Oct 31

Four Types of Adversity

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of other things that I’d like to tell you.  There are only so many hours in the day.  That, and I have another speech to give tomorrow.  🙂  It’s one of the good things that has come from my adversity.

There 4 primary types of adversity that I talk about.

  • Relational differences
  • Emotional turmoil
  • Existential or Eternal (i.e. Physical) concerns
  • Financial troubles

This makes up the R.E.E.F. of life.

In the coming posts I will discuss them in more detail.  For the purposes of this post, I’d like to talk about the word “adversity”, itself.

The word “adversity” come from the root word “adverse” which is an adjective (they describe nouns, don’t you know :-)).  This adjective means unfavorable or opposing one’s interests.  In the grand scheme of things the word “adversity” means catastrophe or disaster.  It can work in much smaller “venues.”

Hopefully, that gives you the setting for another word that comes from “adverse.”   That word is “adversary.”  We all like to hear and talk about God and how he loves all of us.  If that’s the case then where does evil, hurt and pain come from?  Many say that this is the “great adversary” at work.  You may also know him as one of God’s fallen angels or the devil himself.

I think if we all think for a bit, we can find the adversary in our adversity.  Can you?  Tell me about it.

Oct 28

My Latest Speech

Many of you have asked how my last speaking engagement went.  Instead of telling you that it went well, as it did, I thought that I’d share with you the actual speech that I gave.  Here it is.  Make sure that you read to the end.  This will give you a chance to look at the video from the Johnny Cash movie, Walk the Line.


Slide #1

Hello, my name is Brian Wagner.  I’m THAT guy!

Slide #2

Two and half years ago I was on top of the world, but I didn’t see it that way.  I was in a job with the potential to make several hundred thousand dollars per year.  I had just come off, what most considered, a ho-hum year where I nearly made $200K.  This was considered a starting point.  I now make a fraction of that but I’m on my way back up.

the power of prayer and the community of faith – James 5:13-18

We take life for granted.  We take our hearing for granted.  I used to take my eyesight for granted.

Slide #3

In March of 2011, this is what I saw, one of two malformed blood vessels (Cavernous Malformations) in my brain stem hemorrhaged.  I immediately lost the ability to control my eyelids and both eyes went  their separate ways.  In April, my wife Connie and I flew to Phoenix, AZ where I had brain surgery to give me HOPE.  Without this surgery, as the doctor’s put it, things would only get worse.  The surgery brought with it only a 25% success rate.  Worse than that there was also a 25% chance that my condition would worsen.  I knew what that meant.

My life was changed forever.

Slide #4

The next few months were the hardest to live through.  My workday usually started after 9:00.  Looking at my PC, phone and email was a chore.  I lived in world with blinders of the worst kind.  After, more than, my fair share of alcohol I would go to bed and pray for God to heal me.  Every morning, I’d wake up one eye lid at a time.  Without fail, I would initially think that I could tell a noticeable improvement.  Then I’d roll over and look at the alarm clock.  How could it be 77:0000?  Well, it wasn’t.

Slide #5

This marks another day of disappointment.

This marks another day closer to the end.

This marks another day farther from the past.

What’s going on God?  I thought we had a deal?  I’ve been praying.  Why aren’t you answering?

Slide #6

At this point, they tell me that I still can’t drive.  They tell me that they only got one of the cavernous malformations.  They tell me that this could be my new normal.  What about the other cavernous malformation.  They tell me that I’m lucky to be alive.

Slide #7

I thought to myself  …  I can’t do this.

Since then I’ve had three surgeries on my eyes with limited success.  I still see double, when my right eye pops open.  The good news is that In October 2011 – I got my driver’s license back.  What a relief.  Up until then, my days consisted of my wife driving me to 2-3 meetings all across Central Ohio, where I would have to lift my eyelids by hand to see.  At the end of the day it was good to just rest my eyes.  As I told Connie, “I’m just tired of seeing.”

Slide #8

There are only a few things that I don’t do today, because of my issues.  I can’t wall-paper and I’m not a good golfer.  OK.  Truth be told, I’ve always hated wall-papering and my golf game hasn’t really suffered..

Slide #9

Matthew 22:36-40

After all of this, my friends encouraged me to speak in front of people, write a blog and subsequently a book.  They probably thought that this would be about ME.  Actually, it’s about YOU.  I want to share with you how I’ve done it.  Hopefully, this will help you and you won’t ever go through what I did.

As I’ve said, over the last 36 years, since I was 10, I’ve undergone a number of changes.  Some of those changes were planned and some were not.  Some of my achievements have happened out of luck and others have come after much thought and planning.

We don’t always get to choose our circumstances. But, we do get to choose what we do with them.  Take a look at your own life and think about how you’ve ended up in precarious situations.  Maybe you been hospitalized.  Maybe you’ve been down to your last dollar and even that one is borrowed.  Maybe you’ve been in a job that wasn’t what you wanted, expected and or envisioned for future growth.

It’s not about how you got there.  Yes, evaluating the chain of events preceding your situation is important.  Hopefully this will help you to prevent this happening again in the future.  What I want to talk to you about is, ”how do you get out of or recover from that situation.”  What are you doing about it?  You can sit, simmer and stew all that you want.  Is that helping?  In the short term it may make you feel better.  In the long term, IT’S NOT HELPING!

When we face adversity in life, we have 2 fundamental choices.  We can either GET BITTER or GET BETTER!  We all have the choice.  Now, I’m guessing that you don’t usually choose to be BITTER.  Somehow, that’s just what happens.

Why does that happen without you knowing it?  It happens for a number of reasons.

  1. Lack of clearly identified goals

  2. Dark spot in your inner circle

  3. Self limiting beliefs surface

  4. Inability to tell yourself the truth

This list is not all inclusive, by any means.  How do prevent these things from happening?  There are many ways to remedy each of these topics.  For the purposes of this discussion, let’s pick one and look closely at it.

#1.  Lack of clearly identified GOALS

Before you can set goals, you need to be honest with yourself.  That’s an important step in finding HOPE and that’s also required to be in the right frame of mind for goal setting.
Point #1.  Lack of clearly identified goals.  Have you ever heard of SMART goals?  This is an acrostic that was created many years ago.






Specific: A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal you must answer the six “W” questions:

*Who:      Who is involved?

*What:     What do I want to accomplish?

*Where:    Identify a location.

*When:     Establish a time frame.

*Which:    Identify requirements and constraints.

*Why:      Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.

As I went through my tough time a goal of mine might have been to be

EXAMPLE:  A general goal would be, “Get in shape.” But a specific goal would say, “Join a health club and workout 3 days a week.”


Measurable – Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set.

When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goal.

To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as……

How much? How many?

How will I know when it is accomplished?

I grew up on a farm and did not really take to the farming side of things, I used to play a lot of kinds of solitaire.  You may be thinking of the card game.  It actually included a number of basket ball shots for me.


Attainable – When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.

You can attain most any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them. When you list your goals you build your self-image. You see yourself as worthy of these goals, and develop the traits and personality that allow you to possess them.

Speaking with you today is one of my goals.  It actually goes to the larger goal of speaking during at least 10 event this year.

Realistic- To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress.

A high goal is frequently easier to reach than a low one because a low goal exerts low motivational force. Some of the hardest jobs you ever accomplished actually seem easy simply because they were a labor of love.

My goal is to leave my day job for my dream job by the end of 2018. .


Timely – A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency. If you want to lose 10 lbs, when do you want to lose it by? “Someday” won’t work. But if you anchor it within a timeframe, “by May 1st”, then you’ve set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal.

Your goal is probably realistic if you truly believe that it can be accomplished. Additional ways to know if your goal is realistic is to determine if you have accomplished anything similar in the past or ask yourself what conditions would have to exist to accomplish this goal.

T can also stand for Tangible – A goal is tangible when you can experience it with one of the senses, that is, taste, touch, smell, sight or hearing.

When your goal is tangible you have a better chance of making it specific and measurable and thus attainable.

These goals have to be your goals.  Not someone elses.  Much like Johnny Cash singing his own song.


It’s time for you homework, take out a piece of paper and write down your top 5 goals for the next year.  It could be weight loss, job, relationship, fitness, run a marathon, … you name it.  Look at the those goals and there will be one or possibly two that jump off of the page at you.  Think about the one that’s most important to you.  Now on the other side of paper, write the one goal down with the items required to make that happen.  When you get up every day I want you to do at least one of those things to get you closer to your goal.

I’ll tell you in the coming weeks and months, you’ll be amazed at how much closer you’ve come to reaching your goal.

Maybe I can come back in 12 months and you can tell me about your results.


If you were there, in person, you’ll notice that there are some things that I didn’t speak about in my talk. That’s part of the wonder of life.  We ebb and flow with the ebb and flow.

Hopefully, this will add to the time that you spent with me on Thursday.  Remember, it’s important that we all set goals.

What’s your most prominent goal?

Oct 10

Don’t be afraid to live your life on purpose

What do I mean by living your life on purpose?  There are too many of us in this world that get up every morning because they have to.  There are even more that lead earthly lives because they want to fit in. More than that there are people who see the sun set and are prepared to do it all again, even though they’re not sure why.

Are you one of those people?  Do you know your purpose?

There was a young-man that stayed at my house this weekend who knows his purpose.  He knows when he gets up in the morning where he wants to be.  He goes to bed at night dreaming of images that he’s created and creating.  For the first time in six weeks my oldest son, Grant, was home.  As he told his mom, it felt good.  It felt good for all of us.

Since my last post, there have been some news in this house.  Grant has been accepted in to an architectural class, at UC, that culminates in a 10-day “field trip” to Italy.  Jessica has celebrated her 16th birthday and now enjoys the open road, minus the training wheels.  Colin set a Personal Record for the 2-mile run @11:40.  (I hope Jess doesn’t go that fast :-))

Yes, I now have many more gray hairs. Connie, for some strange reason, does not.  (I wonder how that happens :-))  She continues to be the true servant leader that she’s always been.  I’ve started a new job and recently delivered my message of HOPE to the congregation of my former church.  Just typing all of that makes me tired.

I’m digging for and rinsing off my purpose with reckless abandon.  That just seems to be the way that I’m wired.  Last Sunday you could see the sparks from those wires.  I delivered the message during the time of that’s reserved for the sermon at my former church.  The moment was prepared for me and I was prepared for the moment.  It wasn’t perfect.  Some may consider this bad news.  There were certain pieces that I forgot and other pieces that I didn’t emphasize enough, but it felt good to talk about it.

What’s important is that it’s out.  Now, is the time to rinse it some more.  The Hilliard Rotary wants to hear it on October 31st, Halloween.  Humph.

For most of my life I didn’t have a clue about my purpose.  I didn’t even know what I believed in or why it mattered.

My purpose is being revealed.  Not only to my audiences, but also to me.

Are you interested in hearing how I’ve found it?  Do you want to know how you can find yours?