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UnYoked

UnYoked

I listened to an author today talk about the way he writes a book. His latest offering is a metaphor for his family life growing up. His father committed suicide, his brother was a genius and these, along with others, are mirrored by the characters in his novel.

The person interviewing him asked; “Why did you write such a book now? What was the motivation?” The author thought for a moment and then replied; “I guess there were some things I was yoked to and I need to get unyoked.” I don’t hear the word yoked used often. Most of the time it’s being quoted from the Second book to the Corinthians written by the Apostle Paul. This man believed there were memories, experiences, and relationships which had shaped his life for good and bad and at this time of his life he needed to bring them to the surface to examine them and understand why and how they made him into the man and author he has become.

As I reflect on what he said I hear and feel a great truth in his words. Each of us has those life events which help shape us into the people we are today. Unfortunately, along with the good, there are the bad, with the love there is abuse and other negatives to which we are yoked. Becoming unyoked is not forgetting or escaping where we come from but allowing even the worse of times to be a light shone upon dark places inside.

It is only when we come face to face with all that made us who we are can we choose a new path or learn to be thankful for the one we currently travel.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Confusion

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Confusion

Earlier today I was trying to get the mowing done before a storm front moved through our area. I saw Beth come outside with our Siberian Husky, Trooper and waved at her. My attention went back to the mowing and when I looked up again she had Trooper by the collar with one hand and was shooing two brown dogs with the other. I quickly disengaged the blades and drove down the hill in our backyard to help.

The two dogs didn’t seem aggressive just curious but Trooper was also curious and you’re never sure what’s going to happen when unfamiliar dogs get too near each other. I jumped off the mower and had the brown dog’s attention now and Beth was able to get ours inside. I clapped my hands, marched toward the dogs, while yelling; “Go home! Now!” The younger of the two dogs began trotting home but the older one looked at me and wasn’t intimidated. Once I noticed Beth and Trooper inside I made my way back to the mower and headed again to the backyard. The older dog followed. I tried yelling again. It used the bathroom and continued to go wherever I drove and mowed. Finally, I finished mowing and told it to; “Please! Go home!” and thankfully, it did.

I don’t know whose dog exactly it was but I think it confused me with its owner. It never growled nor did its hair stand up, it just wanted to be loved, petted, played with? I’m not sure what it wanted which makes me confused as well.

Life is never predictable. We get confused and this makes us frustrated and desperate. We follow what seems familiar only to find ourselves in a strange place with no sense of direction. Hopefully, eventually, someone or something will help us find our way.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

In Line

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In Line

This afternoon, on my way into town, I was in a line of traffic. About three cars in front of me a young man, hand out the window, smoking a cigarette, and in a hurry. He was “riding the bumper” of the car in front of him in spite of their being numerous cars in front of the object of his fury. I watched him and wondered; “Why? Why are you being an aggressive, desperate driver, when there are more cars in your way? Are you going to tailgate every car until you get in front of them all?” I knew the answer was probably; “yes if he could.

I reflected on this man and the way our focus of life can be out of whack. When we go through a challenge, a difficult situation, we focus our intensity on the object in front of us. We blame it for our lack of peace and purpose. We think; “If I could just get this off my to-do list, remove that problem, rid myself of this habit, break off or begin this relationship, everything would get better.” The truth, however, is more poignant. If we do not have peace before we run into a challenge, overcoming it will not bring us peace. If there is no stillness inside prior to a relationship there will be none afterward. New job, friends, home, whatever, cannot bring us the sense of calm and wisdom we desire if we don’t acquire them deep inside by searching for them now.

The only peace and wisdom you find at the top of the mountain you are climbing are what you bring with you” -Wisdom Proverb

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Fragile

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Fragile

My first inclination that something was happening on the road ahead was the car in front of me slamming on the brakes. I took my foot off the gas pedal and began looking around. Then, from the side of the road, a small, baby deer came running into my lane. It was unsteady and scared. I hit the brakes as it continued in a head on collision with my truck. At the last moment, it wobbled into the other lane almost getting hit by another car, crossed quickly again in front of me and then bounded on the side of the road. It tried to go further but there was a cow fence and he couldn’t find a gap. Watching I wondered if its mom leapt over the fence but the little deer’s legs just weren’t strong enough. It bounded out of sight looking for a hole in the fence. I continued on to church but on the way back I looked warily for its body on the road, hit by an unaware motorist. To my relief, there was no body or sign of it anywhere. I hope it found the place in the fence it was looking for or an adult deer showed it the way.

The baby deer was small and fragile, desperately looking for where it belonged. It knew the middle of the road was not the way.

I wonder if we are like this to God? Tiny, brittle souls in bodies easily broken. We try to find our way in life, looking for the hole, the gap, the answer, the way to the peace we desperately crave. Perhaps we are more like a brutish, boar recklessly, disastrously, making our way not caring what we break or who we hurt. Maybe we’re somewhere in the middle.

Either way, what we need, is someone to show us the way home.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Aging

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Aging

I think I am getting old.

This morning I woke up and is my custom headed to the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee. I pulled out a filter, placed the proper amount of coffee grounds into it, put it back into the holder and turned on the coffee maker. I then walked out of the kitchen, did a few other things, walked back in and noticed there was no coffee in the maker. Why? Oh wait, I forgot to add the water.

Yesterday, I was doing some yard work which included mowing. I started the mower, began riding over the grass and after a few rounds looked down and realized I hadn’t engaged the blades. Basically, I’d just been taking a ride around the yard.

As a man in his mid 40’s I hope I have a few more years before I can blame aging for my forgetfulness but getting older is a part of the transience of life. It happens every day whether we can see it or not, acknowledge it or not, accept it or not.

“As a parent has compassion on their children, so the Lord has compassion on those who love him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. The life of a human is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; 16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.”
The Book of Psalms 103

Remembering our frailty and shortness of life is not a reason to despair but to celebrate every moment and breath knowing it could be our last.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

See

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See

Life is full of ups, downs and sideways. When we think we have life figured out it has a way of reminding us that it is never controlled or predictable. The question becomes; “Will we accept life as a constant state of change and challenge or continue to try to manipulate it to fit our needs?”

I was talking with someone yesterday about; “what is normal?” As we conversed back and forth there was agreement that there is no true normal. We spend our lives adjusting to the everyday small and sometimes huge changes that happen. The little tweaks are hardly noticed while the bigger adjustments are much more difficult to handle.

Accepting the transience of life is a necessary step on the path of peace. Only within, deep down, can big and small changes not move us. What is outside of us is always in flux but our inner selves can stay solid and still.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Rest

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Rest

Today has been a day of rest. A time of relaxing and restoration.

It’s the 4th of July and many are preparing for the night’s fireworks display, going to parades, fixing meals for family and friends who gather, and celebrating the holiday in a myriad of ways. I, on the other hand, have rested and enjoyed being on the couch with the Mrs. almost the entire day. Even our dog has sensed it and has slept most of this 4th away.

I sometimes wonder where our “rest” has gone. I listen to people speak about their schedules and wonder when they sleep much less rest. We live in a relentless culture of; “go!” Go to work, to school, to practice, to movies, to shopping, to church activities and many other things and then can’t figure out why we’re so tired.

Rest, a missed and misused word which needs to be added back to our’s and our culture’s vocabulary.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

knowing

knowing

What is self-awareness? My favorite quote from Aristotle; “The mark of a wise mind is the ability to think a thought without believing it to be true.” The idea is that just because a thought pops into our minds or we’ve been convinced of a thought most of our lives doesn’t necessarily make it true or real.

The problem is that few people arrive at this level of self-awareness. Few question their beliefs, convictions, and paradigms of how life should be, how it’s supposed to work. In fact, for most, it’s the opposite. There’s never a question about themselves and how they came to think the thoughts, do the deeds, be the person in the mirror.

The most important journey each of us takes is the journey within. Knowing ourselves, accepting our prejudices, biases, preferences, and understanding how they make us unique and how they set us apart from others.

A wisdom proverb states; “What annoys you about others reveals the character within you.” The path to self-awareness is first setting aside your preconceptions about everything and allowing the world to just “be“. Each experience, moment, lifetime is a once in an eternity expression of the universe and it’s Creator. Allowing it to make its impression upon you instead of charging into it wanting to put your stamp on it is the first steps into a larger world and a deeper self.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

Accomplished

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Accomplished

It’s raining outside. A wonderful sight and a break from the summer weather we’ve been having this past week. I had checked the forecast this morning and it called for rain around noon and yet nothing happened. I assumed whatever rain was coming had passed us by. However, not long ago the first drop fell and the ground, plants, and trees are getting some much-needed nourishment.

The quote (pictured) is a reminder of our limited power to make most things happen. We fight, struggle, anticipate, worry, try to make a good thing happen or a bad thing stop with not much to show for it. Finally, we remember we are but mere creatures ourselves and we cease our striving, release our desire, and accept that what happens or won’t happen will take its course, arrive in its time, and all will be accomplished.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Jumpy

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Jumpy

It came out of nowhere this morning when I was mowing the grass! I have seen a lot of small frogs the last couple of weeks and try to be aware of them but this little guy jumped up on my lawn mower and before I could stop it, it hopped on the engine! I was afraid it was going to fry itself, but a nanosecond later he jumped off and into the grass.

Isn’t it interesting how worried we can get over little things? Surprises which suddenly appear and there’s no time to prepare but our anxieties, stress, negative thoughts spike and we ask perplexed; “What am I going to do? What should I do? What can I do?” Sometimes the troubles disappear as quickly as they come and other times life comes to a halt while we figure out the best way to handle it.

What’s interesting is that whatever jumps into our lives is often beyond our control. We couldn’t have stopped it even if we knew it was coming. The second truth is we can only do what we can and let the rest just happen. It’s not comforting to know we can’t always stop or change, difficulties, and challenges that appear in our lives but instead of resisting we can accept and continue to move forward, even if it’s in a different direction.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

Strangled

Strangled

I don’t like wearing ties. They aren’t my preferred mode of dress. When I am forced to wear ties I feel as though I am being strangled and somewhere in my mind, there’s a countdown clock ticking to when I can loosen and take it off.

I exclusively wear ties for important events. Weddings (maybe) unless I am the minister officiating the wedding (then definitely), presentations for the company I work for (if the people I am presenting to are expected to be wearing them) and funerals (always). I own enough ties to do each of these a few times a year along with one suit.

Life is meant to be experienced, enjoyed, savored. Even when wearing a tie, or going or doing something we’d rather not be going or doing, it is a moment never to be repeated. Every instant is an opportunity to allow it to exist, to be what it is going to be, without our controlling or manipulating. Nothing lasts forever. Not even wearing ties.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Flash

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Flash

I once heard someone say that following God is like walking in the woods during a thunderstorm. It’s only when the lightning flashes that you can see the way.

Life is complicated. A twist of fate here, a turn on a dime there; troubles and difficulties can come crashing down upon us or disappear entirely. We build schedules, erect houses, buildings and monuments to give us a sense of control only to have them washed away by the power and randomness of existence.

Wisdom teaches us that any type of control is an illusion. We don’t have that power. The only real choice we can make is to let go, to trust the lightning in the midst of the storm to lead us home.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Paradox

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Paradox

“par·a·dox” –perəˌdäks – a situation, person, or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities.

I listened to a speaker today talk about his father who was a Jewish prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. He talked about how his father and a German guard became friends over their interest in fishing.

One day the guard told him he was having troubles with his bowels and to go to the bathroom immediately. The speaker’s father was confused but listened, went to the bathroom and came out several minutes later to find all the other Jewish prisoners had been taken to one of the notorious gas chambers the Germans used to kill millions of Jewish people. His friend, the guard, upon seeing him said; “You are the only Jew left. You should leave. The speaker’s father walked out of the camp and went back to his home. “This is a paradox,” said the speaker. The German guard knew the other Jewish people, human beings, placed on the train were going to die but still chose to save his friend.

Human beings are walking, talking, breathing, skin encased paradoxes. We are tough to figure out. We do what we don’t want to do sometimes and don’t do what we should. We take stands for things which don’t really matter and shrink from the spotlight on the most important. Brennan Manning, one of my favorite authors, wrote; “I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.” He was a priest, an oblate, and a recovering alcoholic.

We are all paradoxes and have that in common with one another. There are a plethora of beliefs, convictions, and certainties we hold that unite us and divide us. However, we are also, every one of us, human beings and this truth should overcome everything else.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Too Heavy

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Too Heavy

Yesterday I needed to move a pile of garden soil, which was laying on a tarp, from one place in the yard to another. We had saved it for possible recycling but didn’t have to chance to get to it over the winter.

I had an idea to take a rope and run it through the grommets on the tarp. I was hoping was the rope would slide through the grommets, pull the tarp together with the soil inside and be able to slide it across the ground. It didn’t work. The rope pulled the grommets and the tarp together but it didn’t budge. There was too much soil which made it too heavy to move. Instead, one by one the grommets broke free from the tarp and all I had to show for my work was several grommets on the rope with no tarp attached. This meant I had to shovel the dirt into the back of the truck which took a lot of time and energy.

Life can be like my experience with the tarp yesterday. We are weighed down by different things and we’d like to move it, get it out-of-the-way as soon as possible. We look for the quick fix; a book, a seminar, a podcast, a sermon, advice from friends and family. While these may help there are seasons when we’re forced to dig deep, get ourselves dirty and wrestle with our deepest, darkest secrets, sins, weaknesses, hurts and experiences.

Only time, energy and determination will help us remove the heaviest things in our lives which are weighing us down.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Don’t Move

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Don’t Move

Yesterday, taking a break from yard work on a hot day in May, I sat on the porch wiping the sweat off my brow with a towel and drinking a bottle of water. As I sat there a brown bird, who has a nest in the corner of the porch swooped down and landed on my leg. I froze. A bird landing on me was awesome but I didn’t dare move for fear of scaring it away. Sweat poured down my face, my tired arms and restless legs immovable. It seemed like it was forever but I knew it was only a few minutes until I had to dry the sweat from my eyes and take another drink of water. Predictably, the bird flew off as soon as I moved. For a second, however, I was still enough to enjoy the experience.

It’s hard being still in today’s world. We miss so much because we are so busy. We’ve got places to go and people to see. Schedules have to be kept and filled calendars emptied.

I wonder how many small wonders we miss because life’s most important moments are only ours to experience if we’d simply be still?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Not Alone

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Not Alone

He sat alone in the classroom today, save the examiner, and took his High School Equivalency exam. I sat alone watching him think, strain to recall what he had been taught over the past months. My class for incarcerated fathers was scheduled to begin but this lone test taker was holding us up. That was okay. What he was doing was as important as what we do in our class. We strive to make men good and into good fathers. He was taking a test that would better him and his family. He sat there with no one around him but I knew he wasn’t alone. Good thoughts, prayers, and best wishes were being sent his way by those who had tutored, encouraged and convinced him he could be more, do more and his life wasn’t a throwaway. I knew he was nervous by the way he checked and rechecked his answers, glancing up at the clock which ticked away his test time.

Finally, he finished and hesitantly handed in his exam. A few words to the examiner and he exited the classroom. “How’d it go?” I asked. “I hope good,” was his answer. We chatted a few moments and then he went back to his cell. As he exited the door I knew the hopes and dreams of not just him were wrapped up in that test. I also knew he wasn’t alone and sometimes that’s enough to give us the courage to do what we wouldn’t ever do otherwise.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Flowing

Flowing

This afternoon, before the person remodeling our bathroom left for the weekend he rigged a shower and a working toilet for us to use. I took my first real shower in almost a week about an hour ago and it was wonderful! Standing there as the water flowed I was reminded of those around the world who have no water due to poverty, homelessness or lack of clean water in the areas they live.

Blessings are in abundance for so many of us and yet we miss the wonders. They are bountiful and flow into our lives like a giant waterfall. Unfortunately, we have become so used to them we take them for granted and dismiss their importance and rarity.

Today is Good Friday, the day the Master died. Because of his death, we in the Christian faith are showered with grace, love, kindness and mercy from our Father who is in Heaven. We’ve grown up with the story. It is so familiar that we miss the importance and the rarity of the God-man who came to our world, clothed in our skin, and made a way for us to bathe in the presence of the Father for all eternity.

For Good Friday, Eternal Acceptance, and showers we thank Thee, O’Lord.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Old and New

Old and New

Yesterday, on my Facebook memories page, was a picture I took of a wonderful couple Beth and I know in Pennsylvania. It was taken in March of 2014 just after beginning my sabbatical. The smile on both their faces portrayed the genuineness and kindness they had shown Beth and me for many years. They were only in town for a Sunday and after church, we went out to eat. As usual, they picked up the tab and the photo was snapped before we said our goodbyes.

I was in all kinds of pain at that time but didn’t have a real grasp of the mental and emotional toll the previous years had taken on me. I’m still coming to grips with a lot of it.

We had moved from a people, place we loved and had no idea what was ahead. Everything seemed to swirl around us and we could not seem to find a place to plant our feet and get our bearings. Then, along came this couple back into our lives. It was a reminder that love, grace, kindness were still present even though the winds of upheaval seemed to strip away all we held dear.

Most of 2014 seemed like the end of life as we’d known it. It would stay that way for next year. However, slowly we found our feet on firm ground and began building something new.

This evening I am thankful for old friends and new beginnings.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Wait a Moment

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Wait a Moment

I wore short sleeves today! That may not seem a big revelation but just four days ago the high was near 20 degrees and today the thermometer almost hit 70. I’m not sure what’s going on with winter this year but it seems as confused as I am. I was lucky to find a short sleeve shirt since I packed up all my spring and summer clothes a couple of months ago. There is a saying in Tennessee; “Don’t like the weather? Wait a moment!” It certainly describes what’s happened the last few weeks with severe cold spells followed by several warm days. Who knows what the rest of the season will be like. Will we seemingly experience all the seasons in one as we have so far or is winter setting us up for what comes next? Only time will tell.

As I drove to my incarcerated father class tonight I was thinking about my short sleeve shirt and the crazy winter we’ve been experiencing. I also reflected on how seasons of life can seem this way when everything happens at once. There’s good, bad, negative, positive, neutral and it can leave us crazed, confused with our heads spinning. Life is much like the saying about the weather in Tennessee; “…wait a moment, it will change.”

Life is transition. On the surface, this can be disconcerting but there’s also comfort in knowing even the harshest of seasons will not last forever.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Cat Near a Green Tin Roof

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Cat Near a Green Tin Roof

This morning I was letting the dog out for his business appointment and after I put him back in the house, something on the roof near our green tin topped porch caught my eye. It was a cat. This was a surprise because we don’t own a cat and I was unsure how he got on the roof. I; “Meowed” at it like most people do when the see a cat and it; “Meowed” back at me. I warned it as I was leaving that the Siberian Husky inside the house doesn’t take kindly to cats, squirrels, ground hogs, possums, or anything small and furry. It then turned around and disappeared to the other side of the roof.

Life never stops surprising me, catching me off guard and making the unexpected almost expected. I’m not sure what happened to the cat. I; “Meowed” when I got home this afternoon but to no avail. Maybe I’ll see it again, hopefully before our dog; Trooper does. The one thing I do know is life won’t stop being so unpredictable. Blessings and curses, good and bad, positive or negative, probably a lot of in between stuff, will keep showing up and sooner or later I’ll stop being so surprised.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Spread it Around

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Spread it Around

Someone did something very kind for me today. It was an incredibly nice gesture backed up by a grace-filled act. I told Beth about it when I got home and she was genuinely surprised and grateful.

I was talking with a person this week about the meanness in the world. People spew hatred and judgement so easily. Whether it’s politics, religion, sexual preferences, what kind of #livesmatter, or a host of other hot topics, people choose to burn their neighbors with contempt, aggression, and hatred.

In the midst of so much evil in the world a genuine act of kindness, no matter how small, can change a person, a family, a community, a nation and a world. My life was changed by kindness today and I hope, pray, to spread the blessings to others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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