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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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The Space Between

One of the most important teachings of wisdom is the “space between.” It is the distance between what happens to us and our reaction to it. The greater the space; usually the wiser choice and better consequence. The shorter the response time; the more chance of the decision/action being poor.

Wisdom teaches us that a word unsaid is usually not regretted.  This also extends to actions. Once something is said or done there is no reverse and we must accept the consequence, good or bad. “When a person picks up one end of the stick, they always pick up the other.” Wisdom also teaches us the concept of eternity existing in every moment. It is a harder lesson to learn and grasp but powerful in its impact upon how we think about life and relationships.

Take the time, exist in the moment, breathe, be still, reflect and then decide. The difference in a quick reaction and a wise one can be the difference between life and death.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Lessons

I stopped by the grocery store on the way back into town today from a presentation on Fatherhood. I needed to pick up coffee and pop-tarts, everything a middle-aged man needs for a healthy breakfast. It took me two minutes to find and grab the items off the shelf and head to the register. Making good time, all was going to plan. Second in line I smiled and then spied what the lady in front of me was purchasing; little calendars, on sale for a minuscule amount and she was buying every one she could get her hands on. The clerk was scanning each of them individually and there had to be at least a hundred. “Sorry,” the calendar buying woman said to me and I gave her a smile of; “that’s OK,” but inside I was like; “you got to be kidding me!” When the clerk was finally done the lady used two different cards to buy her items and forgot to get cash back. So I waited some more as she bought a pack of Tic-Tacs.

Patience; life has a way of trying to teach us and we have  a way of resenting the lesson. After checking out myself I headed to the truck and couldn’t help but roll my eyes and laugh.

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

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