Blog Archives

Can You Hear Me?

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Can You Hear Me?

Earlier this week I had a frustrating conversation with someone (not Beth). I was attempting to explain and they weren’t receptive to my words body language and insistence. Finally, we decided we’d try again at a later date when cooler heads would prevail.

It is amazing how difficult it can be to communicate; listen and speak. It doesn’t only involve ears and mouths but minds, bodies, times, temperaments, and most of all the willingness of both parties to check their egos at the door. This is where I made my mistake. I was attempting to force someone to listen, to see and understand what I was doing and it wasn’t taking. Forcing people to do anything rarely, if ever, works. After we both stepped away I realized the whole situation was my fault. I wasn’t showing empathy but exasperation and that’s never a good head-space to be in when trying to speak to someone.

Thankfully, when we came back together I was able to recognize where I went wrong and tried a different way. I instructed and acted more respectfully and thoughtfully. I made sure not to try to cram information into someone but to let them absorb it. When it was over I apologized for my shortsightedness and hope this is a lesson I will take to heart.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Cracked

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Cracked

This morning I went grocery shopping. As one who doesn’t care for shopping, it’s odd to find me roaming the aisles. However, Beth hasn’t been feeling well so it was my husbandly duty. On the list was eggs so I found them and as I was putting them in the cart I remembered to open the carton and check to make sure none were broken. There wasn’t any so I gently put it into the grocery cart and went to find the next item on my list.

When Beth and I were first married we went grocery shopping together one time and were buying eggs. I picked up a carton and placed it in the buggy without checking to see if any were cracked. A kind elderly man standing near us said; “You might want to check those eggs to make sure none are cracked or broken.” We did and there were several that were in bad shape. We thanked the man, retrieved another set of eggs, and from that day forward haven’t forgotten to check the eggs or think about the man who taught us this valuable lesson.

The encounter with the older gentleman might many years ago changed the way we did things. His advice helped us look beneath the surface and double-check what we were taking home. After finishing shopping today I wondered; “Have I done anything this week to change anyone’s life longterm, for the better?”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Frustration

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Frustration

This morning I had an early appointment in Nashville to being a training. I put the address in my GPS app on my phone and off I went. It took me to the exact spot I’d entered into the phone but there was one problem, it was the wrong address. It took me a moment to realize my mistake until I literally got to the end of a dead-end road. Argh! I felt my frustration starting to grow. Instead of being 30 minutes early I was going to be late. I checked the address again, realized where I made my mistake, and set off in the right direction. Trying not to let my anxiety rise to a harmful level I turned on a three-lane road and stopped at a traffic light. I was in the far right lane, an SUV in the center lane, and a sports car in the left lane. I heard yelling and realized it was the SUV driver and the sports car driver having a road rage episode. I couldn’t make out much of what they were saying and the words I could understand I don’t dare repeat.

I sat there listening and watching the living embodiment of frustration out of control; testosterone, anger, and vitriol spewing out of both of them. It made me take stock of my mood and I realized it wasn’t worth getting upset over my mistake and to let it go. I did, arrived at the training on time and am thankful for the lesson two men out of control could teach me.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Keep What Works

Keep What Works

This advertisement was in my Twitter feed this morning. When I was a pastor who had to prepare and deliver a message each Sunday I loved the times when after the service people would come up and ask a question, make a comment or even challenge something I said during the message.  It meant they were listening! I would listen to them and then discuss whatever was on their mind. At the end of the conversation I would often tell them; “Don’t take what I say as the truth. Go search for yourself. Find out if the all or part of the message is for you and keep what works and leave the rest.” I understood that depending on where we were on our path greatly determined what our minds, emotions, and spirits could process and apply at any given moment. Most of us have had the experience of someone excitedly telling us about something they heard someone say, or read in a book, and how it changed their lives. While we are grateful for our friend’s epiphany we also think to ourselves; “I’ve told them this a thousand times and they never listened!” It’s because they weren’t ready. The good piece of advice, the important life lesson we told them wasn’t ready to be heard.

Wisdom teaches us that many truths surround us presently. However, we can only perceive a few, if any, because we are unaware, distracted. The best news is that these truths are timeless and sooner or later they’re ready to be received and applied. Sometimes we become frustrated because we seem to be learning the same things over and over. We need to learn to give ourselves a break and trust that one day the truth we’ve been searching for will be received and kept because it works.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Why did the Cow Cross the Road?

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Why did the Cow Cross the Road?

There’s nothing quite like living in an agricultural community. You never know what strange experiences each day holds. This morning, on my way to an appointment, I was driving behind a car who suddenly hit their breaks, red lights shining brightly. I quickly hit my brakes and wondered why we were stopping and then noticed a big black cow standing in the right lane. We were on the crest of a hill and couldn’t drive around it for fear of being struck head-on by another vehicle. The driver in front of me beeped her horn, inched toward the animal, even tried shewing it but the bovine paid no attention. Finally, after what seemed like forever, the cow sauntered off the road and into the brush. Shaking my head, I carefully drove past it and wondered how and why it was in this place at this time.

Life’s road is similar to my experience this morning. You never know what’s going to cross your path, stand in your way, refuse to be moved. Many times we try to force, coerce, bribe our way around obstacles but they stubbornly resist movement of any kind. Sometimes the obstacle is the path, the lesson, which needs to be learned before it moves on. Other times life makes less sense and an obstacle is simply a barrier we must figure out how to move or get around.

Whatever the obstacle, no matter how big, imposing, or frustrating we should remember this too shall pass. All things are transient and nothing lasts forever.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

to Know

to Know

A story is told that one day Saint Mother Teresa was asked by a seeker how to find and see God. After a moment of thought, Sister Teresa responded; “You will find God when you can see Him in each next person you meet.” In other words, when a person realizes God indwells in his creation and the love we have for God should be reflected in all he has created.

I am reminded of this story, and wisdom lesson, when someone is getting on my nerves, bugs me just because of who they are, or seems to do everything wrong or not the way I think it should be done. “Do you see God in…?” It’s a powerful reminder that the way we see, treat and judge others is a reflection of our own heart and our relationship with God.

To know someone, to love them is to know and love God.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Open for Change

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Open for Change –

Yesterday I was getting ready to go teach a class and as I was getting y shoes and belt together I stubbed my toe on a box fan. It hurt and when I yelled; “Ow!” our Siberian Husky Trooper came to investigate and ended up underneath my feet. My first reaction was to turn my pain and frustration on him. “Trooper! Get out of the way! Go to your bed!” These sentences were on the tip of my tongue but I stopped them before they came out. It wasn’t him that wasn’t paying attention, not looking where he was going, was in a hurry and should have slowed down taking a more time. That was me. So, at first through clenched teeth I said in the sweetest voice I could muster; “Troop, why don’t you go back to your bed.” He did and I rubbed my toes until they felt better.

The class lesson was on being; “Open for Change” when we communicate and interact with each other. Two of the core principles are; “Realizing changing for the better starts with you, not the other person.” The second is; “Be open to criticism.” In other words, communication, and interaction require a willingness to be corrected, told how you can become a better person. Too often we stop listening when someone begins to criticize when perhaps that’s when we should listen the most intently.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Abundance

Abundance

To be unselfish is the key to abundance. To not hold on to anything, desire anything, be covetous of anything or anyone. Abundance comes from being content and this comes from acceptance of all life brings our way.

Too often we see the lives of others or review our own lives and wish they would have turned out different brings suffering. These illusions only lead to pain and heartbreak. What we have received is only temporary. As hard as it is to accept this world only gives us transient treasures and trinkets. Whether it be people or things, our inability to control when and how they leave our lives is a lesson we need to learn.

Only eternal gifts last. When we are given them we may hold on to them as tightly as possible but to do this we must let go of what we hold dear that is not eternal. Transience is not evil. To love those who bring wonder, kindness, and love to our life is not wrong. However, it is a bittersweet connection because it is temporary. While this is painful to know and experience it also makes every moment more treasured.

Most of our lives are full of abundance but knowing they are not ours forever is the test of true life, true love, true wisdom.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Grow where You’re Planted

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Grow where You’re Planted

Yesterday, Beth and I began prepping the yard and our plants for winter. Most of our summer plants have dropped their leaves and the ones which won’t be blooming again, or didn’t grow at all, we threw into a ditch next to the fence on our property we’re trying to fill. We’ve done the same thing the last three falls and yesterday I noticed there were plants growing and as I looked closer I saw there were some that we had tossed. There were Tomatoes, Elephant Ears, Blueberries, Palm fronds, and more. It was amazing to see what we thought were used up or no good plants find root and begin growing again, or for the first time.

There’s a lesson in there for those who are going through times of change, transition, difficulty, and loss. Seasons of life, when we are uprooted and seemingly thrown somewhere random, chaotic and left for dead, can still lead to growth. I told someone a few weeks ago, who had begun a new, uncertain chapter in their life, “bloom where you’re planted.” It’s not easy and there are certain to be trying moments where the effort to put down roots might seem to take more than we can give but the result; life, peace, acceptance, will be worth the effort.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The Obstacle is the Path

The Obstacle is the Path

This afternoon I made a quick stop at the local Wal-Mart to buy a few things. I knew exactly what I wanted, where it was located, picked up the items and headed for the checkout. I am one of those people who will walk down the length of the entire front of the store to see if I can find the shortest line possible.

However, today, a nice woman in a yellow vast spotted me looking and told me lanes 19 and 21 were open with no waiting. I made my way to the aforementioned lanes and both of them weren’t empty but had only a few people with a few items. I picked one and steered my cart behind the people in front of me. Almost as soon as I parked the buggy I knew I picked the wrong one. The cashier was chatty, the customers too and there was an issue with one of the payment cards they were trying to use. “Sigh.” I thought about leaving but didn’t have the energy to pick another aisle. It has been a busy morning with back to back sessions, email replies, calendar updates, phone calls and another meeting in half an hour.

As I stood there I thought to myself; “Maybe, this is what you need. A time to rest. A place to stop. Perhaps what you see as a burden is a beautiful gifted moment.” I breathed in a long breath and let it out. Soon it was my turn, checked out, got into the truck and made my meeting with plenty of time to spare. Lesson learned, again.

“The obstacle is the path.” 
#Wisdom Proverb

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Last Time

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Last Time

This weekend I was speaking with a friend about his roof. It has a leak and he and his wife have decided that they are going to replace the whole roof instead of just trying to fix the leak. “This is the last time I’ll have to put a new roof on the house,” he said. I knew what he meant. My friend is 20 years or so older than me and a new roof might outlast him. His recognition of this gave me a glimpse into a level of self-awareness this man had reached. As we get older, the wiser among us accept the truth that life’s clock is winding down.

Wisdom teachers place the lesson of death at the center of most disciplines. Accepting the shortness of life is the beginning of wisdom. It is the understanding that our lives are a mere number of days of which we are unaware of. Today, tomorrow, whenever, death comes for all. It is not morbid to reflect upon our mortality. It should bring humility and thankfulness. We are humbled by the uncontrollability of it all and are thankful for one more day, moment, breath.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Not so Fast

Not So Fast!

Today, on my way to a meeting in Shelbyville, Tennessee I was cruising along at a crisp 60MPH when I spied a flashing construction sign which read; “New Signal Light Ahead. Be Prepared to Stop!” I was confused because I’ve never known this road to be extra busy but began to slow down as I rounded a curve and sure enough a new traffic light had been installed. It was red when I first saw it and stayed red…for a long time! I thought maybe the light was broken and we should begin proceeding carefully but none of the other vehicles moved. Finally, it turned green and as I reached the new light there were two signs which read; “Stop Here On Red.” “Maximum Time for Red Light: Three Minutes.” When you’re traveling three minutes can feel like an eternity and certainly did as I waited for the green. For the record, the light was red on my way out-of-town as well. Grrrr!

Practicing stillness is important. I do it every day when I meditate, pray and at various other times, especially when it’s been hectic. Stillness is a central discipline to gaining wisdom and experiencing life. However, I’d prefer to dictate when I will and won’t be still. I’d like it to be my decision. I surely didn’t want it on my way to a meeting, driving down a country road. Yet, here was a time of stillness forced upon me but instead impatience, confusion was the result.

To truly know stillness is to carry it with you. It shouldn’t need to be conjured up on a timetable. Being still is more than a way of life it’s a way of being. It’s also a lesson and a discipline I’m still working on.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Shift

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Shift

I know someone who is a friend of a friend. I’ve briefly encountered this individual a handful of times. The thing is, for some reason, this person rubbed me the wrong way. He hadn’t done anything to me except be himself and being himself didn’t sit right with me. I had lots of excuses as to why this person was what I thought he was but nothing tangible, just a feeling.

Then, earlier this week, I learned something about this man and it suddenly shifted my view. There were still those things that got on my nerves but while a few weeks ago they looked so big now they seemed petty and brought upon me a sense of shame.

It’s easy to teach and write about not judging others but a whole other level to practice what you speak. All it took was one thing to shift my view, understanding of this man and his life. An important and embarrassing reminder that we must always be on guard about how we see people. There’s always more there than we initially see and experience.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Empty

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Empty –

A wise master received a university professor who came to inquire about true wisdom.  The master served her tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full and then kept on pouring.  The professor watched the overflow until she no longer could restrain herself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”  “Like this cup,” said the master, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you wisdom unless you first empty your cup?”

This is one of my favorite wisdom parables. It is a great reminder that we can become so full of ourselves, our opinions, our convictions, our beliefs, and our ego that we are unable to receive something new, different, exciting or growth producing.

To come to each day with an empty cup and allowing it to be filled with each experience, every person, circumstances, and situations is to be a true student of wisdom.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Fill Up

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Fill Up

Warm weather, especially as you near Spring, has a way of lulling you into a false sense of security. We use a big kerosene heater to warm our little farmhouse and I have two big kerosene cans to fill the lamp when needed. The catch is that we haven’t needed the heater for a couple of weeks because of unseasonable warmth and I had run out of oil the last time I filled it up.

It was warm this week, temps hitting almost 80 degrees on Friday. However, the weekend brought a cool front through the area, and Saturday and Sunday have been chilly! The temps dropped into the 20’s last night and it was cold in the house this morning! I got out of the bed a little after 6 o’clock and realized to warm things up I was going to have to grab the kerosene cans and drive to one of the few gas stations that carry kerosene and fill them up. I did and made it back home, put the kerosene into the heater and its warmth quickly spread through our home.

I didn’t want to get outside this morning, nor drive to a gas station, or stand in the cold while filling up the cans. What I did want was warmth and if you have no fuel you have not heat. A good lesson for little farmhouses and people of all shapes and sizes.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
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Two Things at Once

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Two Things at Once

I am working on a project that requires two people. There is only one person home today, me. I tried doing it by myself, holding it just right, balancing it just so, tying it off, everything I could think of and no matter what I couldn’t do it alone.

I reflected on the project after I gave up and wondered if there are times things require two people to remind us how much we need each other. I heard someone use the word; “collectivism” this week. In their minds it was a bad thing and that our communities, nation, and the world had been convinced that we can no longer do great things alone. For him, it was a weakness that should be destroyed.

I don’t agree. To need each other is not weakness but strength. It means we have the intelligence to know we cannot do all things singularly and the humility to ask for help. Perhaps, if we had more of both our world wouldn’t be in such dire need today.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Speak Up

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Speak Up

I was pulling out of a parking space at the Dollar Saver when I saw this red 4 door sedan pull in. In the back was either an infant or toddler and in the front were two women smoking cigarettes, windows rolled up. I hit the brakes and debated on whether to say something, risk them getting upset and inform them or remind them that cigarette smoke is harmful, deadly to children. The debate didn’t last long, I couldn’t keep quiet. When they were out of the car I rolled down my window and said; “Excuse me. I wanted to tell you that smoking around a baby is not good. It really hurts them and you shouldn’t do it.” The driver said she had her window down. I don’t think she did but that doesn’t stop smoke and carcinogens from poisoning the child. I repeated myself again; “It’s really not good for the baby and can be very harmful!” Silence followed and then the driver said; “Thank you,” which I am sure was code-word for; “bugger off weirdo!” I pulled out of the parking lot not sure if saying anything did anything.

Most times in life we talk too much but there are moments when speaking; reminding, informing, reprimanding is a necessity. To not speak up is to miss an opportunity. We can’t choose the outcome of our words but we can choose to defend the helpless and those who cannot speak up, stand up for themselves.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Where there’s Smoke…

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Where there’s Smoke…

Our little old farmhouse doesn’t have central heat and air. We hope to add it one day but there are several other home improvements we’d like to make before investing in a unit and duct work. During the summer we use window air conditioner units and in the winter we have a few space heaters plus a Kerosene heater for the main front rooms. It works well enough for now and does a good job keeping the cool at bay.

Last night, after we finished sitting around the fire-pit for a while we came inside and I lit the Kerosene heater. I went into another room and it wasn’t long before Beth was yelling my name; “Brian! There’s smoke, lots of smoke, everywhere!” I came running into the living room and she was right, the heater was putting out black smoke which was filling the room. I quickly took the heater outside, we opened all the windows in the three rooms the smoke was residing and put fans in them to help draw out the unwanted ash cloud. It didn’t take long to clear and for our hearts to begin beating at a normal rhythm again.

Though we like the Kerosene heater, the trick is getting the wick lit and the container which fits around and over it set just right. If you aren’t careful you can end up with rooms full of black smoke or worse. It was a good lesson in paying attention and making sure something which needed to be done specifically and correctly was done so.

As the fans hummed drawing out the smoke and soot last night I thought about how careless we are in other areas of life. There are times when we don’t handle things rightly, correctly, carefully and making sure what we do doesn’t end up making a big mess.

Wisdom, mindfulness, tells us to focus on what we are doing, presently, in the now. Lesson learned, again, yesterday.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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What’s the Reason?

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What’s the Reason –

This afternoon, on my way to the county jail for the incarcerated fathers’ class, I was approaching a stoplight when a dark SUV, who’d been behind me for a while decided he wanted to pass me. Quickly he jumped lanes, flew by me and barely had time to turn on his signal before he turned at the light. He then had to stop at the street he wanted to turn on and wait for oncoming traffic to abate before proceeding. I would like to be able to say I handled it perfectly but I must admit to giving him the hands up in the air, shrug, implying; “What was the reason, the point, for jumping in front of me to end up in the same spot?” I’m not sure he interpreted all of that from my shrug but I just couldn’t help myself.

Shaking my head and moving along I reflected on how often we hurriedly try to get an inch ahead only to be a foot short. A friend of mine, who was in the army, used to tell me the motto for the grunts should be; “Hurry up and wait.” Wisdom teaches us that a steady pace will get us where we need to go when we need to get there. Hopefully, the other driver and myself will fully grasp the lesson one day.

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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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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