Blog Archives

Defenses

Defenses

Earlier today I was mowing and weeding the yard. While doing so I came across a three to four-foot King Snake hanging out in the grass. I didn’t want to hurt it so I nudged it with the wheel of my push mower and it didn’t move. I bumped it again and the snake curled up into a ball. I was hoping the third time was the charm and tried to get it moving but it wasn’t going anywhere. I then went and grabbed a wooden stake, found the snake still rolled up and not willing to budge. As a last result, I pushed the stake through the center of the ball, picked it up and placed it in another part of the yard where it would be safe. “Sheesh!” I thought to myself. It just had to be difficult.

After getting back to my mowing I thought about the defensive behavior of the snake. It wasn’t helpful for it or me. I reflected on my defensive behaviors and unhelpful coping skills. As someone who deals with mental illness, I know first hand what a sense of being in danger, uncertain, threatened can do. It can cause me to make a bad decision, seize up, pull myself into an emotional ball and try to keep the danger out. Most times it doesn’t work but, like the snake, its instinct.

I know if I would’ve been able to communicate with the reptile I would’ve explained it needed to move for its own safety. If it was left alone eventually the snake would relax and be able to go on its way. When people fight, flight or freeze when we try to help our intention doesn’t matter. What matters is understanding and adapting our help to meet the needs of the other.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Cling

Cling

I spent the day helping a friend go through the belongings of a dear loved one who has passed. It’s tough going. One might think it’s the expensive toys, gadgets, and gizmos which you’d want to hold on to but instead, it’s the little things; sheets of paper, old license plates, CDs, notepads. Items which wouldn’t sell at a yard sale or purchased at Goodwill are of immense value, a treasure to the ones who remain.

Death is often an open wound. Scabs may form, some healing might occur, but grasping at past memories and experiences, strains and pulls apart the wound and the pain, heartbreak of loss returns. Its hard letting go. It’s difficult to say; “goodbye.” but death demands we do it again and again in many ways, on many occasions and you wonder if it will ever be the last time.

Moving on requires that one live open-handed, no clinging to earthly, temporal things, allowing the shared life of the one who is gone to be enough.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Gathering

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Gathering

This morning I stopped by the office on my way to a Community Group for Dads. It was cold today. Last night it was below freezing and when I left the house it was lightly snowing! I know Spring is supposed to be here but I wish it would step up and exert itself! Anyhow, when I arrived at the office there was the familiar hum of a leaf blower. Even though its cold the grass is still growing and the flowers are still blooming. I parked the truck and as walked to the office door I noticed what the maintenance man was doing. There are trees planted near the building that houses a suite of offices. Because of the wind and cold, the petals were scattered over the parking lot and in front of the office doors. Opening ours I saw them tumble into the foyer. The man operating the blower was trying to collect them into a corner and then sweep them into a trashcan. Expertly he gathered them setting the blower on high when moving them from a big space and then on low to push them into the area they needed to go.

Exiting the office, I reflected on the petals. They reminded me of the many thoughts which swirled in my head. Its Monday and my mind was filled with a list of; “to-dos, schedules, phone calls, meetings, reports, and a host of other things” which have already filled my week. My thoughts, like the petals, were scattered and needed to be gathered and sorted. I will follow the discipline of my leaf blower friend and willfully, but gently, take control where once there had been chaos by paradoxically, stilling my mind and spirit.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Surfing or Drowning

Surfing or Drowning

I just finished reading an article from seven years ago today about a father and son who were killed by a drunk driver. The mom shared it on social media and the heartache is still present and the wound raw. I can’t imagine the pain. I knew the father a little. He was in our church’s youth group. He was a few years older than me but always seemed cool. He was an athlete. He ran, biked, swam, and surfed. The morning dad and son were killed they were training for a triathlon. The father was named after his father and the son carried on the tradition. He was the III.

How do you have hope in the midst of such loss? How do you not drown in sorrow? How do you not get lost in such darkness? I don’t think there’s an easy answer. Quips and quotes don’t begin to address the brokenness and reveal our lack of intimacy with death. We do everything we can to avoid it. Most of us try to prolong our lives by any means necessary. When death finally does come we are quick to make the arrangements, organize a memorial or funeral service and push past it as fast as possible. But even then, death finds a way to corner us, trap us, confront us. After the hustle and bustle of meals, flowers, sympathy cards, and services we find ourselves alone when death, misery, mourning, comes calling.

Experts tell us that when we are caught in a riptide to not fight the current or it will surely drown its victim. Let it grab you and then slowly, moving parallel to the shore, slip from its grip. I think this is how we deal with the loss of those we love. There’s no escaping and fighting and refusing to acknowledge its power end in certain defeat. To allow it take hold, scare us, shake our faith, sweep our “normal” life away, but not giving up is the key. Slowly our strength returns, we regain our bearings, we slip from its grip, rise above the waters and live.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Beneath

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Beneath

Today I was tearing down an old wooden, raised flowerbed that was built many years ago. It was mostly rotten and needed to be removed. I was on my hands and knees prying apart a corner and noticed the wood seemed to be moving. Looking closer I realized there was an ant bed behind the wood. If you know anything about ants it is that they’ve noticed you before you notice them. This was true. I looked and they were on the sleeves of my shirt and hands. Fortunately, I was stung only one time. I quickly stepped back and brushed myself off. It was amazing to watch how quickly they went on the defense when under attack. There was no discussion, no plan, just instinct and getting rid of the intruder.

I know people this way. They are quick to attack, slow to find out what’s happening. If they even perceive that someone is going to be a threat they become defensive and hostile.  Some people attack themselves. They are more critical of their life than any critic would ever be. Others’ aggressive style protects themselves from getting hurt.

Wisdom teaches us that this is not the way to live with ourselves or others. We are to be patient, kind, grace-filled, faithful, hopeful, and loving with everyone, including us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannbesaint.com

Non-Action

Non-Action

Today was busy! I know for some it was a holiday but my schedule was stuffed! The day started early and it felt like a sprint to the end of it. I don’t mind busy days most of the time because it keeps the time moving and there’s no boredom to fight off.

On the other hand, my wife had a holiday. Today is Martin Luther King day and she was able to sleep in, keep her PJs on and enjoy a wonderful day of doing nothing, purposefully. She’s been incredibly busy since November of last year and a day home, without me!, and zilch on her schedule was what she needed.

There is a thin line between balancing a healthy life or action and inaction. Our chaotic world and its need for non-stop entertainment, to-do lists, places to go, things to experience, can set a pace where eventually we burn out, fall apart, or both. We need to know when to stop, take our foot off the gas and be still; not just emotionally and mentally but physically.

Knowing, sensing, its time for a break, a rest, a lazy day is an important sense to develop and put into practice.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stuck

Stuck

This morning my wife had to be at work early. She’s not a morning person so when this happens I try to stay out of the way! After she left I was about to make some coffee when the phone rang. It was Beth frantically telling me that a couple of miles down the road a horse had fallen into a mostly frozen pond and would I do something? “Uh, sure?” I answered. I hopped in the truck, which was very cold inside and out, and drove down the road until I spotted it. Sure enough, there was the poor animal front half end above the ice and it’s back completely submerged. The question quickly became; “What do I do?” The field with the pond and the horse has no house near it. There are a row of houses on the other side but no way to tell which one, if any, owned the horses and/or the field. There were vehicles behind me so I pulled off the road. Feeling helpless and unsure I dialed 911 hoping they would be able to do something or point me in the right direction. A man answered the phone and I told him the story. I gave him the address of the house immediately across the road from the stuck horse and he said help would be on the way. I couldn’t stay where I was parked and the field had no gates to drive through so I trusted the man on the phone and went home.

Sitting here this evening I don’t know what happened to the horse. It wasn’t moving when I called the emergency number and I don’t have any idea how long it was stuck in the ice and freezing water. I hope it will be okay. I hope the help got there in time. I hope someone who could do something got it unstuck and it, along with the other horses, will stay away from the pond until it warms up.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Silence

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Silence

Today has been unusually quiet compared to the last several days since my father has passed. My wife and my mother spent some time together today which left me in her house alone. I reflected a bit on the week that has been but mostly I have slept. I am an introvert with diagnosed social anxiety so it takes little imagination to understand the state of mind I am in because deaths and memorial services, errands and condolence phone calls, emails and texts are anything but quiet and stress reducing.

My wife and my mom knew sleep and silence are what I needed today and am thankful they gave me some space. I am running on empty and my body, emotions, mind, and soul craves the quietude of muted phones, ignored texts, emails that can wait, errands which didn’t happen and the downtime which occurs the days and weeks after a loved one leaves this world.

They say the hardest part of a dear one passing isn’t the days immediately following. Days which are filled with planning, non-stop moving, endless words and memories are hard but can sweep you away in a flood of activity. It’s the days after which grow long. They are filled with loneliness, and questions, confusion, anger, and doubt. The flood of phone calls slow to a trickle, the flowers stop coming, the cards aren’t in the mail, and life goes on. The silence following the cacophony can be deafening.

So, what is a balm for me will become hurt, especially for my mother. It is in these times I must trust the memories will comfort, family and friends will step in for support and we will learn to live with the blessing of silence.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stuck

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Stuck

Yesterday afternoon on my way to a fatherhood class I was driving down a road and rounded a curve with a truck parked almost in the middle and its hazard lights flashing. I slowed down and getting closer I saw the problem. A guy and his lawnmower were stuck in a ditch. The man who owned the mower seemed at a loss as the driver of the truck attempted to tie a rope around the mower and pull it out of the ditch. It was going to be a feat because somehow the man has positioned his mower where all four wheels were not touching any ground. I hoped everyone was safe and they were able to get the man and his machine mowing again.

Continuing on my way I reflected upon the man and his mower. I’ve felt like him before. There have been times when navigating the road of life, following the path I believed was correct, when all of a sudden there was no traction, no way forward or backward. I was simply and absolutely stuck.

This can be a horrible and helpless feeling. To not know how to proceed or retreat. Finally, after all attempts to get going I accepted the truth I wasn’t going anywhere. In these frustrating times, I learned to be still. Trusting the way would be made available I made the place where I was stuck an altar, a place of divine intervention. Sooner or later someone or something would always come and help me get moving again. My focus in these times moved from being stuck to being still.

Wisdom taught me that not being able to move was a blessing, a season of rest and a time of trust.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Go

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Go

This morning, on my way to work, I was stopped at a traffic light. There were two vehicles ahead of me and one, after stopping, turned right and the other one moved up. He was turning right also and was waiting for a break in the traffic to make his move. He watched and waited, watched and waited. He was so intent on finding a moment when he could go that he didn’t notice the light turned green and he could proceed anytime he wanted to. Finally, he looked up, saw the green and took off.

On the rest of my drive to work, I thought about the driver and life. Many times we are looking for signs, indicators, epiphanies to tell us when to go, what direction to take, the path to follow. Paradoxically we can be so intent on a special signal we miss the ordinary, everyday sign posts which are right in front of us.

Perhaps it is a good word from a friend, a scripture read, a persistent thought, the desire itself. Each of these could be the “Go!” we’ve been looking for and missed because it wasn’t where we thought we’d see, sense it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Congestion Ahead

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Congestion Ahead

Beth and I spent the day traveling. Most of the trip wasn’t bad but the state of Georgia must’ve decided to do all their road repair at the same time.

It’s always interesting when people see those orange signs. Some people pull into the proper lane and wait in line, others get as far as they can in the opposite lane before getting over.

One of the construction zones we encountered today told the drivers to get over before the construction began in 4 miles. There were orange signs intermittently which counted down to a 1000 feet warning. I got over into the proper lane and slowed down to a crawl.

However, something interesting happened. There wasn’t any construction happening. The cones were off the road and all lanes were open. Finally, after a mile or so everyone figured out the error and traffic began moving normally again.

Wisdom tells us that our journey is only bound by our limited vision and adherence to beliefs that may hinder our progress. Being aware and willing to take risks, not always playing by the rules, can bring advancement and get us where we need to go.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

True Selves

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True Selves

I listened to a speaker today talk of our “impostor selves.” He said these are the people we present to the world. They aren’t our true selves but the image we think others want us to be or what we want to appear to be. There are many problems with these impostor selves but the biggest one is they can never bring us peace. The reason is the impostor self is always changing, shifting, moving, playing catch-up, making excuses or apologizing for not meeting the expectations they have set for us.

To be our true selves is to be vulnerable and refuse to try to be all things to all people. It’s the acceptance that we aren’t perfect. There are more talented, better equipped, more able-bodied people and we’re okay with this truth. We have hurts, habits, and hangups. We let people down, don’t always do our best and are far weaker than most will ever believe, much less admit.

Allowing others to see us, the real us isn’t easy in a world which seems ready to tear down anyone who flashes signs of shortcomings and imperfections. However, most often the biggest critic isn’t found in our family, friends, or co-workers. Usually, the one we can’t please and have the hardest time outing the impostor to is ourselves.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Changing Course

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Changing Course –

Changing course is never easy. I was speaking with some men today and we were talking about our ability to make course corrections, live life in transition, embrace the transient nature of reality.

Even though I lecture on the changes that life is made up of, I am one who is not comfortable with transitions. Some people are; “go with the flow” kind of folks. I am a dam up the stream, stop and enjoy the view type of person! However, I also know that water becomes stagnant, contaminated, stale and useless.

Life isn’t made to be still which is why the stillness we seek needs to be deeper than what seems real on the surface. It is in the depths of our souls where peace and strength are found to handle and perhaps even enjoy the quick pace and fast changes life brings our way.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Get Moving

Get Moving – 

“When they rise for the Work of God  let them gently encourage one another,  that the drowsy may have no excuse.” #RuleofSaintBenedict

The excerpt above was from my morning reading of the Rule of Saint Benedict today. It made me think of Beth. My beautiful wife can be described in many wonderful ways but being a; “morning person” isn’t one of them. When the alarm sounds, threatening to awake her from rest she’s not getting up without a fight. Finally, after several snoozes, she sits up, head down, exasperated sighs filling the air, one foot and then another are placed upon the floor. She shuffles to her closet, then to the kitchen and then to get a shower. Everything about her says; “I’d give almost anything for another hour of sleep!” There are a few approaches I have to help her get through these dreaded times. Some days I can engage her in a conversation, others I can be playful but mostly I’m quiet allowing her to locate the rhythm of her day. After 26 years of marriage I almost always pick the right approach to get her moving but there are some days when I choose poorly and quickly back off when it’s clear I’m pushing the wrong buttons.

Wisdom teaches us that folks have different speeds on the path of life. Each of us finds our own rhythm and we must be careful to allow others to move at their own pace. Our gift to others is not making them go as fast or slow as we want but to offer the gift of grace and love when our lives intersect for a moment or a lifetime.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
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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Moving Forward

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The next couple of days I will be at a Children’s Advocacy Conference. This morning, as I traveled to it, I was behind a driver who didn’t believe in using turning signals. Without any warning he/she would switch lanes, then go back again. It was interesting to watch this person, who was in an obvious hurry, try and find a magical way through the traffic.

Watching the SUV continue its quest forward I reflected on my journey. When I’m frantic to progress, move beyond my present circumstance I move quickly, trying to reach new goals & meet assumed needs, desperate to find the fastest way to get where I think I need to go. Instead of patience, steadiness, allowing the flow to move at its own pace I rush and yet most often make little, if any, progress.

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

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In the Way

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On my way to a community action board today I stopped by a McDonald’s for a drink. I parked and checked my email before going in. While sitting there I noticed a man parked in the center of the parking lot blocking several vehicles from exiting. A driver, needing and ready to go, waited patiently and the blocker, talking on his phone, never noticed. Finally, the driver ready to leave had to take action. He got out of his car, walked to the end of his vehicle, waved his arms, to get the blocker’s attention and motioned that he needed to get moving. The driver, immediately brought back to reality, moved quickly out of the way.

Watching the entire scene I reflected on how there are times and seasons of life when others, purposefully or not, block our path. We’d rather wait and through patience and stillness hope the obstacle moves. However, there are moments when we must take action and rid ourselves of any impediments, human or otherwise, that continue to keep us from moving forward.

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

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Disconnected

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Last week the Mrs’. dashboard quit working.  The orange gauges simply flashed red. Everything else electrical worked fine but we couldn’t understand what was happening.  We talked with several mechanics who had never heard of such a thing and other than bringing it in and running tests no one had any guesses what could be causing the trouble. One car jockey suggested we might try unhooking the battery. The winter storm hit the next day and since I couldn’t take it anywhere I disconnected the battery to see what happened. I let it sit for several hours and when I reconnected, “presto!” everything in the dashboard worked again.

Now I don’t know if this is a permanent or temporary fix but it was a great reminder that sometimes disconnecting, unplugging, resetting is the only way to keep moving.

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

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