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Vision

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Vision

Last night Beth and I watched the bio-movie; “The Founder”, starring Michael Keaton. It is the story of Ray Croc, the “founder” of McDonald’s, the world’s largest fast food chain. It is an interesting movie of how Croc took a hamburger stand, owned by the two McDonald’s brothers, and made it into a food empire.

At the beginning of the movie, Croc is a persistent, charismatic, but not completely successful restaurant equipment sales rep. While on the road he learns that a place in Bakersfield, California, has ordered six milk shake makers! He’s intrigued enough to find out what kind of restaurant needs this many and drives to their location. While there he sees the McDonald’s brothers “Speedy System” (where and how the workers are placed in the assembly area) and the unique layout of their restaurant which allows them to make “made to order” hamburgers in less than thirty seconds! Ray Croc is in awe and talks the brothers into letting him begin to sell franchises all over America. Initially, everything goes relatively smoothly but Ray Croc’s ambition, craving for money and fame, eventually drive him and the brothers apart. I won’t spoil the movie but it’s worth watching.

As I was reflecting on the story today I thought about vision and how it unites or divides people. It can be the vision of ourselves, family, community, church, organization, nation or world. Everyone has a vision of how things “should” be and some share the same vision while others oppose it. Competing visions can cause dissension and dissolution of connectedness and relationships.

Wisdom teaches us the more tightly we hold to our visions of things the more suffering we cause ourselves and others. Only when we are open and allow for the possibility of differing views can we be at peace with ourselves and others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Hate

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Hate

This week and weekend have been about hate. Hate has only one outcome; death.

Heather Hyer (pictured) was the woman who was killed when a white nationalist drove his car into a group of counter protestors at the Charlottesville, Virginia rally yesterday sponsored by hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, Neo Nazi, and other terrorists organizations. Their hatred fueled the rally and the result was death for Heather and two police officers who died in a helicopter accident.

I don’t understand the hate. I grew up in the south, had a few black friends, but do not recall overt acts of racism. However, I did hear jokes, phrases, insulting words pointed at those who were not white. I didn’t understand what I do now that this is where hatred starts. Words are powerful. They have a way of lodging themselves in our minds and shaping us from the inside out. No one is born hating another. It takes family, friends, co-workers, and others speaking vile, evil, and vicious judgments it poisons our spirits, contaminates our brains and spews out of us like projectile vomit infecting everything we touch.

Hate makes me and others uncomfortable. It’s easier not to engage, to turn our backs, hope it goes away. Unfortunately, this isn’t what happens. Hate grows and spreads. Like minded people come together and depend on most folks looking the other way. Ignorance is a weapon used by people of ill will to gain power. If we aren’t careful, if we don’t call hate what it is it will win and we will be forced to choose hatred or death.

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

Grip

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Grip

Our Siberian Husky, Trooper, has a problem with our little farm-house. The kitchen floor is covered in old, slick linoleum and many other rooms have wooden floors. For most of his life, he’s lived in houses which were wall to wall carpet and gave him places to grip as he walks. Now, he’s finding it hard to keep his footing as he walks in our home. We’ve several large carpets in the wooden floor rooms and small carpets along with one of his beds in the kitchen. He slips and slides from one carpet to another and refuses to walk in a space where there’s no carpet in sight for him to reach. We’ve tried several different ways to help him get over his fear of the slick floors but fear has a way of getting inside of people and animals alike.

I have friends and family members today, as all of us do, who are finding it hard to get a grip on new, difficult and challenging situations. I also have friends and family members who are dealing with old hangups, habits, hurts and wonder if they will ever be able to grapple with and overcome these persistent, negative areas.

What can we do when those we love and care about are gripped by fear? We can lay down rugs, pieces of carpets, by doing random and purposeful acts of kindness and grace. We cannot take their fear away but we can show them our love is greater than what has them afraid.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

In Sight of What’s Important

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In Sight of What’s Important

Last night, my wife, the dog and I sat in the most interior room of our house waiting for the all clear sign to be given. About thirty minutes prior every phone we have buzzed and beeped a cacophonic chorus. We looked at them and they all read; “Tornado Warning! Find Cover Immediately!” When we had received the message we did what all logical beings would do…went outside to see what the sky looked like. It was gray and growing darker. We went inside when lightning began striking and watched until the winds blew the rain sideways and we couldn’t see anymore. We determined it was time to get into the safest room and wait until the storm passed by. I sat holding the laptop and hitting the refresh button, Beth sat petting the dog while hail, rain, and wind pounded the house. After about an hour it was over. No damage was done save a few huge mud puddles littering the front yard.

The darkness and blinding of the wind and rain made it feel more unsafe than anything else. When you can’t see it scares you. You can’t see exits, shelters, ways to protection and safety. Whether storms of the Earth, of the mind or the spirit, sight is valued above all things. Last night I was thankful for shelter, family, and light inside. It was great reminder of what’s important and what’s not.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Thanks for the Memories

Thanks for the Memories – 

We celebrated Thanksgiving at a place we’ve been going for years. When people ask I tell them we’re going to the Barrel’s for our holiday meal and they usually respond with; “I don’t think I know them.” Then I explain we’re going to Cracker Barrel for our meal.

We arrived around 1pm and the place was packed!  Folks were parking in the grass and any place they could fit their vehicles.  We placed our name on the list and was told it would be 30 minutes but our party was called in less than 5. Awesome! The meal good the company nice and no clean up necessary.

When we first started hitting the CB many years ago on Thanksgiving there wasn’t nearly as many people as recently. Now, the secret is out. People like the idea of others doing the work and they enjoying the benefits.

I can’t say that there isn’t something missing from Thanksgiving pasts, being with just family, the food being cooked exactly the way you like it to be, people you know and love being squeezed into a dining room, sharing familiar stories, laughing at old jokes and having that magical mix of love, nostalgia, and too many people in too small a room.

Unfortunately those times are long ago and seem long gone. However, its not forgotten and even in Cracker Barrel I carry those memories in my heart and enjoy new ones being made.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Spread it Around

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Spread it Around

Someone did something very kind for me today. It was an incredibly nice gesture backed up by a grace-filled act. I told Beth about it when I got home and she was genuinely surprised and grateful.

I was talking with a person this week about the meanness in the world. People spew hatred and judgement so easily. Whether it’s politics, religion, sexual preferences, what kind of #livesmatter, or a host of other hot topics, people choose to burn their neighbors with contempt, aggression, and hatred.

In the midst of so much evil in the world a genuine act of kindness, no matter how small, can change a person, a family, a community, a nation and a world. My life was changed by kindness today and I hope, pray, to spread the blessings to others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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It’s the Thought

It’s The Thought –

I sat with one of my regulars for a session yesterday. We made small talk at first asking each other about what’s happened in the last week between appointments. He told me about his weekend and I mentioned the rain and how this negatively impacted my work on the front porch extension. As I said this his eyes lit up and he said; “That reminds me!” and he put his hand in his pocket and brought out an object and slid it across the table.

He continued; “I know you don’t charge for these sessions  but I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate you helping me.” I looked down and it was a gift card for a local home improvement store. I smiled at his graciousness and then slid the card back to him and replied apologetically; “I’m sorry. I can’t accept this gift. We are a non-profit and can’t accept personal payment of any kind but I appreciate your generosity and the thought behind the gift means a great deal to me.”  Even as I think about his desire to tangibly say; “Thank you” it brings a big smile to my face.

I have no idea how much the gift card was for and it doesn’t matter. What matters is his appreciation for the times we’ve sat together and worked through some tough issues to help him become the best man he can be for himself and his family. The old adage; “It’s the thought behind the gift that counts” is true and was a wonderful gift that I will value for a long time.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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No Dumping

No Dumping

The other day someone mentioned a piece of juicy gossip to me. I replied; “Hmmm…didn’t know that.” and quickly exited the conversation by finding something else to do some place else. One of the things I enjoy is; “Being out of the loop.” I don’t have any desire to know secrets, troubles, and provocative nuggets of information about other people. The truth is I have enough junk of my own  and enough problems to deal with that folks can keep others’ tidbits out of my life.

If someone is going through a hard time, facing unfortunate circumstances and needs an ear to bend, or a shoulder to lean on, mine are available but those who are only spreading family and friends’  business all over can stay away. I only have enough passion, energy and time to deal with what should be in my life not what others want to dump there.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Shelter

Shelter

Beth and I just came in from outside. We were on top of the hill in our back yard when Beth said; “Look! Rain.” She pointed in the direction of a larger hill and grove of trees and I could see the rain coming down, moving swiftly in our direction. We began to descend the hill and before we could get to the house we were getting soaked. We walked onto the porch, sat down and enjoyed the sound of water dropping on the tin roof and seeing plants, trees, and grass be drenched in some much-needed nourishment.

Watching and listening I reflected on how most times we don’t see the storm coming. Catastrophic events and life altering incidents happen suddenly, without warning and we are drenched in sorrow and pain, blown over by problems and difficulties stronger than us.

This is why shelter is so important. Shelter’s not only places and institutions but family, friends, those who offer protection from drowning, giving us the opportunity to catch our breaths, find our footing and reclaim our bearings.

We may not be able to see the storms of life coming but if we have the love, grace, and kindness of others when they come we should consider ourselves truly fortunate.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Getting Started

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This morning, while waiting for the Husky to do his business outside, I heard a voice and looked up to see a scruffy looking gentleman walking towards me. “Excuse me!” he said. “Can you help me start my truck?  The starter has gone bad and I need to bang on it while someone turns the key.” em> Where is your truck?” I asked. He pointed to the church parking lot next to our little house and I told him to let me put the dog up and I’d help.

Grabbing my phone and a ball-cap from inside I walked through the wet grass in my flip-flops. When I arrived at his truck he had a hammer in his hand and instructed me to walk around and turn the key when I heard him banging on the starter. I thought to myself; “This has all the makings of a horror story!”  I didn’t climb in the cab but reached over to grab the keys. He crawled underneath the truck and started banging! I figured that was my cue and turned the key. Once, twice, three times and more. No luck. The truck was just sat there. I took a few steps back and waited for further information. “OK!” he yelled, “Try it again!” I’m not sure what he did but the banging got louder, I turned the key and the truck roared to life. He scooted out from under the truck and walked around. I met him in front of it, shook his hand and wished him the best.

As I watched the truck drive away I thought about those who had helped me on my journey of life. Strangers, friends and family who tried to get me going as I messed around, not sure what I was doing, hoping just to make it a little further down the road. They didn’t turn me down, give up on me even when it seemed the prudent thing to do, stayed until things got started again. For these folks I am exceptionally grateful.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Simple Things

Simple Things

I’m a low maintenance person when it comes to breakfast and lunch.

For breakfast; a cereal bar or a pop-tart and a cup of coffee and I am good to go. For lunch; a sandwich that has either tuna fish or a slice of bologna or ham.  Beth buys fancy-schmancy meat for her sandwiches but she knows to get me inexpensive, store-brand, square, sliced ham. This afternoon I took some ham, two slices of bread, slapped on a little mayo and it hit the spot on many levels.

When I was growing up my family would go camping regularly in the Great Smoky Mountains. We grew up hiking on the Appalachian trail, swimming in mountain streams, sleeping in canvas tents and eating lunches out of a cooler sitting at a wooden picnic table in some of the most beautiful places on Earth.

When I eat my ham sandwich I think about these simpler times. My mind and spirit go back to not having many cares, being surrounded by family and friends, fully immersed in nature and God’s creation. Being older now I realize my parents still had bills to pay, work pressures, the difficult job of raising me and my brother, but my memories of these times are only good, warm and full of love.

These seasons of life are never to be repeated but I can eat my ham sandwich and remember the best of life is found in the simple things.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Texting the Deceased

I texted a deceased person today. I intended to text the person I just didn’t know he had passed away on Sunday evening.

On my way to a community meeting this morning I drove through a small town and read on a local business sign; “R.I.P. Jim Smith.“* It took me a moment, the name sounded familiar, and then I recognized it as a name of one of the fathers in our program. The next second it dawned on me he had also once worked at the business with the sign. I called someone who knew the father and he confirmed that; “Yes, he was in a car accident over the weekend and lost his life.” It became even more shocking when I realized I’d texted the deceased father a couple of hours earlier. I was doing my routine check-in with him and many of the other dads our program works with to see how their week was going. Jim* was an engaged father, in his early 20’s, with one infant daughter he adored. He worked full-time, went to school and loved his wife and family.

After the confirmation of his passing everything else melted away. I prayed for his family but truly cannot imagine the hurt, doubt and confusion they are experiencing. At lunch I talked with Beth and told her about the dad. She then said she had spoken with a wife this morning, whose husband had recently taken his own life, after a long battle with alcohol. Death, it seems, is making it’s presence known this Tuesday. We both told each other; “I love you very much!” as we ended the conversation.

We are but candles swiftly extinguished. The light of our lives burn brightly and quickly dim. There is no tomorrow, no guarantee of another breath, moment or chance to let those we care for, appreciate and love know how much they mean to us.

*names have been changed to protect confidentiality

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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Changing the World

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This morning it was my privilege to speak to a group of almost 50 men about the path we travel and how our decisions have a lasting impact upon those we call our families.

In our me centered culture we forget how our lives are not just our own. Who we are, the way we live, models for those we travel life’s path with what’s important. What we hold dear, what we treasure, is reflected by where we put our time, energy and passion. Whoever or whatever is the object of our affection flourishes while what’s neglected wilts and fades away.

“What can we do to promote world peace? Go home and love our families.” #MotherTeresa

Simple but profound wisdom and guidance from Saint Teresa. How can we make this crazy, chaotic, spinning piece of space rock a better place? We start by making sure the ones closest to us are loved and appreciated.

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

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Seeing from Within

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It wasn’t the easiest of conversations to have but he had to know and I had to be the one to tell him. It’s difficult when someone needs to hear a hard truth.  He was sure, convinced, it was out there, beyond himself. Someone else was the harmful influence, another’s behavior and choices were ruining a relationship, spoiling a partnership, when it was, in fact, him. It was his bias, ego and flawed judgement. His view of a perceived “enemy” obscured him seeing the predator within. “The problem isn’t with this other person.” I said. “It’s with you. Until you become more aware of who you are, you’ll never see them for who they really are, appreciate them for the challenge and blessing they bring to your life.”

Unfortunately he never grasped what I was saying, never looked deep enough into himself to see that the way we view others reveals much more about ourselves than it does them.

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

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Don’t Let the Sun

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I was talking with a friend today about being frustrated, irritated, even angry at someone we love. It happens to us all and there’s nothing wrong with being angry if there is a legitimate reason. It’s what we do with that emotion that results in negative consequences. A harsh word becomes hurt feelings, a slammed door becomes a barrier, another flurry of insults adds injuries and a relationship is pulled apart.

Anger is oftentimes the result of ignored stress, built up resentment, unexpressed emotion, lack of communication. One or a combination of these clouds our minds, frays our nerves, drains our emotions, poisons our spirits.

Saint Paul’s wisdom for dealing with anger in his letter to the church in Ephesus is still viable today:

Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give evil an opportunity.

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

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The Perfect Moment

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How do you recognize the perfect moment? How can you tell if where you are at a certain place, a specific time, is more than coincidence, happenstance? How do you know the difference between divine design and dumb luck? Someone told me this week; “You are where God wants you to be!” They said it with such confidence I was taken aback.

There are those who see the world in black and white, right and wrong, God’s will or God’s wrath, while others live in a space painted with many shades of gray. I am one of the latter. I don’t doubt the conviction of the black and whiters I just question my ability to sift through the layers of motives, the machinations of natural and moral laws, missed, realized and ignored opportunities, perception and preconceived notions, desires dreams and destiny.

I believe the path I walk is uniquely mine though I travel with others. The way is uncertain though many have gone before me. The destination is described by the living but only the dead have arrived there. I have this moment, it is all that is promised me and I ask for the strength to live it well.

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

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Shame & Salvation 

  

Yesterday I was waiting to be allowed into a classroom of the local correctional facility for my bi-weekly Incarcerated Father’s class. As I sat in the lobby I overheard a prisoner talking to a young boy who apparently had misbehaved and his mother had contacted an officer and arranged a visit to the jail to see what life would be like if he didn’t begin to make better choices. The prisoner told the young one; “You don’t want to come here. Stay away from this place. Listen to your mom. Don’t be like me.”  It was heart breaking. There was resignation in his voice, a tone of regret and shame. A man whose life had become a warning not an inspiration. 

Part of what I teach the fathers at the correctional facility is they still matter, their life isn’t a waste, they can be a force for good in the lives of their families. They are integral to breaking the cycle of crime and poverty in our community.

Knowing we have a place in this world, that we aren’t just taking up space, there is a plan and purpose for our existence can be the difference between shame and salvation.

Blessings,

@BrianLoging 

http://www.thewannabesaint.com

  

When the Way is Dark

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I was talking with a friend earlier this week about a difficult time she’s going through.  Someone hurt her, lied and has brought pain and great upheaval into her life. She’s prayed over it, is trying to forgive but clearly the wound is still fresh and deep.

I shared with her my journey and talked about how difficult it can be when people we trust do things that cause us great harm. We agreed that time, grace and a listening ear are all ingredients to forgiveness and finding our path when the way is dark.

A wise person once said; “One day we’ll look back on the people who helped and hurt us and be thankful for them both.” Neither my friend or I have arrived at this point but I was thankful my story could bring solace to one who’s suffering.

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

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Spoiled

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World Water Day is marked on 22 March every year. It’s a day to celebrate water. It’s a day to make a difference for the members of the global population who suffer from water related issues.”

This past Sunday was World Water Day. I read about water related issues across the globe, tweeted a few links and mentioned it on Facebook. Truthfully, however, I didn’t give it much consideration until this morning when I opened up an extra bottle of water that was in my truck, not to drink, to rinse out my coffee mug. As the water spilled onto the ground I remembered those who do not have and I felt shame for my wastefulness and beyond blessed.

I am a white, middle class American male. Much of what I take for granted every day most of the world has little or no access. A lot of what I complain and whine about not having is a dream life to billions of people.

I am spoiled. It is a confession and a prayer to feel the hurt, know the struggle of my brothers and sisters with whom I share this planet.

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

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