Blog Archives

Thought

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Thought

When I woke up this morning my positive thought was; “It’s not Thursday!” Yesterday I had to go to the dentist and while there are times we must do things which bring us anxiety we can celebrate I am thankful I didn’t have to repeat the process today.

It’s also a beautiful day. Sunny with a few clouds. Temperatures in the low to mid-80’s. In a few moments, I will go and mow the grass. Some weeks, especially during the hot summer days, it’s more a chore than a joy but as the days grow shorter I will bask in the sun on my face and driving my little yard tractor.

One thought or several, can indeed change the way you see your day. I know in the future I’ll have to go to the dentist again. Soon there will be no need to cut the grass. By the look of the trees and their colors, the days will quickly be cold enough that even the sun won’t be able to warm me up.

One of the most positive thoughts, disciplines, we can have is focusing on the good each day brings and not the uncomfortable change which may come with tomorrow.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
Gospel of Saint Matthew 6:34, The Master

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Code

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Code

This afternoon I stopped by a store to pick up some sodas for our incarcerated father’s class. I grabbed and carried them to the cashier station. I waited on the woman in front of me and when she was finished stepped up and watched the cashier scan the drinks and stick them in plastic bags. When it was time, I scanned my card and then entered my pin number. However, as soon as I punched the digits in I knew it was the wrong pin. I told the cashier and she reset the scanner. For a moment I couldn’t separate all the pins and passwords in my life and choose the correct one but finally settled on the right one. It worked and I walked out with my purchase.

As I drove to the jail I thought about the men in my class who were receiving their certificates of completion tonight. I thought about the different men in the program and how each of them has certain “codes” which work for them. For one humor might be the key, another is not being singled out in class but letting him join the conversation when he’s ready. Our goal at the jail is to give the men a collection of tools and skills which will keep them clean, responsible, have abilities that many people on the outside take for granted. However, getting them to participate and accept the knowledge is tricky. Not any one approach works with all. We must take the time, learning about the men, connecting with them, understanding the way they think so we can “break the code” that will help them make life changing choices.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Out of Sight

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Out of Sight

This past weekend I wrote about a tiny gray cat that has been hanging around the house. The last time I saw it was on Saturday. I had been putting food out for it hoping to convince it we meant no harm but unfortunately, the neighborhood dogs beat the kitten to the chow. It started raining yesterday afternoon and has been steady since then. Remnants of Hurricane Irma is giving us plenty of water and a bit of wind. My worry, however, is the kitten. Is it dry? Did a neighborhood dog get it? I haven’t seen it since the weekend and I have no idea where it is or what happened to it. So, I wait and see. Hopefully, it’s still hiding under the porch and will come out after the storm passes.

There are people in our lives like the kitten. A storm begins to batter them and they hide, afraid of its downpour and thunder. We long to help them, to show them kindness, to meet whatever needs we can if they would just come out of hiding. However, like the kitten, there are trust issues and perhaps they’ve been hurt before by people pretending to help or they’re used to people taking not giving. What do we do? We wait. If they come out of hiding during the storm we can cover them with acts of kindness. If they wait until after this is fine also. Kindness and love have no expiration date.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Eclipse

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Eclipse

I’m not sure I’ve seen as many people standing outside in the middle of a hot and humid day in mid-August staring at the sky. On my way to the county detention center, where I teach a class on Monday afternoons, it seemed there were groups of people at churches, grocery stores, restaurants, manufacturing plants and yes, even at the jail, looking up, waiting for the eclipse.

I didn’t pick up a pair of “NASA approved glasses” to watch the eclipse. I figured someone, somewhere would have some if I time to watch the eclipse. Sure enough, there was a corrections officer who let me use his and we handed them back and forth. The day turned a grayish hue. The crickets and other insects began to chirp. It was eerie for a few moments and then it started to get light again, I thanked the officer who let me borrow his glasses, and I went inside to my class.

Afterward, I reflected on the experience and I thought about all the people standing outside looking into the heavens. They knew what they were looking for and most were prepared to see it. However, I wondered how often, on a normal every day, we encounter people who are looking for something greater than themselves and the lives they are currently living? Do we offer them words of wisdom to help show them the way? Do we live in such a way that reveals truth and peace? Will our lives eclipse the other bright shiny trinkets humans so often chase and allow them to know where to look and what to look for?

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

Snap!

Snap! –

Last night a fierce thunderstorm passed through the area and downed a huge branch off a tree right outside our bedroom window (see photo). The size of the damaged area leaves doubt as to whether the tree can be saved or if we will have to cut it down when removing the limb. I love trees, flowers, grass, spring, and summer, nature at its absolute best. It hurt my heart to see the beautiful tree, which is much older than I, with such a gaping wound.

I spent the week helping friends whose world, like the tree, has been torn apart. Two months ago everything seemed on track and then one of life’s damaging storms ravaged their lives and left them in doubt and afraid. They are looking at incredible odds against survival itself. They stand in the midst of what used to be their normalcy and are surrounded by debris, devastation, and the possibility of death.

Life is never predictable. It doesn’t have a reset button, can’t go back and fix things or jump forward to see how it ends. We weather the storms of life, pick up the pieces and pray for the strength, stamina, and the will to survive.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Together

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Together

A friend of mine had surgery not too long ago and is still recovering. As a result, he is unable to do yard work or any other outdoor project. One of the projects on his list for the summer was to remove several Red Tip bushes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photinia). Red Tips are great for privacy but can quickly grow out of control. Before his recent bout with the illness, he had started the removal but couldn’t finish the job. However, while he was in the hospital a group of neighbors got together and completed the project for him. They didn’t expect to get paid or rewarded in another way they did it because it was a way to help.

As I listened to the story being told to me yesterday my heart was warmed at the generosity we can show each other. A person told me recently; “The news is too depressing. I just don’t watch it.” I tried explaining that ignoring the news doesn’t make the world better but it does eliminate our ability to confront, counter the evil and darkness with good and light.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Borders

“If, as adults, we are only preoccupied by the security of our borders we have not matured as human beings capable of real freedom, of seeing the happiness of being citizens in the world of virtue – goodness, kindness, humanity, compassion. In this world of grace there are no borders.”
#LaurenceFreeman (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurence_Freeman)

Borders

Above is a portion of my morning reading this Lenten season devotional of 2017. It speaks to one of the most difficult battles we fight as people, a nation, and a community of faith.

It’s easy to separate ourselves from the world. To erect borders, laws, litmus tests, even vote for silly ideas such as a border wall which also includes 800+ miles of the Rio Grande river. We pull away from strangers and those different from us because we’re afraid. We’re afraid of losing things, being infected by things, having our normal lives disrupted and changed forever.

The last couple of months I’ve been on a Jars of Clay binge. In the house, on the lawn mower, in the truck, it’s all I’ve been listening to. Moving from one album to another, no particular order. This week it’s been; “The Long Fall Back to Earth. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Long_Fall_Back_to_Earth)” The album is a unique one for the group as they experiment with a break from their usual sound. There is a song entitled on the album; “Headphones” that speaks to the temptation to stay in our own world as the rest of the world goes to hell. Its poignant and has resonated in my spirit the last few days.

I awoke this Palm Sunday to the news that cowardly suicide bombers had killed at least 50 people in two different attacks as they worshiped this last Sunday before Easter. My heart hurt for my brothers and sisters. There are no borders when it comes to pain, empathy, hope and help.

In the world of grace there are no borders.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Support

Support

Beth and I spent most of this beautiful, perfect weather, spring day, planting trees. Several plots of land surrounding our home have been bought lately and people are encroaching on our little slice of country paradise. So, we decided to plant trees along the line of our property to help keep it private and bucolic.

When you are planting new trees one of the most important things you can do is drive stakes into the ground and tie a string from it to the tree. You want to give it as much support as you can so that it can take root and thrive.

As we drove the support stakes into the ground surrounding the trees I thought about friends and family who are currently going through tough challenges and difficulties. They are like the newly planted trees. The storms of life are blowing through their lives and without the support of others, they won’t make it.

I want to be one of the supports for those around me who are hurting. Firmly planted, reaching out, grabbing them and saying; “I will not let you go. No matter what happens, I’ve got you.” After all, they would and have done, the same for me.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

To the Rescue

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To the Rescue

Today I completed my bi-annual training and testing for CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) for a person who has stopped breathing and Abdominal thrusts (also called the “Heimlich maneuver”) which is a first aid procedure used to treat upper airway obstructions (choking) by foreign objects. The training was good and the test wasn’t a problem but the thought of being the one someone was counting on to save their life still is unsettling.

I never considered being a police officer, fireman, doctor, nurse, soldier. These are folks who put their life on the line every day and/or have someone’s life in their hands. There’s a courage and confidence in them I don’t think I have to be able to do these vocations faithfully. I admire and support those who are able to step up and do these jobs so admirably.

However, there may be a time when I am put in the position of being the one who saves. I can only hope that the investment of time and attention in the course today allows me to perform competently until the professionals arrive.

After finishing the course today I also reflected on what it means to “save someone.” It’s not always stopped breathing, hearts not beating, throats choking or other physical emergencies. Sometimes it’s an open ear, kind word or selfless act.

There are people in our lives, those we encounter who need what we can give, we just need the eyes to see them. I wonder if there is a course for that…..?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Serving Tea

Serving Tea

I had heard the story many times before. As he started talking I already knew how it ended. He’s an addict. He’s been one for almost as long as he can remember and will be one until he dies. The victory of an addict is not to stop being one but learning how to live life clean as one. He wasn’t living free, some of his old acquaintances had become recent friends.

The big three ways an addict stays away from relapse is a clean (drug, alcohol-free) place to live, a permanent job, and supportive friends. None of them are simple to attain and maintain but in my experience with addicts, the one which is the hardest to do is stay around supportive people. The reason this is so difficult for the addict is that oftentimes their addiction has hurt or destroyed the healthy relationships with family and friends which leave them with other addicts and pushers to be around when they are released from jail or a rehab center. It’s also hard to make new or mend relationships when at first you’re only sober moment to moment, hour by hour.

Wisdom tells us that we cannot stop negative people, negative thoughts coming into our lives and minds. However, we don’t have to stay or take up residence. We can choose to make our lives a priority, take care of ourselves so we can one day take care of others.

“You cannot stop negative thoughts from coming in the door of you mind, but you do not have to serve them tea.” #ZenProverb

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Future Need

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Future Need

It’s a beautiful Saturday here in middle Tennessee. Nice enough to plant flowers and vegetables, pick up sticks and limbs, and burn a collection of papers which have been growing in our house since last fall. I took two huge bags of forms, notices, credit card appeals, and receipts we wouldn’t want to fall into the wrong hands and little by little placed them into the flames which I’d started in our burn barrel.

I wasn’t paying much attention until a colorful receipt caught my eye. It was from the local volunteer fire department. I remember the man stopping by the house, ringing the doorbell and him explaining why he was collecting funds. We donated what we could and after he left we both agreed that when it comes to the folks who might one day receive a phone call to come and extinguish your house that’s on fire, you don’t want to be stingy.

As the receipt was consumed by fire I thought about the irony but I also reflected on the wisdom of investing in things which might not be needed immediately. However, if/when the time arrives you’ll be glad you took the time, gave what you had, respected, paid attention and didn’t ignore what might one day be your salvation!

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Passion

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Passion

Earlier today I attended a Health Council meeting where one of the featured speakers was a woman who worked for a non-profit agency that collected and supplied blood for hospitals and clinics. She was a good speaker and the story she told was full of passion and emotion. She related how her son had been born with Downs Syndrome and Autism. For her and her family, this wasn’t a burden to bear but a lesson to be learned on how to love differently yet still unconditionally.

When her son was 4 months old, however, he was diagnosed with Leukemia and needed many blood transfusions over a period of time to fight the disease. The problem was not enough of her son’s blood type was available to give her son the help he needed. So, the mother decided to call up the local Red Cross and see if she could put together a blood drive event where people would come and donate blood. The Red Cross said; “yes” and she went to work. She wasn’t simply collecting blood for someone anonymous but for her son who needed it so desperately.

Thankfully, her son has been in remission for the last 6 years but the woman still sets up blood drive events for her non-profit all over the state of Tennessee. She explained; “I know what it is to be in need and if I can help meet other’s who have the same needs I just can’t say; ‘no.'”

A good lesson in wisdom and grace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Seeing Clearly

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Seeing Clearly

Yesterday morning, between sessions with a couple and an individual, I walked out to my truck to get some face lotion. During the winter months, my face has severe dry spots which require lotion every day. However, I usually forget when getting ready so I have an extra container of lotion in the cab of my truck. I opened the door, took off my glasses, grabbed the lotion container and began to apply it to my face.

It was cold standing out in the parking lot so I thought I’d finish inside. The difficulty was that I couldn’t put my glasses on until the lotion was fully absorbed. Everything was blurry as I locked and closed the truck door, and began walking back to my office. It didn’t take long for my limited peripheral vision to notice a car pulling into a nearby spot. It startled me because I couldn’t tell how close or far I was from being run over! Fortunately for me, the driver saw me and was sure not to knock me across the parking lot.

After I finished applying the lotion to my face I thought about times in life when we don’t see clearly. We are stumbling, bumbling around and bound to get into trouble if someone doesn’t watch out for and help us. Not being able to see clearly is difficult and dangerous. Hopefully, others will help guide us along life’s path and we’ll be on the look out for those whom we can do the same.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Wait and Trust

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Wait and Trust –

Twice today, once by an ambulance and another by a fire truck, I was forced to move over to the far right lane on my way to and from Nashville. Most other drivers did the same and traffic slowed to a crawl until the emergency vehicles passed or exited. The law states drivers are required to get out-of-the-way so those who are on their way to help someone in need can get where they’re going as fast, and safely, as possible.

I try to remember to pray for the unknown victims to which these emergency responders are headed when I encounter them. I also reflected today on the times in our lives when tragedy and unforeseen crises hit. Often times our urge is to hurry and try to fix everything ourselves. However, in many cases the best thing we can do is slow down, get out-of-the-way, wait and trust that help is on its way.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Two Sides 

Two Sides – 

Earlier this week I received a phone call about a father who needed help as soon as possible. There were insurmountable and dangerously difficult obstacles he was facing and the concerned caller made sure I understood the need for me to connect with the dad.

So, I called the dad and explained why I was calling and offered my immediate assistance in anyway I could help. After a long pause the father told me; “Thank you.” but he was fine, handling everything life was bringing his way and appreciated my offer but at the present time wasn’t sure he needed any. I told him again if he changed his mind to call me anytime. He said he would and we disconnected.

I was confused at the original caller’s insistence of the father needing immediate help and the dad’s assured response that he was doing just fine. I then reflected on the wisdom teaching of knowing all sides to each story and person before acting. Once again it’s a lesson hard to remember and to put into practice. 

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Accsued!

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Accused! –

What do you do when you discover someone doesn’t like you? It’s a difficult question to ask and answer. Beth and I were talking about it this weekend and then yesterday and today someone I haven’t seen in almost a decade, out of the blue, let me know, in no uncertain terms, they don’t like me at all!  Unknowingly I hurt them and they still bear the scars. After reflection and prayer I asked forgiveness and offered to make restitution but both were rebuffed. Presently there doesn’t seem a road which takes me to the heart of the matter so we can discuss the issues and connect once again as friends.

One of the hardest experiences to deal with is knowing someone doesn’t like you, knowing you have wronged them, or at least they have felt wronged, and you can’t do anything to make it right. So, for now, an apology, an act of grace, a hand which has been slapped away will be put aside until there is another opportunity to heal the wounds I’m accused of inflicting.

Wisdom tells us that we are weak, selfish, near-sighted and ego driven. Hopefully, I and this one who doesn’t care for me will be at different places on our journey the next time we connect and the outcome will be different.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Presence Equals Influence

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Presence Equals Influence

In a few weeks, the community organization I work for and a pregnancy center in Bedford county Tennessee will be hosting a breakfast for dads. I met with the director of the pregnancy center today to go over the details and take a tour of the facility. It was a productive time together and I was able to see and feel the heart of the woman who has dedicated her life to save every child possible, help every family possible.

At the breakfast, I will be speaking with the dads regarding their importance to their families, especially their children. One of the mottoes we use at the Fatherhood Engagement Project is; “Presence Equals Influence.” If you’re not present you cannot have the impact on their lives of those who need you most.

Presence being a prerequisite for influence is not just true for dads but for us all. There are so many ills in our society today. At times it can be so overwhelming figuring out where to start and what to do to help. We give up before we’ve even tried.

If our lives are to be a positive influence in this desperate world the first thing we have to do is show up and then believe we can make a difference with what happens next.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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The Way Out

The Way Out

Yesterday evening Beth stopped by my office to see me (and give me some sugar!). After a while, she hopped back into her car and I got in my truck. She began to drive out the main entrance. I tried to warn her with hand signals not to go that way but she didn’t notice me. I, on the other hand, went another way to avoid all the traffic that bottles up at the main entrance, this time, every work day. After almost two years I knew to avoid it and how. As I made two quick turns I passed Beth who was still sitting in line and waved. I called her and she asked; “How did you get in front of me?” “Took a different, better way to get out as quick as possible,” I said. She laughed and I told her I would see her following a class I was teaching in the evening.

As I drove past her I thought of one of my favorite wisdom proverbs;

A man was walking down the street and fell into a big hole. Try as he might, he couldn’t get out. He heard someone passing above, it was a professor. “Hey, Sir! Can you get me out of here? I’m stuck.” he yelled! The professor threw down a book on philosophy and existentialism and kept on walking. Our man heard another person approaching, it was a priest. “Hey, Padre! Can you help me out? I’m stuck!” The priest wrote out a prayer and dropped it into the hole. The next guy was a good friend and the man yelled out; “Hey Joe! Please, I’m desperate. Please help me out of this hole.” The friend looked down and then proceeded to jump down in the hole. The man was flabbergasted! “What’d you do that for? Now we’re both stuck.” Joe smiled and said; “Relax. I’ve been in this hole before and I know the way out.”

The road of life is filled with u-turns, yields, long boring stretches, deep holes and exciting hairpin turns. Traveling with those who know the way is always better than traveling alone.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Grow Again

Grow Again

A few weeks ago when I mowed our lawn it seemed mostly running the blades over dirt. However, the last week and a half has brought several days of much-needed rain and the grass is growing again. In less than a week since the last mow the yard needs cutting again! I am certainly not complaining. I would rather mow more often than look at brown grass and stunted plants. I don’t know if the rain will continue to fall but I am enjoying every drop that settles on the parched land.

It’s interesting how new patterns in life can emerge. For most of the summer the rain would fall around us, just a few miles away but not often at our place. Now we are enjoying being on the receiving end.

The rain is a wonderful reminder that life seems unfair when others are being “blessed” while we are merely witnesses. Though we try to be thankful for others’ gifts and favors we can’t help but wonder; “Why not us?” The answer is often elusive but patience and acceptance are the lessons learned and for these we should be thankful.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Not Ready

Not Ready –

At the end of my lecture today to a group of fathers and men suffering from the disease of addiction I asked those who have wives, girlfriends, partners who are pregnant or children of a certain age to stay for a few moments after everyone leaves so I can talk to them more about some of the services our organization offers. I do this after each talk given at this addiction treatment center. It doesn’t take long and usually the men oblige with no hesitation. Today, however, there was one father, I asked to remain, who flatly refused.

My first impulse was to say; “Why? Don’t you want to help your family? Don’t you need every resource possible so you and your family can break the cycle of addiction which is so prevalent in kids when they have parents who are abusers of drugs?” There was a rush of frustration and anger at the nonchalant way he refused help when I had just spent an hour talking about choosing to live a clean life and the impact this choice has on families. However, I bit my tongue, dismissed the group and spoke with those who decided to stay.

Wisdom teaches us to focus on the ones who are ready to receive not those who aren’t willing or able to grasp the hand extended to help. There is a temptation to keep chasing after those who run from us at the expense of those who are right in front of us, hands out, ready to receive. Part of our persistence in running after those who refuse is ego. We believe we’re the ones to “save” them and if the opportunity is missed they will be lost forever.

Wisdom, however, tells us; “When the person is ready the teacher, savior, will appear.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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