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Anger

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Anger

One of the first questions I have, when teaching a new class or working with a father, is “Tell me how you express your feelings. Can you show you are angry, disappointed, frustrated in a healthy way or does it all come out as toxic anger?” Toxic anger is dangerous and greatly inhibits a child’s growth, impedes communication with others, and can lead to abuse and neglect. Understanding how a father deals with his feelings is key to understanding his relationship with his family, friends, and community.

One of the most common responses on how men deal with the feeling of anger is; “I want to hurt someone else. I want another to feel pain. I don’t want to be alone in my suffering.” This can surface in many ways, a bruising hand, a mouth filled with hurtful and caustic words. Other men leave and don’t come back, others come back but never talk about the emotion that erupted like a volcano. A lot of men simply get mad and stop talking, letting their silence oppress everyone who is near them.

Most men have never learned to deal, and healthfully express, their feelings. This is why for most men anger is their default emotion. The saddest part is they pass these traits along to children and the unhealthy cycle starts all over again.

An old Zen proverb says; “To hold on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging  (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Confusion

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Confusion

Earlier today I was trying to get the mowing done before a storm front moved through our area. I saw Beth come outside with our Siberian Husky, Trooper and waved at her. My attention went back to the mowing and when I looked up again she had Trooper by the collar with one hand and was shooing two brown dogs with the other. I quickly disengaged the blades and drove down the hill in our backyard to help.

The two dogs didn’t seem aggressive just curious but Trooper was also curious and you’re never sure what’s going to happen when unfamiliar dogs get too near each other. I jumped off the mower and had the brown dog’s attention now and Beth was able to get ours inside. I clapped my hands, marched toward the dogs, while yelling; “Go home! Now!” The younger of the two dogs began trotting home but the older one looked at me and wasn’t intimidated. Once I noticed Beth and Trooper inside I made my way back to the mower and headed again to the backyard. The older dog followed. I tried yelling again. It used the bathroom and continued to go wherever I drove and mowed. Finally, I finished mowing and told it to; “Please! Go home!” and thankfully, it did.

I don’t know whose dog exactly it was but I think it confused me with its owner. It never growled nor did its hair stand up, it just wanted to be loved, petted, played with? I’m not sure what it wanted which makes me confused as well.

Life is never predictable. We get confused and this makes us frustrated and desperate. We follow what seems familiar only to find ourselves in a strange place with no sense of direction. Hopefully, eventually, someone or something will help us find our way.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Not so Fast

Not So Fast!

Today, on my way to a meeting in Shelbyville, Tennessee I was cruising along at a crisp 60MPH when I spied a flashing construction sign which read; “New Signal Light Ahead. Be Prepared to Stop!” I was confused because I’ve never known this road to be extra busy but began to slow down as I rounded a curve and sure enough a new traffic light had been installed. It was red when I first saw it and stayed red…for a long time! I thought maybe the light was broken and we should begin proceeding carefully but none of the other vehicles moved. Finally, it turned green and as I reached the new light there were two signs which read; “Stop Here On Red.” “Maximum Time for Red Light: Three Minutes.” When you’re traveling three minutes can feel like an eternity and certainly did as I waited for the green. For the record, the light was red on my way out-of-town as well. Grrrr!

Practicing stillness is important. I do it every day when I meditate, pray and at various other times, especially when it’s been hectic. Stillness is a central discipline to gaining wisdom and experiencing life. However, I’d prefer to dictate when I will and won’t be still. I’d like it to be my decision. I surely didn’t want it on my way to a meeting, driving down a country road. Yet, here was a time of stillness forced upon me but instead impatience, confusion was the result.

To truly know stillness is to carry it with you. It shouldn’t need to be conjured up on a timetable. Being still is more than a way of life it’s a way of being. It’s also a lesson and a discipline I’m still working on.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

A Little Help

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A Little Help –

This afternoon I took a large load of yard debris to the county dump. It was a truck and trailer full. When I arrived I began unloading the trailer first. It was filled with rotten deck boards and trusses. It was quite a bit to handle by myself but the man standing at the dumpster, who presses the button to activate the compactor, wasn’t in the mood to help. In fact, he asked me to walk to the other side of the dumpster to push in a small piece of lumber which was sticking out. I thought to myself; “Dude. You see how much junk I am trying to unload. A little assistance would be greatly appreciated.” Sigh. I finished with one dumpster and moved to the second one, unloaded what was left and drove off.

I don’t know what kind of day the worker had. He might’ve helped everyone before me and was too tired to be of any assistance. It is unfair to judge him by one encounter and so I let the frustration go. However, the lesson of offering help to those in need, little and big gestures of kindness and grace, wasn’t missed. Hopefully, the next time I can lend a hand I’ll remember and not leave someone hanging.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Innocent

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Innocent

This morning, during worship, Beth and I sat behind a couple who had an older son with Down’s Syndrome. (http://www.ndss.org/Down-Syndrome/What-Is-Down-Syndrome/) He sang the songs, clapped, laughed uproariously, and became so excited a few times his mom would whisper in his ear to settle him down.

Beth and I have worked with people with Down’s Syndrome before so he wasn’t bothering us. In fact, just the opposite, he enhanced my worship with his full commitment to what was happening around him. No worries about what others thought about what he was doing or about him.

Native Americans are said to have thought children with Down’s Syndrome had an insight to God because of their innocence. I always think about that when I am near or interacting with someone with Down’s Syndrome. From my work with them, I know they are not always so “innocent.” They can be mischievous, angry, playful, stubborn and emote with the best drama kings and queens. However, what they don’t do as often is hide what they’re feeling. Their good and not so good behavior, joys and frustrations, happy-go-lucky attitudes and refusal to do something they aren’t in the mood to do can be fulfilling or draining for their caretakers.

Their innocence is not ever doing anything wrong but rather their refusal to hide, be ashamed, be less than what they are no matter who’s watching. They aren’t governed by their need to impress or be thought well of by anyone

In that sense, they are not only innocent but also role models for the rest of us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Connection

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Connection

Cell phone reception at our house if iffy. Depending on where you stand, what hand you’re holding the phone, clear or clouded skies, moving or standing still, makes a huge difference in being able to talk with someone or missing a call entirely.

Yesterday, Valentine’s day, Beth called me on her way home from work. I had my phone with me but was in a bad part of the house for phone calls. I was able to answer it but she was unable to hear me. I said; “Hello?” and the would reply; “Hello?” and no matter what I did I could hear her but she couldn’t hear me. Finally, I got in a spot where she could hear every other word but the connection was so poor that I yelled; “See you when you get home!” and hoped she heard the words but not the rising frustration in my voice. After a few moments, concerned my agitation offended her I went outside and called her back. She answered; “Hello?I replied; “Hey. Where are you?” “Pulling into the driveway.” I turned around to see her and was so thankful to hang up the phone and talk to her face to face. I kissed her on the head and apologized for becoming upset and she accepted. We walked into the house hand in hand.

It was a great reminder that true relationship, conversation, intimacy isn’t possible without personal contact. There’s a lot to say for computers, smartphones, social media and the many ways we can interact with others but nothing can replace face to face, eye to eye, skin to skin connection with another and I’m certain nothing ever will.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Location, Location, Location

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Location, Location, Location

Last week I ordered some pizzas from the Pizza Hut down the street from our offices. I have done this before, several times, when we’ve had our Incarcerated Father’s class Certificate ceremony. Yesterday morning I dialed the same number as always and no one ever answered. I tried again and again with no luck. It was getting close to needing to pick up the pizzas so I decided to hop in my truck and drive there, order them and sit and wait.

When I arrived I was greeted with a sign on the  door which read; “We’ve Moved!” It had a new address so I jumped in the truck once again and found their new location. The door was open, I walked in but immediately noticed the machines weren’t hooked up and no pizzas were going to be made there anytime soon. Exasperation set in. I felt as if I was wandering all over Columbia, TN looking and needing something which wasn’t going to be found or attained. Finally, I went to another place, bought their pizzas and everything worked out fine.

The path of life is rarely dull. I was talking with a friend earlier this week and we discussed the places on the journey we find ourselves. He expressed frustration that he hadn’t arrived at the point he wanted to be, being who he desired. We shared our mutual frustration at times when what we’re looking for and what we long to embrace cannot be found when we feel we need them most. A sense of frustration and loss can set in. However, we also reminded each other the path and path maker can be trusted to provide what we seek and what we need at the right time and the right place.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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How Much Does a Spirit Weigh?

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“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.  All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.” The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 16

How Much Does a Spirit Weigh?

This morning was my regularly scheduled session with my therapist. I wanted to leave early because traffic approaching Nashville can be hazardous and slow. I arose with the alarm and went into the living room to do my morning prayers. Following, the above verse from the book of Proverbs was stuck in my head.

I pulled out of the driveway and began the trip. Everything was going fine until my cell phone rang and it was Beth, who was on her way to work, and while listening to the radio heard there was not one but two vehicle accidents on the interstate which I was traveling. “Sigh!” Brake lights soon lit up the road in front of me and I couldn’t help but be amused at how quickly my plans fell apart. “Oh, how little control we have over anything.” I finally made it to the doctor’s office and the waiting room was already full.

I found my seat and occupied myself with my phone and the TV which was on. Minute after minute passed by and it wasn’t too long before my appointment time came, went, and still I sat in the waiting room. My plans for the morning were vanishing before my eyes and I wondered what the Lord’s answer to me would be? Perhaps, “Brian, just breathe and let go of your irritation. I know where you are and I am there with you.

Planning and scheduling my days are part of how I deal with my Severe Anxiety Disorder. It helps me break my schedule into smaller, more manageable parts. It seems innocent, “pure” as the verse from Proverbs would say, but I also recognize that the control I seek isn’t really possible and handing control over my daily existence to the One who is eternal is the only way to true peace of mind.

When my anxiety and/or depression begin to permeate my spirit it seems to get heavier and heavier until it’s an effort to do any and everything. However, when God, who knows my spirit is being weighed down by mental illness, plans, worries and a host of other things, sees me burdened he picks me up and breathes his lightness into my spirit so I can rise up and keep going.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Choose Wisely

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Choose Wisely

Yesterday I needed to drive into town and sign some important documents. I wasn’t excited about dropping everything I was doing and running this errand but there was no other option. On the way, it seemed like every light was red, the road was occupied with the slowest of drivers, and I even had to pull over for a funeral procession.

By the time I arrived to sign the papers my patience was wearing thin. I walked in, told the woman behind the counter my name and what documents I needed to sign. She looked all around her with no luck. There were three two-drawer metal filing cabinets behind her. She pulled on one with no luck and began looking for the keys. “Sigh!” She found the key to one of the filing cabinet and said over her shoulder to me; “It has to be in one of these!” “Ugh!”

She opened the first one and no luck. She then looked for and found the key to the second one, opened it up and…no papers. Finding the third key she opened the last filing cabinet and; “Tada!” I signed the papers, told the woman thank you, and began to drive back home. I immediately became aware that my patience was thin and I needed to breathe out the tension and anxiety and breathe in stillness and peace.

  • As much as I like to consider myself a contemplative, patience isn’t my default emotional and mental place. Like the filing cabinets; I start with frustration, move to irritation with patience and letting go, seeming to be one of the last drawers I open.
  • I hope, pray, that one day instead of patience and peace being one of the final options they will be my first and only.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Blinded by the Light

Yesterday evening, as the sun set and the autumn cool air settled in, I gathered some wood, placed it in the fire pit, started a fire, sat in an Adirondack chair and stared at the stars becoming visible in the quickly darkening sky. I breathed out the hustle and bustle and breathed in relaxation. Silence and beauty, what more could you want after a busy day?

Then, out of the corner or my eye, I spied a bright light. I looked over and let out a frustrated “sigh!” The farmer who owns the land adjacent to ours had come on his big, green, John Deere tractor to rake the hay he cut earlier in the day. “Ugh!” What was a serene, peaceful moment of reflection and relaxation turned quickly into a noisy, dusty, beams of lights in my eyes disappointment.

I understand the days are getting shorter. I know the seasons are changing. I recognize the driver of the big, loud machine would also rather be somewhere else but this knowledge still didn’t stop me from being annoyed. As I sat there stewing a few questions came to my mind and spirit; “Is the fire no longer beautiful? Are the stars any less in number? Did the fall breeze cease?” Of course the answers to each of these were; “no.

In life few things are, or stay, our definition of perfection. Wisdom teaches us that acceptance and embrace of change, disruption, the passing of “perfect” moments is vital to peace of mind and spirit. Being able to adapt, finding the gift, and the good, even in moments of frustration and disappointment is needed and necessary.

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

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Harassment at Hardee’s

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This morning I was running early for my fathers with addictions group so I stopped at the local Hardee’s and studied while enjoying a cup of coffee. I was reading the page (pictured above) when I heard a raised voice coming from the counter. Apparently a man had ordered his breakfast and they never let him know it was ready or he didn’t hear when they announced his ticket number. Either way he was not happy and let the employee know it with a loud and thunderous; “Thank you!” when he received his food, jerked the tray off the serving area and complained boisterously all the way back to his seat.

The above definition states that; “Good mental health is the ability to think things through so that you can adjust to and meet life’s demands in ways that don’t harm you or others.” I had two thoughts as I watched this angry man grumble and wolf down his biscuit. One, there is a lot of wisdom in this definition and it’s applicable to everyone. Two, who we are, especially in crisis and moments of frustration, reveal our character perhaps more than any other time.

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

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Bird Poop & Positive Outcomes

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This morning I walked outside and was greeted by several large “surprises” birds had left on my truck over the weekend. It was unsightly and unappealing but I had no time to do anything before I drove to work. What a way to start off the week! Oy!

After a community father’s group this morning I packed up my supplies for an offsite afternoon group and headed back to my truck. It was pouring rain. One more Argh! on a Monday. By the time I got everything in the vehicle I was soaked but I also noticed the shower had washed the bird refuse off the truck and onto the ground.

I sat in the driver’s seat and reflected on how often things we wouldn’t choose, ask for, or even desire can have positive impacts on our lives. Aggravating situations, difficult circumstances, the storms of life can be the very things which wash the crud away.

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

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