Holding On

Holding On

The grass crunched underneath my feet as I opened the workshop doors to back the riding mower out. The weeds, bent over and wilted in the yard, were sparse but tall enough to need mowing. I turned on the blades and dust arose. This has been a long, hot, dry summer. What began in April and early May with plenty or rain and fast growing grass, beautiful blooms quickly retreated as the rain quit falling and the temperatures steadily climbed. The leaves are already dropping to the ground as trees can’t get enough of water to keep them healthy. There likely won’t be a colorful fall because the leaves will be dying or dead before the changing of the seasons.

I listened to someone talk today about depression. They described it as; “The want of nothing, the will to do nothing.” An apt description of my own struggle with chronic, severe depression. The speaker has dealt with this disease most of his life and accepts it may be a part of the journey until his death. 

Depression’s impact is like the drought’s upon the trees. The life giving sources of joy, purpose and the will to live, is lacking. What was once beautiful and growing is now dull and lifeless. Like the trees which cannot draw enough water to it’s leaves, to give them the strength to hang on, helplessly watches them let go and blow away.

The speaker commented; “the key to holding on is to possess a sliver of hope.” It can be hope in a myriad of things but hope reminds us that it gets better. Friends, family members, work, treatment, medication, therapy, community, relationships, hobbies, prayer, all can give us hope that who we are, what we do, matters. “As long as we see hope, we see a reason to keep going.”

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Sum of Life

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Sum of Life

“…the sum of Your words is Truth.”
#Psalms 119 v160

This portion of Psalm 119 was part of my Daily Office reading this morning. It is the longest Psalm in the Bible coming in at 176 verses. There’s a lot of words in these verses and to have one of them say; “The sum of your words is truth,” was humorous to me because I wondered; “Why so many words and verses then?” As I’ve reflected on; “The sum of your words is truth“, I’ve considered; “What is the sum of our life?”

Albert Camus says; “Life is the sum of our choices.” In other words at the time of our death, when we look back over the journey we’ve traveled, it will be the innumerable decisions, made over the countless minutes, hours, days and years we’ve been given which ultimately decides who and what we are, our impact upon the world. Is this true? Are we simply the sum of our selections? What about the tragedies and miracles, unexpected and unwanted events and experiences which happen to us? How do these figure into the equation? Is it also our reactions to these?

I’m not convinced that we are completely in charge of our destiny. There are too many unknown variables, caveats and exceptions. What I do believe is that life happens. How we accept and adjust to it all makes us the people we are presently and will become eventually. I also think we are never done “becoming” and when we take our last breath, however the sum of our lives is ultimately calculated, desiring to make the best choices for ourselves and others is the best way to go.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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What is Received

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What is Received

Some friends and I were talking the other day about listening. More to the point, we were talking about people hearing things which were never said.

In communication lectures I emphasize the importance of knowing your audience. To the best of your knowledge; have they had a good day, how are they feeling, are there any stressors and pressures weighing heavily upon them?  All of these determine what they hear when you speak to them.
What about environment? What is the location of your conversation, do you have privacy, are there bystanders, can you talk without being interrupted by eavesdroppers? Again, these have a lot to do with how your words to another are perceived. And of course, what is your history with the person whom you’re speaking with?
Communication is 80% non-verbal. Only 20% of what we say to another person, or a group of people, is said with language.There are many other factors to be considered to ensure your words are received with the right intent. Unfortunately, even taking most or all of these ingredients in mind, it doesn’t guarantee the words you speak will be what the listener hears.

As one who speaks one on one and to groups of people regularly I have many stories of folks excitedly telling me; “What you said today really spoke to me!” When I inquire about the specifics they share about topics I didn’t talk about and hadn’t even considered! “Thank you!” they say. “You’re welcome!” I reply and walk away trying to figure out how they received what I clearly didn’t give.

It also happens in my writings. A few months ago I wrote about an ugly shirt and a comment someone made about the unsightly garment. As I try to do in my daily writings I gave a lesson learned from the encounter. I thought it was well written and to the point until someone responded to my post in an aggressive way. Though I tried to explain that what he received wasn’t what I wrote, it didn’t matter. Eventually I had to accept what he read and the meaning he took away from it even though it wasn’t my intent.

Wisdom tells us to measure our words. They are incredibly powerful. They build and destroy. Lift us up or tear others down. Too often we are careless with what comes out of our mouths and never consider the consequences until after the words are spoken. Breathe, before your speak and when what is received offends and harms, make sure you apologize with words more carefully chosen then the one which came before.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Left Overs

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Left Overs

It’s now the third day after my oral surgery this past Wednesday.  After a numbing gel on the impacted areas, shots of Novocaine which deadened gums, nerves, tongue, nitrous oxide which made me loopier than usual and a painkiller prescription, all that’s left over, 72 hours later, is the swelling and tenderness. I do have a few powerful pills but use them with extreme caution and sparingly for fear of becoming dependent. Even bread is hard to chew! The dentist said; “It would take time, not to rush it, invest in some ice cream.” Ice cream? Perhaps the dentist isn’t all bad.  :)

There’s something about a part of your mouth feeling different from normal that makes you want to rub your tongue over the impacted area. With it I can tell where the surgery happened but must be gentle not to cause further pain. The first two days the ache wasn’t so bad but now that all the other desensitizing agents have worn off there’s only swelling, aching and waiting that’s left over.

Wisdom teaches us that traumatic and painful events, experiences happen to us all. We may have ways of coping with the hurt, masking the discomfort, ignoring the suffering, however, sooner or later, we must acknowledge the damage which has been done. We must accept the left overs in our lives that heartbreak and distress cause. Only then can we know the wound’s severity. Only then can we treat ourselves with gentleness and patience. Only then can we begin to heal.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Be Still

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Be Still

On her way out the door to go to work this morning my wife gave me the following orders; “Don’t go outside. Don’t mess around the house. Stay on the couch or in the bed. Got it? Good!” Men don’t like listening to nor following orders but the kiss I received afterwards softened the irritation. My wife is smart. She knows I have a hard time sitting still. I need to move, do something, be working on a project. However, the Oral Surgeon wants me to take it easy for a few days following my surgery on Wednesday. So, I’ve been a good husband today and did, or rather didn’t do, what my wife told me not to do.

When forced to be still for whatever reason we begin to think. We reminisce about the past, hope for the future, try to ease our apprehension of the present. Forced stillness takes us on a journey inward and we wonder about roads not traveled and wander along bi-ways of what might have been.

Serenity also allows us, if we dare, to take a focused look at our lives. We examine it, hold it up to the light, turn it over and see if what we’re doing, the events and experiences which make up our existence, are meeting our purpose, fulfilling the reason for our being on this planet, at this time in this space.

Distractions are one of the greatest enemies of wisdom, truth. Being still, examined, measured, isn’t easy but its better than realizing, only when the stillness of death comes, that we missed our reason for being.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Never Alone

Never Alone

Yesterday I wrote an anxious post about going to the dentist  (https://thewannabesaint.com/2016/07/20/an-anxious-word/). Everything turned out okay. The procedure went fine. I explained to the doctor when I met him a few months ago about my claustrophobia and anxiety disorder. He was more than understanding and went out of his way to make sure I was comfortable. He even allowed Beth to come in to the room stand by my side when I was struggling to stay in the chair during the most painful and invasive part of the surgery. When Beth and I arrived home I crawled in the bed and have slept most of the last two days.

In between my drug induced naps I’ve thought about Beth and the dentist giving me all of the support I needed while going through this traumatic event. They both asked me often; “If I was doing okay? Did I need to take break? Was I okay to continue?” They knew it was my hardship to endure but they made sure I knew I was never alone.

Often times people we love and care for experience dangerous and debilitating seasons and moments. Our first desire is to take their pain away, battle their demons for them. However, most times we don’t have the ability to suffer in their place. What we can do is be there, for as long as they need, find out what we can to help and do it. Above all, by our presence and prayers let them know they are never alone.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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An Anxious Word

An Anxious Word

I didn’t sleep well last night. I am facing a real fear today. At 9:00AM I will be walking into a dentists’ office for oral surgery. There are a lot of people who are afraid of the dentist but for me; someone who’s diagnosed with severe anxiety and clinical claustrophobia, there is a growing anxiety and sense of dread that’s been building for several days. Beth has taken the day off to help me through this which is one more reason I love being married to someone who accepts me and all my baggage.

Waking up early this morning, after a night of tossing and turning, I sat on the couch and began the morning portion of the Daily Office. The first words each day are; “Let’s begin our morning in silence.” I took deep breaths and, like everyday, recited a section of my favorite Psalm, 46, which says; “Be still and know.” Then my prayers and readings began. I have most of the Daily Office memorized after many years of using it but the chosen Psalm for the day was a surprise. It was Psalm 46. I recognized it immediately and the words gave me a greater sense of calm and assurance. It was a settling word in the deep places where my anxiety seems to flow from…it didn’t take away the fear but it gave me wisdom, truth, to counter the fear within.

I don’t know what kind of shape I’ll be in the rest of the day so I wanted to write this post out of thankfulness for God’s word always being what my soul needs to hear and to ask, if you think of me, please say a prayer.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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In the Deep

In the Deep –

I listened to a police officer tell an interesting story today. She and her partner had been called to a house where a married couple was fighting. They knocked on the door, entered the residence and found the man and woman arguing in the kitchen. The two people were screaming at each other so loud the officers could not get a word in even though they were speaking at a high volume. Finally, in an act of desperation, the gentleman officer grabbed a loaf of bread, went to the fridge and retrieved some mayonnaise and meat and sat down at the kitchen table and began making himself a sandwich. After a few moments the couple noticed what the policeman was doing and stopped arguing and stared at him, incredulous at what he was doing. Taking a bite, he said after chewing; “I’m just going to eat this sandwich until you two are ready to listen.” Silence filled the room, except for the officer’s stomach digesting his snack, everyone else sat down and began to talk.

I reflected on life and all the voices which fill our minds, spirits, emotions and lives everyday. If we aren’t careful we can find ourselves all consumed by the noise. On social media, TV, radio, printed media people express their opinion and fight with those who don’t agree. Others add their perspective to whoever may be in ear shot, trying to persuade them to embrace their positions on everything from politics to sports to global issues of terrorism and finance. It can be hard, if not impossible, at times to find a place of silence and stability.

Though it may seem counter-intuitive stillness is at times and action. It is a purposeful removal of ourselves from all the distractions of the world, which scream for our attention, and enter into a space where we can rest and remember wisdom, truth, doesn’t force itself upon us but rather whispers in the deepest recesses of our souls.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Progression not Perfection

Progression not Perfection

Today in our Incarcerated Father’s class we talked about; “How to be the Perfect Dad.”

I began by drawing a stick figure and asked the men what it needed to be an ideal father. On the face we drew a mouth for praising and giving guidance, ears for listening, eyes for seeing the good in ourselves and our kids, a nose for sniffing out trouble and a big ol’ brain for making good choices which have a long-lasting impact on us and our children’s future. We then went on to hands, feet and lastly I drew a large heart in the middle of the stick figure. “Without a heart which loves, helps, leads and values our children, partners and families, we’ll never be the father we need to be.”

After the exercise, we looked over the list of traits and duties a perfect father has, does and I asked the men a question; “Can anyone be a perfect, ideal dad?” They paused for a moment and said; “No.” “Correct!’ I replied, ‘we seek progression not perfection.”

It’s a good lesson for each of us to learn. We live in a world where celebrities on websites and magazines look amazing, not a blemish to be found. We read articles which extol the feats of men and women and they seem more advanced and evolved than us. We peruse Facebook and other social media sites where friends post photos, quotes, eloquent thoughts and we think to ourselves; “They’ve got it all. I’ll never be a _________ as good as them (fill in the blank).”

We forget so easily that pictures can be photo-shopped, well written pages are heavily edited, most folks only post their best on social media sites and no matter how perfect a person’s life may seem it is anything but…

Too often we have an ideal self and try to live up to it and, of course, we fail and spectacularly! Give yourself a break. Open up your heart and learn to love your frail, faulty, fickled self. Remember; progression not perfection is the way of the sane and contented.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Pokémon…huh?

Pokémon…huh? –

Last week was the first time I had heard the words; “Pokemon” and “Go” together. A couple of folks in the office were talking about it and I was listening trying to figure out what they were saying, describing and deriving so much joy and interest. Like a newbie, I asked several questions but still didn’t understand the concept. Little did I know this conversation would be the beginning of an information  immersion into this app game for a cellphone I would receive over the last several days. I’ve heard about it on the news, podcasts, social media and more. I’ve seen pictures of people, phone up to their faces, meandering around, running to areas where “creatures?” can be found and trying to “catch” them.

Reflecting on this latest phenomenon I am reminded how each of us have goals we pursue. We seek the elusive, the valuable, the treasured, the thing that will bring contentment and meaning into our lives. However, unless we are pursuing the truth each goal we grasp only leaves us unfulfilled and a new goal appears with further promises of purpose and peace. If we’re not careful we can spend our lives chasing, finding and capturing that which will not satisfy.

“Truth is easy to understand once it is discovered; the point is to discover it.”
-Galileo Galilei

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Bucket Life

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Bucket Life –

Most of the day I worked on our “extend and screen in” the porch project. At one point I stopped and went to my workshop to get a tool and a movement caught my eye. I looked down and in a 5 gallon bucket, with a small amount of rain water, was a frog. It was startled by me and began swimming in circles. I wondered how he got into the tall bucket and how long he had been there. I looked for a small canister to scoop him into and free him from spending his short life going round and round with no end in sight. I found a little cup and tried to capture it but the frog was not thrilled with the idea. He kept swimming and it’s not possible to corner something in a cylindrical container. Finally I got it, took it outside and set it free. I even yelled, as it hopped away; “Watch out for the snakes!”

I’ve thought about that frog off and on as I worked today. Life and its cycles can feel endless sometimes. We aren’t sure how we became trapped in a cycle of negativity, tragedy, bad luck, trials and tribulations, mishaps and mistakes, but it seems no matter what we do we can’t break free. Our misfortune and affliction keeps going and going and going.

Wisdom tells us to remember that nothing lasts forever. Not good or bad, blessings or curses, windfalls or downfalls, they all have a limited shelf life. Unfortunately we don’t possess the ability to gauge how long each season will last. However, what we can do is hope, look for a way out, don’t fight when help comes and be thankful for freedom when it arrives.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Good and Bad

Good and Bad

Earlier this week a link to an old style entertainment wrestling video appeared in my Facebook feed. I recognized the wrestler and I admit succumbing to the temptation to click on the link. Watching it I was taken back to my childhood and enjoying these entertainment wrestling shows. My parents weren’t fans so my brother and I made sure they weren’t aware of what we were filling our brains with on the boom tube.

These wrestlers were incredible. They wore flashy clothes, had muscles everywhere, took a beating, kept on going and most of the time the good guy won the match. One of the reasons I liked wrestling as a kid was because you knew who the good and bad guys were by the way the dressed, talked, wrestled (good guys never cheated) and behaved in and outside of the ring. As a kid these were real life heroes and villains fighting for right and wrong, good and bad, justice and injustice every Saturday. Back then I didn’t know it was a lot more entertainment than wrestling. As I grew up I came to realize it was athletic acting, a male dominated, sports soap opera.

Someone asked me a few days ago who they should vote for in the upcoming presidential race. “Both candidates have tremendous flaws! As a Christian, how should we vote?” I shook my head and simply said; “I think you should pray.” “About who to vote for?” they asked. “No,’ I replied, ‘I’m not sure as a Christian you can, with a Holy conscience, vote for either one. But you can pray.”

The older I get the harder to tell who the good and bad people are anymore. Our world is so full of mixed signals, compromise and confusion. I don’t think its going to get any better. Prayer, humility, serenity of spirit is what it takes to survive and hope in times and seasons such as these.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Come Out and Play

Come Out & Play

Ever feel life is similar to this poor Giant Panda Bear (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_panda) staff member? You’re doing everything you can to keep your life neat and orderly, to do what you need to do, and forces beyond your control are conspiring against you to keep it from happening.

Watching this video I couldn’t help but feel sorry and empathize with the zoo keeper. I’ve been there. On good days, when my Clinical Depression and Severe Anxiety are kept at bay, I’m able to accomplish what I set my mind to do. However, on those days when my D&A decide to run wild it takes everything I’ve got to get the simplest project done or task completed.

Those days when Depression and Anxiety; “come out to play” and wreak havoc I do my best to remember tomorrow, or some day soon, they’ll stay away long enough for life to regain a semblance of order and serenity.

#DontBeAshamedofYourStory
#EndtheStigma of #MentalHealth
#StoptheStigma #MentalHealthAwareness

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Balanced and Level

Balanced and Level

Last night the Mrs. and I continued working on an extension to the front porch. We are extending the roof about 15 feet and then hope to screen it in. The first step  was digging the holes which would hold the 4×4’s. I did this Saturday two weeks ago. The next step was to place poles in a hole and fill it with cement. Neither Beth and I had ever dealt with cement before but knew enough to make sure the poles were level before pouring the concrete in the hole. We did and then, slowly, mixed the cement and the water. We were using quick-set concrete which only takes 30 minutes to get firm so being sure the pole was level and balanced was utmost important. We spent more time adjusting the poles than permanently setting them in place.

This morning, I checked on the poles and they are nice and secure. I also reflected upon the foundations of our lives. Every person has something they anchor their lives in; religion, science, relationships, intelligence or a mix of all of these. There are many foundations we can place our lives into but the real question is; “Are we balanced and level?” A lot of ideologies, philosophies and people we use to anchor our lives can leave us uneven and unstable. The key to peace within is to make sure what we fix our lives upon doesn’t just secure us but gives stability and the evenness our spirits need.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Appreciation

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Today is; “Cow Appreciation Day.” I had no idea. It wasn’t on my calendar, I didn’t get a card, or buy a cake for the cows across the road whom belong to my next door neighbor. I only discovered the meaning of this day when I was on Twitter this morning and saw the #CowAppreciationDay.

There’s also a more serious discussion happening on social media the last several days following the deaths of two black men and five Dallas police officers. Protests on both sides are popping up in many cities across America and the chant, signs, mottoes being used are; “#BlackLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter or #AllLivesMatter. The debate seems to hinge on which slogan to use and which one is insulting to one or all groups.

I haven’t waded into these heated debates and have no plans to do so. I understand, as best I can, both sides of the arguments while conceding that I am a middle-aged white man who has never been treated differently because of the color of his skin nor does my job put me in harm’s way or call on me to make life and death decisions at a moment’s notice on a daily basis. There is passion, pain and persistence on all sides of this needed and difficult discussion.

My heart hurts to see brothers and sisters at war with each other. The vitriol and hate spewed at times by both sides makes me wonder if we’ve ever been or will ever be a nation at peace. I hope so, but to find common ground both sides must admit the sin, damage and harm inflicted purposefully and accidentally upon the other.

The definition of appreciation is; to recognize and enjoy the good qualities of someone or something. It is to value, treasure, admire, respect, regard, hold in esteem or high opinion.

To recognize and enjoy the good qualities of someone…” Sounds like a good place to start to me.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Journey

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Journey

Last week, in Hohenwald, TN (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hohenwald,_Tennessee), I spotted these canoes for sale. I didn’t have a trailer to haul one or a place to put it when I got home but the temptation to buy one was real! Fantasies of a lazy summer day, floating down a river or on a lake, surrounded by beauty and quiet filled my mind. Alas, I resisted the temptation to purchase one and saved myself the trouble of explaining to Beth why we owned a canoe!

In earlier times a frontiersman wanted to know how to build a canoe. He had seen the natives paddling beautiful wooden canoes and decided to ask one to teach him. He approached a native man and in broken native language did his best to relay his request. The elder man smiled and indicated he wanted the frontiersman to follow him. The two walked into the forest and found a large tree suitable for a canoe. Working together they felled it and dragged it back to camp. The frontiersman took out a book to carefully write down the instructions. The native, in broken English, took a sharp axe and said; “Make canoe by chopping away the wood that’s not a canoe.” The native then handed the axe to the frontiersman and walked away.

We can often feel like the frontiersman at the end of this story. We are given a life and told to find a purpose. When we inquire; “How?” a lot of folks have suggestions but when it comes down to a concrete set of instructions we discover each person can only tell us how they found or didn’t find theirs.

It is by experience we realize our reason for being most often by eliminating what isn’t our purpose. This way of discovery is called; life. There are no shortcuts. Remember, the destination isn’t where we find our purpose, it’s found in the journey.

blessings,

@BrianLoging (Twitter)

thewannabesaint.com

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What do You See?

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What do You See?

Last night after watering our garden and plants I sat down in an Adirondack chair and waited for Beth to pick a few vegetables. It wasn’t too long before I heard her say; “Look at the size of this creature!” Of course I knew this meant getting up and walking back to the garden to have a look.

When I got to her she pointed in a general direction and exclaimed; “Look!” At first I didn’t see anything but the more focused I became the more a giant green grub/ Tomato Hornworm (http://www.almanac.com/pest/tomato-hornworms) came into view.

I almost didn’t see it.” She said. I could see why. The creature blended in seamlessly and if you weren’t looking for it you’d missed it. In fact I did a few moments prior when I watered that section of the garden. We left it alone, finished up our “harvesting” and went inside leaving the green grub in peace.

There are hidden gems, life enhancing experiences, miracles of the natural and supernatural all around us. Unfortunately we’re often too busy doing chores, keep schedules, meeting deadlines to see them. In a world where everything seems to move at a faster rate daily we must be careful not to let speed blur our vision and distort our focus.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Better Things

Better Things

A few weeks ago we bought a new riding lawn mower  (https://thewannabesaint.com/2016/06/15/need-help/). At checkout we learned that we’d receive in the mail a $50 gift card. This past week a letter arrived in the mail stating that unfortunately we had not met the requirements for the receipt of the gift card. Beth knew we had more than spent and done what was necessary to receive the card and called to complain. After explaining what had happened to the Lowe’s customer assistant, she was assured that not only were we eligible for a gift card but that it was $200 instead of $50. Awesome! If a $50 gift card would have arrived in the mail we wouldn’t have thought twice about it, spent it and moved on with life. Only because we were denied what we thought we earned did we receive an even greater gift.

When I was in high school I dated a young woman my junior and senior year. I graduated a year before she did and went off to college. Not long after arriving at school I received a phone call from her stating she no longer wanted to be a couple. Her words broke my heart. I remember praying that somehow we’d get back together but it never happened. A few months later I met Beth and we’ve been married for over 26 years.

Often in life we don’t receive what we expect or think we deserve. Our first reaction might be to complain and demand satisfaction for the loss. Perhaps we should not be so hasty. As C.S. Lewis wrote; “there are far greater things ahead of us than what we leave behind.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Beliefs

Beliefs

A friend of mine walked into a metaphorical hornet’s nest today with a social media post on the situation in Dallas, the death of 5 police officers and 2 black American men this week. What was written wasn’t inflammatory or derogatory it was her opinion on the crisis our country finds itself in regards to race, law enforcement and the reality of people being hurt and killed on both sides.

It didn’t take long before someone took offence at the post and began attacking the post and the author. My friend posted back, trying to clarify what was written, but it was too late. The poster had already decided my friend was wrong, ignorant, racist, incompetent, a dreamer.

One of my favorite wisdom quotes:

The mark of a wise man is the ability to think a thought without necessarily believing it to be true. #Aristotle

We live in a world where folks are so quick to choose sides. They formulate an opinion and plant their feet firmly in their belief. We’ve seem to have lost the ability to listen, examine, mull over our opinions and the opinions of others. People like to pretend things are simple. We come up with, or across, slogans, mottoes, memes, social media posts, news articles and use them as weapons to defend our ideologies, prove we’re right and others are wrong. We use them as litmus tests to separate “us” from “them”.

We live in a complicated world where more than one thing can be true and/or false. The issues which plague us are not going to be solved by catchphrases but authentic dialogue. Only when we stop seeing others as “them” and not “us”, only when we sit down and confess the ignorance, biases, judgments that exist on every side. Only when we realize our thoughts, ideas, impressions, opinions and beliefs aren’t necessarily true because we think them will we be able to take the first real step toward healing.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Hope

Hope

Last night I sat in the classroom at a local county jail with a man who is close to being released. We talked about many things but mostly of our conversation was centered around the plan he has for getting his life in order, re-establishing his relationship with his children and how to live one day, one good choice at a time.

He was hopeful, a rare mindset for those incarcerated. He had his plan memorized and as he laid out the path he wants to follow I sensed in him genuine excitement at what his future holds. Part of mentoring men who are in jail is helping them not only formulate a post-incarceration strategy but also a second and a third option. After all, life has a way of not working out the way we anticipate. As we conversed the different possibilities his hope wasn’t dissipated and his determination, motivation was inspiring. I was careful not to dampen his enthusiasm too much while assisting him in making adjustments to his proposals. When our time was up he was not deterred. He believed in his plans, his ability to choose well and that he wouldn’t squander his regained freedom and sense of purpose.

Thinking on our conversation I believe it would be good for each of us to carve out spaces in our lives to remember our hope, purpose and reason for being. Life has a way of trapping us in the mundane minutiae of everyday living. Refocusing on our purpose, our hope, frees us from just passing one day to the next and allows us to truly live, not just exist.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Rooted

oak-tree2

Rooted

Outside of our front door is a giant Oak tree. It towers above all other trees in our yard and most of our neighbors. I love this tree…well as much as a person can love a tree. It provides good shade, is beautiful with its green leaves reaching to the sky. It was one of the major selling points of the house for me.

A few days ago we had guests over and one of them mentioned the Oak tree, its height and width. “It’s so tall! I would be worried it might fall on my house! You could have someone come, remove it and make some money.” When my wife mentioned this comment to me I was incredulous! Remove it? For money? Because it; “might” fall on the house one day? This tree has stood for many more years than I’ve been alive and could outlive me easily by many more. It is a testament of strength and endurance. It has held fast in harsh storms, offered shade and beauty to families, strangers, guests and friends. To cut down the tree, for me, is unthinkable.

We live in a world where old, traditional, lasting things are often mistaken for obsolete and anachronistic. We fail to appreciate what has stood the test of time, proved it’s worth, is made in such a way our fast-moving world can’t impact it. Too often we’re all about the newest, shiniest, quickest, gadget, machine or whatever contemporary ideology, theology or existential knowledge is hurled our way. This tree is a reminder that life is about finding the deep, proven things which last and satisfy.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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