Blog Archives

Turning People Into Trees

Turning People Into Trees

This week I had to drive into Nashville for a training. My destination was an hour and a half from the house so I made sure to leave extra early because Nashville is known for its snarling traffic. Each day I drove in, because I was early and not in a hurry I watched other zip in and out of lanes, speed past me only to end up at the same place as me when traffic slowed. People were eating, putting on make-up, looking at their phones, singing to songs. One woman was smoking with one hand and talking on the phone with the other. I don’t have any idea how she was steering. Everyone going in the same direction but getting there in a myriad of ways.

I reflected on the journey we share with others. Our path is ours alone and yet, paradoxically, we share it with many. It is easy to diminish, insult those who travel differently than we do. Wisdom tells us to be open and accepting not closed off and judgmental.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Groovy

Groovy

Today I am thankful for “shoulder rumble strips” which are; “used primarily to reduce run-off-road collisions. They alert distracted or drowsy drivers that they are leaving the roadway or crossing the centerline of the road.

This morning I awoke before sun up, to take a trip. It wasn’t especially early since the sun doesn’t come out as soon as it did before the time change over the weekend. I didn’t feel tired. I try not to be distracted when I drive but most people feel this way. As I drove down a stretch of interstate the car drifted and before I knew it I was riding on the shoulder rumble strips. They make an awful racket and the dog, asleep in the back of the car, popped his head up as if to ask; “What are you doing?!?!” I yelled back at him that everything was okay and he laid back down. Those shoulder strips can be annoying but I also see how they can be a lifesaver alerting a fatigued or inattentive driver.  I didn’t feel I was either of those but admit they worked and caused me to be more careful to stay in my lane.

It’s good to have people and things which “keep us in our lane” and help us be aware, mindful, so we can continue on our journey and not be stopped or wander off in a different direction. I am thankful for those who assist me in staying the course and alerting me when I begin to drift.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Life Lost

Life Lost

Today, I stopped by Wal-Mart for a couple of items and headed to the checkout area. I had my choice of a person checking me out or self-checkout. The self-checkout had a couple of registers open so I chose one of them. I wasn’t in a hurry, didn’t have an appointment to go to or a schedule to stay on top of, it was simply faster and mindlessly I chose it. Instead of human interaction, an opportunity to say a kind word to a cashier, a chance to stand in line and share a smile, I went with the quickest and the most isolated.

These are the choices we face in our culture. We are able to order online, having most items shipped for free or close to it to our homes, open our doors and live without interaction, relating, or sharing our lives with one another.

At a time when communication is easier than it has ever been in the history of humankind, we are lonely. In a world full of hurting and wounded people we look in another direction to avoid seeing them. On a journey we should be making together we prefer to travel alone. Instead of caring for one another we see the other as a burden to carry.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

How’s Your Aim?

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How’s Your Aim?

This past Sunday morning the Mrs. and I went to our neighborhood church. It’s a small country congregation who meet in a small white building complete with steeple. We arrived as the service was starting and were quickly noticed by one of our neighbors and invited to sit with them. As with most small churches guests are welcomed profusely and it seemed as if every person in the worship room wanted to shake our hands and to tell us how happy they are to see us. This is one of the reasons I love small churches.

Finally, we were able to sit down and the music minister asked everyone to stand. We sang a few hymns and then the pastor stepped up on the platform to preach. As he was walking up to the pulpit I noticed he was carrying a firearm in a holster on his hip. I began looking around and noticed the music minister, and two ushers also were packing heat! Four guns in a group of about 30 people in a room no bigger than 25 feet by 50 feet. Needless to say, I didn’t feel safer and whispered to my wife; “There are 4 people with guns in this room. If someone comes in and starts shooting there will be bullets coming from every direction. Get on the ground and stay as low as you can!” The pastor spoke on; “Guarding your thoughts” but I must admit my thoughts were on all the firepower in the room and what would happen if someone’s gun fell out their holster and start going off!

This isn’t an anti-gun post it is simply surreal that guns in church are now an acceptable casualty of our culture. It also begs the question; “What would Jesus say about guns in a place of peace?”

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Jesus, The Master; The Gospel according to Saint John, Chapter 14

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stuck

Stuck

This morning my wife had to be at work early. She’s not a morning person so when this happens I try to stay out of the way! After she left I was about to make some coffee when the phone rang. It was Beth frantically telling me that a couple of miles down the road a horse had fallen into a mostly frozen pond and would I do something? “Uh, sure?” I answered. I hopped in the truck, which was very cold inside and out, and drove down the road until I spotted it. Sure enough, there was the poor animal front half end above the ice and it’s back completely submerged. The question quickly became; “What do I do?” The field with the pond and the horse has no house near it. There are a row of houses on the other side but no way to tell which one, if any, owned the horses and/or the field. There were vehicles behind me so I pulled off the road. Feeling helpless and unsure I dialed 911 hoping they would be able to do something or point me in the right direction. A man answered the phone and I told him the story. I gave him the address of the house immediately across the road from the stuck horse and he said help would be on the way. I couldn’t stay where I was parked and the field had no gates to drive through so I trusted the man on the phone and went home.

Sitting here this evening I don’t know what happened to the horse. It wasn’t moving when I called the emergency number and I don’t have any idea how long it was stuck in the ice and freezing water. I hope it will be okay. I hope the help got there in time. I hope someone who could do something got it unstuck and it, along with the other horses, will stay away from the pond until it warms up.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Secrets

Secrets

Secrets can destroy lives. Secrets can make enemies of friends. Secrets have a way of eating at us, not giving us any peace and taking over all we say and do. Yet, most of us still hold on to them for fear the secret being found out is worse than the misery it causes each day.

Several years ago I had a friend who was ready to leave his current job for a “better” one. We went out to eat and he laid all his grievances out about his current job. He disliked his occupation, didn’t agree with his boss about the direction of the company and was sick to his gut every day he came to work. To others, he was the model employee but secretly he desperately wanted to go somewhere else. After he finished making his case he took a breath and we talked about the new opportunity and I told him I would be happy to give him a recommendation.

A few hours after our lunch my cell phone rang and it was my friend. We chit chatted a few moments and then he said; “I forgot to ask you, what do you think about me leaving?” I told him it sounded like a good job, the move on his family would be disruptive but manageable and to remember wherever he went he was taking himself with him. I went on to explain that some of his unease and difficulty with his present position was not just the job but were the secrets and burdens he carried with him. “No matter where you go,’ I said quoting one of my favorite wisdom teachers, ‘there you are. “

Don’t carry your secrets and burdens with you.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Problems

Problems

There are three kinds of problems; those we can live with, those we can do something about and those we must separate ourselves from.

It’s the last one which gives us the most trouble. Living with something aggravating and, at least in the present moment, is unchangeable can be a challenge. Fortunately, or unfortunately, we can tolerate a lot. This approach can create more hassles if something needs to be changed and we lack the direction, motivation or passion to do something.

Taking control, bending problems to our will, throwing our shoulder into a problem is an attitude we find easy. There’s nothing like grabbing a difficulty by the throat and forcibly doing away with it, changing it to our liking. The risk here is we can make a situation worse if we are too hasty, too stubborn or not wise enough in our decision-making.

Leaving it, for most of us, takes the greatest strength. To be faced with a problem and not change it but change ourselves, how we approach it, takes courage and trust. When we put up with it we are sullen and prone to negative thoughts and spirits. When we take hold of it and wrestle with it, we feel we are in control. When we decide to let go, step back, allow the problem to exist and find contentment at the same time, we have reached a place of genuine spiritual and intellectual maturity.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Blind

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Blind

Last night a mighty storm with fast blowing winds and rain came through our area. I sat in the house listening to dead limbs being shaken from the big Oak tree in our front yard, the rain pounding on the roof. There were a few times I went outside to see the storm but the sun had already set and with the clouds overhead there wasn’t much to view. Then the power went out. It wasn’t surprising because of the fierceness of the wind. I went outside again and nothing could be seen but I could feel the wind threatening to blow me over as it had a couple of our potted trees. Finally, after a few hours, the storm had passed, the lights were back on, and I was thankful the storm has passed.

I don’t like storms at night. The biggest reason is that I can’t see anything, not even the direction of the blowing wind. As I sat in a candlelit living room, everything quiet but storm raging outside, I was reminded of life and the storms we face. There are times we see the storm coming but there are other times when one comes out of nowhere. It’s ferociousness rocks our lives and we feel blind as we try to feel our way forward. These can be the scariest of all because there is seemingly no light to see by, to make us feel safe, or to tell us we are nearing the end. The only thing we can do is wait, trusting that no storm lasts forever.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Born Again

Born Again

I desire to be born again, each day emerging from a blanket cocoon, different from the person I was yesterday. Each day we take steps toward who we will eventually be at the end of our lives. Some are making progress toward love, grace, kindness, and peace, others walk in another direction.

What we do today determines who we will be tomorrow. This is a truth I try to live by. What we put our minds to, invest our emotions in, allow our spirits to inhabit, shapes the person we’ll be tomorrow and in the future. We underestimate the “big” and “little” experiences we encounter each day. We dismiss character flaws, hidden hurts, negative habits, and other behaviors and attitudes that either place chains on our souls.

To emerge, new each day, takes work today. We choose where our path will go, not what our path will go through, but its destination. We can’t make our path easy or difficult but we can decide how we handle both. The decision isn’t on tomorrow’s agenda but today’s.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

to Lead

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to Lead

Last night I finished watching a movie about Winston Churchill  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winston_Churchill) and his role and his role in what would end up being the last year of World War II.  Churchill was against “Operation Overlord (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Overlord) also known as D-Day because of a similar strategy that went horribly wrong in World War I that Churchill had championed.

The movie focuses mainly on Churchill’s resistance to the Allies plans to invade France and his leadership being questioned until he was sidelined as only a voice to rally the people instead of being involved in the day-to-day fighting the Nazis in Europe. The crux of the film was whether or not Churchill would accept his diminished, but still needed, place in British society. Ultimately, he discovers that he was still a different kind of leader but one his country still looked to and found hope.

It was a good movie and a stark reminder of true leadership. Too often we see leadership as forging a new way, dragging people kicking and screaming in a direction they do not wish to go, or cozying up to the right people to get them and then others to follow. While leadership has some of each of these, lasting leadership is understanding what people need, how best to serve them, working and walking together on this path of life and taking on the challenges and difficulties united in purpose and passion.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Answers

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Answers

I was reading an excerpt from a book by #LaurenceFreeman this past week. One sentence has stuck with me; “Answers are not what we need. What we need are questions which cannot be answered.” I read and reread this selection many times.

We live in a world, perhaps humanity is made this way by our cultures and societies, in which answers are what we seek and find. While certainly, we would want answers, conclusions, discoveries, of the sort which would end poverty, crime, diseases, however, the most important answers are the ones which cannot be answered.

This is a paradox. Answers comfort us, direct us, help us find our way in the world. However, answers do not lead us to the most important of all truths. God, for example, is by definition, one who cannot be fully and completely known. The deeper we dig to find knowledge of God the more questions we find. It is the same with our existence, our purpose our place in the universe.

Silence as the answer to life’s biggest questions. Many say if you cannot or will not look for the answer then why ask the question? It is when we are able to be still and silent in our souls with the greatest questions unanswered that we find the path of wisdom.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

Go

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Go

This morning, on my way to work, I was stopped at a traffic light. There were two vehicles ahead of me and one, after stopping, turned right and the other one moved up. He was turning right also and was waiting for a break in the traffic to make his move. He watched and waited, watched and waited. He was so intent on finding a moment when he could go that he didn’t notice the light turned green and he could proceed anytime he wanted to. Finally, he looked up, saw the green and took off.

On the rest of my drive to work, I thought about the driver and life. Many times we are looking for signs, indicators, epiphanies to tell us when to go, what direction to take, the path to follow. Paradoxically we can be so intent on a special signal we miss the ordinary, everyday sign posts which are right in front of us.

Perhaps it is a good word from a friend, a scripture read, a persistent thought, the desire itself. Each of these could be the “Go!” we’ve been looking for and missed because it wasn’t where we thought we’d see, sense it.

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

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

Where We Look

Where We Look

The last two mornings, as I’ve taken the dog outside for some personal time, there has been a beautiful Robin (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Robin/id) looking for food. When I’ve spotted the bird I become as still as possible and see how close it’ll get near me.  My breathing slows, my movement stagnant, my attention heightened as I watch it hop around looking for breakfast. The rain we had over the weekend has softened the ground and it isn’t long before it’s meal is plucked up from the ground and the bird flies away. I exhale and the world around me comes alive again. The Robin had been my sole focus and until it leaves, by choice or being frightened, and my awareness of the world was dependent on it.

Wisdom tells us that where we place our focus, set our awareness, is life. Where we look, the direction we face is ultimately the direction of our journey. If we only look back we can never go forward. If we’re unfocused, trying to see all directions, we won’t be able to choose a fixed point and begin to travel toward it. Though paradoxical, stillness is the key to knowing and navigating this path called life.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Steady as We Go

A great video. Two friends who found each other on this unpredictable road of life.

When I first watched this video I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by the squirrel. Frantic, hyper, always on the move, never slowing down, just viewing it wore me out. I watched the rodent run circles on its caretaker’s torso but the man was steady with his walking, gentle with his petting and their relationship was positively symbiotic.

I reflected on times and seasons when I was anxious, jumpy, antsy, on edge but friends and loved ones were steady, still and grounded. They brought an assurance to me by their unwavering ways that; “all shall be well.”

Life can injure us. It can make us uncertain of our chosen path. We are indeed blessed if, in our unsettledness, we have companions on the journey who keep us safe, connected and moving in the right direction.

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

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This Lane Only

There’s something about visiting a town for the first time and understanding their traffic patterns. This morning I traveled to Tullahoma, TN for a legislative bruncheon at the National Guard Armory.  It was an opportunity for legislators to inform the audience of mental health and family wellness advocates about their progress over the last year and their plans for 2016. It wasn’t non-stop fun but it was worth the hour and half trip.

On the way home I was approaching a traffic light while driving on a two-way highway. Almost to the intersection I noticed only one lane went the way I needed to go. The GPS showed me where to proceed but not how. I was surrounded by traffic, did not see any signs which would offer help, and had to wait and see what direction was in my future. Fortunately, the lane to my right was a turn only and the vehicles in my lane were able to go straight and I made it home safely without any further anxious moments.

As I proceeded through the intersection I thought about all the times we needlessly worry about things which are out of our control. Sometimes life takes us in one direction or in another and we’re just along for the ride. We may fight it, try to control, coerce and cajole it but in the end; we go with the flow because we don’t have a choice. There are times when it doesn’t go well for us and others it turns out ok, maybe even better.

The key to contentment is allowing life to unfold in front of us and trusting the path maker to take us home.

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

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Going in Circles

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Yesterday evening,  the sun was setting as Beth and I we’re covering plants in preparation for a heavy frost. As we finished up our outside work, I spotted an inch worm slowly making its way around the rim of a flower pot. I watched him stretch forward and pull the rest of his body up and repeat the process. I wondered where it was going? It was a lot of effort to just go in a circle. Sooner or later it would need to change direction if it was ever going to get anywhere.

I then begin to think about my journey and the journey of others I’ve known. There are paths we choose to take that lead us no where. Dreams and what we hope for don’t happen. Plans for our life go awry and yet stubbornly we cling to our desires trying in vain to control, coerce, make life fit our vision. We try and fail, using great effort and passion but never getting anywhere.

The choice becomes do we keep going in circles or decide to change direction? Can we let go of what we want our life to be, take a new path trusting it will lead us to the life we need?

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

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Lost & Finding the Way

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My wife and I went “shed hunting” this morning. We enjoy our little farm house but are in desperate need of some extra storage space. Our neighbors have a nice wooden building behind their home and suggested we go meet the man who built it. His name is Isaac, an Amish gentleman, who owns a sawmill, makes furniture and builds sheds of all shapes and sizes. They gave us directions and we got up early, on a Saturday!, to go see if he had what we’re looking for.

The directions we received from our neighbor were not “GPS quality.” They mostly consisted of statements such as; “When you get here, turn left. When you see this, turn right. It’s a ways down this road. Look for a white house. Just keep driving until you find it.” We did our best to follow the instructions but ended up lost.

Pulling into a gas station, the Mrs. went inside to ask for help and I tried to get a cellphone signal in the back hills of Tennessee to no avail. Beth had more luck and we recovered our bearings. We had missed a turn about ten miles back and when we retraced our route we figured out why. One of the; “When you see this…” part of the directions was spying a small sign for a local business that was mostly hidden by some fast growing corn. You couldn’t see it coming from the other way. We made the turn, found Isaac and ordered our shed.

On the way back home I thought about well meaning folks who try to help others. They know what aided them, led them to recovery, assisted them in navigating difficult parts of the journey. Their empathy and compassion moves them to offer assistance and advice on how to get to a better place.

However, wisdom tells us that the roads we travel, the signs that guide us, to a place of healing and peace aren’t the same for every person. Oftentimes the way we need to travel is only discovered when we’re lost and can’t see what we’re looking for.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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