Full of Junk

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Full of Junk

Today is President’s Day. I wish I would’ve remembered that before this afternoon. The last few weeks have been rough weather wise. Cold, rainy, windy and our trash has piled up in the bin outside. Finally, today, it was dry enough to put the all the trash in the back of the truck and take it to the Refuse and Recycle Center. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to do it before meeting with some fathers today so it sat in the back of the truck until afternoon. My truck looked like Sanford and Son. After finishing up my appointments I headed to the dump. I was almost there and thankful to get rid of the trash. Then, to my disbelieving eyes, the gates were closed and it dawned on me; “President’s Day.” It was a holiday and county employees weren’t working today. My truck would stay loaded down until tomorrow. “Grrrr!” and “Sigh.

Don’t let what’s happening around you get inside you and weigh you down.” Easy sentence to write a hard sentence to live. We are surrounded by many negative things which can be like anchors to our spirits. Violence, injustice, racism, sexism, bigotry, and all sorts of evil that threaten to permeate our souls. We must be careful, watchful, mindful to not allow this corruption of creation to become a part of us, absorb us, soak up our existence and make us apart of what we should be fighting against.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Driverless

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Driverless

Driverless automobile technology doesn’t seem like something that might happen but is happening and will impact all of us soon. I was listening to NPR this week and the person being interviewed said that everyone will have a driverless automobile by the year 2050. I’m not sure what the 70+-year-old will think but the 45+-year-old is skeptical. Maybe it’s the loss of control, maybe it’s watching too many sci-fi movies but driverless cars, trucks, semis zipping down the road all dependent on a group of engineers and designers seems too futuristic but it’s where we are going.

In my lifetime I’ve gone from record players to compact disc players to mp3 players which could hold 100 songs to my phone being able to play any tune I can think of at the press of an icon under a piece of glass. 30 years ago that would’ve been unthinkable so driverless cars are coming whether I am ready or not.

Life and its continuous change are shocking. Places we are now on the journey probably aren’t where we thought we’d be. Plans we thought were “set in stone” have been shattered and adjusting, accepting and letting go require more strength than we think we possess. There are days when we feel like we are steering our lives and other seasons when life keeps taking the wheel and driving to unknown and sometimes unwanted destinations.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Slowing Down

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Slowing Down

The last few days have been slooooooooooooooooooooooooooow. We’ve had overcast skies, plenty of rain and this makes for a dreary season and spirit. April showers may bring May flowers but February showers bring time to a standstill. The last few months have been long. I always have a difficult time between Thanksgiving and Easter. It’s dark when you arise and when you arrive home in the evening. The darkness that surrounds me seems to permeate my emotions. As someone with Chronic Severe Depression and a Severe Anxiety Disorder the days slowing to a crawl, mess with my balance and threaten to send me over the edge into negative thought patterns and fixations on disappointments and failures.

The balance, of course, is not letting the anxiety get in there and make my brain whirl like a drugged up hamster on a greased up wheel. Again, it is balance. I make sure the things which help me; meds, exercise, talking to others about how I’m feeling, are done and not discarded even when tempted to do so.

The balance to keep life’s rhythm manageable is an everyday if not every moment discipline. If we let it we would be either swept away in a chaotic whirlwind of activity or mired in a despondent state of surrender. Slowing down isn’t the goal but balance and mindful living are what keeps us sane and steady on the path.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Catch Me

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Catch Me

Pastors, social workers, nurses, doctors, organizations, and ministries are, by design, places where people get help. The help comes in many forms but the places which offer assistance are staffed, mostly, by people who want to reach out to the unfortunate among us. These unfortunate ones are not always poor, addicted, homeless, challenged mentally, grew up with poor role models, but many do bear one or more of these burdens.

The urge is to rescue them. To be the hero in the story of their lives. To sweep in with our resources and connections and leave them in awe at how their lives are now healed and whole. However, it doesn’t take long to discover we may want to help but we do not have the power to change their lives. Only they can do what needs to be done. They must be the hero, their own rescuer. We can provide them with the tools and skills to begin the transformation but they do the work of lasting change.

It is this way for all of us. Too often we want the easy way to self-discovery, enlightenment, and fulfillment but there is no easy way. It is a journey both inside of us and out. We will have company on the road of life but the steps to the destination must be our own.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Thoughts and Prayers

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Thoughts and Prayers

I have to admit I am sick of the phrase; “Thoughts and prayers,” which inevitably occur each and every time there is a mass shooting in our country. As of yesterday, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive, a total of 30 mass shooting incidents have occurred as of February 14, 2018, including Wednesday’s school shooting in Florida. Thirty! That’s almost 1 every day. Following these mass killings, politicians play two cards; “Thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” followed by; “Now’s not the time to talk about gun control and what we can do to stem the tide of gun violence in our nation.” Every time one of these politicians speak these words or ones like them I almost throw the remote at the TV. Kids are dying! Most of these politicians are pro-life, anti-abortion, but somehow someway they play a Jedi-mind trick with themselves and see these as two separate issues. I can’t do that, I won’t do that. Something needs to be done.

I am acutely aware of the mental health angle and the restriction for individuals who mentally should not own a gun. I understand waiting periods for guns and background checks but we must do more. Our children are dying! The National Rifle Association is a powerful entity. They lobby and support many politicians:

La. Sen. Bill Cassidy, tweets his sympathy and prayers – received $2,800,000 from NRA.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman tweets prayers – received $3,000,000 support from NRA.
Iowa Rep., Janie Ernst tweets, join me in prayer – received $3,100,000 from NRA.
Fla. Sen. Marco Rubio tweets, a terrible day you pray never comes – received $3,300,000 from NRA.
Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner tweets, heartbreak and prayers – received $3,900,000 from NRA.
Az. Rep. John McCain tweets his prayers – received $7,700,000 from NRA.
Fla. Gov. Rick Scott ordered flag to be lowered for senseless tragedy – received A+ rating from NRA.
V.P. Mike Pence tweets heartache and prayers – received A+ rating from NRA.
Donald J. Trump tweets his prayers – received more than $21,000,000 from NRA in 2016 election.

I don’t know what to do. People smarter than me have been trying and yet for some reason are met at every turn with obstruction and obfuscation. I also want to know where the church is on this?!?! It’s clear to me Jesus never condoned violence of any kind and sticking up for the poor, down-trodden, innocent ones was his mission and should be ours. We’ll stand on a street corner with pro-life signs, slap a pro-life bumper sticker on our car but few vote for stricter gun laws.

I don’t want to start a debate. I want a solution. I want kids to stop dying and the church be silent no more. The youngest and brightest among us are dying. Thoughts and prayers do nothing without actions backing them up. Do something or stop saying it!

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stolen

Stolen

Earlier this week someone took something that didn’t belong to them. I knew who it was but had to figure out how to ask for the item back without humiliating or embarrassing the person in front of his peers. At first, I asked the group if anyone had forgotten to return all items they had used. Nothing. So then, standing next to the man who had the item, I said; “Okay, who has (insert item name)?” The man started to laugh and gave it to me while the other people in the group laughed with him. “I almost got away with it,” he said with a chuckle in his voice. I breathed a sigh of relief because I knew I couldn’t let him walk away and a confrontation could have a detrimental impact on the progress we’ve made. Obviously, he’s still a work in progress but aren’t we all?

Good choices. It’s the cornerstone of all the services our organization does with males. Without good choices, life is harder than it needs to be and can exact a tremendous and painful toll. Old habits, ways of thinking, choosing the best isn’t easy but not impossible. Grace, kindness and an opportunity for forgiveness are things we all need.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Surprise!

Surprise!

Earlier today, on the way home from a meeting, I dropped by a store and picked up flowers, a card and a small gift for Valentine’s day. I was going to hide them and then, before Beth got up in the morning, put them on the kitchen counter. She was going to be surprised and happy and this brings me great joy. I arrived home and put everything on the counter. I fixed my lunch and sat down. Not long after there was a knock on the front door. I went to see who and it was Beth. She had gotten off work early today and as she came inside I remembered the flowers, card, and gift on the counter. “Don’t look on the counter!” I yelled, knowing it was too late. Her surprise of coming home early ruined my planned surprise for tomorrow.

Life is full of well…surprises. For a while, I was irritated things didn’t work out the way I anticipated but it occurred to me that its hard to give a gift of love with frustration in your heart. I shook it off and told her; “Happy Valentines Day!”

She did say she wouldn’t open the card until tomorrow.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Hearing is Believing

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Hearing is Believing

A driver slid off the road during a snowstorm. His cellphone was useless and so he walked until he found a house with an old mule munching on some hay near a barn in the backyard. He knocked on the door of the house and a farmer answered. The man explained his predicament and the farmer said he’d help. The farmer put on a coat, exited the house and walked over to the old mule, put a bridle on it and the three walked back to the car. As they were traveling the driver of the car wondered if the old mule could be of much help. They arrived back at the car and the farmer turned the mule around, attached the rope it carried to the car and to the mule and began yelling; “Go, Joe, go, Fred, go, Jim, go Barney!” The old mule pulled as hard as it could and the car slowly came out of the ditch and back on the road. The driver was amazed and thanked the farmer profusely! Before he drove off he had one question he had to ask the farmer. “Why,’ he inquired, ‘when the mule was pulling the car, did you yell; Go, Joe, go, Fred, go, Jim, go Barney?” “Well,’ replied the old farmer scratching his chin and then petting the mule. ‘Ol’ Barney here doesn’t see too good and I knew if he thought he was pulling by himself he’d never believe he could do it. So, I made him think he was on a team so he’d have the confidence he needed to get the job done.

Wisdom teaches us that we are never alone. Whatever the situation, it is never so dire that whether we can see it or not, the help we need is there to do what needs to be done.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Tethered

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Tethered

This morning in church we were finishing a song and the song leader asked us to be seated. Beth had on a beautiful gray, black and white scarf wrapped around her neck and as we were sitting it ended up between the person and seat back of the pew in front of us. Beth was sitting and all a sudden the scarf now pressed into the pew by the woman couldn’t sit back she was stuck, tethered to someone we didn’t know. The situation was absurd and funny and we both got the giggles. I reached over to pull it from between the woman and pew and realized there was a lot of scarf to retrieve. Luckily, we weren’t seated for long and we stood back up expecting the woman to do the same. Unfortunately, she didn’t. Argh! Beth then began to pull the scarf little by little until, finally, she had freed herself and was careful not to lean too far forward again.

In life, there are times we find ourselves tethered to someone or a group that chokes the life out of us. We might not notice it at first but sooner or later we find we must be free or suffer. Cutting the cord, letting go, escaping from a toxic relationship is hard but it is better than the life being pulled out of us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sharp

Sharp

Today is a wonderful, relaxing, rainy Saturday. A day where the tin roof on the porch sings; “Rest, take it easy, don’t worry about what can’t be done. Just be.” It’s the kind of day we all need more than “once in a while.”  We’ve lost the art of powering down, putting off things until tomorrow, sitting and letting go of schedules, to-do lists, and allowing our spirits, minds, emotions, and bodies to heal, recover from the hurry, harried pace of our lives.

Staying constantly sharpened can wear out the blade.” Wisdom teaches us to wait, enjoy the serenity, like a leaf in a slow-moving part of the stream. Sooner or later the pace picks up and life starts to quicken but for now, in this moment, simply soak in the stillness.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What Do You Smell?

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What Do You Smell? –

Yesterday morning I ironed a shirt for Beth to wear to work. This particular shirt was given to my wife by a friend who passed away several years ago. However, even after all this time, the shirt still smelled like our friend. The fragrance immediately brought back nice memories of her kindness, joy, love and grace-filled life. It’s amazing what smells can trigger. I have another friend who had a rough childhood and the smell of certain foods triggers terrible memories. Scientists say smell is one of the major components of remembering the past.

I’ve thought about the shirt Beth wore yesterday and I ask myself; “What would someone think of if a smell triggered a memory?  What smells would remind others of me?” One of the central lessons of wisdom is that everything we do leaves an imprint upon another. Good or bad, negative or positive, our lives leave a fragrance to those around us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sweeping Up

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Sweeping Up

This past weekend my wife and I were going to do some needed cleaning. However, as the weekend wore on we both discovered motivation was lacking. I told her I would vacuüm the house one day this week and today was it. I began with a simple vacuüm across the floors but then noticed there were dust bunnies under a piece of furniture. I grabbed the broom and swept up the dirt only to discover there was more than I thought. Getting down on my hands and knees I swept all the way back and to the sides. There wasn’t a dust bunny it was more like a family of rabbits. I then began to do this to all the furniture and; “Wow!” The vacuuming chore took more time than I anticipated because of the extra work required. Real cleaning is a whole other level of commitment.

As I swept up all the little furballs and removed and returned furniture back to its original place I reflected on the need to deep clean our minds and spirits. It’s not too difficult to do a quick surface sweep but to get down to the hidden dirt and grime that reside in the dark places we must be willing to be uncomfortable and humble.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Mistaken Identity

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Mistaken Identity

Today we had a staff meeting at our main office. During the meeting we watched a video on the impact not sleeping enough can have on a person mentally and physically. It’s not good. Before the video, I was trying to get someone’s attention and kept saying their name over and over. Yet, they didn’t acknowledge me. I spoke louder and louder until they turned toward me and asked; Are you talking to me?” “Of course,’ I thought, ‘why else would I be saying your name?” Then she and other staffers informed me that wasn’t her name. She didn’t answer when I called because her name wasn’t mentioned. In my defense, I was close but not close enough. People laughed but I felt bad not remembering her name. When she told me it I instantly knew but until then…I think perhaps I’m getting old.

Wisdom teaches us that we must know who we are or we will answer to anything. To be in touch with our true identities, our real selves takes time, patience, and breaking through the walls of our false selves. This seems like too much work for some and they settle for being their work selves, familial selves, parental selves, friend and family selves or a combination. The problem is when these selves are destroyed and shadows will be what’s left.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Enemies

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Enemies

I sat and talked with a gentleman yesterday about a disappointing experience which had happened to him in recent days. We spoke about turning negatives into positives and how what we might label as “bad” doesn’t have to be a continuing negative experience. “What you do with this extra time, a time you might not have wanted, but have been given will go a long way in shaping the rest of your life. This time is either a blessing or a curse and the choice is yours.”

We underestimate the moments and seasons in our lives that are unwanted and seem to be working against the goals and dreams we have for the present and the future. Wisdom teaches us that every experience can enlighten us, give us knowledge and wisdom, and take us further along the path of life we all are traveling.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What Did You Hear?

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What Did You Hear?

Listening is an art form. It has to do with more than hearing words. It also hears silences, tones and the organizations of words into sentences and questions. Listening is wanting to hear what the other is saying and being willing for those words to impact, challenge, and change the listener. Listening is not, however, always agreeing with the other. You can listen and believe differently than what the other is saying but you listen out of respect.

A friend of mine a few weeks ago was telling me about a conversation he had with a dear friend and said; “It didn’t go the way I planned!” His friend became upset with the conversation. I asked my friend; “Did you ask your friend what she had heard you say?” “No,’ he replied, ‘Why?” “Because,’ I said, “She might have heard something completely different from what you were saying.”

It’s amazing but communicating with others is a combination of listening, speaking, processing, projecting, interpreting and understanding. When one of these is missing the connection with the other can be lost, disrupted and the moment can never be repeated.

Listening is a sacred act, do it well.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Who Cares?

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Who Cares?

This morning, in worship service, the pastor asked; “Who’s rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles tonight? Who’s going for the New England Patriots? Who doesn’t care? Who didn’t know the Superbowl was being played today?” There were hands and voices raised for each question.

Around 120 million people will watch the Superbowl tonight. That’s over a third of the population of this country which is roughly 323 million. Amazing to me that we can watch a football game together but can’t seem to unite over much else. It’s also a surprise the 2/3 of America doesn’t care about the game at all!

I will be rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles. I don’t have anything against the Patriots they’ve just won it so many times I think it would be nice to give it to someone else for a change. The coverage for the big game started early this morning. The network broadcasting the Superbowl had a great interview with a Patriot’s receiver, his wife, and children. It was a reminder that individual people, with unique stories, make up the teams.

It’s a shame we don’t remember that when we are attacking others for their political, cultural and religious opinions and beliefs. We cast a large net over those who don’t think like us and label them; “bad” or “good” according to our own fallible judgments.

Maybe, if we could see the individual, listen to their story, discover we’re all trying to make it the best we know how, we would realize when we fight all of us lose.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Right or Wrong?

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Right or Wrong

This morning I watched a political debate that quickly turned into a shouting, insulting, “I’m right and you’re wrong” diatribe from both parties. It’s disheartening to look at our present cultural landscape and realize not many people know how to talk to each other about things upon which they disagree.

One of the lessons I teach residents in my jail class is how to respect each other even if we disagree. We talk about eye contact (which may be while social media is the worst place to have a meaningful conversation), asking questions politely, consider your body language, what to do with your hands, monitor facial expressions, remember that listening is not agreeing and two people can be right or wrong about one subject. It amazes me that my jail students are often nicer, more respectful when discussing a difficult topic than many people on Facebook.

Hopefully, it won’t be this way forever. Debate and deep conversation are some of the values and pillars of a democratic society. I fear, however, perhaps we’ve gone too far and may never recover our civility.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Emptiness

Emptiness 

Most of us have plenty. In truth, most of us have more than we need. I was speaking with a co-worker this week and he was saying how amazed he was at how people in our organization and fellow organizations step up when there is a need in our community. I told him I agreed.

We work with a lot of folks who are having a rough time. In certain situations it’s their own poor decisions, in others, the community, the state, and the federal resources have failed them. They feel and at times are the forgotten ones. There are residences you go into and cannot believe what you see. The basics of food, clothes, electricity, heat, medicine do not seem accessible and many are at the end of their ropes.

It’s hard when you know the suffering of others to come home. There may be cracks in the walls, leaks in the ceiling, toilet paper runs out and food spoils, but your house is a palace in comparison to these you see and spend time helping. These are the ones who empty and need to be filled. Much of what you have becomes superfluous, extra, easily given away because you know you won’t miss it.

It’s hard to imagine but can you, for a moment, think of living in a world where it wasn’t; “This is mine and you can’t have any!” to a place of sharing and; “What’s mine is yours.” Only when we begin to give away what we possess do we discover we have everything we need.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Nothing is Lacking

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Nothing is Lacking

I was a part of a conversation this week where a group of people was giving a person advice. The advice was based on what the person had shared; a story of love and betrayal. On the wrong side of a bad choice is a terrible place to be and the person was fixated on how to either get over on the person who hurt him or get over it period. Two choices were staring him the face and he was going to choose either one or the other.

Decisions based on pain are almost always bad ones. We make these in times of stress, confusion, doubt, and loneliness. We feel as though we have lost something, had it taken away from us, and we want it back or rather life back the way it was or the way it should be.

Wisdom teaches us that suffering is the gap between how life is, reality, and how we think life ought to be. The greater the gap the more suffering. It is why learning to let go and acceptance are two of the greatest life lessons we can learn and practice. Life is rarely if ever, the way we want. Even if for a while it seems to be sooner or later it changes and we have no control over this truth. To live with open hand, to not try to grasp, force life to stay the same and allow for the inevitable change is to know and live in peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

Watching Over

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Watching Over

This afternoon I ran into a store to grab something I needed. The place didn’t have the item so I exited the store. As soon as I stepped outside I could hear a toddler screaming. I looked and the mom, clearly at her breaking point, was fussing at a small boy and neither was getting the better of the other. Finally, the mom, who was waiting for the dad to come out with keys told this boy and his sister who was standing beside the grocery cart watching the scene unfold, to wait while she ran into the store. I sat and watched as she left both toddlers by the car and began to walk inside. I couldn’t leave. I thought to myself; “Someone has to watch over these kids.” Suddenly the little girl bolted towards the mom who was inside the store by now. I tried to watch over both of them making sure no cars were coming or that anything else would happen to them. After a few moments, the mom emerged holding the hand of her daughter walking toward the boy who had only gotten louder when mom disappeared leaving him in the cart. I left knowing they were safer than when they were alone.

This post isn’t about how bad the mom handled the situation. I’m not a parent and have no idea what its like to have children wanting, needing, things all day every day. It’s about helping others, watching over them, caring enough to protect even if the parties don’t realize you’re there. There are times in our lives when all of us need someone to watch over us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Go Your Own Way

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Go Your Own Way

A friend of mine told me a story yesterday and I told her; “That would make a good blog post!” So, here goes…

My friend had a procedure done yesterday and needed someone to drive her home from the doctor’s office and to any other place she needed to go. However, on the way to her appointment, my friend’s friend was telling her to go and drive a certain way. On the way home, when my friend’s friend was driving she did the same thing. Because they are good friends and can tell each other almost anything they quickly made a deal. They agreed to allow the other person to drive the way they drive and to go the route they wanted to go. The one who was the passenger would only be a passenger, not a side seat driver. Problem solved. My friend made the comment; “She goes and does her way, I go and do mine. As long as we get where we need to go, the other stuff doesn’t matter.”

I’ve reflected on this story for the last two days. We live in a world divided. People argue and end friendships over big and small things. It makes me wonder why we can’t agree to disagree. We don’t have to be enemies with those who challenge our beliefs, think differently, walk another path, find peace and do kindness different from us. What matters is we all get where we need to go.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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