Brad Ruggles

The Art Of Living

Give The Dog A Bone


Earlier this summer we added a little puppy named Bella to our family. She’s been a perfect pet for us and has fit right in with our family. Aside from the normal puppy stuff you deal with we really can’t complain. She’s playful, has a great personality and isn’t a barker.

We gave Bella a few rawhide bones when she was a puppy (until we found out they weren’t good for her) so we recently bought some real bones for her to chew on and that’s when the fun started…

The primal instincts kicked in for our adorable little 5-pound dog as soon as she got a hold of a “real” bone. She took it in her crate and would growl viciously at anyone who tried to take it from her. That same dog who only hours before would play with the kids or fall asleep on our lap would think she was a wolf in the wild if she had a bone.

Needless to say, we’re working with her to train this bad habit out of her, but it got me thinking – I’m not really that different than my 5-pound pooch. They say dogs are like their owners but in this case I’m a lot like my dog.

I act pretty thankful for God’s blessings and provision until I latch on to something I really want. I growl and complain if God decides to take something away that I think belongs to me. I forget that I’m only a caretaker of the gifts God entrusts to me and start thinking that they’re mine.

God has been teaching me to hold everything loosely. I’d like to say that I always live by these verses from Deuteronomy – I don’t, but I’m trying – “Give freely and spontaneously. Don’t have a stingy heart. Always be generous, open purse and hands…” 

Guest Post by

Read More

I live in Kenya, And I have Gun Safe At My Home – Taylor Stoke

A report from CNN on June 19, 2017 stated 1300 U.S. children are killed each year from guns. And this make me worry that if a secure country like USA is suffering from this, so we also can.

This was a study from the Disease Control and Prevention National Vital Statistics System Database.Because of fairly easy access to guns, a deranged person can obtain powerful rifles and handguns. Currently the background checks do not identify a mentally I’ll individual. The thought of this occurring seems inconceivable but as mass shootings continue we are shaken from this happening in our civilised world.

The answer to these catastrophes is not to take everyones’ guns away. Besides being an impossibility, it would be unconstitutional in our democratic society. One solution is to secure one’s weapons in a safe and another is education in schools and at home. Children become almost numb to violence that they see on TV and video games. Sometime they become fascinated with the power of a gun and want to experience it for themselves. Not being taught how to handle guns, a child can easily shoot themselves. A hospital Emergency Department sees many terrible cases but seeing accidental shootings of children are devastating.

Gun shot wounds cause extensive tissue damage and even with many surgical interventions the child is never the same emotionally or physically. A solution to keep children safe at home is to own a locked safe. They are well worth the cost as
they could safe a life. Education of the dangers a gun possesses should be taught at home and in schools. There should be strict rules in place regarding who is allowed access to weapons in the home and always double check the safe is locked and the key is secured where only the adult has access.

Note :– Also read Why we need gun safe at our home.

Every adult who is responsible and wants a gun should be allowed to purchase guns as it is their right; however I think there should be a psychological test required to identify mental instability. Selling guns to the mentally ill individual should be prohibited and the gun seller should face criminal charges if he does. Powerful rapid firing assault weapons have no place in the home and should only be used in combat. The homeowner who desires protection from intruders or assault should always be
allowed to own and carry a gun if they have the proper license. Owning weapons requires a lot or responsibility and should not be taken lightly.

Another option for guns are trigger locks. Usually they are provided when a person purchases their gun. If trigger locks are in place the accidental handling by a child can prevent their death. It seems surreal we have so many killings by guns. Every time there is a mass shooting or a child is killed by a gun at home there is an outcry for gun reform. However because of the constitution gun advocates insist it is their right. I think we all agree on that but the extent some gun owners push the limits to obtain an arsenal is in my opinion irrational. If we lived in Iraq maybe an arsenal would be appropriate. There are no limits on how many guns an individual can have in this country and I think there should be regulations in place so it would be impossible own an arsenal.

Sometime I think people do not value this precious life we were given; being reckless and non caring they bypass the love and beauty we were put on earth to enjoy. I do think guns have their place for hunting( If you have so many guns, it’s good to use American security safe accessories for that ), target practice, and collecting; but our society has turned gun ownership into a topic for arguing and defensiveness. There are groups in the U.S. Who enjoy heckling non-gun owners with angry phrases that are nonsensical. On the other hand we have non-gun owners who push their puritan values on others and make matters worse. Both groups are equally at fault and need to find a happy medium. Seems it is an impossible feat these days.

In the meantime, keeping guns locked in a safe, using trigger locks, and teaching children and adults responsibilities regarding handling and using weapons should be our goal. As a Pre-medicine student at Pacific Lutheran University, I shutter when I hear of people getting killed by guns. So, we advise you to usea gun safe with fingerprint recognition as they are secured by fingerprints.However, my family has firearms and I have never feared that they were a danger in the home. Rather, to the contrary, I feel more secure and confident my family are responsible gun owners. As most responsible gun owners, my family keeps their guns in safes.

I remember when I was ten years old my family and I lived in a house in a not so great area. At this time, we did not possess any fire arms. Although we had no guns, we felt safe. Around Christmas time at 2 am, there was a random attempt break in. Someone was pounding on our front door trying to break it down, thinking no one was home. I was in my room terrified and began silently crying. My dad quietly opened my door and gestured me to come into his room where the rest of my family conjugated. We immediately called 911 and they responded at such a rapid pace the attempted intruderfled from the sirens. The cops then searched my neighborhood and found him claiming he was a wanted man for intruding homes.

Ever since that day, my family has owned fire arms. I have never felt more secure in my own home from owning guns. My family goes shooting every once in awhile at gun ranges to improve their skill. As responsible gun owners, we own a safe in our home and keep all guns locked inside of it. Our purpose of being gun owners is only to keep each other safe in case someone tries to harm us like when it almost happened to me when I was 10.…

Read More

Dead Birds, Fish & The End of the World

Blogs and local news agencies have been abuzz in this past week with stories of mass populations of animals who are mysteriously dying without any apparent reason. The story that started with the thousands of blackbirds that fell from the sky in Arkansas on New Year’s Eve.


Since that story broke, new instances of mass animal deaths have been popping up around the world. 300+ Turtle doves in Italy, hundreds of dead pelicans…


…150 tons of red tilapia in Vietnam, 40,000 crabs in Britain, 2 million dead fish in the Chesapeake Bay


In what was perhaps one of the most tragic instances of animal deaths, the beloved Twitter bird was found dead among the thousands of black birds in Arkansas.


Someone posted a link to this Google Map that is tracking the mass, unexplained animal deaths around the world. The mass deaths are more than a little unsettling when you see them all displayed around the world like this.


Needless to say, end-of-the-world theorists are pointing to this as definitive signs that time is short for everyone on this planet while end-times scholars are trying to find new ways to interpret these animal deaths according to verses in Revelations.

Before anyone gets too carried away, it’s important to remember that mass animal deaths like this occur all the time. On average, 163 such events are reported to the federal government each year, according to USGS records. And there have been much larger die-offs than the 3,000 blackbirds in Arkansas. Twice in the summer of 1996, more than 100,000 ducks died in Canada.

But that explanation is too boring. The end of the world makes for much better conversation around the water cooler, right?

Just for fun, let’s jump on the conspiracy bandwagon for a minute. What do YOU think is to blame for all these unexplained animal deaths around the world? Military Experiments? Global Warming? Signs of the times from Revelations? Glen Beck?…

Read More

2010 Atlanta Bloggers Meetup


It’s that time of year again…time for the our 3rd Annual Bloggers Meetup in Atlanta! So many of you have been emailing or DMing asking about this so I’m excited to share the details for what is one of the highlights of my year.

A few changes this year…

New Location

First of all, the Loafing Leprechaun – a restaurant we had come to love in the two brief years we were there – has closed up shop. Fortunately though, we have a new location that is almost as close. This year we will be meeting at The Arena Tavern which is still within walking distance for those who are coming from the Catalyst Labs.

Benefiting Thrive Africa!

We also decided to change one more thing this year. I know many of you enjoyed the swag bags you got last year at the Meetup (and we’re so thankful for all the publishers and record labels who provided them) but isn’t it “more blessed to give than receive?” Of course it is! That’s why this year we’re charging $5 per person with100% of the ticket price going to my dear friend Alece Ronzino (@GritAndGlory) and her amazing ministry Thrive Africa. I’m so excited to be able to partner with Thrive and help them in their mission – all while having an enjoyable evening with other bloggers!

RSVP & Facebook Event Page

Every year so far we’ve had such an overwhelming response to this meetup that we’ve had to turn people away once we filled up. All of the details are on the web page including a page to purchase your tickets for this years Meetup before we run out of spots! To officially RSVP and see who else is coming, go to our Facebook Event Page.

Here are a few pictures from last year’s meetup.











Hope you can make it! Remember, RSVP on our Facebook Page and go to to get your tickets before they’re all gone!…

Read More

Our New Family Member


On Monday we welcomed our newest little family member into our home. And I do mean little. She’s just under 8 weeks old and weighs 1-1/2 pounds. Her parents were both under 5 pounds so when she is full-grown she should only weigh around 4-5 pounds.


Her name is Bella and she has managed to capture the hearts of everyone who has come over and seen her so far. Bella is a designer breed called a Mal-Shi or Malti-Tzu, which is half Maltese and half Shih-Tzu. As you know if you’ve been following me on Twitter we’ve been looking for a dog for a couple of months now. The longer we looked the more we began to narrow down our search. Early on we decided that we wanted a smaller dog  (nice thing about small dogs? Everything is cheaper – smaller crates, less food, easier to transport). Trying to find that was small enough and cute enough to pass the “There-Is-No-Way-I’m-Going-To-Walk-In-The-Park-With-That” test proved to be the challenge.

We found several adorable dogs online in different states but nothing close to Indy. Then over the weekend Lisa spotted an add in the paper for Mal-Shi pups. She called on them and found out that the parents were both under 5 pounds and that they had two females left. Bingo.

We drove over later that afternoon and fell in love with this adorable little fur-ball.



We’ve gotten quite a kick out of little Bella although we realized just how much like a child a little puppy can be when Lisa and I had to get up 3 times during the night to let her go to the bathroom.


Watching her play in the grass is hilarious because the grass is as tall as her.

And so, after years of waiting we have finally joined the ranks of proud dog owners and our two girls couldn’t be happier. As for Lisa and I? Well, we’re more like proud parents that we would probably care to admit. I’ve already caught Lisa showing her off and sending pictures of her online. If you know Lisa, you know how big of a deal that really is!

So this post is for all the pet owners out there…what kind of pet(s) do you have and what do you love about them?

Read More

Where Will It End?

I’ve said it before, as a Dad to two girls I’m scared to death to raise my daughters in today’s culture, especially when I think about what waits for them when they grow up.

I grew up in the 80s, which weren’t perfect of course but still tame by comparison to today’s entertainment scene. MTV had just come on the scene and featured lots of big hair and cheesy music videos. Artists like Michael Jackson or Madonna pushed the envelope and caught flack for their “edginess.”

Today is a different story though. It seems every time I pull up a news page one artist or another is making headlines for setting the bar lower still with some racy music video or concert publicity stunt.

skitched-20100611-091602Lady Gaga, no stranger to controversy, released her latest music video on Tuesday for her song ‘Alejandro.’ It features Gaga dressed in a latex nun’s habit, sucking on rosary beads and at the center of a gay orgy dressed in a crucifix-emblazoned robe with a cross over her crotch.

Katy Perry (remember the one who “kissed a girl” and liked it?) made news when she publicly slammed Lady Gaga’s blasphemous video saying “Using blasphemy as entertainment is as cheap as a comedian telling a fart joke.” In the article I read about Katy’s issue with Gaga, the author added at the end in a humorous touch of irony, “The teaser for Katy Perry’s ‘California Gurls’ video, in which frosting shoots from her breasts, was also released Tuesday.”

Hello Pot? Yeah, this is Kettle. You do realize you’re black too, right?

And don’t even get me started about Miley Cyrus’ shenanigans. You would think that an artist that started off her career appealing to young kids as Hannah Montana and openly professes to be a Christian would hopefully display some restraint and at least think about the example she is setting for her fans.

skitched-20100611-093337But of course, Miley proved indeed that “nobody’s perfect” when she decided to release a rather risque music video for her latest song and then went on to further generate controversy with her extremely sensual bumping, grinding and fake-kissing in a couple of live shows in Britain and Spain.

But don’t worry parents, Miley helped set the record straight for all her young fans on her blog: “I just want to put an end to this right now and just say one thing to everyone out there making this performance such a big deal. GET OVER IT! NOTHING HAPPENED. THERE ARE WAYYYYYYY MORE IMPORTANT THINGS IN THE WORLD!”

So yeah, this is the world that I’m raising my two daughters to grow up in. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t scare the crap out of me. Sure, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry are setting new lows for what’s acceptable but where does it go from there? What will the “new low” be that the next artist sets? When Disney stars are bumping, grinding and almost-making-out on stage while their TV shows air on Disney every day, what will the next generation of kids entertainment look like? Where will it end? Will our world ever stand up and say Enough? Or are doomed to watch each generation try to out-do the last and push the envelope further still?

I don’t even know if I want to know the answers to those questions. I’m just a Dad to two little girls trying my best to raise them right in a world gone wrong.…

Read More

Risk, Care, Dream, Expect


In the weeks leading up to this trip I was pretty busy so my wife graciously helped me do most of the prepping and packing. She even gave me a cue-card explaining exactly what I had and where it was in each bag and suitcase compartment (yeah, I think she’s pretty amazing too).

When I arrived I found that she had written me several cards to be opened on certain days of my trip. This was the card I opened today:


Those words really resonated with me.

This has been quite a trip. I’ve seen some things I just can’t comprehend and will probably spend weeks processing. Reading this card helped remind me why I’m here.

It also is a challenge that I would like to pose to you.

RISK more than others think is safe

Sure, I know that sponsoring a child is a risk for some of you. You’re committing to send $38 a month when your finances may already be tight. I get that. But these children are worth the risk….their future is at stake. You have the ability to change their life and offer them hope and a brighter future. The simple fact is that nearly all of us can manage to set aside $38 a month…that’s less than the cost of one dinner out.

CARE more than others think is wise

Sponsoring a child will open your heart up to a love you didn’t know you could have for someone you’ve never met. The first time you receive that letter from your sponsored child your heart will melt. I’m warning you, if you sponsor a child, you will never be the same. And neither will they.

DREAM more than others think is practical

How much of a difference can just one sponsor make? Until you’ve seen what I’ve seen this week you have no idea. I’ve visited homes and talked to families whose lives have been radically changed because of the generosity of a Compassion sponsor.

I met a Compassion graduate this week who grew up in Kwangware slum in Kenya. He entered the program at the age of 6 then went on to graduate, go to college and start his own business. This same graduate is now sponsoring 3 Compassion children of his own and volunteering at the Compassion project in the slums he grew up in.

All because someone dared to dream for him.

EXPECT more than others think is possible

I wasn’t sure quite what to expect when I agreed to this adventure to travel 8,000 miles around the globe. I knew this trip would change my life but I had no idea how much. Seeing the work Compassion is doing here in Kenya and around the world has inspired and challenged me.

I’m excited when I think about the 1 million plus children who have been given a brighter future because of Compassion sponsors. But I also know that there are over 900 children awaiting sponsors right now in Kenya alone and many more worldwide.

I have no idea how many children we can release from poverty this week because of this trip but I am dreaming big and expecting the impossible for these children.


I’m asking you to take the leap.

Sponsor a child in need.

Don’t wait a minute longer…this is your moment to change a life.…

Read More

A Father To The Fatherless


Just when I thought my heart couldn’t break any more, we drove to our Compassion project today and saw this…


roof after rusty roof of the Mathare Slum, one of the largest and most congested slums in the world. Over 800,000 people live within these 3 square miles. Garbage is piled everywhere and sewage flows freely in between the houses.


And yet in the darkness of this slum we discovered a ray of hope.

We met Eliud Otieno.


Eliud is an 18-year-old Compassion-sponsored boy. His older sister died when he was young. By 2007 he had lost both his mother and father leaving him an orphan, alone in one of the most filthy and impoverished slums in the world.

Thankfully, Compassion was there to help. They purchased the slum-shack he was renting so that he could continue living there. They stepped in and supplemented his food and provided financially so he could continue his education.

Eliud was eager to tell us about his Compassion sponsor, Nick Erskine, who lived in California. Nick has sponsored Eliud for 11 years. When we asked if he had any letters from his sponsor he immediately grabbed a stack of papers from the corner of his 10′ x 10′ shack.


One of the letters was written after Eliud’s mother’s death.


It was obvious that Eliud had a deep connection with his sponsor, a connection that continued to sustain him as an orphan living alone in the Mathare Slum.

We asked Eliud what he would say to his sponsor if he ever met him. He smiled and proceeded to deliver a message so moving that it had us all in tears.

As we left his home I noticed something written on the wall above his door…


It was a prayer he said he prayed every day as he left his home.


I was moved with the perspective this young man had while living in some of the worse living conditions I had ever seen. While many would consider his situation hopeless, Eliud recognized that God had graciously provided everything he needed. Nick, because of Compassion’s work in Mathare, is the answer to that prayer.

I think back on all the things I’ve prayed for in the last few years. Suddenly everything seemed so trivial when I stared at that simple prayer written on the cardboard wall of a shack in a Kenyan slum.

God loves me enough to feed me, bless me, and give me hope for the future. Amen.

Amen indeed, Eliud.


I’ll never forget Eliud’s story and I hope you don’t either.…

Read More

I’m Leaving A Piece of My Heart In Africa


Last week I introduced you to Ivon Magoma, our newest sponsored child from Kenya. I met her briefly on Wednesday when we visited her project in the Kawangware slum but I got to spend the entire afternoon with her today at Nairobi Mamba Village.

She was a little shy at first but she began to loosen up after I pulled out pictures of my family.



I couldn’t blame her for being shy and a little overwhelmed. Today was a day of firsts for Ivon.

Her first time at a restaurant…


Her first time in a bounce house…



Her first face painting…



My girls have seen giraffes at least a dozen times but today was the first time Ivon had ever seen one…



Her first time on amusement rides (or the African equivalent of them)…



Her first time jumping with her very own “skipping rope” that I brought her…


The first photograph she has ever owned of herself…



For a few hours today, Ivon was plucked from the poverty of the slums and allowed to experience the fun and happiness every little girl should know.

Our day of fun came to an end all too quickly. When it was time to go I hugged her tight and told her that I was so very proud to be her sponsor. I assured her that we would write soon and that we would anxiously await her letters.

As I got on the bus to drive back tears welled up in my eyes. I had only known Ivon for less than a week and yet I felt a love for her that made my heart ache.

Today was probably the most fun Ivon had ever had in her entire life…and yet why is it that I feel like the fortunate one? How could one little child affect me so deeply?

Today I and the rest of the bloggers here with me got to witness first-hand the power of a Compassion sponsorship relationship. I’m leaving a piece of my heart in Africa with this precious child.

You may never be able to meet your Ivon in person like I did today but your impact in their life will be no less powerful. You have the opportunity to change a life, to release a child from poverty and give them the hope for a brighter future.

Don’t wait. Sponsor your child now.…

Read More

Beautiful Kenyan Children Singing

There is something especially amazing about the beauty of children’s voices lifted in song, especially these beautiful Kenyan children we met yesterday at Compassion project KE-611.

This little girl wowed me with an impromptu performance. Her little head bob just kills me!

I had so much fun hanging with these kids at the project. I slipped back into my VBS days and had fun telling stories and playing games. How could you not have fun with such an attentive audience?


One of the highlights was teaching them how to play “Duck Duck Goose”


All of these beautiful children are currently sponsored by amazing people around the world…


…but there are still so many precious children waiting for a sponsor. Children like little Igoki:


Her birthday is coming up in just a couple of weeks. I can’t think of a better birthday present for her than to know she is sponsored.

There is someone out there for little Igoki…maybe that someone is you. Will you sponsor a child today and give children like Igoki the chance to break free from the cycle of poverty?…

Read More