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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

Not so Fast

Not So Fast!

Today, on my way to a meeting in Shelbyville, Tennessee I was cruising along at a crisp 60MPH when I spied a flashing construction sign which read; “New Signal Light Ahead. Be Prepared to Stop!” I was confused because I’ve never known this road to be extra busy but began to slow down as I rounded a curve and sure enough a new traffic light had been installed. It was red when I first saw it and stayed red…for a long time! I thought maybe the light was broken and we should begin proceeding carefully but none of the other vehicles moved. Finally, it turned green and as I reached the new light there were two signs which read; “Stop Here On Red.” “Maximum Time for Red Light: Three Minutes.” When you’re traveling three minutes can feel like an eternity and certainly did as I waited for the green. For the record, the light was red on my way out-of-town as well. Grrrr!

Practicing stillness is important. I do it every day when I meditate, pray and at various other times, especially when it’s been hectic. Stillness is a central discipline to gaining wisdom and experiencing life. However, I’d prefer to dictate when I will and won’t be still. I’d like it to be my decision. I surely didn’t want it on my way to a meeting, driving down a country road. Yet, here was a time of stillness forced upon me but instead impatience, confusion was the result.

To truly know stillness is to carry it with you. It shouldn’t need to be conjured up on a timetable. Being still is more than a way of life it’s a way of being. It’s also a lesson and a discipline I’m still working on.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stuck

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Stuck

Yesterday afternoon I loaded the pick-up truck with the household garbage we keep in a covered area outside. I placed two bins in the back and another bag shut the tailgate and headed to the Refuse and Recycling Center. When I arrived I hopped out the cab, walked to the back, let the tailgate down and something furry jumped out at me! That’s not what happened but it’s what looked like was happening when the deceased mouse (pictured) plopped down on the tailgate when it lowered. “Whoa!” I screamed, initiating a strange look from another person who was throwing away garbage also.

As I looked closer I saw that it was a dead rat. I emptied the bin and discovered he was trapped by a hole in the bottom of the trashcan. He had wiggled his entire body out with the exception of his hips and hind feet. He died trying to escape the trash he willingly entered into. I used a piece of wood to pry him out of the hole and a thick piece of plastic to grab him and toss him in the dumpster.

As I drove away I thought about the choices each of us makes; good and bad, right and wrong, positive or negative. I tell the men I work with; “The choices you make today determine the man you will be tomorrow.” I also speak with them about how there are some choices which drastically impact them and those they love and care about. “Once you make certain decisions you forfeit the ability to be a good man to those who need you be that the most.”

Each of our actions has consequences. We must be careful not get stuck by the choices we make.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Descisions

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Decisions –

Earlier today I was dropping off a list of names for the incarcerated father’s class to one of the corrections officers at the jail. Usually, there are a few pleasantries and I do my best to stay out of their way as they do a hard job with immense pressure. However, today was different. When I handed the list to the corrections officer he was rude and said something unkind. The biggest part of me knows the responsibilities of the position requires focus and a mind which can make quick decisions. The residents are often attempting to “get away with something“, they work long hours, put up with a lot of harsh treatment and there’s not a lot of “thank you’s“.

I tried to ignore it as I walked away from him. These things don’t happen often but as I got further from him I noticed a small part of me was upset at the way I had been treated. It didn’t last long because as I walked by the cells and buzzing doors which led to my class a question formed in my mind; “Are you going to let what was said imprison you? Will you allow the hurtful words of another coerce you into a bad mood or will you choose to be free?”

By the time I go to the classroom I had decided that I would be not be captured, imprisoned, held captive by the words of another. I let it go and it lifted off my shoulders and disappeared.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What You Always Do

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What You Always Do

This morning the Mrs. popped a hash-brown type frozen breakfast into the microwave. I knew she’d want ketchup so I got some out of the refrigerator and shook it up. She saw me do this, yet when I handed her the bottle before she put any on her plate, she shook it up again. I asked her; “Why’d you shake it when you saw me do it?” “It’s what I always do” she replied. She sat down and ate her breakfast and somehow the topic of praying before your meal, saying; “Grace or blessing” came up. Both of us shared which family members did and didn’t pray before each meal and whether or not their kids continued the discipline as they got older, were passing the practice along.

Wisdom tells us to acquire a habit it must be repeated. We must be conditioned to start and maintain a way of doing things. One of the truths I share with my clients is; “If you do what you always do, you get what you always get. However, if you choose to do it differently you open yourself up to a whole new world and the possibility of being a new person.” A good reminder for us all.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Using Your Head

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Using Your Head

It’s 70 degrees today! Almost January and balmy. Beth and I decided to take advantage of the day by working outside. Perfect weather with a little sun, a few clouds and a nice breeze. Everything was going smoothly until walking off the side of the porch I misjudged the sloped roof and whacked my head on a beam. “OUCH!” After rubbing the area which was throbbing and walking around a bit I decided to nail up a piece of material to mark where the beam was so I wouldn’t repeat the experience.

Wisdom teaches us that sometimes we are going to make mistakes, poor judgments, take a step in the wrong direction, not use our heads for what they were made for; thinking and making wise decisions. However, this isn’t the end of the journey. It’s a time for evaluation, choosing a different course, using the experience as a lesson learned and, hopefully, not repeated.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Reckless

Culpeper Reckless Driving Lawyer

Reckless

Yesterday, on my way to the county recycling and refuse collection center with a truck full of yard debris and household trash, I was descended upon by a small blue four-door sedan. I was going slow because of the junk in the back of the truck and then slowed down again when the speed limit was reduced to thirty miles per hour.  The car behind me was in a hurry and even though we were on a small, two-lane, curvy double lined road and there was a car approaching from the opposite direction the sedan began to pass me! He didn’t have room to pass and no reason to put us all in jeopardy so I sped up a bit to hopefully give him pause to resume his position behind me. This didn’t work, I put on the brakes, he flew past me with not much room to spare from a head-on collision with the car in the adjacent lane. I was more than agitated and honked the horn while giving him a; “What was the reason for that kind of recklessness” gesture?

I arrived at the refuse and recycle center, unloaded the truck and on my way back to the house I thought about the sheer ridiculousness of the driver. He put his life, the life of the driver of the other vehicle, and mine in danger to arrive mere seconds ahead of when he would have arrived if he’d chosen to drive safer acknowledging the value of his life and those around him.

What if there had been a wreck? How many people, family, and friends, would’ve been impacted because of his impatience? Too often, we are only concerned with our agenda, our list, what we “have to” get done. Driven by our busyness, our over packed, over-stuffed schedules we lose sight of others and ourselves. The eventual result is wrecked lives, a loss of what’s most important and the love and grace we should have for one another.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Lay Me Down to Rest

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Lay Me Down to Rest…

Wednesday night, before my lecture to an Incarcerated Father class, I was speaking with one of the men and learned that a few days prior someone had died in the jail. He was an unknown older black gentleman who had been brought in late Sunday. The story was that he had laid down, complained a little about his chest hurting, rolled over and in the next hour breathed his last. For those who witnessed the event, it was both haunting and a fantastic tale to relay to others. Though morbid, being incarcerated can be terribly boring, it was an unexpected dramatic experience in the malaise that is life behind bars.

As the excited chatter ceased regarding the spectacle, I looked at the man telling me the story and said; “What a sad thing, to die in jail. Alone with no one knowing you or loving you.” I am not sure why I made such a blunt statement except it was a lesson I couldn’t pass up. Many of the men I work with have been in jail several times and if they do not change their ways could very well die behind bars, surrounded by those who are not their family and friends.

I tell the men every class; “Choice is destiny. WHAT you do today determines WHO you’ll be tomorrow.” and we all have a limited number of tomorrows.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Pauses and Spaces

Pauses and Spaces –

I worked with a dad today who struggles with addiction issues. He kept repeating the Twelve Step oft heard phrase; “Pause and Pray, Pause and Pray, Pause and Pray.” It is the addict’s response if they’re tempted to drink, use drugs, get angry, make poor decisions. They are to take a breath and then breathe a word of prayer for peace and  guidance.

I use the phrase; “The space in between.” Life is made up of experiences. We’re blind to most of them because we’ve become used to them, take them for granted. There are times however when an experience happens and our choice of what to do or not do, how to react, make the wrong, right or better choice could greatly impact our lives and the ones we hold dear. It is in the space between what happens to us and our choice of how to respond where our future is forged.

Whether; “pause and pray” or “the space between,” we choose to shape the experiences of our lives or be shaped by them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Either Way

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Either Way –

It’s hot outside today!  I finished mowing and weed eating our yard around 1pm and was soaked with sweat and covered with grass clippings. I grabbed a bottle of water, a towel and sat in a lounge chair in the shade to cool off. As I sat there wiping off my arms and legs, between guzzling water, a Red Wasp landed on my arm. At first I just felt a slight tickle but when I looked down and saw the Wasp I was immediately faced with two choices. One; hope it decides to fly away on its own and two; give it a nudge. For a split second I thought about which was the best idea then, choosing the second option, I went to flick it away with my finger and missed! I waited for the inevitable sting but luckily, the wasp simply flew away. I’m not sure if I chose the best option. I certainly didn’t execute my decision well by completely missing the wasp!

Wisdom teaches us there are situations and circumstances life brings our way and we have to make a choice, hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. If pain is a result of our decision it doesn’t mean we were wrong, it means sometimes pain is involved no matter what we do.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesain.com

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Hate

Hate

Someone asked me today to define hate. I knew what they were asking. They were wanting to know if their dislike of another had gone far enough, grown enough to call it the “H” word. I described hate this way; “…an intense feeling of disdain, a lack of love and grace toward another, a set of blinders placed over one’s eyes and soul to stop from seeing anything good about the person.”

I’m not sure this is the best definition but it was one which resonated with my feelings of someone several years ago who had hurt me into the depths of my spirit. I couldn’t please this person, who focused on what I did wrong and rarely noticed what I did right, complained, criticized, isolated me from others and used up everything they needed and then threw me away like an empty beer can, never looking back.

If I’d ever hated someone this would be the person, but as I thought about them today the intensity was no longer there. It takes a lot of energy, passion, time, to hate someone. Hate occupies a lot of space in your brain, emotions, spirit and life. You dwell on the other, fueled by your extreme contempt. Hatred consumes you and there comes a point when you have to make a choice; “Will I allow my pain and scorn to become who and what I am? Or, do I begin to let it go?

It’s not an easy decision but its the only option which leads to wholeness and peace.

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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Motivation

Motivation –

I teach three groups of men who are housed in an intensive rehabilitation facility for drugs and alcohol. The time I spend with them isn’t nearly long enough but I make the best of the time I have given to me. My focus is on two subjects; the first is their choice to stay clean or relapse will determine their destiny and the second is their choice to be sober determines their family’s destiny.

This morning, in a session, we were discussing these issues when it dawned on a man in the group that his kids were at a highly significant risk of doing drugs because of his own history of drug use. Before I could get the words out of my mouth, he said rather loudly; “Don’t say it!” I paused for a moment and then relayed the statistics of kids whose parents use drugs and their likelihood to follow the same path.

I then told the men; “This doesn’t mean your children will become alcoholic or drug addicts. You can make the right choice, lead your family away from this toxic lifestyle. Let them be your motivation to get clean and stay clean. Do it for you and do it for them.” 

Too often we see our decisions in a bubble. We forget, like a stone thrown in a still pond, our choices ripple in all directions impacting all who are near and dear to us. If we took in to consideration the power of our actions and inaction perhaps we’d choose more wisely.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabeasint.com

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All Gone

All Gone.

Someone asked me last week; “How long does it take to heal a broken heart? How long before you’ve moved past the pain, betrayal and loss? How long before it doesn’t hurt any more?” I wearily smiled and replied; “I’ll let you know, as soon as it happens.

The act of forgiving someone is more than saying the words; “I forgive you.” It is a head and heart change, a spirit and emotional shift that takes time. Forgiveness is a process, a journey, which begins with some of the most difficult steps we can ever make. When someone has consciously, purposefully wounded us, torn apart a relationship, chosen to grievously harm us, there is no; “quick fix” prayer, magical spell or shortcut to a place of healing. To forgive is to make the choice to move on, not hold on to the bitterness and heartache, to allow the offending party and yourself to be free, and this choice is repeated many times.

The path of forgiveness is at first a downward spiral. We journey deep into ourselves and come face to face with the pain caused by the other. We admit and accept the hurt which has been done to us. We then bring the injury into the light by talking about it with someone we trust, someone who can help us navigate the path from brokenness to wholeness. Depending on the depth of the wound, healing, forgiveness, could take years. Remember it is a choice to let go of the blame, the pain and the burden of carrying around an act of selfishness, carelessness and callousness done to us by another. The choice is to hold on to the hurt or embrace freedom of mind, body and spirit. The decision might be made countless times until the impact of the betrayal is finally, permanently, all gone and we find the long, hard path to restoration complete and worth it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twiter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Disappointment

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I had to disappoint a group of people this past week. It wasn’t easy or fun but necessary. Life’s path comes with many choices. I don’t think or believe there is one direction we must walk and one wrong choice takes us, perhaps irrevocably, away from our purposed destination. Life is much more complex and mysterious than we often give it credit for being. Some choices have great, maybe even grave, consequences but even those can further our travels on wisdom’s way if we allow all decisions and their outcomes to be teachable moments and seasons.

My choice not to pursue an opportunity had to deal with many things and was made with peace of mind and spirit. When it was done I was content and trust the path will still lead me to the place I need to go and the person I was created to be…

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Slow and Steady

On my way to the office this morning I ended up behind an elderly woman who was driving slow, really slow. We were on a two-way road with no passing lanes and though I was in a hurry she was not. 35 MPH in a 45 MPH was her chosen speed as we ambled down the road. We approached a major intersection, the traffic light was green and I anticipated getting through it in time. However, the creeping driver decelerated and the light turned red. Argh! To add insult to injury the woman navigated into a turning lane and instantly received a green arrow. “Sigh.” I watched her continue on her way as I just sat there.

After an exaggerated, exasperated, exhaled breath, I inhaled deeply and was reminded that we have little choice over the pace of life. Our journey has its own timing and unfolds incrementally, one stage, one season at a time.  Wisdom teaches us to accept life’s speed and our powerlessness to make it go faster or slower.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Motivation

This is a great quote by Abraham Lincoln but I also think taking away someone’s power, hope, and purpose may perhaps be an even greater way to test their character.

Oftentimes, though we may deny it, we do good things for the good we receive in return. There is nothing wrong with this but the true test of doing good is when nothing is received. To risk living rightly, going the extra mile, loving the unlovable and experiencing nothing but scorn, derision, rejection is a true test of who we are and why we do what we do.

To face loss, deprivation, spurning, even emotional, spiritual or physical death and still choosing to do the ethical, moral, honorable thing reveals our true motivation.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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Worth it?

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Earlier today I watched a documentary about the man who discovered and excavated King Tut’s tomb. Howard Carter, after many years and many failures made this “most famous of all discoveries” in 1922.

He wasn’t the most pleasurable person to be around, he was rude, condescending and had a short fuse but his passion was uncovering an undisturbed burial chamber of an Egyptian Pharaoh and he succeeded. It was said that when he died there were few people who attended his funeral. In his latter years someone asked him if it was worth all the effort with precious little to show for it and he answered; “it was.”

I want to have the passion and purpose to give all my life, my strength, my courage my everything in pursuit of a deep, inner longing. Not for fame, riches or other meager treasure but simply because I know who I am, whose I am and what I am made for. At the end of my days I want to be able to answer the question; “was it worth it?” with a smile, a nod and a confident; “it was.”

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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The Other End

“When you pick up one end of the stick you also pick up the other end.” Choices. Consequences.

Several months ago a young man shared with me how his story of addiction began. A simple question; “Could he jump over one of the cement posts that stand outside of almost every Walmart store?” He couldn’t. A bad choice and a misjudging of how tall these posts actually are resulted in a shattered forearm and an addiction to pain pills a couple of years later. “If only I’d ignored the impulse to try to hurdle that post, impress my friends, make someone laugh, I wouldn’t be where I am today.” Choices. Consequences.

Our choices determine our destiny. What we choose today is who we are tomorrow. May we never forget the power of a decision.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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What We’re Looking For

Yesterday evening, on my way to my incarcerated fathers’ class, a woman driving behind me decided I wasn’t going fast enough and decided to ride my bumper to make sure I knew her disapproval. My frustration was starting to grow when I glanced out the driver’s side window and noticed the beautiful sunset. In that moment my angst and anxiety disappeared. It was beautiful and I almost missed it because my focus was on what was bugging me instead of more wondrous things. I even said out loud to the woman whose concentration was still on me going faster or getting our her way; “Look to your left! See what you’re missing!

Life is full of both grandeur and aggravations. Each fill our days and we decide which we’ll spend our lives searching for. Choose wisely for you’ll find that which you seek.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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Who We Desire to Be

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If humanity made a 2016 resolution to quit being rude and allow niceness and kindness to rule they must’ve changed their mind.

My first stop this morning was taking my push mower to get it serviced. The person behind the counter acted like I was asking him to fix it personally and came up with several excuses as why he couldn’t fulfill the extended warranty. Finally, he relented and I was worn out with the hassle. My next stop was to buy a kerosene heater and a cashier refused to answer a question I had about the product. I figured out the answer myself. My last stop was to buy kerosene and the line inside to prepay was long. When another cashier opened up a woman cut in front of me without any hesitation. “Oy!” I was thankful when I pulled into the driveway to be greeted by the smile of my beautiful bride.

Being kind, nice, peaceful, in a world seemingly intent on being anything but, can be difficult. In these trying times we must remind ourselves we do not base our emotions, words and actions on what others do but on who we desire to be.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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