Blog Archives

To Think

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To Think –

I am currently teaching a men’s class on Wednesday evenings in a city that’s an hour away from home. This means on Wednesday afternoon and evening I have a bit of time on my hands. I spent most of it yesterday talking with fathers on the phone. A couple of hours to myself gives me time to think about my day, week, schedule and the materials I will be teaching and how the class went on the way back.

Thinking is a balancing act for someone like me with a Severe Anxiety Disorder. If I’m not careful thinking can turn to rumination and going over and over a situation, interaction, occasion in my mind. I described it one time to my therapist; “My over-thinking is like bubblegum. You chew on it and for a while, you get something tasty. Soon, however, all the flavor is gone and you’re chewing a piece of wet rubber.” I try to be aware of my thoughts and if I’m fixating on a particular subject. When I catch myself I turn on the radio, a podcast or music.

Wisdom tells us; “We cannot stop thoughts from entering the door of our minds
but we do not have to serve them tea
.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Hangover

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Hangover

Today I am feeling the impact of three intensive days of training. My body hurts and my mind hurts. My eyes are tired from staring at a screen for too long. I have both a migraine and fuzzy brain. It’s hard to process new information today because of receiving so much from earlier in the week.  The data and detail are still bouncing around in my noggin and hasn’t found a place to settle. New thoughts and ideas are like puffs of smoke that never quite become solid enough to grasp. A couple of days of quiet and rest should do the trick but until then giving it my all will be less than.

Growing in our learning, understanding, and wisdom takes a toll. Its tough work which may be why we are hesitant to do it at times. Immersing ourselves in new thoughts, ideas, studies, to become more capable in our personal, relational, connections and jobs takes commitment and courage. Commitment because growth is effort and energy. Courage because when we dare to learn, understand gain wisdom, we change and we’re never sure who will be on the other side.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Gathering

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Gathering

This morning I stopped by the office on my way to a Community Group for Dads. It was cold today. Last night it was below freezing and when I left the house it was lightly snowing! I know Spring is supposed to be here but I wish it would step up and exert itself! Anyhow, when I arrived at the office there was the familiar hum of a leaf blower. Even though its cold the grass is still growing and the flowers are still blooming. I parked the truck and as walked to the office door I noticed what the maintenance man was doing. There are trees planted near the building that houses a suite of offices. Because of the wind and cold, the petals were scattered over the parking lot and in front of the office doors. Opening ours I saw them tumble into the foyer. The man operating the blower was trying to collect them into a corner and then sweep them into a trashcan. Expertly he gathered them setting the blower on high when moving them from a big space and then on low to push them into the area they needed to go.

Exiting the office, I reflected on the petals. They reminded me of the many thoughts which swirled in my head. Its Monday and my mind was filled with a list of; “to-dos, schedules, phone calls, meetings, reports, and a host of other things” which have already filled my week. My thoughts, like the petals, were scattered and needed to be gathered and sorted. I will follow the discipline of my leaf blower friend and willfully, but gently, take control where once there had been chaos by paradoxically, stilling my mind and spirit.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Worry is like Prayer

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Worry is like Prayer

I was speaking with someone today and they quoted a wisdom proverb I had never heard;

“Worrying is like praying for something you don’t want to happen.”

It instantly became a favorite wisdom quote of mine. As someone with a Severe Anxiety Disorder, I can relate to worrying and doing it obsessively. One of the symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder is rumination. Rumination is the inability to turn off negative thoughts. Similar to a broken record player (do people know what they are anymore?) or a scratched Compact Disc (same question) getting caught in a loop and reciting the same lyrics in your head over and over.

I come from a long line of worriers and a long line of pray-ers but I never put the two together before. I am sure if the quote is analyzed enough there are theological (the study of the divine) and ontological (the study of being) questions and fallacies but for now it gives me a new way to look at worry, stress, anxiety, rumination and where to focus my thoughts and spirit.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Knocking

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Knocking

This morning I woke up with a headache. It felt like a giant was knocking on the front door of my face. I at breakfast took a pill and laid back down. It helped a little but it’s been painful off and on most of the afternoon.

Last week a friend told me he had a “secret knock” whenever he went over to his mother’s home. He said this knock was for her to know that it was him without looking out the window to see. I liked this idea both the reality and the thought behind it.

We have ideas which knock on the doors of our heads. Some of these thoughts, especially the ones filled with doubt, confusion, anger, can take us to places we don’t want to go. Wisdom teachers call this; “monkey mind” a mind filled with chatter like monkeys in a tree, never-ceasing or giving a moment’s peace. It can also be called; “thought train” which is a mind that’s on a particular set of tracks taking us to places it’s not always wise to go.

The good news is we are able to train our minds to recognize “monkey minds, thought trains” and refuse to let them take over our spirits and emotions. The key to mindful living is to be present, in the now. Our minds are not all-powerful and we do have the capability of saying; “No” to negative, repetitive, thoughts and “Yes” to those which keep us centered, balanced and at peace. We simply need to know when and when not to open the door.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Scattered

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Scattered

Last night I stuck a bag of trash on the porch. Living in the country and not placing garbage in a receptacle is like playing Russian Roulette. Sometimes a varmint gets into it and other times they just pass it by. Unfortunately, last night something got into the trash and scattered it all over the driveway. It was the first thing I saw when letting the dog out this morning. I went inside, grabbed a new bag and began recollecting the trash. There’s nothing quite like picking up frost-covered garbage at dawn.

As I was gathering it and stuffing it into the bag I began to recall a Jewish wisdom tale;

A woman repeated a story (gossip) about a neighbor. Within a few days, everyone in the community knew the story. The person she talked about heard what had been said about her and she was very sad. Later, the woman who had spread the story learned that it was not true. She was very sorry and went to a wise rabbi and asked what she could do to repair the damage. After giving this some thought, the rabbi said to her, “Go home, get one of your feather pillows, and bring it back to me.” Surprised by the rabbi’s response, the woman followed his advice and went home to get a feather pillow and brought it to the rabbi. “Now,” said the rabbi, “open the pillow and pull out all the feathers.” Confused, the woman did what she was told to do. After a few minutes, the rabbi said, “Now, I want you to find every one of the feathers and put them back into the pillow.” “That’s impossible,” said the woman, almost in tears. “The window is open and the wind has scattered them all over the room and blown many feathers outside. I can’t possibly find them all.” “Yes,” said the rabbi. “And that is what happens when you gossip or tell a story about someone else. Once you talk about someone, the words fly from one person’s mouth to another, just like these feathers flew in the wind. Once you say them, you can never take them back.”

It was a great reminder that not only every word but every action has consequences that we cannot foresee. Our lives should be lived mindfully aware that our scattered thoughts, words, and actions will impact the world for evil or for good.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Thoughts and Prayers

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Thoughts and Prayers

I have to admit I am sick of the phrase; “Thoughts and prayers,” which inevitably occur each and every time there is a mass shooting in our country. As of yesterday, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive, a total of 30 mass shooting incidents have occurred as of February 14, 2018, including Wednesday’s school shooting in Florida. Thirty! That’s almost 1 every day. Following these mass killings, politicians play two cards; “Thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” followed by; “Now’s not the time to talk about gun control and what we can do to stem the tide of gun violence in our nation.” Every time one of these politicians speak these words or ones like them I almost throw the remote at the TV. Kids are dying! Most of these politicians are pro-life, anti-abortion, but somehow someway they play a Jedi-mind trick with themselves and see these as two separate issues. I can’t do that, I won’t do that. Something needs to be done.

I am acutely aware of the mental health angle and the restriction for individuals who mentally should not own a gun. I understand waiting periods for guns and background checks but we must do more. Our children are dying! The National Rifle Association is a powerful entity. They lobby and support many politicians:

La. Sen. Bill Cassidy, tweets his sympathy and prayers – received $2,800,000 from NRA.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman tweets prayers – received $3,000,000 support from NRA.
Iowa Rep., Janie Ernst tweets, join me in prayer – received $3,100,000 from NRA.
Fla. Sen. Marco Rubio tweets, a terrible day you pray never comes – received $3,300,000 from NRA.
Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner tweets, heartbreak and prayers – received $3,900,000 from NRA.
Az. Rep. John McCain tweets his prayers – received $7,700,000 from NRA.
Fla. Gov. Rick Scott ordered flag to be lowered for senseless tragedy – received A+ rating from NRA.
V.P. Mike Pence tweets heartache and prayers – received A+ rating from NRA.
Donald J. Trump tweets his prayers – received more than $21,000,000 from NRA in 2016 election.

I don’t know what to do. People smarter than me have been trying and yet for some reason are met at every turn with obstruction and obfuscation. I also want to know where the church is on this?!?! It’s clear to me Jesus never condoned violence of any kind and sticking up for the poor, down-trodden, innocent ones was his mission and should be ours. We’ll stand on a street corner with pro-life signs, slap a pro-life bumper sticker on our car but few vote for stricter gun laws.

I don’t want to start a debate. I want a solution. I want kids to stop dying and the church be silent no more. The youngest and brightest among us are dying. Thoughts and prayers do nothing without actions backing them up. Do something or stop saying it!

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Teaching Peace

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Teaching Peace

Earlier this week I was talking with a man who has a confessed anger problem. He’s also been hurt by some people he trusted. The pain and rage of this betrayal occupy his thoughts and revenge is his stated goal. As we spoke with each other I explained to him that violence is not going to fix things. It will only make it worse for the man and his family. “Good mental health, the ability to process our emotions in a healthy, positive way will have a lasting impact on your family. Not choosing wisely will hurt you and those you love. I know the feelings are there and they’re eating you up inside but taking a path which doesn’t lead to peace punishes everyone.

Peace is a hard concept and discipline to put into practice. We live in a world which claims the right to revenge and paying people back for the harm they’ve caused us. However, if we stubbornly stay on the path to; “right the wrongs” done to us we will not find contentment but an endless cycle of violence and retribution.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Enemy Within

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Enemy Within

I had a meeting with my talk therapist yesterday. It went well. She is professional, a good listener and has a way of pointing out things I miss in life experiences. We were talking about a certain subject, one I struggle with mightily at times, and asked a question that made me think in a completely different way. She didn’t say; “Think this way.” Like a good therapist should do, she allowed me to look inside and find my way out of dark corners.

As someone with a Chronic Severe Depression disorder the battle with ruminating thoughts, anger, doubt, confusion, and fear cover my mind, emotions, and spirit like a wet blanket. Some days I can shake the blanket off of me, other days it’s like a chill in my bones and I can’t get warm. Therapy helps remind me that many of the feelings, and non-feelings, which come with depression may not be gotten rid of completely but a new thought, a burst of light, a letting go of some of the negative, can make room for hope and a willingness to continue the journey.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

How’s Your Aim?

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How’s Your Aim?

This past Sunday morning the Mrs. and I went to our neighborhood church. It’s a small country congregation who meet in a small white building complete with steeple. We arrived as the service was starting and were quickly noticed by one of our neighbors and invited to sit with them. As with most small churches guests are welcomed profusely and it seemed as if every person in the worship room wanted to shake our hands and to tell us how happy they are to see us. This is one of the reasons I love small churches.

Finally, we were able to sit down and the music minister asked everyone to stand. We sang a few hymns and then the pastor stepped up on the platform to preach. As he was walking up to the pulpit I noticed he was carrying a firearm in a holster on his hip. I began looking around and noticed the music minister, and two ushers also were packing heat! Four guns in a group of about 30 people in a room no bigger than 25 feet by 50 feet. Needless to say, I didn’t feel safer and whispered to my wife; “There are 4 people with guns in this room. If someone comes in and starts shooting there will be bullets coming from every direction. Get on the ground and stay as low as you can!” The pastor spoke on; “Guarding your thoughts” but I must admit my thoughts were on all the firepower in the room and what would happen if someone’s gun fell out their holster and start going off!

This isn’t an anti-gun post it is simply surreal that guns in church are now an acceptable casualty of our culture. It also begs the question; “What would Jesus say about guns in a place of peace?”

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Jesus, The Master; The Gospel according to Saint John, Chapter 14

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The River

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The River

“Imagine yourself sitting on the bank of a river. The river is your stream of consciousness. Observe each of your thoughts coming along as if they’re saying, “Think me, think me.” Watch your feelings come by saying, “Feel me, feel me.” Acknowledge that you’re having the feeling or thought. Don’t hate it, judge it, critique it, or move against it. Simply name it: “resentment toward so and so,” “a thought about such and such.” Then place it on a boat and let it go down the river. When another thought arises—as no doubt it will—welcome it and let it go, returning to your inner watch place on the bank of the river.”
#ThomasKeating, “Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel”

One of the greatest and most difficult realizations is the truth that we are not our thoughts. We are not our actions. We are not our egos. True, each of these can reveal things about us and to the world but we are not these things.

The problem is we’ve been taught the opposite most of our lives. The famous quote; “Reap a thought, a word, an action, then a destiny,” seems right but our thoughts do not have to lead us to who we ultimately become. We can choose to go deeper, change paths, refuse to be captive to our thoughts by breaking free of them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Flashback

Flashback

Today, while working out, I began to think of someone I haven’t thought of in a long time. It was a song that started the flashback. The memories began emerging and it wasn’t long before I began to feel the emotions, experience the memories and time melted away. It was almost as if I was back in the place, with the person and struggling. This person and I had a difficult relationship. There are times when two people don’t mesh. Sometimes there are reasons other times there are not. The pairing produces negative results, hurt feelings, harmful actions, and regrets.

I was thankful my anxiety didn’t take me too far down the road. There are times when my anxiety disorder goes into high gear and I can’t turn my thoughts off. They keep coming and it seems I am at their mercy. Today, the flashback was only a few moments and I was able to move on.

Though unexpected and unwanted the flashback was a good reminder that I have put a lot of distance between what was then and what is now. Most of the pain has vanished, the hurt feelings healed, the memories and experiences seen differently. The person is no longer my adversary but a fellow sojourner trying to find their way home on another path.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Problems

Problems

There are three kinds of problems; those we can live with, those we can do something about and those we must separate ourselves from.

It’s the last one which gives us the most trouble. Living with something aggravating and, at least in the present moment, is unchangeable can be a challenge. Fortunately, or unfortunately, we can tolerate a lot. This approach can create more hassles if something needs to be changed and we lack the direction, motivation or passion to do something.

Taking control, bending problems to our will, throwing our shoulder into a problem is an attitude we find easy. There’s nothing like grabbing a difficulty by the throat and forcibly doing away with it, changing it to our liking. The risk here is we can make a situation worse if we are too hasty, too stubborn or not wise enough in our decision-making.

Leaving it, for most of us, takes the greatest strength. To be faced with a problem and not change it but change ourselves, how we approach it, takes courage and trust. When we put up with it we are sullen and prone to negative thoughts and spirits. When we take hold of it and wrestle with it, we feel we are in control. When we decide to let go, step back, allow the problem to exist and find contentment at the same time, we have reached a place of genuine spiritual and intellectual maturity.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Attention!

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Attention!

This afternoon I stopped at a store and picked up a few items. When I was done I walked to my truck, put my seatbelt on and began to back up. My mind has been full of different and difficult thoughts the last several days and for some reason, I only glanced out my rearview mirror. When I looked again there was a woman behind me with a horrified; “This guy’s gonna run me over!” look on her face. I slammed on the brakes and waited for her to pass. I then rolled down my window and apologized profusely telling her it was my fault I wasn’t paying attention.

When I arrived at my mother’s house I asked her to wash a few items of clothes for me and she said she would. I gave her the clothes and was turning around to walk back down the hall when I heard her yell; “No!” I came back and asked what had happened and she said she had poured fabric softener where the bleach was supposed to go. I then told her my story about the woman in the parking lot and we both agreed our attention has been elsewhere.

Stressful times full of difficulties and challenges taxes our minds. We don’t sleep well, eating what’s available, our minds, emotions, and spirits quickly become depleted because our energies are used in other areas. As hard as it is we need to take time to be focused and still. Catching up on rest, eating at more regular times and a decent diet can help. Deep breaths, times of meditation and prayer, trying to be still so the muddied, frenzied water can still so we are able to see.

Finding the mindful way when the way is rough isn’t easy but it might be the only thing which will keep us sane until we reach a more welcoming and easier path.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The Heart’s Way

The Heart’s Way

The sky has been cloudy today. It has been mostly dreary and cool. It’s one of those days you stay inside and try to keep warm. This weekend has felt like fall. Not the fall with the beautiful leaves, cool nights and warmer days but the type of fall days which tell you winter won’t be long coming.

I’ve been tired today. It’s been a long 10 days and its caught up with me. I don’t mind “lazy” days. They are good for the mind, body, and spirit. However, there are things which need to get done that didn’t. I know there will still be enough sunny warmer days to finish winterizing the house and yard but letting go of “wasted” day thoughts is still tough.

Looking inside, into my soul, where the stillness exists I am reminded that there must be days we rest. I am thankful for the wisdom teachings of the importance of the mind but even more so the lessons of the heart. Going deep, when the surface is confused or condemning, helps me discover the path is not forged by a quickened pace but by a contented heart.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Reacting

Reacting

What are you reacting to? Such a wonderful and powerful question.

We live in a reactive world. Opinions, biases, judgments, loyalties, choosing sides, seems to be what everyone around us is doing. We don’t have to ask for someone’s thoughts on a matter before they tell it to us anyway. Social media is a primary culprit but I’ve heard stories of this happening in restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores. People can’t shut up or stop typing. It is a wonder anyone can find interior peace when the exterior world bombards our ears with a cacophony of noise and words.

The space in between” is a difficult discipline which needs broader acceptance. Basically, it teaches that between the incident and the comment is the moment to choose our response. Between the action and the reaction, we have the ability to make the situation better, the same, or worse. In the immediate time following an experience we have the ability to make it more or less unstable.

Reacting, choosing, deciding, what our reaction to a stimulus will determine our destiny. Will we be thoughtlessly reactive, speak without considering, act without thinking about the outcome? Or, will we remember the “space in between” and so grace, kindness, and love?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Openness

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Openness

On Wednesday night of this week, I was speaking with someone about being truthful and honest to the people in our lives. He stated that being too open can lead to betrayal and pain and therefore he doesn’t share his story for fear of being taken advantage of. It was a fair argument but I told him maybe his issue wasn’t being fearful of openness but being open to the wrong people. People we can trust, who won’t use our words and experiences against us, who will listen to understand and be a shoulder to lean on are invaluable.

Earlier in the week, I shared a fatherhood presentation to a group of fathers who have young kids in school. There were dads who were going in to work late and some who had worked all night diligently sitting there to learn more about how they could be involved in their children’s lives, especially when it comes to education. After the presentation while saying; “goodbye” to the fathers one of the attendees came up and began speaking with me. She had some questions about getting a father involved and shared her story. What she told me was hard to hear with many issues and other challenges she’s had to overcome. I couldn’t believe how open she was being when we had just met a few moments earlier. She believes I am someone she can trust with her family.

Openness, transparency, is something most say they desire in themselves and others. However, these can bring feelings of uncomfortableness, questions that aren’t easily answered, and an unsettling fear of not being skilled enough to meet the need. When these thoughts are rushing through our minds the need to breathe and be still must be remembered. Most people don’t want you to fix them they simply need someone to listen without judging. If there are problems to solve and mysteries to unravel we can do them together as we travel this path called life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

No Contact

No Contact

A cold front moved through our area last night and this morning bringing with it fall like temperatures and rain. On my way to work today I turned my wipers on to clear the water from my windshield and immediately heard an odd flapping noise. I looked at the wipers as they were swiping left to right and noticed on the passenger’s side the rubber on the far side of right wiper had come off the wiper blade. It wasn’t doing anything but flapping in the wind. As a result, where there should have been a clean windshield instead there was rainwater and condensation.

My day has been spent teaching others how to stay in connection with each other, themselves, emotions, thoughts and deepest selves. It’s troubling that in a world where connection should be easy is getting more difficult. The various social media platforms have become places of strident opinions and harsh judgments. Workplace environments, sporting and other social events, community organizations and even our homes are places where we choose sides and the divisions are growing deeper and harder to cross. Where once there was contact and closeness now there are only people flapping their gums, pounding on their keyboards, yelling at the top of their lungs, and our closeness to each other is being lost.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Chirp and Chatter

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Chirp and Chatter

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting on the front steps to our shed waiting for Beth to come home from work. Me and the dog enjoying the day when a bird overhead began to chirp loudly! It wasn’t the usual chirp and it was incessant. I looked to the limbs of our big Oak tree trying to find it. I couldn’t. The chirping didn’t stop but I couldn’t find it among the leaves. Finally, it stopped and only when it flew away could I see that it was a large woodpecker.

After watching this beautiful bird fly away I reflected on the constant chirping and not knowing where it was coming from. Some thought are like that in our minds. They chirp and chatter and we wonder, why and for what reason, they are filling our minds with noise. Perhaps its regret at an action,  a question about why something is happening, puzzlement for a big decision which needs to be made, a betrayal, a hurtful word given or received, a reliving of past events, or worry about the future. Whatever the thoughts, the chirps, and the chatter can keep peace of mind and spirit elusive and unattainable.

Wisdom reminds us that thoughts are going to come and go but it is up to us not grab them and ruminate. A wise master once said; “I cannot stop the thoughts from coming to my door but I do not have to serve them tea.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Fear

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Fear

Earlier today I was weed whacking and mowing the grass. As I maneuvered around one of our smaller trees a movement caught my eye and I stopped to see a big black spider fleeing from the lawn mower. It paused for a moment and I had a choice to make; step on it or let it live.

A few weeks ago I suffered a bite from something that caused my hand to swell and turn partially red with splotches. It occurred to me that perhaps it was a spider bite. As I stood there this morning I wondered the same thing. The spider didn’t move and finally, I began pushing the mower in the other direction. I had decided I wasn’t going to kill out of fear this spider, in the middle of the yard, might bite me.

After finishing the chore I sat down with some cold water and my mind drifted back to the spider but also to the way fear can impact us. When fear finds a place in us we can become angry, vengeful, and cruel. We begin to be suspicious of things we may not consider beautiful, acceptable, normal and wanted. We allow the fear to make decisions for us and use it as an excuse for deplorable thoughts, words, and deeds.

Fear runs rampant in our world today. We can’t read online magazines, news, opinion columns or watch the news, many shows without our fear factor being dialed up to the extreme. We are told those who think different, talk different act different, look different, from us are to be feared.

As a result, our world is lacking grace, kindness, and love. The choice is ours to make; live in fear or love like the fate of the world depends on it because it does.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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