offered to me during that time.  After my wife and I had reconciled I felt that she started to open up more to me.  As we participated in the Relay for Life over the years and as I have helped her daughter and grandchildren grow in their faith, I feel even more that she has warmed up to me.  Thank you Barb, for allowing me the chance to show you who I truly am, not the person I was at age 19.

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The second mother that has had a profound impact on my life has been my wife Denise.  When we first met that summer way back in 1995 at Boy Scout Camp I never imagined that you would be the woman I would devote the rest of my life to.  As time went on it didn’t take long for me to recognize that you were special and that we were meant to be together.  When we sealed our covenant with God at our first wedding, it was one of the first times in my life that I truly felt His presence.  I didn’t realize it at the time, and actually it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I realized what had happened.  You have put up with so many reasons that most ordinary women would have ended their marriages.  From laziness, poor monetary decisions, an addiction to porn, and numerous other small things that all add up, I don’t really know how I got so lucky.  When you made the decision to return to our faith with me a few years ago I believe that it really confirmed and renewed our covenant with God.  I look forward to seeing how our relationship flourishes in His eyes.  Most of all though I want to thank you for helping me to raise two very smart, well mannered, kind, and thoughtful boys.  Even as scary as it may be to think that one of them will be “leaving the nest” in the fall.

The third mother that has had a profound impact on my life is my own mother, Ann.  This will be the 10th Mother’s Day that I celebrate you in remembrance.  Each year is just as tough as the first one was, and this year will be no different.  I feel like a part of me is missing on that day, and it truly is.  It’s tough to be out in public on that day and see other families who get to celebrate with their own mothers.  That includes my wife’s family.  I don’t hold any grudges or ill feelings toward them, but the emptiness is there.  In order to help fill that emptiness I have to do what I know you would have wanted from me.  You set a great example for me of what it meant to serve others.  I used to think I had to carry on the legacy that you and dad left for me by serving in the same areas that you two did.  Over the years I have come to realize that it isn’t really about where I serve, but just that I do.  While I do believe in the principals that Scouting teaches, the program you loved so much, my life has taken a different path.  I now concentrate on serving God and my family in the same way you served so many youths through the Scouting program.  If I can reach half as many people by serving God as you did by serving the youth in the West Michigan area I will have made very profound impact on many people.  I can only hope to live up to what you expect.

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So while you’re shopping for a hanging basket or a card for your mom this weekend think about everything she’s done for you.  Then ask yourself if you are doing everything in your being to be the person she raised you to be.

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An Open Letter to my Son Zach

April 14, 2017 v4 p15

This year I will be attending The Easter Vigil service for the second time in my life.  This year I will attend to see my son be received fully into the Catholic Church through Baptism, Confirmation and Communion.\

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Denise Baughman

My wife and I really don’t like to do things the conventional way.  That was never done by design, but it’s been the way things have always gone for us.  One of the things we didn’t do was have our children Baptized as infants.  During the time that both of them were born we weren’t involved with our Faith.  This is something that has always been in the back of my mind since we decided to make that return.  We allowed our oldest son to make his own choice.  At this age I’d rather he not get forced into something that may turn him away from it entirely, or for a much longer period of time.  Our youngest son was very inquisitive about our faith and actually requested that he be Baptized.  This is one of the differences between the two boys.

I would like to take a few moments to offer some words to my son Zachary as he enters the next phase of his Faith journey.  The first thing I’d like to do is apologize.  I’d like to apologize for not bringing you into this journey earlier in your life.  I never understood what it really meant to go through this journey until I started it myself.  I wish that I had a chance to go back and engage my faith at a younger age, like 11.  That makes me jealous of you.  To see that you have that much of a head start in your journey than I did starting at age 39.

Another thing I’d like to mention is how much I and everyone else can see His spirit in you.  Every day I see something in your actions or words that show me that He is with you.  I’ve seen this before in you, but never really fully understood.  For me to see this is great.  For me to have so many others come to me and your mother and tells us that they see it too, is beyond what words can describe.

The third thing that I’d like to mention is that I hope that all continues.  I hope that as you fully engage in the Church, you begin to see what it is that I see.  I have no doubt that you have the strength to do what you already know that you need to do.  Whatever path you choose, I will support.  But I truly believe that He will do great things through you.

Lastly I’d like you to know that I pray for you daily.  I will continue to pray for you until I can no longer pray.  To see you fulfill my prayers is the greatest thing I can receive as your father.  I am very proud of you and wish to help you along on your faith journey.

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Our Lady of Sorrows Church

Your mother and I love you Zach!  We are always here to guide you and help you in any way possible.  Never be afraid to ask.

What I Believe – Part 3

April 6, 2017 v4 p14

As I learn more about my faith I feel more compelled to pass it on, or to evangelize.  Don’t think of Jimmy Swaggart or Tammy Faye Baker when you read the word evangelize either.

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My last post left off with me leaving my job that was causing a lot of stress and taking too much time away from my family.  After I took a few days to rest and relax it was time to start job hunting.  After a few interviews for jobs I thought would be a good fit I ended up taking a job as a fork lift operator at a recycling warehouse to make ends meet until I could find something more permanent.  Although it was nice to show up at the start up my shift, put in eight hours, and then punch out on time to go home I knew that job wasn’t a permanent solution.  One morning while I was waiting in my car before my shift I came across a post from an old high school friend that the company he worked for was hiring for shipping and receiving.  I immediately reached out to him for details.  That turned out to be the first time I had used social media to make a connection for anything other than personal matters.  The further I went through the hiring process, the more I knew I needed to land this job.  I could tell this was a place I could retire from.  When I did a half day “ride-along” I was able to tell my friend that this was 95% exactly what I was looking for, the other 5% was the lack of air conditioning in the warehouse (minor details).

One of the big things the company I work for focuses on is personal and professional development of their employees.  Having been promoted to leadership positions in almost every job I’ve held, this one didn’t feel any different.  In fact, my manager was integral in pushing me to put that down as one of my goals.  So I started doing what was needed to work towards that.  One of the things I did was find some professional development/leadership bloggers that I could follow and receive tips from.  There have been numerous people who have filled that role for me over the years, but three of them have become a mainstay, Jon Acuff, Michael Hyatt, and Darren Hardy.  A common theme that all of them speak about is faith.  Not necessarily in a religious sense, but that isn’t excluded either.  I was beginning to take all of what I was reading or watching on daily videos and put them all together to figure out what was going to work best for what I wanted to accomplish.  Then one of my monthly one-on-one meetings with my manager he asked if I had ever been involved with a church.  I found it humorous because I had actually been thinking about returning to church on my own.

After a couple of weeks of contemplation I told my wife that I was planning on starting to go to church again.  I told her that she was welcome to join me, and I would prefer it, but due to how things had shaken out before I would understand if she decided not to.  We weren’t exactly sure where this path was going to lead us, but we knew it was a path that we must go down.  We decided to start at the church I had grown up attending.  This was closer to our home than the one we had been going to years prior and would offer more flexibility as to what time we want to attend.  A few years prior we had attended a Christmas Eve Mass there because it allowed us to get home and prepare for her extended family to come over for the annual Christmas party.  She really liked the church, and the fact that it was the Children’s Mass helped too.  We had planned to start there, try a couple of other local Catholic Church locations and then if we still hadn’t found a home we would try some of the other denominations around the area.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.

When we went to our first Mass the priest was also new to this Parrish.  I’m pretty sure I’ve told this story before, but it’s worth repeating.  When they announced his name my wife and I both looked at each other and were a little apprehensive.  This was another priest of Vietnamese decent, and the heavy accent of the other one is what started to turn us off the last time around.  Fr. Loc, however, was not difficult to understand at all.  There was still an accent, but it wasn’t so heavy that you couldn’t understand him.  The Scripture readings and his Homily both spoke directly to us.  The theme of everything at that service was being ready to listen when God is ready to speak to you.  We both knew that our journey was over.

Never before in my life had I felt the kind of connection with my faith as I did that day.  It really has been truly life changing for me.  In connection to my professional development habits I knew right away that I had to continue to study my Catholic faith.  This was now part of my life, and in fact, it has probably become the main focus of my life.  I knew I needed to learn more so I could fully understand what it was that I believed.  It may be difficult to understand for someone who never has had faith before, or hasn’t had the kind of connection I did.  And to have my wife get the exact same connection as I did really just validated what I believed.  The more I spoke with people that I already knew at this Parrish and as I met more people I could see that they had made the same connection that I had at some point.  This connection really started to show itself more in my everyday life.

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I’ve written about most of this story in one form or another in the past.  My next post is where I plan to start digging in to what it is that I believe.