Malevolent or Benevolent

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Malevolent or Benevolent

Last night I listened to a podcast about the psychology of a stalker. A young woman, through no fault of her own, had encountered a patron at her work and treated him nicely, the way she did every customer. The man who received her professional courtesy and kindness took it as a gesture of a personal declaration of her love for him. From then on he would show up at her work, her home, parties and other places. At first, he would watch her for hours, then he began writing poetry, calling her at home, declare his love for her and her for him at different and unexpected places. She reported his behavior to the police, depended on friends to keep him away, moved twice to locations almost five-hundred miles apart. Still, he found her.

He wrote a blog about being a stalker in which he wrote about a love that was benevolent; kind, kindly, kindhearted, big-hearted, good-natured, good, benign, compassionate, caring. He insisted she misunderstood him and accused him of being malevolent; malicious, hostile, evil-minded, baleful, evil-intentioned, venomous, evil, malign, malignant, rancorous, vicious, vindictive, vengeful. He had plans of “fake” kidnapping her and after she went away with him, falling in love with him. His behavior was spiraling and finally, after attacking another woman, he was put in jail for thirteen months for assault, stalking and predatory behavior. Before, during and after being incarcerated, he wrote a book about a man who fell in love with a beautiful woman who eventually learned to love him. People can find the book for sale online today and the blog he still writes.

Love gone wrong, gone bad, corrupted, coercive and corrosive is not love but selfishness painted in illusion. As I listened to the podcast last night I couldn’t help but think a lot of what’s wrong with our world today is people not knowing the difference between malevolent and benevolent.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Double Back

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Double Back

Last night, after dinner, Beth wanted a popsicle. I was getting up anyway and told her I’d get her one. I opened the top freezer door on the refrigerator and grabbed two by mistake. One fell to the floor and using the three-second rule I quickly stooped down and picked it up. Unbeknownst to me, the freezer door was swinging back and when I was two-thirds up I whacked the top back of my head on the corner of the freezer door. “OUCH!” It hurt so much I crumpled to the floor rubbing the wounded area. Beth heard me, came and looked at it and thought there would be bruising and soreness. She was right. It never occurred to me until it “hit me” that the door was doubling back. My mind was elsewhere and the freezer door brought me back to reality.

I was listening to someone describe addiction this week and they said; “It gets inside of you. You think you have a handle on it and then you begin to crave it. It comes back again and again and again.” I thought about other things which come around over and over. Grieving the loss of a loved one who has passed on, anger at being taken advantage of, bitterness at being betrayed, the pain of past memories and experiences that hurt us emotionally and physically, drug, alcohol and other addictions, friends who have negative influences on us, wounds which seem to never heal. All of these can cause us to crumple to the floor when they double back into our lives.

There is a needed balance of awareness and acceptance. Awareness is needed because perhaps we can see it coming and side-step the toll it would take on our minds and spirits. Acceptance is important because we are human, are not all-powerful, and difficult and challenging experiences are part of what makes us unique.

It is in this balance we may find wisdom and peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Bliss?

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Bliss

I was asked earlier this week by my talk therapist; “What is your perfect life?” I didn’t hesitate in describing to her my idea of bliss. After listening, she paused a few moments and asked; “Why do you not have this life?” I reflected on her question and responded; “Because it would screw up other people’s life.” I know my perfect life doesn’t equal the image, illusion, of what those who are connected to me have of their “perfect life.” My idea of a perfect life isn’t grandiose or over the top. It’s simple but would complicate my relationships with those who love and care for me the most. These complications would make my life imperfect. So, the choice to let go of what I think I want, need and accept what I have is key to stillness of mind and spirit.

Life isn’t complicated. We choose to make it that way. One of the ways we make it this way is comparing our “perfect lives,” or the idea of what we think perfection would be, with what our lives are currently. These types of comparisons only cause us to suffer, to strive for an illusion that is improbable. Letting go of comparisons about our lives, each other, and accept this moment, exactly as it is, is a big step forward on the road to a wise and content existence.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Reach!

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Reach!

He was trying his best to reach the last few boxes of Crunch ‘n Munch on the store shelves. I was checking off items on my list and heard him jumping. I turned around and asked the boy; “You got it?” He responded in the affirmative as he grabbed one and took it down. Another second and he was jumping again. I was about to leave when a meek voice rang in my ears; “Can you help me?” “Sure,’ I replied, walked over, grabbed the next to the last box and handed it to him. ‘Do you want the other one?'” He shook his head “no” and then ran out of sight. I smiled and hoped he enjoyed his snack.

I reflected on the young boy’s attempt to attain what was out of reach and how easy it was for me to go over, grab it and hand it to him. I thought about how some things are easy for some and harder for others. What might take all the strength one has to barely, perhaps never, accomplish a difficult task, others can do effortlessly. At first glance, it might not seem fair but I think it highlights our need for each other. We are made to work together, to be the strength to another’s weakness, to give courage when one is about to give up, to be their legs to help them stand, their hands to grab or let go, to connect when all else seems distant and unattainable. Of course, it works the other way when we are in need as well. Only together can we fully live and accomplish all we were meant to be.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The Sound of Silence

The Sound of Silence

A faint cry led a sheriff’s deputy to a pile of sticks and debris in the woods of western Montana. There, the deputy, part of a search-and-rescue team, discovered a 5-month-old infant buried face down, but still alive. “It was just a whimper,” Deputy Ross Jessop said, describing the sound he heard. (Full Story> https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/10/us/baby-buried-alive-montana.html)

An incredibly scary story with an almost unthinkable happy ending. A man committing a crime most of us could not conceive; leaving a baby for dead, face down under a pile of debris in the middle of the woods. A frantic search, pits in the stomachs of the rescuers unsure of what they’d find but certain it wouldn’t be good. The ears of a deputy surrounded by the noise of crickets, trees blowing in the wind, other searchers, his own pounding heartbeat, his inhale and exhale as he worked his area, hoping, praying for a sign or sound. Then, in spite of all the obstacles, overcoming the improbable, ears pick up the faintest of cry. It couldn’t be, the odds of stumbling upon the innocent, helpless victim, almost too high to count. He stopped, held his breath, waited, and heard it again. Stumbling to the focal point of the noise, under limbs and leaves was the tiny baby, clinging to life. However, now it was not alone. There was love, kindness, protection and a hero who would not leave the baby to die but give it everything it needed to live.

I read this story and couldn’t believe the fortune of the deputy and the baby. I reflected on how much noise our world forces in our ears each day. There are miracles and needs all around us but we don’t hear them calling out because everything distracts us and drowns them out. To be still enough to listen, to hear what’s important, to tune out all the rest is the beginning of wisdom and discovery.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Pile It On!

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Pile It On!

Earlier today I had to make a run to the Refuse and Recycle Station because we have been trying to downsize and minimize our belongings. The truck, as a result, was full and I needed to empty it before tomorrow. When I pulled into the station the person in charge told me that the dumpster was full but if I would back my truck up to it I could throw my stuff on top. “Pile it on!” is what he said and what I did.

Afterward, I wondered about all the stuff we collect and surround ourselves with in our homes, vehicles, pockets, and purses. We have drawers filled with clothes we never or seldom wear, closets cluttered with shoes that are collecting dust, sheds, porches, storage units, that are full and yet we continue to; “Pile it on!”

I grow tired of the toys and the treasure I’ve hung on to.  I know people need the clothes I don’t wear, the shoes I don’t put on, the other trinkets that invade not enhance my life. Perhaps one of the keys to a more ordered mind is getting rid of the disorder which surrounds us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Into the Fire

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Into the Fire

I heard a story yesterday about a Roman soldier who fell in love with a young, Christian, woman at the height of Rome’s imperial glory. He wanted to marry her but she would not allow him to court her because he wasn’t a follower of Christ. Desperate, the young man began to follow her and eventually discovered where she met other Christians in a secret place outside of Rome. He stayed in the shadows, watched and listened as they sat around a small fire and shared their stories of being followers of Jesus. As he stood there his heart was awakened and a voice echoed inside of him; “You will never know the truth until you step into the light of the fire and have all that is not burned to ash.” This was a great challenge indeed for most Romans believed in many gods, not just one, and followers of Christ were persecuted, and executed for their beliefs. He would have to give up everything for the chance at eternal and temporal love.

As I’ve reflected on this story the last two days I’ve wondered about the power and sacrifice of love. Love is a double-edged sword. It is wonderful and terrifying. Many horrible acts have been done in the name of love. It gives the bearer great courage but can also make one a coward. Those who have loved deeply speak of the joy and sorrow, wholeness and heartbreak, feeling of ecstasy and indescribable pain. True love requires all of us. We can’t give only a portion. We must be all in or never experience the life-changing, mind-bending, chaos that is love. It gives and takes, makes and destroys, assures us and shakes us to our core. There is nothing else that can compare.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Closer

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Closer

This morning at church the reverend closed the service by asking people to come to down to the front altar and pray for a woman who was leaving with a team of people to go to Africa on a mission trip. She knelt and many of the people in attendance gathered around her. As someone began to pray I heard a sound; “Clank. Silence. Clank. Silence.” I looked up and saw an elderly woman moving towards the group using a walker. By the time she made it up to the front, they were almost finished with the prayer but that didn’t seem to matter. What mattered was she wanted to be a part of the group, show her support, be closer to the one who was leaving, because she cared and caring most often requires our presence.

As she struggled I reflected on this woman and her concern for the other overcoming her condition.  The world as we know it seems to be coming apart at the seams. Institutions, foundations, and truths we thought would last forever are crumbling before our eyes. What do we do? How do we stop it or at least stem the tide? I think we should do as the woman did this morning. We recognize our weakness, our lack of power and control, but still run, walk, crawl, towards a need and be present, change what we can by getting closer. When things are too big, too unruly, too far gone, it’s easier to stay where we are, shrug our shoulders and say; “There wasn’t anything we could’ve done.” or we can get “some “skin in the game.” We can try. We can put forth the effort with an attitude that only those who show up can make a difference.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Empathy

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Empathy

My wife is a wonderful woman, and brave. Brave because she went to Wal-Mart on Saturday afternoon! There are many reasons she’s wonderful but her concern and empathy for people and other things overwhelms me sometimes. Today, on her way to what we infamously call; “Wally World” a chipmunk jumped on the road and tried to run across when Beth was at the same spot with her car. “Thump, thump,” was all she heard but it was enough. She called me a few minutes after leaving the house and I knew something had happened. “Hello?” I answered. “Hey. I ran over a chipmunk,” she replied on the verge of tears. “It came out of nowhere and I tried to stop but couldn’t and that’s when I heard the ‘Thump!‘” I listened to her and told her I was sorry. “I know you would never do that if you could avoid it.” She knew this also and after a while she was okay. I asked her to be safe and remember that I love her. We hung up and the rest of the day has been without incident but the confession over her accidentally taking the life of a rodent is one of the many reasons my life is better because she’s in it.

While she was gone, after the phone call, I reflected on her having a heart big enough that a chipmunk she didn’t know existed a moment before the incident could have an impact on her. I wondered what our families, communities, nation, and the world would be like if each of us had the respect, concern, and empathy for all things, especially each other. I think we’d all live and be in a happier, safer, place.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Almost Finished

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Almost Finished

I started mowing the grass today around 10:00AM. According to the weather report, a front was pushing through our area near 1:00PM and it takes about 3 hours to mow and weed our yard. It was hot and humid when I began, the skies were blue with puffy clouds. It was warm enough to sweat even though I was on a riding mower. I stopped to drink some water when I finished the back and noticed a patch of dark clouds coming my way. I continued mowing and all of a sudden the wind picked up, the temperature dropped and the skies grew dark. I increased my speed and hoped to get finished in time. Fortunately, I did complete the mowing but the bottom fell out of the sky and I couldn’t squeeze the weeding in because of the heavy rain.

As the rain pounded on the tin roof of our porch I reflected on life and all that is done and left undone. We fill our lives with appointments, events, occasions. We think we have time to do everything which needs to be done. The sun shines on us, the blue skies and the beauty of being alive gives us the illusion that time is on our side. Then a storm of disappointment, disillusion, danger, and death reminds us that time is limited and we can’t take even a moment for granted.

#BenjaminFranklin said; “Be careful with every moment. For these are what life is made.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Down Deep

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Down Deep

A couple of months ago me, Beth and our Siberian Husky, Trooper, went down south for a few days. Unbeknownst at the time, we had forgotten to give him his monthly flea medicine and for the first time in his life, he became home to a family of fleas. We didn’t notice for a few days and then we could tell by the scratching and his whining something wrong was happening. So, we investigated and discovered the flea family was present and were inviting relatives.  We jumped into action and over the last several weeks we’ve given him multiple baths, his flea medicine twice and made sure to vacuüm almost every day. We wanted to make sure any fleas that had embedded themselves not only on him but in our carpets and floors were sucked up and discarded. I’m happy to report the dog and the house are both cleaned and relieved. Fleas are nasty, persistent little insects. They had a way of digging down deep, finding hiding places, hanging on for dear life and without dedication and determination will not leave!

Wisdom teaches us that we all have hurts, habits, and hang-ups that are similar to these ornery boogers. We have places in our lives, our minds, our spirits that plague us and without desire and discipline will not leave, stop or heal themselves. Addictions, mental health illnesses, personality traits, our histories, can be rooted deep within and only through purposeful and thoughtful approaches can stay hidden and cause suffering. As difficult as bringing these issues to the surface can be it is more damaging to allow them to stay and fester.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The Question of Freedom

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The Question of Freedom

This morning a question was asked by a friend; “What are you celebrating this July 4th?” My answer was; “I’m not sure.” The easy answer is freedom, but freedom from what? I feel like we live in a time of disillusion and division. People are losing their right to express themselves no matter where their theology, political allegiances or cultural upbringing. We have become an intolerant and shaming nation. Those who are different, not like us, don’t share our beliefs and convictions, we condemn without either side given the chance to express ideas and discuss. Instead, we see different as a threat and label them as unworthy to be an American.

What does it mean to be free? What does it mean to be a patriot? What does it mean to be nationalistic? At one point in our history, being a patriot was speaking out against the government when it stepped over the line and into people’s lives, didn’t treat everyone (EVERYONE) as equal, needed to be put back in its place. We have exchanged our right as citizens of America and traded it in for members of a political party. We are republicans and democrats, conservatives and progressives, commoners and elites. Both sides claim they’re under attack, true Americans, and those outside of their political persuasions as “destroying our country!” The hate, vitriol, attacks, insults, spewed by both parties and their followers is heartbreaking and stomach turning.

So, what am I celebrating this July 4th? The freedom to write this without fear. Another question is; “What am I mourning this July 4th?” The loss of civility, being one people, allowing politics to define who we are, our neighbor is, and what being an American means.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Good Looking

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Good Looking

I heard someone say the other day that a person needs to be good-looking in order to see. I liked that turn of phrase. Often we think of being good-looking as being, handsome, pretty, “easy on the eyes.” We think of it as someone looking at us and thinking we are attractive. Much of our culture is obsessed with being perfect, interesting, and wanting others to think good about us. To be good-looking is the goal when we are focused on ourselves.

Let’s turn it around. What if good-looking was about finding the positive in others and in our world? What if good-looking was a concept we took to heart and a discipline we developed? What if we stopped being concerned with whether or not others found us, our lives, attractive and we started finding the unique beauty inherent in almost all things? Our world would be transformed if we thought and focused on others more.

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” #CSLewis

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Are You There?

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Are You There?

A couple of hours ago a storm blew into our area with winds and thunder but no rain, at least for us. I was on the couch with my earbuds in. This is why I didn’t hear the storm or our Siberian Husky, Trooper, come into the living room and sit down right next to me and stare. Suddenly I had a feeling of being watched and I looked in his direction to find his face a few inches from mine. It startled me! “What are you doing?” When I heard the thunder I realized he was looking for comfort. I patted him on the head, scratched ears and told him it was; “okay.” I guess he heard and understood because he went back to his favorite spot on the foyer floor and laid down. He’s still asleep now.

In times of uncertainty, calamity, unsettledness, and fear, what we want, need to know if someone is there for us. As adult humans, we understand that a person’s presence might not fix or solve the problem but it does remind us we are not abandoned. It is one of the deepest longings at the heart of existence; the assurance that on this journey call life, we don’t walk alone.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Scent

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Scent

Beth went to a reunion today and when she came back she smelled. It wasn’t a bad smell but it was a scent of perfume that makes my nose itch, a lot. “Whew, I can tell where you’ve been and who you’ve been around!” I jokingly told her. She laughed and agreed. The smell was so pervasive she changed clothes so I wouldn’t scratch my nose off my face.

Scientists tell us the sense of smell is one of our most powerful. It can conjure memories, warn us of danger, alert us to life and death, repel us, attract us, make us hungry, turn our stomachs, welcome us or tell us to stay away.

The Book of Numbers, in the Hebrew Bible, chapter 15, verse 14 reads; “If an alien sojourns with you, or one who may be among you throughout your generations, and he wishes to make an offering by fire, as a soothing aroma to the LORD, just as you do so he shall do.”

A lot of talk, arguing, and choosing sides about the families and individuals coming to our national borders looking for a new home lately. They smell of desperation and hope. When they arrive I wonder what they sense about us? Do they catch the scent of kindness, love, welcoming or a scent unpleasing to them and to God? What we do, allow done, to the foreigner, the alien, the stranger, the helpless, the hopeless, among us reveals who we are and the God we serve.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Ignition

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Ignition

This morning I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. My anger and anxiety were high for no particular reason. The dog was getting on my nerves, I snapped at my wife. When you have a severe anxiety disorder there doesn’t have to be one particular thing or a series of things to happen which makes your anxiousness turn to something more sinister. Beth had to run an errand and as I said; “Goodbye,‘ I also mentioned; ‘I would try to be in a better mood when she arrived back home.'” I went back inside and tried to locate the source of my anger and anxiety but could find nothing. For whatever reason, it decided to wreak havoc today. Knowing this I decided I could do a few things. First, I worked out. Second, after working out I took medicine specifically prescribed for these types of days. I then ate lunch and took a nap. I knew each of these would help my mood. I woke up when Beth came home and my mood was better, not great but better.

Wisdom teaches us that even a little progress, no matter how small, is still progress and not to be taken lightly.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Post Storm

Post Storm

This morning I had to pick up and drag to the burn pile all of the debris left over from yesterday’s storms. It was a lot of broken limbs and several large branches. It took a while to get all of it collected and deposited. I had a good sweat going after finishing. Then I mowed and trimmed. It was a lot of work, picking up the junk, cleaning up, what’s left over from the storms that blew into our lives.

As I sat on the riding lawn mower today I was reminded that we cannot control the storms and most of the damage they do. We aren’t in charge. We don’t have the power. We can, however, pick up the junk, dispose of the debris and clean up as best we can. Tragic events, unwanted surprises, ordinary life has a way of blowing into our every day and leaving a mess. We can’t stop it but we can react in positive or negative ways.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannbesaint.com

Not Yet

Not Yet

A quick word before my phone runs out of juice. We’ve been without electricity for almost four hours. A mighty storm blew through our area a little after 1PM. We have several big limbs down and according to social media there are lots of trees down and other damage in several places.

I’ve made good use of the time. I took a nap, walked outside and snapped a few pictures, tried to calm the Husky down who’s afraid of storms. Almost an hour ago the lights flickered, ceiling fans began to turn and I was thankful. However, everything stopped and so we wait. What else can we do?

It’s amazing how distracted we are every second of the day and only when things come to a full stop do we notice it. So, patiently I’ll be silent in the stillness and attune myself to the breath, the rhythm of a quiet beating heart.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Black and White

Black and White

Last night I had the privilege to be the representative of our company as a partner with our local Housing Authority at their annual Family Night. It was fun, festive and hot! There was a balloon obstacle course, face painting, lots to eat, door prizes and giveaways. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

My booth was to inform families, moms, caregivers and especially dads how important it is for children to develop a love of reading. We had free books, zip line book bags, and special gifts for a lucky few. As I met countless people and watched the afternoon turn into evening it was nice to see people of all shades and colors coming together. It was also great to see community organizations, churches, other agencies give of themselves to a common cause.

There is much division in our families, neighborhoods, communities, nation, and world. Everyone sees things as black and white, one side or the other, friend or enemy and it seems there is no common cause to gather around. I wish I knew what that cause could be or how to make people drop their raised fists and shake one another’s hand. The world isn’t black and white. It never has been but this doesn’t mean we can’t come together if we have the eyes to see.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Beholder

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Beholder

Yesterday afternoon I attended a picnic organized by our company and given to the families who work with us. It was hot, however, with a few fans moving the air around and cold drinks the pavilion was almost comfortable. We had different games for the kids but one of the favorites was the sidewalk chalk.

I noticed a little girl drawing by herself so I bent down, picked up a piece of chalk and began drawing with her. “What are you drawing?” she asked. “A heart!” “Okay, let’s do that,’ she replied and began drawing. I drew a heart with an arrow in the middle. Anyone looking at it would’ve been able to guess what I had drawn. Then I looked at hers. I couldn’t tell what it was and when I asked she said; “A heart!” and she would’ve added “Duh!” if she had known the word. “Oh!” I responded. I couldn’t see the heart but she could. She was the artist, she drew the picture in her mind and it was exactly what she wanted. It wasn’t her fault I couldn’t see it.

Wisdom tells us to admire those whose lives are not like the others; the mystics, saints, vagabonds, ragamuffins, artists. The ones who challenge our way of seeing, thinking and being. If we stay in our standard, normal worlds and never see through the eyes of those different from us we will never truly see the world and others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Learning to Fly

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Learning to Fly

Last week I was in the backyard looking at the trees we planted the first couple of years we lived in our little farmhouse. It is amazing how much they’ve grown in the last few years. We’re looking forward to eating the peaches, apples, and enjoying the shades in the coming seasons.

While looking there was a baby sparrow who perceived I was a danger tried flying away from me. The problem was that he hadn’t quite gotten to the point where he can fly long distances and soar up in the sky. He flapped as hard as he could but could only hover near the ground about ten feet or so. I tried not to get near him so he would be able to calm down but somehow I still kept getting too close for comfort and he’d try again. Although he wasn’t getting too far he never stopped flapping.

Wisdom teaches us that growth takes time. We may want to soar but first, we have to learn to hop, leap, flutter and float. Like the bird, it takes time, trust and never giving up. Also, similar to the trees, it takes a while to dig our roots down deep, to find the sustenance and the foundation we need to reach the skies.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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