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In Memory of

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In Memory of

This is a strange holiday for me. It’s not strange in the sense that I don’t understand it or think it necessary but strange because I did not serve in the armed services nor lost a loved one while in military service. I don’t know what it’s like to charge up a hill with my unit, share foxholes with people who I depend on for my life, find the courage to carry out orders that put my life and others in danger and know not everyone is coming back from the mission. I don’t know what it is to get a knock on my door, a phone call, by servicemen or women to inform me a loved is not returning home. I can’t imagine the pain, heartache, loss, or pride that comes with Memorial Day.

I once served on a staff with a war veteran and we liked to talk politics, history, and war. He had seen action in the military while I sat in the safety of a university classroom. We’d have conversations about the justifications of war. I’d voice my opinion that Christians should follow Jesus’ example and be pacifists, opposed to all violence and then he’d tell me when and why I was wrong. I didn’t agree with everything he said about the military, nation-building, and protection but I was also humbled and silent as he spoke. I understood that he had served, put his life on the line for us to disagree and still be friends, still call ourselves by the same name; Americans.

“The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
#AbrahamLincoln #GettysburgAdress

Blessings & Thank you,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Gently

Gently

I saw him as soon as I pulled up to the stoplight. He was a man in late 50’s, early 60’s slowly, carefully, walking down a hill away from the traffic signal. He was slow, taking painful steps. I didn’t want to stare so I looked out the corner of my eye; watching every step, shuffle and pause. His face showed his age, his wincing revealed a hard, difficult, life. Many of his steps were unsteady causing worry that he might fall but he progressed on his way in spite of the awkwardness of his gait.

As I watched him I thought about family, friends, clients who struggle to make their way on this path called life. I’m one who struggles. I think at times we all have seasons where we’re just trying not to fall or fall back. It is in these times especially we should treat ourselves gently, remembering the words of the philosopher #Plato:

“Never judge a person’s progress, no matter how slow.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Waking Up

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Waking Up

A blessed Easter to all.

This morning during worship service the preacher told a story about a woman who was the pianist at a local church. She had mistakenly not set her alarm and slept through Easter morning services. She was apologetic and everyone forgave her. The next year, on Easter Sunday morning, her phone rang very early and on the phone was the pastor of the church. She answered the phone blurrily; “Hello?” “Jesus has risen sister!” he said loudly, “and maybe you should do the same.” Laughing, he hung up the phone. Needless to say, she was on time for Easter services that year.

After the joke, I leaned over to my wife and exclaimed; “This is how I’m waking you up for Easter next year!” She smiled and patted me on the leg. Her and I both know it would take more than a phone call to rouse Beth if she didn’t want to get up.

Easter is about waking up to a new day, a new normal, a new reality, a new truth, a new understanding of God and a new discovery of ourselves. The veil of illusion has dissipated and we understand life differently. This is wisdom. This is connection. This is relationship.

May this Easter find each of us woke.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Another Way

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Another Way

This morning the pastor spoke from a selection of scripture regarding the story of how David, from the Bible, became King and conquered Jerusalem. It is an interesting story from the book of Second Samuel. When David, newly anointed, marched with his armies to the city of Jerusalem to reclaim it from the Jebusites, the foreigners were unimpressed. A ragtag, wannabe, King with his little army? How could they defeat the Jebusite army who far outnumbered them and were held up in the city of Jerusalem which had a great wall around it to repel invasion forces? They mocked David and told him they could put blind and lame men at the main gate and David still wouldn’t get in. However, David knew there was an access to the city through its water supply and his men came up through a well in the city and mounted a surprise attack to conquer the Jebusites.

“The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, “You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off.” They thought, “David cannot get in here.” Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion—which is the City of David.

On that day David had said, “Anyone who conquers the Jebusites will have to use the water shaft to reach those ‘lame and blind’ who are David’s enemies.[a]” That is why they say, “The ‘blind and lame’ will not enter the palace.”

David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the terraces[b] inward. And he became more and more powerful because the Lord God Almighty was with him.”
-Book of Second Samuel, Chapter 5

As I listened to the story I thought of challenges, difficulties, illnesses and other “enemies” had strongholds in my life. It seemed no matter what I tried I couldn’t defeat them. It was only after I stopped trying to take them “head on” that wisdom made known to me another way. There are battles for our spirits, emotions, our innermost being that requires us to be not frantic but still, not exhausting ourselves but saving our strength, not egotistical but willing to ask for and accept help, not stubborn but soft and bending, not stronger but wiser.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Intimacy

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Intimacy

This afternoon I stopped by a store to run in and grab a few items. When I parked there was a man sitting in his car and as I pulled into a spot he was staring at me. I gave him a head nod and didn’t think much of it As I gathered my things and exited the truck I looked again and he was no longer visible because his, I am assuming, girlfriend was bending sideways across the center console “appreciating him.” She was kissing him and whatever else because I averted my eyes not wanting to see anything that would burn an image in my brain! I went into the store came out a few minutes later and was hoping the car had gone but alas it was still there. Most of the windows were fogged up except the driver’s window and the driver was smoking a cigarette. I looked at my keys, hopped in the truck and drove away, quickly.

Intimacy is one of the greatest emotions and connections humans can share. Lust, on the other hand, is hormonal, selfish, addicting, and satisfied in ways which can hurt others. Our world is filled with lust. Lust for power, fame, money, reputation, knowledge can all be subjects of our lust if they are used only for our selfish purposes. True intimacy is also powerful but the opposite of lust. Lasting intimacy is giving ourselves to another. We have intimacy when we decide to put the other one first, serve the other. In a world where lust burns quickly, brightly, we need those who would rather do a slow burn which lasts a lifetime.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Cracked

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Cracked

My fingers have a nasty way of cracking and splitting open when I work outside during the winter in cold and dry conditions. Last week my thumb developed a big one. I had several days of work in front of me and it was becoming sorer by the moment. Finally, after arriving home from a trip yesterday, my wife “made it better.” She cleaned it with Peroxide, gently using a Q-Tip to get the dirt and grime in the crack, applied Neosporin to the affected area and then covered it with a Band-Aid to keep it protected. I repeated the procedure this afternoon and will continue until it improves.

Certain seasons of life can also wound us physically, emotionally and spiritually. We do our best to keep going but sooner or later we must pay attention to the hurt because if we don’t it will only get worse. At times others can help us heal and other times we can do it ourselves. Wisdom teaches us the important axiom; “If we can’t take care of ourselves we can’t take care of others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Temporary

Temporary

The sun, which shone so brightly the last couple of days filling my spirit and mind with images of spring, is gone today, replaced by gray, gloomy clouds. My wife’s flu bug which bit her last week seems to have been squished and she’s on the mend. The weekend is winding down and soon a new week will start.

I commented to a friend today about a photograph taken about 4 years ago that; “sometimes it seems long ago and other times yesterday.” I think that’s life. When younger I was told; “time moves faster as you get older.” It didn’t make sense to me then but now, on the other side of the hill (midlife), it’s a boulder rolling faster and faster.

The present moment, where we long to continuously dwell, is the one place that brings thankfulness, humility, and acceptance. We are thankful because we are only “grass that whithers, blows away, and its place remembers it no more.” Every moment is precious, even the ones we’d rather not experience. We are humbled by the brevity of ourselves and the things around us. Nothing is permanent which we can touch, see, feel, hear, or taste. “All things are passing away.” By accepting this truth we can choose to consciously, deliberately, live leaving nothing unfinished, and embrace this flash of light we call being alive.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Grounded, Simple, Generous, Controlled, Joyful, Present

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Grounded, Simple, Generous, Controlled, Joyful, Present

The contemplative life isn’t hard to understand. Most of the teachings can be learned in a day but they offer a lifetime of wisdom.

A few moments ago I was sitting on the porch basking in the sun. It was wonderful. I had brought my phone with me but not sure why. I laid it down beside me and closed my eyes. It’s warm for the month of January. Yesterday it was cloudy and cool but in that present moment of sitting on the porch, the skies were a brilliant blue. Our Siberian Husky was sprawled out on the driveway, not a care in the world. As I embraced the beauty and warmth my attention kept going to the phone. I knew there wasn’t anything on it I needed to read or respond to but the fact it was there distracted me.

This is why simplicity is important in the contemplative life. Everything we own, invest our ourselves in, give our passion, energy and time takes a piece of us. The more we have in our lives the less contemplative we are able to be. Letting go of all that is superfluous allows us to focus on what’s important while the fluff floats away.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Idols and Illusions

Idols and Illusions –

I would add to the quote attached to this post anything that’s fleeting, temporal, transitory, this that tell us lies about ourselves or others. Things like politics, money, jobs, reputations. Idols are all of these and more which fix our focus on the illusion that we are in control, we are powerful and by our wills, the world can be recreated in our image. It is this illusion that destroys our world and ourselves.

This morning part of my contemplation and meditation time included a portion of the Second Book of Kings, chapter seventeen, verse 15; “They worshipped false idols and became false.” I have read that several times today, talked about it with a friend and wrote it down in a journal. It says we become what we worship. Where our heart is, our mind, emotions, spirits, where our energies are applied is what we are and what we become.

Idols and illusions are hard to see sometimes. Breaking free from them isn’t easy. #AlbertEinstien said; “All of reality is an illusion, a persistent one, but still an illusion.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Problems

Problems

There are three kinds of problems; those we can live with, those we can do something about and those we must separate ourselves from.

It’s the last one which gives us the most trouble. Living with something aggravating and, at least in the present moment, is unchangeable can be a challenge. Fortunately, or unfortunately, we can tolerate a lot. This approach can create more hassles if something needs to be changed and we lack the direction, motivation or passion to do something.

Taking control, bending problems to our will, throwing our shoulder into a problem is an attitude we find easy. There’s nothing like grabbing a difficulty by the throat and forcibly doing away with it, changing it to our liking. The risk here is we can make a situation worse if we are too hasty, too stubborn or not wise enough in our decision-making.

Leaving it, for most of us, takes the greatest strength. To be faced with a problem and not change it but change ourselves, how we approach it, takes courage and trust. When we put up with it we are sullen and prone to negative thoughts and spirits. When we take hold of it and wrestle with it, we feel we are in control. When we decide to let go, step back, allow the problem to exist and find contentment at the same time, we have reached a place of genuine spiritual and intellectual maturity.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Similar

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Similar

This morning, on my way to a meeting, I was driving on the main two-lane road in Columbia, Tennessee. I was about to switch lanes when I happened to look up to see a red truck all of a sudden swerve from behind me in the right to the left lane. He didn’t use a signal or proceed cautiously. He seemed in a hurry to get wherever he was going and I waited for him to pass before signaling and merging to the other lane. A few minutes later a white truck ahead of us both quickly jumped from the right lane to the left lane in front of the red truck and then turned on his signal to turn on to another road. The driver of the red truck had to slam on his brakes and I watched as he shook his head at the carelessness of the other driver. I wondered if it ever dawned on him that they had driving habits in common? Probably not. I reflected on the fact that we recognize bad driving in others but rarely notice it in ourselves. The rest of the way to my meeting I followed the driver of the red truck and pondered if I was also a bad driver but hadn’t realized it yet.

We often spot the bad in the other person. Judge harshly another’s words and actions. We jump to conclusions and condemnations about people we see for a moment and allow it to become the lens by which we determine their motivations and value. We are too quick to label people as something negative because of a lapse in judgment. Our world doesn’t have a lot of empathy. We don’t want to walk a mile in another’s shoes. It’s easier to pronounce them as bad or stupid, unqualified or evil.

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”
-The Master, Gospel of Saint Matthew 7:3-5

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

Vision

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Vision

Last night Beth and I watched the bio-movie; “The Founder”, starring Michael Keaton. It is the story of Ray Croc, the “founder” of McDonald’s, the world’s largest fast food chain. It is an interesting movie of how Croc took a hamburger stand, owned by the two McDonald’s brothers, and made it into a food empire.

At the beginning of the movie, Croc is a persistent, charismatic, but not completely successful restaurant equipment sales rep. While on the road he learns that a place in Bakersfield, California, has ordered six milk shake makers! He’s intrigued enough to find out what kind of restaurant needs this many and drives to their location. While there he sees the McDonald’s brothers “Speedy System” (where and how the workers are placed in the assembly area) and the unique layout of their restaurant which allows them to make “made to order” hamburgers in less than thirty seconds! Ray Croc is in awe and talks the brothers into letting him begin to sell franchises all over America. Initially, everything goes relatively smoothly but Ray Croc’s ambition, craving for money and fame, eventually drive him and the brothers apart. I won’t spoil the movie but it’s worth watching.

As I was reflecting on the story today I thought about vision and how it unites or divides people. It can be the vision of ourselves, family, community, church, organization, nation or world. Everyone has a vision of how things “should” be and some share the same vision while others oppose it. Competing visions can cause dissension and dissolution of connectedness and relationships.

Wisdom teaches us the more tightly we hold to our visions of things the more suffering we cause ourselves and others. Only when we are open and allow for the possibility of differing views can we be at peace with ourselves and others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Good Eye

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Good Eye

Last week I had an important meeting. During it, a woman walked into the room to give the person I was meeting with a message. As she delivered it the other noticed the woman was shaking. She asked; “Are you okay? You’re really shaking!” The person said she had a lot going on and was trying to fit all of it into a small amount of time. She then left the room and my meeting continued. Afterwards, I saw the woman who had been shaking and told her I hoped she had a good day.

As I went to my next appointment I thought about both the woman and the fact that I didn’t notice her shaking at all. I totally missed it. I try to be aware of people and their emotional, mental and spiritual states. I even try to notice new glasses, haircuts, and changes people make but not this time. I realized it swept by me because all of my focus was on the “important” meeting. The person I met with was at the same meeting but didn’t allow it to consume all of her attention and she was able to show concern to someone in need.

It was a good reminder that true awareness is finding the balance between paying attention to ourselves and others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Underneath

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Underneath

After several weeks of building an extension onto our porch, yesterday evening it was time to demolish. There was a section which had been built many years ago and needed to be removed so we could match it with the extension. As I began to remove the old, rotten and piecemealed section I wasn’t sure what I’d find underneath. Would there be critters? Would the support beams be rotten? Would it be wet and moldy or dry? To my surprise, the not-so-good-looking porch was nice and sturdy underneath. It was also dry with no water gathered. There should be no problem attaching the new, matching wood.

I spoke with a man today who’s had a rough week. The subject of disappointment came up and we talked about setbacks, struggles, and obstacles on life’s journey. We agreed the path of life will take us through the valley of humility and stresses and pressures can weigh us down making the journey hard. When these times come our surface selves get stripped away. Life has a way of demolishing what’s not solid, sturdy, and revealing what’s underneath.

If there is a strength within, if we can withstand the ripping away of the pieces of ourselves which can’t handle the strain, then we will be able to start again, build anew. Our wisdom, our spirit, our enlightened lives do not come from never facing the chaotic struggles but allowing them to take away what’s not needed and reveal what’s greater within, underneath.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Maybe a Mexican!

Maybe a Mexican!

Earlier this week I was in a store looking at shirts for summer. As I perused a middle-aged white woman walked up to me with a shirt in her hand and blurted out; “Isn’t this the ugliest shirt you’ve ever seen? Who would wear it? Nobody I know. Maybe a Mexican.” She laughed, I grimaced, forced a smile and choked back the question; “You’re a Donald Trump supporter aren’t you?” Instead I moved on, saddened by her attitude and aggression.

Too often people associate the unsightly, problematic, ills and woes of our families, communities and societies with certain races, religions, sexes and ages. Our biases and judgments automatically see the worst in others and the ugliness in ourselves stops us from beholding the beauty that exists in us all.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

All Gone

All Gone.

Someone asked me last week; “How long does it take to heal a broken heart? How long before you’ve moved past the pain, betrayal and loss? How long before it doesn’t hurt any more?” I wearily smiled and replied; “I’ll let you know, as soon as it happens.

The act of forgiving someone is more than saying the words; “I forgive you.” It is a head and heart change, a spirit and emotional shift that takes time. Forgiveness is a process, a journey, which begins with some of the most difficult steps we can ever make. When someone has consciously, purposefully wounded us, torn apart a relationship, chosen to grievously harm us, there is no; “quick fix” prayer, magical spell or shortcut to a place of healing. To forgive is to make the choice to move on, not hold on to the bitterness and heartache, to allow the offending party and yourself to be free, and this choice is repeated many times.

The path of forgiveness is at first a downward spiral. We journey deep into ourselves and come face to face with the pain caused by the other. We admit and accept the hurt which has been done to us. We then bring the injury into the light by talking about it with someone we trust, someone who can help us navigate the path from brokenness to wholeness. Depending on the depth of the wound, healing, forgiveness, could take years. Remember it is a choice to let go of the blame, the pain and the burden of carrying around an act of selfishness, carelessness and callousness done to us by another. The choice is to hold on to the hurt or embrace freedom of mind, body and spirit. The decision might be made countless times until the impact of the betrayal is finally, permanently, all gone and we find the long, hard path to restoration complete and worth it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twiter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Comparing

Comparing

I came out to my wife this weekend.

I had been in the closet for too long and on our way to Franklin, TN on Saturday I stepped into the light and admitted being a closet Adele fan (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adele). It wasn’t a predetermined choice but I was singing the song; “Hello” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfG6VKnjrVw) without realizing it and Beth, a long time Adele fan, asked incredulously; “Are you singing an Adele song?!?!” and I came clean.

Saturday afternoon, the song still stuck in my head, I looked up the video on YouTube and began listening to it. As I listened to it, I started reading the comments (never a good choice). To my astonishment the song playing wasn’t being sung by Adele but by someone who sounded like her. I couldn’t tell the difference at first but some of the commenters noticed and didn’t spare the feelings of the person who uploaded the video. They accused her of being a; “want to be Adele, she didn’t sound like the famous singer, should never sing again, was hurting their ears, etc.” I was dumbstruck. The singer on the video had a fantastic voice and I think if the people making the rude remarks hadn’t heard it sung by a famous professional singer first, they would’ve been much more accepting and complimentary.

When life is about judging ourselves and others by a set of standards most, if not all, can’t reach, then we, and perhaps even the recipients of our expectations, are guaranteed to live a miserable and hopeless existence.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Not Out There

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Last night we had our Spring 2016 certificate ceremony for our incarcerated fathers’ class; Inside Out Dad. For the last session I give them their certificates and we talk about what we’ve learned over the last 3 months. One of the key points I focus on is self-awareness. It is the realization that most, if not all, our problems and challenges start with us. I tell the men; “Self-awareness is like looking in a mirror and truly seeing ourselves. We are able to recognize the good, bad, positive, negative, things we do well and things which need improvement.” I remind them to move beyond blaming others for our present conditions, accept responsibility for what we’ve done and should have done, and take an honest look at who we are and what we’ve become. “Only when we truly know ourselves can we be and do better.

It’s a wisdom lesson for us all, a discipline which takes a lifetime to learn and practice, and one we can’t start soon enough.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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