Blog Archives

Playing the Cards You’re Dealt

Playing the Cards You’re Dealt

This video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvECZ_ZXGqs) was amazing. Watching this young woman be given four random notes on index cards and from those notes play an extraordinary piece of improvised musing was marvelous. It makes me wonder about the mystery of the human brain and soul, and its capability for good and bad, right and wrong, positive and negative impact on this world.

While watching I also reflected on the phrase; “playing the cards you’re dealt.” The saying comes from the card game of poker but is applicable to all of life. Life is the dealer and the “cards we’re dealt” or what, where, who, we’re born to and in goes a long way in determining about what our life becomes. How we play those cards, choose to live our life is the way we play our hand. Some that seem to born with all the advantages either use or lose their blessings. While others come into the world with the cards stacked against them turn their lives into miracles.

It’s not the hand you’re dealt but how you play the hand that counts.

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

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More than Divides Us

More than Divides Us

Last week I made a political statement on a Facebook post written by a friend. It wasn’t too provocative but certainly made my point. I am always wary of posting political opinions on any social media platform because of how toxic these places have become. It didn’t take long for someone to respond and then another. The second one grabbed my attention and I considered deleting my original post because I didn’t want to be responsible for one more argument about politics on social media. However, to my surprise and joy, the first responder bowed out of the conversation gracefully not wanting it to turn into something nasty and then the second one did the same. It was amazing! Two people expressed their differences of opinions and no one lost their temper, started cursing, accusing, blaming, they simply tipped their hat to the other and that was the end of it.

I still believe that there is more that unites us than divides us. Too often it is forgotten in the heat of the moment, the political battle where one side has to win at the expense of the other. We can have different opinions, worldviews, beliefs, and still be kind and considerate. We just need to listen to our hearts instead of the voices who tell us otherwise.

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

Standing Still or Like You’re Standing Still?

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Standing Still or Like You’re Standing Still?

Time is an amazing and confusing construct. The same amount of time, say a week, can feel like a moment or a season. The days, hours and minutes are the same but the experience of them can be vastly different. I do my best to work out regularly. It’s good for my body, my emotions, and my mind. There are days when the time on treadmill clock flies by and others when each second takes minutes to pass. The first is enjoyable the second unbearable.

Wisdom teaches us that time is always moving. Awareness of the passing of time allows us to never take any moment for granted. Once a moment is past it is never repeated. Stillness, experiencing each moment is a difficult and valuable lesson. Learning to stand still, to capture a moment with our whole being before it fades into the past is a discipline worth practicing. Allowing time to fly by as if you’re standing still is the opposite of being still in each moment. It is to be so busy, unaware, unconcerned, that life is fleeting and you’re stuck in the minutiae of keeping appointments, staying on schedule, consumed by attending events, and marking occasions.

Standing still or “like you’re standing still.” Which way do we choose to live our lives?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Learning to Fly

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Learning to Fly

Last week I was in the backyard looking at the trees we planted the first couple of years we lived in our little farmhouse. It is amazing how much they’ve grown in the last few years. We’re looking forward to eating the peaches, apples, and enjoying the shades in the coming seasons.

While looking there was a baby sparrow who perceived I was a danger tried flying away from me. The problem was that he hadn’t quite gotten to the point where he can fly long distances and soar up in the sky. He flapped as hard as he could but could only hover near the ground about ten feet or so. I tried not to get near him so he would be able to calm down but somehow I still kept getting too close for comfort and he’d try again. Although he wasn’t getting too far he never stopped flapping.

Wisdom teaches us that growth takes time. We may want to soar but first, we have to learn to hop, leap, flutter and float. Like the bird, it takes time, trust and never giving up. Also, similar to the trees, it takes a while to dig our roots down deep, to find the sustenance and the foundation we need to reach the skies.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Unrepeatable Miracle

Unrepeatable Miracle

I think we forget how amazing the truth that we exist. On some plane of reality, we are present. A one of a kind, never happened before, not to be repeated miracle of life.

I have been watching an unsolved mystery documentary series and a few episodes deal with the proof, or lack thereof, of aliens. I don’t believe in aliens. I understand my non-belief does not negate their existence but the more I read about science and the odds of the right planet being formed, at the right time, with the right basic building blocks of life, the critical, tenuous stages of evolution, that have made us possible, the more convinced I become we are indeed a miracle. Every one of us.

With this limited understanding and unending quest for wisdom and truth, we approach each day, hour, moment. Too often we treat our lives with disregard. “Tomorrow is a new day. I will take care of this tomorrow. I will love better, live better, be better, tomorrow.” However, in the corners of our minds, in the deepest parts of our spirits, we know tomorrow is not guaranteed. Right now is a miracle and we exist only here.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Can You Hear Me?

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Can You Hear Me?

Earlier this week I had a frustrating conversation with someone (not Beth). I was attempting to explain and they weren’t receptive to my words body language and insistence. Finally, we decided we’d try again at a later date when cooler heads would prevail.

It is amazing how difficult it can be to communicate; listen and speak. It doesn’t only involve ears and mouths but minds, bodies, times, temperaments, and most of all the willingness of both parties to check their egos at the door. This is where I made my mistake. I was attempting to force someone to listen, to see and understand what I was doing and it wasn’t taking. Forcing people to do anything rarely, if ever, works. After we both stepped away I realized the whole situation was my fault. I wasn’t showing empathy but exasperation and that’s never a good head-space to be in when trying to speak to someone.

Thankfully, when we came back together I was able to recognize where I went wrong and tried a different way. I instructed and acted more respectfully and thoughtfully. I made sure not to try to cram information into someone but to let them absorb it. When it was over I apologized for my shortsightedness and hope this is a lesson I will take to heart.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Mush

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Mush

My brain has officially turned to mush! After two full days of training in Nashville, my head organ can take no more! It is full of pieces of information, stories, facts, figures, graphs, bars, charts and more. I know in a few days when everything I received processes everything it will be worth the mental fatigue but right now it’s like my brain is in a blender set on high. My eyes are heavy from lack of sleep, my back hurts from sitting for two straight days in a non-reclining chair, my stomach hungry for homemade food and nothing pre-packaged. It’s amazing, or horrifying, that your body, mind, and spirit can be so out of sync after a couple of days.

This morning, on my way into Nashville, I listened to a prayer app and it has a time, after the invitation to pray, to pause and be silent. As silence filled the car I thought about how disjointed I felt, vowed to never work in Nashville and drive into the city every day, reflected on the difference between a room full of forty people plus four teachers and the quietude of the moment and then the app started playing scripture. I wasn’t ready for the noise. I said out loud; “Not long enough!”, then sighed and continued.

Silence is underrated.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Gathered Together

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Gathered Together

All over the world today youths and people of every color, creed, and nationality, clergy, organizational representatives, politicians, movie and music stars, are gathered together to protest gun violence and by their voices and presence hope to convince those who have the power to do something about people dying. You don’t have to agree with their position to respect their right and motivation to come together and show their solidarity and support. In this crazy, mixed up and messed up world at least they are doing something.

“Decisions are made by those who show up.” -Anonymous

It is amazing what a group of people, gathered together, with peace, justice, kindness, and determination can accomplish. Too often we sit on the sidelines and voice our opinions, make fun or mock those who think differently than us and are doing what their heart, emotions, and spirits, say is right and good. Perhaps we’ll make mistakes, maybe our ideas aren’t totally thought out and ordered. However, can you imagine an international movement where everyone decided to take action, do good, seek justice and change the world for the better? I can.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Beneath

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Beneath

Today I was tearing down an old wooden, raised flowerbed that was built many years ago. It was mostly rotten and needed to be removed. I was on my hands and knees prying apart a corner and noticed the wood seemed to be moving. Looking closer I realized there was an ant bed behind the wood. If you know anything about ants it is that they’ve noticed you before you notice them. This was true. I looked and they were on the sleeves of my shirt and hands. Fortunately, I was stung only one time. I quickly stepped back and brushed myself off. It was amazing to watch how quickly they went on the defense when under attack. There was no discussion, no plan, just instinct and getting rid of the intruder.

I know people this way. They are quick to attack, slow to find out what’s happening. If they even perceive that someone is going to be a threat they become defensive and hostile.  Some people attack themselves. They are more critical of their life than any critic would ever be. Others’ aggressive style protects themselves from getting hurt.

Wisdom teaches us that this is not the way to live with ourselves or others. We are to be patient, kind, grace-filled, faithful, hopeful, and loving with everyone, including us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannbesaint.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

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

Messy Good

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Messy Good

Today I sat on a stool in the kitchen while my wife cooked a dish for the family Thanksgiving meal. I watched her boil noodles, crack eggs, mix in cheese, add milk, thick whipping cream and whip all of the ingredients into a thick bowl of mush. It didn’t smell, look, or appear appetizing at all. She then poured it into a large glass casserole dish and slide it into the oven. About an hour later out came one of my favorite dishes, “Nana’s macaroni and cheese!” It looked great, smelled even better and, when it cools off, I will have a large serving and enjoy every bite.

It’s amazing to me how something so messy and chaotically made can turn into something so tasty good and wonderful. This week has been rough! Someone close to me is going through hell and the only thing I can do is pray and offer words of encouragement. One of the hardest experiences to endure is knowing you’re powerless to stop someone else’s suffering. Pain, medicine, bad reactions, heartache, death. Life can be messy, unseemly, and at times unbearable.

However, there is a light which stirs in us a hope that the chaos, the turmoil, the misery, somehow, someway, will be made into goodness and worth the messiness life can bring our way.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Grow where You’re Planted

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Grow where You’re Planted

Yesterday, Beth and I began prepping the yard and our plants for winter. Most of our summer plants have dropped their leaves and the ones which won’t be blooming again, or didn’t grow at all, we threw into a ditch next to the fence on our property we’re trying to fill. We’ve done the same thing the last three falls and yesterday I noticed there were plants growing and as I looked closer I saw there were some that we had tossed. There were Tomatoes, Elephant Ears, Blueberries, Palm fronds, and more. It was amazing to see what we thought were used up or no good plants find root and begin growing again, or for the first time.

There’s a lesson in there for those who are going through times of change, transition, difficulty, and loss. Seasons of life, when we are uprooted and seemingly thrown somewhere random, chaotic and left for dead, can still lead to growth. I told someone a few weeks ago, who had begun a new, uncertain chapter in their life, “bloom where you’re planted.” It’s not easy and there are certain to be trying moments where the effort to put down roots might seem to take more than we can give but the result; life, peace, acceptance, will be worth the effort.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Distress

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Distress

Yesterday I wrote about hearing the sound of a kitten but not being able to find it (Listen”  (https://thewannabesaint.com/2017/09/08/listen/). Today, I saw it for the first time. However, it wasn’t the way I wanted to be introduced. I was weeding near outdoor shelves and the weed whacker was on full throttle. Grass and dirt flying everywhere and when I was right next to the outdoor shelf all of a sudden the gray kitten (I now know what color it is) shot out from under the shelf running for dear life. I immediately turned off and put down the weed eater and went looking for it. Using my best “meow” and “here kitty kitty” I tried locating it to introduce myself and assure it wasn’t in any danger but no luck. It was in too much distress to come out of whatever hiding place it discovered. After I finished with the weeding I put out a little food and some water in hopes it will show up again. We’ll just have to wait and see.

A friend, who is a teacher, posted on Facebook that it can be difficult to reach students because of the trauma and distress they face in other parts of their lives. He lamented the impact a teacher can have because of the other challenges and difficulties his students are facing on a daily basis. I find this true in my work with men as well. Whether they are incarcerated, in a rehabilitation clinic, non-residential, divorced or living with mom and the children, most of these men have a painful story. They are impacted by their past experiences of neglect, abuse, heartbreaking home lives, and lack of positive male and female role models. These not only affect their current behavior but also wire their brains and condition their bodies to react in mostly negative ways.

What I’ve learned is that I can’t fix these men. It’s not in my power. What I can do is show them respect and kindness. I try to connect with each one personally. If I can establish a relationship built on kindness and respect amazing things can happen. I’m unable to help them all but I try and trust this is enough.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Unexpected

Unexpected

A little bundle of unexpectedness just rode out of our driveway.

This past Saturday Beth and I discovered a kitten hanging out near our house. Knowing the dogs in the surrounding area, including our own Siberian Husky, wouldn’t treat it well, we gave it a safe place, some food and began looking for someone to adopt it. Thankfully, a nice woman, who was looking for some companionship, came this afternoon and took it to a new home where it should live a long, good life.

It is amazing how one small thing can wreak big havoc in our lives. Because it was staying on our front porch we had to start taking Trooper, the Husky, out the back door, not his usual routine. We bought kitten food, prepared and fed the little one three times a day. When one of us left for work the other had to hold the kitten because it followed whoever was walking, wherever we went. Whoever was the last one leaving the house had to sneak to their vehicle because the kitten would come running if it heard them. As the kitten rode off today Beth and I both breathed a sigh of relief while also feeling a tinge of sadness.

Life is not predictable. We’re never sure when someone or something will join us our journey and remind us not to take “normal” for granted.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Random Thoughts

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Random Thoughts

I am sitting on the couch waiting for a stranger to come and spray something that apparently kills bugs and keeps them out of the house. It’s amazing to me the trust we place in things we are used to and unable to trust others which we’re told will help us, improve us, make us healthier, live longer, etc.

A woman on a counseling webinar I was listening to today said; “It is our response, thoughts, about an experience that shapes our understanding of an event, not the event itself.” It was very Zen and has rattled around in my head all day.

Before my Incarcerated Father’s class last night the guys and I were talking about our day and during the conversation I asked what they had for dinner. They told me pizza and when I inquired what brand they said; “It’s the same type you get served when you’re in grade and high school.” Then one of them piped up; “We ate good tonight!” and the rest of the class agreed. It’s amazing how your circumstances impact the way you measure good and bad, positive and negative, tasty and not so much. Another reminder that I, and you?, take way too much for granted.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Fickled Thing

Last night I attended a local sheriff’s training event called; “Citizen’s Academy.” It is a ten week course that anyone in the community can sign up for to learn more about the law enforcement work being done in our community. The focus for last night’s session dealt with the county jail. I was invited because of our company’s work with the residents of the jail and the classes I teach to incarcerated fathers.

Before it was my turn to present the Chief Deputy spoke about the jail, the residents, how they cook the food, book and transport residents, the contraband they find, the amount of people they house in a given year. Following this, some of the correctional officers, their commanders and medical staff shared stories about what everyday life is like working with an incarcerated population. The stories were mostly negative, interesting and scary. Most people don’t like being locked up and can show it in some unseemly ways. I listened as they described their typical shift experiences and reflected on the different atmosphere and environment I’ve experienced in the dad classes.

Most of the men I’ve taught have been respectful and willing to learn. They’ve opened themselves up to a new way thinking, doing and being. The correctional officers see the worst and, to survive, are trained to expect difficulties and how to diffuse conflict. I on the other hand sit with guys for a couple of hours a week and mostly receive their best efforts. They don’t volunteer to go to jail but volunteer to take the class. They don’t want to be stuck in a cell all day but do want to come to a different setting whether for a new way to think or simply a new set of walls to stare at for an hour.

It’s amazing how two sets of people can look at the same place, people, circumstances and see things vastly different. Perspective is a fickled thing.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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