Blog Archives

The Sudden Stop at the End

There are days when we put our dog Scooby on a zip line so he can exercise and not be tied to a leash. He’s not on it for long but he likes the freedom and until we finish our fence it’s the best option. The zip line runs across the driveway so we take it down after we’re done so we can move our vehicles safely.

The other day I took him outside, clipped him to the cable tethered to the zip line and was going to cinch it in place on a pole when all of a sudden Scooby spied a cat sneaking through the front yard. “Pew!” he was gone dragging the zip line with him. I ran after him and rounded the corner of the front porch as Scooby ran out of zip line and cable. “Screech!” He seemed confused at first. There was something he wanted and had the freedom, ability, and determination to get it and then he was stopped in his tracks with no way forward. I shook my head, he barked at the cat that was nowhere to be seen and we both went up and put the zip line in its proper place.

Walking into the house I thought about life and the goals we want to achieve. At times we are able to claim the prize, other times we are stopped suddenly so close yet so far from accomplishing them. We have dreams which are unfulfilled, relationships that fall apart or never materialize, love unrequited.

Life can be glorious but it can also be relentless. We have this moment and we must live it fully. We are never guaranteed another second.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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No Other Direction

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No Other Direction

I broke my lawn mower yesterday! That might be an overstatement. I misjudged how close I could mow to a fence post and smashed the wheel up against it. When I did that I messed up the steering wheel and had to mow the last half of our yard only being able to turn the steering wheel right. When I turned left the steering wheel wouldn’t turn the wheels. It was frustrating figuring out how to only turn right and accomplish the job. It took longer but I finally mowed the whole yard.

I’ve reflected on the frustration of only being able to turn in one direction. There have been times in my life when I wanted to go one way and haven’t been able to. I struggled, fought, complained, and smashed myself against the way I wanted to go only to go nowhere. I still have that feeling about a particular section of my life. It’s an area I derived a lot of pleasure and purpose but it seems closed off to me and has been for a while. It’s been several years and several failed attempts to turn my life in that direction. As time goes by my doubts of ever being able to turn in that direction grows while hope fades.

Perhaps this is the way it is supposed to be. Maybe still longing for it shows I have growing to do. I can fix the lawnmower but there are seasons in life that are never to be repeated.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

For more posts, reflections and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

Your Best

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Your Best

A new employee was given an assignment and then handed in a report to his boss. Without opening the report the boss asked this new employee; “Did you do your best?” The employee thought a moment, requested the report be returned and went back to his desk. The employee came back to his boss, report in hand, and before he gave it to his boss he heard the same question; “Does this report reflect the best you’re capable of doing?” The employee turned around and went back to his desk. The third time the employee approached his boss’ door he asked himself; “Is this the best I can do?” Without hesitation he answered; “Yes.” After telling his boss the same thing the boss said; “That’s all I’ll ever ask of you, your best.

This story. told by the pastor this morning, is of Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and a subordinate. We often conflate our best with perfection. They are not the same thing. Perfection is both unattainable and transient. Perfection to one is not perfect for the other. Our best, however, is more manageable. If we are self-aware, have an accurate understanding of our strengths and weaknesses then we are able to give our best and that will be good enough.

For more posts, reflections and writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

Bait and Hook

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Bait and Hook

This morning I was zipping through emails before heading to the office for a training. I had three from our IT department and opened each of them giving a cursory read. One was an update to a system, another was reminding me of a piece of equipment I needed to pick up and the third was dealing with switching to a new email system. Each one looked legit and I told myself to get set up on the new email system next time I was near my computer. I finished, went to work and as I sat in my chair waiting for the training to start I received a new email another one from IT. The email stated firmly “do not click on the link to the new email system! This is a phishing and spam scam!” “Whew!’ I thought to myself, ‘that was close!'” I was going to click on the link, would have clicked on it if I had the time this morning. I’m usually good at spotting bad emails but because this one was in a collection of legitimate emails I assumed it was fine.

In life, as in IT, we have to be careful not to let everything come together as one big pile of things we need to do. If we do we run the risk of missing something important, doing something harmful, and allowing life to be the sum of its parts instead of each moment being an eternity in itself. Life is hard and there’s so many things we think we need to do. Wisdom teaches us to let go a lot of the minutiae, the things which aren’t really important, and to focus on what counts. When we are able to take life a breath at a time we find love, kindness, presence more easily and things which are harmful to us and those we love more visible and avoidable.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Gently

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Gently

Yesterday I stepped out on to our front screened in porch to let the dog have some alone time in the yard. Immediately a frantic movement caught my eye. Inside the screen porch, trapped in a corner was a Yellow Monarch Butterfly. Big, beautiful and needing to be free. I don’t know if butterflies know when they aren’t free but I knew and was determined to do something about it. I took my hands and gently tried to close my fingers around it. Several times it fluttered away but I was finally able to catch it, gently take it outside and then cautiously open my hands and watch it fly away.

I thought about my journey with mental illness and people in my life who have struggles of their own. We might not know we are trapped or at least not see a way out. We need help, assistance that doesn’t force, grab, clutch, and drag us to where someone else thinks we ought to be. We need gentleness, someone who won’t break our wings or our spirits but show us there is life, there is freedom.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Place to Empty

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Place to Empty

This morning I had a lot of garbage at the house which needed to be taken to the dump. Beth and I still wonder how two people can generate so much waste. The truck bed was full. On my way into town, I drove slowly, so as not to cause any garbage cans to topple over. My plan was to stop and get rid of it before my first appointment, however, when I arrived the dump was closed because they were waiting for a canister to be set in place to receive the refuse. This meant I had to carry the garbage until the afternoon when I would go back and try the dump again. It also meant driving slowly and anxiously carefully not to spill the stinky load. Thankfully, it was open and I was able to rid myself of the trash.

Afterward, I reflected on time, seasons in our lives when we need to empty the emotional, physical and spiritual trash from our lives and are unable. It impacts the way we navigate life and our attention becomes more fixed on the garbage than other, more important things. We need to regularly empty our lives of the toxicity, rubbish, and junk which builds up within us so we can be free of that which slows us down and keep moving on the road of life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Defenses

Defenses

Earlier today I was mowing and weeding the yard. While doing so I came across a three to four-foot King Snake hanging out in the grass. I didn’t want to hurt it so I nudged it with the wheel of my push mower and it didn’t move. I bumped it again and the snake curled up into a ball. I was hoping the third time was the charm and tried to get it moving but it wasn’t going anywhere. I then went and grabbed a wooden stake, found the snake still rolled up and not willing to budge. As a last result, I pushed the stake through the center of the ball, picked it up and placed it in another part of the yard where it would be safe. “Sheesh!” I thought to myself. It just had to be difficult.

After getting back to my mowing I thought about the defensive behavior of the snake. It wasn’t helpful for it or me. I reflected on my defensive behaviors and unhelpful coping skills. As someone who deals with mental illness, I know first hand what a sense of being in danger, uncertain, threatened can do. It can cause me to make a bad decision, seize up, pull myself into an emotional ball and try to keep the danger out. Most times it doesn’t work but, like the snake, its instinct.

I know if I would’ve been able to communicate with the reptile I would’ve explained it needed to move for its own safety. If it was left alone eventually the snake would relax and be able to go on its way. When people fight, flight or freeze when we try to help our intention doesn’t matter. What matters is understanding and adapting our help to meet the needs of the other.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Straight

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Straighten

Last week was a mess! Weather-wise it rained a lot, the wind blew, the skies were overcast. As a result of the drenched soil and the wind, several of our young trees were tilted and needed to be straightened. To make them upright is more than grabbing them and forcing them back to the desired position. What needs to happen is for two or three stakes to be driven in the ground around the tree, a rope or string tied from the stake to the tree so that it can keep it straight. So, Beth and I went out Sunday and did this to several of our trees in need. As they grow the strings and ropes will need to be adjusted, the stakes repositioned and anchored until one day the tree doesn’t need the support any longer.

People in our lives are like these trees. The storms of life come and blow them off-balance, weakens their foundation, makes life skewed and pointed in the wrong direction. What we can do is come alongside these needy ones and be their support, giving them the additional strength they need until one day, hopefully, they are ready and able to stand straight on their own again.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Invasion

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Invasion

The past few weeks there’s been an invasion of Middle Tennessee! The multi-legged, orange-colored, flying insects called Ladybugs. They’re everywhere and this morning they kept stealing my attention away from the pastor as he spoke from the Book of Saint John, chapter 12. They were collecting near every light fixture which was about 10 feet from the pews the people were sitting in. Every now and then one or ten would fly across the room landing on someone. One tried to use my neck as a resting place but he didn’t stay there long. I watched hundreds on one light fixture as they crawled around it seemingly looking for a way in. I am not sure if they were attracted to the heat or the light. Of course, once in it was nearly impossible for them to get out. They very thing they were after was actually a trap. They would die there getting what they wanted but not able to get out.

I reflected on the Ladybug’s fate and how it also mirrored our own fascination with those things in life which promise safety, warmth, and light. We become fixated on things which we believe will make life better, bring satisfaction and enlightenment only to find out once we’ve achieved or possessed them it was an illusion. Wisdom teaches that what is worth having comes to us. It is our humility, our acceptance that we are not able to control or manipulate love, peace, kindness and a grace-filled life that makes it possible for these to permeate our minds, emotions, and spirits and bring a unique warmth and light to our cold and dark world.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Protests

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Protests

Yesterday, almost one million students across the United States of America, walked out en masse to protest school shooting and the inability of adults to agree upon how to make our schools safer.

There were two types of protests that were happening. One was #walkout which encouraged students to leave their school classrooms and #walkup which encouraged these young adults to find someone who seemed to exist “on the edges” and talk with them eat lunch and begin a conversation that hopefully would develop into a relationship. I supported the #walkout and the #walkup protests and thought both had merit and could change lives. Neither was a perfect way of protesting but each one was worth doing.

However, I noticed that many folks were for one or the other. Not many looked for balance in the two approaches. Students were either labeled #walkup or #walkout. It seemed not much conversation was happening between the quickly diverging groups. This made me sad. The reason the students were protesting is that adults can’t talk to one another, find a compromise, work together on behalf of our nation’s youngest and brightest. Now, it was happening again.

I am sick of litmus tests that divide us as a nation, community, and families. I am tired of people not being able to listen to one another even if we do not agree with the other. There is almost always a middle way where we remember we’re all human, deserving of respect and kindness instead of disdain and meanness. Perhaps one day we will realize we have more in common than what we allow to tear us apart.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Life Lost

Life Lost

Today, I stopped by Wal-Mart for a couple of items and headed to the checkout area. I had my choice of a person checking me out or self-checkout. The self-checkout had a couple of registers open so I chose one of them. I wasn’t in a hurry, didn’t have an appointment to go to or a schedule to stay on top of, it was simply faster and mindlessly I chose it. Instead of human interaction, an opportunity to say a kind word to a cashier, a chance to stand in line and share a smile, I went with the quickest and the most isolated.

These are the choices we face in our culture. We are able to order online, having most items shipped for free or close to it to our homes, open our doors and live without interaction, relating, or sharing our lives with one another.

At a time when communication is easier than it has ever been in the history of humankind, we are lonely. In a world full of hurting and wounded people we look in another direction to avoid seeing them. On a journey we should be making together we prefer to travel alone. Instead of caring for one another we see the other as a burden to carry.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Grounded, Simple, Generous, Controlled, Joyful, Present

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Grounded, Simple, Generous, Controlled, Joyful, Present

The contemplative life isn’t hard to understand. Most of the teachings can be learned in a day but they offer a lifetime of wisdom.

A few moments ago I was sitting on the porch basking in the sun. It was wonderful. I had brought my phone with me but not sure why. I laid it down beside me and closed my eyes. It’s warm for the month of January. Yesterday it was cloudy and cool but in that present moment of sitting on the porch, the skies were a brilliant blue. Our Siberian Husky was sprawled out on the driveway, not a care in the world. As I embraced the beauty and warmth my attention kept going to the phone. I knew there wasn’t anything on it I needed to read or respond to but the fact it was there distracted me.

This is why simplicity is important in the contemplative life. Everything we own, invest our ourselves in, give our passion, energy and time takes a piece of us. The more we have in our lives the less contemplative we are able to be. Letting go of all that is superfluous allows us to focus on what’s important while the fluff floats away.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Don’t Resist

Don’t Resist

This afternoon I stepped outside and the warmer temperatures wrapped me like a blanket. The sun shone on me and the warm breeze stirred my soul. It’s been cold the past few weeks. Only a couple of days ago the ground was covered with snow and ice. Today, there is little snow to be seen and the remnants are being chased away by the balmy weather. The kicker is I didn’t have anything to do with the high and low temps, the sun or the clouds filling the sky, the wild difference between now and the near past. All I did was stay warm on the cold days and breathe in the warmth this afternoon.

Life is mostly filled with things we have no control over. We want the ability, the power to make things bend to our will but this is an illusion. If we pursue this type of control our lives will be filled with suffering. The secret to contentment and peace is to allow life to progress at its pace and accept what we think is good and bad, wanted and unwanted, desired and abhorred.

When we are able to practice this discipline we discover the ever-present now is exactly what it needs to be and so are we.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Non-Action

Non-Action

Today was busy! I know for some it was a holiday but my schedule was stuffed! The day started early and it felt like a sprint to the end of it. I don’t mind busy days most of the time because it keeps the time moving and there’s no boredom to fight off.

On the other hand, my wife had a holiday. Today is Martin Luther King day and she was able to sleep in, keep her PJs on and enjoy a wonderful day of doing nothing, purposefully. She’s been incredibly busy since November of last year and a day home, without me!, and zilch on her schedule was what she needed.

There is a thin line between balancing a healthy life or action and inaction. Our chaotic world and its need for non-stop entertainment, to-do lists, places to go, things to experience, can set a pace where eventually we burn out, fall apart, or both. We need to know when to stop, take our foot off the gas and be still; not just emotionally and mentally but physically.

Knowing, sensing, its time for a break, a rest, a lazy day is an important sense to develop and put into practice.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Might Be

Might Be

One of the greatest senses we can develop is that of self-awareness. It’s the discipline of being able to look into an existential mirror and see who we really are, no delusion or illusion. We can see ourselves, the good and the not so good, discover what we do well and what needs to be improved.

Most live in a constant state of denial of who they are and/or who they should be. They allow others, culture, reputation, ego, the false self to define them. If we are not self-aware the world has a limitless number of fake identities to slap on us. If we aren’t careful we can settle for these alter-egos and never take off the masks too many wear for a lifetime.

Letting go of who we’ve always thought we should be isn’t easy. There is pain involved on the journey of self-discovery. However, if we dare, the challenges and difficulties can be overcome, the illusions and delusions shattered, and we become what most dare not hope for; at peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

On Demand

On Demand

This afternoon I had a follow-up appointment at the doctor’s office. They needed to do a routine check-up and wanted a deposit. I had figured as much so I made sure not to leave my deposit at home before I left. I went to the restroom, readied the bottle and…nothing. No matter how much I concentrated there just wasn’t anything that was going to happen. After several minutes I meekly came out of the lavatory and explained the situation to the nurse. She then sent me to the staff vampire who had no such trouble sticking me with a big needle and taking my second deposit by force. I now have a cotton ball and medical tape covering a hole in my arm.

We live in an; “On Demand” world. We get and expect things instantaneously. The problem is sometimes life doesn’t work that way. We may demand expediency but delay and obstruction is what we’re given. If we decide to take what we need to wait on by force pain is often the what we receive instead of what we desire.

It does us good to wait, to not get what we want, to be told; “No!” It reminds us we aren’t all-powerful, possess full control, aren’t as able as we’d like to believe. Wisdom, and the lessons it uses in everyday life remind us who we are, who we aren’t and how to be at peace with both.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Flashback

Flashback

Today, while working out, I began to think of someone I haven’t thought of in a long time. It was a song that started the flashback. The memories began emerging and it wasn’t long before I began to feel the emotions, experience the memories and time melted away. It was almost as if I was back in the place, with the person and struggling. This person and I had a difficult relationship. There are times when two people don’t mesh. Sometimes there are reasons other times there are not. The pairing produces negative results, hurt feelings, harmful actions, and regrets.

I was thankful my anxiety didn’t take me too far down the road. There are times when my anxiety disorder goes into high gear and I can’t turn my thoughts off. They keep coming and it seems I am at their mercy. Today, the flashback was only a few moments and I was able to move on.

Though unexpected and unwanted the flashback was a good reminder that I have put a lot of distance between what was then and what is now. Most of the pain has vanished, the hurt feelings healed, the memories and experiences seen differently. The person is no longer my adversary but a fellow sojourner trying to find their way home on another path.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Change Myself

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Change Myself

The older I get the less knowledge and wisdom I think I possess. They say the beginning of wisdom and knowledge is two-fold; fearing God and knowing you know nothing. As each year passes the second part seems to get easier.

There was a time when I believed I knew much. Not just about myself but also about others. I could perceive motives both inward and outward, judge with impunity, and thought myself better and more able to live a life pleasing to God and myself than most other people. Then, I began to grow up.

The word growing brings with it a sense of serenity but growing is painful. It is bursting through old barriers, going places that are uncomfortable and unknown, daring to die in order to live, braving the challenges and elements that surround you.

With growth comes the realization you cannot force others to change. You do not have that power. You cannot stop the world from spinning out of control. You don’t have that ability. You can’t even get past your own hurts, habits, and hangups most days. You, I, am a perfect example of imperfection.

Wisdom and knowledge. They are as different as night and day but compliment each other when embraced and allowed to exist mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact, please you.”
#ThomasMerton

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Heart Space

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Heart Space

This morning at worship service with my mom I bumped into an old friend and asked him how things were going. His birthday was a few weeks ago and he said that he was going to celebrate with a trip but had encountered some heart problems and wasn’t able to go.

I’ve reflected on the short conversation several times today. It is Advent season. A time of joy and celebration but our hearts are heavy with the passing of my dad. As we sat in church this morning, visited a home improvement store (which my dad loved to do), did some work around the house our hearts just haven’t been in it.

We know this is the path we must travel and one day much of the pain will dissipate but right now, this evening, it is not the time. Our broken hearts still ache and space which my dad filled is empty. There is no template for mourning, no “right” or “wrong” way to grieve. We take it one day at a time, one moment, one tear and laugh as the memories, experiences, and love flood us and fill us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Yielding

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Yielding

I am not a mountain. Today I yielded to the wind.

When I first went outside this morning the air was still and cool. A few hours later I went out again to go to a luncheon and the wind was blowing wildly and powerfully. I knew quickly I would need a jacket. The wind was powerful, forcing me to lean into it as I made my way to the truck. The cool wind made quick work out of my jacket and soon and felt as though it wasn’t even there.

A young man spoke with me a few days ago. He’s been having a rough time and he’s at a loss of knowing what to do. He’s not a mountain either. The winds have made quick work of the ways he protects himself and is blowing him around with no anchor to tether to.

As we talked I helped him separate what he could do with what he had to accept. We aren’t mountains. When the winds come billowing we can feel at the mercy of them and to an extent this is true. However, there’s almost always something we can do. We might feel weak compared to the power that’s blowing against us but this doesn’t mean we are powerless.

Firstly we accept the storm, the wind, the hardship and challenge they bring. We cannot stop the wind but accepting it, respecting it, allows us to stop trying to control it. We don’t have that kind of power. Secondly, in the stillness of acceptance, we discover what we can do and we act. We might not be able to do all we want but we do all we can. We can lean into the wind.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Fear

Fear

I heard someone talking today about a giant animated spider a neighbor has in their front yard along with several other Halloween decorations. The problem isn’t the decor but the animated spider scares the man and his dog each time they walk near the house The spider is motion activated so there’s never a moment when the spider won’t “react” when he and the pooch are near the house. He’s resigned to walk a different way and in a different direction until his neighbor puts away the spider. He’s hoping the Christmas decorations will be less traumatic for him and his dog.

As I listened to his story I thought about fear; our reaction to it and it’s reaction to us. There are different things we are each afraid of. What scares one might not bother the other and the stuff of nightmares to one is shrugged off by another.

The man would be silly to try to tell his dog; “It’s not real. It’s fake. Stop being fearful!” Two things keep the dog from understanding. One, the dog doesn’t speak or comprehend language. Two, fear doesn’t work that way. How the man handled it is spot on. He walked a different way so he and his dog would be able to walk in peace.

Too often we try to convince people not to be scared of things. Sometimes this works but most of the time we and the person we are trying to convince not to be fearful end up frustrated and eventually separated. Facing our fears is fine in certain cases but in others walking with another a different way shows love, empathy, and acceptance.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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