Blog Archives

Cattle Crossing

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Cattle Crossing

Today, traveling the back roads of South Central Tennessee, I saw a “Cattle Crossing” sign. It was funny at first, the thought of having a cow in the middle of the road or a group of them causing a traffic jam. The more I thought about a cow jumping, waddling, out of nowhere on the road or stepping out from a hidden place the more I slowed down. A cow would cause tremendous truck and bodily damage. I’ve seen the toll a deer can put on a vehicle. I can’t imagine what a cow would do!

Wisdom tells us that we are given insight and warning signs for a reason. It also reminds us that it is our choice whether or not to take the warning seriously. We proceed at our own risk. Too often we ignore them and suffer the consequences of wrecked lives for ourselves and those we hold dear.

Our lives are not to be lived waiting for the next disaster, challenge or difficulty to come our way. However, if we learn to look for the warning signs and trust the wisdom we have gained through experience and knowledge we can avoid a lot of pain and heartache.

For more posts, reflections and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

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Rainfall

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Rainfall

We need rain! Our grass is turning brown from intense heat and barely any rain the last several weeks. The grass was a beautiful green most of the summer, with showers almost daily, and then not much since mid-July. I have a friend who keeps me informed of their weather and they said its raining almost every day. I asked them to send some our way but that didn’t work. I mowed patches of grass and dirt last Friday and the lack of moisture was noticeable.

I’m curious how in some places they’ve had too much rain and its flooding, in other places like California forest fires rage and they are desperate for it. My friend who’s been getting rain almost every day reminded me of the Biblical statement; “The rain falls on the just and the unjust.” That didn’t help because I don’t know if I’m doing something right or wrong but I’d be happy to change to receive the needed rain.

Like summer droughts our souls are at times parched, cracked from dryness, and we need nourishment to replenish us. A person facing a difficult time asked a question yesterday about burnout and I told them some of my symptoms a few years ago and pointed them to my writings from the last several years as one person’s experience of spiritual drought and emotional barrenness. I hope a post or a poem helps remind them what I have learned; the mountaintop highs and the valley lows are all part of this journey of life. Rain does indeed fall on the just and unjust. Don’t let your desperation for rain, for nourishment, convince you the healing will be quick or easy. Rest. Find peace in the dust and dirt. Trust that it will not be like this forever.

For more posts, reflections, poems and other writings, please visit:
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

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

Stuck Behind

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Stuck Behind

This morning, on my way to a community group for dads, I turned left on a road and ended up stuck behind a FedEx truck. He was going slow and I couldn’t tell if it was him or if there was a slow-poke in front of him. I don’t like being behind large semi-trucks, vans with no windows or box trucks because you can’t see what’s ahead. We were on a two-lane road with no place to pass and no way of knowing how many vehicles I’d have to get in front of if I tried passing. I was stuck. The FedEx truck was intermittently breaking taking me by surprise and frustrating me. So, I took a breath and let off the gas and gave the obstacle in my way, blocking my view, more room. We finally made it to a four-lane road and I passed him noting there were a few cars in front of him that he had been stuck behind.

It was a good reminder that at times, in certain seasons, we can’t make the progress we’d like to make. For whatever reason we are stuck and the way forward is hidden from view. We try to fight it, force it, make it work the way we want it to but this only keeps us frustrated. Allowing for slowness, even stillness gives us a chance to catch our breath and trust that when its time the way forward will come into view.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

How do You Feel?

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How Do You Feel?

Yesterday was my three-month check-up with the doctor in charge of the medicinal portion of my mental health plan. As someone with Chronic Severe Depression and a Severe Anxiety Disorder, the psychology group I go to has doctors who specialize in medical therapy and others who specialize in talk therapy. Together with the patient a plan is developed and intended to help them as much as possible.

Yesterday’s appointment was; “Meh, okay.” The therapist asked standard questions; “Are you taking your meds? How do you feel? Have you noticed any changes in mood or behavior? Any major life changes?”  I answered all of them and told her I was following my plan except for one suggestion she’s made many times. We don’t agree and I don’t think it’s a big deal. She, the professional, thinks otherwise. I told her; “Yes, I am still…” she simply replied; “You know how I feel about that!” and we kept going with the conversation. I found it humorous that’s all she has to say and it’s enough. I either have to trust her and do it or not. She’s told me the benefits and even though I don’t see them I choose to fully follow the mental health plan or not. Sigh.

We’ve all been there with people we love and care for. We give them advice about life and after a point, we decide not to tell them again and again. We let them choose and deal with the results. I’ve done this with many of the people I work with but it’s interesting, and a little uncomfortable, to be on the other side.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

In the Heart

In the Heart

Earlier this week a friend called and during our conversation, she mentioned the weather forecast called for beautiful weather now and the foreseeable future. I explained it was overcast in Tennessee and rain was expected the next several days. The conversation then turned to something she needed to talk about and as I listened it dawned on me that my outside weather was cloudy and rainy and this mirrored her inside on a certain subject.

I hoped my advice helped, at least in part, to help the clouds to dissipate and for her inside and outside to match. The experience was a reminder that we carry seasons, weather in our souls. There are times and places where things are clear, warm, light, easy. There are others where our spirits are dark, overcast, dreary and difficult. Wisdom helps us monitor, adjust, and accept our inside forecast. We change what we have the power to and trust that even the worst of our inside days do not last forever.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Keep What Works

Keep What Works

This advertisement was in my Twitter feed this morning. When I was a pastor who had to prepare and deliver a message each Sunday I loved the times when after the service people would come up and ask a question, make a comment or even challenge something I said during the message.  It meant they were listening! I would listen to them and then discuss whatever was on their mind. At the end of the conversation I would often tell them; “Don’t take what I say as the truth. Go search for yourself. Find out if the all or part of the message is for you and keep what works and leave the rest.” I understood that depending on where we were on our path greatly determined what our minds, emotions, and spirits could process and apply at any given moment. Most of us have had the experience of someone excitedly telling us about something they heard someone say, or read in a book, and how it changed their lives. While we are grateful for our friend’s epiphany we also think to ourselves; “I’ve told them this a thousand times and they never listened!” It’s because they weren’t ready. The good piece of advice, the important life lesson we told them wasn’t ready to be heard.

Wisdom teaches us that many truths surround us presently. However, we can only perceive a few, if any, because we are unaware, distracted. The best news is that these truths are timeless and sooner or later they’re ready to be received and applied. Sometimes we become frustrated because we seem to be learning the same things over and over. We need to learn to give ourselves a break and trust that one day the truth we’ve been searching for will be received and kept because it works.

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

Silence

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Silence

Today has been unusually quiet compared to the last several days since my father has passed. My wife and my mother spent some time together today which left me in her house alone. I reflected a bit on the week that has been but mostly I have slept. I am an introvert with diagnosed social anxiety so it takes little imagination to understand the state of mind I am in because deaths and memorial services, errands and condolence phone calls, emails and texts are anything but quiet and stress reducing.

My wife and my mom knew sleep and silence are what I needed today and am thankful they gave me some space. I am running on empty and my body, emotions, mind, and soul craves the quietude of muted phones, ignored texts, emails that can wait, errands which didn’t happen and the downtime which occurs the days and weeks after a loved one leaves this world.

They say the hardest part of a dear one passing isn’t the days immediately following. Days which are filled with planning, non-stop moving, endless words and memories are hard but can sweep you away in a flood of activity. It’s the days after which grow long. They are filled with loneliness, and questions, confusion, anger, and doubt. The flood of phone calls slow to a trickle, the flowers stop coming, the cards aren’t in the mail, and life goes on. The silence following the cacophony can be deafening.

So, what is a balm for me will become hurt, especially for my mother. It is in these times I must trust the memories will comfort, family and friends will step in for support and we will learn to live with the blessing of silence.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Blind

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Blind

Last night a mighty storm with fast blowing winds and rain came through our area. I sat in the house listening to dead limbs being shaken from the big Oak tree in our front yard, the rain pounding on the roof. There were a few times I went outside to see the storm but the sun had already set and with the clouds overhead there wasn’t much to view. Then the power went out. It wasn’t surprising because of the fierceness of the wind. I went outside again and nothing could be seen but I could feel the wind threatening to blow me over as it had a couple of our potted trees. Finally, after a few hours, the storm had passed, the lights were back on, and I was thankful the storm has passed.

I don’t like storms at night. The biggest reason is that I can’t see anything, not even the direction of the blowing wind. As I sat in a candlelit living room, everything quiet but storm raging outside, I was reminded of life and the storms we face. There are times we see the storm coming but there are other times when one comes out of nowhere. It’s ferociousness rocks our lives and we feel blind as we try to feel our way forward. These can be the scariest of all because there is seemingly no light to see by, to make us feel safe, or to tell us we are nearing the end. The only thing we can do is wait, trusting that no storm lasts forever.

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

Friends

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Friends

You are who your friends are, or show me your friends and I’ll show you, you. I was asked the other day if I had a lot of friends. I answered; “No.” For me, this is not a bad answer but it is a truthful one. I’ve never had a lot of friends, lots of acquaintances, people I know and say; “Hi,” to but not people I would consider friends. If you were to look at my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn profile, you would think I have thousands of people with whom I have a deep connection to. This is false. Online “friends” are fine but most of them are not close confidants with whom you share life.

I think the words friends is overused. Facebook didn’t start the overusing but I think it helped it reach its pinnacle. Each day I try to wish everyone on Facebook, who has a birthday that particular day, a “Happy Birthday!” Many days I recognize at least most of the names but other days I am at a complete loss as to whom I am writing a birthday wish.

The few friends I do have are wise people, not only smart but wise. They are spiritual mentors and people I’ve shared my journey with, the good times and what I’d label bad. They are folks who encourage me when I need it and call me on my BS, inflated ego, and the illusion of goodness I’d like to live in. They are also positive people. Not pollyannaish, pie in the sky, everything’s coming up roses people but truly positive. They help me believe when I am doubting, hold me when I am scared, help me get my bearings when I’m lost, and never give up on me. These are those who I trust with my life and when that’s the criteria, you have to and should be; picky.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Out of Sight

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Out of Sight

This past weekend I wrote about a tiny gray cat that has been hanging around the house. The last time I saw it was on Saturday. I had been putting food out for it hoping to convince it we meant no harm but unfortunately, the neighborhood dogs beat the kitten to the chow. It started raining yesterday afternoon and has been steady since then. Remnants of Hurricane Irma is giving us plenty of water and a bit of wind. My worry, however, is the kitten. Is it dry? Did a neighborhood dog get it? I haven’t seen it since the weekend and I have no idea where it is or what happened to it. So, I wait and see. Hopefully, it’s still hiding under the porch and will come out after the storm passes.

There are people in our lives like the kitten. A storm begins to batter them and they hide, afraid of its downpour and thunder. We long to help them, to show them kindness, to meet whatever needs we can if they would just come out of hiding. However, like the kitten, there are trust issues and perhaps they’ve been hurt before by people pretending to help or they’re used to people taking not giving. What do we do? We wait. If they come out of hiding during the storm we can cover them with acts of kindness. If they wait until after this is fine also. Kindness and love have no expiration date.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Distress

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Distress

Yesterday I wrote about hearing the sound of a kitten but not being able to find it (Listen”  (https://thewannabesaint.com/2017/09/08/listen/). Today, I saw it for the first time. However, it wasn’t the way I wanted to be introduced. I was weeding near outdoor shelves and the weed whacker was on full throttle. Grass and dirt flying everywhere and when I was right next to the outdoor shelf all of a sudden the gray kitten (I now know what color it is) shot out from under the shelf running for dear life. I immediately turned off and put down the weed eater and went looking for it. Using my best “meow” and “here kitty kitty” I tried locating it to introduce myself and assure it wasn’t in any danger but no luck. It was in too much distress to come out of whatever hiding place it discovered. After I finished with the weeding I put out a little food and some water in hopes it will show up again. We’ll just have to wait and see.

A friend, who is a teacher, posted on Facebook that it can be difficult to reach students because of the trauma and distress they face in other parts of their lives. He lamented the impact a teacher can have because of the other challenges and difficulties his students are facing on a daily basis. I find this true in my work with men as well. Whether they are incarcerated, in a rehabilitation clinic, non-residential, divorced or living with mom and the children, most of these men have a painful story. They are impacted by their past experiences of neglect, abuse, heartbreaking home lives, and lack of positive male and female role models. These not only affect their current behavior but also wire their brains and condition their bodies to react in mostly negative ways.

What I’ve learned is that I can’t fix these men. It’s not in my power. What I can do is show them respect and kindness. I try to connect with each one personally. If I can establish a relationship built on kindness and respect amazing things can happen. I’m unable to help them all but I try and trust this is enough.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Strained

Strained

I have a strained, pulled, hurt a muscle. The good thing is it’s one on my back next to my shoulder-blade so I only use it…all the time! I have no idea how I hurt the muscle. I haven’t done anything differently the last few days and yet it has been giving me fits. It’s the sort of strained muscle you only notice when you are lifting, pulling, picking up, putting on a shirt or reaching. When I’m sitting and relatively still I almost forget it’s there until I use it.

I was thinking about a person this week whom I knew long ago. It really does seem it was another life. There was a strain in our relationship. It was painful and awkward. To this day I’m not sure how it became so bad. When I was in the middle of it I often thought it was their fault but now that I am older and think I know myself better I see my part in it. It was both of us. It didn’t always show itself. We both made efforts but when any pressure was put on the relationship it was evident and hurtful.

I sometimes wonder if speaking again after this time of being apart from each other would help heal the rift. I’m not sure. It might only bring the differences and damaged parts to the surface. So, for now, I will rest my shoulder and my anxious mind and trust healing will come.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stuck

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Stuck

Yesterday afternoon on my way to a fatherhood class I was driving down a road and rounded a curve with a truck parked almost in the middle and its hazard lights flashing. I slowed down and getting closer I saw the problem. A guy and his lawnmower were stuck in a ditch. The man who owned the mower seemed at a loss as the driver of the truck attempted to tie a rope around the mower and pull it out of the ditch. It was going to be a feat because somehow the man has positioned his mower where all four wheels were not touching any ground. I hoped everyone was safe and they were able to get the man and his machine mowing again.

Continuing on my way I reflected upon the man and his mower. I’ve felt like him before. There have been times when navigating the road of life, following the path I believed was correct, when all of a sudden there was no traction, no way forward or backward. I was simply and absolutely stuck.

This can be a horrible and helpless feeling. To not know how to proceed or retreat. Finally, after all attempts to get going I accepted the truth I wasn’t going anywhere. In these frustrating times, I learned to be still. Trusting the way would be made available I made the place where I was stuck an altar, a place of divine intervention. Sooner or later someone or something would always come and help me get moving again. My focus in these times moved from being stuck to being still.

Wisdom taught me that not being able to move was a blessing, a season of rest and a time of trust.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Carry

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Carry

One of the hardest things we do on the path of wisdom is to discover we are not all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise. From the time we are born, we are learning. It might be good, positive lessons, not so good, or, most likely, a mixture of both. As we get older we hopefully begin to separate the good from the not so good. We learn that there are lessons we need to relearn and others we simply need to forget.

One of the most important lessons is we are not meant to carry the mountains we climb. Each of us deals with challenges, struggles, and difficulties. Some navigate incredibly tough paths because of what they endured as children, adolescents, and adults. The climb to the top of the mountain, to overcome these negatives is a great success. However, once the top is reached the question is asked; “What now?” When all you’ve known is pain and heartache it becomes a part of you. Reaching the mountain top doesn’t bring the joy and relief expected.

Unfortunately, some, instead of descending the mountain and continuing on with the journey now free of great burden pick up the mountain and carry it with them. The mountain has become a part of them and to separate from it is like breaking off a piece of themselves and leaving it behind.

Wisdom teaches us how to climb, how to descend and how to let go. It may still feel we are leaving part of ourselves behind but we trust our journey will take us to a place, a discovery of our new selves.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Turbulence

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Turbulence

Yesterday I mowed with the riding lawn tractor and today I went out to use the push mower to go places the big mower can’t go. I used the last of the gas out of the can yesterday but for some reason, I thought there was plenty in the push mower. I was wrong. I grabbed my keys and wallet and headed for the gas station. It was nice weather so I put the windows down.

On the way back I looked out my passenger seat window and there was a spider, on one strand of webbing, attached from the passenger mirror to the door. It looked as though it was holding on for dear life! However, what stunned me was the webbing held. The force of the wind was flowing around it and the webbing strong enough to hold it.

I watched and reflected on the strategy of the spider. It wasn’t trying to go forward or backward. It was still, trusting its “anchors” not to break.

The spider is a teacher. Often times, when stormy seasons and turbulent times rock our lives we want to retreat to some place safe or push ahead and get it over as quickly as possible. Perhaps, instead of using energy to try to avoid the difficulties we should be still and trust our anchor to hold fast.

I guess the question would be; “What are we anchored to?”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Waiting

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Waiting

Today I spent most of my day in a hospital waiting room. There were all sorts of people there; young and old, loud and quiet, book readers and tv watchers. All of us there in one of the most powerless positions imagined. Each of us trying to find something to do to occupy our minds while a loved one’s life was in another’s hand.

It’s not a good feeling. To kiss, hug, say goodbye, to someone who means so much to you and trust the person who will be doing the surgery that they have enough knowledge, training, and skill to hold another’s life in their hands and know what to do with it.

I was by myself, which was fine. Others had one, two or a whole group to help them through the challenge of waiting. Finally, my name was called to the post-op area and was able to go back and see that everything was fine and breathed a sigh of relief and thankful words.

Waiting is never easy but key to building trust.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Open

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Open

There are seasons of life where nothing feels certain. Times when you aren’t sure what happens next. Places on the road where the truth of life’s unpredictability is too real.

This is where I am now, at a place where many things are uncertain, challenges and difficulties are everywhere. Worry and frustration over people I love hurting and going through difficult times and trials, no way of knowing how it will all work out in the end. Concern over other aspects of life that are out of my control. Finding my way slowly and, at times, painfully through circumstances I wasn’t expecting or desiring.

In seasons such as these being open, staying open seems a humongous task. My wants and needs are not evil or bad but I know they will only bring suffering if I choose to believe they are the only way. Accepting whatever life throws at me, walking life’s path not being able to see far ahead, letting go of anything preconceived and accepting what is given will take courage.

It seems to always come back to trust and acceptance.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannbesaint.com

Burdens

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Burdens

The fellowship hall which belongs to one of the two churches next to our house had a new roof put on yesterday. As I was doing yard work they were working under the hot sun with no hope of shade. A truck pulled into the parking lot full of shingles and the driver began unloading. After he finished another man grabbed a bundle of shingles, positioned them on his shoulders and carried them up the ladder to the workers on the roof.

Watching this man and the way he handled the shingles and the ladder you might think he would be broad and muscular but actually, he was smallish in size. However, the way expert way he handled the shingles let you know he’d been doing this type of work for a while.

Impressed with his agility and strength I reflected on the burdens that people carry. Mother Teresa once famously said; “I know God says; ‘He wouldn’t give us more than we could handle.’ I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.”

Size, age, education, talent, and all the accolades the world holds dear doesn’t necessarily equal great faith or perseverance. It’s the elderly woman we pass in the grocery store, the young man with the earring in his nose,  the middle age woman with a tear in her eye, the man holding the door open for strangers, who carry burdens too heavy for most of us.

They are able to do this not because they are stronger but have been doing it longer.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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