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Into the Light

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Into the Light

Today was a special day for our incarcerated fathers class. The men, who attended and participated, received a certificate of completion, a letter from me along with pizza and soft drinks. Our certificate ceremony isn’t fancy but it is a way to let the guys know how much I appreciate letting me be a part of their lives for the semester.

Getting in and out of the jail is rarely easy which is, I suppose, the way it should be. There’s buzzers, intercoms, thick steel doors and tempered glass to keep people inside. Usually, I arrive at each door, buzz the “door keeper” and identify myself. I then wait until he or she is ready for me to go through the door. Today, however, the corrections officer was especially attentive as I was leaving. He buzzed me out as I was arriving at each door. It was almost as if the doors were unlocked.

In one of our classes during the semester, we talk about action and acceptance. I tell the men; “If the doors of this jail opened and you knew it was okay to walk through you would leave immediately, no hesitation. The problem is this isn’t going to happen. You have to accept you are here until they let you leave. At the same time, you can take action on keeping your family together and connected with the ones you love.” This is the balance of action and acceptance.

I thought about the men in my class today, the lesson of action and acceptance and their decision to come to class, listen, ask questions, share their stories and finally receive their certificates. They are trying to bring balance to their lives and hopefully to those who are travel life’s path with them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Routine

Routine

I watched a video this week about an important military leader giving graduates a piece of advice. He said; “If you want to change your life, improve your life, make your bed every morning.” He went on to elaborate and talked about how a simple disciplined act at the beginning of your day can positively shape your day, your week, your life. I’m not sure I bought all of what he was selling but I do think good choices today lead to good results tomorrow.

Tonight I spoke to a group of guys who have each made the decision over the last two months to come to class and learn how to be better men and better dads. I tell them each week it starts with; “Good choices which lead to being good men and then good dads. It all starts with the choices you make today and they determine the type of man you will be tomorrow.

Moments, hours, days, years from now, when we lay in a box and people stand over us staring, what will they say? A lot of what is said will be determined by the decisions we make presently, the routine of our everyday life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Free

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Free

On Monday I wrote about installing a light for a friend on a high wall of a building (Highs & Unknowns) (https://thewannabesaint.com/2017/06/25/highs-and-unknowns/).  It was hot on that ladder and my hands and arms were dripping sweat as a vent from the building blew out hot air making it even more stifling.

I’m not a big fan of heights but I made the decision to go up and not look down. I had a hand towel to dry off my hands, arms, and forehead and used it to get a better grip on the light and keep the sweat out of my eyes….all for a friend unable to make the climb.

When we take on a burden from a friend, when we set out to help someone, we do it, hopefully, out of love, kindness, and concern. The challenge becomes when, if, the burden become greater than we realized. The decision must be made repeatedly to continue to carry on, not give up, look for the extra strength needed, to not give up or give in until the burden can be laid down and both are free.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Each Decision

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Each Decision

One of the hardest disciplines to commit to in life is letting go of things, places, and people who are not good for us.

Wisdom teaches us that to have an ordered life, one that is not torn between calm and chaos, requires us to evaluate all that we possess, or possess us. In an examination such as this, we decide what is holding us back and what will allow us to let go and find serenity.

Google defines serenity as; the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled (“an oasis of serenity amidst the bustling city”). As I read this definition and it’s example, I was struck with the image. As OASIS in a BUSTLING city. The place of peace and stillness is not found in the desert, on a mountain top, a cabin in the woods but in the midst of the hustle and bustle of today, this moment.

Letting go or being dragged comes down to how we want to exist in our physical, emotional and spiritual being. It is the choice we make as each second ticks by leading us to the destination that is dictated by our most important decision.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

Who You Are

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Who Are You?

I read an article yesterday about the dual roles people take to make others around them like them, keep them happy, or simply not to lose them. It is a part or our society which reveals itself on social media. I heard someone ask; “how can you not feel bad about yourself when you see the ordinary muck of your everyday life and then look at other’s highlights on social media?” This isn’t true for all users of social media, some folks show the good and bad, highlights and lowlights, they’re not afraid for people to see the “real” them online. However, even the “real” is only a glimpse because it’s a snapshot, not the entire film.

The hardest disciplines to develop and keep practicing is self-awareness and self- acceptance. To know who we are, strengths and weaknesses, gifts and flaws, good and not so good and able to accept ourselves is a long, arduous journey. Most people never arrive at the destination. Living an illusion is preferable to understanding who and what they are because then the decision of self-acceptance or self-deception is never encountered.

The dual roles we play tear us apart. They force us to be something we aren’t and will never be instead of truly presenting ourselves to the world wholly, fully and finding contentment with our real selves.

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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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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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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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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In the Rubble

Life can be hard, difficult, painful and full of loss. There are times, seasons, when the chaos of existence seems to strip us of everything we hold dear and we wonder; “Is there a reason to keep going? What’s the point when everything has been taken away?” When all around us has crumbled, our foundations have been shaken and those things which we’ve placed our faith in no longer exist and we come to place where love, grace and miracles are illusion, what do we do?

At this crisis point we are faced with the decision to trust when there doesn’t seem reason, to see blessing when your way is cursed, to expect life as death hovers near. From the rubble of disappointment, disease, defeat, dejection, even death comes a chance at a new beginning, an appreciation for what will emerge after all we value disappears.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Telling It Like It Is

Telling it like it is” is not something I like to do. I try to always tell the truth but being brutally honest with someone is an uncomfortable style for me. I like a conversation rather than a confrontation.

However, there are times when; “telling it like it is” has to be done. Today, I needed to look someone in the eye and tell them a hard truth. Their body language told the story. They looked away, squirmed in their seat and their words back to me had a decided edge. We continued the talk and by the end of our time together we were on the same page but it was still tense.

There are moments when we must choose to speak the truth and suffer the consequences. Truth has a way of straining, testing, challenging and taking an exacting toll on relationships. Wisdom teaches us that the hard decision to be truthful, no matter the cost, is worth the possible consequences to others and ourselves.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Public or Private?

I have to admit, I thought this was funny and inside of me an attitude of; “that’s what the driver deserved!” It’s a needed lesson for this young man and couldn’t be easy to learn in such a way with many people looking on, laughing, cheering, yelling at him.

I then thought; “what if all my mistakes were so public? What if every time I made a bad choice, a wrong decision, it was being recorded and a put on large display, which made everyone look at me, see my lack of wisdom and knowledge?” I wouldn’t like it. I would be embarrassed. I would hopefully never make the same misjudgment again but the shame of how I learned would be with me for a very long time.

A wise sage once said; “Praise in public, correct in private. This is how wisdom is best gained.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Confrontation

Last night I had to confront someone on a bad decision they had made. It wasn’t easy. I’m not one for confrontation. I would rather build someone up, encourage them, congratulate them on their progress than look another person in the eye and tell them they’ve made a bad decision. However, this is what friends, mentors, leaders need to do and refusal would mean to abdicate our responsibility.

This gentleman is in one of my incarcerated father groups and he chose to get in a fight with another man in his pod after the two had unkind words with each other. As a result he has to serve thirty days in the maximum facility portion of the jail. I had heard about the scuffle before he came to class so after he came in I found a moment to ask him about it. This big man, six inches taller and quite a bit wider than me, quickly looked down at his feet and admitted what he had done. “You’ve got to make good choices!” I told him. “Good decision lead you to better places, bad ones bring you here, to stay.” He shook his head and told me he was sorry and that I was right. We didn’t have time to talk about it longer but set up a time to connect next week.

Confrontation, butting heads with someone, going toe to toe, eye to eye isn’t easy but at times is necessary. However, this can’t be the end of the conversation. When we sit down and speak about the matter I will encourage, remind him of his progress, how far he’s come and that he’s smart enough and good enough to learn from a poor decision and keep moving forward.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
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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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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