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The Question of Freedom

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The Question of Freedom

This morning a question was asked by a friend; “What are you celebrating this July 4th?” My answer was; “I’m not sure.” The easy answer is freedom, but freedom from what? I feel like we live in a time of disillusion and division. People are losing their right to express themselves no matter where their theology, political allegiances or cultural upbringing. We have become an intolerant and shaming nation. Those who are different, not like us, don’t share our beliefs and convictions, we condemn without either side given the chance to express ideas and discuss. Instead, we see different as a threat and label them as unworthy to be an American.

What does it mean to be free? What does it mean to be a patriot? What does it mean to be nationalistic? At one point in our history, being a patriot was speaking out against the government when it stepped over the line and into people’s lives, didn’t treat everyone (EVERYONE) as equal, needed to be put back in its place. We have exchanged our right as citizens of America and traded it in for members of a political party. We are republicans and democrats, conservatives and progressives, commoners and elites. Both sides claim they’re under attack, true Americans, and those outside of their political persuasions as “destroying our country!” The hate, vitriol, attacks, insults, spewed by both parties and their followers is heartbreaking and stomach turning.

So, what am I celebrating this July 4th? The freedom to write this without fear. Another question is; “What am I mourning this July 4th?” The loss of civility, being one people, allowing politics to define who we are, our neighbor is, and what being an American means.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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In Memory of

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In Memory of

This is a strange holiday for me. It’s not strange in the sense that I don’t understand it or think it necessary but strange because I did not serve in the armed services nor lost a loved one while in military service. I don’t know what it’s like to charge up a hill with my unit, share foxholes with people who I depend on for my life, find the courage to carry out orders that put my life and others in danger and know not everyone is coming back from the mission. I don’t know what it is to get a knock on my door, a phone call, by servicemen or women to inform me a loved is not returning home. I can’t imagine the pain, heartache, loss, or pride that comes with Memorial Day.

I once served on a staff with a war veteran and we liked to talk politics, history, and war. He had seen action in the military while I sat in the safety of a university classroom. We’d have conversations about the justifications of war. I’d voice my opinion that Christians should follow Jesus’ example and be pacifists, opposed to all violence and then he’d tell me when and why I was wrong. I didn’t agree with everything he said about the military, nation-building, and protection but I was also humbled and silent as he spoke. I understood that he had served, put his life on the line for us to disagree and still be friends, still call ourselves by the same name; Americans.

“The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
#AbrahamLincoln #GettysburgAdress

Blessings & Thank you,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Turn on the Light

Turn on the Light

The last few nights I have been watching an Unsolved Mystery Series about Paranormal Activity. It’s interesting to learn the history of a certain place, why it would be haunted and listen to those who have reportedly seen, felt, heard, witnessed a ghost. For the record, I don’t believe in ghosts, Big Foot or aliens. I understand that my unbelief doesn’t mean they don’t exist I just need proof, real, scientific, verifiable proof.

There are two hosts of the show; one is a “believer” the other a “cynic.” They travel around the world to different haunted sites and investigate, sometimes spending the night, trying to obtain proof of the paranormal. They usually arrive in the daytime and explore the site and when night comes find a place to sleep. It’s when dark comes the “fun” begins. The one who thinks spooks are real hears noises, whispers, thumps and automatically assumes its ghosts trying to communicate or scare the duo. The cynic laughs and dismisses it all as coincidence and his co-host’s overactive imagination. The cynic tries to sleep but the believer keeps him up all night long with questions; “did you hear that? I know you heard that! Did you feel that? Something moved past my leg!” By the time morning comes they are both worn out and neither has come over to the other’s point of view. Usually, at the crack of dawn, the believer is so relieved he made it through the night he is delirious and suddenly braver while the cynic is simply ready to leave.

It’s interesting the difference light makes. It shines, chasing away our darkest fears, deepest dreads, and restores what the darkness steals.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Truth

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Truth

Last night I watched the “The Post” starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. The film is described as; “thrilling, based on a true story. Determined to uphold the nation’s civil liberties, Katharine Graham (Streep), publisher of The Washington Post, and hard-nosed editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks) join forces to expose a decades-long cover-up. But the two must risk their careers –– and their freedom –– to bring truth to light in this powerful film (https://www.foxmovies.com/movies/the-post).” It was an interesting movie dealing with an historic and chaotic time in this nation that I am too young to remember. I did find myself cheering Streep’s and Hank’s characters on as they took a case of the freedom of the press all the way to the Supreme Court. I won’t spoil the ending but it was a good watch and worth anyone’s time who is interested in an event that would directly impact how the press covered the Watergate break-in  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watergate_scandal) and news moving forward to the present.

What I’ve wrestled with since watching the movie is; “News exists in a vacuüm. The lives of the reporters, editors, and publishers are swayed by their political leanings, experiences, preferences, and worldviews.” We as the readers face the same limitation in our consumption of news. There are so many places to receive our news today that we can stay perpetually stuck in a bubble where only our viewpoints are legitimized. When this happens we cease being open to new ideas or our current ones being scrutinized and challenged. We become entombed, trapped by our own beliefs and limited knowledge. The truth isn’t important anymore only our belief of what is true.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Comfort

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Comfort

I drove my wife’s car on this cool Wednesday. I enjoy my truck but it doesn’t have one of the greatest inventions in the history of humankind; heated seats.  With the flip of a button, the warmth of coils embedded in the chairs begins to make its way to my shoulders, back and posterior. Its one of those luxuries you don’t realize you “need” it until you use it.

As the heat of the car and the seats began to permeate my body, and ever thinning hairline, I thought about the creature comforts of life. Where do we draw the line at things which we need versus things we like.  A roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, food on a table are things which we need, can’t live without. Television, internet (yes, even the internet), automobiles, computers, phones, and a host of other “things we think we can’t live without.”

Wisdom has a way of winnowing our list of life-items showing us what we truly need, simplifying and emphasizing what’s important and what’s not.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Old News

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Old News

The last couple of weeks of February have been a rough time for me the last several years. There are painful, heart hurting memories which seem to resurface and dealing with these challenging emotions is difficult.

Today I cleaned up our yard after a round of storms and rain this last week. I threw them on a burn pile and set it afire. I also had some old fence pieces and newspapers to burn. The newspapers are from my wife. She is doing her best to understand and begin to use extreme couponing in an effort to save money. I made sure to take old piles of newspaper and watched as the flames began consuming them. I tried reading some of the headlines and articles before the fire reached them and then they were gone.

As the fire leaped into the air I thought about it being old news which was out of date and historical. I also reflected on the memories I’ve struggled with the last few weeks and tried to remind myself that healing and time can also consume the heartache of the past and that our history enlightens our present.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Life Lost

Life Lost

Today, I stopped by Wal-Mart for a couple of items and headed to the checkout area. I had my choice of a person checking me out or self-checkout. The self-checkout had a couple of registers open so I chose one of them. I wasn’t in a hurry, didn’t have an appointment to go to or a schedule to stay on top of, it was simply faster and mindlessly I chose it. Instead of human interaction, an opportunity to say a kind word to a cashier, a chance to stand in line and share a smile, I went with the quickest and the most isolated.

These are the choices we face in our culture. We are able to order online, having most items shipped for free or close to it to our homes, open our doors and live without interaction, relating, or sharing our lives with one another.

At a time when communication is easier than it has ever been in the history of humankind, we are lonely. In a world full of hurting and wounded people we look in another direction to avoid seeing them. On a journey we should be making together we prefer to travel alone. Instead of caring for one another we see the other as a burden to carry.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Fickled

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Fickled

Yesterday evening, Beth and I went to pick up an antique desk from a friend who isn’t using it anymore. We placed it in the back of the truck, tied it down and headed home. We were a little over an hour from the house when a few rain drops hit the window. “Uh-oh!” we thought and both said. It was raining and we didn’t have the desk covered for protection against water. The sprinkles stopped and we breathed a sigh a relief. As we continued the drive we talked about how most days, especially evenings, we wanted rain and were thankful. However, because we had the desk we desired the rain to “go away and come again some other day.”  We both agreed we were fickled human beings.

Fickled is a funny word but it can be a difficult obstacle to overcome. I’ve known and have been fickled in my life, vacillating back and forth between opinions, ideas, and judgments. Most of the time being fickled can be overlooked but there should be, must be, things upon which we would stake our possessions, livelihood, and lives. If we are fickled about everything then we will stand for nothing.

This week, perhaps more than any other week in recent history, being fickled about bias, hate, bigotry, and racism has been on full display. I believe these are areas in which there can be no wiggle room, no area for retreat. This is where people must draw the line, stand at the risk of everything because if we don’t there may be nothing left to protect.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Invisible

Invisible

The other morning I took the dog outside for some “private” time and waited on the front porch for him to finish. He was taking an extra long so I started walking to make sure he was focused on the task at hand. However, as I stepped forward I walked into a spider web. It was on my face and I did the obligatory “spider web dance” everyone does where you throw your hands in the air, wipe your face and hands trying to get the sticky substance off your face and body. The web belonged to a small spider and the web was invisible until I walked into it.

I feel like our country and world has been walking into spider webs this week. Invisible, sticky, hard to avoid and get out of situations and circumstances. Things such as racial tensions which we avoid until we can’t have been front and center. Politics and how they divide us. History and its impact on our culture. Power, ego, arrogance, and leadership has stuck to those who are trying to direct and guide us. Mistakes, bad choices, negative thinking, biases, judgment, have all clung to us and seem impossible to get rid of.

Wisdom tells us that if we wish to know the true way we must be still, silent, at peace and humble. However, it seems impossible because new crises and threats emerge seemingly every day. There’s also another wisdom saying; “Be still for at least 30 minutes unless you are busy or in a hurry then sit still for an hour.

I long for our world to simply be still, for a moment, and see the difference it could make.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stopping

Stopping

This morning, on my way to see a couple of fathers, I approached an intersection where the main road which I was traveling rounds a curve and another road intersects at the center of the curve. A large phone utility truck approached the stop sign on the side road, slowed but never stopped. Fortunately for him, I was turning or I couldn’t have slowed down enough to stop before crashing into him.

It’s so hard to stop. We as a people seem to always be on the go. The world’s history is a story about people who keep going, striving, exploring, not wanting to stop.

A few nights ago Beth and I watched the movie; “The Martian,” starring Matt Damon. It was a good movie about a man stranded alone on the red planet and the desperate attempt to rescue him. Even on another world he still couldn’t stop but had to work hard and travel a great distance just to survive.

I think that’s why we don’t stop. We believe moving is equivalent to being alive. If we stop, we die. However, there are some places we can go only if we’re still, cease our striving, realizing that the most unexplored places require a journey within.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The Universe in a Choice

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The Universe in a Choice

The idea of the world having a conscious is intriguing. Many wisdom proverbs speak of the commonality every single human being on the planet possesses. We are united and bound together in much more ways than we are separated. Unfortunately, we focus on those few things that divide and in being pulled apart everyone loses.

The last couple of weeks I have been watching an historical documentary series which focuses on the; “what ifs” of the last 100 years. The premise is that if major figures over the last century would have made different choices, thought and acted in different ways our world would be in a better place. From the first two world wars, nuclear bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Korea, to space exploration, race relations, Vietnam, Desert Storm, financial and housing markets, Operation Freedom, Guantanamo Bay, and other critical turning points that, perhaps, if people would’ve focused on less on themselves and more on others, our world may be a much different place.

Some choices seem to have little consequence on ourselves, those we love and all others who surround us. However, there are decisions which we make that could have a lasting impact on many lives for generations to come.

Wisdom tells us to be mindful, for in every choice hangs the fate of the universe.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Journey

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Journey

Last week, in Hohenwald, TN (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hohenwald,_Tennessee), I spotted these canoes for sale. I didn’t have a trailer to haul one or a place to put it when I got home but the temptation to buy one was real! Fantasies of a lazy summer day, floating down a river or on a lake, surrounded by beauty and quiet filled my mind. Alas, I resisted the temptation to purchase one and saved myself the trouble of explaining to Beth why we owned a canoe!

In earlier times a frontiersman wanted to know how to build a canoe. He had seen the natives paddling beautiful wooden canoes and decided to ask one to teach him. He approached a native man and in broken native language did his best to relay his request. The elder man smiled and indicated he wanted the frontiersman to follow him. The two walked into the forest and found a large tree suitable for a canoe. Working together they felled it and dragged it back to camp. The frontiersman took out a book to carefully write down the instructions. The native, in broken English, took a sharp axe and said; “Make canoe by chopping away the wood that’s not a canoe.” The native then handed the axe to the frontiersman and walked away.

We can often feel like the frontiersman at the end of this story. We are given a life and told to find a purpose. When we inquire; “How?” a lot of folks have suggestions but when it comes down to a concrete set of instructions we discover each person can only tell us how they found or didn’t find theirs.

It is by experience we realize our reason for being most often by eliminating what isn’t our purpose. This way of discovery is called; life. There are no shortcuts. Remember, the destination isn’t where we find our purpose, it’s found in the journey.

blessings,

@BrianLoging (Twitter)

thewannabesaint.com

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Changing the World

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This morning it was my privilege to speak to a group of almost 50 men about the path we travel and how our decisions have a lasting impact upon those we call our families.

In our me centered culture we forget how our lives are not just our own. Who we are, the way we live, models for those we travel life’s path with what’s important. What we hold dear, what we treasure, is reflected by where we put our time, energy and passion. Whoever or whatever is the object of our affection flourishes while what’s neglected wilts and fades away.

“What can we do to promote world peace? Go home and love our families.” #MotherTeresa

Simple but profound wisdom and guidance from Saint Teresa. How can we make this crazy, chaotic, spinning piece of space rock a better place? We start by making sure the ones closest to us are loved and appreciated.

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

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Seeing from Within

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It wasn’t the easiest of conversations to have but he had to know and I had to be the one to tell him. It’s difficult when someone needs to hear a hard truth.  He was sure, convinced, it was out there, beyond himself. Someone else was the harmful influence, another’s behavior and choices were ruining a relationship, spoiling a partnership, when it was, in fact, him. It was his bias, ego and flawed judgement. His view of a perceived “enemy” obscured him seeing the predator within. “The problem isn’t with this other person.” I said. “It’s with you. Until you become more aware of who you are, you’ll never see them for who they really are, appreciate them for the challenge and blessing they bring to your life.”

Unfortunately he never grasped what I was saying, never looked deep enough into himself to see that the way we view others reveals much more about ourselves than it does them.

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

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Don’t Let the Sun

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I was talking with a friend today about being frustrated, irritated, even angry at someone we love. It happens to us all and there’s nothing wrong with being angry if there is a legitimate reason. It’s what we do with that emotion that results in negative consequences. A harsh word becomes hurt feelings, a slammed door becomes a barrier, another flurry of insults adds injuries and a relationship is pulled apart.

Anger is oftentimes the result of ignored stress, built up resentment, unexpressed emotion, lack of communication. One or a combination of these clouds our minds, frays our nerves, drains our emotions, poisons our spirits.

Saint Paul’s wisdom for dealing with anger in his letter to the church in Ephesus is still viable today:

Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give evil an opportunity.

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

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The Perfect Moment

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How do you recognize the perfect moment? How can you tell if where you are at a certain place, a specific time, is more than coincidence, happenstance? How do you know the difference between divine design and dumb luck? Someone told me this week; “You are where God wants you to be!” They said it with such confidence I was taken aback.

There are those who see the world in black and white, right and wrong, God’s will or God’s wrath, while others live in a space painted with many shades of gray. I am one of the latter. I don’t doubt the conviction of the black and whiters I just question my ability to sift through the layers of motives, the machinations of natural and moral laws, missed, realized and ignored opportunities, perception and preconceived notions, desires dreams and destiny.

I believe the path I walk is uniquely mine though I travel with others. The way is uncertain though many have gone before me. The destination is described by the living but only the dead have arrived there. I have this moment, it is all that is promised me and I ask for the strength to live it well.

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

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When the Way is Dark

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I was talking with a friend earlier this week about a difficult time she’s going through.  Someone hurt her, lied and has brought pain and great upheaval into her life. She’s prayed over it, is trying to forgive but clearly the wound is still fresh and deep.

I shared with her my journey and talked about how difficult it can be when people we trust do things that cause us great harm. We agreed that time, grace and a listening ear are all ingredients to forgiveness and finding our path when the way is dark.

A wise person once said; “One day we’ll look back on the people who helped and hurt us and be thankful for them both.” Neither my friend or I have arrived at this point but I was thankful my story could bring solace to one who’s suffering.

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

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Spoiled

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World Water Day is marked on 22 March every year. It’s a day to celebrate water. It’s a day to make a difference for the members of the global population who suffer from water related issues.”

This past Sunday was World Water Day. I read about water related issues across the globe, tweeted a few links and mentioned it on Facebook. Truthfully, however, I didn’t give it much consideration until this morning when I opened up an extra bottle of water that was in my truck, not to drink, to rinse out my coffee mug. As the water spilled onto the ground I remembered those who do not have and I felt shame for my wastefulness and beyond blessed.

I am a white, middle class American male. Much of what I take for granted every day most of the world has little or no access. A lot of what I complain and whine about not having is a dream life to billions of people.

I am spoiled. It is a confession and a prayer to feel the hurt, know the struggle of my brothers and sisters with whom I share this planet.

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

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Whew!

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Busy day! Rushing, running, racing from one place to another. Trying not to be late for meetings and appointments while staying in the present moment is quite a balancing act. I took time to feel the warmth of the sunshine on my face, the cool breeze on my arm while being mindful of the clock that seemed to run fast all day long.

When I finally got home the quietness of the house literally rang in my ears. Silence is loud when you’re accustomed to noise, stillness unsettling when you’ve been in constant motion.

A deep cleansing breath to exhale the dust of the miles I’ve traveled today, a closing of my eyes to forget the clock I’ve watched, a letting go of the schedule I clung to so tightly.

Whew.

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

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Blessing of Chaos

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Let’s hear it for chaos! The confusion and catastrophes we encounter on the road of life. The chasms and canyons we must cross, climb out of, forge and finagle to reach the promise land of peace and contentment.

Change is frightening, fearful and our instinct is to fight and hold on for dear life to what is familiar. We place our faith in what is comfortable, old habits, well known friends, old wine skins stretched and worn.

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Chaos. Waves crashing, wind howling, tides pulling us under, we gasp for air, it is life. Going down, drowning, sinking deeper into the unknown abyss we close our eyes and breathe our last.

Chaos, uncertainty, instability. The tidal wave of change sweeps us under and in the depths we find stillness. Lost in the darkness of confusion an unseen path leads us home.

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

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Breathing in Hope

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The bug man came to the house today to spray inside our home and outside to protect future plants and soon to be flowers from pesky predators. It’s another sign that spring is on the way!

I took the dogs to the top of the hill behind our house so they wouldn’t bug the bug man as he did his business. The wind was blowing and the pooches and I stuck our noses in the air taking deep breaths of a new season sweeping in. There’s something about spring, the warm chasing out the cold, the blue skies overcoming the gray, the light increasing as the dark retreats.

Sitting on that hill, filling my lungs with air was like inhaling hope and exhaling the despair of a long, cold winter.

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

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