Important

Image result for mockingbird

Important

There is a family of Mockingbirds (https://www.google.com/search?q=mockingbird&oq=mockin&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j69i57j0l4.2524j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8) in one of the large trees covering our driveway. The parents are extremely protective of their little ones.

Late this afternoon, after spending most of the day working on a project, I set fire to a pile of debris that contained several downed limbs from the past month’s storms. I plopped down in a lawn chair watched the fire and then something interesting caught my eye. One of the Mockingbird parents was chasing a Turkey Vulture (https://www.google.com/search?q=mockingbird&oq=mockin&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j69i57j0l4.2524j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#q=turkey+vulture) who had come to close to its nest. It was dive bombing the much larger bird chasing it, harassing it, letting it know that it was a mistake to be in this area. There was something important and it was to be protected at all costs.

As I watched the Mockingbird triumphantly run the unwanted fiend off I thought about our lives. There are many things we claim as important, would declare meant a lot to us, but what would we risk our lives for? Die for? Fight against greater odds to protect and preserve?

The answer to this question reveals a good deal about us. Knowing what we’re willing to never give up defending gives us insight into who we are and what means most to us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Elude

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Elude

Mowing the grass today I crossed paths with a butterfly which seemed for a moment he would land on the lawn mower and I’d have a riding partner. Alas, at the last moment, he turned and fluttered away.

I like this quote (pictured). It’s a good reminder that happiness too can elude us quickly. There are many things in this world which promise happiness, contentment, satisfaction but few deliver and even fewer last more than a season. What’s interesting is we keep chasing after the new thing which promises us a better, more respected, fulfilled life but like the butterfly, it flutters away.

It isn’t wrong to seek happiness but in our frenetic, ever evolving, never steady world it’s easy to get lost in chasing trinkets and listening to voices on the wind. The more difficult way is to be still and allow happiness to find us. It takes trust and patience but most good things do.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Shift

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Shift

I know someone who is a friend of a friend. I’ve briefly encountered this individual a handful of times. The thing is, for some reason, this person rubbed me the wrong way. He hadn’t done anything to me except be himself and being himself didn’t sit right with me. I had lots of excuses as to why this person was what I thought he was but nothing tangible, just a feeling.

Then, earlier this week, I learned something about this man and it suddenly shifted my view. There were still those things that got on my nerves but while a few weeks ago they looked so big now they seemed petty and brought upon me a sense of shame.

It’s easy to teach and write about not judging others but a whole other level to practice what you speak. All it took was one thing to shift my view, understanding of this man and his life. An important and embarrassing reminder that we must always be on guard about how we see people. There’s always more there than we initially see and experience.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Destination

Image result for good choices bad choices

Destination

I heard a business investor say today that; “Right choices bring the wrong results and wrong choices bring the right results all the time when it comes to investing your money.” Luckily, I don’t have enough money to worry about whether or not this is true but it did cause me to think about the consequences of our decisions.

One of the core principles I try to give to the men I work with is that; “Choice is destiny. What we do today determines who we will be tomorrow.” I believe this to be true but I am also old enough to know life is never predictable and the unexpected could be around the corner ready to smack you!

As I thought about this gentleman’s words today I realized they were indeed factual. Making bad decisions could lead to something unexpectedly joyful but the odds are long. Also, we make good decisions, not just because they will lead us to something better, but because of who we are in the deepest part. We certainly hope our lives will be blessed by choosing fidelity to ourselves and those we love but no matter our destiny. We choose to be good because we know it is the better way.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Carrier or Cure

Carrier or Cure –

I listened to a doctor today say that it was scientifically proven that the mood of one person can contaminate and infect an entire office or family. If an employee arrives to work exhausted, frustrated, malcontented, then it can “infect” their co-workers. If a family member is happy, content, joyful it too can spread to the other members of the family, lifting their spirits, helping them see the beauty in those who often drive one another crazy.

Most likely, each of us has experienced this phenomenon at work and at home. A husband or wife comes home in a foul mood after a long day of work, conflicts with another employee or the boss, fighting traffic and bringing this stress and anxiety with them as they cross the threshold of the family home. Or a co-worker, struggling with issues in the home, bringing their baggage to work.

The doctor noted that empathy, the ability to understand and feel what another person is experiencing, is an antidote that keeps the mood from spreading. Listening, patience, and the willingness to help the other are also effective in stopping the infection.

The question becomes; “are we a carrier or part of the cure?”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Decisions

Image result for child supportDecisions

One of the hardest decisions a father has to make is whether or not to give up the rights to his child(ren).  I spoke with someone today who is wrestling with this decision. He is thousands of dollars behind on his child support payments and realizes that every day increases the debt he owes.

He doesn’t make any excuses and understands why most people would look on his fathering skills with disgust. He’s been in and out of jail, rehab and has developed the habit of making the worst possible decisions.

Still, however, there is hope. Hope that he can turn it around and be a good man and a good father. Hope that he can have a relationship with his child. Hope that his life even at such a young age won’t be told with head shakes and frowns but with smiles and sighs of relief.

The piece of paper he’s being offered, to give up parental rights to his child, represents both a way out financially but a resignation that he will never be the dad he needs to be and his child will grow up without knowing their dad.

Decisions. Some come with little or no consequences, others with incredibly heavy burdens and life-altering outcomes.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Don’t Move

Image result for brown bird

Don’t Move

Yesterday, taking a break from yard work on a hot day in May, I sat on the porch wiping the sweat off my brow with a towel and drinking a bottle of water. As I sat there a brown bird, who has a nest in the corner of the porch swooped down and landed on my leg. I froze. A bird landing on me was awesome but I didn’t dare move for fear of scaring it away. Sweat poured down my face, my tired arms and restless legs immovable. It seemed like it was forever but I knew it was only a few minutes until I had to dry the sweat from my eyes and take another drink of water. Predictably, the bird flew off as soon as I moved. For a second, however, I was still enough to enjoy the experience.

It’s hard being still in today’s world. We miss so much because we are so busy. We’ve got places to go and people to see. Schedules have to be kept and filled calendars emptied.

I wonder how many small wonders we miss because life’s most important moments are only ours to experience if we’d simply be still?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Anchored

Image result for roofers rope

Anchored

The last couple of weeks there has been roof work being done at one of the churches down the street from us. The roof was damaged by strong winds a month or so ago and the roofers arrived to replace the damaged one. The church is an old building, tall with a serious incline to the top. To ensure they don’t fall off the workers have been using ropes and an anchoring system. Once the rope is securely attached to the bolted down anchor they tie it around themselves so if a mishap occurs it doesn’t become a tragedy.

As I watched these guys work hard and quick even with the ropes tied around them I wondered; “Who attached the anchor? Who tied the rope to the anchor? Who tied the rope around the guys?” I wonder because if I were using them I’d check everything multiple times to make sure everything was secure before I trusted it with my life.

Wisdom also teaches us to make sure we know what we’re anchored to and how to test it to make sure it will hold. Everything depends on being anchored to what/who can hold us when mishaps and dangers occur. If we choose poorly; a tragedy. If we choose wisely; a life preserved and productive.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

In the End

Image result for gravestone

In the End

This morning I watched a documentary entitled; “Get me Roger Stone!” It was a biographical tale of one of the most famous, some might say; “Infamous” political consultants. He helped Ronald Regan get elected, many other Republican candidates be successful, and was one of the architects of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Near the end of the film, Mr. Stone says (paraphrasing); “If I go down as the dirtiest player in the game I’ll consider myself a success.”

I grew up thinking people, as the get older, begin to think on the brevity of life and what comes after. I thought the older people became the more spiritual, wise and kind they became. No matter the type of life they lived when they were young there was always an age where they turned the corner and began to live virtuous lives.

I think my understanding of older people was skewed by the ones I knew. I had two godly grandmothers and the only others were from church. They taught Sunday school, gave praises and lots of hugs, smiled a lot, didn’t judge and seemed to be one step closer to heave n than the rest of us youngsters. To me, this is how all older people acted. However, as I grew up I realized this wasn’t the case. True, there are some people who changed but most older people are just older versions of their younger selves. There wasn’t an age where they ripened into good fruit or a corner that made them spiritual and wise.

The documentary today was a reminder that we are choosing our destiny every day. Each choice we make takes us down a path and at the end of our journey the story of our lives will be told by the choices we made. What’s written on our headstones, spoken about at our eulogy, remembered about us is what we have done, are doing and will do.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Ready or Not

Image result for bug company

Ready or Not

Tuesday afternoon I pulled into the driveway and immediately realized what I had forgotten. There was a bug control company’s truck sitting there with a bug person spraying the outside of the house. My first thought was not the way the house looked on the outside but on the inside. The bathroom remodel was completed a week and a half ago but we are still trying to get things back in their proper place. As a result, the house is quite messy. It was too late to cancel and as soon as I headed into the house the bug person followed so there was no time to straighten up anything! “Oh well,’ I thought, ‘I’m sure they’ve seen worse.” I took the dog outside as they sprayed the inside and finished up. “Thanks and see you next time,” they said, got in their truck and pulled away.

It was an uncomfortable but important reminder of life’s unpredictability. Even when our plans seem permanent, perfectly laid out, organized, and ready for anything life has a way of showing us how little control we have over everything. Life’s full of surprises, some good and some not so good, some which we can get over quickly, others that pull us in a direction we don’t want to go to places we’d rather not be altering it permanently.

Life, like the bug person on Tuesday afternoon; ready or not, here it comes.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Worthy

Worthy

I listened to a mom today tell of a time not so long ago when she and her daughter were not getting along. A long-simmering unspoken argument turned into a loud, heated word-fight in a public place. “I hate you! You never listen! You don’t care what I want! Nothing’s ever good enough for you!” were the words her child screamed that day. Instead of shouting back, the words of her child wounded her heart and she realized; “I might actually lose my daughter if I don’t start doing things differently.” Over the next several weeks she discovered that what her daughter said in an anger tirade was true. This mom was pushing her too much, not letting her discover herself, applying too much pressure on things which weren’t that important. In short, she was trying to make her daughter into what she thought she should be and not allowing her daughter to find herself.

Wisdom tells us that when we attempt to control others, make them presentable to us, what we think is best, we end up either chasing them away or killing the spirit within. Truly loving someone is allowing them to grow, make mistakes, choose different paths, free of our judgment and disapproval. It’s letting them be and loving them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

Cover Up

Image result for butterflies on poop

Cover Up

This afternoon, on the last half of my walk/run loop I came across a few blue butterflies, gathered on the road. They didn’t fly away as I approached and I thought; “how beautiful.” After a moment, they flew away, revealing a pile of animal excrement. “Yuck!” I thought as I made sure not to step in it.

It was a paradoxical revelation; beauty covering ugliness. Continuing on my way I thought about the truth of the butterflies and the dung. We like attractiveness, excellence, alluring, flashy things that catch our and others’ attention. We like to show off, surround ourselves with gorgeous trinkets for all the world to see and admire.

The problem with this is the ugliness it reveals. When we are motivated to be the envy of our family, friends, neighborhood, community, there is a repulsiveness uncovered. Wisdom teaches us to look for the beauty in others not to crave it to be seen in ourselves. Only then will we truly the whole world be beautiful.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

Not Alone

Image result for alone jail

Not Alone

He sat alone in the classroom today, save the examiner, and took his High School Equivalency exam. I sat alone watching him think, strain to recall what he had been taught over the past months. My class for incarcerated fathers was scheduled to begin but this lone test taker was holding us up. That was okay. What he was doing was as important as what we do in our class. We strive to make men good and into good fathers. He was taking a test that would better him and his family. He sat there with no one around him but I knew he wasn’t alone. Good thoughts, prayers, and best wishes were being sent his way by those who had tutored, encouraged and convinced him he could be more, do more and his life wasn’t a throwaway. I knew he was nervous by the way he checked and rechecked his answers, glancing up at the clock which ticked away his test time.

Finally, he finished and hesitantly handed in his exam. A few words to the examiner and he exited the classroom. “How’d it go?” I asked. “I hope good,” was his answer. We chatted a few moments and then he went back to his cell. As he exited the door I knew the hopes and dreams of not just him were wrapped up in that test. I also knew he wasn’t alone and sometimes that’s enough to give us the courage to do what we wouldn’t ever do otherwise.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sore

Sore

I am sore today! Yesterday we spent most of the day trimming and hauling away a big limb from one of the four huge trees in our yard. Today I am paying for it with sore arms, back, and legs. I don’t think I’ve developed any muscles but trying to lift some of the pieces we sawed off yesterday gave me an appreciation of how strong the wind must’ve been to down the limb and how strong the tree was to support a limb of such great weight. It took a lot of energy, strength and time to remove most of the obstacle.

I spoke with a few friends today who are also trying to overcome a great obstacle. They are, like we did yesterday, dealing with it one piece at a time. When you’re faced with a huge challenge there is a part of us who’d like to get it over with NOW! However, life doesn’t usually work according to our time schedules. We must take each step, walk each mile, and hope the journey ends well.

I imagine a person who lifts and cuts wood as their job must be strong. I also know that those who face tremendous battles will develop the strength and energy necessary to see it to the end, what the end may be.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Connected

 

Connected –

Last week a huge limb from one of our oldest trees snapped and fell into our yard. Today was clean up day. I started this morning hoping it would only take a couple of hours. However, it took all day and we’re still not quite finished. The size of the limb meant there were going to be numerous and large branches attached. We sawed and pried and twisted until we didn’t have any energy left. After we made the last trip to a neighbor’s who is trying to fill in a dried up pond to dump a truckload of debris we came home, showered and collapsed.

As we worked on the enormous project I noticed that most of the leaves had dried up and died. The storm, which had blown the limb down, had robbed most of the leaves of their nutrients by disconnecting them from their source of life. But, there were a few branches whose leaves were still green. Their life source had not been disconnected even though they had experienced the same storm.

I reflected on the similarities in people when their path takes them through a time of testing, a season of storms. Some seem to wilt under the pressure while others, in spite of the chaos of the present moment, continue to thrive.

Wisdom teaches us it is who, what, our source of life is that allows us to experience the worst and yet still live. Being connected to who, what is deeply rooted is the difference between life and death.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Empty

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Empty –

A wise master received a university professor who came to inquire about true wisdom.  The master served her tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full and then kept on pouring.  The professor watched the overflow until she no longer could restrain herself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”  “Like this cup,” said the master, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you wisdom unless you first empty your cup?”

This is one of my favorite wisdom parables. It is a great reminder that we can become so full of ourselves, our opinions, our convictions, our beliefs, and our ego that we are unable to receive something new, different, exciting or growth producing.

To come to each day with an empty cup and allowing it to be filled with each experience, every person, circumstances, and situations is to be a true student of wisdom.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

To Listen

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to Listen

I have a friend who had a tough conversation earlier this week with one of the leaders at her work. It was a conversation long overdue but oftentimes these are easier to avoid than begin. Part of the challenge is the fact that once a grievance is aired, it can’t be taken back. If the person is caught unawares the conversation can get uncomfortable, quick! Another risk is the recipient might also see this time as an opportunity to unload something they’ve been holding back.

However, this wasn’t my friend’s experience. Her perception of the conversation was that the other wasn’t listening. There wasn’t much feedback or input from the other party. They sat there, injected a few words, and then moved on to another topic before ending the conversation. My friend was frustrated because nothing was solved and the subject will have to be addressed again.

Wisdom teaches us that; “Listening is not agreeing.” Too often, when someone confronts us, challenges our way of thinking, we become aggressive and want to prove to them and our ourselves we are right in our thinking. So, instead of listening while they are talking, understanding and evaluating what they have to say, we are too busy planning what we are going to say next in our minds. We don’t listen and aren’t open to something that might be said which we need to hear. Even if, as we carefully and contemplatively listen, don’t find something we can at least show the other person what they say matters.

Listening is not agreeing but it is allowing the other person to be and have a worldview which might not be ours but is respected because we honor them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Pick Up

Image result for hitchhiker

Pick Up

This afternoon it was hot. So hot that I was struggling to walk up a hill on my exercise route. As I labored to make it up a man in an old pick-up truck pulled up beside me and asked; “Need a lift?” I smiled, thanked him and replied; “No thank you. Just trying to get in shape.” He nodded and drove off. It was nice of the man to stop and ask but it also brought up images of stories I’ve read on the news about people hitchhiking, accepting a ride and never being heard from again.

We live in a place and time when even genuine offers of help are looked on with suspicion. I don’t like that this world has made me more dubious, overly cautious, hesitant to see an act of kindness as anything less than gracious.

I don’t know how we turn it around. I’m not sure what to do to make the world more hospitable and less hostile. I think it starts with laying aside our fears and living free. I believe we need more acceptance and less aggression.

Or…maybe we can’t and a better world is a dream. I guess it’s up to all of us to determine if dreams do come true.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stability

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Stability

You never cheated on your wife?!?!” “How long have you been married, and you never stepped out on her?” “What about her? Has she ever cheated on you?” “26 years and nope.” was my answer to a young man who wasn’t insulting me, or being flippant, but was genuinely astonished. I understood why he was asking. He is from a broken home, has siblings by other women and his father isn’t a good role model. On the other hand, I come from a home where my mom and dad have been married a long time, my grandparents, uncles, aunts, have given me multiple examples of stability, faithfulness and purposeful love.

As we continued our discussion and after his surprise wore off, I told him; “This is why it’s important that you be a good role model for your kids. You can teach them what a good relationship looks like, how men and women can communicate in a positive way. You can be what your father wasn’t for you and your children will be much better off.”

Fidelity, love, honor, respect; words that can mean the difference in our lives, the lives of those we love and folks with whom we share our life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Go Home

 

Go Home

Today was a beautiful day for a walk/run outside. 80+ degrees, sun, blue skies, low humidity.

Anytime you walk or run, especially in the country, you keep an eye out for dogs. They love to come running up to you, barking, menacing, and you aren’t sure of their intentions. It is in these times I am thankful for a booming loud voice or a big mouth! I turn towards them, clap my hands together and say boisterously; “NO! GO HOME!” Most of the time this is enough to make a dog stop in their tracks and become confused.  Almost all stop barking, charging and some even turn around.

In my father’s class in the county jail today we were talking about relationships, especially when it comes to communication. Most of the guys agreed with each other that it was almost always the woman’s fault. She would start; “Nagging! Not letting me have any peace, so I would just leave.” As we continued talking, however, I wanted them to see they were also at fault and leaving every time a conversation could turn into an argument didn’t solve anything. “Sooner or later you have to go home and have the hard conversations. The problems won’t disappear just because you don’t talk about them.

Communication; the greatest asset or worst weakness we have when it comes to loving and living with each other.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Found

Found

I had a friend who used to tell me she felt guilty for falling asleep when praying her nightly prayers. “God must be so disappointed in me! I can’t even stay awake to say goodnight to him.” I knew her heart was full of love and a desire to please God. I listened and then I asked her a question; “What do you think God would like more? To hear you say; ‘Goodnight.’ or for you to fall asleep in his arms?'” She smiled and understood that oftentimes we make our relationship with God more complicated than it should be.

The contemplative way tells us that when we are chopping wood, it is with God. When we eat a meal, it is with God. When sitting quietly, it is with God. All things we do can be with an awareness that God isn’t impressed with our showmanship, rules and regulations, dogma and definitions. God longs for us to realize where we are; he is and our awareness of his presence, our understanding he desires to be with us is the meeting of every need we have now and forever.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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