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Like Him

Image result for yard trash dumpster

Like Him

I spent most of last week helping a friend clean up and prepare her yard for winter. There were other friends helping. On Friday, there were several trailer and truck full of limbs, trees, and yard debris. Almost everyone had a truck so we teamed up and began taking loads to the local Refuse and Recycle Center. There was a dump designated for yard trash and my partner and I pulled up and began unloading. There was a lot to put in the dumpster and towards the bottom of the pile I bent down to pick up a dropped limb and when I stood back up my partner was gone! I looked to see if he was in the truck ready to leave, if he’d fallen, or what happened. Then I spotted him. He was at another dumpster over helping an elderly couple with their trash. I hadn’t even seen them but he did and left to offer aid. I was impressed by his sight and his willingness to serve even as he was serving someone else. Even now my heart is warmed by his empathy.

I’ve decided, even though I’m almost 50 as I grow up I want to be like him.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
For more posts, reflections and other writings please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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A Little Bit

A Litte Bit

Our Siberian Husky, Trooper, has a habit of shaking in front of a fan in our foyer. He does it when he wakes up from his many naps, is stretching or comes inside. When he does it little hairs are blown all over the foyer and some make it to the living room. I try to remember to get him to shake outside since he will do it on command but that only takes care of a fraction of the bits of Trooper that end up on the carpet, furniture and sometimes on me and Beth.

Reflecting on this behavior of our old dog today I thought about the way each of us leaves a little bit of us wherever we go. We all know someone who comes and goes from our lives and leaves us in a bad mood, feeling worse for wear, insulted, ashamed, belittled and weary. Unfortunately, we’ve also been this person at times. There are also those who come into our lives and bring love, kindness, empathy, caring, and light. We look forward to them coming and when they go we are left better than before. May we all strive to be these kinds of people.

For more posts, reflections and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

Us and Them?

Image result for us and them

Us and Them?

I was in the checkout line this week behind a Hispanic family; a mom and three children.  Two of the kids were hanging with mom while one was at a bargain bin admiring a bracelet with glass beads. The mother finished checking out, gathered her things and headed for the door. The problem is she forgot a child, the one admiring the bracelet. The cashier caught my eye and said; “You can come up now.” I smiled, gesturing to the girl and quipped; “I don’t think she’s ready.” “Oh. They do that all the time! Forget their children and leave the store. Come on up.” I wasn’t going to push the girl out of the way and so asked her; “Where’s your mom? Did she just go out the doors?” The little one stared at me and I’m not sure she understood what I was saying or was intimidated by a stranger. She moved and I kept my eye on the door while the cashier scanned my items. She continued to insult the mom and lumped all Hispanics together with condescending phrases; “They all do that, don’t care about their children. When I was growing up my mother would’ve never left me. She always knew where we were but they don’t care.” I finished checking out, retrieved my bag and headed out the door. I was annoyed and concerned.

When I got outside I scanned the parking lot for the mom and sure enough, she realized her child was missing and was heading back to the store. My worry dissipated. My annoyance at the cashier persists now as I am writing about it. I don’t understand how a person can casually dismiss an entire race of people. This child with the bracelet, this mom with her hands full, didn’t need judgment. They needed understanding instead of insults, someone to help the mom not forget her most precious cargo. Moms of all races have their hands full. Moms forget. Moms of all nationalities are burdened with remembering all kinds of things and if they are new to the United States of America there’s more she and her family has to deal with in a nation where a growing section of the community is hostile to them.

Instead of a fist offer a hand. Instead of a look of contempt offer empathy. Instead of judgment offer humanity.

For more posts, reflections, poems, and other writings, please visit
thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

Little Things

Image result for mockingbird turkey vulture

Little Things

While I was outside mowing today a big shadow went across me and when I looked up it was a Turkey Vulture. It hovered and landed on a high branch of the Oak Tree outside our front door. It wasn’t long before it was joined by another who was surveying the area for anything dead and rotten. My focus went back to mowing until shadows appeared overhead again. It was the Turkey Vultures being chased away by a Mockingbird who has a nest in an adjoining tree. The Mockingbird was relentless, swooping up and then dive bombing both Turkey Vultures that had to be five times its size. I watched until the Turkey Vultures were out of sight and the Mockingbird perched high on a tree scanning the horizon for their return.

I found it comical and awesome that this small bird could put the two large ones to flight. Then I thought about the Turkey Vultures and their appetite for spoiled, rancid, deceased things. I also reflected on how in our lives there are times the Vultures are circling. We’re tired, weak, worn out, done for and the scavengers surround us. Then, when it seems the end, someone says or does an act of warmth, love, empathy, and chases the Vultures away. It may be a small act but it has a great impact on us. We are renewed and able to keep going.

No act of kindness no matter how “small” is ever wasted.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
For more reflections, poems, and other writings; please visit: www.thewannabesaint.com

Empathy

Image result for chipmunk

Empathy

My wife is a wonderful woman, and brave. Brave because she went to Wal-Mart on Saturday afternoon! There are many reasons she’s wonderful but her concern and empathy for people and other things overwhelms me sometimes. Today, on her way to what we infamously call; “Wally World” a chipmunk jumped on the road and tried to run across when Beth was at the same spot with her car. “Thump, thump,” was all she heard but it was enough. She called me a few minutes after leaving the house and I knew something had happened. “Hello?” I answered. “Hey. I ran over a chipmunk,” she replied on the verge of tears. “It came out of nowhere and I tried to stop but couldn’t and that’s when I heard the ‘Thump!‘” I listened to her and told her I was sorry. “I know you would never do that if you could avoid it.” She knew this also and after a while she was okay. I asked her to be safe and remember that I love her. We hung up and the rest of the day has been without incident but the confession over her accidentally taking the life of a rodent is one of the many reasons my life is better because she’s in it.

While she was gone, after the phone call, I reflected on her having a heart big enough that a chipmunk she didn’t know existed a moment before the incident could have an impact on her. I wondered what our families, communities, nation, and the world would be like if each of us had the respect, concern, and empathy for all things, especially each other. I think we’d all live and be in a happier, safer, place.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Can You Hear Me?

Image result for listening ears

Can You Hear Me?

Earlier this week I had a frustrating conversation with someone (not Beth). I was attempting to explain and they weren’t receptive to my words body language and insistence. Finally, we decided we’d try again at a later date when cooler heads would prevail.

It is amazing how difficult it can be to communicate; listen and speak. It doesn’t only involve ears and mouths but minds, bodies, times, temperaments, and most of all the willingness of both parties to check their egos at the door. This is where I made my mistake. I was attempting to force someone to listen, to see and understand what I was doing and it wasn’t taking. Forcing people to do anything rarely, if ever, works. After we both stepped away I realized the whole situation was my fault. I wasn’t showing empathy but exasperation and that’s never a good head-space to be in when trying to speak to someone.

Thankfully, when we came back together I was able to recognize where I went wrong and tried a different way. I instructed and acted more respectfully and thoughtfully. I made sure not to try to cram information into someone but to let them absorb it. When it was over I apologized for my shortsightedness and hope this is a lesson I will take to heart.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Cries

Image result for baby robins

Cries

Outside our kitchen window, beside the front door is a bird’s nest under a wooden box. Inside this nest are several baby birds that apparently need a lot of attention. Because of where they are situated we can hear them every time they begin to cry for their parents and believe me when I write; “We can hear them!” They also cry each time we go out the front door because of the vibration. I want to pick the box up and look at them. I want to tell them to; “Pipe down! and give mom and dad a break!” However, I dare not risk disturbing the nest, the birds or frighten off the parents during this delicate time of growth.

As I type this post I am listening to the baby birds and reflecting on the needs of those around us. When we hear the needy cry we want to run to their rescue, free them from anything that might be holding them back and give them whatever they need whenever they need it. This sounds like what any person with empathy and a heart would do but can inhibit their growth. We should be careful not to let our emotions get ahead of us. The best case scenario is working with them, helping them so that, eventually, they can help themselves. If we come running each and every time they cry, giving them what they want, never teaching them how to make it without assistance, they will never learn to do and be.

One day soon the mom and dad will stop coming to the nest and the baby birds will have to make it on their own. When that day comes mom and dad’s skills at being parents for their needy ones will be revealed.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Empathy

Image result for fake leg

Empathy

I heard a story today about a chaplain who worked in a veteran’s hospital in the 1950’s. There was an African-American soldier in the hospital who had lost a leg in the Korean War. The physical therapists had worked with him trying to get him used to wear a prosthetic leg. Both the soldier and medical personnel tried everything they could think of but nothing worked and the soldier was ready to give up and live life with one leg and crutches for the rest of his life.

The chaplain was made aware of the situation and stopped by soldier’s bed one night to see if he could be of any help. “I can still feel my leg, my real leg!” the soldier cried. “It’s a phantom pain.” replied the chaplain, “It will go away in time.” “That leg!” retorted the soldier gesturing toward the prosthetic one, “will never be ‘my’ leg.” After visiting with the young man the chaplain prayed with him and asked if he could take the prosthetic one with him. The soldier responded with a shrug.

The next day the chaplain returned with the same leg except it was painted a shade of brown to more closely match the soldier’s own skin tone. “What did you do?” asked the perplexed soldier. The chaplain, hoping he hadn’t offended the young man said he took it home with him and thought painting it might make it seem more palatable. “That’s all you did?” asked the soldier admiring the leg. “That’s it.” smiled the chaplain. The chaplain helped the young man to the side of the bed, attached the leg, helped him take his first few steps and from that day forward the soldier made remarkable progress.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. The chaplain helped the soldier not by insisting he use resources given to him by the hospital but by listening and understanding what the soldier was going through and then adapting his help to the soldier’s personal, unique need.

Too often we see people who need assistance and we automatically assume there are places and resources that are available. We surmise that if someone wants help enough they’ll figure out how to get it. The truth is everyone’s story is unique and unless we listen, understand and are willing to personally get involved many will go on suffering and being blamed for doing so.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Similar

Image result for red pickup truck

Similar

This morning, on my way to a meeting, I was driving on the main two-lane road in Columbia, Tennessee. I was about to switch lanes when I happened to look up to see a red truck all of a sudden swerve from behind me in the right to the left lane. He didn’t use a signal or proceed cautiously. He seemed in a hurry to get wherever he was going and I waited for him to pass before signaling and merging to the other lane. A few minutes later a white truck ahead of us both quickly jumped from the right lane to the left lane in front of the red truck and then turned on his signal to turn on to another road. The driver of the red truck had to slam on his brakes and I watched as he shook his head at the carelessness of the other driver. I wondered if it ever dawned on him that they had driving habits in common? Probably not. I reflected on the fact that we recognize bad driving in others but rarely notice it in ourselves. The rest of the way to my meeting I followed the driver of the red truck and pondered if I was also a bad driver but hadn’t realized it yet.

We often spot the bad in the other person. Judge harshly another’s words and actions. We jump to conclusions and condemnations about people we see for a moment and allow it to become the lens by which we determine their motivations and value. We are too quick to label people as something negative because of a lapse in judgment. Our world doesn’t have a lot of empathy. We don’t want to walk a mile in another’s shoes. It’s easier to pronounce them as bad or stupid, unqualified or evil.

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”
-The Master, Gospel of Saint Matthew 7:3-5

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Safe to Land

Image result for safe landing parachute

Safe to Land

Today, I was mowing grass and doing yard work for a friend. Most of the grass has already turned brown for the winter except for a few green patches. As I mowed over a patch a large grasshopper jumped up and from the ground and landed on my shirt. I didn’t have time to figure out what to do because he got his bearings and jumped again to a safe space. This happened more than once as I kept infringing on his territory.

Each time the grasshopper hitched a ride I thought about our lives and the times we need temporary safe places to land. Not spaces we will occupy permanently but where we can get our bearings, catch our breath, take stock of what’s happening, see the challenge and the difficulty and perhaps a way to avoid it or, if needed, endure it.

I also reflected on the need to be a place that is safe to land for others who are in trouble. A place where they can feel accepted and be safe. A space that has a listening ear, no advice unless asked for, a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold, patience and empathy to endure and understand.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Fear

Fear

I heard someone talking today about a giant animated spider a neighbor has in their front yard along with several other Halloween decorations. The problem isn’t the decor but the animated spider scares the man and his dog each time they walk near the house The spider is motion activated so there’s never a moment when the spider won’t “react” when he and the pooch are near the house. He’s resigned to walk a different way and in a different direction until his neighbor puts away the spider. He’s hoping the Christmas decorations will be less traumatic for him and his dog.

As I listened to his story I thought about fear; our reaction to it and it’s reaction to us. There are different things we are each afraid of. What scares one might not bother the other and the stuff of nightmares to one is shrugged off by another.

The man would be silly to try to tell his dog; “It’s not real. It’s fake. Stop being fearful!” Two things keep the dog from understanding. One, the dog doesn’t speak or comprehend language. Two, fear doesn’t work that way. How the man handled it is spot on. He walked a different way so he and his dog would be able to walk in peace.

Too often we try to convince people not to be scared of things. Sometimes this works but most of the time we and the person we are trying to convince not to be fearful end up frustrated and eventually separated. Facing our fears is fine in certain cases but in others walking with another a different way shows love, empathy, and acceptance.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Checking In

Image result for man with machete

Checking In

Yesterday afternoon a man wielding a machete walked into a local bank and took 9 people hostage. His intent apparently wasn’t money but the result of a relationship gone bad and most likely a mental health issue. The standoff lasted several hours into the evening. In the end, all the hostages were released. I didn’t find out about this situation until long after it had begun because I had taken a nap and read that was at a Chic-Fil-A several miles from where my wife works.

When Beth got home yesterday she was distant and I couldn’t figure out why. I asked her and she responded that everyone else at the bank had gotten a call or text from their significant other regarding the standoff at the bank but I didn’t check in to make sure she was okay. It hurt her feelings. After listening I told her; “Babydoll, I didn’t know it had happened, that it wasn’t at a bank or close to your location.” I could tell my reasons weren’t resonating with her. So, I apologized. I wasn’t sure what I was sorry for except she was hurt and this was enough.

Too often we don’t want to apologize, especially if we feel we’re in the “right.” Asking forgiveness is like pulling teeth when we can offer a defense. Wisdom teaches us that if another person is harmed we should feel empathy, sorrow and do whatever we can to ease the pain and heal the wound.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Carrier or Cure

Carrier or Cure –

I listened to a doctor today say that it was scientifically proven that the mood of one person can contaminate and infect an entire office or family. If an employee arrives to work exhausted, frustrated, malcontented, then it can “infect” their co-workers. If a family member is happy, content, joyful it too can spread to the other members of the family, lifting their spirits, helping them see the beauty in those who often drive one another crazy.

Most likely, each of us has experienced this phenomenon at work and at home. A husband or wife comes home in a foul mood after a long day of work, conflicts with another employee or the boss, fighting traffic and bringing this stress and anxiety with them as they cross the threshold of the family home. Or a co-worker, struggling with issues in the home, bringing their baggage to work.

The doctor noted that empathy, the ability to understand and feel what another person is experiencing, is an antidote that keeps the mood from spreading. Listening, patience, and the willingness to help the other are also effective in stopping the infection.

The question becomes; “are we a carrier or part of the cure?”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Borders

“If, as adults, we are only preoccupied by the security of our borders we have not matured as human beings capable of real freedom, of seeing the happiness of being citizens in the world of virtue – goodness, kindness, humanity, compassion. In this world of grace there are no borders.”
#LaurenceFreeman (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurence_Freeman)

Borders

Above is a portion of my morning reading this Lenten season devotional of 2017. It speaks to one of the most difficult battles we fight as people, a nation, and a community of faith.

It’s easy to separate ourselves from the world. To erect borders, laws, litmus tests, even vote for silly ideas such as a border wall which also includes 800+ miles of the Rio Grande river. We pull away from strangers and those different from us because we’re afraid. We’re afraid of losing things, being infected by things, having our normal lives disrupted and changed forever.

The last couple of months I’ve been on a Jars of Clay binge. In the house, on the lawn mower, in the truck, it’s all I’ve been listening to. Moving from one album to another, no particular order. This week it’s been; “The Long Fall Back to Earth. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Long_Fall_Back_to_Earth)” The album is a unique one for the group as they experiment with a break from their usual sound. There is a song entitled on the album; “Headphones” that speaks to the temptation to stay in our own world as the rest of the world goes to hell. Its poignant and has resonated in my spirit the last few days.

I awoke this Palm Sunday to the news that cowardly suicide bombers had killed at least 50 people in two different attacks as they worshiped this last Sunday before Easter. My heart hurt for my brothers and sisters. There are no borders when it comes to pain, empathy, hope and help.

In the world of grace there are no borders.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Intent to Harm

My wife was verbally assaulted last week. I’m not sure she’d use those words but someone certainly chewed her up one side and down the other. It was bad enough that when she finished telling me the story, I asked if she was okay and she began to cry. There’s nothing harder for a husband when the woman he loves is hurting and there’s nothing to do but hold her.

I won’t describe the whole situation but the most perplexing comments the woman made to Beth were; “are you a Christian?!?! You need to go to church! Aren’t you going to say; ‘you’re sorry?!?!’ You still haven’t apologized! You need to apologize to me!‘” The woman went on and on. Beth told me; “I couldn’t apologize because she wouldn’t stop berating me.”

I confess I was frustrated. As I reflected on my negative feelings three thoughts echoed in my mind and spirit…

The first was the way people treat each other; unaware or unconcerned with how their words and actions affect the feelings and well-being of others.

The second was the question; “Are you a Christian?” being asked by a belligerent, judgmental person who apparently goes to church and is a Christ follower. I can’t help but wonder how many believers present an un-Christ like image while holding others to a higher standard or worse, never realizing the distance between their lives and their testimony.

Lastly, when we expect, demand, try and force an apology it shows a lack of humility, empathy and understanding of grace.

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

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