Blog Archives

Transition

Image result for released from prison

Transition

Earlier this week I watched a powerful documentary on people being released from prison. It was a story of two men who were sentenced under California’s outdated and recently reformed Three Strikes Law. Simply stated the law demanded that any criminal who was arrested and found guilty three times received a harsh prison sentence often 25 years to life. After almost 20 years of being in place, the penal system and the citizens of California realized it wasn’t effective, led to overpopulation in the jails, severely impacted people of color, and left a trail of broken families in its wake.

The documentary follows two of the thousands of men who have been released for petty, non-violent crimes, after serving decades in jail. The transition for both of them was difficult, however, one was able to get back on his feet stay clean and sober, get married and be promoted in his job. The other man, who had a strong family and church structure, struggled mightily. Old demons such as drugs and mental health issues kept him unbalanced and unable to find his groove the way the first man did. At the end of the documentary both men were still out and making their way the best they could.

As I watched the film I couldn’t help but feel for both of these men. I work with men who are incarcerated and addicted. Addiction is a powerful force for evil and destruction. Incarceration can also be a doorway to a life of crime and recidivism but I’ve also seen men who learn how to make different choices so as not to end up in the same predicament.

Men who do three things greatly reduce their chance of going back to jail or getting back into their addiction. The first is having a positive home environment that might not necessarily be with their biological family. The second is a full-time job, a chance to do something and receive. The third might be most important and that is living a life around positive people, folks who will pull you up not drag you down. These three things, which most of us take for granted, will help men stay balanced, sure-footed, and on the path to a new life.

Psalm 121
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over you will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm, he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Advertisements

Mentoring

Mentoring

Today, at a county health council, I had the privilege to listen to a man speak about an abusive childhood which was saved by someone who cared enough to take him under his wing and become his mentor. He described how this older gentleman would take him out for breakfast some morning and listen, just listen. This went on for several months. Finally, it dawned on the young man that he wasn’t being judged or given unsolicited advice, his mentor was there to hear him. He listened to the good and a lot of bad, the smidgen of positive and a plethora of negatives. The young man, at last, ran out of words to say and the mentor slowly helped him work through all the challenges and difficulties which result from growing up in an abusive and neglectful home. This mentor made all the difference in his life and as a result, the speaker now helps run a multi-county mentoring program and has improved the lives of countless young men and women.

It was a great reminder that most times the greatest gifts we can give another is presence and listening. Too often we see our role in the chaotic lives of others as telling them what to do, how to do it, advice that will make things better and shape to look more like ours. The speaker said today; “I didn’t need someone to tell me all the things I needed to do. I needed someone to let me get it all out so I could sort through it all and figure out what to keep and what to throw away.

Presence and listening. Two of the greatest and perhaps least used treasures we possess.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Purpose

Image result for old house woods

 

Purpose

Today, I had a meeting at a discreet location in a women’s shelter. There was no sign and the house was off the road down a long driveway. Blink and you would miss the driveway and the house couldn’t be seen from the road. The meeting was one of our county’s Community Action Board which is made up of several organizations who partner together to reach as many families in need and/or in crisis as possible.

The leader of the house was a nice woman who talked softly but her love for the women in the house was obvious. The women who are enrolled there are from all backgrounds, religions, and nationalities. Some have experienced abuse at the hands of others and some abused themselves. Under the roof of this home, however, all were welcomed, loved and given the skills to start life anew with a sense of belonging and purpose.

Written on a huge dry erase board were the rules of the house, encouragement and motivational sayings, practical applications of the lessons being taught to those who stayed in the home. On one board, almost in the middle was the name of the leader and one of the tenants wrote; “She rocks!” I thought this was awesome. Here is a woman who has given her life to helping those in need. It did not go unappreciated.

I hope each of us can find a place where we can offer love, kindness, time, patience and give worth to those whom life has overlooked or discarded.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Fragile

Image result for baby deer

Fragile

My first inclination that something was happening on the road ahead was the car in front of me slamming on the brakes. I took my foot off the gas pedal and began looking around. Then, from the side of the road, a small, baby deer came running into my lane. It was unsteady and scared. I hit the brakes as it continued in a head on collision with my truck. At the last moment, it wobbled into the other lane almost getting hit by another car, crossed quickly again in front of me and then bounded on the side of the road. It tried to go further but there was a cow fence and he couldn’t find a gap. Watching I wondered if its mom leapt over the fence but the little deer’s legs just weren’t strong enough. It bounded out of sight looking for a hole in the fence. I continued on to church but on the way back I looked warily for its body on the road, hit by an unaware motorist. To my relief, there was no body or sign of it anywhere. I hope it found the place in the fence it was looking for or an adult deer showed it the way.

The baby deer was small and fragile, desperately looking for where it belonged. It knew the middle of the road was not the way.

I wonder if we are like this to God? Tiny, brittle souls in bodies easily broken. We try to find our way in life, looking for the hole, the gap, the answer, the way to the peace we desperately crave. Perhaps we are more like a brutish, boar recklessly, disastrously, making our way not caring what we break or who we hurt. Maybe we’re somewhere in the middle.

Either way, what we need, is someone to show us the way home.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Journey

canoes2

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

img_0511-4

unleashed

Creating-and-animating-a-dandelion-in-Autodesk-Maya-and-ZBrush

dandelion, sitting on a hill

rooted, grounded, in place, until

a mighty force arose and lifted

carried your essence far from home

floating in all directions at once

never letting you settle

dropping and raising

bouncing between stillness and gales

yet in the chaos, swirling turmoil

your beauty decorated the wind

the gift of recognized breezes

making that which could not be seen

now traced over meadows, fields, hills and valley

where you take root again is unknown

until then your untamed spirit

alights upon my shoulder for a glimpse

of what it means to be unleashed

bdl 6/4/2016

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

img_0511-3

This Lane Only

There’s something about visiting a town for the first time and understanding their traffic patterns. This morning I traveled to Tullahoma, TN for a legislative bruncheon at the National Guard Armory.  It was an opportunity for legislators to inform the audience of mental health and family wellness advocates about their progress over the last year and their plans for 2016. It wasn’t non-stop fun but it was worth the hour and half trip.

On the way home I was approaching a traffic light while driving on a two-way highway. Almost to the intersection I noticed only one lane went the way I needed to go. The GPS showed me where to proceed but not how. I was surrounded by traffic, did not see any signs which would offer help, and had to wait and see what direction was in my future. Fortunately, the lane to my right was a turn only and the vehicles in my lane were able to go straight and I made it home safely without any further anxious moments.

As I proceeded through the intersection I thought about all the times we needlessly worry about things which are out of our control. Sometimes life takes us in one direction or in another and we’re just along for the ride. We may fight it, try to control, coerce and cajole it but in the end; we go with the flow because we don’t have a choice. There are times when it doesn’t go well for us and others it turns out ok, maybe even better.

The key to contentment is allowing life to unfold in front of us and trusting the path maker to take us home.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

screenshot_2015-07-30-21-13-57-1.jpg

Changing the World

image

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

image

Seeing from Within

image

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

image

Don’t Let the Sun

image

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

image

The Perfect Moment

image

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

image

When the Way is Dark

image

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

image

Spoiled

image

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

image

Whew!

image

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

image

Blessing of Chaos

image

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.

image

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

image

Breathing in Hope

image

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

image

the Happy Place

image

Today is International Happy day! If you didn’t realize this you’re not alone. I had no idea until I read about it online.

Being happy can be difficult in a world so full of sadness and badness. Some folks find it difficult, if not impossible, to find the good, when darkness obscures their vision. Trite expressions such as; “don’t worry be happy, turn that frown upside down, you’re as happy as you make up your mind to be,” ring hollow in the ears of those struggling with life circumstances that steal their joy, sap their strength, weigh heavy on their spirits.

For some, at this time in their life, where they are on the journey, happiness isn’t an option. They are simply trying to take the next step, to not give up, to survive.

Happiness, an often desired but elusive emotion, state of mind and being.

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

image

How it Ends

image

I know someone who’s struggled through a very hard life. We talk about where and how he grew up, the choices others have made to help shape his life and the choices he’s selected. The toxic environment he was born into poisoned much of his childhood and tainted his vision of the world. Much of his current struggles have a lot to do with his complicated and chaotic past.

When we talk I remind him that the book of his life has not been finished. Some of the chapters were written by him and others by different authors but he decides who and what will write the rest.

The obstacles he needs to overcome, the lessons learned, the people left behind, the consequences accepted, will not be easy but it is his choice. He didn’t choose how the story began but he can choose how it ends.

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

image

Good Shoes

image

This morning I put on my “good shoes” for an important presentation to a group of highly respected people. These are my shiny, black, fancy dress shoes that I wear with one of the few suits I own. I’ve had these shoes for several years but they still hurt my feet because they’re not worn enough to get broken in. Mostly they’ve taken me to weddings, funerals, other important services and events. I’d much rather wear a pair of tennis shoes or flip flops but there are occasions when only my “good shoes” will do.

As I reflect upon my journey over the last year and the places my “good shoes” have accompanied me I realized most have been painful, even heart breaking. I wore them to a service when I said; “goodbye” to friends I loved. They were on my feet when I laid my dear friend Mary to rest.

No one’s ever promised an easy journey and sometimes “good shoes” are required.

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

image

Still Believe?

image

His life was written in wrinkles on his face and faded tattoos on his arms. As we talked it shocked me to learn he was not much older than I physically but the world had aged him far beyond his years.

He asked me a simple question but it was loaded with uncertainty and resignation; “Can it get better?” The inquiry betrayed his hard outter shell.  It revealed a life, a person whose hope had been dashed against the rock of reality, his outlook shaped by dissapointments and pain.

I paused before I answered. A blithe response, a quick anecdote, a dismissive comment could crush an already broken spirit. “Yes,’ I answered, ‘if we keep working, trying, and refuse to believe our story is complete, that there are no more pages to be written.'” He sighed.

We parted ways and I wondered if he’d heard that answer before and I wondered if he still believed.

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

image

Getting Clean

 

My wife had an unexpected visitor in the shower this morning. A snail had made its way from who knows where and camped out on her shower scrubber. She was not very welcoming to her guest! I’m not sure what she did with the snail but the shower scrubber was thrown into the garbage immediately. I asked her why she got rid of it and she said because it had snail slime on it! “Don’t you wash with the scrubber and it gets dirty? Then the soap makes it clean. What’s the difference?” I inquired. “I’m not using it after a snail’s been on it!” She replied and in such a tone that also informed me the discussion was over.

Sometimes in life what and who we hope will clean us up, improve our lives us ends up slimy and sullied. Friendships which once helped now hinder us. Role models we emulated let us down. What we put our faith in crashes and burns.

It can be disillusioning and disheartening when this happens but it’s also reality. Wisdom tells us to be be careful and cautious in what and who we trust to make us better and that to grow in grace disappointments must be encountered and overcome.

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

image

%d bloggers like this: