Facing Modern Day Challenges

July 22, 2017

I am currently on vacation. In my absence, I will be re-posting popular blog posts from the past. This blog is now in it’s fifth year! The posts I’ll be sharing with you while I am away come from my first year of writing daily on the From The Deacon’s Desk site.

The following is Part I of a post focused on the challenges of raising “desensitized” kids. I will share Part II tomorrow.

Part I:

Being a parent is tough, and getting tougher every day. That’s because being a kid these days is tougher than ever. We like to pretend in front of the kids that we had it much tougher back in our day, but we know that’s not really true. We grew up in a much simpler time. The things we worried about back then pale in comparison to what our children face today. This means that as parents we need to be more vigilant, more “on our game” than ever. It means we cannot back down, even for a minute, from our responsibility to protect our children – from the forces at work in the modern world and from themselves.

I will focus my attention on three of the issues facing our young people everyday. The gravity of each is enhanced by the fact that our kids view the issues as “no big deal.” This certainly makes it more difficult for us to protect them! Continue reading

Don and Gayle

July 21, 2017

I am currently on vacation. In my absence, I will be re-posting popular blog posts from the past. This blog is now in it’s fifth year! The posts I’ll be sharing with you while I am away come from my first year of writing daily on the From The Deacon’s Desk site.

The following post shares an encounter Carol and I had with Don and Gayle, two people just trying to get through another day.

As Carol and I were getting in our car yesterday morning to head to work, I noticed the right rear tire was a little low. Nothing urgent, but we had some time so I decided to stop at the gas station to check tire pressure and air up as needed. For whatever reason I took a different route than normal, and pulled into a gas station on the way.

When nearing the “Inflation Station” (a coin operated air machine), we noticed a rather disheveled man with a walker sitting right in front of the machine. An equally disheveled older woman in a hat limped toward him.

I’ll be very honest – eight or ten years ago, I would have driven right past the machine and made the decision to fill up my tires another time, and avoid the hassle of dealing with those people. But a renewed prayer life, a softer heart, and two years of working with the homeless population made it possible for me to pull up and fill my tire as planned. Continue reading

Bring Your Own Sunshine

July 20, 2017

I am currently on vacation. In my absence, I will be re-posting popular blog posts from the past. This blog is now in it’s fifth year! The posts I’ll be sharing with you while I am away come from my first year of writing daily on the From The Deacon’s Desk site.

The following post speaks to the need to hold yourself accountable and not rely solely on others to motivate you, drive you, or make you happy. You need to “bring your own sunshine with you.”

Carol and I have worked as presenters of a marriage preparation program for a number of years. A favorite expression we use, and the theme that pulls the weekend program together is, “Love is a decision.” In several of our presentations, we incorporate the concept that marriage is about waking up every morning and making the decision to love your spouse that day. That is not as easy as it sounds. As Carol can attest, sometimes you may not even like your spouse much that day, but you still make the decision to love him or her. It is about commitment. It is about taking ownership of how you respond to another person and of how you are going to think and act that day. It is not Carol’s responsibility to do something each day that will make her lovable – loving her is my daily decision.

This mindset carries over to many facets of one’s life. I have held several jobs in schools that lend themselves to dealing with conflict resolution. People pull up a chair in my office and vent their frustrations, list their complaints, or detail their concerns. People need a sounding board and often just being heard is very helpful. The vast majority of the issues raised in my office are legitimate concerns that, after talking them through, can then be addressed appropriately. Continue reading

You Can’t Say “I Love You” Too Often

July 19, 2017

I am currently on vacation. In my absence, I will be re-posting popular blog posts from the past. This blog is now in it’s fifth year! The posts I’ll be sharing with you while I am away come from my first year of writing daily on the From The Deacon’s Desk site.

The following post comes from a talk I gave on the challenges of living in the modern, secular world, with emphasis on keeping an open line of communication and doing all things with love. 

I recently had the opportunity to speak to a group of parents and students on the topic of “Words of Advice to Parents and Their Children.” If I were wise, you might call them words of wisdom. I share those thoughts here.

  • “It takes a village to raise a child” is not just a cute phrase.

We often use this phrase to emphasize the importance of the school and the parents working together to educate our children. While it is an old-fashioned statement, it was never truer than it is today. The world our children are growing up in is a complex, fast-paced, and somewhat hedonistic one.

Parents can’t send us their children thinking, “It’s a Catholic school; I hope they will instill the moral values our kids will need in life.”

The school can’t say, “We’re only here to teach Math and Science.”

The parents, who are the primary educators of their children, need to raise their children to have a solid moral foundation. We, the school,  have the responsibility to support and enhance the work the parents have done. Continue reading

Gumby Alone on the Nightstand

July 18, 2017

I am currently on vacation. In my absence, I will be re-posting popular blog posts from the past. This blog is now in it’s fifth year! The posts I’ll be sharing with you while I am away come from my first year of writing daily on the From The Deacon’s Desk site.

The following was written when our youngest child, Robby, was heading off to college. (Update: Robby has now been a college graduate for three years, is married, and has a job as a software engineer…surely we’re done parenting him, right?)

Carol and I took our baby to college last Friday. We loaded two boxes, “everything he needed” according to Robby, into our car and headed for Terre Haute and the campus of Rose-Hulman. It should be noted that we needed to drive two cars when we took our daughters to college. Robby, or Rob as we discovered he is now calling himself, is the youngest of our four children. We had been privately dreading this day. Not because he wasn’t ready, he has been ready for a long time. He is goofy and a bit of a homebody; but he is reasonably mature, very intelligent, and somewhat independent. He is focused on his future. Continue reading

Reflection on 30+ Years of Marriage

July 17, 2017

I am currently on vacation. In my absence, I will be re-posting popular blog posts from the past. This blog is now in it’s fifth year! The posts I’ll be sharing with you while I am away come from my first year of posts on the From The Deacon’s Desk site.

This first one was posted on my 30th wedding anniversary. (Note: Carol and I have now been married 34+ years, all of our children are married, and we have 6 grandchildren rather than the two I mention in the original post).

Since I started my working life as a paperboy at the age of 10, I have had thirteen different jobs. Since I started driving when I was 16 years old, I have owned thirteen different cars. Since I was born, I have lived in eleven different houses. Since I married Carol thirty years ago, at the age of 23, I have had one wife.Carol and I fly out tomorrow for a 30th wedding anniversary vacation to Costa Rica.

I have spent some time recently reflecting on our time together: how much we have grown as a couple, how much we still love one another, and how odd it seems that we have been married thirty years, despite being so different.

Now that I am a grandfather of two, I think ahead to a time when I will be sitting in a rocking chair after attending Ellie’s engagement party. Ellie (who is currently six weeks old) will sit down next to me and ask, “Best Grandpa in the World (which is what I’m sure she will call me), how have you and Grandma stayed married so long?”

I am a planner by nature; so in order to prepare for that day, I have compiled a list: Continue reading

Courage to Take Root

July 16, 2017

Jesus said to his disciples: “Hear the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the Kingdom without understanding it, and the Evil One comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” (Matthew 13:18-23)

The sower sows seeds on several different types of ground — a path, rocky ground, among thorns, and finally in rich soil. Each of these surfaces represent us as believers, with the rich soil being “the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit…”

Perhaps there is another way to look at this parable. Maybe we are the seed in this story. Our job is take root and bear fruit:

  • When we land on the path, do we become distracted and allow the Evil One to come and steal us away?
  • When we land on the rocky soil, are we not persistent enough? Do we “last only for a time” because we give up?
  • Among the thorns, are we not strong enough? Courageous enough? Are we unwilling to fight against “worldly anxiety” and the “lure of riches”?
  • Our only success is in the rich soil? Are we teachers who can only teach the brightest students?

We are the seed, the Word of God, and our purpose is to take root and bear fruit. There are many more paths, rocks, and thorns out there than there is rich soil. We better roll up or sleeves and find the courage to fight if we are to have any chance of taking root in those tough terrains.

We need to grow wherever we land.