Blog Archives

Soul Alive

Soul Alive

Outside, under our two sheds and front porch are families of rabbits. I see them when I let out the dog, who’s too old to chase them anymore, when I drive the truck into the driveway, when I sit still long enough and wait for them to emerge from their hiding holes. It excites me. Wildlife has always had this impact on me. I slow down to look at deer on the sides of the highway or in far-off fields. Stare at Falcons and Hawks perched on fence posts or electric poles. Turkeys, skunks, opossum, armadillos, foxes, even cows grab my attention.

I grew up in the suburbs but my parents took us to National Parks as often as the could. We loved camping, canoeing, hiking, exploring. We saw lots of wildlife and even had a few run-ins with Black Bears. I believe this is where my love of nature was born and raised along with the important lessons of treating it gently, basking in its beauty and always leaving a place better than you found it.

Nature, along with other gifts we take for granted each day, bring life to my soul. I can’t imagine not being excited, filled with joy, while experiencing it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

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Corner of My Eye

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Corner of My Eye

This morning I stopped by our main offices to pick up a package and papers which had arrived. As I was leaving the building, looking through my mail, a person caught the corner of my eye. However, my interest was in my hands, not in anything else. “Hi! How are you?” I stopped in my tracks and looked up to see the person asking the question was a co-worker. “I’m sorry. I didn’t see you there!” I hastily replied not wanting to come off rude just unobservant. “How was your weekend?” I inquired and we chatted briefly. She left to go inside and I climbed into my truck.

Once inside I thought about my response; “I didn’t see you there.” It was an honest confession albeit not a good one. I did see someone, a shape, a movement, someone not important enough to tear myself away from looking at the package I received. When I realized it was someone I knew my demeanor and perspective changed. However, the truth is that if it wasn’t someone I knew I never would’ve given the person a second glance. I want to change that. I want to “see” everyone, acknowledge each person I possibly can, not give extra attention simply because I know them but because they are worth looking at, engaging and connecting.

I want to see every “You” there.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stubbornness or Stillness?

Image result for burro

Stubbornness or Stillness?

This morning I had a meeting in Fayetteville, Tennessee. On my way, driving on country back roads I passed a Burro, standing by a fence. The other cows and critters in the pasture were nowhere near it but there it stood facing the morning sun. A few hours later I was returning home and passed the same Burro in almost the same spot as it was in earlier. It paid no attention to the automobiles coming and going or the other animals in the field.

As I watched the Burro I thought about its unwanted and unwarranted reputation of being resistant, refusing to obey, obstinately going its own way and doing its own thing. However, I did wonder; “Is he being stubborn or still?” I finally decided he was simply being still. He was facing the sun, he was on level ground, he wasn’t distracted.

I reflected on my day and my mental state and thought; “I long to be like the Burro; enlightened, sure-footed and mindful.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Invasion

Image result for lady bugs light fixtures

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

Investing

Investing –

This morning I had a meeting with another community organization. I was presenting a new opportunity to work with fathers in our area and hoped they would help us. I have presented ideas, data, skills and a host of other information, to more organizations and ministries than I can count. I’ve never been asked to leave or had a bad experience but have had the occasional person I was talking to be looking at their phone, out the window or at their watch. Those presentations and discussion following seem to drag on forever. I’ve also had the organization be excited about the opportunity to partner with us. Most, however, are somewhere in the middle.

Today’s meeting was the exception because the woman whom I was meeting with was excited and had some great ideas as to how we could make part of our plan work at her location. She paid attention, listened intently, took notes, asked questions and made me feel welcomed and not rushed to finish so she could start doing something else. In other words, she was fully present in our time together. It was awesome.

It was a great reminder the difference we can make in other people’s lives if we invest our time, our kindness, our respect, and our lives in theirs.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What’s on Your Plate?

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What’s on Your Plate? –

This afternoon, at a county health council meeting, a speaker from Vanderbilt Hospital gave us a lecture on the importance of heart health. February is Heart Health Month so it was certainly appropriate. He talked about healthy eating even stating; “If it tastes good it’s not good for you!” That certainly got everyone’s attention. He softened the blow a little by following up with limiting the amount of unhealthy, high fat, processed, high-calorie food and increasing healthy choices. The speaker had arrived late and lunch had been served before his lecture. The food wasn’t what he’d call the best in choices but not the worst either. After he sat down and the meeting dismissed someone mentioned to the attendees that there was plenty of food left over from the lunch and to please take some home. I can only imagine what the speaker was thinking as he watched people make “to go” plates. It certainly is a difficult job to get people to think differently, choose differently.

One of the disciplines of mindfulness is mindful eating. It is the recognition that everything we put in our mouths comes from the world around us. It’s not just consuming but being aware that each piece of meat, every spoonful of veggies, a bite of fruit, is a result of the creation we all apart of, participate in and exist in intimate connection. Too often, however, we just consume. Not only food but almost everything in our lives is used and abused, grabbed and possessed, with no thought of creation or consequence to our consumption.

What’s on our plate is, and is more than, the food we eat but also what we allow to fill up our lives.

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

Silent

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Silent

I read an interview this week of an actress who was verbally attacked by a well-known director this summer. He insulted her current movie and her by proxy. Her response? She didn’t say anything. She kept silent in spite of the fact that her movie was one of the summer’s biggest blockbusters. In the last few weeks, she was asked why she never responded to the criticism of the director. She answered simply; “I didn’t want to give him the attention he was looking for.”

Two or three days ago a journalist began publicizing his book about the president. The book and the author weren’t at all flattering of the man or the job he’s doing as our nation’s leader. In response, the president responded with insults, negative tweets, threatening lawsuits and gave the author what he wanted most; more attention. I’ve heard even the most ardent supporters of the president question why he couldn’t leave it alone?

Wisdom teaches us to know when to speak and when to stay silent. If you’re wondering which to do a favorite quote of mine is; “No one regrets a rushed word unspoken.” The truth is we talk too much. We are too quick to defend ourselves. Most can’t handle a perceived slight. Our tongues and lips seem to be “at the ready” to do battle with whoever and whatever insults, belittles, or challenges our view of the world or ourselves.

Wisdom reveals that silence and patience are signs of maturity in those who have a strong sense of who and what they are as a person.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Power

Image result for taoist thought of the day

Power

The lists have already started airing on television, showing up in online news outlets, heard on the radio. The top 10 newsmakers, personalities, sports icons, movie actors, deaths of the last year.

Most of the lists are silly and arbitrary but one usually grabs my attention. It is the lists of famous people who have passed away. I usually have forgotten the ones which happened earlier in the year. I listen to these lists and think about the people who society has lost, reflect upon how quickly life fades and wonder how these deceased became famous, powerful in whatever sphere they existed.

Deep in the heart of every person, there is the power to become whatever they want to be, given the right circumstances, and the combination of luck and perseverance. There is a commercial running on TV where a music mogul is shown being the success that he has made of his life and holding his baby boy at the end telling him; “You’re the boss! You’re the bomb! You’re the don!” In other words, the world is at this kid’s fingertips, it’s here for the taking.

Our society tells us we can be anything we set our minds to, fulfill our heart’s desire, and everything is equal. There is no higher calling. Being a politician, a famous actor or singer, a sports star, or countless other professions in which a person might find worldly success are all the ultimate good.

However, I wonder where are the mystics, the poets, the artists, the rebels, those who don’t desire the allure of the world but embrace another desire, dream? These folk aren’t usually the ones who are famous enough to make top 10 lists or are remembered after their passing but they’re also the ones who don’t care.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Attention!

Image result for truck rear view mirror person

Attention!

This afternoon I stopped at a store and picked up a few items. When I was done I walked to my truck, put my seatbelt on and began to back up. My mind has been full of different and difficult thoughts the last several days and for some reason, I only glanced out my rearview mirror. When I looked again there was a woman behind me with a horrified; “This guy’s gonna run me over!” look on her face. I slammed on the brakes and waited for her to pass. I then rolled down my window and apologized profusely telling her it was my fault I wasn’t paying attention.

When I arrived at my mother’s house I asked her to wash a few items of clothes for me and she said she would. I gave her the clothes and was turning around to walk back down the hall when I heard her yell; “No!” I came back and asked what had happened and she said she had poured fabric softener where the bleach was supposed to go. I then told her my story about the woman in the parking lot and we both agreed our attention has been elsewhere.

Stressful times full of difficulties and challenges taxes our minds. We don’t sleep well, eating what’s available, our minds, emotions, and spirits quickly become depleted because our energies are used in other areas. As hard as it is we need to take time to be focused and still. Catching up on rest, eating at more regular times and a decent diet can help. Deep breaths, times of meditation and prayer, trying to be still so the muddied, frenzied water can still so we are able to see.

Finding the mindful way when the way is rough isn’t easy but it might be the only thing which will keep us sane until we reach a more welcoming and easier path.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Little Things

Image result for ladybug infestation

Little Things

They’re everywhere! Well, maybe not everywhere, but we certainly have quite a few of them in and around the house. We’ve found them in the shower, the bedroom, the bed, the ceiling, on hair brushes and numerous other places. Ladybugs! As the weather turns cooler, they’re turning into a real nuisance. Our first instinct is to swat them but they make quite the mess so instead, we will gently gather them up and show them to the door.

Ladybugs are such tiny things that could pose a big problem. In the same way, our lives can be filled with irritations that pose large challenges. A miscalculated statement to a coworker can become a problematic working relationship. A small lapse in attention while driving causes a large accident or at least scares and angers other drivers. A seemingly insignificant gesture can cause a heated exchange and escalate into a fight. What has the appearance of a minor choice can have enormous consequences.

Too often we think it’s the big things which make or break our lives. Truthfully, more than likely it’s the little things that decide who and what we are, will become and decide our destiny.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Afraid

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Afraid –

This morning, driving to a Father/Child reading event I was rounding a curve when out of nowhere came a big white dog, barking and headed straight for the truck. I didn’t have much time to react when at the last second it decided to turn back. My heart went into my stomach and as I looked in the rearview mirror the dog made its way back to the bush it was hiding behind to wait for its next victim. It was frightening to have this huge canine all of a sudden appear on what should have been an easy drive to a county library.

After my heart and stomach settled I thought about the dog and the fright it gave me. The fear had subsided and I wondered where its owner was, why the dog was allowed to play this dangerous game when, in a collision, the vehicle almost always wins?

I don’t like being afraid. Fear is unsettling and I’d prefer to live life without it. However, I admit that life can be a lot like the, almost, run in with the dog today. We navigate the road of life the best we know how hoping to reach our destination. When, out of nowhere, something happens which makes us afraid. It may be a brush with death, a lingering sickness, a mental health issue, a financial crisis, a danger or challenge to friends and family. In these moments we become afraid. Our goal is no longer reaching our destination but getting through each next moment. Everything slows down and our attention becomes solely on the fear.

In one sense it’s helpful our vision is singularly focused. It helps us concentrate on what’s in our way and how to avoid it or fight it. However, if we are not careful the thing which makes us afraid becomes the only thing we see and our vision to all the beauty and wonder of life is obscured. Balancing being fearful and mindful is tricky but is the only way we make sure we don’t spend our lives afraid to live.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Thought

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Thought

When I woke up this morning my positive thought was; “It’s not Thursday!” Yesterday I had to go to the dentist and while there are times we must do things which bring us anxiety we can celebrate I am thankful I didn’t have to repeat the process today.

It’s also a beautiful day. Sunny with a few clouds. Temperatures in the low to mid-80’s. In a few moments, I will go and mow the grass. Some weeks, especially during the hot summer days, it’s more a chore than a joy but as the days grow shorter I will bask in the sun on my face and driving my little yard tractor.

One thought or several, can indeed change the way you see your day. I know in the future I’ll have to go to the dentist again. Soon there will be no need to cut the grass. By the look of the trees and their colors, the days will quickly be cold enough that even the sun won’t be able to warm me up.

One of the most positive thoughts, disciplines, we can have is focusing on the good each day brings and not the uncomfortable change which may come with tomorrow.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
Gospel of Saint Matthew 6:34, The Master

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Occupy

Two Cars One Lane: Fight

Occupy

On my way home from Nashville, Tennessee, earlier this week the road I was traveling had a construction zone. I maneuvered into the proper lane and most other vehicles did the same. However, there was a woman in a silver Mercedes who misjudged when she needed to get over. I noticed just in time as she attempted to pull into the same space occupied by my truck.   When I recognized that she didn’t see me I honked the horn but this didn’t stop her and I slammed on the brakes to avoid getting into a collision. I’m not a science professor but I remember that one of the Laws of Physics says; “Two solid objects cannot occupy the same at the same time.” I couldn’t tell if she was oblivious, didn’t care or wasn’t up on her physics laws.

After we passed through the construction zone we went back to our regular speeds and as I passed the driver of the silver Mercedes I reflected on the truth of this Law of Physics in other parts of our lives. We have too many things which occupy our minds and spirits. We fill our homes, jobs, brains, and souls with trinkets which need constant attention. We rarely, if ever, find a place to leave everything behind and just be still. The objects we possess end up possessing us.

Simplicity scares us because we think we must get rid of things; “we can’t do without.” This is a lie. There are many objects, treasures, things that seem important which if we dared we could eliminate. Stillness of spirit, peace, eludes us because too many things occupy our lives.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Craving

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Craving

I had a surprise waiting for me in my workshop this morning. On a table where odds and ends are kept is a pail with a plastic top that’s full of rat poison. We’ve had a wet summer and this might be the reason the rats are keeping near the house. Whatever the reason I don’t want these varmints in or near us. Several weeks ago I bought the rat poison and placed some in strategic areas of the workshop. Since then I’ve found two bodies so I know it’s working. However, today, to my shock the lid of the pail with the poison had been eaten through and there was a rat size hole! I took the lid off and much of the poison had been nibbled on along with rat feces. Yuck!

I’m not sure why it was a surprise to me except that I knew it was poison. The whole point is that the rats smell something which entices them to eat. They have no idea its poison. To them, it simply tastes good. For me, knowing it’s poison means I wear gloves when I open it, place it in the desired area, and seal it tightly when finished. I wash my hands after I am anywhere near the stuff. The difference between me and the rat is I know it kills.

I reflected on this today as I finished up the yard work and came inside. Many of the things we crave; attention, respect, fortune, fame, come with a high price. Wisdom teaches us to not get caught up in the cravings. From our point of view, we wonder; “What’s the harm?” but from those who know, it’s a truth which could save our lives.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Focus

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Focus

This morning, it had already gotten hot as I went outside to do some mowing and weeding. The Cypress saplings Beth and I planted a few months ago need to have the grass from around them removed but the little trees are still too small to risk using the weed eater. So, I use the push mower to get as close to the trees as I dare without harming them.

My attention was on the grass, the saplings, and the mower when out of nowhere a butterfly flew into my eye! I had sunglasses on and still not sure how this medium size winged insect got between the frames of my glasses and my eye socket but it did. Luckily, I was able to close my eye in time and immediately took off the glasses allowing the butterfly to flutter away.

I’ve never had a butterfly do that before. It was shocking! It was also a good reminder of the beauty which surrounds us every day. We can become so focused on the work, chores, schedules, and to-do lists that we miss the wonder of simply being alive and the joy each breath can give us.

Hopefully, being aware, sensitive to the beauty which surrounds me won’t require it to smack me in my face next time.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Attention

Attention

The quote in the picture (attached) is a great lesson, one I learned again today.

Following a meeting, I was rushing to another appointment but had to stop and speak with someone. I was present bodily with the person but wasn’t present emotionally or mentally. I could feel the hurry welling up inside and my attention was elsewhere. As a result, the conversation I had wasn’t fruitful and I am sure I came across as flustered. I’ve since let the person know it was my mistake, apologized and confessed I should’ve been more mindful, present, in the moment, not on my way somewhere else.

It’s so easy to be moving on to the next thing. We love marking items off our lists. It makes us feel productive and successful when truthfully if we aren’t careful, we find ourselves failing at one of the most important reason for existence; relationships.

The difference between misery and happiness is attention. An important lesson not just to read but to practice.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The Chase

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The Chase

This morning, on my way to work, I rounded a curve and was met with two dogs. I could tell by the look of the younger one a chase was about to go down. The other, who looked much older, wasn’t so sure. As I passed the younger it took off running as fast as it could trying to match my speed. I’m not sure he’d know what to do if he caught me but he was giving it his best effort. The elder ran for a while and then gave up. He knew he wasn’t fast enough to catch his prize. I smiled at the younger dog and his stamina. He kept up for a long time and even after I turned a corner and accelerated he was still giving it a go. I never saw the older dog again.

It reminded me of life. When we’re young we chase after shiny things, fast things. Our attention is easily captured by whatever’s on the horizon. We put a lot of effort into obtaining things which never satisfy or give us the rush of the chase. As we get older we realize there’s only so much passion, energy and time to give to pursuing and, hopefully, we understand there are precious few things worth chasing after.

Wisdom teaches us to filter and to focus on that which satisfies and to leave the chasing of fast, shiny things to others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Leak

Leak

You never know where the leaks are until it rains.” #BrianLoging

This morning I awoke to a downpour happening outside. It was raining so hard that when I took the dog out I stood under the overhang while telling him; “Go for it!” (I know, bad owner.)

In the back of our little farmhouse, there is a breezeway which connects to a pumphouse. At one it time did not have a roof. Somewhere, in the life of the house, an owner attempted to put a homemade roof over the breezeway and let’s just say it hasn’t held up. It can handle quick showers and light rain but heavy downpours and it leaks in certain spots. I know where most of the leaks are so I am sure not to put anything on the floor under that area so it won’t get wet.

The remodeling of our bathroom continues and this week the men delivered the tiles which they stacked in the breezeway. This morning I heard a splashing sound and looked out into the breezeway and all the boxes were wet from the passing storm. We called our remodel guy and he assured us it wasn’t a big deal which was a relief. However, this was only one part of our concern. There is a new, major, leak on the breezeway and we’re going to have to figure out what to do with this section of roof.

It’s a pain to be sure but if it had never rained we wouldn’t be aware of the problem.  Now we have to figure out how to fix it. There are times and seasons of life when the rain pours into our lives revealing leaks and weak spots. Wisdom tells us we can be upset at the storm or see it as an opportunity to become more aware of ourselves, who we really are, the places which need attention and do something about it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What’s Important

What’s Important

This morning Beth and I went to a small Lutheran church and celebrated Easter with the faith community. The service was meaningful. The songs were on point, the message concise and full of the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection. The only challenge to overcome was the family in the pew behind and their little ones who were banging toys, dropping toys, whispering loudly and moving a lot! Basically, they were being kids. It wasn’t a distraction too often and the focus on the empty tomb was far greater than what was happening around us.

I talked with some friends this weekend who are facing a lot of challenges. As we spoke it was easy to hear in their voices that the things that never mattered had been revealed for what they are; illusions which take our attention off of what really matters and places them on the banal.

It is unfortunate that oftentimes it takes what seems to be insurmountable odds and obstacles to shift our focus back to what truly matters. Only when we understand we have no control over the curveballs life throws our way do we, in humility, search for the truth.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Perfectly Acceptable

Image result for overgrown grass

Perfectly Acceptable –

It is time!” my wife told me last night. “Cutting the lawn can wait no longer!” I was hoping to wait until mid-April because mowing the grass too early can leave it vulnerable to disease. However, last week the church beside us cut theirs and now our yard looks even more unkempt. So, if it doesn’t rain today and the grass can dry out from a shower last night, I will mow today.

I blame the mild winter and the enormous amounts of rain we’ve had the last two months on the lawn being so out of control. Everything is blooming, budding sprouting and looks beautiful. The grass is the exception. It’s not all one height. Part of the grass is several inches tall while other parts are just turning green and still short.

Waiting for the sun and slight wind of this beautiful spring day to chase away the moisture I’m also reflecting on how the lawn and life are similar. There are parts of our lives where everything seems to be growing and flourishing while other parts seem to have trouble keeping up. There are relationships that are blossoming and healthy while we struggle with others. Our job may be going well but our home life needs improving. We are well-balanced emotionally but our physical side could use some conditioning. Mentally we are strong but spiritually we are lacking.

Wisdom teaches us that life is rarely, if ever, simultaneously great or terrible. What we look to do is find balance and acceptance. To do this we must ask; “Are we giving too much time to one area while neglecting another?” or “Is it just seasonal?” Perhaps a little more attention and lot more patience and we will see the blessing of a life that’s not perfect but is loved, accepted and a work in progress.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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