Blog Archives

Seriously

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Seriously –

I saw her when we came into the church this morning. She was standing far enough away from us that I found my seat before she zeroed in. This woman, this hugger, does not take “No thanks!” for an answer. A couple of weeks ago she was standing at the front door of the church greeting folks as they came in. She hugged my wife, who is a great hugger! and then extended her arms to me. I tried to fend off her advances by grabbing a hand and shaking it but she was too quick. I even told her; “I’m not a hugger.” Didn’t matter. She replied as she thwarted my defenses; “Well I am and you’re a man and can handle it.” I didn’t have time to answer and had no desire to debate so once she was finished I found my seat but never the rhythm of the service. I was thankful this morning she was far enough from me I could slip in under her radar.

You’re a man and can handle it.” Actually, no, I can’t. I have a well established large personal space. It comes from being introverted, claustrophobic and someone who deals with social anxiety. When someone insists on hugging me it’s not about me it’s about them. She would respond; “I’m friendly.” Imagine me saying that to a woman who didn’t want a hug and then forcing one upon her. I don’t think “friendly” is what she’d feel about me.

It’s a reminder that we are all wired differently. Some people are talkers, others observers. One person may love being a social butterfly while another can think of nothing more joyful than a night at home. Extroverts, introverts, center of attention and wallflower. Knowing people, respecting them and helping them feel comfortable and at ease requires a relationship. When someone tells you, asks you to do or not to do something don’t dismiss it. Listen to it, take it seriously, and proceed with kindness and caution.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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A Picture is Worth…

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A Picture is Worth

A picture is worth a thousand words unless you are the kids who survived the Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting in Florida, several weeks ago. This past weekend there were gatherings in cities around the world. It was called; “The March for Our Lives.” Since this protest event, David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez have become targets, again. There are news articles, memes, pictures and opinion pieces written that would make adults question their sanity, worth and the innate goodness of humanity.

My heart is broken and my spirit crushed as I listen, read and watch adults attack these children with vitriol. They are being bullied, lied about, crushed by those whose opinions differ from theirs. These young people have survived what will probably be the most traumatic event in their life. They are processing their grief, the loss of their friends and their innocence. They are trying to take a stand, find their footing after an event and in a debate bigger than them. They are exercising control by speaking out, marching, becoming an advocate against an act of violence that ripped their lives apart. Yet, while they attempt to put their lives back together, people online, on the radio, on television are tearing them down and apart, again.

Are these kids being used by persons and corporations with agendas? Maybe. Perhaps they are also smart and resilient enough to know what they want and believe. Have they said and done everything perfectly? Of course not. Who has? You don’t have to agree with them to see they are still in pain. You don’t have to march with them to stand by their side. You can disagree without abuse. We should be better than that. These kids deserve better.

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

Protests

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Protests

Yesterday, almost one million students across the United States of America, walked out en masse to protest school shooting and the inability of adults to agree upon how to make our schools safer.

There were two types of protests that were happening. One was #walkout which encouraged students to leave their school classrooms and #walkup which encouraged these young adults to find someone who seemed to exist “on the edges” and talk with them eat lunch and begin a conversation that hopefully would develop into a relationship. I supported the #walkout and the #walkup protests and thought both had merit and could change lives. Neither was a perfect way of protesting but each one was worth doing.

However, I noticed that many folks were for one or the other. Not many looked for balance in the two approaches. Students were either labeled #walkup or #walkout. It seemed not much conversation was happening between the quickly diverging groups. This made me sad. The reason the students were protesting is that adults can’t talk to one another, find a compromise, work together on behalf of our nation’s youngest and brightest. Now, it was happening again.

I am sick of litmus tests that divide us as a nation, community, and families. I am tired of people not being able to listen to one another even if we do not agree with the other. There is almost always a middle way where we remember we’re all human, deserving of respect and kindness instead of disdain and meanness. Perhaps one day we will realize we have more in common than what we allow to tear us apart.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Tender Touch

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Tender Touch

I washed a friend’s hair today. That’s a sentence most people don’t type often. It was an interesting experience. Washing my hair isn’t nearly as exciting. I think it’s because I don’t have much hair but also because I do it almost every day. I know how hot I like the water, the amount of shampoo I need, the best way to move my hands and arms so I can do a good and quick job, the pressure it takes to get my head and hair clean but not so hard I hurt myself. When washing another’s hair you aren’t sure about any of these things so you are more hesitant, you listen to their instructions intently, careful you are cleaning their head and hair but not scrubbing their scalp off! I did a decent job, spilling some water on their shirt, needed more shampoo because they actually have hair, but overall they were a satisfied client.

Human interaction comes in all shapes and sizes. We connect with each other in a variety of ways. Hopefully, we come out the better for it afterward. Often we take these joinings for granted. We interact with each other and forget how important these linkings are to who and what we are and become. It’s a delicate dance to make sure we don’t violate each other’s space and move together allowing each one to lead and follow, instruct and listen, b secure enough in the relationship to simply be or change entirely.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Behind the Eyes

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Behind the Eyes

I saw a picture of me from several years ago today. As most people, I don’t care for my photo to be taken but when it is I “grin and bear it.” Looking at the picture today the smile was there but it wasn’t genuine. There was also something missing in the eyes. There was no light behind them. They were hollow and sad. I was surrounded by friends in the photo, good friends. It should’ve been a time of stories, thankfulness, and memories but I can tell in my eyes it wasn’t any of those for me, only a blank stare and pasted smile. This was about a year before I was diagnosed with a Chronic Major Depressive Disorder.

The journey over these last years has been a hard one and there is still far to go but looking back I can see where I’ve come from and this does bring me relief. I’m not stuck in the same place even though sometimes it feels that way.

I’ve been watching a documentary titled; “The Kingdom of Us.” (https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/oct/08/the-kingdom-of-us-review-netflix-teenagers-lucy-cohen) It is the story of a family recovering from their father’s suicide. They listen to recordings of his voice, often in song, and watch videos of him and the family. They ask each other repeatedly, “Look at him! He’s so sad. Why didn’t we see it?” I know the answer; “because he didn’t want it to be seen.” We’ve all been there and done that; plastered on a smile when our hearts are breaking inside. We’ve pushed on even though everything feels broken inside.

Too often we take people’s word when we ask; “How are you?” and they reply; “Fine’ or ‘Good.” The key to discovering the truth is asking more than once and keep at it until they feel you might actually want to know.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What Did You Hear?

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What Did You Hear?

Listening is an art form. It has to do with more than hearing words. It also hears silences, tones and the organizations of words into sentences and questions. Listening is wanting to hear what the other is saying and being willing for those words to impact, challenge, and change the listener. Listening is not, however, always agreeing with the other. You can listen and believe differently than what the other is saying but you listen out of respect.

A friend of mine a few weeks ago was telling me about a conversation he had with a dear friend and said; “It didn’t go the way I planned!” His friend became upset with the conversation. I asked my friend; “Did you ask your friend what she had heard you say?” “No,’ he replied, ‘Why?” “Because,’ I said, “She might have heard something completely different from what you were saying.”

It’s amazing but communicating with others is a combination of listening, speaking, processing, projecting, interpreting and understanding. When one of these is missing the connection with the other can be lost, disrupted and the moment can never be repeated.

Listening is a sacred act, do it well.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Who Cares?

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Who Cares?

This morning, in worship service, the pastor asked; “Who’s rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles tonight? Who’s going for the New England Patriots? Who doesn’t care? Who didn’t know the Superbowl was being played today?” There were hands and voices raised for each question.

Around 120 million people will watch the Superbowl tonight. That’s over a third of the population of this country which is roughly 323 million. Amazing to me that we can watch a football game together but can’t seem to unite over much else. It’s also a surprise the 2/3 of America doesn’t care about the game at all!

I will be rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles. I don’t have anything against the Patriots they’ve just won it so many times I think it would be nice to give it to someone else for a change. The coverage for the big game started early this morning. The network broadcasting the Superbowl had a great interview with a Patriot’s receiver, his wife, and children. It was a reminder that individual people, with unique stories, make up the teams.

It’s a shame we don’t remember that when we are attacking others for their political, cultural and religious opinions and beliefs. We cast a large net over those who don’t think like us and label them; “bad” or “good” according to our own fallible judgments.

Maybe, if we could see the individual, listen to their story, discover we’re all trying to make it the best we know how, we would realize when we fight all of us lose.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Testing, 1, 2, 3

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Testing, 1, 2, 3

Today was my annual Tuberculosis test for the non-profit where I am employed. I don’t like tests, shots, or pain so this was a three for three experience of joy! It’s the same every year.  I go into a small room, the nurse tells me this is going to hurt but not too much. I look away and tell her I don’t want to know when just do it. She does and then tells me to come back in 2-3 days for the results. So, I wait.

I don’t have Tuberculosis. At least I don’t think I do. Would I know it if I did? The test makes me think about it. Each year I forget what a positive result looks like so I google the symptoms and then look at my arm over the next couple of days to make sure I don’t have what I don’t think I have…

Life has a way of making us worry about a lot of stuff.  You watch, read or listen to the news you begin to worry about things you hadn’t even thought of before. You talk with family, friends and they’ll give you something else to be concerned about. Before you know it, if you’re not careful, you have enough stress and anxiety to last a lifetime.

Wisdom teaches us that agonizing, over thinking, brooding, and panic are not a healthy state of mind or emotions. Letting go of that which distresses us might not be easy but carrying around a load of tension and agitation ensure we will never find the peace which we desperately desire and need.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Warmth

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Warmth

I think I’m in love with the electric-heated fleece throw my wife bought me for Christmas. It is wonderful! Especially when it is cold outside like this week has been. Instead of putting over me I’ve tucked it in and around the place I sit on the couch. I come home, turn it on, throw a blanket on top, change and by the time I’m ready to sit down the blanket is warm. It’s like sinking into a soft cocoon of heat. The room and house don’t feel as cold when I am wrapped in the throw.

There are also people and places who make us feel this way. There’s something about their presence which makes us feel good and safe. I’m not a hugger but I love getting hugs from my wife. She’s the type of person who portrays warmth and acceptance. My aunt Evon, who passed away several years ago, was the same way.

In a world which seems to be increasingly divided, we need more warmth, more acceptance, more love. Our crazy mixed up world thinks there are other ways to heal the divisions, start over, bring peace. Truly, only love has that power. It takes more courage to love someone than to hate them, let go of prejudices than keep them, listen and build relationships instead of keeping everyone who disagrees with us at arm’s length.

Warmth. On a cold day in December, it’s a needed and comforting thought.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Openness

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Openness

On Wednesday night of this week, I was speaking with someone about being truthful and honest to the people in our lives. He stated that being too open can lead to betrayal and pain and therefore he doesn’t share his story for fear of being taken advantage of. It was a fair argument but I told him maybe his issue wasn’t being fearful of openness but being open to the wrong people. People we can trust, who won’t use our words and experiences against us, who will listen to understand and be a shoulder to lean on are invaluable.

Earlier in the week, I shared a fatherhood presentation to a group of fathers who have young kids in school. There were dads who were going in to work late and some who had worked all night diligently sitting there to learn more about how they could be involved in their children’s lives, especially when it comes to education. After the presentation while saying; “goodbye” to the fathers one of the attendees came up and began speaking with me. She had some questions about getting a father involved and shared her story. What she told me was hard to hear with many issues and other challenges she’s had to overcome. I couldn’t believe how open she was being when we had just met a few moments earlier. She believes I am someone she can trust with her family.

Openness, transparency, is something most say they desire in themselves and others. However, these can bring feelings of uncomfortableness, questions that aren’t easily answered, and an unsettling fear of not being skilled enough to meet the need. When these thoughts are rushing through our minds the need to breathe and be still must be remembered. Most people don’t want you to fix them they simply need someone to listen without judging. If there are problems to solve and mysteries to unravel we can do them together as we travel this path called life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Excuse Me?

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Excuse Me

Someone asked me today; “Who’s your favorite killer?” I did a double take and asked in return; “My favorite what?” “Color,’ came the response, ‘favorite color?” “Oh!, blue,” I said. I was told I needed to work on my Tennessean listening skills.

It was a good laugh at my expense and a good reminder about listening. Each of us come from a unique background. We often forget that when we are speaking and listening to someone. People speak using words we don’t use, wouldn’t use, aren’t sure how to use. Folks speak with biases, colored by experiences, influenced by generational cycles of positive and negative cultural, religious and familial understandings.

This is why it is so important to listen with our whole being, not casually while we mess with our phones, distract ourselves with “more important” things or not honor the person who is speaking with mindfulness and focus.

Listening is a sacred gift we can give one another.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Into the Light

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Into the Light

Today was a special day for our incarcerated fathers class. The men, who attended and participated, received a certificate of completion, a letter from me along with pizza and soft drinks. Our certificate ceremony isn’t fancy but it is a way to let the guys know how much I appreciate letting me be a part of their lives for the semester.

Getting in and out of the jail is rarely easy which is, I suppose, the way it should be. There’s buzzers, intercoms, thick steel doors and tempered glass to keep people inside. Usually, I arrive at each door, buzz the “door keeper” and identify myself. I then wait until he or she is ready for me to go through the door. Today, however, the corrections officer was especially attentive as I was leaving. He buzzed me out as I was arriving at each door. It was almost as if the doors were unlocked.

In one of our classes during the semester, we talk about action and acceptance. I tell the men; “If the doors of this jail opened and you knew it was okay to walk through you would leave immediately, no hesitation. The problem is this isn’t going to happen. You have to accept you are here until they let you leave. At the same time, you can take action on keeping your family together and connected with the ones you love.” This is the balance of action and acceptance.

I thought about the men in my class today, the lesson of action and acceptance and their decision to come to class, listen, ask questions, share their stories and finally receive their certificates. They are trying to bring balance to their lives and hopefully to those who are travel life’s path with them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Role Play

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Role Play

Today I attended a training in Nashville, Tennessee. After lunch, when all of the information had been given, we broke up into groups for role-playing. We were supposed to use the tools and insights we had gained from the speaker and put it into practice. We would either be the client with certain needs or the specialist seeking to help. We were also encouraged to improvise whichever role we were assigned to best fit the situation we found ourselves. It was interesting. My introvert side was certainly not thrilled about having to role play with a stranger but putting into practice what we’d learned was helpful.

As I drove home I reflected on the exercise and stepping into another’s shoes. When working with a client the most important thing we do is listen, try to understand where a client is coming from and to know their story. Only when we understand our client’s history can we truly give them the tools they need to reclaim their families, places in society, their lives.

Listening, seeing the world from another’s point of view, is the first and only way to love another as you wished to be loved.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Alarm

Alarm

Yesterday I went to a Lowe’s Home Improvement store to return a fan I bought a few weeks ago that wasn’t working correctly. As I walked through the doors I passed those security scanners most stores have and they went off! I stopped suddenly and looked at the customer service desk with a; “I’m not stealing, I’m returning!” One of the attendants turned the alarms off and told me to walk back through them and go to the other side of the customer service counter. I did what she said and the alarms went off again. This time ignored them and kept walking to where I was told. I gave her the broken fan she gave me the money and off I went.

Afterward, I retrieved a new fan and began to reflect on my alarm adventure. I think these types of scanners would come in handy when we are dealing with people. Some folks are experts at hiding what they’re experiencing, the troubles, challenges, difficulties, and burdens they are carrying. It would be great to know what others are going through so we could help them in times of crises.

While no such scanner exists we do have ears, which if put to good use, can listen and pick up on words and phrases used by someone who is struggling. We have spirits, if they are tender, can feel the pain others are facing.

Being sensitive to the weight others are carrying helps us be there for each other and to share the load on this journey we call life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Listening

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Listening

An elder monk was visiting a friend in the big city. They were walking down a street filled with people, vehicles, construction and a cacophony of noise surrounded them. As they were talking the elder monk paused and said; “I hear a cricket.” His friend raised an eyebrow as the monk went over to a section of the concrete sidewalk which had been carved out and filled with dirt and a small tree. Sure enough, after looking for a moment, he pointed out the chirping insect.

His friend was amazed! “How did you hear the cricket amidst all this noise?” The elder monk smiled and replied; “You hear what you are listening for.” The friend, still astonished, shook his head. “Do you have a coin?” his monk friend asked. “Here,” said the friend as he gave it to him. “Now, watch.” the monk ordered. The elder flipped the coin in the air and let it land on the ground making a tinkling noise. Several people stopped and began looking. “Do you understand?” asked the elder monk with a smile.

One of my favorite wisdom parables. It is a reminder that our lives are about listening to the truthful, just and grace filled voices and sounds in this world. Too often we allow the negative noise into our lives which drowns out the voices of God, nature and the sound of the spirit of each other.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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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