Blog Archives

Color Blind?

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Color Blind?

This morning our staff attended a lecture on the Understanding Your Implicit Bias. The takeaway is that we all have biases, ways of looking at the world, groups of people, each other. These biases come from our parents, other role models we had as kids, extended families, the neighborhoods we grew up in, friends we hung around, and countless other influences. It wasn’t a lecture on “if” but “why” we developed biases and how they impact your interactions with people you encounter each day, what you think when you hear certain words, see certain images, and how deep these biases are rooted within us.

One of the more interesting topics the lecturer spoke about was the idea of being “color blind.” In other words not seeing a person’s skin color but their character. On the surface, this seems like a great way to connect with each other. The challenge with this way of thinking, according to the speaker, was that you strip a person of part of their identity. As a Christian, white, middle class, middle-aged, southern, heterosexual, male, each of these traits are part me. Along with the unique experiences of my life they make me who I am.

I found this a wonderful and a too often overlooked idea. Sometimes, in order to make everyone “equal”, we take away parts of their identity or neutralize them. When we do this we are doing a disservice to them and ourselves. People, fully known, recognized and loved, connects us in a balanced way that honors the breadth of humanity and the amazing uniqueness present in all of us.

For more posts, reflections, and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

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Putting Up with Each Other

Putting Up with Each Other

Today is my wife Beth and my anniversary. 28 years to be exact. There are days it seems like only yesterday we said; “I do’s” and others where I wonder; “what happened to those 19-year-old kids? What were they thinking? Were they thinking? Did they understand the journey they were about to embark on?

I told Beth today; “I don’t know how you put up with me.” Some husbands and wives jest in this way but Beth knows how serious I am. Reflecting on that day 28 years ago, a hot June day in 1990 when we met at the church to say our vows to each other there is a realization I am not the person she married. Somehow Beth has grown into an even more beautiful woman inside and out. People love to be around her. Her personality is infectious. Her smile draws people to her and her spirit makes them feel welcome and loved. She is, by far, the better half.

This other half has walked a long, hard part of the journey these last several years. The struggle with, diagnosing of and living with severe chronic depression and severe anxiety have taken their toll in certain areas of my life. However, I have been blessed with a partner who meant it when she said; “for better, for worse, in sickness and in health.” I could not ask for nor deserve her love, patience, perseverance. I tell her this regularly and she reminds me she’s far from perfect.

We’ll stay on this road together’ she says, ‘putting up with each other.” Sounds good to me.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Soul Alive

Soul Alive

Outside, under our two sheds and front porch are families of rabbits. I see them when I let out the dog, who’s too old to chase them anymore, when I drive the truck into the driveway, when I sit still long enough and wait for them to emerge from their hiding holes. It excites me. Wildlife has always had this impact on me. I slow down to look at deer on the sides of the highway or in far-off fields. Stare at Falcons and Hawks perched on fence posts or electric poles. Turkeys, skunks, opossum, armadillos, foxes, even cows grab my attention.

I grew up in the suburbs but my parents took us to National Parks as often as the could. We loved camping, canoeing, hiking, exploring. We saw lots of wildlife and even had a few run-ins with Black Bears. I believe this is where my love of nature was born and raised along with the important lessons of treating it gently, basking in its beauty and always leaving a place better than you found it.

Nature, along with other gifts we take for granted each day, bring life to my soul. I can’t imagine not being excited, filled with joy, while experiencing it.

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

Redeemed

Redeemed

This morning my scripture readings included the 43 chapter of Isaiah. I had heard a selection of this chapter earlier this week at my dad’s memorial service. He mentioned these verses many times and one of his favorite words in this passage was the word; “Redeemed.”

To redeem means to; “compensate for the faults or bad aspects of (something), to gain or regain possession of (something) in exchange for payment.”

My dad wasn’t a perfect man. He had his habits, hurts, and hangups as we all do. Sunday afternoon, as my mother and I traveled back to her house after meeting the pastoral team who would do his service, I mentioned to my mom that for days all we heard was the good stuff about dad. She responded; “People think he’s a saint!” We both laughed and talked about the myriad of frustrating things dad did that aggravated us so much and the things we did that triggered him.

“The beginning of love is to let the one we love be perfectly themselves,
not twist them to fit our own image.
Otherwise,
we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
#ThomasMerton

Remembering someone after they’ve passed is to try to hold the whole of them together in our hearts and minds. The good and not so good. The positive and the negative. The stuff we loved and the things which drove us crazy.

Loving each other isn’t about forcing someone to change to meet our expectations or being blind to their faults. It is allowing a fusion of imperfect souls to connect in a deeper way where; “love covers a multitude of sins,” a mountain of aggravation, a collection of experiences that allows each one to maintain their unique identity but also redeems both the loved and the lover and together they are better and greater because of it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Cleaning Out

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Cleaning Out

The last two days my mother and I have been working in my dad’s garage. It may be mom’s house but it will always be dad’s garage. We’ve been going through a lot of stuff which needed to be sorted. By the time we finished I had things to throw away, to keep and the garage was clean and organized.

It was a sad and enjoyable time rummaging through dad’s things. He loved tools and one could tell as we tried collecting them in one place. There was paint from projects long ago completed and recent work. Other items hadn’t been opened yet and we wondered; “What project was he thinking about when he bought this?

The garage was a sacred space for my father. None of us would’ve dared gone in and rearranged it before his passing. My mom said this morning; “I know it needs to be done but I don’t want to do it.” I understood what she meant. There was a sense of invading another’s domain, eery and holy at the same time. There were items we kept not because they were important but because we just aren’t ready to part with them.

I think this best describes our walk down the path this week. We know we must go on without dad but we just aren’t ready to part with him.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stop!

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Stop

Yesterday on my way to a meeting I rounded a curve and noticed vehicles pulling over to the side of the road. I slowed down, wondering what was happening when I heard the unmistakable sound of an emergency vehicle siren. Then I saw the ambulance. He passed in the opposite lane before I could find a spot to pull over. After it was out of sight; “poof” everything went back to normal. Everyone went on with their lives.

Except. Except for the person or people, the ambulance was rushing to get to. Could be something small or life-changing. There’s no way of knowing. A person said to me one day; “When I see or hear an emergency vehicle I pray for whom it is intended.” I liked this practice. I’ve tried making it a regular discipline but often forget.

Today, a friend of mine was rushed to the hospital via an ambulance. I’ve been praying for him all day long. The difference between the two scenarios? One ambulance had a person I loved the one yesterday, no one I knew.

Perhaps, if I remembered how connected all of us on this small planet really is I’d care more, pray more and love more.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Purpose

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Purpose

Today, I had a meeting at a discreet location in a women’s shelter. There was no sign and the house was off the road down a long driveway. Blink and you would miss the driveway and the house couldn’t be seen from the road. The meeting was one of our county’s Community Action Board which is made up of several organizations who partner together to reach as many families in need and/or in crisis as possible.

The leader of the house was a nice woman who talked softly but her love for the women in the house was obvious. The women who are enrolled there are from all backgrounds, religions, and nationalities. Some have experienced abuse at the hands of others and some abused themselves. Under the roof of this home, however, all were welcomed, loved and given the skills to start life anew with a sense of belonging and purpose.

Written on a huge dry erase board were the rules of the house, encouragement and motivational sayings, practical applications of the lessons being taught to those who stayed in the home. On one board, almost in the middle was the name of the leader and one of the tenants wrote; “She rocks!” I thought this was awesome. Here is a woman who has given her life to helping those in need. It did not go unappreciated.

I hope each of us can find a place where we can offer love, kindness, time, patience and give worth to those whom life has overlooked or discarded.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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

Is it Love?

Is it Love? –

“Love is what love does now. It is revealed in the practice of loving presence and action now. Humble acts of everyday kindness, acts that do not encourage attention on the actor, these are what grow us in love.” #LaurenceFreeman

This quote was part of my Morning Office reading today. As I’ve reflected on these words they have echoed in my spirit. “Love” is a word which is thrown around so much it has almost lost its meaning. People tell their partners, spouses, children, family and friends; “I love you,” but also speak of our “love” for chocolate, cellphones, hobbies and clothes. We use the phrase in increasingly flippant and cheap ways for insignificant things.

Love is accompanied by action and love is in the present moment. I’ve wondered today; “can we love in the past? The future?” We can reflect upon what has been, what may be and embrace the emotions which accompany these memories and hopes but is it love if not expressed tangibly?

Loving” and trying to receive “love” from inanimate objects, material things, will only leave us empty, trying in vain to grasp contentment and fulfillment from that which can never satisfy our deepest longing.

To love is to act presently, to give without expectation of return, to offer ourselves in humility and vulnerability. Love does not seek our good but the good of the one who is loved. It is to risk being harmed, betrayed, taken advantage of, and left empty. However, it also comes with the possibility of being loved in return, the greatest gift we can accept and experience.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Not the Same

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Not the Same

The grief in her eyes was impossible to miss. She had lost someone near and dear to her. One who was young, full of life, seemingly with many years left and then one day he was gone. We spoke in hushed tones almost afraid our usual tones would make this terrible truth more real. “I don’t think life will ever be the same again. Normal seems so far from here. How do I get back?” I looked into her shocked and sorrowful eyes and said; “You don’t. Life, as you knew it to be, is over. There is no going back. In time, with healing, you will learn to live in a new normal.”

There are moments, events, seasons in life which guarantee we will never be the same again. Tragedies, awakenings, epiphanies that change everything. What we held to, put our faith in, who we loved are lost. Our rhythm and sense of normal is disrupted. We long to go back, make everything; ‘as it was,’ hold on to that which seemed solid, lasting but it sifts through our hands like sand. Our desire to return is admirable but futile.The way back has been closed off to us forever.

Finding a new normal takes patience with ourselves. We must grieve not only the loss but the difficult path of newness. Even in these darkest of times there is a light in the distance, a rhythm faintly beating, a new normal waiting to be discovered.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Strengths

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This morning I attended a webinar on strength based counseling. It is an approach to helping others by focusing on what they can do instead of getting caught up with trying to “fix” their biggest issues first. By focusing on what they do well you can build confidence, resilience and help them become able to face their biggest challenges by allowing them to see they have more skills and power than perhaps they previously believed.

It is easy to focus on our and others’ weaknesses. We become obsessed with making better the worst of habits, hurts and hangups that plagues ourselves and those we know. What if, instead of concentrating on the things which bring us down, give us low opinions of ourselves, break our wills and strip us of the inclination to improve our lives, we concentrated on walking the path of purpose and peace. What if we remembered that we are loved, covered with grace, are worthy and life can get better.

blessings,

@BrianLoging (Twitter)

thewannabesaint.com

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What We have in Common

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Earlier this week a neighbor invited my wife and I to, “friends day” at their small, rural church close to our home. We have a regular place of worship but, as former campus pastors, we also have a special place in our hearts for spiritual families of diminutive sizes whose leaders, usually of the older generation, are trying desperately to identify and anoint new, younger members, who’ll run with ball after they’re gone.

Small congregations have the difficult task of not losing sight of the past and finding a vision for the future. They don’t have the budgets, staff or volunteers to compete with the large (and want to be larger) churches. The entertainment, programs, and culturally defined approach to ministry doesn’t usually work for churches living Sunday to Sunday, offering to offering.

We entered into the brown paneled sanctuary with a ten by ten stage up front complete with podium and a bouquet of flowers. We were welcomed graciously, found our seat and soon the service began. We sang; “gasp!” out of hymnals. “It is Well with my Soul’ and ‘How Great Thou Art,” were some of the known ones with others I’ve never heard before sprinkled in. The pastor preached a short and to the point message, communion was given and received, a benediction song, prayer was said and that was the end.

Overall a nice service and a loving and welcoming people. I’d never been to a church of this denomination before but was struck with the thought; “what unites us is far greater than what divides us.”

I also reflected on the words; “friend‘ and ‘friendly.” I hope and pray every church who dares to open it’s doors will never forget that unless the known one and the stranger are loved equally we aren’t living our purpose or obeying our Master’s greatest command.

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

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