Blog Archives

Pick Up

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Pick Up

This afternoon it was hot. So hot that I was struggling to walk up a hill on my exercise route. As I labored to make it up a man in an old pick-up truck pulled up beside me and asked; “Need a lift?” I smiled, thanked him and replied; “No thank you. Just trying to get in shape.” He nodded and drove off. It was nice of the man to stop and ask but it also brought up images of stories I’ve read on the news about people hitchhiking, accepting a ride and never being heard from again.

We live in a place and time when even genuine offers of help are looked on with suspicion. I don’t like that this world has made me more dubious, overly cautious, hesitant to see an act of kindness as anything less than gracious.

I don’t know how we turn it around. I’m not sure what to do to make the world more hospitable and less hostile. I think it starts with laying aside our fears and living free. I believe we need more acceptance and less aggression.

Or…maybe we can’t and a better world is a dream. I guess it’s up to all of us to determine if dreams do come true.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The Risk

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The Risk

There’s a bumblebee stuck on a screen of our front porch. It’s the porch we’ve been building for several months now and have almost everything completed but the doors. There will be double sliding doors leading to the front door of the house and a side door leading to the front of the house. These missing doors leave large gaps to fly to freedom, yet for some reason, for several days, the little-winged insect stays put.

The problem is we’re hoping to finish up the porch quickly so we can enjoy it these spring and summer months. When the doors go up the bee goes out, forced to face the world full of birds, bug zappers, and countless other dangers.

When I see him I think of the invisible barriers that we all place upon our lives. Most of us like the idea of a smaller world.  A place where we aren’t in too much danger, there’s shelter from storms, protection from so many things which we can’t control.

However, to truly live, we must venture beyond our comfort zones and self-constructed barriers. There’s no guarantee we will be safe nor comfortable but freedom is worth the risk.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Descisions

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Decisions –

Earlier today I was dropping off a list of names for the incarcerated father’s class to one of the corrections officers at the jail. Usually, there are a few pleasantries and I do my best to stay out of their way as they do a hard job with immense pressure. However, today was different. When I handed the list to the corrections officer he was rude and said something unkind. The biggest part of me knows the responsibilities of the position requires focus and a mind which can make quick decisions. The residents are often attempting to “get away with something“, they work long hours, put up with a lot of harsh treatment and there’s not a lot of “thank you’s“.

I tried to ignore it as I walked away from him. These things don’t happen often but as I got further from him I noticed a small part of me was upset at the way I had been treated. It didn’t last long because as I walked by the cells and buzzing doors which led to my class a question formed in my mind; “Are you going to let what was said imprison you? Will you allow the hurtful words of another coerce you into a bad mood or will you choose to be free?”

By the time I go to the classroom I had decided that I would be not be captured, imprisoned, held captive by the words of another. I let it go and it lifted off my shoulders and disappeared.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Walls

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Walls

Residents in jail can earn the right by good, respectful behavior to work outside of the walls of the correctional facility. They do everything from road maintenance, to landscaping, to animal rescue, assembly line positions, and more. I heard one of them say the other day; “It’s great being able to get out, feel the breeze on my face on the ride there and back but coming back into the jail, putting on the uniform and being surrounded by walls again is the hardest thing I do each day.” According to him, it’s feeling like one has freedom but ultimately, it’s an illusion.

I’ve reflected on his words since then and think it also describes a lot of people who are not residents of the local county correctional facility. We are confined by the walls of our making. We allow others to set the standards of our lives, we worry about presenting ourselves the way we think others want to see us. We overextend ourselves financially, work extra hours, take out more loans, place ourselves on the precipice of financial ruin to; “keep up with the Jones’s.” Social media, instant weather, on the spot news updates and opinion pieces, chain us to our phones. We separate us from them in our politics, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, city vs. country, refugee or citizen, and countless other ways we wall off those different from us.

To be truly free is to recognize these parts of ourselves that are imprisoned, see our illusion, be awakened and empowered to tear down the walls that make us and others prisoners.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Release and Purifiy

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Release & Purify

They weren’t there a few days ago but today, when I and the dog went outside, the storm door pushed them aside. Brown, dead, Oak tree leaves are everywhere. Each blast of wind or short breeze seems to shake more loose. Sitting, you can watch them fall, seemingly endlessly, piling up in corners, next to the fence, in flower pots and against the house. What to do? Find the rake, gather them in a pile, set them ablaze.

Last week I wrote about letting go of things and how the fall season is a great metaphor for living a life where we don’t hold on to things (https://thewannabesaint.com/2016/10/18/falling/). Not grasping the fragile things of life is certainly the way of wisdom but so is getting rid of those fallen things which now lay at our feet. Being truly free is ridding ourselves of those trinkets which, if allowed, will still grasp hold of our lives and souls. To be pure, clean, unburdened by the world’s worthless toys, takes an act of release and purification.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Smell of Freedom

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Smell of Freedom

The aroma of six pizza filled my truck cab today as I drove to the county jail. This is Celebration Week as we give certificates, serve pizza to the dads who have put up with me for the last 3 months and, hopefully, have learned to be better men and fathers. I arrived at the jail a few minutes early and began setting things up when I noticed a young man standing on the other side of a heavy steel door with a section of plexiglass in the upper middle. I raised my voice and asked him; “How are you today?” “Fine.” he responded, then added with a big grin; “I’m going home today!” “Congratulations!” I answered back. “I know you’re excited.” “Sure am!” I continued setting up the room and finally, the door buzzed opened and the man began to make his way across the room. As he reached for the door that would take him to freedom he said to me; “Hope you have a good day.” I smiled and replied back to him what the dads in my class have heard many times; “Make good choices! None that will bring you back here!” “I won’t,” he said and disappeared.

A few moments later the incarcerated fathers began to fill the room. They eyed the pizza sitting on a bench in the corner and smiled. “Good choices, make good men and good men make good fathers! Choice is destiny.” is how I begin every class. At the end, before we ate pizza and took pics of the men with their certificates I made them say it loudly! “Good choices make good men and good men make good fathers!” They nailed it and we enjoyed our final few moments together. When I got back to my office I bowed my head and prayed it would be more than words for them and me.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Grudges

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Grudges

Man Repeatedly Vandalizes Childhood Friend’s Tombstone over 56-year-Old Grudge

…“The suspect claims that 56 years ago when the deceased was 10 and this subject was 12, he claims that the [deceased] stole money from him and 56 years later he was getting back at him,” Lieutenant Christopher Ward told NBC 10. “So for 56 years he lived with this grudge. He only realized that he had passed away within the last two years.” It was later revealed that the two had actually been childhood friends, until Donovan accused the deceased of stealing $300 from a wooden box in his room. I guess he never got over it…See rest of story here:  (http://www.odditycentral.com/news/man-repeatedly-vandalizes-childhood-friends-tombstone-over-56-year-old-grudge.html)

Grudges can be powerful things. The man in the story had been carrying around this weight for over half a century! His grudge, like most, come when we feel we’ve been falsely accused, taken advantage of, endure consequences of decisions we haven’t made, suffering because of the selfishness of others.

Grudges are heavy weights to carry. I once witnessed someone speaking on the weights we carry around in our lives. He asked for a volunteer to stand up and to begin walking around the auditorium. After each lap, when he passed the starting point, the speaker would give him something heavy and burdensome to carry. After 4 or 5 laps the volunteer was struggling to walk and couldn’t go any further following a few more.

We all have weights we carry in life. Some of us have illnesses to care for, relationships to heal or keep whole, responsibilities we can’t ignore and a myriad of other burdens we must shoulder for a limited or longer amount of time.

However, there are also other weights we choose to carry such as grudges, judgmental attitudes, bitterness, other bad, hard or ill feelings. Making the choice to let go of this extraneous baggage gives us more strength and freedom to travel the path of life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Bucket Life

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Bucket Life –

Most of the day I worked on our “extend and screen in” the porch project. At one point I stopped and went to my workshop to get a tool and a movement caught my eye. I looked down and in a 5 gallon bucket, with a small amount of rain water, was a frog. It was startled by me and began swimming in circles. I wondered how he got into the tall bucket and how long he had been there. I looked for a small canister to scoop him into and free him from spending his short life going round and round with no end in sight. I found a little cup and tried to capture it but the frog was not thrilled with the idea. He kept swimming and it’s not possible to corner something in a cylindrical container. Finally I got it, took it outside and set it free. I even yelled, as it hopped away; “Watch out for the snakes!”

I’ve thought about that frog off and on as I worked today. Life and its cycles can feel endless sometimes. We aren’t sure how we became trapped in a cycle of negativity, tragedy, bad luck, trials and tribulations, mishaps and mistakes, but it seems no matter what we do we can’t break free. Our misfortune and affliction keeps going and going and going.

Wisdom tells us to remember that nothing lasts forever. Not good or bad, blessings or curses, windfalls or downfalls, they all have a limited shelf life. Unfortunately we don’t possess the ability to gauge how long each season will last. However, what we can do is hope, look for a way out, don’t fight when help comes and be thankful for freedom when it arrives.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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All Gone

All Gone.

Someone asked me last week; “How long does it take to heal a broken heart? How long before you’ve moved past the pain, betrayal and loss? How long before it doesn’t hurt any more?” I wearily smiled and replied; “I’ll let you know, as soon as it happens.

The act of forgiving someone is more than saying the words; “I forgive you.” It is a head and heart change, a spirit and emotional shift that takes time. Forgiveness is a process, a journey, which begins with some of the most difficult steps we can ever make. When someone has consciously, purposefully wounded us, torn apart a relationship, chosen to grievously harm us, there is no; “quick fix” prayer, magical spell or shortcut to a place of healing. To forgive is to make the choice to move on, not hold on to the bitterness and heartache, to allow the offending party and yourself to be free, and this choice is repeated many times.

The path of forgiveness is at first a downward spiral. We journey deep into ourselves and come face to face with the pain caused by the other. We admit and accept the hurt which has been done to us. We then bring the injury into the light by talking about it with someone we trust, someone who can help us navigate the path from brokenness to wholeness. Depending on the depth of the wound, healing, forgiveness, could take years. Remember it is a choice to let go of the blame, the pain and the burden of carrying around an act of selfishness, carelessness and callousness done to us by another. The choice is to hold on to the hurt or embrace freedom of mind, body and spirit. The decision might be made countless times until the impact of the betrayal is finally, permanently, all gone and we find the long, hard path to restoration complete and worth it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twiter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Free

I overheard the agonizing call of a young man who wanted to leave, escape, get as far from his present predicament as he could today. His voice was loud, hoarse and broken.

I was sitting with one of the men I mentor in the County Jail. Even though we sat in another section of the commons area we couldn’t help but overhear the tear filled appeal of the caller whom was pleading with whoever was on the other end. However, no matter what he said, apparently the receiver of the call was not able or willing to get him out.

As I listened to his cries for rescue, thoughts of moments, times, seasons of being trapped in a place I didn’t want to be flooded my mind. Some were of my choosing, others thrust upon me but prayers, pleas, screams and whispers of injustice and escape seemingly went unheard.

Life can be incredibly harsh and relentless. We beat ourselves against the walls of our prison or the cells of others longing to be free. Deliverance comes in many forms just as bondage and slavery can exist without chains and metal bars.

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

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for Granted

He hovered about as the other men left the classroom. I didn’t know what to expect, I never do when it comes to the incarcerated dads I am privileged to work with but who also keep me on my toes. He was tall, skinny, long grayish brown hair, missing most of his teeth and spoke softly. It was the first class of the spring semester and after everyone had left he came forward. He is soft-spoken with lines and wrinkles of a life filled with heartache and wrong decisions engraved on his face. I leaned forward as he struggled to tell me his secret; he couldn’t read. My heart sank.
Reading is such a vital part of our program and everyday life. There are homework assignments and times during class we read to ourselves and together. Not being able to read certainly presented another challenge for a man who has faced, and lost, his share of them including a drug addiction. I asked if there was another resident in the jail he could ask to help him and he shook his head; “No.” I breathed in silently and thought about the courage it must’ve taken to admit his weakness. “Then we’ll meet after each class and go over the lesson. Let’s start today.” We made our way over to a couple of chairs, sat down and began to review.

After we were done, driving away from the jail, I reflected on the different ways we can be imprisoned. It’s not just about concrete walls, bars, thick glass and heavy metal doors. Prisons can be addictions, basic education skills we’ve somehow missed, mental illnesses, bad attitudes, negative environments. Too often we take for granted so many blessings. The gifts we’ve received, the talents we’ve been given, the good, are not for hoarding but for sharing, multiplying and helping others find freedom.

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

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Still Chained


Our Siberian Husky does not like to be chained in the yard. He’ll sniff around for a bit, perhaps do some “business”, but not long after you leave him alone he’s ready to either come inside or run around the yard with one of us outside with him.

To let us know he’s reached his limit he’ll begin to howl and yap but if this isn’t enough to convince us he then stretches the chain as far as he can and starts scratching, clawing and through sheer effort trying to break free. I come back out from inside the house yelling at him; “you’ve only been out here 5 minutes!” but to him it’s been an eternity. When I unhook him he runs like it’s a prison break!

Beth had recently bought another chain and yesterday I added it to Trooper’s previous one. I then walked him around showing him how much more room he now had to roam. I was hoping with more yard to investigate he’d be willing to stay outside a bit longer. No dice. He immediately trotted after me and, when he could go no further, begin to howl.

I was frustrated for a moment but then thought about it from his point of view. He’s still chained. He’s not free. What’s an extra ten feet when there are acres to explore, play and chase things? Sure the chain was longer but it still wasn’t freedom. He was alone and limited. What fun is that?

So, I let him go and together we enjoyed what can only be found in freedom and sharing our journey with another.

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

Fly Away

One of the key understandings of working with Incarcerated Fathers is that when you check in to the jail you are on the facility’s timetable.

I have an all day training today beginning mid-morning so I made an early appointment with the local correction’s unit last week. I arrived twenty minutes ahead of time, logged in and waited…for almost forty minutes. I studied my notes, took several deep breaths and tried my best to stay mindful and not let frustration get the best of me.

While I sat there I noticed a lighting bug that had somehow gotten inside. It was flying around, bumping into things, crawling on the floor. Finally it landed near the door that led outside. I put down the notebook I was holding, walked over, opened the door and gently nudged it out. At first it turned around and started to come back inside but I continued to guide it in the other direction and when I could; safely shut the door. The bug paused a moment, recovered its bearings and then flew away.

When I sat back down I thought about the dad I was there to see and the sessions we would work through over the coming months. I hoped he too would be nudged, guided, shown the way to freedom and once given a chance; he would spread new found wings and fly away.

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

 

abigail

chain

pulling on that chain
not wanting to listen
chasing after boys

mama's in the front yard
begging for attention 
you're running in circles

sights and sounds
the road of life beckons
stifling your lover's plea

resenting the restraining
tugging at those fetters
one day you're gonna break free

the road can be dangerous
for one so easily injured
but shoulders aren't strong enough to hold 

impulses won't be shackled
you keep pulling on that chain
running in circles

---
bdl
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