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Bad Things Happen

Bad Things Happen

I was listening to a webinar this morning which told the story of a mediator in Gaza (a small self-governing Palestinian territory on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, that borders Egypt on the southwest for 11 kilometers and Israel on the east and north along a 51 km border).

It was a story of how a boy who was abused had learned to read the moods of those who harmed him. With this gift, he knew when to stay home and when to leave. Finally, he was taken from his childhood home and placed in foster care. He blossomed, did well in school, went to college and became a mediator. He says it is his gift of reading people and their moods which make him a good mediator. “If I hadn’t gone through the difficulties of my childhood, I wouldn’t be a mediator today. It was the bad which I used for good.”

Such a great lesson to learn and know. There are times when “bad” things happen and we wonder; “why us?” Perhaps the challenges of life we encounter, if we allow them, can be used to help others. The good in the world often blossoms from the worst situations and seasons.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stuck

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Stuck

Yesterday afternoon I loaded the pick-up truck with the household garbage we keep in a covered area outside. I placed two bins in the back and another bag shut the tailgate and headed to the Refuse and Recycling Center. When I arrived I hopped out the cab, walked to the back, let the tailgate down and something furry jumped out at me! That’s not what happened but it’s what looked like was happening when the deceased mouse (pictured) plopped down on the tailgate when it lowered. “Whoa!” I screamed, initiating a strange look from another person who was throwing away garbage also.

As I looked closer I saw that it was a dead rat. I emptied the bin and discovered he was trapped by a hole in the bottom of the trashcan. He had wiggled his entire body out with the exception of his hips and hind feet. He died trying to escape the trash he willingly entered into. I used a piece of wood to pry him out of the hole and a thick piece of plastic to grab him and toss him in the dumpster.

As I drove away I thought about the choices each of us makes; good and bad, right and wrong, positive or negative. I tell the men I work with; “The choices you make today determine the man you will be tomorrow.” I also speak with them about how there are some choices which drastically impact them and those they love and care about. “Once you make certain decisions you forfeit the ability to be a good man to those who need you be that the most.”

Each of our actions has consequences. We must be careful not get stuck by the choices we make.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Elude

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Elude

Mowing the grass today I crossed paths with a butterfly which seemed for a moment he would land on the lawn mower and I’d have a riding partner. Alas, at the last moment, he turned and fluttered away.

I like this quote (pictured). It’s a good reminder that happiness too can elude us quickly. There are many things in this world which promise happiness, contentment, satisfaction but few deliver and even fewer last more than a season. What’s interesting is we keep chasing after the new thing which promises us a better, more respected, fulfilled life but like the butterfly, it flutters away.

It isn’t wrong to seek happiness but in our frenetic, ever evolving, never steady world it’s easy to get lost in chasing trinkets and listening to voices on the wind. The more difficult way is to be still and allow happiness to find us. It takes trust and patience but most good things do.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Perfect Timing

Perfect Timing –

Today was a great day for yard work. Our lawn has feasted on the rain and nutrients it’s received this week and has started to grow wild. It was windy and cool today and so I put on my blue jean overalls and hopped on the lawn mower. I had exactly one tank full of gas and it was enough for me to mow the front and the back.

About a third of the way through with the front yard I ran over some landscaping cloth. It was thick enough to get stuck around the blades of the mower. I stopped under our big Oak tree. I was busy messing with the cloth and when I was able to get all of it removed I was about to get back on my John Deere when I saw a long, thick branch just a few feet from where I was parked. Because I was under the mower near the engine I didn’t hear it crash to the ground but was certainly glad I stopped where I did and not a few feet further.

When I finished mowing I grabbed the weed eater and began working my way around the yard. The wind picked up and a few sprinkles fell and I wondered if I would finish before the rain started. I got through and was headed into the workshop as the rain came.

I had experienced two instances of perfect timing in the short span of an afternoon. Time is an interesting concept to try to wrap our minds around. We wonder why things happen when they do. We complain when we’re victims of bad timing and consider ourselves blessed with privilege and perfect timing when things work out for us.

The truth is we can’t control time and must accept with open hand the good and the bad. It is hard trusting the path of life to take us where we need to go and when we need to get there. Acceptance, grace, and thankfulness should be how we receive all that life brings our way.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Together

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Together

A friend of mine had surgery not too long ago and is still recovering. As a result, he is unable to do yard work or any other outdoor project. One of the projects on his list for the summer was to remove several Red Tip bushes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photinia). Red Tips are great for privacy but can quickly grow out of control. Before his recent bout with the illness, he had started the removal but couldn’t finish the job. However, while he was in the hospital a group of neighbors got together and completed the project for him. They didn’t expect to get paid or rewarded in another way they did it because it was a way to help.

As I listened to the story being told to me yesterday my heart was warmed at the generosity we can show each other. A person told me recently; “The news is too depressing. I just don’t watch it.” I tried explaining that ignoring the news doesn’t make the world better but it does eliminate our ability to confront, counter the evil and darkness with good and light.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The End

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The End

Today is the end of 2016. Fittingly it is a rainy, messy, lazy, stay inside type of day. 2016 has seemed to be filled with more bad than good, negative than positive, a seismic movement towards evil leaving good behind. Even as I write the last sentence images of natural disaster, murders, political theater in the absurd, and the death of people everyone knew and those who impacted lives on a less grand scale but no less important to the ones who still mourn their loss.

Also, as I blog this post it is my understanding that not everyone sees 2016 the same way. Some people had a worse year than what I’m describing and others a wonderful year full of blessings, answers to prayer and enjoyment.

My feeling of the year which has passed is a general feeling of woe for our country and world. Myopically 2016 wasn’t a bad year. Personally, I am still blessed with the most wonderful wife a man could be married to, a job that has seen a lot of changes but an enormous amount of good done for others, a house far from perfect but feels more like home each day, and cast of good people I consider my family and friends.

I continue to pray, hope and seek help for my Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety Disorder. For the first time, I feel my meds, therapy, and personal recovery are headed in the right direction. The diseases I fight are not and will never be easy but having people who care enough to keep fighting with you makes the battles less scary and victory more likely.

So, here’s to 2016, may it rest in peace.  2017? Here’s hoping you’re better than I’m expecting.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Flies and Sweet Tea

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Flies and Sweet Tea

On Friday, midway through raking and mowing the front lawn, I stopped and went inside, fixed myself a ham sandwich, a large cup with a lid, of iced tea, and went outside to have lunch on the porch. After finishing the sandwich I still had some tea and let it sit while wrapping up the chores for the day. Heading back inside I grabbed the cup of tea, took a big swig of drink satisfied with the accomplishments of the day.

Inside I took a shower, went back into the kitchen and refilled my cup with ice and more tea. For the next hour or so drank, worked on my blog and other things waiting for Beth to come home from work. When she arrived we discussed what to have for dinner, decided on something easy and fast, cooked it and was ready to eat. Before heading into the living room with my dinner plate I took the lid off of my cup of tea to add some ice and that’s when I saw it! A fly had somehow gotten into it, I assume by crawling through the straw when I had left it on the porch. From then until I spied it I had been drinking while the fly, and all that came with it was drowning. At least I didn’t swallow it!

I showed it to Beth and she was grossed out. I thought it was funny. We both thought I should get a new cup. I’ve thought about that insect several times over the last few days. What’s interesting is I didn’t know the fly was in there and so it didn’t bother me having a drinking buddy. However, when I finally did see it, something needed to be done.

Wisdom teaches us that we are learning, absorbing like a sponge, whatever we come in contact with, surround ourselves with every moment of each day. I often tell my clients; “WHAT you do, think, choose today is WHO you’ll be tomorrow.” Self-awareness comes when we are humble enough to take the lid off of our closed lives and look inside. What we find there will be good and not so good. True self-awareness is doing what we do well and improving upon what we could do better.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Cat Near a Green Tin Roof

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Cat Near a Green Tin Roof

This morning I was letting the dog out for his business appointment and after I put him back in the house, something on the roof near our green tin topped porch caught my eye. It was a cat. This was a surprise because we don’t own a cat and I was unsure how he got on the roof. I; “Meowed” at it like most people do when the see a cat and it; “Meowed” back at me. I warned it as I was leaving that the Siberian Husky inside the house doesn’t take kindly to cats, squirrels, ground hogs, possums, or anything small and furry. It then turned around and disappeared to the other side of the roof.

Life never stops surprising me, catching me off guard and making the unexpected almost expected. I’m not sure what happened to the cat. I; “Meowed” when I got home this afternoon but to no avail. Maybe I’ll see it again, hopefully before our dog; Trooper does. The one thing I do know is life won’t stop being so unpredictable. Blessings and curses, good and bad, positive or negative, probably a lot of in between stuff, will keep showing up and sooner or later I’ll stop being so surprised.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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My Kind of Reality

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My Kind of Reality

I like the truth behind this quote from Bill Waterson. Many realities are forced upon us by different medias, people, cultures, and environments. We are told what to think, who to trust, where we’re supposed to go and how we are to get there.

I enjoy social media for the most part. Catching up and keeping up with people whom I care for and love is one of the biggest positives of being connected. However, one of the worst bits of social media is the relentless posts on political preferences, judgements and snarky remarks against folks who have done one thing or another to upset the poster. There are litmus tests such as abortion, gay rights, presidential candidates, celebrities, and a host of other subjects that decide for us whether or not a person is worth our time, and perhaps even our love. I am consistently appalled at the vitriol people say to one another online, things, I hope, they’d never say face to face.

It seems we’re surrounded by litmus tests such as abortion, gay rights, presidential candidates, celebrities, and a host of other subjects that decide whether we ae worth a person’s attention or their love. If we fail, we’re not worthy.

It wears me out! This isn’t the reality I choose to live in. I want to be in a place where people can believe and express different opinions and still be friends. I desire a world more nuanced where one won’t decide whether a person is good or bad by whether they agree or disagree on a subject the other is passionate about. I long to see people converse instead of scream, listen and not talk incessantly, have an open heart and spirit to the one who is different, offensive and human, just like us.

This is the reality I choose and pray others will join me.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Smell of Freedom

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Smell of Freedom

The aroma of six pizza filled my truck cab today as I drove to the county jail. This is Celebration Week as we give certificates, serve pizza to the dads who have put up with me for the last 3 months and, hopefully, have learned to be better men and fathers. I arrived at the jail a few minutes early and began setting things up when I noticed a young man standing on the other side of a heavy steel door with a section of plexiglass in the upper middle. I raised my voice and asked him; “How are you today?” “Fine.” he responded, then added with a big grin; “I’m going home today!” “Congratulations!” I answered back. “I know you’re excited.” “Sure am!” I continued setting up the room and finally, the door buzzed opened and the man began to make his way across the room. As he reached for the door that would take him to freedom he said to me; “Hope you have a good day.” I smiled and replied back to him what the dads in my class have heard many times; “Make good choices! None that will bring you back here!” “I won’t,” he said and disappeared.

A few moments later the incarcerated fathers began to fill the room. They eyed the pizza sitting on a bench in the corner and smiled. “Good choices, make good men and good men make good fathers! Choice is destiny.” is how I begin every class. At the end, before we ate pizza and took pics of the men with their certificates I made them say it loudly! “Good choices make good men and good men make good fathers!” They nailed it and we enjoyed our final few moments together. When I got back to my office I bowed my head and prayed it would be more than words for them and me.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Bucket Life

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Bucket Life –

Most of the day I worked on our “extend and screen in” the porch project. At one point I stopped and went to my workshop to get a tool and a movement caught my eye. I looked down and in a 5 gallon bucket, with a small amount of rain water, was a frog. It was startled by me and began swimming in circles. I wondered how he got into the tall bucket and how long he had been there. I looked for a small canister to scoop him into and free him from spending his short life going round and round with no end in sight. I found a little cup and tried to capture it but the frog was not thrilled with the idea. He kept swimming and it’s not possible to corner something in a cylindrical container. Finally I got it, took it outside and set it free. I even yelled, as it hopped away; “Watch out for the snakes!”

I’ve thought about that frog off and on as I worked today. Life and its cycles can feel endless sometimes. We aren’t sure how we became trapped in a cycle of negativity, tragedy, bad luck, trials and tribulations, mishaps and mistakes, but it seems no matter what we do we can’t break free. Our misfortune and affliction keeps going and going and going.

Wisdom tells us to remember that nothing lasts forever. Not good or bad, blessings or curses, windfalls or downfalls, they all have a limited shelf life. Unfortunately we don’t possess the ability to gauge how long each season will last. However, what we can do is hope, look for a way out, don’t fight when help comes and be thankful for freedom when it arrives.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Good and Bad

Good and Bad

Earlier this week a link to an old style entertainment wrestling video appeared in my Facebook feed. I recognized the wrestler and I admit succumbing to the temptation to click on the link. Watching it I was taken back to my childhood and enjoying these entertainment wrestling shows. My parents weren’t fans so my brother and I made sure they weren’t aware of what we were filling our brains with on the boom tube.

These wrestlers were incredible. They wore flashy clothes, had muscles everywhere, took a beating, kept on going and most of the time the good guy won the match. One of the reasons I liked wrestling as a kid was because you knew who the good and bad guys were by the way the dressed, talked, wrestled (good guys never cheated) and behaved in and outside of the ring. As a kid these were real life heroes and villains fighting for right and wrong, good and bad, justice and injustice every Saturday. Back then I didn’t know it was a lot more entertainment than wrestling. As I grew up I came to realize it was athletic acting, a male dominated, sports soap opera.

Someone asked me a few days ago who they should vote for in the upcoming presidential race. “Both candidates have tremendous flaws! As a Christian, how should we vote?” I shook my head and simply said; “I think you should pray.” “About who to vote for?” they asked. “No,’ I replied, ‘I’m not sure as a Christian you can, with a Holy conscience, vote for either one. But you can pray.”

The older I get the harder to tell who the good and bad people are anymore. Our world is so full of mixed signals, compromise and confusion. I don’t think its going to get any better. Prayer, humility, serenity of spirit is what it takes to survive and hope in times and seasons such as these.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Unique Approach

Unique Approach

Sometimes working with people can be exhausting. You think you’ve reached a turning point which will make all the difference only to discover that around the corner leads to a dead-end.

I was speaking to a group of dads today and explaining to them each family, similar to individuals are unique. There isn’t a one size fits all approach to helping people get well and healthy. It takes time, effort and a willingness to listen, get to know, build trust and a relationship. Only then are you able to guide folks toward choices which benefit them and those they love.

Too often we approach people and life with a predetermined way of how things should be. We allow our biases, judgments and limited knowledge to build a lens which distorts our view. If we are to be of real service to those we love, our neighbors, those in need ,we cannot skip over respect, listening, building trust and relationships. If we only have a part of the picture and proceed to “fix” what we believe to be the problem we may end up causing more harm than good.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Simple Things

Simple Things

I’m a low maintenance person when it comes to breakfast and lunch.

For breakfast; a cereal bar or a pop-tart and a cup of coffee and I am good to go. For lunch; a sandwich that has either tuna fish or a slice of bologna or ham.  Beth buys fancy-schmancy meat for her sandwiches but she knows to get me inexpensive, store-brand, square, sliced ham. This afternoon I took some ham, two slices of bread, slapped on a little mayo and it hit the spot on many levels.

When I was growing up my family would go camping regularly in the Great Smoky Mountains. We grew up hiking on the Appalachian trail, swimming in mountain streams, sleeping in canvas tents and eating lunches out of a cooler sitting at a wooden picnic table in some of the most beautiful places on Earth.

When I eat my ham sandwich I think about these simpler times. My mind and spirit go back to not having many cares, being surrounded by family and friends, fully immersed in nature and God’s creation. Being older now I realize my parents still had bills to pay, work pressures, the difficult job of raising me and my brother, but my memories of these times are only good, warm and full of love.

These seasons of life are never to be repeated but I can eat my ham sandwich and remember the best of life is found in the simple things.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Blessed or Cursed

Life is never predictable.

I was talking with someone yesterday about having “blinders” on when it comes to certain people. Some folks we see in a mostly positive light. We emphasize the good, minimize the bad, expect the best and see their potential. For others it’s the opposite. We are blind to their goodness. They are viewed by us in a mostly negative way. We don’t expect the best, focus on their weaknesses, anticipate what and how badly they’ll mess up, hurt us and take advantage of our generosity.

Blinders often come from good relationships or broken ones. We put them on and rarely question if we see the whole picture as it pertains to certain people, cultures and our worldview.

The discipline of viewing life as blessed rather than cursed can be one of the hardest and most important wisdom lessons we learn and put into practice. This is true especially when our journey has been difficult and we’ve seen “more than our share” of heartache, pain and loss. To look for the good, the beautiful, the “miracle” of everyday life influences each breath and every moment.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Not Out There

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Last night we had our Spring 2016 certificate ceremony for our incarcerated fathers’ class; Inside Out Dad. For the last session I give them their certificates and we talk about what we’ve learned over the last 3 months. One of the key points I focus on is self-awareness. It is the realization that most, if not all, our problems and challenges start with us. I tell the men; “Self-awareness is like looking in a mirror and truly seeing ourselves. We are able to recognize the good, bad, positive, negative, things we do well and things which need improvement.” I remind them to move beyond blaming others for our present conditions, accept responsibility for what we’ve done and should have done, and take an honest look at who we are and what we’ve become. “Only when we truly know ourselves can we be and do better.

It’s a wisdom lesson for us all, a discipline which takes a lifetime to learn and practice, and one we can’t start soon enough.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Our Purpose

The lawn caretakers for the church next door came early this morning, before 7AM. Luckily I was already up and taking the dog outside for his morning routine. As I stood there, in my bathrobe, I heard a noise over the sound of the zero turn lawn mowers. At first I couldn’t make it out but as I focused on the sound it became clear someone was singing. It was one of the men on the mowers. He had headphones on and whatever song was playing he was singing along with it. I began to smile. He hadn’t seen me and continued for a while bellowing at the top of is lungs. Before long he noticed me, quieted down until me and the dog went inside.For a lawn jockey he was a decent singer. He didn’t need to be any more talented than what he was because his purpose was to mow grass, take care of lawns, not entertain folks with his musical abilities.

The incident reminded me of a professor I had in college. I asked him one day; “How can we, who are so frail, weak, selfish, short-sighted and sinful, so human, ever please a God who is so good?” He smiled and took a pen from his shirt pocket and pointed out the scratches, dings and dents, faded color of the imitated gold casing and asked me; “What is the purpose of this pen? Is it to look good? Impress by its shine? Cause awe to all who behold it? Or, is it to write when pressed on to a piece of paper?” “To write.” I said. “Then it is a perfect pen because it fulfills its purpose. As long as it writes, its perfect no matter what it looks on the outside. In the same way our purpose is to love and be loved by God. Oftentimes we aren’t much to look at but if we desire to love and be loved by our Heavenly Father we are fulfilling our purpose and His love is what makes us perfect.”

He was a wise man.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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The Space Between

One of the most important teachings of wisdom is the “space between.” It is the distance between what happens to us and our reaction to it. The greater the space; usually the wiser choice and better consequence. The shorter the response time; the more chance of the decision/action being poor.

Wisdom teaches us that a word unsaid is usually not regretted.  This also extends to actions. Once something is said or done there is no reverse and we must accept the consequence, good or bad. “When a person picks up one end of the stick, they always pick up the other.” Wisdom also teaches us the concept of eternity existing in every moment. It is a harder lesson to learn and grasp but powerful in its impact upon how we think about life and relationships.

Take the time, exist in the moment, breathe, be still, reflect and then decide. The difference in a quick reaction and a wise one can be the difference between life and death.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Coldness and Life

Last Friday I mowed the grass in shorts and a t-shirt under a gorgeous sun and basking in a balmy breeze. Then came Saturday. Winter, it seemed, wanted to remind us that it wasn’t quite finished and blew a cold front into the area. What was warm, sunny, blue sky days quickly became dim, cloudy and frigid thanks to a mighty wind which blew non-stop for two days.

As I was standing outside waiting for the Husky to do his business on Sunday I looked up and saw green buds and leaves beginning to show on the branches of trees. The spring like weather earlier in the week had done its work and signs of life were present even though the cold of winter was still blowing.

It was a good reminder that even in frosty seasons of the spirit, when hardships and chaos blow a chill into our souls there is still life. It may be hard to see but it’s there if we’ll take the time to look and remember.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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What Crosses Our Path

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Traditions, superstitions, are strange. Last night my wife boldly declared; “I’m not washing clothes tomorrow nor doing other house work because if I do it on the first day of the year, I’ll be doing it all year!” Being a fan of logic I thought; “Aren’t we going to be washing clothes and cleaning the house no matter what?” but I digressed and simply said; “Okie dokie.”

No matter your traditions, superstitions, predictions, resolutions, each of us are hoping for a good 2016. I do wish we had power over what’s going to happen but the truth is much of what will impact our lives is out of our control. Our real choice is what we’ll do when we encounter the good and the bad, the light and the dark, the positive and the negative when it crosses our path.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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A Center Worth Saving 

Thursday I wrote about a piece of reclaimed lumber I picked up and hoped to use. I knew it would require cutting away the decaying pieces to see if there were any useful parts. 

This morning I grabbed my jigsaw and went to work searching, hoping to locate the good. Truth be known there wasn’t much. Time, dampness, bugs and weather had stripped it of its strength, sturdiness and purpose. I was able to salvage a nice sized piece in the middle where nature and neglect hadn’t yet destroyed.

We’re similar to the wood. Our outer edges, the parts of us the world corrupts and compromises so quickly. The inner, the center, the part of us that’s protected, shielded, and remains good. This is worth finding and worth saving.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com 

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