Blog Archives

Found

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Found

I’m not sure which was higher today; the sun in the sky or the humidity. What I know is it was hot and sticky!

Today was my first summer class for incarcerated fathers. Passing through one of the checkpoints at t, e jail I saw a man who was in our spring class. “How are you?” I asked. “Still making good choices?” “Yes,” he replied. “How’s the weather outside?” he asked me in return. “Hot! and Humid!” I exclaimed. He had to go and I was hit again how isolated the jail keeps the inmates. One of the hottest days of the year and all he knew was the inside of a hallway and his jail pod. Nothing on the outside except what he learned from others who have the freedom he only dreams about.

A little while later I talked to the class about excuses and illusions we use to justify the choices which led us to where we are in our lives. “Until we learn self-awareness and the real reasons we think, do and live like we do we will never be free.” Many of the men I work with have been prisoners most of their lives, even before they were arrested and placed in the county jail. Imprisoned by their habits, poor judgment, and worse decisions learned from parents and peers. Teaching them how to think differently and ultimately be different is the difficult goal of the folks who invest their lives with these men.

Freedom cannot be given it must be found within and brought to the surface of our lives.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

Shade and Shadow

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Shade and Shadow

Most of the week there have been rain clouds hovering low and blocking the sun from view. The rain has been needed and I am thankful but today is sunny, mostly blue skies and I am thankful for it as well.

When I mow the grass and weed I like to have my phone and ear buds playing music to help block out the noise. I select my preferred playlist and off I go. However, as the sun blazed today it was hard to see the screen to pick the songs. I had to turn my back towards the sun and use myself as a shade to see the phone’s screen.

Our yard isn’t huge but it’s big enough to require two hours worth of mowing plus two hours worth of weeding. Even though it wasn’t especially hot today when I finally finished the weeding portion I sat down under the shade of the large Oak tree in our front yard and enjoyed some water and Gatorade.

The quote in the picture (attached) is that; “We stand in our own shadow and wonder why it’s dark.” and it resonated with me today because of being outside using my shadow and enjoying some shade. Earlier in the week, it was storm clouds which shaded the sun from being seen and today it seemed nothing could block its radiance.

In our lives, there are times of shade and shadow when the light we are looking for is hidden. We make our way the best we can and trust the light will find us again. There are also seasons when the light is bright and easy to follow. For both of these, we give thanks because we wouldn’t appreciate one without the other.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Power

Power

I heard two quotes today from two uniquely different people.

One said; “It is a sign of wisdom to be content with less than you feel you deserve.”

The second one said; “No matter what you achieve you’re not a failure if you’ve given your all.”

I liked both of the quotes. In a world where winning competitions, whether in a sports arena or the business board room, is seen as the goal for success, being content with less and giving your all but not beating your opponent seems to fall short. I’m not what some may label a “snowflake” but I know that snowflakes do an avalanche make.

I also know history and it tells me the path to glory and earthly immortality is an illusion. Power does indeed corrupt and absolute power destroys not just the person wielding it but innocents as well.

I wonder when, if, the world will ever walk the path less traveled. Is there an event that would convict of us the error of our ways? Deflate our egos? Humble our hubris? How many empires have to fall (I include America), how many victims must die, how many times must the lust for domination and control seduce before we realize the futility of such pursuits?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Fuel

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Fuel

His braided hair was unkempt, long and matted. His feet and hands were covered in dirt. In his hands was a gas tank and as he approached me I knew what he wanted. “Could you give me some gas?” came the anticipated question. “Sure,” I answered. “Where are you headed?” He named a town not anywhere near the gas station and admitted he had taken several wrong turns, ran out of gas and didn’t have the money to get the gas to get him to his destination. I finished filling up my truck and brought the nozzle over to his small tank. I filled it up and wished him the best in finding his way.

As I drove off I thought about the small act of kindness extended to the unwashed young man and was thankful for the ability to offer grace to him as he traveled. I’m also thankful for the many small and big acts of grace and kindness extended to me over the span of my journey to help me get closer to my destination.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Fight the Way You Practice

Fight the Way You Practice

This afternoon was the first class for Incarcerated Fathers, Spring 2017. The first day of class is always a little awkward. The residents do not know you and you don’t know them. You explain how the class works, what’s required of them and what you will give for the class to be a success.

We talked about respect and relationships and how the key to successful parenting is our children being able to trust that we will be there for them in every way possible. By doing this we give kids the confidence that they can venture out into the world because home is always safe and always there.

Many of the men I teach in these classes didn’t have that kind of home life growing up and find it difficult to picture what a family such as this would look like. As we go through the class we will practice showing them it is possible and necessary to give their children the childhood the residents didn’t grow up with and for them to be the parents they aren’t sure they can be. Once they work on these skills, practice them they will begin to believe it possible.

You can only fight the way you practice.” This the hope we have for the men who participate in our class; to learn to fight in such a way that builds up, not destroys.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

New Life In Dead Things

New Life in Dead Things – 

This morning I was walking, reflecting, on a number of things in a friend’s yard where we are spending the weekend. As I ambled around I came across a rotted tree stump about three feet tall (pictured). I jiggled it a little then a lot and soon it came loose and broke off from the bottom. Carrying the piece of dead wood to a place to throw it away I felt a flutter by my hand and looked down in time to see a bird fly up and land on a tree limb nearby. At first I thought it strange for a bird to fly that close but then I examined the dead stump in my hand. Looking closely I spotted a hole in the trunk about a quarter size with tiny red dotted eggs. I realized I had, like a giant movie monster, yanked up the bird’s home and carried it off. I gently righted the stump and took it back to where it was removed. I hope the mama bird will return.

It was a wonderful reminder that life can be found even in places which appear desolate, dark and dead.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Left Behind

Left Behind

Whew! It’s been a long day! So, this will be a short entry.

Today, Beth and I went through the belongings of a dear friend who passed a few years ago. It was both erie and interesting.

To know one day each of our lives will be reduced to a few boxes, pieces of furniture and other knick knacks is a great lesson in humility. Truly, what we do, who we are is what matters in the short time we exist in this planet. What a shame it would be to just be remembered for the trinkets we left behind instead who we were and the lives we impacted.

Thankfully, my friend lived a life that touched many, didn’t collect a lot of useless things and as we went through her left-behind belongings they paled in comparison to who she was and what she left in us by her love and grace.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Serving Tea

Serving Tea

I had heard the story many times before. As he started talking I already knew how it ended. He’s an addict. He’s been one for almost as long as he can remember and will be one until he dies. The victory of an addict is not to stop being one but learning how to live life clean as one. He wasn’t living free, some of his old acquaintances had become recent friends.

The big three ways an addict stays away from relapse is a clean (drug, alcohol-free) place to live, a permanent job, and supportive friends. None of them are simple to attain and maintain but in my experience with addicts, the one which is the hardest to do is stay around supportive people. The reason this is so difficult for the addict is that oftentimes their addiction has hurt or destroyed the healthy relationships with family and friends which leave them with other addicts and pushers to be around when they are released from jail or a rehab center. It’s also hard to make new or mend relationships when at first you’re only sober moment to moment, hour by hour.

Wisdom tells us that we cannot stop negative people, negative thoughts coming into our lives and minds. However, we don’t have to stay or take up residence. We can choose to make our lives a priority, take care of ourselves so we can one day take care of others.

“You cannot stop negative thoughts from coming in the door of you mind, but you do not have to serve them tea.” #ZenProverb

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Head On

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Head On

On Friday, my chores included riding the lawn tractor around the property picking up limbs, leaves, trash and other debris. I was finishing up just as it was getting dark. There were a couple of pieces of trash on the corner end of our yard which is next to the road. I stopped, picked them up, threw them in the trailer attached to the mower, checked both ways and drove the lawn tractor up and on the road. I had the headlights on and as soon as I made it on the road a semi-truck turned and began driving toward me. I was a spot where I couldn’t stop or pull back in the yard because of a steep grade and tried to figure out how far I had to go before me and the large truck would be at an impasse. I was going as fast as I dared and the semi didn’t seem to be slowing down. With my limited headlights on, while being blinded by the brightness of his, I searched for a location to pull back into the yard. Looking, longing, becoming anxious at the thought of being flattened by the truck I found a safe place to get off the road and avoid anymore; “playing chicken with motor vehicle” scenarios.

After breathing a sigh of relief I reflected on my; “Fast and Furious” moment. There are times, on the road of life, where there is little light by which to see. We are blinded by what’s coming our way and helpless to stop it. We do everything we can to find a safe place but disaster, danger, difficulties are looming and we don’t know if we’ll make it. Sometimes, at the last moment, we discover a safe spot a place out of danger. Other times we keep going, hoping, praying, there’s more strength, power, and courage in us than we’d ever imagine.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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In the Air

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In the Air

A couple of weeks ago the Mrs. and I were sitting by the firepit talking about our day with our Siberian Husky, Trooper, laying beside us. One of us were in mid-sentence when he popped up and began sniffing the air. He smelled…something. We weren’t sure what. We hadn’t heard, seen or smelled anything but he has the stronger; “sniffer” so his alertness got our attention. I grabbed the flashlight and began shining it all over the area and sure enough, there was a possum ambling through the yard. Possums aren’t dangerous but I wouldn’t want one to waddle through my legs and Beth might still be running today if it had scurried past her. Thanks to our dog’s senses we had ample warning of the encroaching critter.

Wisdom can give us an extra sense of perception, a radar of sorts, which alerts us when something isn’t right, a correction needs to be made, or heightened alert is in order. It’s in these times we want to shine a light in the dark places, be vigilant, ready to make a course adjustment, be still or move forward cautiously. Finding our way can be difficult. We must be sure that every sense is used and heeded.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Using Your Head

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Using Your Head

It’s 70 degrees today! Almost January and balmy. Beth and I decided to take advantage of the day by working outside. Perfect weather with a little sun, a few clouds and a nice breeze. Everything was going smoothly until walking off the side of the porch I misjudged the sloped roof and whacked my head on a beam. “OUCH!” After rubbing the area which was throbbing and walking around a bit I decided to nail up a piece of material to mark where the beam was so I wouldn’t repeat the experience.

Wisdom teaches us that sometimes we are going to make mistakes, poor judgments, take a step in the wrong direction, not use our heads for what they were made for; thinking and making wise decisions. However, this isn’t the end of the journey. It’s a time for evaluation, choosing a different course, using the experience as a lesson learned and, hopefully, not repeated.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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A Strange Season

A Strange Season

When I was growing up Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were filled with family, food and gifts. We were at one grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve and the other on Christmas Day. In between was the opening of gifts followed by a big breakfast with my parents. It was a special time and for me never to be repeated.

People say the magic of Christmas is lost as you enter your teens and twenties but can be recaptured when you have children and eventually grandchildren. The joy, excitement, anticipation in a child’s eyes can reignite the ember within. Christmas can also transform into a time of being with family and friends. Instead of gifts you open your hearts to others and allow relationships to be renewed.

Beth and I don’t have any children so recapturing the Christmas Spirit this way isn’t an option. We live near Beth’s family and she loves spending time with them. Her Christmas Spirit is almost always burning brightly. She comes from a large family who welcome me with plenty of love and open arms but the amount of people in a confined location triggers my social anxiety. I’ve tried a few times in different settings to be a part but it’s difficult to be comfortable while fighting a real battle on the inside.

So, Christmas has become a strange time for me. I have not given up hope for the return of the Christmas Spirit. I am thankful for it being on a Sunday this year and the chance to celebrate it with others. I’m also thankful for a wonderful wife who supports me and the challenges I try to overcome each day. Knowing when to push, when to hold, attempting to understand what I have a hard time describing. She is my greatest gift.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Location, Location, Location

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Location, Location, Location

Last week I ordered some pizzas from the Pizza Hut down the street from our offices. I have done this before, several times, when we’ve had our Incarcerated Father’s class Certificate ceremony. Yesterday morning I dialed the same number as always and no one ever answered. I tried again and again with no luck. It was getting close to needing to pick up the pizzas so I decided to hop in my truck and drive there, order them and sit and wait.

When I arrived I was greeted with a sign on the  door which read; “We’ve Moved!” It had a new address so I jumped in the truck once again and found their new location. The door was open, I walked in but immediately noticed the machines weren’t hooked up and no pizzas were going to be made there anytime soon. Exasperation set in. I felt as if I was wandering all over Columbia, TN looking and needing something which wasn’t going to be found or attained. Finally, I went to another place, bought their pizzas and everything worked out fine.

The path of life is rarely dull. I was talking with a friend earlier this week and we discussed the places on the journey we find ourselves. He expressed frustration that he hadn’t arrived at the point he wanted to be, being who he desired. We shared our mutual frustration at times when what we’re looking for and what we long to embrace cannot be found when we feel we need them most. A sense of frustration and loss can set in. However, we also reminded each other the path and path maker can be trusted to provide what we seek and what we need at the right time and the right place.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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All You Need

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All You Need

Yesterday I wrote about the battle with rodents that begins every fall (There’s a Catch https://thewannabesaint.com/2016/11/05/theres-a-catch/).

Cleaning mouse traps and the areas where the little fuzz balls like to hang out is one parts determination and nine parts twisting, turning, bending and stretching. To make it easier I decided to use a few of the attachments which came with the vacuüm cleaner. The problem was I didn’t know where we kept them. I began looking in all the obvious places and then not so obvious ones but couldn’t find them. Finally, frustrated and out of ideas, I used just the hose along with a broom and dust-pan. It would’ve been easier with the attachments but I made it work without them. Once I finished the chore I was wrapping up the cord of the vacuüm to the hooks on the handle. As I did this I noticed that embedded in the handle were all the attachments I’d been looking for…forehead slap…“ugh!”

I remember a conversation I had with a friend several months ago who was starting a new chapter in her life and she asked me to give her some advice. “Breathe‘ I said, ‘Remember you already have all you need. You’re awesome and you’re going to do great.” To another friend, same message; “Don’t fret and don’t doubt. Trust the path and the path maker. It will not take you where you shouldn’t go nor leave you alone. What you carry on the journey is what you’ll need. Everything you’ve experienced before is leading you here.”

May this wisdom be remembered and guide all of us today.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Two Sides 

Two Sides – 

Earlier this week I received a phone call about a father who needed help as soon as possible. There were insurmountable and dangerously difficult obstacles he was facing and the concerned caller made sure I understood the need for me to connect with the dad.

So, I called the dad and explained why I was calling and offered my immediate assistance in anyway I could help. After a long pause the father told me; “Thank you.” but he was fine, handling everything life was bringing his way and appreciated my offer but at the present time wasn’t sure he needed any. I told him again if he changed his mind to call me anytime. He said he would and we disconnected.

I was confused at the original caller’s insistence of the father needing immediate help and the dad’s assured response that he was doing just fine. I then reflected on the wisdom teaching of knowing all sides to each story and person before acting. Once again it’s a lesson hard to remember and to put into practice. 

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Nowhere to Hide

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Nowhere to Hide

Today was my last visit to the dentist for the final part of a procedure that was started in July. I am glad it’s over. My only regret is that you have to keep going back for further check-ups…but that’s only for the rest of your life! Sigh.

The dentist’s office is the only place where I sit in the waiting room and hate for my name to be called. It was, and I went back to the little room with the horrible looking chair and sat down. Waited only a few moments before the doctor came and was in a talking mood! I answered his questions but my only thought was; “Dude, please, just get this over!”

Finally, he swung the big light into place and switched it on. I detest that light. It’s only inches from your face, you can feel its heat, your eyes adjust to the brightness, while it whispers;  “You aren’t going anywhere until we’re through with you.” Under that light, the dentist can see everything in your mouth and on your face. It’s a very vulnerable, and for someone like me with claustrophobia, frightening position. After we were done I stood up, shook his hand because he extended it, and got out of that room as fast as possible.

Light has a dual way of allowing us to see and be seen.

The wisdom of the Master says; “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light” he summed up everything a sojourner needs to know. He is the way, the path, the journey we walk. It is the true way, in the midst of many deceptive roads which promise peace. Finally, he is the light by which we see the way, and the way, in turn, sees us. Our journey is inward, to the deepest recesses of who we are, and only by shining a light in the darkest places are we able to find the way home.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Out of the Way

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Out of the Way

One of the fathers I met with today told me about a hiking spot not far from where we live. I hadn’t heard of the trail or the waterfall it leads to until he said he hiked it this past weekend. “Getting there was easy, all downhill. Coming back, however, is a different story.” We’ve lived here for almost two years and I’m still discovering new places to go and sights to see.

Life is similar, the paths we walk are filled with experiences and surprises. Sometimes what we’re looking for is close but our journey towards it isn’t.

Similarly, the way of grace and wisdom isn’t straight either. There are seasons and times we must go out-of-the-way in order to find the fastest route. It doesn’t make sense but it’s the paradoxical trail we call life.

Our way may not be straight but if we trust the path it will lead us to where we need to go.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Kindled 

Kindled

Fall is one of my favorite seasons. It’s warm enough in the day to work but not sweat too much and the evenings are cool enough to sit around a fire pit.

Last night I gathered some wood, made a fire and enjoyed the warmth as the sun set. To keep a good fire going you need to rotate the wood as it burns and adjusting the pieces so the fire doesn’t run out of fuel. During one of the adjustments last night a hot ash jumped over my head and onto my back. It quickly burned through my shirt while I shimmied, loudly saying; “Ow! Ow! Ow!” Finally, most of the pain subsided and I sat down once again enjoying the fire but still, every now and then, feeling the burn.

Wisdom teaches us that it takes frequent adjusting to keep the fire lit inside. If we aren’t careful the flames quickly turn to embers and can be snuffed out. Accepting these alterations isn’t always easy and can be painful. However, the pain is temporary and a kindled fire in our spirits can last an eternity.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Settling

Settling – 

This morning, as I was preparing to go to the office, I  heard a sound; “Knock, Knock, Knock.” And again; “Knock, Knock, Knock.” I checked the front door and no one was there but the knocking continued. Then, as a wannabe Sherlock Holmes would do, I stood perfectly still and waited for the next, “Knock, Knock, Knock.” and began following the sound to the source. I did this until I was ear to wall with the front porch. The sound was definitely coming from the other side. I tried spying through the window blinds but could not get the right angle as the, “Knock, Knock, Knock” echoed through the house. I walked back to the front door opened it and the screen door as quietly as possible. I crept along the side porch until I could see a female Woodpecker, who also saw me, and flew away. She was knocking on a piece of scrap wood. About twenty-five feet away from this warped and splintered two by four is a giant Oak tree. I wondered why did the bird settle for a snack when she could’ve had a gourmet meal? 

I also reflected on the truth that too often we settle for a trinket when there’s a treasure waiting, chase after worthless shiny objects when the most important things are there if we would alter our gaze. Wisdom tells us; “Don’t settle for scraps. Wait, keep searching, what you seek may be just around the corner.” 

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Look Out!

Look Out! –

He came out of nowhere! One minute I’m driving in the backwoods of South Central Tennessee, enjoying a picturesque perfect fall day, the next a squirrel ran right into my lane of traffic! I didn’t have time to swerve, slow down or react in anyway except to close my eyes, hold my breath, and hope for the best. Waiting for the inevitable; “Thump, Thump!” But it never came. Some how, some way, I missed him. “Whew!”

For the past few days my heart and spirit have been heavy. Something unexpected has ran onto my path and I couldn’t avoid it. It was a surprise that’s caused me to reflect, remember and realize there’s nothing I can do but close my eyes, breathe, pray and hope.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com 

Waiting

Waiting – 

Beth and I stopped by Lowe’s Home Improvement store on the way home from church today. One of the items on our list was a gallon of paint. We found the right brand and then went to the kiosk where they mixed in color. There was a line of three people and one woman working as hard and fast as she could. After a while it was our turn and as we walked up to the counter a man came up to the counter, got the employee’s attention and proceeded to have his order filled. I was frustrated. He had cut in line while the rest of us had waited our turn. Seemingly without noticing or caring he had his paint mixed and then left.

After we finished and checked out, I asked Beth; “Was he in line before and I hadn’t noticed?” “Nope.” she said but in a way that told me she had moved on and was in the present while I was still reliving the past. “Well,’ I said, ‘no big deal.” and following my wife’s example I moved on as well.

In this life we will face injustices and inconveniences. Injustices are worth fighting against for they impact past, present and future. Inconveniences, however, are just distractions that take our distort our focus and blind us to the now, the present, where life happens.

Blessings,
Brian Loging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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