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Reach!

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Reach!

He was trying his best to reach the last few boxes of Crunch ‘n Munch on the store shelves. I was checking off items on my list and heard him jumping. I turned around and asked the boy; “You got it?” He responded in the affirmative as he grabbed one and took it down. Another second and he was jumping again. I was about to leave when a meek voice rang in my ears; “Can you help me?” “Sure,’ I replied, walked over, grabbed the next to the last box and handed it to him. ‘Do you want the other one?'” He shook his head “no” and then ran out of sight. I smiled and hoped he enjoyed his snack.

I reflected on the young boy’s attempt to attain what was out of reach and how easy it was for me to go over, grab it and hand it to him. I thought about how some things are easy for some and harder for others. What might take all the strength one has to barely, perhaps never, accomplish a difficult task, others can do effortlessly. At first glance, it might not seem fair but I think it highlights our need for each other. We are made to work together, to be the strength to another’s weakness, to give courage when one is about to give up, to be their legs to help them stand, their hands to grab or let go, to connect when all else seems distant and unattainable. Of course, it works the other way when we are in need as well. Only together can we fully live and accomplish all we were meant to be.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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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

Empathy

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Empathy

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

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sight

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Sight

I have a friend who has vision problems. Not eyesight but “heart-sight.” My friend was hurt a while ago by a group of people and is having difficulty letting go of the pain and rejection felt, still feels when the experience is thought about, re-lived.

My friend recognizes the blinders has upon their heart and mind. They realize the past keeps them from seeing any good in the ones who hurt them. His vision of them is dark, judgmental and biased. In their minds, there is a reluctance to admit there are good and positive things about them but the heartbreak makes even their most magnanimous acts of kindness and grace be viewed with suspicion.

How,’ they ask, “How am I supposed to get past this? How long before I can move on?” I tell them the stories of my pain. I explain to them there is no timetable to heal a heart and soul deeply wounded. It takes as long as it takes. I remind them also that each of us has done things we would do differently if we could. I also remind them not to give up, not to allow the heartbreak to twist their soul and become embittered and unable to see the good in others again.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Trapped

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Trapped

Earlier today I walked the dog outside for him to have some alone time. I stood on the screened in porch as he sniffed what seemed like the entire backyard. While watching, I heard a flapping and turned to see somehow a butterfly had gotten itself trapped. It was fluttering its wings madly but only succeeded in bumping its way again and again on the screen. I cupped my hands and gently corralled it into a corner. Then, ever so softly scooped it into my palms and then released it away from the screen so it could fly away.

After it flapped out of sight I thought about the times when I’ve felt trapped, banging my head against an invisible barrier, fighting for freedom only to become more frustrated and exhausted. I forget sometimes, okay, a lot of times, that it takes one bigger than me, more gentle than me, more powerful than me, to take me into trustworthy hands and bring me to a place of freedom.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Dashed Hopes

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Dashed Hopes

One of the incarcerated fathers I work with was told recently by the parole board that it would be at least another 12 months before he would be eligible again. The board didn’t think he was to the point where he was ready to be released. He was crushed by this revelation. “I didn’t want to get my hopes up,’ he said, ‘but they were raised anyway. Now I’m just down and lost.” We spoke for a while about making good choices while he was still incarcerated, using the time wisely by taking other classes the jail offers, hanging around the right people and not giving up. He agreed but I could tell he was coming to grips with dashed hopes.

Hope is a wonderful thing but it can also be devastating when what you desire, long for, remains elusive, out of reach. Hope can help us through the most trying of circumstances and drag out difficult and challenging seasons. Hope can be the driving force behind our survival but it is also the reason we burn ourselves up and out. Trying to figure out when to keep hoping and when to give up hope seems impossible to know. Perhaps giving up hope is not the solution but rather learning where to place our hope is true wisdom.

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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80%

80%

We need rain. The ground is parched and a nice drenching would quench it’s thirst. Yesterday, there was an 80% chance the sky would open up and grace the land with water from heaven. I watched several times as the sky grew dark with grey clouds, blocking out the sun, threatening to unleash a torrent only to see the potential dissipate. Not a drop was to fall all day. An 80% chance equaled 0% actuality.

I was talking with someone this week whose having a difficult time with their teenager. This parent, clearly exasperated and their wit’s end, declared to me; “She just wont communicate with me! When we’re together not a word is spoken. I’m not sure she hears a word I say.” I asked the parent; “Do you know that 80% of our communication is body language? Only 20% is words. When she’s not talking she’s still saying a lot. You’ve just got to be able hear her. It takes a different kind of listening to understand what’s being said when no words are given.” The rest of our time together we discussed ways to hear and be heard with someone who isn’t able, ready or willing to talk.

Clouds and a parent. 80% seemed like a certainty when it came to rain. Speaking being only 20% of communicating seemed like never to a parent longing to bond with a child. Percentages, statistics, probabilities can bring false assurance and disappointment. This is why wisdom teaches that we are not to anticipate, generalize or give up when the odds are stacked against us. We enter and exist in every moment with the realization that every opportunity holds possibility and promise.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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