"Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset." Saint Francis De Sales

Friday, July 29, 2011

My Slow Takes (vol. 8)

1. Our new parish priest, Father Jim is now at our church. I attended 9:15 Mass on Sunday and was pleased that the number of people attending was more than last Sunday.

The Homily brought together our in-between time and the future. He talked about all of the good things that occurred over the last seven years. He reminded everyone that these were positive memories that will be with us. 

I had the opportunity to talk with Father Jim. He is a humble man and will help our community as we move forward. This was a great way to start my Sunday. Thank you Lord.

2.  Dee, Pam, Mary, Dan and Ed are all working at "Summer Camp On the Hill." It is one of Rev. Ben Campbell's projects that reaches out to the children of the City of Richmond. Dee has been asked to be the "official" photographer for the week, so I'm bringing her camera to her after work.

3.  Tuesday night I went over to Tony's house to help him with his computer. I set up the mail account on his laptop and discovered that there were over 3,000 email messages still on his system. They dated back to 2009. After we stopped laughing I suggested that he "sort out" the messages that they no longer needed.

"Flash back" to Sunday's Gospel, Matthew 13:44-52, "The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous." Sorting things out is what I have been doing with my life. I am planning for retirement and my thought process is changing. I'm learning that there are more important things in life than having "stuff" and rushing from event to event. 

I am reading "Introduction to the Devout Life" by Saint Francis De Sales. He has some important things that I am doing to enrich my life. So I am making changes and becoming more at peace with myself. I am slowing down, sometimes to the chagrin of my co-workers. My desire for a Mazda Miata is not as intense as it once was. I am more comfortable with work, not being concerned if our "project" is ending or not. I am sorting things out, putting my life in His hands and enjoying each day. 

4. It is Friday and the week has been busy and enjoyable. All of the projects that I had planned are finished and tonight I can relax and watch a movie. 

Dee comes home from "Summer Camp" tomorrow. We'll probably go to dinner so that she can have a relaxing evening.

Work has been interesting as always. We have a great team and I enjoy working with them. 

Robbie was the person who hired me ten years ago. He moved from our company to do consulting work and is now back on our project. I was able to spend time talking about our experiences and how blessed we are to be where we are now. Robbie was a caring manager and made me feel that I worked with him, and not for him. He is a friend who makes an effort  to see how I am doing.  

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Slow Takes (vol. 7)

1. The garage door opener was non-repairable. So I installed a new one on Saturday and its works great! Replaced it with a newer model Craftsman. The cashier asked me if I wanted a one or two year warranty for it.

"I'm replacing a 15 year Craftsman with another Craftsman. That's why I'm here." She smiled and rang up my purchase. 

2. Sunday was another busy day but we were able to spent time with Lou and Brenda in the afternoon. It was fun listening to Lou tell us about Italian family "cooking gatherings" when he was younger. The whole family would get together to make supresso type salami. His Aunt Mary was the cook and would mix together pork, salt. pepper, spices and garlic. She never used measuring spoons or cups, just her hands and "pinches" of salt , pepper and spices. Aunt Mary is now making supresso in Heaven. Lou has to settle for a substitute which, according to him, is still very good. He has promised to get some for me when his visits his hometown.

3. Please read Jennifer Fulwiler's blog for Tuesday the 19th. It is funny, refreshing, thought provoking and she quotes my patron saint. It's "4 Steps for Starting Your Day the Right Way."

4. Selling a car should be a rather simple process. However I managed to make it not so simple and let myself become aggravated over small things. 

The first one was having to get the car ready to show right after work. I figured that there wasn't sufficient time and started rushing and getting my wife to finally say to me, "slow down!" The next day when I thought everything was fine and we going forward with the sale it was discovered that I presented the wrong vehicle registration form. Somehow I managed to save the form from an old Mercury that we owned many years ago. I never looked at the details, just grabbed what I thought was the correct form. Once again I started rushing and this time my wife's response was, "take a deep breath."  Later that afternoon she discovered that the credit union never sent us the vehicle registration. She was able to pick it up and finish the sale.

It's a good thing she is there to keep me focused on maintaining my "inner peace." 

5. We have a small staff of beautiful women that clean our office. They are always smiling and take time to talk as they work. Two of them just came by my row of cubicles and cleaned. They are looking forward to the weekend as am I.

It's nice to be with happy people at work.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My Faith

Faith is a difficult thing for me to work with when things are not going well. Darkness and chaos seem to be enveloping me, the air seems harder to breath and then doubt begins to slowly enter into my mind. I experience this more often than I would like to. Work issues are the toughest because I'm trying to plan my retirement. I always manage to work through it, strengthen my faith and move forward. But it is not always an easy task.

I am reminded that God’s plan is His plan and it doesn’t always match my plan. So I have to work at prayer, work on my "piety, study" and "action." St. Francis De Sales has been helpful as well as my daily reading. There is a prayer that I pulled from “Your Daily Tripod,” which is now part of my morning devotions.  
“ If my faith shifts as temporary waves, rush to my rescue without any hesitation, protecting others from my fleeting frailty. May your Presence always be lively enjoyed, enabling me to shine as a flame of my faith.”   Amen.
This helps me and I pray it will help you also.
As I was reflecting on my faith I remembered a skit that Bill Cosby did back in 1963. It was on Noah and the building of the ark. Bill put himself in Noah’s shoes tying to think how he would react if approached by God to build an ark. Here is the ending which shows Noah dealing with his faith. 
“Noah:  But I'm sick and tired of this. I've been working all day everyday like crazy for months now, dawn to dusk. I'm tired of this.
God:  Noah
Noah:  Yeah?
God:  How long can you tread water? Ha ha ha
Noah:  Yeah, well I got news for you. You keep talking about this flood and I
haven't seen a drop of rain. Meanwhile, the whole neighborhood is making fun
of me. I told one of my friends I'd been talking to the Lord and he laughed
so hard he wet his pants. Do you know I'm the only guy in town with an ark
in his yard? People are picketing and calling the heath department,
strangers walk up to me and say "How's it going, Tarzan?" I am sick and
tired of all of this, you let me get a pregnant elephant . . . Do you give
me an instruction book? . . . No!!! Here I am standing under the elephant
and brrrrrrrrump! Right on top of me! I'm telling you, I've had enough.
You're supposed to see all and know all, well have you seen the bottom of
that ark? Who's going to clean up that mess? Not me, I tell you. I quit. I'm
tired of this. I'm going to let the animals out and burn that ark down. I
can't believe you made me do all this . . .”

(There is the sound of thunder and rain begins to fall ........)

“Noah: (continues)  I can't believe the mess you got me in and . . . and . . .
it's raining . . . This isn't just a shower is it? 
OK. All right, it's me and you Lord, me and you all the way. I'm with you Lord. Whatever you say....”

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Slow Takes (vol. 6)

1. I received a used John Deere tractor from our middle son, Todd. It starts and runs fine, just requires some repair wok for the two rear tires. One has a slow leak and the other a rather large slit. So I worked on the latter with poor results. I eventually decided that the tires needed replacement. Age had worn them to a "dry rot" stage. So I took the tires over to one of the local lawn and garden equipment places. We checked the tire size and as the gentleman searched his computer for pricing. As he searched the computer database he let out a startling sound. "That doesn't sound good," as my mind started to imagine a series of possible issues. "No it isn't, pricing is $100 per tire." Whoa, I can get a tire for my car for that price. But the gentleman was kind and suggested that I check one of the local suppliers that handles tractor tires. He didn't have to do that but he did. Thank you Lord for an honest merchant. I found tires, as he suggested, two for $120.

2. Monday evening I took our three granddaughters, Isabelle, Eryn and Hailey out to dinner. We went to one of their favorite places, McDonald's. This was the same one that their father worked at when he was in high school. They had a difficult time understanding that, so I told them to ask Dad.

My Christ moment with them was saying the blessing before we ate. My heart was touched as we all did the sign of the cross and said the prayer. None of them hesitated nor question what we were doing. Thank you Lord for their parents who are raising them to know you.

3. I work with EVM, Earned Value Management. We use it to measure our project performance and progress. My area of responsibility is material. I been doing this for about two and a half years. So, my knowledge of the EVM terms is not perfect.

Once each year we are involved in a government audit. They want to make sure we know what we're doing. This years audit was better than last year because I was able to get through it without saying, "I don't know." I am learning.

4. I bought a copy of "Halo Reach" for my Xbox 360. The good news is that it's a great game. The bad news is that it's a great game ..... I've been playing it every night this week. I need to take a break and get some more important things accomplished.

5. It's Friday and I'm looking forward to the weekend. There is some painting of historical figures that I want to get started. Yard work, of course, and garage door opener repair. Hopefully it's repairable, could be as simple as a chain adjustment. We've had it for over 15 years, so maybe it's just tired.

Friday, July 8, 2011

My Slow Takes (vol. 5)

1. This year we had our 4th of July picnic on Saturday the 2nd. It allowed for our family from Maryland to drive without getting caught up in the holiday traffic.

The group was large, 18 adults and 13 children. I like to call this "controlled chaos," which is a good thing.

Dee had plenty of food and as always had a number of games for the children. All of which involved water balloons. With temperatures in the 90's the games provided a fun relief from the heat. I did not remain dry, attempting to best the children at squirt guns which escalated to the water balloons.

My thanks and blessings to all of those in the armed services, past and present, for providing the freedom for us to enjoy. 

2. My plan versus God's plan doesn't always match. In 2007 I moved from company A over to company B. The position was brought to my attention through friends of my family. I was hired immediately and enjoyed the new environment. The only caveat was that I was on contract-to-hire after a specified period of time. A couple of months afterward those who hired me were promoted up and out of the department. My option to be hired was changed and that left me as a contractor with no benefits. My plan was not working.

I tried to work with the new department manager but nothing changed. So, I sent out resumes and began looking again. My wife, God's angel, suggested that I contact company A and let them know what had happened. Well, "surprise...surprise," they hired me back! My benefits and pension were not affected because I was gone less than 12 months. I am now planning for my retirement in 2013 and have things under control. Life is good. God's plan was better. Thank you Lord.

3. Bonnie Engstom (Learning To Be A Newlywed) wrote about spiritual gifts the other day. She found a test on the internet, completed it and then told how it related to her life.

I was inspired and went looking for the test. Found it, at least I think it's the same one, at Kodachrom.org. There are a series of 140 questions and then an analysis of your results.

My results, I looked at the top seven, were; hospitality; faith; helps; giving; exhortation; healing and writing. Okay, it would have been nice if "writing" was closer to the top. But, this is just a guide, God did not create the test. The website states that it is just a tool to help us in discovering our true spiritual gifts.

The important thing to remember is that we all have at least one spiritual gift. 1 Peter 4:10 
None of us has all the gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:28-30 And, we do not choose what our gift or gifts are. Only God does this. 1 Corinthians 12:7-11

As I continue to help others, improve my faith and share my beliefs, my true spiritual gifts will be revealed. God will let me know.

4.  Jennifer Fulwiler's "7 Quick Takes" had information on a new book. "The Church and New Media," by Brandon Vogt. This would be worth looking into, so here is the link. http://www.churchandnewmedia.com/

Friday, July 1, 2011

My Slow Takes (vol. 4)

1. I just learned that some close friends are having a series of new issues. These are added to what they are already working through and I'm sure their faith is being tested. I have been praying for them and continue to do so. The news was not easy for me as I felt confident that things were slowly coming together. Perhaps this is my faith being tested and I need to make sure my heart is open and that I'm listening to God.

I have my own issues to deal with. I pray and work through them, but I need to be better at "not losing my inner peace." So I pray, "Lord please forgive me for these lax moments and help me strengthen my trust in you." Amen.

2. Life is forever changing and I've learned to change with it. Most of the time it is good and once in awhile it is not so good. We are an "Apple" product family and one of our favorite products is "mobileme." It is going away and being replaced by "iCloud." We are loosing "Gallery, iWeb publishing," and "iDisk." We gain other things such as "iTunes in the Cloud, Photo Stream," and "Documents in the Cloud." Some of this is similar but it is a change and I will embrace the change and learn about the "new" enhancements. We will continue to be an "Apple" product family.

3. Our God daughter Carrie is an English doctoral candidate at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. She has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Jamaica to work on her research in African literature.

Information on Fulbright Scholarships can be found here.    

Carrie's research will focus on letters written by Jamaican people. She believes that "because of the intimate nature of letter writing, letters offer an important glimpse into local ideas about social and political history." She is "interested in examining how letter writers endorse universal human rights laws but also how they challenge them." Her "research will investigate attitudes toward female education, women's roles within marriage, inheritance law and mental health."

4. Yesterday I was not doing well with issues at work and concerns about the short term future. Dee and Todd both asked what was bothering me so I knew my "inner peace" was not as strong as it should be. Fortunately Dee made sure that I focus in the right direction without lecture; just by love and understanding. This morning the sun was shinning, I was well rested and Dee was there with a warm hug.

Today's Gospel reading was appropriate for me, "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest."

He is always there. Thank you Lord.