Blog Archives

Free Zone

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Free Zone

Today, on my way to an Incarcerated Father’s class, I was passed by a truck with one of those “How’s My Driving? Call 1-800——–” sticker. There was a number identifying the truck and another sticker I hadn’t seen before which declared the truck a Cellphone Free Zone. Of course, what was the driver doing? Talking on his cellphone. I found it humorous and was tempted to honk my horn and point to his sign but resisted the urge.

I didn’t call the “How’s My Driving?” number either but I did reflect on the thought; what if we had stickers or buttons, shirts or pants, that asked; “How’s my living?” “How am I acting?” “Hate Free Zone” “Racist Free Zone” “Anger Free Zone” even the dreaded; “How’s my driving?” What would people say about us when they called the number? Good, positive reports or not so good, mostly negative?

The truth is we are being watched, all the time, everywhere. Reporting numbers or not, the world needs to see more kindness, grace, and love.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Fear

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Fear

Earlier today I was weed whacking and mowing the grass. As I maneuvered around one of our smaller trees a movement caught my eye and I stopped to see a big black spider fleeing from the lawn mower. It paused for a moment and I had a choice to make; step on it or let it live.

A few weeks ago I suffered a bite from something that caused my hand to swell and turn partially red with splotches. It occurred to me that perhaps it was a spider bite. As I stood there this morning I wondered the same thing. The spider didn’t move and finally, I began pushing the mower in the other direction. I had decided I wasn’t going to kill out of fear this spider, in the middle of the yard, might bite me.

After finishing the chore I sat down with some cold water and my mind drifted back to the spider but also to the way fear can impact us. When fear finds a place in us we can become angry, vengeful, and cruel. We begin to be suspicious of things we may not consider beautiful, acceptable, normal and wanted. We allow the fear to make decisions for us and use it as an excuse for deplorable thoughts, words, and deeds.

Fear runs rampant in our world today. We can’t read online magazines, news, opinion columns or watch the news, many shows without our fear factor being dialed up to the extreme. We are told those who think different, talk different act different, look different, from us are to be feared.

As a result, our world is lacking grace, kindness, and love. The choice is ours to make; live in fear or love like the fate of the world depends on it because it does.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Expecting

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Expecting

It is so had to do, acting without expecting. Two plus two equals four but life is not mathematics. One action does not necessarily equal an expected result.

Several years ago I was on staff at a large organization and following a particularly long meeting I was among a group of members talking in a hallway. The conversation didn’t last long but I said something in passing that hurt the feelings of a fellow staff member. I didn’t realize it until that evening when I received a long email about what I had said and done. It took me by complete surprise. I sent an email back immediately apologizing and promising to be more careful with my words and received another email outlining other things I had done that this staff member found irritating and insulting. Again, I apologized and began looking at my words and behavior to see if I could find all of these faults. I didn’t agree with everything this staff member wrote but I felt they deserved enough respect from me to pray for greater self-awareness in all my interactions.

This is why expectations can be so dangerous. We may know, or hope we know, our intentions as we develop and cultivate relationships, make our way with others along this path called life. We may not wish to hurt others or offend them. Our life can be about peace and kindness but it may not always be perceived that way. We must purposefully live well but not expect our lives to be beyond questioning. When we make a mistake or someone is hurt by something we have done, even if we believed we acted innocently, we seek forgiveness and restoration so that our lives match the intent of our hearts.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sight

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Sight

I have a friend who has vision problems. Not eyesight but “heart-sight.” My friend was hurt a while ago by a group of people and is having difficulty letting go of the pain and rejection felt, still feels when the experience is thought about, re-lived.

My friend recognizes the blinders has upon their heart and mind. They realize the past keeps them from seeing any good in the ones who hurt them. His vision of them is dark, judgmental and biased. In their minds, there is a reluctance to admit there are good and positive things about them but the heartbreak makes even their most magnanimous acts of kindness and grace be viewed with suspicion.

How,’ they ask, “How am I supposed to get past this? How long before I can move on?” I tell them the stories of my pain. I explain to them there is no timetable to heal a heart and soul deeply wounded. It takes as long as it takes. I remind them also that each of us has done things we would do differently if we could. I also remind them not to give up, not to allow the heartbreak to twist their soul and become embittered and unable to see the good in others again.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Purpose

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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

Filling

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Filling

This morning I went to the dentist. I hate going to the dentist! I went at 7:30AM because thinking about the appointment all day would make my anxiety grow by the hour. This way I wake up and go straight there and get it over. I take my phone and ear buds along with me to listen to, a dose of anti-anxiety medicine, and the dentist provides comforting words, gentle work and a supply of Nitrous Oxide (https://www.google.com/search?q=nitrous+oxide&oq=nitrous+o&aqs=chrome.0.0j69i57j0l4.2956j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8). When I first went to the dentist we sat and talked about my anxiety and claustrophobia issues. He understood and has done a fantastic job making me feel the least anxiety as possible. After it was over I left, slightly woozy but two teeth which needed fillings done completely.

The dentist is one of those things in life you don’t want to do but know have to be done. Know matter how much worry, dread, and procrastination, sooner or later you have to go and if it’s too much later you will regret it. As the numbing in my lips and gums wore off I thought about other things in life we don’t like to do but should. Forgiving people who have hurt us, asking forgiveness of those we have offended, reflecting on difficult and painful situations and asking; “What did I learn?”, allowing wisdom to search the deepest places in our lives, filling the holes in our minds, emotions, and spirits to be filled with kindness, love, and grace. These are never easy but waiting until we are ready might mean we never reach a place of healing and peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Out of Sight

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Out of Sight

This past weekend I wrote about a tiny gray cat that has been hanging around the house. The last time I saw it was on Saturday. I had been putting food out for it hoping to convince it we meant no harm but unfortunately, the neighborhood dogs beat the kitten to the chow. It started raining yesterday afternoon and has been steady since then. Remnants of Hurricane Irma is giving us plenty of water and a bit of wind. My worry, however, is the kitten. Is it dry? Did a neighborhood dog get it? I haven’t seen it since the weekend and I have no idea where it is or what happened to it. So, I wait and see. Hopefully, it’s still hiding under the porch and will come out after the storm passes.

There are people in our lives like the kitten. A storm begins to batter them and they hide, afraid of its downpour and thunder. We long to help them, to show them kindness, to meet whatever needs we can if they would just come out of hiding. However, like the kitten, there are trust issues and perhaps they’ve been hurt before by people pretending to help or they’re used to people taking not giving. What do we do? We wait. If they come out of hiding during the storm we can cover them with acts of kindness. If they wait until after this is fine also. Kindness and love have no expiration date.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Distress

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Distress

Yesterday I wrote about hearing the sound of a kitten but not being able to find it (Listen”  (https://thewannabesaint.com/2017/09/08/listen/). Today, I saw it for the first time. However, it wasn’t the way I wanted to be introduced. I was weeding near outdoor shelves and the weed whacker was on full throttle. Grass and dirt flying everywhere and when I was right next to the outdoor shelf all of a sudden the gray kitten (I now know what color it is) shot out from under the shelf running for dear life. I immediately turned off and put down the weed eater and went looking for it. Using my best “meow” and “here kitty kitty” I tried locating it to introduce myself and assure it wasn’t in any danger but no luck. It was in too much distress to come out of whatever hiding place it discovered. After I finished with the weeding I put out a little food and some water in hopes it will show up again. We’ll just have to wait and see.

A friend, who is a teacher, posted on Facebook that it can be difficult to reach students because of the trauma and distress they face in other parts of their lives. He lamented the impact a teacher can have because of the other challenges and difficulties his students are facing on a daily basis. I find this true in my work with men as well. Whether they are incarcerated, in a rehabilitation clinic, non-residential, divorced or living with mom and the children, most of these men have a painful story. They are impacted by their past experiences of neglect, abuse, heartbreaking home lives, and lack of positive male and female role models. These not only affect their current behavior but also wire their brains and condition their bodies to react in mostly negative ways.

What I’ve learned is that I can’t fix these men. It’s not in my power. What I can do is show them respect and kindness. I try to connect with each one personally. If I can establish a relationship built on kindness and respect amazing things can happen. I’m unable to help them all but I try and trust this is enough.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Lift

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Lift

This afternoon I ran into Wal-Mart to grab a couple of items. As I navigated the parking lot my cell phone rang and I began a conversation. Approaching the door a woman was coming out the exit with a grocery cart full of stuff and a pack of paper towels on the bottom of the cart. I noticed right away that the paper towels looked as they were going to fall off and to the pavement. I smiled and said; “Excuse me,” reached down and lifted them back on the cart securely. It happened so fast I’m not sure she was aware at first what I was doing. She replied; “Thank you,” and we headed our separate ways.

It was a small gesture but wisdom writers tell me; “No act of kindness is wasted.” I believe this is true and that if each of us would be alert, aware and willing, we might extend kindness in such a way it would lift our world out of darkness.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Weeds

Weeds

Weeds are those things in our yard we try to get rid of, permanently. Last weekend my wife sprayed a lot of weeds in our yard which were growing out of control. Most people don’t like weeds because we’ve determined they don’t have any value. They’re unwanted, unloved and disposable.

I came across the quote in the picture (included) by  Ralph Waldo Emerson and it gave me pause. It didn’t change my view of weeds but it did make me think of the men I work with on a daily basis. Most of these men are seen as unwanted, unloved and disposable. Those who are incarcerated speak of being lonely not receiving any visits from family and friends. There are many whose wives, girlfriends, and kids have begun to discover life without them in it.

I was speaking with another man this week who has a bias toward a particular group of people. When I inquired if he knew any of them intimately, had sat with them, talked with them, ate with them, gotten to know them, he admitted there wasn’t many. It’s easier to group them together and declare they have no value.

Our world is full of “weeds,” people who are looked at and disregarded for many reasons. Whether it’s their religion, skin color, accent, dress, tattoos, sexual preference, they are seen as less than and lacking virtues such as goodness, grace, and kindness.

No one is a weed. To think and act as if one person or group isn’t worthy reduces the value of us all.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Grace and Work

 

Grace and Work

Someone asked me today; “So, is it grace or works which get us into heaven?” My answer was; “Yes.” After a moment to let the words sink in I went on to explain that grace is God’s “unmerited favor” or “God’s love for us is absolute even if we never love God in return.

Grace is given to us and then we give it to others. This is the ‘work.'” We are blessed to receive God’s spirit of love, forgiveness, and kindness and in return, we give it to others. When grace touches the deepest part of us our worldview, the reason for living and being, come into focus. We are placed here, at this time and place, to give God’s love, forgiveness, and kindness to others.

Too often; “work” is made out to be dogma, discipline, dutiful acts of trying to be good and acceptable to the God who alone is good and has already accepted us. “Work,” should be a celebration. We freely give to others what we have freely accepted.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Free

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Free

On Monday I wrote about installing a light for a friend on a high wall of a building (Highs & Unknowns) (https://thewannabesaint.com/2017/06/25/highs-and-unknowns/).  It was hot on that ladder and my hands and arms were dripping sweat as a vent from the building blew out hot air making it even more stifling.

I’m not a big fan of heights but I made the decision to go up and not look down. I had a hand towel to dry off my hands, arms, and forehead and used it to get a better grip on the light and keep the sweat out of my eyes….all for a friend unable to make the climb.

When we take on a burden from a friend, when we set out to help someone, we do it, hopefully, out of love, kindness, and concern. The challenge becomes when, if, the burden become greater than we realized. The decision must be made repeatedly to continue to carry on, not give up, look for the extra strength needed, to not give up or give in until the burden can be laid down and both are free.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Want to See

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Want to See

Last spring my wife planted some Petunias in a steel bucket that sits in our front yard. This spring she’s been too busy. In place of the beautiful flowers we had last year there are several weeds growing. This afternoon, while mowing the grass, I looked in the steel bucket and there was one single pink Petunia. It was small, crowded and shadowed by the weeds but it was there none the less. If I wasn’t looking in the right place and the right time I would have missed it.

Life can be similar to the small flower in that bucket. There are plenty of weeds; stress, schedules, emergencies, life changing decisions, habits, hang-ups, and hurts. It can be easy not to see the good when we are surrounded by so many things which crowd our lives and shadow our hearts. However, if we keep looking, daring to hope and dream perhaps we will see the beauty of kindness, grace, and love blossom before our eyes.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

Pick Up

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Pick Up

This afternoon it was hot. So hot that I was struggling to walk up a hill on my exercise route. As I labored to make it up a man in an old pick-up truck pulled up beside me and asked; “Need a lift?” I smiled, thanked him and replied; “No thank you. Just trying to get in shape.” He nodded and drove off. It was nice of the man to stop and ask but it also brought up images of stories I’ve read on the news about people hitchhiking, accepting a ride and never being heard from again.

We live in a place and time when even genuine offers of help are looked on with suspicion. I don’t like that this world has made me more dubious, overly cautious, hesitant to see an act of kindness as anything less than gracious.

I don’t know how we turn it around. I’m not sure what to do to make the world more hospitable and less hostile. I think it starts with laying aside our fears and living free. I believe we need more acceptance and less aggression.

Or…maybe we can’t and a better world is a dream. I guess it’s up to all of us to determine if dreams do come true.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Grip

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Grip

Our Siberian Husky, Trooper, has a problem with our little farm-house. The kitchen floor is covered in old, slick linoleum and many other rooms have wooden floors. For most of his life, he’s lived in houses which were wall to wall carpet and gave him places to grip as he walks. Now, he’s finding it hard to keep his footing as he walks in our home. We’ve several large carpets in the wooden floor rooms and small carpets along with one of his beds in the kitchen. He slips and slides from one carpet to another and refuses to walk in a space where there’s no carpet in sight for him to reach. We’ve tried several different ways to help him get over his fear of the slick floors but fear has a way of getting inside of people and animals alike.

I have friends and family members today, as all of us do, who are finding it hard to get a grip on new, difficult and challenging situations. I also have friends and family members who are dealing with old hangups, habits, hurts and wonder if they will ever be able to grapple with and overcome these persistent, negative areas.

What can we do when those we love and care about are gripped by fear? We can lay down rugs, pieces of carpets, by doing random and purposeful acts of kindness and grace. We cannot take their fear away but we can show them our love is greater than what has them afraid.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

A Little Help

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A Little Help –

This afternoon I took a large load of yard debris to the county dump. It was a truck and trailer full. When I arrived I began unloading the trailer first. It was filled with rotten deck boards and trusses. It was quite a bit to handle by myself but the man standing at the dumpster, who presses the button to activate the compactor, wasn’t in the mood to help. In fact, he asked me to walk to the other side of the dumpster to push in a small piece of lumber which was sticking out. I thought to myself; “Dude. You see how much junk I am trying to unload. A little assistance would be greatly appreciated.” Sigh. I finished with one dumpster and moved to the second one, unloaded what was left and drove off.

I don’t know what kind of day the worker had. He might’ve helped everyone before me and was too tired to be of any assistance. It is unfair to judge him by one encounter and so I let the frustration go. However, the lesson of offering help to those in need, little and big gestures of kindness and grace, wasn’t missed. Hopefully, the next time I can lend a hand I’ll remember and not leave someone hanging.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Together

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Together

A friend of mine had surgery not too long ago and is still recovering. As a result, he is unable to do yard work or any other outdoor project. One of the projects on his list for the summer was to remove several Red Tip bushes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photinia). Red Tips are great for privacy but can quickly grow out of control. Before his recent bout with the illness, he had started the removal but couldn’t finish the job. However, while he was in the hospital a group of neighbors got together and completed the project for him. They didn’t expect to get paid or rewarded in another way they did it because it was a way to help.

As I listened to the story being told to me yesterday my heart was warmed at the generosity we can show each other. A person told me recently; “The news is too depressing. I just don’t watch it.” I tried explaining that ignoring the news doesn’t make the world better but it does eliminate our ability to confront, counter the evil and darkness with good and light.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Fuel

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Fuel

His braided hair was unkempt, long and matted. His feet and hands were covered in dirt. In his hands was a gas tank and as he approached me I knew what he wanted. “Could you give me some gas?” came the anticipated question. “Sure,” I answered. “Where are you headed?” He named a town not anywhere near the gas station and admitted he had taken several wrong turns, ran out of gas and didn’t have the money to get the gas to get him to his destination. I finished filling up my truck and brought the nozzle over to his small tank. I filled it up and wished him the best in finding his way.

As I drove off I thought about the small act of kindness extended to the unwashed young man and was thankful for the ability to offer grace to him as he traveled. I’m also thankful for the many small and big acts of grace and kindness extended to me over the span of my journey to help me get closer to my destination.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Another Way

Another Way

Our little farmhouse has many quirks. One of the most frustrating is no back door. At one time there was one in the kitchen but someone filled that one in and installed a dishwasher. Today, the handymen made a doorway out of a window in the hallway next to our bathroom they are remodeling. It was loud and dusty but they got it done and it looks great!

I sit here today with concerns about friends, family, and acquaintances on my heart and mind. A good man who I grew up with lost his father in a motorcycle accident on Easter Sunday. Another friend’s father has a mental illness that’s beginning to impact his family’s life and a tough decision will have to be made soon. Still another friend is facing a big battle filled with an extensive surgery and an even more difficult recovery.

I find myself wanting another way for these people who are suffering so much in different ways. I wish I had the power to create one. A way not filled with the pain of death, the uncertainty of life filled with disease. If I could I would knock down whatever obstacles which stood in their path but regretfully I do not have that kind of power.

What I can do is pray, offer and give any help needed and trust that though another way may not be available, the way of kindness, love, and grace, are still the balm of healing and new life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Flowing

Flowing

This afternoon, before the person remodeling our bathroom left for the weekend he rigged a shower and a working toilet for us to use. I took my first real shower in almost a week about an hour ago and it was wonderful! Standing there as the water flowed I was reminded of those around the world who have no water due to poverty, homelessness or lack of clean water in the areas they live.

Blessings are in abundance for so many of us and yet we miss the wonders. They are bountiful and flow into our lives like a giant waterfall. Unfortunately, we have become so used to them we take them for granted and dismiss their importance and rarity.

Today is Good Friday, the day the Master died. Because of his death, we in the Christian faith are showered with grace, love, kindness and mercy from our Father who is in Heaven. We’ve grown up with the story. It is so familiar that we miss the importance and the rarity of the God-man who came to our world, clothed in our skin, and made a way for us to bathe in the presence of the Father for all eternity.

For Good Friday, Eternal Acceptance, and showers we thank Thee, O’Lord.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Unseen

Unseen

Last night I buzzed the tower at the County Jail to let them know I was there for our Dad’s class. They unlocked the several doors I have to go through to get to the classroom. I stopped about half way, opened my travel box and retrieved the list of names for the evening’s class.

I walked up the stairs to the tower where several men were sitting on one side of the octagonal room. As I handed the list to the corrections office in charge I turned to the men and asked; “how are you guys doing?” “Good,’ came the reply; ‘but there aren’t just men here.'” I looked around and on the other side of the room, sitting by herself was a woman corrections officer. I apologized for not noticing her and she accepted. If it wasn’t for the male officer I never would’ve noticed the woman.

I was talking with a friend this week who said he believed God had shown him his presence in a special way. I responded that I think God regularly shows himself to us; “We’re just too occupied, unaware to notice.” The conversation came back to me last night when I was unaware of the woman officer.

The Bible speaks of “serving angels unaware.” I wonder how many times we miss God’s presence, a stranger’s need, a chance to show grace, kindness, and love to a world which to see and experience it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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