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Follow My Lead

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Follow My Lead

Someone asked me a surprising question yesterday; “How do I get from where I am to where you are?” The question took me off guard because I’m usually asking myself the same question of someone who has something I’m lacking. After a moment I answered; “Find someone who has what you want and follow their lead. Get to know them. Build a relationship with the person.” This is how we grow. We recognize that we do some things well but could do other things better. With awareness, we begin to look for the traits, disciplines, the wisdom we feel we are missing and find one who possesses these qualities. If they are amenable we connect, listen, and allow ourselves to be influenced by their mind, emotional maturity, actions and spiritual depth. They won’t be perfect. Up close we will see they have flaws but this doesn’t stop us from soaking in the lessons they can teach us. If they are people we hope to gain from they will be aware of their own strengths and weaknesses and are following someone else’s lead. Humility is key.

Too often our world shames and embarrasses those who admit their shortcomings. However, knowing where we need improvement is the first step to becoming a better person which makes a better world.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Remember

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Remember

This morning, as we were both getting ready for the day, Beth exclaimed; “I remember!” “Remember what?” was my response. She reminded me that she had misplaced something yesterday and it dawned on her where that place might be. To be honest I had already forgotten she had lost it. However, Beth hadn’t forgotten and had been thinking about it since it turned up missing.

The situation reminded me of the three stories Jesus, the Master, told of things missing; the coin, the sheep, and the son, in the Gospel according to Saint Luke, chapter 6 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+15&version=MSG). In these tales, a woman loses a coin and tears her house apart until she finds it. A shepherd loses a sheep and leaves the herd to locate it and bring it home. The last one is about a spoiled son who leaves home gets a taste of the real world and comes back to a father who is overjoyed and thankful the son found his way home.

In all of these stories the one looking never gives up until what’s lost has been found. In our culture where it seems everything is disposable, it’s good to be reminded that not everything is for short-term use. There are “gots to have” “use every means to find” “never give up looking for” things that exist, are eternal. Wisdom helps us learn and helps us find these truths.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Storms

Storms

If I had a Star Wars name it would be “Brian Skywatcher” because this is what I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks. Looking, waiting, for the sky to open up and give the land a nice good soaking of rain. Its been disappointing the last few weeks because weather patterns would come together, storms and rain clouds lining up to unload only to dissipate at the last moment. Today, however, the rain has finally come. A nice steady rain. Good for grass, trees, bushes, plants and the soul.

Even though we need the rain I know there are parts of the country who need to dry out. They are waiting for the sun to shine, the wind to blow and chase the flooding away. I have a friend who asked me to pray today because they don’t like storms and are getting the remnants of the tropical storm in Florida. The prayer wasn’t to take the storms away but peace and presence during them.

Wisdom teaches us that storms of life will come and go. At times they bring with them what we need. At other times they batter and bruise us. We can’t control the storms but we can accept them and find a stillness deep within.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Everything But

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Everything But

This morning I was shopping at Wal-Mart looking for items to check off my list. However, I couldn’t find one so I began to look for an employee to help me. I spotted a man in a white shirt, blue and white ID holder attached to a lanyard. He was about to leave so I called from the opposite end of the aisle; “Excuse me, sir? Could you help me?” He stopped and I walked up to and asked him where the item I needed was located. “Sporting goods. Over there.” and though I thought his answer was vague I thanked him and began looking again. I was frustrated he didn’t narrow down my search. Then, it hit me. The man I spoke to wasn’t a Wal-Mart employee. He just happened to look like one because I was searching for one. I laughed at myself and wondered about the guy who would tell his family and friends today about the stranger who mistook him for someone who worked at Wal-Mart.

Later in the day, I was teaching a Dad’s Community Group and we were learning about listening. One of the ways to be a better listener is to leave your biases out of the conversation. When we’ve made up our mind about a person to or the topic *before* listening and understanding what the person is saying, and feeling, we are not listening. We are only waiting to speak.

Listening is not about criticizing, advice giving, making the conversation about us. Listening is, at its essence, letting a person know they are valued, respected. Too often we make it about everything but…

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Deep Purple

Deep Purple

This morning I turned on the water for all the outside faucets in a friend’s yard. As I waited for the water to reach the spigots I heard the unmistakable sound of gushing water. This is not what you want to hear after turning the water on for the first time since winter. Using my ears I could tell it was a pipe running under the deck. I loosened some sideboards which allowed me to see under the deck and sure enough, there was a busted PVC elbow that connected two pipes. Sigh. I was able to find all the pieces I needed without going to the hardware store and began sawing, drying, applying a deep purple primer and putting the new fittings together. I turned on the water for a quick test and it went to the outside spigots and then turned it off to apply some cement putty and ensure it won’t, hopefully, crack, bust, leak, at least for the summer.

As I squirmed and worked under the deck I thought about how all of us at one time or another, one season or another, end up being dry because our source has been diverted. What’s required is listening, heeding, discovering where the leak is so that it can be fixed. It’s often not an easy job but a necessary one.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Cracked

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Cracked

This morning I went grocery shopping. As one who doesn’t care for shopping, it’s odd to find me roaming the aisles. However, Beth hasn’t been feeling well so it was my husbandly duty. On the list was eggs so I found them and as I was putting them in the cart I remembered to open the carton and check to make sure none were broken. There wasn’t any so I gently put it into the grocery cart and went to find the next item on my list.

When Beth and I were first married we went grocery shopping together one time and were buying eggs. I picked up a carton and placed it in the buggy without checking to see if any were cracked. A kind elderly man standing near us said; “You might want to check those eggs to make sure none are cracked or broken.” We did and there were several that were in bad shape. We thanked the man, retrieved another set of eggs, and from that day forward haven’t forgotten to check the eggs or think about the man who taught us this valuable lesson.

The encounter with the older gentleman might many years ago changed the way we did things. His advice helped us look beneath the surface and double-check what we were taking home. After finishing shopping today I wondered; “Have I done anything this week to change anyone’s life longterm, for the better?”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

A Picture is Worth…

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A Picture is Worth

A picture is worth a thousand words unless you are the kids who survived the Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting in Florida, several weeks ago. This past weekend there were gatherings in cities around the world. It was called; “The March for Our Lives.” Since this protest event, David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez have become targets, again. There are news articles, memes, pictures and opinion pieces written that would make adults question their sanity, worth and the innate goodness of humanity.

My heart is broken and my spirit crushed as I listen, read and watch adults attack these children with vitriol. They are being bullied, lied about, crushed by those whose opinions differ from theirs. These young people have survived what will probably be the most traumatic event in their life. They are processing their grief, the loss of their friends and their innocence. They are trying to take a stand, find their footing after an event and in a debate bigger than them. They are exercising control by speaking out, marching, becoming an advocate against an act of violence that ripped their lives apart. Yet, while they attempt to put their lives back together, people online, on the radio, on television are tearing them down and apart, again.

Are these kids being used by persons and corporations with agendas? Maybe. Perhaps they are also smart and resilient enough to know what they want and believe. Have they said and done everything perfectly? Of course not. Who has? You don’t have to agree with them to see they are still in pain. You don’t have to march with them to stand by their side. You can disagree without abuse. We should be better than that. These kids deserve better.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Protests

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Protests

Yesterday, almost one million students across the United States of America, walked out en masse to protest school shooting and the inability of adults to agree upon how to make our schools safer.

There were two types of protests that were happening. One was #walkout which encouraged students to leave their school classrooms and #walkup which encouraged these young adults to find someone who seemed to exist “on the edges” and talk with them eat lunch and begin a conversation that hopefully would develop into a relationship. I supported the #walkout and the #walkup protests and thought both had merit and could change lives. Neither was a perfect way of protesting but each one was worth doing.

However, I noticed that many folks were for one or the other. Not many looked for balance in the two approaches. Students were either labeled #walkup or #walkout. It seemed not much conversation was happening between the quickly diverging groups. This made me sad. The reason the students were protesting is that adults can’t talk to one another, find a compromise, work together on behalf of our nation’s youngest and brightest. Now, it was happening again.

I am sick of litmus tests that divide us as a nation, community, and families. I am tired of people not being able to listen to one another even if we do not agree with the other. There is almost always a middle way where we remember we’re all human, deserving of respect and kindness instead of disdain and meanness. Perhaps one day we will realize we have more in common than what we allow to tear us apart.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Beneath

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Beneath

Today I was tearing down an old wooden, raised flowerbed that was built many years ago. It was mostly rotten and needed to be removed. I was on my hands and knees prying apart a corner and noticed the wood seemed to be moving. Looking closer I realized there was an ant bed behind the wood. If you know anything about ants it is that they’ve noticed you before you notice them. This was true. I looked and they were on the sleeves of my shirt and hands. Fortunately, I was stung only one time. I quickly stepped back and brushed myself off. It was amazing to watch how quickly they went on the defense when under attack. There was no discussion, no plan, just instinct and getting rid of the intruder.

I know people this way. They are quick to attack, slow to find out what’s happening. If they even perceive that someone is going to be a threat they become defensive and hostile.  Some people attack themselves. They are more critical of their life than any critic would ever be. Others’ aggressive style protects themselves from getting hurt.

Wisdom teaches us that this is not the way to live with ourselves or others. We are to be patient, kind, grace-filled, faithful, hopeful, and loving with everyone, including us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannbesaint.com

Smoldering

Smoldering

On Saturday afternoon I burned a pile of branches, old newspapers, and other miscellaneous items. The smell of the ashes and leftover debris lingered in the air the next day. I had forgotten to grab an old wooden rocking chair out of the reading room which also needed to be disposed of. When I noticed it Sunday afternoon I wondered if the smoldering ash would still be hot enough to do anything. I took the chair out, broke it into several pieces and put some under the coals, which were still a faint orange, and put the rest in a pile on top. I checked it after a while and noticed the smoke had increased. About an hour later the wood was ablaze with a good flame. It didn’t take long to consume it once the fire restarted. Not too long afterward the chair was gone.

I wrote last week about the struggles I have when February rolls around. Many years have passed but the layers of hurt, anger, and uncertainty still lay buried, ready to ignite when fuel is added. What I try to do, instead of dwelling on the past, is not feed the flames. When I am aware and notice my mind drifting back to the place of pain I find a place to breathe. I close my eyes and take deep breaths. I remind myself of the truth that I cannot change the past but I can be present in the now. Does it always work? No. Does it work? Yes. Maybe one day I will be healed, maybe not, but I don’t want to give up on living today because of the difficulties of yesterday.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Big Ol’ Pile

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Big Ol’ Pile

In our second bedroom/exercise room, we have a queen size bed. At least we think we do. Most of the time it is covered in clean clothes. We call the ever-growing pile; “Mount Clothesmore.” Eventually, we decide to scale the mountain and fold the clothes. This was my chore today. I don’t like folding clothes. I think it’s because it never ends. You fold, put them up, wear them, wash and dry them, and then back on the bed. The cyclic nature of it all can make you feel as if it doesn’t matter whether the chore gets done or not. To prove my point, when I finished today Beth said; “There are more clothes in the dryer!” See? Never ending. Most of life is this way. You get up and do the same things over and over. Eating, working, exercise (maybe), chores, bed. Repeat. It can begin to feel as if nothing matters.

How do we keep going? How do we find meaning in this Big Ol’ Pile of cyclic activities we call; “life“? Being mindful helps. Trying to be aware of the differences each unique day and moment brings. There are new things to see, to experience. Things which give us a one of a kind, never done before, never to be repeated, life.

Perhaps, the question to ask ourselves is; “Am I ready? Am I looking? Am I expecting to see, to find, that new thing which makes all the other mundane stuff worth doing?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Scattered

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Scattered

Last night I stuck a bag of trash on the porch. Living in the country and not placing garbage in a receptacle is like playing Russian Roulette. Sometimes a varmint gets into it and other times they just pass it by. Unfortunately, last night something got into the trash and scattered it all over the driveway. It was the first thing I saw when letting the dog out this morning. I went inside, grabbed a new bag and began recollecting the trash. There’s nothing quite like picking up frost-covered garbage at dawn.

As I was gathering it and stuffing it into the bag I began to recall a Jewish wisdom tale;

A woman repeated a story (gossip) about a neighbor. Within a few days, everyone in the community knew the story. The person she talked about heard what had been said about her and she was very sad. Later, the woman who had spread the story learned that it was not true. She was very sorry and went to a wise rabbi and asked what she could do to repair the damage. After giving this some thought, the rabbi said to her, “Go home, get one of your feather pillows, and bring it back to me.” Surprised by the rabbi’s response, the woman followed his advice and went home to get a feather pillow and brought it to the rabbi. “Now,” said the rabbi, “open the pillow and pull out all the feathers.” Confused, the woman did what she was told to do. After a few minutes, the rabbi said, “Now, I want you to find every one of the feathers and put them back into the pillow.” “That’s impossible,” said the woman, almost in tears. “The window is open and the wind has scattered them all over the room and blown many feathers outside. I can’t possibly find them all.” “Yes,” said the rabbi. “And that is what happens when you gossip or tell a story about someone else. Once you talk about someone, the words fly from one person’s mouth to another, just like these feathers flew in the wind. Once you say them, you can never take them back.”

It was a great reminder that not only every word but every action has consequences that we cannot foresee. Our lives should be lived mindfully aware that our scattered thoughts, words, and actions will impact the world for evil or for good.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Tethered

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Tethered

This morning in church we were finishing a song and the song leader asked us to be seated. Beth had on a beautiful gray, black and white scarf wrapped around her neck and as we were sitting it ended up between the person and seat back of the pew in front of us. Beth was sitting and all a sudden the scarf now pressed into the pew by the woman couldn’t sit back she was stuck, tethered to someone we didn’t know. The situation was absurd and funny and we both got the giggles. I reached over to pull it from between the woman and pew and realized there was a lot of scarf to retrieve. Luckily, we weren’t seated for long and we stood back up expecting the woman to do the same. Unfortunately, she didn’t. Argh! Beth then began to pull the scarf little by little until, finally, she had freed herself and was careful not to lean too far forward again.

In life, there are times we find ourselves tethered to someone or a group that chokes the life out of us. We might not notice it at first but sooner or later we find we must be free or suffer. Cutting the cord, letting go, escaping from a toxic relationship is hard but it is better than the life being pulled out of us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Go Your Own Way

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Go Your Own Way

A friend of mine told me a story yesterday and I told her; “That would make a good blog post!” So, here goes…

My friend had a procedure done yesterday and needed someone to drive her home from the doctor’s office and to any other place she needed to go. However, on the way to her appointment, my friend’s friend was telling her to go and drive a certain way. On the way home, when my friend’s friend was driving she did the same thing. Because they are good friends and can tell each other almost anything they quickly made a deal. They agreed to allow the other person to drive the way they drive and to go the route they wanted to go. The one who was the passenger would only be a passenger, not a side seat driver. Problem solved. My friend made the comment; “She goes and does her way, I go and do mine. As long as we get where we need to go, the other stuff doesn’t matter.”

I’ve reflected on this story for the last two days. We live in a world divided. People argue and end friendships over big and small things. It makes me wonder why we can’t agree to disagree. We don’t have to be enemies with those who challenge our beliefs, think differently, walk another path, find peace and do kindness different from us. What matters is we all get where we need to go.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Testing, 1, 2, 3

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Testing, 1, 2, 3

Today was my annual Tuberculosis test for the non-profit where I am employed. I don’t like tests, shots, or pain so this was a three for three experience of joy! It’s the same every year.  I go into a small room, the nurse tells me this is going to hurt but not too much. I look away and tell her I don’t want to know when just do it. She does and then tells me to come back in 2-3 days for the results. So, I wait.

I don’t have Tuberculosis. At least I don’t think I do. Would I know it if I did? The test makes me think about it. Each year I forget what a positive result looks like so I google the symptoms and then look at my arm over the next couple of days to make sure I don’t have what I don’t think I have…

Life has a way of making us worry about a lot of stuff.  You watch, read or listen to the news you begin to worry about things you hadn’t even thought of before. You talk with family, friends and they’ll give you something else to be concerned about. Before you know it, if you’re not careful, you have enough stress and anxiety to last a lifetime.

Wisdom teaches us that agonizing, over thinking, brooding, and panic are not a healthy state of mind or emotions. Letting go of that which distresses us might not be easy but carrying around a load of tension and agitation ensure we will never find the peace which we desperately desire and need.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Teaching Peace

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Teaching Peace

Earlier this week I was talking with a man who has a confessed anger problem. He’s also been hurt by some people he trusted. The pain and rage of this betrayal occupy his thoughts and revenge is his stated goal. As we spoke with each other I explained to him that violence is not going to fix things. It will only make it worse for the man and his family. “Good mental health, the ability to process our emotions in a healthy, positive way will have a lasting impact on your family. Not choosing wisely will hurt you and those you love. I know the feelings are there and they’re eating you up inside but taking a path which doesn’t lead to peace punishes everyone.

Peace is a hard concept and discipline to put into practice. We live in a world which claims the right to revenge and paying people back for the harm they’ve caused us. However, if we stubbornly stay on the path to; “right the wrongs” done to us we will not find contentment but an endless cycle of violence and retribution.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Enemy Within

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Enemy Within

I had a meeting with my talk therapist yesterday. It went well. She is professional, a good listener and has a way of pointing out things I miss in life experiences. We were talking about a certain subject, one I struggle with mightily at times, and asked a question that made me think in a completely different way. She didn’t say; “Think this way.” Like a good therapist should do, she allowed me to look inside and find my way out of dark corners.

As someone with a Chronic Severe Depression disorder the battle with ruminating thoughts, anger, doubt, confusion, and fear cover my mind, emotions, and spirit like a wet blanket. Some days I can shake the blanket off of me, other days it’s like a chill in my bones and I can’t get warm. Therapy helps remind me that many of the feelings, and non-feelings, which come with depression may not be gotten rid of completely but a new thought, a burst of light, a letting go of some of the negative, can make room for hope and a willingness to continue the journey.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

I Insist

I Insist

A few days ago I posted a political article on my Facebook page. It was a snarky article but I thought it spoke beyond the snark and pointed to a larger and important point. It didn’t take long for people on both sides of the political landscape to begin voicing their opinions. By the time I woke up the next morning my Facebook feed was littered with exuberant cheers and bellicose jeers. After reading a few comments on the article I deleted it. I don’t have any desire to be one more voice in the cacophony of political arguments that dominate our national disagreements.

It was a stark reminder that we live in perilous times where debate and discussion have disappeared and have been replaced by something else that’s a mean, vicious, attack and take no prisoners approach to others who have a different opinion, view on politics, world affairs, life in general and specific.

I don’t want to be in this place personally or culturally. Somehow we must find our way back from allowing our identities to be attached to fleeting things; people, regions, political parties, church affiliation, and cultural icons. We need to discover who we are by journeying inward not abdicating ourselves to what’s outside of us. It’s our only hope for survival and peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Flashback

Flashback

Today, while working out, I began to think of someone I haven’t thought of in a long time. It was a song that started the flashback. The memories began emerging and it wasn’t long before I began to feel the emotions, experience the memories and time melted away. It was almost as if I was back in the place, with the person and struggling. This person and I had a difficult relationship. There are times when two people don’t mesh. Sometimes there are reasons other times there are not. The pairing produces negative results, hurt feelings, harmful actions, and regrets.

I was thankful my anxiety didn’t take me too far down the road. There are times when my anxiety disorder goes into high gear and I can’t turn my thoughts off. They keep coming and it seems I am at their mercy. Today, the flashback was only a few moments and I was able to move on.

Though unexpected and unwanted the flashback was a good reminder that I have put a lot of distance between what was then and what is now. Most of the pain has vanished, the hurt feelings healed, the memories and experiences seen differently. The person is no longer my adversary but a fellow sojourner trying to find their way home on another path.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

to Know

to Know

A story is told that one day Saint Mother Teresa was asked by a seeker how to find and see God. After a moment of thought, Sister Teresa responded; “You will find God when you can see Him in each next person you meet.” In other words, when a person realizes God indwells in his creation and the love we have for God should be reflected in all he has created.

I am reminded of this story, and wisdom lesson, when someone is getting on my nerves, bugs me just because of who they are, or seems to do everything wrong or not the way I think it should be done. “Do you see God in…?” It’s a powerful reminder that the way we see, treat and judge others is a reflection of our own heart and our relationship with God.

To know someone, to love them is to know and love God.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Hope

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Hope

This afternoon the Mrs. and I went to see, “The Last Jedi.” It was good. No spoilers but I still say the Original Trilogy is not in any danger of being replaced on my favorite movies list.

As I sat in the theater I couldn’t help but think of my father. He took me and my brother to see our first Star Wars movie. I remember seeing it and being, pardon the pun, blown away! Dad drove a large white station wagon back then and on the way home from the movie we pretended to be in a spaceship which was in the film named; “The Millenium Falcon.” As we sped down two-lane highways dad would fire lasers, flash high beams, at incoming “Empire” spaceships; “Tie Fighters.” I don’t know what the drivers, targets, of the other cars thought but my brother and I were ecstatic.

The newest Star Wars movie is about hope. In fact, all the Star Wars movies are about hope, fighting an enemy who seems invincible and never giving up. In the newest one different characters are looking for that “spark which will light the fire.” They find it in various places and in other people who give them courage to “not fight what we hate but save what we love.”

I am thankful today for the message of hope and the strength to keep going.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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