Blog Archives

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

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Elude

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Elude

Mowing the grass today I crossed paths with a butterfly which seemed for a moment he would land on the lawn mower and I’d have a riding partner. Alas, at the last moment, he turned and fluttered away.

I like this quote (pictured). It’s a good reminder that happiness too can elude us quickly. There are many things in this world which promise happiness, contentment, satisfaction but few deliver and even fewer last more than a season. What’s interesting is we keep chasing after the new thing which promises us a better, more respected, fulfilled life but like the butterfly, it flutters away.

It isn’t wrong to seek happiness but in our frenetic, ever evolving, never steady world it’s easy to get lost in chasing trinkets and listening to voices on the wind. The more difficult way is to be still and allow happiness to find us. It takes trust and patience but most good things do.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Carrier or Cure

Carrier or Cure –

I listened to a doctor today say that it was scientifically proven that the mood of one person can contaminate and infect an entire office or family. If an employee arrives to work exhausted, frustrated, malcontented, then it can “infect” their co-workers. If a family member is happy, content, joyful it too can spread to the other members of the family, lifting their spirits, helping them see the beauty in those who often drive one another crazy.

Most likely, each of us has experienced this phenomenon at work and at home. A husband or wife comes home in a foul mood after a long day of work, conflicts with another employee or the boss, fighting traffic and bringing this stress and anxiety with them as they cross the threshold of the family home. Or a co-worker, struggling with issues in the home, bringing their baggage to work.

The doctor noted that empathy, the ability to understand and feel what another person is experiencing, is an antidote that keeps the mood from spreading. Listening, patience, and the willingness to help the other are also effective in stopping the infection.

The question becomes; “are we a carrier or part of the cure?”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Perfectly Acceptable

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Perfectly Acceptable –

It is time!” my wife told me last night. “Cutting the lawn can wait no longer!” I was hoping to wait until mid-April because mowing the grass too early can leave it vulnerable to disease. However, last week the church beside us cut theirs and now our yard looks even more unkempt. So, if it doesn’t rain today and the grass can dry out from a shower last night, I will mow today.

I blame the mild winter and the enormous amounts of rain we’ve had the last two months on the lawn being so out of control. Everything is blooming, budding sprouting and looks beautiful. The grass is the exception. It’s not all one height. Part of the grass is several inches tall while other parts are just turning green and still short.

Waiting for the sun and slight wind of this beautiful spring day to chase away the moisture I’m also reflecting on how the lawn and life are similar. There are parts of our lives where everything seems to be growing and flourishing while other parts seem to have trouble keeping up. There are relationships that are blossoming and healthy while we struggle with others. Our job may be going well but our home life needs improving. We are well-balanced emotionally but our physical side could use some conditioning. Mentally we are strong but spiritually we are lacking.

Wisdom teaches us that life is rarely, if ever, simultaneously great or terrible. What we look to do is find balance and acceptance. To do this we must ask; “Are we giving too much time to one area while neglecting another?” or “Is it just seasonal?” Perhaps a little more attention and lot more patience and we will see the blessing of a life that’s not perfect but is loved, accepted and a work in progress.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Up Ahead

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Up Ahead

Earlier today I was on my way to an appointment when I ran into a long line at a traffic light. The light showed a green arrow when the turning lane I was in could go. After only a few moments the arrow turned green and nobody moved. I waited, waited, waited and began to grow impatient! “Don’t you see the arrow is green?!?!?” I thought to myself but still no one advanced. It was then I spied an ambulance moving through the intersection and it, of course, had the right away.

I sat there reflecting on my frustration at the situation. The driver at the front of the line saw the ambulance when I could not. They knew not to go, to wait, that patience and yielding were in order. It was a great reminder to me that life is not always about going. There are times, seasons, it’s about waiting, allowing others to move while we wait, hopefully, patiently.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Standing Still

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Standing Still

Tonight was the first class of our winter semester for incarcerated fathers. When I arrived at the corrections facility I was busy getting my things together before opening the truck door because a cold front has moved into the area and for the first time in a while it feels like winter. I shut the front truck driver’s door, turned around and saw a deer about 30 feet away staring at me. Then I saw another and another. Three deer standing, looking at me as I looked at them. I didn’t want to disturb the moment. I kept expecting them to run away but they stood their ground and me, cold and shivering didn’t want to do anything to spook them. Finally, after what seemed like several minutes I knew I needed to get inside and prepare for class. I moved slowly and the deer watched as I opened the back truck door, took out my supplies, and shut it. I began walking toward the entrance, turned around and they were gone.

It was a perfect moment which happened all by happenstance; the deer and me, right time, place and spirit of awe. I hope 2017 brings more of these because my soul desperately needs them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Not a Great Fit

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Not a Great Fit

As a wannabe Saint and woodworker, I’m not sure which one requires more patience and effort. While working on an outdoor project today I had a piece of wood which needed to fit in a certain place, a certain way. I measured, marked the wood for cutting and then proceeded. The first cut was too long. I measured again, cut again and again too long. Repeating the process two or three more times I was finally able to fit into the certain place but not the certain way. I was getting frustrated and Beth noticed. “How about this?” she said. “Let’s go has some lunch and you can think about what you can do differently to get a different result.” Such a wise woman for this foolish man. By the time lunch was finished and a few other chores taken care of, I did come up with an idea on how to fix my board problem.

Stepping away, taking a breath, pausing, letting go for a moment and allowing space between the frustration and a reaction is a difficult discipline to develop. However, if ever mastered; chores, projects, even relationships and growing in wisdom, contentment might no longer be a source of contention but a more attainable path.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Choose Wisely

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Choose Wisely

Yesterday I needed to drive into town and sign some important documents. I wasn’t excited about dropping everything I was doing and running this errand but there was no other option. On the way, it seemed like every light was red, the road was occupied with the slowest of drivers, and I even had to pull over for a funeral procession.

By the time I arrived to sign the papers my patience was wearing thin. I walked in, told the woman behind the counter my name and what documents I needed to sign. She looked all around her with no luck. There were three two-drawer metal filing cabinets behind her. She pulled on one with no luck and began looking for the keys. “Sigh!” She found the key to one of the filing cabinet and said over her shoulder to me; “It has to be in one of these!” “Ugh!”

She opened the first one and no luck. She then looked for and found the key to the second one, opened it up and…no papers. Finding the third key she opened the last filing cabinet and; “Tada!” I signed the papers, told the woman thank you, and began to drive back home. I immediately became aware that my patience was thin and I needed to breathe out the tension and anxiety and breathe in stillness and peace.

  • As much as I like to consider myself a contemplative, patience isn’t my default emotional and mental place. Like the filing cabinets; I start with frustration, move to irritation with patience and letting go, seeming to be one of the last drawers I open.
  • I hope, pray, that one day instead of patience and peace being one of the final options they will be my first and only.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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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

Growth

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Growth

Whew! Spent most of the day framing in the porch. We are almost ready for the screening and the end is in sight. There’s a good tired feeling after a day’s worth of hard work and feeling as if you’ve accomplished a lot.

To finish out the day I watered our plants and flowers. It’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve had any rain and they were quite thirsty. In the front yard, we have four Blue Spruces. We bought them at the same time and they looked the same; small and a bluish-green. However, today, when I was watering them I noticed they all looked different. They were planted at the same time, are basically in the same place. They receive water, mulch, pruning at the same time and yet they are growing in disparate ways. One is taller, one is “fatter”, one has two stems on top, and one looks bigger than all the others. Even though they’ve received the same amount of attention, sunshine, rain, hot and cool days, the are not the same.

Wisdom teaches us that people are similar to the Blue Spruces. They grow at different rates, in different ways, at different times. Often we forget how unique each of us are in how we mature emotionally, mentally and spiritually. We are tempted to judge negatively those who aren’t keeping up with others only later to perhaps discover an unexpected growth spurt from a “late bloomer” has surpassed them all. Patience. Acceptance. Perseverance. These are all needed attributes when measuring the growth and maturation of those around us.

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Patience is…

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Patience is…

A few moments ago I was standing in a long line at a store, waiting patiently while a young man, who didn’t seem thrilled to be working on a Saturday evening, checked out the plenteous people in front of me. I glanced around and noticed none of the other registers were open so I took a few deep breaths, thought about my day, and practiced stoicism in the face of this minor irritation in the grand scheme of things.

Finally, I was next in line as an elderly woman checked out and, for some reason, her check card wasn’t working. As she was finishing up another employee walked up to the front and said; “Register two is now open!” and the people behind me took advantage. I shook my head and thought; “This is my life, summed up in one experience.”

They say if you pray for patience you will receive temptations, trials, and travails. Patience has never been one of my virtues. Part of it is my anxiety disorder which propels me to always be thinking, moving or a combination of both. However, I am also a product of our “got to have it immediately!” culture. To wait is an offense to our too busy lives. We long to escape our hectic, event-filled, crazy, chaotic lives, but how?

I stand in a line, take a few more deep breaths and remember life is made up of these moments we call; “Now.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Slow, Steady, Still

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Slow, Steady, Still

Today I worked on restoring the section of the porch I demolished earlier this week. It wasn’t complicated but did require some precise cuts to ensure it fit correctly. One of the trickiest for me was cutting a large eight-foot board exactly in half. I’ve never been good at making a straight cut and many scrap wood pieces have been made because of my lack of ability to stay on track.

Today, however, my Mrs. brought out a Chalk box (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chalk_line), which has a string covered with chalk, that you can unravel and use to create a straight line over a long distance. We measured a few times to make sure we had the marks right on either end of the board, unraveled the line in the Chalk box, positioned it, snapped it and produced a nice, easy to follow guideline for me. I began sawing, took my time, and exacted a nice clean, straight cut. I exclaimed to Beth; “Not bad eh?” She smiled and said; “You did good!”

After we were done I reflected on the Chalk box line. Not all of life’s path is so straight and easy to follow. There are seasons when the path is had to find, the way hard to know and you hope for a sign or anything to point you in the right direction.

Wisdom tells us that patience, awareness, and the willingness to travel without wavering is key when the way is known just as stillness is imperative when we need to wait for the way to reveal itself. Both are vital to making our way on life’s journey and arrive at the place of goodness and light.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Grow Again

Grow Again

A few weeks ago when I mowed our lawn it seemed mostly running the blades over dirt. However, the last week and a half has brought several days of much-needed rain and the grass is growing again. In less than a week since the last mow the yard needs cutting again! I am certainly not complaining. I would rather mow more often than look at brown grass and stunted plants. I don’t know if the rain will continue to fall but I am enjoying every drop that settles on the parched land.

It’s interesting how new patterns in life can emerge. For most of the summer the rain would fall around us, just a few miles away but not often at our place. Now we are enjoying being on the receiving end.

The rain is a wonderful reminder that life seems unfair when others are being “blessed” while we are merely witnesses. Though we try to be thankful for others’ gifts and favors we can’t help but wonder; “Why not us?” The answer is often elusive but patience and acceptance are the lessons learned and for these we should be thankful.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Left Overs

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Left Overs

It’s now the third day after my oral surgery this past Wednesday.  After a numbing gel on the impacted areas, shots of Novocaine which deadened gums, nerves, tongue, nitrous oxide which made me loopier than usual and a painkiller prescription, all that’s left over, 72 hours later, is the swelling and tenderness. I do have a few powerful pills but use them with extreme caution and sparingly for fear of becoming dependent. Even bread is hard to chew! The dentist said; “It would take time, not to rush it, invest in some ice cream.” Ice cream? Perhaps the dentist isn’t all bad.  🙂

There’s something about a part of your mouth feeling different from normal that makes you want to rub your tongue over the impacted area. With it I can tell where the surgery happened but must be gentle not to cause further pain. The first two days the ache wasn’t so bad but now that all the other desensitizing agents have worn off there’s only swelling, aching and waiting that’s left over.

Wisdom teaches us that traumatic and painful events, experiences happen to us all. We may have ways of coping with the hurt, masking the discomfort, ignoring the suffering, however, sooner or later, we must acknowledge the damage which has been done. We must accept the left overs in our lives that heartbreak and distress cause. Only then can we know the wound’s severity. Only then can we treat ourselves with gentleness and patience. Only then can we begin to heal.

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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Lessons

I stopped by the grocery store on the way back into town today from a presentation on Fatherhood. I needed to pick up coffee and pop-tarts, everything a middle-aged man needs for a healthy breakfast. It took me two minutes to find and grab the items off the shelf and head to the register. Making good time, all was going to plan. Second in line I smiled and then spied what the lady in front of me was purchasing; little calendars, on sale for a minuscule amount and she was buying every one she could get her hands on. The clerk was scanning each of them individually and there had to be at least a hundred. “Sorry,” the calendar buying woman said to me and I gave her a smile of; “that’s OK,” but inside I was like; “you got to be kidding me!” When the clerk was finally done the lady used two different cards to buy her items and forgot to get cash back. So I waited some more as she bought a pack of Tic-Tacs.

Patience; life has a way of trying to teach us and we have  a way of resenting the lesson. After checking out myself I headed to the truck and couldn’t help but roll my eyes and laugh.

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

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The Gift of Waiting

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FedEx has a problem. They have packages that were supposed to be delivered by December 25 and, uhoh, today is Christmas. People who ordered their gifts days, week, even a month ago are wondering; “where are the presents I ordered online?!?!” And now Christmas is apparently ruined for thousands of people and families across the globe.

Seems like “first world“, spoiled American, “not really a problem” problems but in our got to have it now, should’ve been here yesterday, drive thru, instant society, FedEx has violated the Cardinal rule of faster is better. Instead of lessons in patience, windows of time to appreciate the bounty of blessings most already have, folks flock to social media, make phone calls, write letters or send emails angrily expressing their displeasure at having to wait. Delayed gratification just isn’t our thing.

It’s Christmas day. This day is the epitome of rejoicing and waiting. Of celebrating what has happened and the anticipation of what’s to come. Perhaps the gift of not having all we seek is perfect for a culture where; “wait” may be the ultimate four letter word.

Blessings of joy, peace and stillness this Christmas day,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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After a Season

Last April, while helping out with a Habitat for Humanity project, I came across three large logs someone had abandoned. I loaded them in the back of the truck to throw on my firepit. Back home, I immediately placed one of the logs on the pit but since it was green and wet it wouldn’t burn. As hotter weather arrived and the firepit was being used less I took the remaining two and placed them in an area which would keep them dry.

This week a preview of fall weather arrived and last night I took out one of the logs which had been drying out for the summer season. It had no problem burning and provided a nice source of heat on a cool evening.

As I sat and watched the log turn to embers and glow a beautiful orange, blue and red I reflected on the difference a season can make. There are projects we want to start, changes we need to make, recovery and restoration of mind body and spirit we long for and passions we hope to ignite. Yet, in spite of our efforts, desire and resolve we can’t seem to get going.

Wisdom teaches us that what we hope for, what we need, will happen not by force of will but through our belief that seasons can change many things, even us.

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

Last week, driving on the 840 bypass around Nashville, TN, a fast-moving white SUV passed me. As it made its way around my little red truck I noticed its right front tire was very low. It was moving too quickly to sound my horn in hopes of getting their attention and I considered speeding up to catch the vehicle but it was moving too fast. As I watched it get further ahead of me I became concerned that the tire would blow, the driver might lose control, injure themselves and others. After a few minutes the SUV suddenly pulled over to the side of the road. When I arrived at their location the tire had blown and the vehicle was stranded. Another driver was stopping to help so I continued on my way.

I reflected upon the tire, the driver and the quick pace of our hectic lives. Oftentimes our days seem to be made up of keeping appointments, getting from one place to another, being in a hurry whether we have a reason to be or not. We are so consumed with our next destination we miss the warning signs, the words and actions of others who would caution us to slow down, take an inventory of ourselves, be sure we aren’t headed for a breakdown, blowout or burnout, that could hurt ourselves and those around us.

The road of life is long. Patience, mindfulness, maintenance, wisdom are some of the keys to traveling well.

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

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Cutting in Line

This morning I will give a presentation to give to a group of foster parents about the importance of fathers and primary male role models in the lives of children. The location of the session is downtown Nashville and traffic in this ever burgeoning city, like life, is always unpredictable.

I left extra early and to my relief everything ran smoothly. I arrived quite a bit ahead of schedule and so asked Google where the closest McDonald’s was located. When I got to the fast food joint I discovered where all the traffic was…in the drive thru line! It was backed up out of the parking lot and into the street. After finally being able to park I went inside and stood in line to order my coffee and biscuit.

As I waited two women, having a lively conversation, walked through the door and without hesitation made their way to the next available cashier. I thought about speaking up, considered telling them there was a line and to proceed to the back. Instead, I smiled, listened as they placed their order and continued their dialogue with each other. My turn came and all was well. I found a seat, sipped my house blend and ate my “not really good for me but very tasty” sausage biscuit. I did a little reading, tried meditating while the smoothie machine blared in the back ground and was thankful for a moment to center myself before a hectic day.

I think back to the “absorbed in their own world” women who just assumed it was their turn to order and the choice of reactions I had before me. Too often we choose to express or demand our rights, declare outrage at the perceived injustices, refuse to take second place, a position of servant-hood and put others before us.

Allowing irritations, inconveniences, negative situational possibilities to not materialize takes patience, kindness, a refusal to be consumed by ego\self and a willingness to accept that more often than not life doesn’t go as planned.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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Experience VS Expectation

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Several weeks ago I transplanted four trees. Three of them thrived while one languished. This was my first time moving trees from one spot to another so before I attempted the feat I contacted a friend who has a lot of experience with plants, trees and all things green. He told me to get as much of the roots as possible, give it plenty of water the first couple of weeks and to be patient. “It takes a while for some trees to adjust. The leaves may fall off, it may look dead, but give it time.”

I followed his advice with each tree but one of them was growing out of the side of a hill and I couldn’t get as much of the root system as I would’ve liked. I watered them and waited. The others flourished as expected but the fourth one withered. My wife and I had several conversations about the likelihood of its survival. Each time, however, we ended the discussion by deciding to follow my friend’s advice.

Last weekend we thought the limbs looked greener on our struggling tree than in previous weeks. On Tuesday we spotted what looked like buds on some of the limbs. Over the last couple of days the leaves have begun to emerge and unfurl. That which seemed dead was indeed alive.

I am thankful for my friend’s guidance, the ability to trust someone smarter, the lesson in patience I am continually learning and the wisdom that separates experience from expectation.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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