Blog Archives

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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Abundance and Assistance

Abundance & Assistance –

Beth and I spent most of the day putting a green tin roof on our porch extension. It looks great but we are exhausted!

Two short reflections from the last two days…

The first was the wonderful rain we had last night. A gorgeous, much-needed soaking rain. It was either ironic or sad but the rain started just as I had finished watering the flowers and the garden. A few drops hit my shoulder as I watered the Blue Spruces we have in the front yard and by the time I got to the front door it was coming down hard. At first there was irritation; “Couldn’t the rain had started 30 minutes before?” but this thought soon withered as I listened to the storm pound the roof, opened the door and watched the water drench the thirst of the grass and trees. Abundance was given to nature last night and I was not only a witness but a participant.

This morning, before tackling the roof on the porch, I made a list of needed materials and headed to the hardware store. Once there I collected and purchased the items, which included 10 sheets of heavy, 12 feet long, sheets of tin. They were cumbersome and difficult to load, carry and navigate the store aisles. When I wheeled the cart out to my truck I began to unload the sheets and put them in the back. It was a frustrating job. The sheets were heavy and got caught the wind, dragging me in a direction I didn’t want to go. The cart began to roll back and other vehicles were passing. At the exact time I needed the most help I caught a glimpse of a hardware store employee walking in my direction. Without a word he assisted me in doing a job I’m not sure I could’ve done myself. I was very thankful and told him so.

Two stories, related to each other in a couple of ways, helped remind me that abundance and assistance may arrive unexpectedly but sometimes their timing couldn’t be more perfect.

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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Need Help

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Need Help

When Beth and I made an offer on our little farm-house one of the provisos we placed in the contract was that an old, red, riding lawn mower be included in the purchase. Since the previous owner was going to be living in a camper in Florida he had no problem with this stipulation. I used it all last summer but during the fall problems began to plague the mower and late last year it died. It was going to cost almost as much to fix it as buying a new one. I had a relatively new push mower and when spring arrived I decided to use it to mow the grass. It wasn’t easy. We have almost 2 acres and the back yard has a good slope to it.

I would split the chore into two days. The front part of the yard took over 2 hours and the back, with the incline, was closer to 3. For almost two months I used the push mower but as temps began to climb and the humidity level rose I noticed by the end of the second day I was so tired I couldn’t do anything else. I was whooped, spent, done. It took almost everything I had to do this one thing. I could do it but nothing else. Finally, the Mrs. and I decided to buy a new lawn tractor. A couple of weeks ago I used it for the first time and it was a relief to have help, to not rely solely on my strength to do a relatively simple chore. I could now mow everything in one afternoon, do the weed eating with strength left over to work on other projects.

Last weekend, while using the new lawn mower, I reflected on my journey with severe depression and anxiety (https://thewannabesaint.com/2016/04/27/my-depression-and-anxiety-story/). I thought about the struggle to make it on my own, not ask for help. Trying to carry the burden of depression and anxiety took everything I had just to get through each day and the truth is that I was losing the battle. As hard as it was to admit I needed help. Finally going to see a specialist, talking about what these diseases were doing to me, agreeing to take meds, wasn’t easy, still isn’t, but it’s what needed to be done.

Understanding we can’t do it alone, asking for help, depending upon and trusting others to walk beside us, maybe carry us until we can walk again doesn’t make us weak but instead allows us to be strong again.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Caution Ahead

On my way home from leading a couple of Addicted Fathers’ groups today, driving up a windy country road, I came upon a sign warning me of a; “Flagger Ahead.” I immediately slowed down and sure enough, a little further down the road, there stood a flag man, his sign read; “SLOW” and he was gesturing emphatically to move over and stay in the left lane. I followed his instructions and began cautiously moving up the curvy road looking for the reason I was told to drive in the “wrong” lane. Up and up I went with no reason in sight for staying in a lane which made me anxious. I kept thinking another vehicle would come around the next curve and hit me head on. Finally, I saw a big tractor with a large attached mower cutting grass, bushes and trees in the right lane. It was a great reason to be in the other lane! Soon, after passing the big machine, another flagger, standing in the left lane motioned me to get back in the left one.

Moving into the lane, feeling more comfortable, and continuing on my journey I reflected upon the truth that sometimes we must travel in places which aren’t pleasant, agreeable or feels safe. There are folks we trust who warn us about the way ahead; threats, hazards and risks to avoid. One of the greatest gifts are wise ones in our life who can help us navigate the road of life. The question becomes; “do we listen and trust their guidance or remain in a place, which may feel safe, but puts us in danger?”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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