Blog Archives

to Learn

to Learn

I once listened to a man who was in charge of a big organization. He spoke about how he arrived at his position, ran the day-to-day business, and wanted to teach others how to follow in his footsteps. As I listened I also glanced around the room at the staff he had assembled and realized something was missing. As jazzed as he was being their leader their eyes, mannerisms, betrayed the fact that they didn’t feel the same way.

As I got to know the managers and leaders who worked under the main guy I realized there was a lot of dissatisfaction and exasperation. The main leader could be a bully, didn’t listen, had all the answers to all the wrong questions. He was a leader but he wasn’t their leader. Most of them felt distant and disconnected.

Since then I’ve met similar leaders and similar staffs. I’ve also met good leaders who sit with their staff members and let them talk. I’ve met leaders who are open to criticism. I’ve seen leaders apologize for not being good enough and watched them work to become better.

The quote (pictured) is a valuable lesson. To learn, not just from those who do things well, but also from those who need improving, takes a willingness to be open, willing and ready to learn in all situations and seasons.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

To Listen

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to Listen

I have a friend who had a tough conversation earlier this week with one of the leaders at her work. It was a conversation long overdue but oftentimes these are easier to avoid than begin. Part of the challenge is the fact that once a grievance is aired, it can’t be taken back. If the person is caught unawares the conversation can get uncomfortable, quick! Another risk is the recipient might also see this time as an opportunity to unload something they’ve been holding back.

However, this wasn’t my friend’s experience. Her perception of the conversation was that the other wasn’t listening. There wasn’t much feedback or input from the other party. They sat there, injected a few words, and then moved on to another topic before ending the conversation. My friend was frustrated because nothing was solved and the subject will have to be addressed again.

Wisdom teaches us that; “Listening is not agreeing.” Too often, when someone confronts us, challenges our way of thinking, we become aggressive and want to prove to them and our ourselves we are right in our thinking. So, instead of listening while they are talking, understanding and evaluating what they have to say, we are too busy planning what we are going to say next in our minds. We don’t listen and aren’t open to something that might be said which we need to hear. Even if, as we carefully and contemplatively listen, don’t find something we can at least show the other person what they say matters.

Listening is not agreeing but it is allowing the other person to be and have a worldview which might not be ours but is respected because we honor them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

to Listen

to Listen

Today I unloaded on someone. It wasn’t in an angry way but therapeutically. I talked about all that’s been happening in my life and in the lives of the people I know and care about. It was almost an hour of pouring out my heart into her listening ear. She asked a few questions but mostly let me vent about things that I’m worried about, some of which I can take some kind of action but mostly things in which I need to accept the situation and my powerlessness over it.

At the end of our conversation, she didn’t tell me what to do or not do. She didn’t give me a list of positive affirmations or ways to avoid the situations. She listened and that’s what I needed her to do. After we finished I said; “Goodbye” and went home. Yet, somehow, I felt better, lighter, more stable in a chaotic season of life. Her listening ear was most welcome.

Many times we think of listening as the pause between what we want to say to the person who’s talking. To truly listen is not planning our next comeback, advice giving, compliment or criticism, it is having an open ear and sensing the moment as sacred. We receive the words with reverence and speak as if we are on Holy Ground.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Conflict

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Conflict

I attended a webinar today discussing the topic of conflict. The main emphasis was conflict in the workplace but it could be applicable to many other situations.

The presenter shared the following story…a boss and an employee needed to talk about the amount of pay the employee was making and the amount of work the employee was putting in. In the boss’ opinion, the employee was overpaid. The conversation needed to happen but neither one wanted to have it. There was tension and suspicion from both parties. They went out to lunch and the way back to the office, walking on a street in a busy downtown city, the boss brought up the topic. “Boom!” The employee lost it as soon as the boss mentioned the subject and they both ended up yelling at each other while countless passerby’s watched in stunned silence.

The presenter, a conflict specilaist, was called in to try to get the two parties to resolve the conflict. She spent time with both the employee and the boss individually trying to understand their point of view. When she felt she had a grasp of who they were as people, what motivated them, why the argument happened, and how far both were willing to go for a fair settlement, she brought them together and they resolved their conflict.

Conflict with other people is going to happen. Each of us as individuals come from a unique natural and nurtured environment. We have different life experiences, preferences, sets of morals and values, fears, goals, strengths, weaknesses, ideas about life and what is and isn’t a part of it.

We forget too easily the other person is coming from a distinct place separate from us. It’s only when we take the time to get to know each other, build relationships, be willing to accept what we understand and don’t understand regarding the other that true intimacy and understanding can take place.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Improving Upon Silence?

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Improving Upon Silence?

A couple of weeks ago I tried having a conversation with a man who wouldn’t stop yelling. His rant was about everything and nothing. No matter how I tried I couldn’t get him to listen, to move beyond his tantrum and into a dialogue. When his hour was up I wished him well but wasn’t sure the session did anyone, including myself, any good.

Tonight in our Incarcerated Father’s class I spoke to the participants about moving beyond anger and into a productive exchange with others. The steps are; respect for the other, listen to the other, be open to constructive criticism and have the self-awareness to know or hear what needs to change in your life and respond positively.

As I reflected on the lesson I thought about the man from a few weeks ago, my Facebook feed over the last several months, protest marches, inaugurations, and too many other instances where people are yelling, complaining, talking incessantly and rarely, if ever, shutting up.

Silence is in short supply these days. If someone doesn’t stop yacking and start listening soon things are only going to get worse.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Open Ears

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Open Ears

No one likes to be told they’re wrong, what they believe is misplaced, what they think is illogical, what they say is confused. Compliments are nice, they stay with us for a while, like a pretty flower, that eventually fades. Criticisms can be wounding and leave a scar that impacts how we live, feel about ourselves, understand our world. This is why criticism is met most often with denial and contempt.

However, one of the greatest disciplines is to learn how to listen to those who may not have the nicest things to say about us. In spite of the urge to fight or insult, hurt them for hurting us, simply dismiss, we should listen. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received is; “Listening is not agreeing.” We listen out of respect for the other because we cannot be respected if we don’t first respect. We listen because each of us has our own ideas, ways of doing things, view of life

Finally, we listen because maybe they are saying something we need to hear. Some of the hardest criticisms to accept are those which end up being on target. Perhaps at first, we didn’t want to hear what was being said but a wise person always allows for the possibility of growth. After listening and reflecting we heed the criticism and, hopefully, grow and become a better person because of it.

Aristotle says; “The sign of a wise mind is the ability to think a thought and not necessarily believe it to be true.

I believe Aristotle might add that sometimes, what is said and thought, turns out to be true.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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The Next Step

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The Next Step

Someone asked me yesterday evening; “So how was your birthday? Do anything special?” “Yes,‘ I replied, ‘I started it in therapy and ended it in jail!” I explained that on Wednesday nights I teach an incarcerated father’s class at the local corrections facility.

The two classes I lead are often two highlights of my week. They aren’t always easy classes to teach but they are usually filled with; “Aha!” moments from at least one of the dads. Last night we talked about things we’ve done that we’re sorry for and how to begin writing the rest of our story; one in which we can be proud. Our motto; “Good choices make Good Men make Good Fathers” is not just a catchy phrase but the basis of all that we learn over the 3 month period we are together.

Most of the men in our class aren’t used to making good decisions on a regular basis. What we try to do is figure out how to live a life where good choices are the norm, not the exception. We understand that if we can do this we can build a good life, be a good man, a good dad, a good person, one choice, one step at a time.

I think these lessons are for us all, not just the men in my classes.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Uncontrollable Words

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Uncontrollable Words –

The other day I was cornered by someone who felt they needed to tell me something…actually, it was a lot of somethings. This person kept going on and on and on. I could literally feel myself wearing down from all the words, phrases that were being thrown my way. We weren’t communicating. I was doing my best to listen at first but after a while, I noticed they were just throwing words at me hoping something would stick. I was wrestling with which would be better; sticking my fingers in my ear while chanting; “La, la, la, la.” Grabbing a passerby and introducing the person to them hoping their focus would shift and I could sneak away or just making a break for it, running and seeing if they would pursue.

I was speaking, communicating, with another person last week about the art of talking and listening to another person. Wisdom tells us that true conversation is a sacred act. Meeting someone new, hearing secrets, weaknesses, dreams, memories, connecting on a deeper level requires not just words and phrases but silence and pauses. We allow the other’s being to be revealed and we share our own. This can’t be done if we never take a breath, if we are only wanting to be heard not also wanting to hear.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Eye of the Beholder

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Eye of the Beholder

Yesterday was a day full of teaching/counseling how to best communicate with those we love and treasure most. It’s ironic but sometimes the very ones we have the greatest need to connect with are the ones we seemingly have the most trouble.

I spoke to a group of men about communicating with the mother of their children. Most of them have children with different moms and I had them imagine talking and listening with the one they have the most difficulty engaging. I asked them why and received all sort of answers, most of them blaming the mom. We then discussed the difference between action and acceptance. Ultimately we must accept it if another person won’t communicate with us but we should take every action step we can to attempt to reconnect.

The two starting points with any real conversation are respect and a willingness to be changed by the conversation. If we approach someone not respecting them, not wanting to listen, placing the blame for all the problems in the relationship true connection will not happen. We have to be willing to listen and acknowledge our responsibility in the challenges and difficulties of the relationship. We have to be open to change and make every effort to do our part in healing a broken bond between two people.

It all begins with looking the other person in the eye and seeing ourselves. Knowing and doing what we need to do instead of making demands of the other can be the first steps in a new and stronger bond between the ones we need in our lives.

 blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Look Around

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Look Around

Earlier today I stopped by a store to pick up a few items and proceeded to the cashier to check out. There was a line of two people who were clearly friends in front of me. What I noticed was the employee doing their best to greet the two women but they didn’t stop talking long enough for her to do so. She rang up their items, gave the total, received the cash, handed their change back, hoped they had a nice day, all while the pair hardly noticed her existence. After they left, I stepped forward and made sure to connect with the cashier so she knew she wasn’t invisible.

I wasn’t angry with the two women who were chatting amongst themselves for I too have been wrapped up in my world and failed to notice someone. However, it was a good reminder that it’s far too easy to allow other people to go unnoticed. Those who may need recognition, an open ear, a kind word, a helping hand, a shoulder to lean on, an embrace, a connection, a relationship, are all around us. May our eyes, minds and spirits be open to them.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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True or False

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True or False?

Netflix has an intriguing documentary on the crime, trial, and person of Amanda Knox; the young woman accused of murdering her roommate while living in Italy almost ten years ago. No spoilers but it is worth the watch whether you think her guilty or innocent. The trial was a media sensation. There were four of them and reporters for news agencies from around the world packed the small Italian villa to give those who cared every detail of the sordid story.

Toward the end of the documentary, one of the reporters was asked about the media’s sensationalizing of the murder, Amanda, her boyfriend and the trials, and if they played any part in the way it all eventually ended. One of the featured reporters said; “What are we (reporters and journalists) supposed to do? Are we going to double-check our sources and make sure the information given is true? If we do that our competitors will beat us to the scoop!” As I heard him say this I said out loud to the man on the TV; “Yes! That’s exactly what you’re supposed to do! You’re a journalist!

It was a sober reminder that often people are more interested in gossip than facts, assumptions than authenticity, falsehoods which are more tantalizing than boring truth. As Mark Twain said;

“A lie can travel around the world and back again while the truth is lacing up its boots.”

I see this on a smaller scale with social media, local communities and, sadly, even churches. We are so careless with our tongues and keep our ears shut tight. We are ready to believe the worse and to pass it on to anyone who will listen before we ask ourselves three important questions; “Is it true?” “How do I know (what are my sources)?” “Is it any of my business?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Take Care

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Take Care

Yesterday, during my second lecture at a Rehabilitation Center, a young man challenged me about the ideas and skills I was teaching about getting and staying clean of alcohol and drugs. It started as fidgeting in his seat and then he couldn’t keep his thoughts quiet! He mumbled something out loud and I heard but didn’t understand. I looked at him and asked him what he said.  I was interested in a dialogue but he was only interested in telling me how wrong I was about addicts and the ongoing journey to sobriety.

I was careful not to feel attacked nor make him feel on the defensive as I tried to help him understand why what I was saying was true. Others in the group started speaking up and telling the young man he needed to listen. I thanked the others for their support but asked them to let me speak to him so he wouldn’t feel the group of forty or so guys was against him. Unfortunately, the young man was done speaking and listening. My last words to him were; “I’d really like to talk to you about this after we’re done with the lecture.” He put his head down and when we were done he rushed out of the room. I looked for him as I was leaving but couldn’t find him.

This was the young man’s first time in a Rehab Center. He was struggling with admitting he was an addict, putting his past behind him, coming to grips with the truth that addiction is a life long battle. His thoughts, I am sure, swirled between surrender and control, acceptance and resistance, freedom and slavery.

People who have lived with addiction will tell you that the temptation to use begins in the mind, subtle thoughts start gnawing at you and soon, if they are not checked, you are neck-deep in things you said you’d never do again.

Wisdom teaches us that our thoughts and our words are to be guarded zealously for from them springs our destiny.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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After All this Time

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After All this Time

Late yesterday afternoon I was worn out from working on an outdoor project and Beth was painting a section of our porch. Sitting down in an outdoor chair I knew my working part of the day was done. Beth and I were only ten feet or so away from each other and we started talking. For almost two hours we had a conversation about important and not important topics. We listened to each other, asked questions, learned and laughed. Finally, the sun was setting and we ended our talk to get ready to go inside.

I’ve thought about our long, slow, wonderful conversation several times since yesterday. Beth and I started dating when we were freshman in college. We were together every minute we could be but still couldn’t get enough of each other. Most evenings we would say our goodbyes, give one another a little sugar and head back to our dorm rooms. Then, we would call each other and talk for hours into the night.

This year we celebrated twenty-six years being married. Lots of things have changed and those two teenagers had no idea what life would give and take away. Saturday evening was this intimate moment when the two young, naïve souls of a boy and girl intersected with the souls of a middle-aged couple still enjoying one another’s presence after all this time.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Muddy Words

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Muddy Words

I had an interesting conversation with a gentleman this week who had a unique combination of over-confidence, a persecution complex, an incredibly loud voice and a gift(?) for being able to talk for long periods without taking a breath.

It was hard to follow everything he was saying. There were times when I tried interrupting, even holding up my hand to try to get him to pause long enough for me to say anything! No luck, so I took a breath. Wisdom tells me when water is muddy only being still will allow you to see clearly.

So, I listened, without obstructing his word flow and waited. Finally, he was finished and I knew what he was trying to tell me. I didn’t agree but listening and agreeing aren’t the same thing. When I was able to speak with him I did so slowly, purposefully, not with the idea of changing him, but letting him know he had been heard. Doing this made all the difference in the rest of our time together.

It was another reminder we are never the master, always the student when it comes to the lessons wisdom tries teaching us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Shhhhh

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Shhhhh…

What does it mean to listen?

I had a conversation with a gentleman today about what it means to truly hear another person, to listen intently, empathetically, contemplatively. It’s not an easy discipline to master. To hear another, to touch their true selves takes practice and no small amount of humility.

Most of the time when we are conversing with another person we are simultaneously thinking about what we are going to say in response and filtering what the other is saying through our own life filter.  In other words, we hear according to who we are not the person speaking to us. If we desire to listen, hear the other person speak, feel their words, the emotions behind them we must be a blank paper that they can write upon.

We live in a world where listening is quickly becoming a lost art, a forgotten discipline. To listen to someone is to make a bond, join together, connect on a deeper level than all the drivel which inundates our lives through TV, radio, internet, social media each day.

Contemplative listening is letting a person speak their words, to have them imprinted upon us, without a ready response or hasty judgement. It is to touch the soul of the other and know that neither will be the same afterwards.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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My Kind of Reality

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My Kind of Reality

I like the truth behind this quote from Bill Waterson. Many realities are forced upon us by different medias, people, cultures, and environments. We are told what to think, who to trust, where we’re supposed to go and how we are to get there.

I enjoy social media for the most part. Catching up and keeping up with people whom I care for and love is one of the biggest positives of being connected. However, one of the worst bits of social media is the relentless posts on political preferences, judgements and snarky remarks against folks who have done one thing or another to upset the poster. There are litmus tests such as abortion, gay rights, presidential candidates, celebrities, and a host of other subjects that decide for us whether or not a person is worth our time, and perhaps even our love. I am consistently appalled at the vitriol people say to one another online, things, I hope, they’d never say face to face.

It seems we’re surrounded by litmus tests such as abortion, gay rights, presidential candidates, celebrities, and a host of other subjects that decide whether we ae worth a person’s attention or their love. If we fail, we’re not worthy.

It wears me out! This isn’t the reality I choose to live in. I want to be in a place where people can believe and express different opinions and still be friends. I desire a world more nuanced where one won’t decide whether a person is good or bad by whether they agree or disagree on a subject the other is passionate about. I long to see people converse instead of scream, listen and not talk incessantly, have an open heart and spirit to the one who is different, offensive and human, just like us.

This is the reality I choose and pray others will join me.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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The Hole –

The Hole

I used to hear tales of older folks who couldn’t eat certain foods too close before bed time or they’d have strange dreams and restless nights. I figured I hadn’t read that age yet until the last few times we’ve eaten pizza later than usual. Last night was one of those occasions. I ate one slice of supreme pizza with spicy sausage around 8pm and a couple of hours later crawled into bed.

I drifted off to sleep and it wasn’t long before one of the strangest dreams I’ve ever had began. It involved Sherman Hemsley, yes that; Sherman Hemsley, Mr. George Jefferson himself who starred in the titular role on the T.V show, “The Jefferesons.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherman_Hemsley) I found myself sitting on the front row, in a large church with wooden pews along with a packed house as Mr. Hemsley was getting married to a woman of Japanese descent. The dream was so crazy I only remember snippets. There was singing, preaching, sushi and me thinking; “What am I doing here?” The service, and the dream, seemed to go on forever and then someone spoke to me; “You can focus on who put you in the hole or who pulled you out.” and then I woke up.

I told Beth the dream over breakfast at Cracker Barrel this morning. I like to try to decipher where my dreams come from, what events and experiences contributed to the images and speech found in them, especially the odder ones but for the life of me I don’t know where George Jefferson, Sushi and a wedding come from.

However, the words of wisdom; “You can focus on who put you in the hole or who pulled you out.” are powerful and certainly worth reflecting on.

Tonight, something bland for dinner and maybe an Nexium.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Drowning Out

Drowning Out

One of my favorite sounds is rain on a tin roof. One of my least favorite is the tail pipe extensions folks are putting on their vehicles. These extensions turn normal sounding cars and trucks into loud, ear-piercing, window rattling, jet planes driving by.

This past weekend we finished placing a tin roof on our porch. Last night, around 5pm, a thunderstorm brought some much-needed rain into our area and I went outside to sit and listen. Often, around this time each day, drivers of the above mentioned boisterous vehicles have gotten off work and are driving by the house.

Yesterday evening, however, I noticed the rain on the tin roof drowned out all other noise. The trucks and cars I recognized as being converted were no longer obnoxious. My closeness to the tin roof protected my ears, my nerves and the stillness of my spirit.

Wisdom tells us that presence is influence. The closer we stay to our source of comfort and peace the less distracted and deafening the chaos and craziness of this world can can be.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com 

What is Received

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What is Received

Some friends and I were talking the other day about listening. More to the point, we were talking about people hearing things which were never said.

In communication lectures I emphasize the importance of knowing your audience. To the best of your knowledge; have they had a good day, how are they feeling, are there any stressors and pressures weighing heavily upon them?  All of these determine what they hear when you speak to them.
What about environment? What is the location of your conversation, do you have privacy, are there bystanders, can you talk without being interrupted by eavesdroppers? Again, these have a lot to do with how your words to another are perceived. And of course, what is your history with the person whom you’re speaking with?
Communication is 80% non-verbal. Only 20% of what we say to another person, or a group of people, is said with language.There are many other factors to be considered to ensure your words are received with the right intent. Unfortunately, even taking most or all of these ingredients in mind, it doesn’t guarantee the words you speak will be what the listener hears.

As one who speaks one on one and to groups of people regularly I have many stories of folks excitedly telling me; “What you said today really spoke to me!” When I inquire about the specifics they share about topics I didn’t talk about and hadn’t even considered! “Thank you!” they say. “You’re welcome!” I reply and walk away trying to figure out how they received what I clearly didn’t give.

It also happens in my writings. A few months ago I wrote about an ugly shirt and a comment someone made about the unsightly garment. As I try to do in my daily writings I gave a lesson learned from the encounter. I thought it was well written and to the point until someone responded to my post in an aggressive way. Though I tried to explain that what he received wasn’t what I wrote, it didn’t matter. Eventually I had to accept what he read and the meaning he took away from it even though it wasn’t my intent.

Wisdom tells us to measure our words. They are incredibly powerful. They build and destroy. Lift us up or tear others down. Too often we are careless with what comes out of our mouths and never consider the consequences until after the words are spoken. Breathe, before your speak and when what is received offends and harms, make sure you apologize with words more carefully chosen then the one which came before.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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What do You See?

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What do You See?

Last night after watering our garden and plants I sat down in an Adirondack chair and waited for Beth to pick a few vegetables. It wasn’t too long before I heard her say; “Look at the size of this creature!” Of course I knew this meant getting up and walking back to the garden to have a look.

When I got to her she pointed in a general direction and exclaimed; “Look!” At first I didn’t see anything but the more focused I became the more a giant green grub/ Tomato Hornworm (http://www.almanac.com/pest/tomato-hornworms) came into view.

I almost didn’t see it.” She said. I could see why. The creature blended in seamlessly and if you weren’t looking for it you’d missed it. In fact I did a few moments prior when I watered that section of the garden. We left it alone, finished up our “harvesting” and went inside leaving the green grub in peace.

There are hidden gems, life enhancing experiences, miracles of the natural and supernatural all around us. Unfortunately we’re often too busy doing chores, keep schedules, meeting deadlines to see them. In a world where everything seems to move at a faster rate daily we must be careful not to let speed blur our vision and distort our focus.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Caution Ahead

On my way home from leading a couple of Addicted Fathers’ groups today, driving up a windy country road, I came upon a sign warning me of a; “Flagger Ahead.” I immediately slowed down and sure enough, a little further down the road, there stood a flag man, his sign read; “SLOW” and he was gesturing emphatically to move over and stay in the left lane. I followed his instructions and began cautiously moving up the curvy road looking for the reason I was told to drive in the “wrong” lane. Up and up I went with no reason in sight for staying in a lane which made me anxious. I kept thinking another vehicle would come around the next curve and hit me head on. Finally, I saw a big tractor with a large attached mower cutting grass, bushes and trees in the right lane. It was a great reason to be in the other lane! Soon, after passing the big machine, another flagger, standing in the left lane motioned me to get back in the left one.

Moving into the lane, feeling more comfortable, and continuing on my journey I reflected upon the truth that sometimes we must travel in places which aren’t pleasant, agreeable or feels safe. There are folks we trust who warn us about the way ahead; threats, hazards and risks to avoid. One of the greatest gifts are wise ones in our life who can help us navigate the road of life. The question becomes; “do we listen and trust their guidance or remain in a place, which may feel safe, but puts us in danger?”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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