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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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Hangover

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Hangover

Today I am feeling the impact of three intensive days of training. My body hurts and my mind hurts. My eyes are tired from staring at a screen for too long. I have both a migraine and fuzzy brain. It’s hard to process new information today because of receiving so much from earlier in the week.  The data and detail are still bouncing around in my noggin and hasn’t found a place to settle. New thoughts and ideas are like puffs of smoke that never quite become solid enough to grasp. A couple of days of quiet and rest should do the trick but until then giving it my all will be less than.

Growing in our learning, understanding, and wisdom takes a toll. Its tough work which may be why we are hesitant to do it at times. Immersing ourselves in new thoughts, ideas, studies, to become more capable in our personal, relational, connections and jobs takes commitment and courage. Commitment because growth is effort and energy. Courage because when we dare to learn, understand gain wisdom, we change and we’re never sure who will be on the other side.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Putting Feet to Your Faith

Putting Feet to Your Faith

This morning, in worship service, when one of the staff members went up on stage and gave the announcements she talked about a missions class. She said; “This class will help you put feet to your faith!”  To my knowledge, this is the first time I heard this phrase or at least the first time it resonated with me. I liked the idea of beliefs and action coexisting, what I think, say and do being in sync.

Later I reacted to a post from someone on Facebook who’s having a rough couple of weeks. There has been progressing in the recent past but for some reason, the last month or so battles thought won were being fought again. I replied to her post; “I understand and live these “honest and ugly” truths. It’s tough, feeling like you have to start over, but I’m reminded by wisdom and therapy that we’ve grown, have learned/are learning, experienced a new normal and the starting line has been moved. We may not be where we want to be but thankfully are not where we started.”

Even when it seems like our journey is two steps forward and three, maybe five, steps back we are making progress. We ask, no plead, for the faith to keep walking, to put feet to our faith.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Gathered Together

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Gathered Together

All over the world today youths and people of every color, creed, and nationality, clergy, organizational representatives, politicians, movie and music stars, are gathered together to protest gun violence and by their voices and presence hope to convince those who have the power to do something about people dying. You don’t have to agree with their position to respect their right and motivation to come together and show their solidarity and support. In this crazy, mixed up and messed up world at least they are doing something.

“Decisions are made by those who show up.” -Anonymous

It is amazing what a group of people, gathered together, with peace, justice, kindness, and determination can accomplish. Too often we sit on the sidelines and voice our opinions, make fun or mock those who think differently than us and are doing what their heart, emotions, and spirits, say is right and good. Perhaps we’ll make mistakes, maybe our ideas aren’t totally thought out and ordered. However, can you imagine an international movement where everyone decided to take action, do good, seek justice and change the world for the better? I can.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Knocking

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Knocking

This morning I woke up with a headache. It felt like a giant was knocking on the front door of my face. I at breakfast took a pill and laid back down. It helped a little but it’s been painful off and on most of the afternoon.

Last week a friend told me he had a “secret knock” whenever he went over to his mother’s home. He said this knock was for her to know that it was him without looking out the window to see. I liked this idea both the reality and the thought behind it.

We have ideas which knock on the doors of our heads. Some of these thoughts, especially the ones filled with doubt, confusion, anger, can take us to places we don’t want to go. Wisdom teachers call this; “monkey mind” a mind filled with chatter like monkeys in a tree, never-ceasing or giving a moment’s peace. It can also be called; “thought train” which is a mind that’s on a particular set of tracks taking us to places it’s not always wise to go.

The good news is we are able to train our minds to recognize “monkey minds, thought trains” and refuse to let them take over our spirits and emotions. The key to mindful living is to be present, in the now. Our minds are not all-powerful and we do have the capability of saying; “No” to negative, repetitive, thoughts and “Yes” to those which keep us centered, balanced and at peace. We simply need to know when and when not to open the door.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Investing

Investing –

This morning I had a meeting with another community organization. I was presenting a new opportunity to work with fathers in our area and hoped they would help us. I have presented ideas, data, skills and a host of other information, to more organizations and ministries than I can count. I’ve never been asked to leave or had a bad experience but have had the occasional person I was talking to be looking at their phone, out the window or at their watch. Those presentations and discussion following seem to drag on forever. I’ve also had the organization be excited about the opportunity to partner with us. Most, however, are somewhere in the middle.

Today’s meeting was the exception because the woman whom I was meeting with was excited and had some great ideas as to how we could make part of our plan work at her location. She paid attention, listened intently, took notes, asked questions and made me feel welcomed and not rushed to finish so she could start doing something else. In other words, she was fully present in our time together. It was awesome.

It was a great reminder the difference we can make in other people’s lives if we invest our time, our kindness, our respect, and our lives in theirs.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Words

Words

Today I had the privilege and duty to be a part of the memorial service for my father. It’s been surreal the last few days. So many errands to run, items to check off on a list, places to go, people to see. There’s been a sense of urgency, a nervous energy, a controlled chaos, riding a wave of sorrow and speed.  Because of the hectic pace of the last several days, I stood on the stage behind the pulpit at the service this afternoon with no notes, and no structure to the stories and experiences I wanted to share.

Words, they’ve flooded my mind and soul since Dad passed. Words from family and friends who care and are sorry for our loss. Words that go into an obituary, on a card for flowers, in a service program and used in phone calls, emails, and texts. So many words used to describe the love a family has for one who is, was, the central fixed, point.

Now, standing behind the pulpit at the memorial service today, I had no notes, no words written, no solid ideas, memories swarming in my head but none coming in for a landing. How do you choose the right words to convey the meaning of a life which impacted many people?  In the pantheon of phrases, how do you pick out those which will express the purpose of a life lived well?

A deep breath, a small prayer, and … share my heart, open my lips, loosen my tongue and let the words come. No, they will not be adequate. No, they will not be perfect. Yes, there will be second-guessing and memories that are forgotten to be shared.

Words. They are not, and cannot contain the heart’s cry of longing and loneliness or succinctly express the fondness, the love, the good of being apart from a person you love. This is okay. Living, being, existing, is more than words, deeper than condolences, greater than expressions of sympathy and sadness.

Living should be beyond our ability to communicate it easily if it is done well.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Comparisons

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Comparisons

Someone told me today about a friend they have who is unhappy. This is the opposite of her usual demeanor. By most accounts, she’s always been a go lucky, chipper, satisfied, joyful person. However, in the last several months who mood has changed and the sparkle in her eye has dulled considerably. The person sharing this with me said her friend’s unhappiness with life has increased along with her social media consumption. She’s said; “When I read my friends’ posts on Facebook, look at their pictures on Instagram, see their interactions with countless other folks on Twitter, my life seems rather dull, empty, lacking.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard someone relay this type of story to me. Social media can be a wonderful tool and a good way to share select moments of our lives with our friends and family but we must remember the words; SELECT MOMENTS. Those inspirational posts on Facebook often come from a book or web page of quotes. The beautiful pictures on Instagram don’t show the before and after of getting ready to take the photo and recovering from it. Twitter can be an okay place to exchange ideas but more often its people shouting their opinions at each other.

Comparisons can be dangerous, especially on social media.  Most of what we see on these platforms are illusions. They rarely give us a real glimpse of who a person is and what their life is truly like. We have to be careful comparing our life, which we know intimately, with another’s snapshots of theirs. Our life may seem bland, our thoughts benign, our family and friendships boring, but that’s okay. Most of the time, if we were to see what a Facebook friend’s life is like, or the reality behind a Twitter account, or the other moments when everyone isn’t smiling on Instagram we might decide our life is good and worthy of our thanks.

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

Lost in Translation

This morning I gave a presentation to a group composed of English-speaking and Spanish-speaking only individuals. This mix of people meant using a translator. This was a new experience for me. I quickly learned the differences in lecturing with and without one. The first was pacing. I couldn’t use my normal pace because of the pause required to let the translator interpret the words, phrases and ideas being presented to those who only spoke Spanish. The second was trusting the translator to interpret everything I said correctly. Even now I have no way of knowing what she did and didn’t say to those who were listening to her.

One of the positives, while also being strange, in using a translator, was the pause between speaking. While she spoke I could decide how to present my next idea. I used these gaps to make sure extra, unneeded words and phrases were removed while important crucial points were made as clear as possible.

Though difficult I do wonder if every day communicating would benefit from pausing between each sentence, thought and idea to ensure every word, even the gaps, are filled with meaning and purpose? Perhaps we’d have a more peaceable world if we were forced to think before we speak.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Where We Belong

This morning I had a presentation in Nashville, TN. I left with plenty of time to spare, didn’t encounter any wrecks, traffic jams, everything went smoothly and I arrived early. I took my time getting out of the truck, making sure everything needed was in my bag and headed into the lobby. Once inside there was a line to the receptionist and waiting patiently it finally became my time to ask where the room I was looking for was located. I said; “Good morning,” and then asked for directions. A confused look came over her face and I quickly figured out I was in the wrong place. Not just the wrong lobby, but the wrong street and the wrong section of town. I scurried outside, hopped back in the truck and discovered my mistake. I had put the wrong street in the GPS. I double checked my calendar, typed in the correct address and it was fifteen miles away! Yikes! I called my co-presenter and told her what happened and I would be there as fast as possible. After arriving again, this time at the right building, I hurried in. I was only ten minutes late but it felt much longer. My co-presenter began her section of the program and I took several deep breaths trying to center myself. When it was my turn I spoke to the group about fathers, everything went fine and I was thankful to actually be where I belonged.

Wisdom teaches us that we have ideas and certainties of where we need to go on the road of life. We look at our gifts and talents and assure ourselves who, where and what we are meant to be. However, we are often not the best judge of where our lives can be used best. To be centered, to hold our dreams and desires loosely and allow the path of life to unfold, to be led not where we think we need to go but where we actually belong.

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

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