Blog Archives

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

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

Destination

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Destination

I heard a business investor say today that; “Right choices bring the wrong results and wrong choices bring the right results all the time when it comes to investing your money.” Luckily, I don’t have enough money to worry about whether or not this is true but it did cause me to think about the consequences of our decisions.

One of the core principles I try to give to the men I work with is that; “Choice is destiny. What we do today determines who we will be tomorrow.” I believe this to be true but I am also old enough to know life is never predictable and the unexpected could be around the corner ready to smack you!

As I thought about this gentleman’s words today I realized they were indeed factual. Making bad decisions could lead to something unexpectedly joyful but the odds are long. Also, we make good decisions, not just because they will lead us to something better, but because of who we are in the deepest part. We certainly hope our lives will be blessed by choosing fidelity to ourselves and those we love but no matter our destiny. We choose to be good because we know it is the better way.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Decisions

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One of the hardest decisions a father has to make is whether or not to give up the rights to his child(ren).  I spoke with someone today who is wrestling with this decision. He is thousands of dollars behind on his child support payments and realizes that every day increases the debt he owes.

He doesn’t make any excuses and understands why most people would look on his fathering skills with disgust. He’s been in and out of jail, rehab and has developed the habit of making the worst possible decisions.

Still, however, there is hope. Hope that he can turn it around and be a good man and a good father. Hope that he can have a relationship with his child. Hope that his life even at such a young age won’t be told with head shakes and frowns but with smiles and sighs of relief.

The piece of paper he’s being offered, to give up parental rights to his child, represents both a way out financially but a resignation that he will never be the dad he needs to be and his child will grow up without knowing their dad.

Decisions. Some come with little or no consequences, others with incredibly heavy burdens and life-altering outcomes.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

In the End

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In the End

This morning I watched a documentary entitled; “Get me Roger Stone!” It was a biographical tale of one of the most famous, some might say; “Infamous” political consultants. He helped Ronald Regan get elected, many other Republican candidates be successful, and was one of the architects of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Near the end of the film, Mr. Stone says (paraphrasing); “If I go down as the dirtiest player in the game I’ll consider myself a success.”

I grew up thinking people, as the get older, begin to think on the brevity of life and what comes after. I thought the older people became the more spiritual, wise and kind they became. No matter the type of life they lived when they were young there was always an age where they turned the corner and began to live virtuous lives.

I think my understanding of older people was skewed by the ones I knew. I had two godly grandmothers and the only others were from church. They taught Sunday school, gave praises and lots of hugs, smiled a lot, didn’t judge and seemed to be one step closer to heave n than the rest of us youngsters. To me, this is how all older people acted. However, as I grew up I realized this wasn’t the case. True, there are some people who changed but most older people are just older versions of their younger selves. There wasn’t an age where they ripened into good fruit or a corner that made them spiritual and wise.

The documentary today was a reminder that we are choosing our destiny every day. Each choice we make takes us down a path and at the end of our journey the story of our lives will be told by the choices we made. What’s written on our headstones, spoken about at our eulogy, remembered about us is what we have done, are doing and will do.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Defining Moments

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Defining Moments –

Yesterday I wrote about my very bad, horrible, no good morning.  (https://thewannabesaint.com/2017/03/02/futility/) After reading the post a friend commented that she hoped it didn’t ruin the rest of my day. Thankfully I can honestly say it didn’t. My knee and ankle hurt all day but that was physical pain. The emotional frustration and darkened spirit lifted as I drove to the drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.

On my way to the center, rubbing my leg, and missing my coffee, I asked myself; “Is this going to define your day? Will the men at the center get a grumpy lecturer? How will you react to other drivers and persons you meet? Will the pain, frustration, and lack of caffeine, determine the rest of the day?” I reflected on my rough morning and decided; “No. They will get the best I can give.”

Too often we allow bad moments, bad days, bad weeks, to define our lives. We hold on to them and they turn our emotions negative, our moods sour, our souls bitter. Part of accepting life as it comes is knowing some moments, days, weeks and seasons will not be pleasant. However, the ultimate choice in how they define us is ours.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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The Next Step

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The Next Step

Someone asked me yesterday evening; “So how was your birthday? Do anything special?” “Yes,‘ I replied, ‘I started it in therapy and ended it in jail!” I explained that on Wednesday nights I teach an incarcerated father’s class at the local corrections facility.

The two classes I lead are often two highlights of my week. They aren’t always easy classes to teach but they are usually filled with; “Aha!” moments from at least one of the dads. Last night we talked about things we’ve done that we’re sorry for and how to begin writing the rest of our story; one in which we can be proud. Our motto; “Good choices make Good Men make Good Fathers” is not just a catchy phrase but the basis of all that we learn over the 3 month period we are together.

Most of the men in our class aren’t used to making good decisions on a regular basis. What we try to do is figure out how to live a life where good choices are the norm, not the exception. We understand that if we can do this we can build a good life, be a good man, a good dad, a good person, one choice, one step at a time.

I think these lessons are for us all, not just the men in my classes.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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The Other End

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The Other End

One of the key tenets of our incarcerated father and fathers with addictions class is the understanding that every choice we make has consequences. There may be huge, dramatic outcomes or little and benign results but there are repercussions to every decision. Most of the men in the classes understand they’ve made some big, bad choices to be locked up but in the class, we are discovering that often the momentous poor choice was preceded by smaller ones.

We conversed about this last night as we do each week, “What you do today determines who you’ll be tomorrow.” What they think about, talk to one another about, listen to, read, watch, everything has a deciding factor in the person they are becoming.

Self-awareness, is the discipline of truly knowing who you are; the good, the bad, and the in-between. Until you are honest with yourself about the person you are you’ll never discover how to become the man, the father, you’re supposed to be.”

A wise teacher once told his followers; “When you pick up one end of the stick, you also pick up the other.” A good lesson for us all to learn and remember.

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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The Universe in a Choice

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The Universe in a Choice

The idea of the world having a conscious is intriguing. Many wisdom proverbs speak of the commonality every single human being on the planet possesses. We are united and bound together in much more ways than we are separated. Unfortunately, we focus on those few things that divide and in being pulled apart everyone loses.

The last couple of weeks I have been watching an historical documentary series which focuses on the; “what ifs” of the last 100 years. The premise is that if major figures over the last century would have made different choices, thought and acted in different ways our world would be in a better place. From the first two world wars, nuclear bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Korea, to space exploration, race relations, Vietnam, Desert Storm, financial and housing markets, Operation Freedom, Guantanamo Bay, and other critical turning points that, perhaps, if people would’ve focused on less on themselves and more on others, our world may be a much different place.

Some choices seem to have little consequence on ourselves, those we love and all others who surround us. However, there are decisions which we make that could have a lasting impact on many lives for generations to come.

Wisdom tells us to be mindful, for in every choice hangs the fate of the universe.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Smell of Freedom

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Smell of Freedom

The aroma of six pizza filled my truck cab today as I drove to the county jail. This is Celebration Week as we give certificates, serve pizza to the dads who have put up with me for the last 3 months and, hopefully, have learned to be better men and fathers. I arrived at the jail a few minutes early and began setting things up when I noticed a young man standing on the other side of a heavy steel door with a section of plexiglass in the upper middle. I raised my voice and asked him; “How are you today?” “Fine.” he responded, then added with a big grin; “I’m going home today!” “Congratulations!” I answered back. “I know you’re excited.” “Sure am!” I continued setting up the room and finally, the door buzzed opened and the man began to make his way across the room. As he reached for the door that would take him to freedom he said to me; “Hope you have a good day.” I smiled and replied back to him what the dads in my class have heard many times; “Make good choices! None that will bring you back here!” “I won’t,” he said and disappeared.

A few moments later the incarcerated fathers began to fill the room. They eyed the pizza sitting on a bench in the corner and smiled. “Good choices, make good men and good men make good fathers! Choice is destiny.” is how I begin every class. At the end, before we ate pizza and took pics of the men with their certificates I made them say it loudly! “Good choices make good men and good men make good fathers!” They nailed it and we enjoyed our final few moments together. When I got back to my office I bowed my head and prayed it would be more than words for them and me.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Sum of Life

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Sum of Life

“…the sum of Your words is Truth.”
#Psalms 119 v160

This portion of Psalm 119 was part of my Daily Office reading this morning. It is the longest Psalm in the Bible coming in at 176 verses. There’s a lot of words in these verses and to have one of them say; “The sum of your words is truth,” was humorous to me because I wondered; “Why so many words and verses then?” As I’ve reflected on; “The sum of your words is truth“, I’ve considered; “What is the sum of our life?”

Albert Camus says; “Life is the sum of our choices.” In other words at the time of our death, when we look back over the journey we’ve traveled, it will be the innumerable decisions, made over the countless minutes, hours, days and years we’ve been given which ultimately decides who and what we are, our impact upon the world. Is this true? Are we simply the sum of our selections? What about the tragedies and miracles, unexpected and unwanted events and experiences which happen to us? How do these figure into the equation? Is it also our reactions to these?

I’m not convinced that we are completely in charge of our destiny. There are too many unknown variables, caveats and exceptions. What I do believe is that life happens. How we accept and adjust to it all makes us the people we are presently and will become eventually. I also think we are never done “becoming” and when we take our last breath, however the sum of our lives is ultimately calculated, desiring to make the best choices for ourselves and others is the best way to go.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Bullets and in Between

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Bullets and Breaks – 

I saw my first bullet hole in a human body this week. Well, what it looks like with a thin bandage over it anyway. The leg and the hole belonged to one of the men I teach in my incarcerated father’s class. I had noticed last week he was limping and when he came in on Wednesday I asked how he was doing and what had happened. I had no idea the story which would be told.

The tale included drugs, friends pulling guns on one another, a high-speed car chase, resisting arrest, guns on all sides and finally an arrest and a charge of nine felonies. Whew! By the time he finished I was worn out! The most important detail he shared was before everything fell apart, when he was sitting on the couch with a friend and things began to escalate, he said; “If I would’ve stopped for thirty seconds and thought about what I was doing. If I would have just walked away, none of this would have happened.”

Although there was much in his story I couldn’t relate to I certainly know the harm of acting in haste, not taking time to think before I said or did something harmful, in the heat of the moment, only to regret it soon after. The difficulty is that once we do anything good, bad, positive, or negative the consequence will follow. We can’t take it back. “When we pick up one end of the stick, we pick up the other.”

One of the most difficult yet important disciplines wisdom teaches is the; “space in the middle.” It is that place between the event, the action and our response, our reaction. Usually the less space we allow the higher possibility of making a bad decision and dealing with the results of our choices.

The young man with the bullet hole in his leg is looking at a long sentence in the state penitentiary. I hope that he, all the students and their teacher will learn and put into practice the lesson of; “the space in between.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Best Over Good

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Best Over Good

This a picture of my knees. I wrote about the difficulties I’ve been experiencing last week ( Crawl. Walk. Run. https://thewannabesaint.com/2016/05/14/crawl-walk-run/) when it comes to walking, exercising and almost everything I need to stand up to do.

Today, I went to a specialist who x-rayed my legs, did several other tests, poked, prodded and pinched before giving me a diagnosis. The not so bad news is there is swelling, inflammation and soreness. I have a couple of bone spurs but nothing requiring surgery. Some at home therapy is required, icing, anti-inflammatory meds and; “NO RUNNING!” doctor’s orders. As of now my running days look as though they may be over and the doc suggested I pick a new way to exercise. Reevaluation will be in a month.

My knees won’t get any better and the goal of therapy is to avoid further damage. The reality of not being able to run anymore is disheartening. Before I began battling depression (https://thewannabesaint.com/2016/04/27/my-depression-and-anxiety-story/) it was an activity I enjoyed. However, I also don’t care for the idea of surgery on one or both knees.

Life is filled with hard choices.  Picking the best over the good can be some of the most difficult. There are activities, places, people we enjoy being a part of and with but sometimes we must choose to give these up in order to avoid further suffering or to be able to make greater progress on life’s path.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.co
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Loyalty 

Last night I watched the movie; “Legend” about two brothers who were London gangsters in the 1960s. The titular roles were both played by Tom Hardy in an excellent performance.

The theme of the movie was the bond between a smart business minded brother Reggie and his schizophrenic sibling Ron. Throughout the film Reggie’s attempt to climb the ladder of the underworld and become, possibly, a legitimately respected businessman was constantly being thwarted by his mentally unstable brother. The movie ends with a disturbing scene in which Reggie kills a low life extortionist in front of Ron and when Ron asks why he did it. Reggie’s response was; “Because I can’t kill you.”

Loyalty is almost always a laudable virtue. We want to be the type of people who stick by our family and friends. We long to be seen as ones who are there for others no matter what, in thick and thin, whatever the costs, no sacrifice too big. As desirous a trait this seems, there are times when loyalty can be detrimental and disastrous. If our loyalty violates our principles, puts us in situations which keeps us from our purpose, stops us from being who we’re called to be, and should be, then our loyalty is misplaced.

I tell the men I work with, who are suffering from the disease of addiction or incarcerated, that one of the hardest choices they’ll make in their new lives is deciding which friends, family, associates they can no longer be around. They will need to make a conscious decision of who will and who wont walk with them on the right path. Even folks who have been loyal to them; if these people are harmful influences in their lives, have to go.

Loyalty is part of a desirable character but when loyalty to others means we are disloyal to ourselves a new way of thinking and being is required.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Lemonade

When life gives you lemons…

I talked with a dad yesterday who is having a very difficult time lately. His marriage is strained, his children are making poor decisions and he’s trying to hold everything together. He is heartbroken and struggling to see the truth of what we’ve been working on for the last year; “Good choices make good men who make good fathers.” He wonders if its worth all the passion, energy and time he’s putting in if, in his words, “everything’s going to hell!” We talked for a little while about the problems his family is having and then I turned the conversation to him. We spoke about different ways of communicating with his loved ones, how to accept the things he couldn’t change and take action on what could make a difference. I assured him that the effort he’d put in walking the path was not wasted and that in all the chaos it’s more important than ever to be the man his family needed him to be.

There are seasons in life when seemingly all the good has gone and nothing remains but confusion, doubt, fear and frustration. In those times we do not abandon the path of wisdom but allow the challenges to remind us how important it is to keep walking and don’t look back.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Fires Together, Wires Together

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This interesting picture and intriguing quote was in my Facebook feed this morning. It caught my attention in part because I’ve been studying Epigenetics. It’s the study of how trauma impacts people and generations following.

One of the experiments used to prove this area of science involved shocking a female rat with electricity when a certain odor was emitted. After a while the rat, even though there was no shock, still reacted when she smelled the specific odor. What’s even more compelling is the rat’s babies and the baby’s babies also reacted negatively even though the second and third generation of rats had never been shocked with electricity when the odor was emitted.

Epigenetics proposes that the genes of the rats have been altered, changed due to the trauma of the original female rat and these genes have been passed down to preceding generations.

Neurons that fire together wire together” is another phrase used by brain scientists which deal with nerve pathways. The more often we do something, or have something done to us, the more used to certain behaviors and environments we are mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. In other words it becomes our definition of normal, our reality. It is only when we are able to learn new ways of thinking, being, can we change our personal and family’s destiny. To consider that the choices for our lives impact the immediate now and our, other’s, future the more important it is to be sure our decisions are filled with wisdom and grace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
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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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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Decision and Dentistry

Confession time. I hate going to the dentist! I am not saying that I dislike going to the dentist, I am not hinting that there is something I would rather do on a day off, or alluding to the thought that it is a place I would rather not visit on vacation. I am clearly and emphatically stating so that there is no equivocation, that I hate going to the dentist!

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I hate going to the dentist because I am at his/her mercy once I get there. I hate the way they talk nice and then take you into that small room and place you in that chair. I hate they way they tie that bib around your neck so when they begin their torturing they won’t get anything on you. I hate the way they lean you all the way back until you get woozy, then they begin to “explore” by tapping on your teeth with these pointy little metal things looking for problems. I hate how they make you open your mouth in the most painful position possible and continue to poke around.

I hate the shots in the gums, the drilling, the poking, prodding, grinding and sticking other instruments into your mouth that just frankly don’t go there. I hate the x-rays. The pieces of card board they stick inside your mouth and then tell you to bite down so hard you cut off the circulation while they excuse themselves and go grab a burger, watch some television, or whatever they are supposed to be doing, while they are “taking the pictures.” I hate when the technicians come back and say something silly like “Now that wasn’t to bad was it?” If you could talk you would tell her how bad you thought it was, but she knows you cant talk which is why she asked.

But what I hate the most is that dentists are important. When a tooth starts hurting you need to go. Cleanings, check ups, routine visits all of which are vital for dental health.  In spite of the pain, agony, x-rays I know these visits have a purpose. Problems are found, issues are dealt with, major work is avoided if I can just bring myself to make the appointments and follow through.

There are enemies to oral hygiene seeking to destroy my teeth. There are germs that want to make my gums recede, foods and drinks that taste so good and yet are terrible for my choppers and each of these things make getting back in that small room and reclining back in that torture device called a dentist chair necessary.

So I figured I got one of two choices. I can either brush my teeth 24 hours a day and not eat anything, or I can resign myself that the dentist is always going to be a part of life.

Sigh….I feel better…I think.

light and wisdom,

bdl

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