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Ripples

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Ripples

Yesterday I told someone about an experience in my life that happened several years ago. They were looking for an example of a certain subject and I had it. As I relayed to them the story you could tell they were surprised but also relieved that someone else had a similar experience that impacted their life. The basic question from the other person was; “Can good rise from bad? Is there a way to navigate a negative part of our journey that will ultimately lead to something positive?” What was interesting is that I didn’t answer their question and they didn’t seem to notice. I’m still waiting for the good, the positive to be revealed from my negative experience. However, what was more important to the person was not what resulted but that I made it through. This gave them hope.

Too often, when going through chaotic times of life we wonder; “Is there a rhyme or reason?” Then we meet someone who’s been through something similar and we are comforted simply by knowing someone who has survived. At first, we want to know how it all ends but we quickly understand each experience no matter how similar is different for everyone with incalculable resolutions. Our deepest desire is to know we are not alone, to believe if another made it through then maybe we can also.

 blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Sing Along

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Sing Along

Earlier this week I had a song stuck in my head. It played over and over in my mind. It was from an artist I don’t like or dislike and was a song that was fine but not spectacular. These facts didn’t matter because the song was like an earworm which burrowed its way into my brain and wouldn’t stop. I found myself humming the tune, singing along, tapping my foot and fingers, when I was in meetings, classes, and other places.

It is hard to get a song out of your head sometimes. I usually try listening to it several times in a row which can dislodge it. Other times singing it out loud, all the way through, will do the trick. However, some songs refuse to let go and I just live with it until finally, another song, or silence if I’m lucky, takes it place.

I was speaking with someone this week about the causes of poverty, abuse, addiction, incarceration and the incredibly hard task it is to break free from these often generational, familial, cycles. Too often, people think the battles we face are won by acts of wills and choice. While these are important they are not the sum of all problems. When you have been surrounded with these ills of society and family you become used to a normal. You witness those you love and look up to make decisions that keep them trapped in the cycle. Growing up in these environments impact the way you think, your view of the world, and the hopelessness of being free.  Who we are, what we are, are not only the choices we have made but from a myriad of choices which happen when we cannot decide for ourselves or even before we are born.

Understanding the truths about some of the people we meet each day will, hopefully, rewrite the judgmental and biased scripts we easily recite in our minds when we encounter the poor, drug addicted, alcoholic, homeless, ex-felons, and wonder; “Why can’t they do something about their lot in life?” Maybe, they need us to sing a new song to them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Occupy

Two Cars One Lane: Fight

Occupy

On my way home from Nashville, Tennessee, earlier this week the road I was traveling had a construction zone. I maneuvered into the proper lane and most other vehicles did the same. However, there was a woman in a silver Mercedes who misjudged when she needed to get over. I noticed just in time as she attempted to pull into the same space occupied by my truck.   When I recognized that she didn’t see me I honked the horn but this didn’t stop her and I slammed on the brakes to avoid getting into a collision. I’m not a science professor but I remember that one of the Laws of Physics says; “Two solid objects cannot occupy the same at the same time.” I couldn’t tell if she was oblivious, didn’t care or wasn’t up on her physics laws.

After we passed through the construction zone we went back to our regular speeds and as I passed the driver of the silver Mercedes I reflected on the truth of this Law of Physics in other parts of our lives. We have too many things which occupy our minds and spirits. We fill our homes, jobs, brains, and souls with trinkets which need constant attention. We rarely, if ever, find a place to leave everything behind and just be still. The objects we possess end up possessing us.

Simplicity scares us because we think we must get rid of things; “we can’t do without.” This is a lie. There are many objects, treasures, things that seem important which if we dared we could eliminate. Stillness of spirit, peace, eludes us because too many things occupy our lives.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Important

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Important

There is a family of Mockingbirds (https://www.google.com/search?q=mockingbird&oq=mockin&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j69i57j0l4.2524j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8) in one of the large trees covering our driveway. The parents are extremely protective of their little ones.

Late this afternoon, after spending most of the day working on a project, I set fire to a pile of debris that contained several downed limbs from the past month’s storms. I plopped down in a lawn chair watched the fire and then something interesting caught my eye. One of the Mockingbird parents was chasing a Turkey Vulture (https://www.google.com/search?q=mockingbird&oq=mockin&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j69i57j0l4.2524j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#q=turkey+vulture) who had come to close to its nest. It was dive bombing the much larger bird chasing it, harassing it, letting it know that it was a mistake to be in this area. There was something important and it was to be protected at all costs.

As I watched the Mockingbird triumphantly run the unwanted fiend off I thought about our lives. There are many things we claim as important, would declare meant a lot to us, but what would we risk our lives for? Die for? Fight against greater odds to protect and preserve?

The answer to this question reveals a good deal about us. Knowing what we’re willing to never give up defending gives us insight into who we are and what means most to us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What’s Important

What’s Important

This morning Beth and I went to a small Lutheran church and celebrated Easter with the faith community. The service was meaningful. The songs were on point, the message concise and full of the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection. The only challenge to overcome was the family in the pew behind and their little ones who were banging toys, dropping toys, whispering loudly and moving a lot! Basically, they were being kids. It wasn’t a distraction too often and the focus on the empty tomb was far greater than what was happening around us.

I talked with some friends this weekend who are facing a lot of challenges. As we spoke it was easy to hear in their voices that the things that never mattered had been revealed for what they are; illusions which take our attention off of what really matters and places them on the banal.

It is unfortunate that oftentimes it takes what seems to be insurmountable odds and obstacles to shift our focus back to what truly matters. Only when we understand we have no control over the curveballs life throws our way do we, in humility, search for the truth.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Important

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Important

In a conversation the other day someone made the statement: “I’d really like you guys to pray for me. I have a business meeting tomorrow and it’s the most important meeting of my life!” I thought for a moment about what he said, figured it was hyperbole, but didn’t want to take the chance. I responded; “It’s not even close to the most important meeting you’ve had or will have in your life. You’ve met your wife, your son, and there have been and will be countless meetings where you will show love, grace, and kindness to others. These meetings will be the ones that count. This meeting tomorrow? Twenty years from now you’ll look back on it and wonder why you worried or even cared.”

Too often we place too much emphasis on things which may matter a little but pale quickly in comparison to the truly important. Every now and then we need to be reminded and refocused. As it was for this man, may it be for me and for every one of us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

In Sight of What’s Important

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In Sight of What’s Important

Last night, my wife, the dog and I sat in the most interior room of our house waiting for the all clear sign to be given. About thirty minutes prior every phone we have buzzed and beeped a cacophonic chorus. We looked at them and they all read; “Tornado Warning! Find Cover Immediately!” When we had received the message we did what all logical beings would do…went outside to see what the sky looked like. It was gray and growing darker. We went inside when lightning began striking and watched until the winds blew the rain sideways and we couldn’t see anymore. We determined it was time to get into the safest room and wait until the storm passed by. I sat holding the laptop and hitting the refresh button, Beth sat petting the dog while hail, rain, and wind pounded the house. After about an hour it was over. No damage was done save a few huge mud puddles littering the front yard.

The darkness and blinding of the wind and rain made it feel more unsafe than anything else. When you can’t see it scares you. You can’t see exits, shelters, ways to protection and safety. Whether storms of the Earth, of the mind or the spirit, sight is valued above all things. Last night I was thankful for shelter, family, and light inside. It was great reminder of what’s important and what’s not.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The Little Things

The Little Things

Beth and I finally, after two years and some change, finished moving the rest of our stuff from South Carolina to Tennessee this weekend. It’s odd when you find, see stuff you forgot you owned. It takes a while to remember owning it, what it was used for, and, at least for me, the reoccurring thought; “If we haven’t used it for 2+ years maybe we don’t need it.” I asked that question multiple times this weekend and there was always an answer from the Mrs. as to how and why we still needed it.

Sometimes in life we look at stuff we don’t use regularly and ask; “Do I truly need this?” This applies to tangible items, but also to relationships, emotional baggage, spiritual disciplines, and more. We are tempted to think because some aren’t a regular part of our life it is they which must be lacking in importance.

However, if we allow it, wisdom will teach us that the little things, what we often forget or don’t have a prominent place in our lives, are usually what we need and would benefit us the most.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Getting Rid of the Clutter

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Getting Rid of the Clutter

My workshop has gotten out of control lately. Because of outdoor projects, it’s mostly been used to house tools, scraps and other materials needed for whatever I’ve been working on outside. So, today I spent the afternoon cleaning it up and out. There was a lot of stuff which needed to be thrown away, some went to the burn pile, other to the local junk yard. I picked up tools and put them back in their place, wood went to the wood bin, lawn care to their place and replaced a table in the middle of the workshop with a long shelve on the side. This created a lot more space to work. I’m tired but it was a which needed to be done and one which will benefit me in the long run.

Wisdom tells us a decluttered life is also necessary to possess peace of life and spirit. When there are too many things occupying space in our minds, emotions, lives we seem to always be in a rush, stepping over, shuffling around, putting things where they don’t belong and not paying attention to a life filling up with many useless trinkets. Wisdom also reveals that the more things in our life the less time we have for those things. Our attention, love, relationships all suffer when our lives are cluttered.

Perhaps the New Year might be a good time to discover what is and what isn’t important. Accept the truth we only have so much energy, time and passion to whatever is in our lives and do some decluttering of own.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannbesaint.com

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Out of Reach

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Out of Reach

A couple of weeks ago a strong thunderstorm dislodged a big limb from the huge Oak tree just outside of our front door. It was caught by other limbs about 15 feet from the ground. I noticed it last week and decided to take it down before it crashed onto the house, a vehicle or perhaps Beth or myself.

My idea was to pull the truck under the limb, climb on top of the cab, and try to grab it with something. Beth was not a fan of this plan. I got the truck in place, crawled on the truck as high as I could go and tried with a broom and a 2×4 to shake it loose. It didn’t work and Beth kept saying, rather loudly; “I don’t like this, you’re going to fall!” Managing to move it a few feet I was stretching as far as I could but the limb was frustratingly still out of reach. “I’ve got an idea!” I told Beth. “What if I jumped off the cab, grabbed the limb and pulled it down as I landed?” That was it. Beth, in rather stern language, made me get down and find another way. I retrieved a rope from my truck, tied a piece of wood to the end, and threw it over the limb and pulled it down. The limb was much longer than I realized and had many offshoots which made it difficult to finally get it free. After finishing I confessed to Beth that she was right, I was wrong, standing on the truck cab, trying to grab it was not a good idea and I probably would’ve hurt myself if I kept trying it this particular way.

Wisdom teaches us that certain things are out of reach for us. This doesn’t mean they’re always going to be unavailable, it simply means, for now, they aren’t ours to claim. However, too often we insist on grasping the elusive object immediately and troubles and pain follow. Knowing when and when not to go after something is as important as possessing it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Attention Span

Attention Span

Beth and I spent some time in our second home today, also known as Lowe’s Home Improvement Store. We needed some wood, a screen door and some other odds and ends. We filled our cart up and then headed to the garden section. We made our way down the aisle leading to outside there was a young mother, her baby and what I assumed was the grandmother. The eldest woman was holding a cup of coffee while the mom spoon fed the little one. They had to move out of the center of the aisle as we passed and something on our cart caught the grandmother’s attention. As she stared, the mom handed her the baby food container and as she grabbed it, still staring at our cart, the coffee cup slipped out of her hand and splashed on the floor. I couldn’t quite make out the expletive that escaped from her lips but the momentary frustration was soon followed by laughter from both the women.

I smiled at the situation because it seemed like something which would happen to me. It also caused me to reflect on the wisdom lessons of embracing what’s important, being fully present in the moment, not distracted by shiny things, and allowing things which aren’t necessary to slip through our grasp.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Shelter

Shelter

Beth and I just came in from outside. We were on top of the hill in our back yard when Beth said; “Look! Rain.” She pointed in the direction of a larger hill and grove of trees and I could see the rain coming down, moving swiftly in our direction. We began to descend the hill and before we could get to the house we were getting soaked. We walked onto the porch, sat down and enjoyed the sound of water dropping on the tin roof and seeing plants, trees, and grass be drenched in some much-needed nourishment.

Watching and listening I reflected on how most times we don’t see the storm coming. Catastrophic events and life altering incidents happen suddenly, without warning and we are drenched in sorrow and pain, blown over by problems and difficulties stronger than us.

This is why shelter is so important. Shelter’s not only places and institutions but family, friends, those who offer protection from drowning, giving us the opportunity to catch our breaths, find our footing and reclaim our bearings.

We may not be able to see the storms of life coming but if we have the love, grace, and kindness of others when they come we should consider ourselves truly fortunate.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Bullets and in Between

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Bullets and Breaks – 

I saw my first bullet hole in a human body this week. Well, what it looks like with a thin bandage over it anyway. The leg and the hole belonged to one of the men I teach in my incarcerated father’s class. I had noticed last week he was limping and when he came in on Wednesday I asked how he was doing and what had happened. I had no idea the story which would be told.

The tale included drugs, friends pulling guns on one another, a high-speed car chase, resisting arrest, guns on all sides and finally an arrest and a charge of nine felonies. Whew! By the time he finished I was worn out! The most important detail he shared was before everything fell apart, when he was sitting on the couch with a friend and things began to escalate, he said; “If I would’ve stopped for thirty seconds and thought about what I was doing. If I would have just walked away, none of this would have happened.”

Although there was much in his story I couldn’t relate to I certainly know the harm of acting in haste, not taking time to think before I said or did something harmful, in the heat of the moment, only to regret it soon after. The difficulty is that once we do anything good, bad, positive, or negative the consequence will follow. We can’t take it back. “When we pick up one end of the stick, we pick up the other.”

One of the most difficult yet important disciplines wisdom teaches is the; “space in the middle.” It is that place between the event, the action and our response, our reaction. Usually the less space we allow the higher possibility of making a bad decision and dealing with the results of our choices.

The young man with the bullet hole in his leg is looking at a long sentence in the state penitentiary. I hope that he, all the students and their teacher will learn and put into practice the lesson of; “the space in between.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Run Over

Earlier this afternoon I stopped to get a cold drink. The temps today are in the 90’s with humidity close to this mark as well. I exited the truck and began to walk across the parking lot into the restaurant when a small white Chevy truck, moving faster than needed caught my eye. I stopped, he didn’t. I watched as he passed and he stared back at me. I was thankful to have looked before crossing and wondered why he was in such a hurry.

Following my close encounter I reflected on times when people had tried to “run me over.” Moments and seasons when someone had an aim, purpose, goal they wanted to reach and didn’t consider how it impacted those around them. Whether it was an over-powering personality, a self focused agenda, a spirit draining selfishness, their destination was reached at the peril of others.

I also thought about my own pursuits and how, at times, I was more concerned with the journey than my fellow sojourners. Finding the balance between getting where we need to go and being sure our passions and purposes do no harm is important and necessary to ensure we reach our destinations, together.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Blessed or Cursed

Life is never predictable.

I was talking with someone yesterday about having “blinders” on when it comes to certain people. Some folks we see in a mostly positive light. We emphasize the good, minimize the bad, expect the best and see their potential. For others it’s the opposite. We are blind to their goodness. They are viewed by us in a mostly negative way. We don’t expect the best, focus on their weaknesses, anticipate what and how badly they’ll mess up, hurt us and take advantage of our generosity.

Blinders often come from good relationships or broken ones. We put them on and rarely question if we see the whole picture as it pertains to certain people, cultures and our worldview.

The discipline of viewing life as blessed rather than cursed can be one of the hardest and most important wisdom lessons we learn and put into practice. This is true especially when our journey has been difficult and we’ve seen “more than our share” of heartache, pain and loss. To look for the good, the beautiful, the “miracle” of everyday life influences each breath and every moment.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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How’s the View?

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Beth and I went to breakfast this morning and then ran a couple of errands. We went to one store and parted ways to retrieve our items. As I was looking at a shelf a woman pushing a cart toward me caught my eye.  I stepped back to allow her to pass and anticipated continuing to browse after she went by. However, she stopped right in front of me and began looking in the same place I had been. “Wow! Are you kidding?” was the first thought which flashed across my mind. Tempted to say; “Excuse me!” I instead, bit my lip, and waited for her to get what she needed and move on.

On this journey of life, as we look for purpose and meaning, there will be two kinds of people. The first are those who help us know where to look, teach us how to be focused, help us see and concentrate on the things which are most important. The second are those who distract us, block our view, attempt to take our vision off of where it needs to be and place it on them.

True wisdom teaches us the difference between those who helps us see and those who’d make us blind.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannnabesaint.com

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Purpose

What is our purpose, our calling? For some it seems so easy but for others the search for the meaning of our lives takes a whole life to find.

I sat with a young father on Monday evening speaking with him about his purpose. He’s had several jobs, numerous opportunities to make a career but for some reason nothing has intersected with his interests and his skills. I asked him; “What would you like to be when you grow up?” He smiled and then responded; “I really have no idea.” We talked a little more about what he liked and disliked, his past occupations and what he found intriguing about them but at the end of the conversation we weren’t closer to him finding his “calling.”

I was okay with the way things ended because I don’t believe everyone’s purpose is clearly defined in a moment’s time. For some their purpose may change with the seasons of their life. What’s important is that we are available to wherever the path may lead. If we walk and trust we may just find that purpose and contentment with our lives are one in the same.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Green Doesn’t Always Mean Go


On my way to a meeting today I was stopped at a red light waiting, patiently as I could, for it to turn green. From a side street an ambulance and another emergency vehicle pulled onto the road and my focus went from the red light to the flashing ones racing to an unknown destination. They faded from sight and I went back to waiting for the green telling me to go. The light finally changed and I released the brake, pressed the gas and moved forward. However, I noticed that the vehicles on the side and behind me didn’t move. This is when I realized that after the distraction of the red strobe lights my focus went to the wrong traffic light a street ahead of me instead of the one I should’ve been fixing my gaze upon. Slamming on my brakes, trying not to look too foolish, I waited on the correct light to turn green and then slowly proceeded.

Laughing at my ineptitude I also reflected on the importance of keeping our focus. Many times we get distracted by a flashy and noisy world which can lead to unfortunate events, losing our way, embarrassment and regret. Wisdom helps us make sure we know where, why, and when we should move forward and when to wait.

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

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