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Cattle Crossing

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Cattle Crossing

Today, traveling the back roads of South Central Tennessee, I saw a “Cattle Crossing” sign. It was funny at first, the thought of having a cow in the middle of the road or a group of them causing a traffic jam. The more I thought about a cow jumping, waddling, out of nowhere on the road or stepping out from a hidden place the more I slowed down. A cow would cause tremendous truck and bodily damage. I’ve seen the toll a deer can put on a vehicle. I can’t imagine what a cow would do!

Wisdom tells us that we are given insight and warning signs for a reason. It also reminds us that it is our choice whether or not to take the warning seriously. We proceed at our own risk. Too often we ignore them and suffer the consequences of wrecked lives for ourselves and those we hold dear.

Our lives are not to be lived waiting for the next disaster, challenge or difficulty to come our way. However, if we learn to look for the warning signs and trust the wisdom we have gained through experience and knowledge we can avoid a lot of pain and heartache.

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

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

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Empathy

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Empathy

My wife is a wonderful woman, and brave. Brave because she went to Wal-Mart on Saturday afternoon! There are many reasons she’s wonderful but her concern and empathy for people and other things overwhelms me sometimes. Today, on her way to what we infamously call; “Wally World” a chipmunk jumped on the road and tried to run across when Beth was at the same spot with her car. “Thump, thump,” was all she heard but it was enough. She called me a few minutes after leaving the house and I knew something had happened. “Hello?” I answered. “Hey. I ran over a chipmunk,” she replied on the verge of tears. “It came out of nowhere and I tried to stop but couldn’t and that’s when I heard the ‘Thump!‘” I listened to her and told her I was sorry. “I know you would never do that if you could avoid it.” She knew this also and after a while she was okay. I asked her to be safe and remember that I love her. We hung up and the rest of the day has been without incident but the confession over her accidentally taking the life of a rodent is one of the many reasons my life is better because she’s in it.

While she was gone, after the phone call, I reflected on her having a heart big enough that a chipmunk she didn’t know existed a moment before the incident could have an impact on her. I wondered what our families, communities, nation, and the world would be like if each of us had the respect, concern, and empathy for all things, especially each other. I think we’d all live and be in a happier, safer, place.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Good Catch!

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Good Catch!

Last week I was sitting at a table with several people. I was writing a note in a notebook and my coffee mug, full of Java juice, was sitting on the edge of the table. I moved my notebook at just the right angle and it knocked my coffee mug off the table. It should’ve been a huge mess but instead, somehow, someway, I swooped up with my right hand and caught the mug. No coffee spilled! It was awesome. I looked to see if anyone noticed and one woman was smiling widely at me. Without a word, we both knew I was fortunate to be able to grab the coffee mug in time. I smiled back at her and quipped; “Bet I couldn’t do that again!” She agreed.

There are days we catch the coffee mug and days we miss it. If I had missed the mug the coffee would have spilled on and in my satchel that I carry full of notebooks, pens, ID cards and a laptop. It would’ve been a pain to try to get all the wet, brown, sticky mess, out of the compartments and corners of the bag. The days we are able to avoid the calamities are ones to rejoice but the days we aren’t don’t have to be the start of one big messed up day. We can bounce back, accept the mess, clean up best we can and move on. For the record, the day I caught the mug, was not a good day. So, I guess it works both ways.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Surfing or Drowning

Surfing or Drowning

I just finished reading an article from seven years ago today about a father and son who were killed by a drunk driver. The mom shared it on social media and the heartache is still present and the wound raw. I can’t imagine the pain. I knew the father a little. He was in our church’s youth group. He was a few years older than me but always seemed cool. He was an athlete. He ran, biked, swam, and surfed. The morning dad and son were killed they were training for a triathlon. The father was named after his father and the son carried on the tradition. He was the III.

How do you have hope in the midst of such loss? How do you not drown in sorrow? How do you not get lost in such darkness? I don’t think there’s an easy answer. Quips and quotes don’t begin to address the brokenness and reveal our lack of intimacy with death. We do everything we can to avoid it. Most of us try to prolong our lives by any means necessary. When death finally does come we are quick to make the arrangements, organize a memorial or funeral service and push past it as fast as possible. But even then, death finds a way to corner us, trap us, confront us. After the hustle and bustle of meals, flowers, sympathy cards, and services we find ourselves alone when death, misery, mourning, comes calling.

Experts tell us that when we are caught in a riptide to not fight the current or it will surely drown its victim. Let it grab you and then slowly, moving parallel to the shore, slip from its grip. I think this is how we deal with the loss of those we love. There’s no escaping and fighting and refusing to acknowledge its power end in certain defeat. To allow it take hold, scare us, shake our faith, sweep our “normal” life away, but not giving up is the key. Slowly our strength returns, we regain our bearings, we slip from its grip, rise above the waters and live.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Safe to Land

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Safe to Land

Today, I was mowing grass and doing yard work for a friend. Most of the grass has already turned brown for the winter except for a few green patches. As I mowed over a patch a large grasshopper jumped up and from the ground and landed on my shirt. I didn’t have time to figure out what to do because he got his bearings and jumped again to a safe space. This happened more than once as I kept infringing on his territory.

Each time the grasshopper hitched a ride I thought about our lives and the times we need temporary safe places to land. Not spaces we will occupy permanently but where we can get our bearings, catch our breath, take stock of what’s happening, see the challenge and the difficulty and perhaps a way to avoid it or, if needed, endure it.

I also reflected on the need to be a place that is safe to land for others who are in trouble. A place where they can feel accepted and be safe. A space that has a listening ear, no advice unless asked for, a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold, patience and empathy to endure and understand.

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

Invisible

Invisible

The other morning I took the dog outside for some “private” time and waited on the front porch for him to finish. He was taking an extra long so I started walking to make sure he was focused on the task at hand. However, as I stepped forward I walked into a spider web. It was on my face and I did the obligatory “spider web dance” everyone does where you throw your hands in the air, wipe your face and hands trying to get the sticky substance off your face and body. The web belonged to a small spider and the web was invisible until I walked into it.

I feel like our country and world has been walking into spider webs this week. Invisible, sticky, hard to avoid and get out of situations and circumstances. Things such as racial tensions which we avoid until we can’t have been front and center. Politics and how they divide us. History and its impact on our culture. Power, ego, arrogance, and leadership has stuck to those who are trying to direct and guide us. Mistakes, bad choices, negative thinking, biases, judgment, have all clung to us and seem impossible to get rid of.

Wisdom tells us that if we wish to know the true way we must be still, silent, at peace and humble. However, it seems impossible because new crises and threats emerge seemingly every day. There’s also another wisdom saying; “Be still for at least 30 minutes unless you are busy or in a hurry then sit still for an hour.

I long for our world to simply be still, for a moment, and see the difference it could make.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Aroma

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Aroma

I drove to the dump today on my way to a meeting. When I opened the door the stench of heat, humidity and heaps of garbage smacked me in the face. As quick as I could I deposited my trash into the container and left. There’s nothing quite like the smell of a dump in the middle of July. I’ve lived in a lot of places but the dumps in July seem to share the same aroma no matter where I’m at. To put it delicately, they all have an unpleasant smell, or they stink!

I was talking with someone this week about unpleasant people and the way they try our nerves, disturb our stillness and negatively impact our lives. We all have those people in our life, those folks whose attitude, demeanor, demands and difficult ways give off an unpleasant aroma.

How we handle these foul folks reveal more about us than they do the other person. It’s easy to respect someone who respects us, compliment those who say nice things, return kind gestures and empathize with those who care. However, for the ones who stink it’s easier to get in and out of their presence as quickly as possible and avoid if doable.

To respect, speak kindly, act generously and care for these smelly ones takes a conviction in the deepest part of ourselves that gracious, grace-giving, living isn’t about the other person, it’s about who we are and want to be.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Finding the Good

Finding the Good

I arrived yesterday at a group home to talk about making good choices and having a plan when they leave the facility. The front door leads to a long hallway and immediately to the left is the meeting room. I opened the door and was about to make my way to the room when I could hear they were engaged in a heated and heartfelt discussion. One of the residence, we’ll call John, had offended another person in the group and the leader was trying to explain to John what he had done and why it was necessary for him to apologize. It was tough getting through to John. He had a point of view, feeling which had been wounded also, and it seemed no matter what was said and how the guys in the group in said it, John was unable to see the fault in his words and behavior. Finally, the leader, sensing they weren’t progressing, put a halt to the discussion and had each of them say something positive about John before dismissing the session.

Difficult people exist in families, friendships, jobs and every place you find folks from different backgrounds, with different life experiences, raised in different ways, think differently and act differently. In other words, difficult people are everywhere. Truth be known, we have been different and difficult ourselves at one time or another. We can’t avoid those who get on our nerves, say and do inappropriate things, offend us and others, cause disruptions, and this can make it hard to love and show grace to them.

If we can’t live without them, perhaps we can try our best to find the positive in them. Seeing good, focusing on what’s right instead all that may be wrong can cause us to treat them better, love them more and is a reminder that someone may be trying to locate the good in us as well.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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What’s Inside

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What’s Inside – 

When I first saw this photo it took me a few moments to see the problem. After noticing what’s in the bag is not what’s advertised I couldn’t un-see it.

I remember an interview for  a position at an organization and feeling good about how the evening had gone. On our way home from the meeting Beth, who also participated in the interview process, said; “I don’t have a good feeling about one of the men. He wasn’t thrilled at you being considered for this position.” I was offered the job and accepted it but a year later we decided to take another offer in large part because of the problems this man and his family were causing us. Another interview and this time Beth was wary of the leader of the staff position I had applied for. “He’s too conservative for you. You’re going to break your wings banging against the ceiling of his leadership style.” The position lasted longer than a year but serving under this leader took a great mental and spiritual toll on me. Because of these and many other instances I tell Beth, on a regular basis; “You’re smarter than me and I’m smart for marrying you.” I think she agrees with at least half of this statement.

People come with all sort of labels. They are placed upon them by society, cultures, past events and lifestyles. It’s almost impossible not to recognize or place labels on those with whom we come in contact. Although labels might be hard to avoid it doesn’t mean we must accept the description given to us. We can make the choice to reject the label and find out what’s on the inside, getting to know the real person. Only then can we truly know and clearly see.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Caution Ahead

On my way home from leading a couple of Addicted Fathers’ groups today, driving up a windy country road, I came upon a sign warning me of a; “Flagger Ahead.” I immediately slowed down and sure enough, a little further down the road, there stood a flag man, his sign read; “SLOW” and he was gesturing emphatically to move over and stay in the left lane. I followed his instructions and began cautiously moving up the curvy road looking for the reason I was told to drive in the “wrong” lane. Up and up I went with no reason in sight for staying in a lane which made me anxious. I kept thinking another vehicle would come around the next curve and hit me head on. Finally, I saw a big tractor with a large attached mower cutting grass, bushes and trees in the right lane. It was a great reason to be in the other lane! Soon, after passing the big machine, another flagger, standing in the left lane motioned me to get back in the left one.

Moving into the lane, feeling more comfortable, and continuing on my journey I reflected upon the truth that sometimes we must travel in places which aren’t pleasant, agreeable or feels safe. There are folks we trust who warn us about the way ahead; threats, hazards and risks to avoid. One of the greatest gifts are wise ones in our life who can help us navigate the road of life. The question becomes; “do we listen and trust their guidance or remain in a place, which may feel safe, but puts us in danger?”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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