Blog Archives

Warmth

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Warmth

I think I’m in love with the electric-heated fleece throw my wife bought me for Christmas. It is wonderful! Especially when it is cold outside like this week has been. Instead of putting over me I’ve tucked it in and around the place I sit on the couch. I come home, turn it on, throw a blanket on top, change and by the time I’m ready to sit down the blanket is warm. It’s like sinking into a soft cocoon of heat. The room and house don’t feel as cold when I am wrapped in the throw.

There are also people and places who make us feel this way. There’s something about their presence which makes us feel good and safe. I’m not a hugger but I love getting hugs from my wife. She’s the type of person who portrays warmth and acceptance. My aunt Evon, who passed away several years ago, was the same way.

In a world which seems to be increasingly divided, we need more warmth, more acceptance, more love. Our crazy mixed up world thinks there are other ways to heal the divisions, start over, bring peace. Truly, only love has that power. It takes more courage to love someone than to hate them, let go of prejudices than keep them, listen and build relationships instead of keeping everyone who disagrees with us at arm’s length.

Warmth. On a cold day in December, it’s a needed and comforting thought.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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a Break

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a Break

Today was the first appointment with my therapist since my father passed. We kept coming back to the theme; “It’s been a long month!” We talked about a lot of things which have happened, are happening and will happen. Responsibilities, experiences, the new normal of living life without dad and how these are impacting my chronic depression and severe anxiety. As we were wrapping up the session her words, her prescription for me was; “Give yourself a break.” In other words, take it one day at a time, don’t fixate on certain challenges, try not to do everything at once and breathe, keep yourself centered.

On the way home I was driving behind a person with a bumper sticker which read; “Of course I love you! Why wouldn’t I?” I received the message and took it to heart. We put such a demand upon ourselves to get things done, live up to expectations, not let anyone down, be what we believe we should be instead of simply accepting ourselves for who we are; imperfect people trying to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God and with each other.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Hope

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Hope

This afternoon the Mrs. and I went to see, “The Last Jedi.” It was good. No spoilers but I still say the Original Trilogy is not in any danger of being replaced on my favorite movies list.

As I sat in the theater I couldn’t help but think of my father. He took me and my brother to see our first Star Wars movie. I remember seeing it and being, pardon the pun, blown away! Dad drove a large white station wagon back then and on the way home from the movie we pretended to be in a spaceship which was in the film named; “The Millenium Falcon.” As we sped down two-lane highways dad would fire lasers, flash high beams, at incoming “Empire” spaceships; “Tie Fighters.” I don’t know what the drivers, targets, of the other cars thought but my brother and I were ecstatic.

The newest Star Wars movie is about hope. In fact, all the Star Wars movies are about hope, fighting an enemy who seems invincible and never giving up. In the newest one different characters are looking for that “spark which will light the fire.” They find it in various places and in other people who give them courage to “not fight what we hate but save what we love.”

I am thankful today for the message of hope and the strength to keep going.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Words

Words

Today I had the privilege and duty to be a part of the memorial service for my father. It’s been surreal the last few days. So many errands to run, items to check off on a list, places to go, people to see. There’s been a sense of urgency, a nervous energy, a controlled chaos, riding a wave of sorrow and speed.  Because of the hectic pace of the last several days, I stood on the stage behind the pulpit at the service this afternoon with no notes, and no structure to the stories and experiences I wanted to share.

Words, they’ve flooded my mind and soul since Dad passed. Words from family and friends who care and are sorry for our loss. Words that go into an obituary, on a card for flowers, in a service program and used in phone calls, emails, and texts. So many words used to describe the love a family has for one who is, was, the central fixed, point.

Now, standing behind the pulpit at the memorial service today, I had no notes, no words written, no solid ideas, memories swarming in my head but none coming in for a landing. How do you choose the right words to convey the meaning of a life which impacted many people?  In the pantheon of phrases, how do you pick out those which will express the purpose of a life lived well?

A deep breath, a small prayer, and … share my heart, open my lips, loosen my tongue and let the words come. No, they will not be adequate. No, they will not be perfect. Yes, there will be second-guessing and memories that are forgotten to be shared.

Words. They are not, and cannot contain the heart’s cry of longing and loneliness or succinctly express the fondness, the love, the good of being apart from a person you love. This is okay. Living, being, existing, is more than words, deeper than condolences, greater than expressions of sympathy and sadness.

Living should be beyond our ability to communicate it easily if it is done well.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Extra

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Extra

At a health council meeting today a speaker gave a presentation on going the extra mile. She asked; “Where did this saying come from?” I thought for sure someone would answer but no one did so finally I replied; “Jesus.” She smiled and moved on with her talk. She explained in the time of the Roman Empire there was a rule that if a soldier or other important dignitary asked you to help carry some of their weaponry or baggage you were obligated to carry it one mile. Jesus, however, in Matthew chapter 5, said; “If someone has you carry their stuff one mile go ahead and make it two.” The speaker continued; “The first mile is obligation the second mile is voluntary. It’s the second-mile people remember. When you move beyond your comfort zone, when you give more than what you can afford to, do more than you were asked or expected, offer kindness, grace, and love abundantly, extravagantly.”

As I reflected on her presentation it was a good reminder that what the world expects and usually gets is the minimum, the essentials. When someone digs deeper, cares greatly, meets the greatest of needs, it matters and stays with the one helped and the one helping.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” #MayaAngelou

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stop!

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Stop

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Transition

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Transition

Earlier this week I watched a powerful documentary on people being released from prison. It was a story of two men who were sentenced under California’s outdated and recently reformed Three Strikes Law. Simply stated the law demanded that any criminal who was arrested and found guilty three times received a harsh prison sentence often 25 years to life. After almost 20 years of being in place, the penal system and the citizens of California realized it wasn’t effective, led to overpopulation in the jails, severely impacted people of color, and left a trail of broken families in its wake.

The documentary follows two of the thousands of men who have been released for petty, non-violent crimes, after serving decades in jail. The transition for both of them was difficult, however, one was able to get back on his feet stay clean and sober, get married and be promoted in his job. The other man, who had a strong family and church structure, struggled mightily. Old demons such as drugs and mental health issues kept him unbalanced and unable to find his groove the way the first man did. At the end of the documentary both men were still out and making their way the best they could.

As I watched the film I couldn’t help but feel for both of these men. I work with men who are incarcerated and addicted. Addiction is a powerful force for evil and destruction. Incarceration can also be a doorway to a life of crime and recidivism but I’ve also seen men who learn how to make different choices so as not to end up in the same predicament.

Men who do three things greatly reduce their chance of going back to jail or getting back into their addiction. The first is having a positive home environment that might not necessarily be with their biological family. The second is a full-time job, a chance to do something and receive. The third might be most important and that is living a life around positive people, folks who will pull you up not drag you down. These three things, which most of us take for granted, will help men stay balanced, sure-footed, and on the path to a new life.

Psalm 121
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over you will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm, he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Directions

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Directions

I was listening to a podcast earlier today and included was a story by the maker of the podcast about needing directions. He normally depended upon OnStar or a similar company for getting directions to a place he hadn’t been before. However, when he pressed the button which should’ve connected him to the service he discovered his subscription had run out. After many phone calls, credit card numbers, VIN numbers and a host of other hurdles he still doesn’t have service and doesn’t know what to do! The person telling the story is a funny guy and told it in a humorous way but you could tell it was also aggravating to him to put this much time and energy into it and still have nothing to show for it.

Each of us has a voice in our heads which tells us how to best navigate the path of life. For some, the voice is positive and good with directions. However, for others, the voice is negative and gives us directions which are wrong and we end up frustrated and desperate. These voices come from

These voices come from a myriad of places; people and places we grew up, mental health issues, trauma in our young or adult lives, being with an individual or group of people who treat us poorly. The voice can tell us We’re stupid, lead us to travel in circles never getting anywhere, or traumatize us to the point we can’t move.

Understanding where our voices come from and being able to identify if they are positive or negative can go a long way in making sure we are able to live a life of purpose and vision. If we have voices which aren’t good for us we can find others. Having a “subscription” to the right voices goes a long way in keeping us on the path toward health and wellness.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Others

Others

I had a conversation last week with someone about a person I used to know who got on my every last nerve almost every day. We talked about how this person, who probably had good intentions, didn’t have a way with people. In fact, there were many who repelled by his brusque personality and crude behavior. I relayed a story about a time he wanted to help but was unable because of who this person was on the inside and outside.

There were days I dreaded knowing I would encounter this man. It got to a point where this person was beginning to take up an inordinate amount of space in my mind. One day it dawned on me that I was spending too much time thinking about them and not focused on stillness of spirit. I threw on my tennis shoes, took a long walk, and hashed out in my mind all the things this person did and when I felt I had it all in a nice tight ball in the pit of my stomach, I took it out (metaphorically of course) and threw it away. I decided I would not give this one the power to make me crazy(er?) any longer. It was the freest and at ease, I had been in a long time.

We can’t and will not get along with everyone. Personalities clash, goals and visions collide, certain people and us don’t mix. This is okay as long as we treat them with respect, put some distance between us if at all possible, and never let them steal our inner peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannbesaint.com

Friends

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Friends

You are who your friends are, or show me your friends and I’ll show you, you. I was asked the other day if I had a lot of friends. I answered; “No.” For me, this is not a bad answer but it is a truthful one. I’ve never had a lot of friends, lots of acquaintances, people I know and say; “Hi,” to but not people I would consider friends. If you were to look at my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn profile, you would think I have thousands of people with whom I have a deep connection to. This is false. Online “friends” are fine but most of them are not close confidants with whom you share life.

I think the words friends is overused. Facebook didn’t start the overusing but I think it helped it reach its pinnacle. Each day I try to wish everyone on Facebook, who has a birthday that particular day, a “Happy Birthday!” Many days I recognize at least most of the names but other days I am at a complete loss as to whom I am writing a birthday wish.

The few friends I do have are wise people, not only smart but wise. They are spiritual mentors and people I’ve shared my journey with, the good times and what I’d label bad. They are folks who encourage me when I need it and call me on my BS, inflated ego, and the illusion of goodness I’d like to live in. They are also positive people. Not pollyannaish, pie in the sky, everything’s coming up roses people but truly positive. They help me believe when I am doubting, hold me when I am scared, help me get my bearings when I’m lost, and never give up on me. These are those who I trust with my life and when that’s the criteria, you have to and should be; picky.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Out of Sight

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Out of Sight

This past weekend I wrote about a tiny gray cat that has been hanging around the house. The last time I saw it was on Saturday. I had been putting food out for it hoping to convince it we meant no harm but unfortunately, the neighborhood dogs beat the kitten to the chow. It started raining yesterday afternoon and has been steady since then. Remnants of Hurricane Irma is giving us plenty of water and a bit of wind. My worry, however, is the kitten. Is it dry? Did a neighborhood dog get it? I haven’t seen it since the weekend and I have no idea where it is or what happened to it. So, I wait and see. Hopefully, it’s still hiding under the porch and will come out after the storm passes.

There are people in our lives like the kitten. A storm begins to batter them and they hide, afraid of its downpour and thunder. We long to help them, to show them kindness, to meet whatever needs we can if they would just come out of hiding. However, like the kitten, there are trust issues and perhaps they’ve been hurt before by people pretending to help or they’re used to people taking not giving. What do we do? We wait. If they come out of hiding during the storm we can cover them with acts of kindness. If they wait until after this is fine also. Kindness and love have no expiration date.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Eclipse

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Eclipse

I’m not sure I’ve seen as many people standing outside in the middle of a hot and humid day in mid-August staring at the sky. On my way to the county detention center, where I teach a class on Monday afternoons, it seemed there were groups of people at churches, grocery stores, restaurants, manufacturing plants and yes, even at the jail, looking up, waiting for the eclipse.

I didn’t pick up a pair of “NASA approved glasses” to watch the eclipse. I figured someone, somewhere would have some if I time to watch the eclipse. Sure enough, there was a corrections officer who let me use his and we handed them back and forth. The day turned a grayish hue. The crickets and other insects began to chirp. It was eerie for a few moments and then it started to get light again, I thanked the officer who let me borrow his glasses, and I went inside to my class.

Afterward, I reflected on the experience and I thought about all the people standing outside looking into the heavens. They knew what they were looking for and most were prepared to see it. However, I wondered how often, on a normal every day, we encounter people who are looking for something greater than themselves and the lives they are currently living? Do we offer them words of wisdom to help show them the way? Do we live in such a way that reveals truth and peace? Will our lives eclipse the other bright shiny trinkets humans so often chase and allow them to know where to look and what to look for?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Best Teachers

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Best Teachers

This morning, while getting ready for work, my mind drifted to a place from several years ago. It was a place I worked at for little over a year and yet it seemed much longer. I thought about the people I knew there, the one who brought blessings into my life and the ones that brought difficulty.

It’s hard to know who your life teachers are especially when going through a painful experience. It’s hard to learn the lessons when you are looking to escape.

There are days when looking back over our lives we wonder if there were teachers in our midst, people we would’ve learned from if we had eyes to see. These instructors-in-disguise might be the ones we struggle with the most but still have valuable lessons to teach us. What is being taught might also be what we don’t want to learn but needed.

Wisdom tells us that people, nature, circumstances are some of our best teachers. All we need is a willing, humble spirit.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What’s Inside

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What’s Inside – 

When I first saw this photo it took me a few moments to see the problem. After noticing what’s in the bag is not what’s advertised I couldn’t un-see it.

I remember an interview for  a position at an organization and feeling good about how the evening had gone. On our way home from the meeting Beth, who also participated in the interview process, said; “I don’t have a good feeling about one of the men. He wasn’t thrilled at you being considered for this position.” I was offered the job and accepted it but a year later we decided to take another offer in large part because of the problems this man and his family were causing us. Another interview and this time Beth was wary of the leader of the staff position I had applied for. “He’s too conservative for you. You’re going to break your wings banging against the ceiling of his leadership style.” The position lasted longer than a year but serving under this leader took a great mental and spiritual toll on me. Because of these and many other instances I tell Beth, on a regular basis; “You’re smarter than me and I’m smart for marrying you.” I think she agrees with at least half of this statement.

People come with all sort of labels. They are placed upon them by society, cultures, past events and lifestyles. It’s almost impossible not to recognize or place labels on those with whom we come in contact. Although labels might be hard to avoid it doesn’t mean we must accept the description given to us. We can make the choice to reject the label and find out what’s on the inside, getting to know the real person. Only then can we truly know and clearly see.

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

Unique Approach

Unique Approach

Sometimes working with people can be exhausting. You think you’ve reached a turning point which will make all the difference only to discover that around the corner leads to a dead-end.

I was speaking to a group of dads today and explaining to them each family, similar to individuals are unique. There isn’t a one size fits all approach to helping people get well and healthy. It takes time, effort and a willingness to listen, get to know, build trust and a relationship. Only then are you able to guide folks toward choices which benefit them and those they love.

Too often we approach people and life with a predetermined way of how things should be. We allow our biases, judgments and limited knowledge to build a lens which distorts our view. If we are to be of real service to those we love, our neighbors, those in need ,we cannot skip over respect, listening, building trust and relationships. If we only have a part of the picture and proceed to “fix” what we believe to be the problem we may end up causing more harm than good.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Best Over Good

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Best Over Good

This a picture of my knees. I wrote about the difficulties I’ve been experiencing last week ( Crawl. Walk. Run. https://thewannabesaint.com/2016/05/14/crawl-walk-run/) when it comes to walking, exercising and almost everything I need to stand up to do.

Today, I went to a specialist who x-rayed my legs, did several other tests, poked, prodded and pinched before giving me a diagnosis. The not so bad news is there is swelling, inflammation and soreness. I have a couple of bone spurs but nothing requiring surgery. Some at home therapy is required, icing, anti-inflammatory meds and; “NO RUNNING!” doctor’s orders. As of now my running days look as though they may be over and the doc suggested I pick a new way to exercise. Reevaluation will be in a month.

My knees won’t get any better and the goal of therapy is to avoid further damage. The reality of not being able to run anymore is disheartening. Before I began battling depression (https://thewannabesaint.com/2016/04/27/my-depression-and-anxiety-story/) it was an activity I enjoyed. However, I also don’t care for the idea of surgery on one or both knees.

Life is filled with hard choices.  Picking the best over the good can be some of the most difficult. There are activities, places, people we enjoy being a part of and with but sometimes we must choose to give these up in order to avoid further suffering or to be able to make greater progress on life’s path.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.co
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When We’re Stuck

Awesome video!  I watched in awe as the operator gently picked up the stuck deer with the giant scooper and placed it where it could move again.

As it played I thought about times in my life when I was stuck. Seasons when I couldn’t move, find my way, get loose of the muck and mire which held me, trapped me, threatened my life. I also reflected on those who came to my rescue. Folks with great skill, compassion, love and commitment who helped me when I couldn’t help myself.

Life’s path leads us to strange and uncomfortable places. There will be experiences and events which pull us in, hold us fast, wear us out and leave us stuck. Struggling, fighting to free ourselves may only leave us immobile and unable to journey forward. Having mentors, counselors, advisers, people who love and care enough to not leave us stranded can be one of our greatest treasures.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Leadership & Personalities

This morning someone asked me if; “a leader with a strong personality is a good or bad thing?” I reflected for a few moments on the leaders I have served under. Surprisingly there haven’t been too many who’ve had strong personalities. As I whittled my way through the last I thought of two who fit the description. Interestingly enough one had the opposite personality of the other.

The first was gregarious, affable and larger than life in his expressions of love and support for friend and stranger. He was the type who would come unexpectedly into my office, plop down in a chair, talk for a while and then decide we needed to go to breakfast, no matter the time of day. He wasn’t in competition with his staff, allowed others to shine and didn’t keep a scorecard.

The other wasn’t at all like the former. His personality was certainly large but in a way that kept others in fear of their job or at least being aware their job’s future was in his hands. I do not doubt his love for other people but his leadership style could be overbearing and constraining. There was one way, his, one voice, also his. He believed his vision for where the organization was to go was the right one and took umbrage to anyone who challenged this belief. For those who were comfortable with his style, and their place in the food chain, things were pretty smooth. For those who struggled under the weight of his personality it could be difficult and debilitating.

As the conversation with my friend continued I spoke about both leaders, their style of leading and managing and their grandiose personas. “For those with over-sized personalities, whose job it is to guide staffs, peoples and organizations, not taking oneself too seriously is a good trait to possess. Humility, a servant’s heart and a willingness for others to succeed, to surpass and outgrow your ability to lead are also rare and valuable gifts. Leadership isn’t about sitting, guarding the big chair, but helping others find big chairs of their own to sit in.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Support

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This morning an elderly man chose the pew in front of me for the worship service. His choice of place was based on it being near one of the large wooden decorative beams located in the sanctuary. He had great difficulty sitting and standing so he used the beam
to steady himself. The church building itself was supporting him. When it came time to go to the front of the sanctuary to receive communion he slowly raised himself and made his way forward. The older gentleman couldn’t bend his knees at the railing as the priest served the body and the blood so the priest reached out to him to make sure he was served, included.

As I watched and reflected on the scene it was a beautiful reminder of what the community of faith should be, what we’re called to do. There are hurt, broken, scarred people who we encounter both inside and outside the church. We aren’t called to heal them, only God can do that. Our purpose is to include, support, serve and love them in every way possible.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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