Brad Ruggles

The Art Of Living

There’s A Monster At The End of This Post

I-am-so-scared-of-monsters-082757

monster-at-the-end-of-this-book-074256One of my favorite Little Golden Books as a kid was The Monster at the End of this Book. It was a great moment when we received this book as a gift and I was able to read it to my kids.

I got hours of enjoyment sitting down with Emily and pleading with her in my best Grover voice,

PLEASE DON’T TURN THE PAGE!!

She would of course. With each new page turned poor Grover would beg and plead to stop turning pages for fear of finding the monster at the end of the book.

Until we turned the last page and found that the monster at the end of the book? Yup, turns out it was lovable, furry old Grover the whole time.

Anger & Disappointment

This past week the church world was rocked with another disappointment. I don’t need to add any additional commentary to what has already been said by other bloggers I respect. I want to talk instead about how we as Christians are supposed to react to this kind of news. Because if the scandals of the last 24 months serve as an indication of future failures, we have many more of these stories yet to be uncovered.

I’ll be honest with you. My first reaction to these kind of stories is a mix of disappointment and anger. Disappointment, because yet another person I admired let me down. And anger, because I know that once again, the name of Christ will get drug through the mud because of another person who thought they could live a double-life and get away with it.

Looking For Monsters

Why do we find it so easy to point our fingers at the “monsters” we see in the church today? Sure we’re upset about it but can we so arrogantly cast blame when it could have just as easily been you or me?

Far too often I’m so busy trying to remove the splinter from my neighbor’s eye that I’m tripping over the plank in my own.

Don’t get me wrong – I am in no way excusing deceit and hypocrisy in the church. What Michael did was wrong. Nor am I condoning sweeping stories like this under the rug. However, let’s remember that we’re really not that different.

The moment that we begin to think of ourselves as immune to these kind of shortcomings it the moment we’re most in danger of falling. As Paul warned, If you think you are standing strong, be careful, for you, too, may fall into the same sin. (1 Corinthians 10:12)

Like Grover, we may find that if we keep turning the pages, WE are in fact the monster at the end of the story. We’re all capable of lust, greed, hypocrisy and deception in the worst way.

There, but for the grace of God, go I.…

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3 Stories That Have Touched My Heart

Since I’ve been blogging there have been several people whose story Lisa and I have really connected with.

CJ & Andrea Mills

The first was CJ and Andrea Mills. CJ is a special blog buddy because he happened to be my 100th blog subscriber. Back in May while on vacation in South Carolina Andrea went into labor two months early and had little baby Asher who only weighed 4 pounds 9.7 ounces.

Our family checked their blog daily and prayed for Asher who struggled with health problems associated with being born so soon. My daughters knew CJ, Andrea, Jadyn and Asher all on a first-name basis as they were all in our prayers so often

I’m excited to say that God did an amazing miracle in Asher and he is now healthy, strong and growing. Our family still looks forward to the first time we get to meet this little guy we spent so much time praying for.

Adam & Karen Owens

The second family Lisa and I have spent a lot of time praying for is Adam & Karen Owens. Their little boy Gavin was born with a host of health problems including Mitochondrial disease and is TPN dependent which means he receives all his nutrition intravenously via a feeding tube.

Adam and Karen live a life that I can’t even begin to imagine. It’s not unusual for Lisa and I to wake up in the morning and read Adam or Karen’s post and find that Gavin spiked a fever overnight and had to be taken to the hospital which means living in the Ronald McDonald house for several days or longer.

Just yesterday Karen took Gavin at 12:30 am and didn’t get checked into their room until 4 am. Karen wrote on her blog, “I didn’t even bother going to sleep, instead I’ve been sitting here just wondering how much longer we can do this. I try to stay positive but on a day like today I just have to question…What in the heck is He trying to do to us?”

Honestly, I don’t even know what to say to someone who is going through something like that. The most I can do is continue to pray for them and encourage you to do the same. Add them to your blog reader, leave a comment and let them know you’re praying for them.

Matt, Liz & Madeline

Matt’s blog is one that Lisa really connected with. He shares the story of Madeline’s birth in March of this year. Shortly after her birth his wife Liz was getting up from her bed to hold their daughter for the first time when she passed out. A pulmonary embolism took her life leaving Matt to raise their first and only daughter on his own.

It’s a girtty, honest, painful look at the struggles of day-to-day life raising a child on your own while trying to make sense of the tragedy of losing the love of your life. I’ve seen Lisa read his blog many times with tears running down her cheek.

I try to put myself in his shoes but I can’t even imagine going through what he’s been through. To experience the happiest and most hearbreaking moments in your life, all within 24 hours?

These are just a few of the stories that have touched my heart and driven me to my knees in prayer.…

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Look Dad, We Have Plates!

Those of you who follow my blog know that we’ve been living in a hotel since the deal on the house we were going to purchase fell through (read more here and here). Pete jokingly asked me on Sunday what I’m going to blog about once we’re actually living in our own house.

Extended Stay DeluxeSunday evening we got back from our vacation with friends in North Carolina. We checked into the Extended Stay Deluxe (Chloe always reminds me that there is a “Deluxe” at the end). This will be our home for at least the next three or four weeks while we get try to close on another condo we have an agreement on.

Chloe & Emily were so funny when we walked into our room.

“Look Dad, we have our own plates and silverware! We even have a stove!”

They ran into the bedroom and came running back out to drag us in by the hand to show us how HUGE the bedroom and bathroom were. Keep in mind, the whole 1-bedroom suite with pullout couch and kitchenette is probably less than 350 square feet but to them we had just checked into the Presidential Suite at the Hilton.

Normally Lisa and I are the ones trying to teach the kids to be thankful for what they’ve got but for once they were the teachers. I’ll admit it, last night I wasn’t feeling very thankful. In fact, it took everything I had to keep him from coming back.

I’m thankful that each new day gives me a new opportunity to count my blessings. Right now I don’t even want to think about how long it’s been since I’ve slept in my own bed or worn something that hasn’t come out of the same suitcase we left Fort Wayne with. I’m tired of walking into living rooms that require a keycard.

But for now, I’m learning to enjoy the journey. If that means jumping up and down on the bed because we have our own plates and silverware, then I’m going to jump away.…

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Meet Jackass Brad

Allow me to introduce you to an acquaintance of mine. You probably don’t hear me talk about him often because most of the time it’s easier to pretend he doesn’t exist.

His name is Jackass Brad.

This the is the part of me that comes out when I’m stressed or things don’t go my way. He’s not a pleasant person to be around as he tends to think mostly about himself. He’s short with his kids and cranky with his wife. If you’ve known me long enough I’m sure you’ve met him.

Lately, I’ve seen a lot more of Jackass Brad than I care to admit. He blames his visits on stress – as if that’s an acceptable excuse to barge in and complain. Just last night he showed up in the car with Lisa and the kids and proceeded all evening to do what he does best – be a jackass.

The good news is that I’m working more on recognizing him when he shows up. With prayer and conscious choice I can give him the boot before he even gets his foot in the door.

So there you go. I’ve introduced you to someone I don’t like to talk about. If you happen to see him, can you give him a message from me?

“I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.” (Romans 7:18-25)

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Living in a Hotel

“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” – Proverbs 16:9

A lot has changed since Monday. For example…

  • I thought I would be writing today’s blog post from our new house instead of the lobby of the hotel we’re staying at.
  • I thought we would be unpacking boxes instead of extending the contract for the 3 storage units that hold our belongings.
  • I thought we would be settling our kids into their new rooms instead of trying to occupy them with repeated trips to the hotel pool.

For readers who may not be familiar with our story so far, we put our house up for sale in September and sold it in a market that’s not easy to sell a house in. We moved all of our belongings into storage in Indianapolis while we vacationed for a few weeks in Florida. Before we left we had confirmed all of the details on the condo we were purchasing and set to close on as soon as we got back.

We had a closing date of May 12 but talked to our mortgage and real estate agents from Florida and asked if we could move it to May 6 after we arrived back in Indianapolis from our trip. They said it wasn’t a problem. We found out last week that the closing could be delayed a few days but since our contract had a closing date of May 12 we thought we would still be ok. If we had to get a hotel room for a couple of days so be it.

We left Florida Monday morning stopping half-way to spend the night in Gatlinburg so the kids could see the Smokey Mountains. Tuesday morning I get a call from our mortgage agent. He had completely dropped the ball and not checked into the condo requirements for the type of loan we were getting.

Basically, our mortgage guy screwed us by assuring us that we were approved and would close this week without a problem (after having all of our paperwork and information for over a month).

Which brings me to the hotel lobby I’m writing this from this morning. We’re here until the end of the week while the clock keeps ticking on our pending closing date. Lisa was on the phone all day yesterday making calls to banks hoping for a last-minute miracle. If the deal falls through we are back at square one, staying in a hotel and looking for a place to live.

I know that God has everything under control but that doesn’t make the present situation any easier. Lisa and I have been trying to figure out a way to tell our kids that we may not be moving into the home that they were so excited about living in.

Please pray for direction and God’s will to be clear. I’m learning to hold all things loosely as God reminds me that His plans are best and His timing is perfect.

In the meantime I’ll close out this blog post from the lobby of the hotel that is our home with complete trust in God and anticipation of His provision.…

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