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No Traction

No Traction

Yesterday I evening I went out to mow grass. I was hoping to have enough time and begin early enough to finish before the thunderstorms that were forecasted started. I wrote about the steering mower being able to turn only right so it’s tricky to get the yard mowed and looking nice. As the sun began to set I finished the front and moved to the back. Unfortunately, it began to lightly rain. Not enough to make me stop but enough to get the grass wet. This caused me to begin to lose traction on the small hill that makes up our backyard. I’d start up the incline only being able to turn right and would come to a standstill. I could only steer right when I needed to go left and began sliding down the incline. Over and over this happened and it was exasperating!

A few weeks ago my medical therapist changed one of my prescriptions. As someone who lives with Chronic Depression and Severe Anxiety, this happens sometimes when certain symptoms aren’t being dealt with effectively. The worse part of switching meds is you have to come off one slowly while beginning the other one the same way. Even with tapering down and up I’ve had difficulty with withdrawal. Depression and Anxiety are mental illnesses so when your brain is used to one medicine and you change it your brain goes through a transition. Since the recommended change I am struggling to find traction. It won’t be like this forever but when you feel like you can’t get to where you want to go it can be frustrating and exhausting.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Hangover

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Hangover

Today I am feeling the impact of three intensive days of training. My body hurts and my mind hurts. My eyes are tired from staring at a screen for too long. I have both a migraine and fuzzy brain. It’s hard to process new information today because of receiving so much from earlier in the week.  The data and detail are still bouncing around in my noggin and hasn’t found a place to settle. New thoughts and ideas are like puffs of smoke that never quite become solid enough to grasp. A couple of days of quiet and rest should do the trick but until then giving it my all will be less than.

Growing in our learning, understanding, and wisdom takes a toll. Its tough work which may be why we are hesitant to do it at times. Immersing ourselves in new thoughts, ideas, studies, to become more capable in our personal, relational, connections and jobs takes commitment and courage. Commitment because growth is effort and energy. Courage because when we dare to learn, understand gain wisdom, we change and we’re never sure who will be on the other side.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Empathy

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Empathy

I heard a story today about a chaplain who worked in a veteran’s hospital in the 1950’s. There was an African-American soldier in the hospital who had lost a leg in the Korean War. The physical therapists had worked with him trying to get him used to wear a prosthetic leg. Both the soldier and medical personnel tried everything they could think of but nothing worked and the soldier was ready to give up and live life with one leg and crutches for the rest of his life.

The chaplain was made aware of the situation and stopped by soldier’s bed one night to see if he could be of any help. “I can still feel my leg, my real leg!” the soldier cried. “It’s a phantom pain.” replied the chaplain, “It will go away in time.” “That leg!” retorted the soldier gesturing toward the prosthetic one, “will never be ‘my’ leg.” After visiting with the young man the chaplain prayed with him and asked if he could take the prosthetic one with him. The soldier responded with a shrug.

The next day the chaplain returned with the same leg except it was painted a shade of brown to more closely match the soldier’s own skin tone. “What did you do?” asked the perplexed soldier. The chaplain, hoping he hadn’t offended the young man said he took it home with him and thought painting it might make it seem more palatable. “That’s all you did?” asked the soldier admiring the leg. “That’s it.” smiled the chaplain. The chaplain helped the young man to the side of the bed, attached the leg, helped him take his first few steps and from that day forward the soldier made remarkable progress.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. The chaplain helped the soldier not by insisting he use resources given to him by the hospital but by listening and understanding what the soldier was going through and then adapting his help to the soldier’s personal, unique need.

Too often we see people who need assistance and we automatically assume there are places and resources that are available. We surmise that if someone wants help enough they’ll figure out how to get it. The truth is everyone’s story is unique and unless we listen, understand and are willing to personally get involved many will go on suffering and being blamed for doing so.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The Beauty Within

The Beauty Within

Outward beauty is always fading. Whether it be a person, a flower, an animal, a planet or a solar system, all is in flux and degrading. Nothing stays beautiful on the outside forever.

Unfortunately, we are surrounded and bombarded with messages that tell us outward beauty is the goal. Personal attractiveness, luxurious homes, sleek, stylish cars & hairstyles, anything and everything down to how we prepare our food can and should be a masterpiece.

To see inward beauty, the innate goodness in a person or a thing takes time and practice. It is a difficult discipline, as is most of wisdom’s teachings. It is a way of knowing and perceiving that an object, alive or inanimate, is beautiful because of what it is, not what it looks like. It doesn’t ignore outward beauty but realizes this is a passing observance. It seeks a vision that discovers the inward and lasting quality of that which it is beholding.

To see the real not the surreal, the true not the fleeting, the inward beauty that is each present moment and dismiss the shiny, glossed over, trinkets the world proclaims as treasure is to have life, abundantly.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Journey

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Journey

Last week, in Hohenwald, TN (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hohenwald,_Tennessee), I spotted these canoes for sale. I didn’t have a trailer to haul one or a place to put it when I got home but the temptation to buy one was real! Fantasies of a lazy summer day, floating down a river or on a lake, surrounded by beauty and quiet filled my mind. Alas, I resisted the temptation to purchase one and saved myself the trouble of explaining to Beth why we owned a canoe!

In earlier times a frontiersman wanted to know how to build a canoe. He had seen the natives paddling beautiful wooden canoes and decided to ask one to teach him. He approached a native man and in broken native language did his best to relay his request. The elder man smiled and indicated he wanted the frontiersman to follow him. The two walked into the forest and found a large tree suitable for a canoe. Working together they felled it and dragged it back to camp. The frontiersman took out a book to carefully write down the instructions. The native, in broken English, took a sharp axe and said; “Make canoe by chopping away the wood that’s not a canoe.” The native then handed the axe to the frontiersman and walked away.

We can often feel like the frontiersman at the end of this story. We are given a life and told to find a purpose. When we inquire; “How?” a lot of folks have suggestions but when it comes down to a concrete set of instructions we discover each person can only tell us how they found or didn’t find theirs.

It is by experience we realize our reason for being most often by eliminating what isn’t our purpose. This way of discovery is called; life. There are no shortcuts. Remember, the destination isn’t where we find our purpose, it’s found in the journey.

blessings,

@BrianLoging (Twitter)

thewannabesaint.com

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Luck or Life?

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Luck or Life?

On my way to worship this morning a big black cat ran  across the road in front of me! I needed to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting it. The reason for the rush is an even bigger gray cat chasing it. Black cats are supposed to be an omen of bad luck but for this one it was fortunate it crossed the road when it did, as fast as it did, or things might have turned out differently.

During service a special speaker talked about growing up in war torn Romania. Her past included sexual and physical abuse, mental health issues, infertility and an incredibly uncertain future. However, each of these painful, difficult and tragic events have given her a powerful testimony today and many blessings have blossomed from the ashes of what most would call a cursed younger life.

Our understanding of a lucky, blessed, fortunate life or an unlucky, cursed doomed existence is limited by our inability to know the future and how love, grace and peace often come from the most desperate and desolate personal journeys.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Ego Breeds Ego

Ego breeds ego.

I have a friend who is dealing with the impact of another person’s giant ego. This person throws his weight around, reminds subordinates of their place in the company’s food chain, bullies, threatens and seems completely unaware of his self obsession. He feeds his ego by feasting on others. Meetings are uncomfortable because other employees aren’t sure who the target of wrath will be for the day. “It seems selfish,’ says my friend; ‘but when he chooses someone else I’m relieved that it isn’t me even though I feel the other person’s pain.'” My friend has tried fighting back, confronted his rudeness, challenged his preconceptions, pointed out mistakes, but it hasn’t seemed to matter. “I’ve found that when I begin to focus on taking him down a notch or two, proving he’s not as great as he thinks, my ego begins to grow and manifests itself in ugly ways.”

As we worked though this issue I reminded my friend that; “Ego breeds ego. When your goal is to win or someone else to lose, you both suffer.” One of the most difficult people to deal with are those with an inflated opinion of themselves, especially when they are in positions of power. Wisdom teaches us that humility, even in the face of the egotistical, is the path we should walk. Power, pride, personal gratification always slips through the fingers of the grandiose. Starve ego, don’t feed it or breed it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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It’s Always Personal

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She discreetly raised her hand and asked her question. I could tell by the way she phrased it that it wasn’t a general but a very personal inquiry. I did my best to give an answer faithful to the materials being presented but also taking her feelings and situation into consideration. After the seminar I spied her waiting on me just outside the door to the classroom. Unfortunately I was intercepted by someone else who wanted to speak with me and the woman couldn’t wait any longer. I looked for her as I walked to the truck but didn’t see her. Hopefully she’ll follow up with the contact information I give to everyone who attends my lectures.

The presentation I give on the fatherhood crisis in America has lots of statistics and facts. I also share stories of dads I work with and have had the pleasure of counseling and mentoring. There are examples of successes and “not quites.” It can be easy to forget that these lectures aren’t always times for simply gathering information. For some attending it hits very close to home and their personal stories are found in the materials given.

Life, what we do, what we say, who we are, has a way of always being personal and making an intimate impact.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Changing the World

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This morning it was my privilege to speak to a group of almost 50 men about the path we travel and how our decisions have a lasting impact upon those we call our families.

In our me centered culture we forget how our lives are not just our own. Who we are, the way we live, models for those we travel life’s path with what’s important. What we hold dear, what we treasure, is reflected by where we put our time, energy and passion. Whoever or whatever is the object of our affection flourishes while what’s neglected wilts and fades away.

“What can we do to promote world peace? Go home and love our families.” #MotherTeresa

Simple but profound wisdom and guidance from Saint Teresa. How can we make this crazy, chaotic, spinning piece of space rock a better place? We start by making sure the ones closest to us are loved and appreciated.

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

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Seeing from Within

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It wasn’t the easiest of conversations to have but he had to know and I had to be the one to tell him. It’s difficult when someone needs to hear a hard truth.  He was sure, convinced, it was out there, beyond himself. Someone else was the harmful influence, another’s behavior and choices were ruining a relationship, spoiling a partnership, when it was, in fact, him. It was his bias, ego and flawed judgement. His view of a perceived “enemy” obscured him seeing the predator within. “The problem isn’t with this other person.” I said. “It’s with you. Until you become more aware of who you are, you’ll never see them for who they really are, appreciate them for the challenge and blessing they bring to your life.”

Unfortunately he never grasped what I was saying, never looked deep enough into himself to see that the way we view others reveals much more about ourselves than it does them.

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

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Don’t Let the Sun

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I was talking with a friend today about being frustrated, irritated, even angry at someone we love. It happens to us all and there’s nothing wrong with being angry if there is a legitimate reason. It’s what we do with that emotion that results in negative consequences. A harsh word becomes hurt feelings, a slammed door becomes a barrier, another flurry of insults adds injuries and a relationship is pulled apart.

Anger is oftentimes the result of ignored stress, built up resentment, unexpressed emotion, lack of communication. One or a combination of these clouds our minds, frays our nerves, drains our emotions, poisons our spirits.

Saint Paul’s wisdom for dealing with anger in his letter to the church in Ephesus is still viable today:

Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give evil an opportunity.

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

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The Perfect Moment

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How do you recognize the perfect moment? How can you tell if where you are at a certain place, a specific time, is more than coincidence, happenstance? How do you know the difference between divine design and dumb luck? Someone told me this week; “You are where God wants you to be!” They said it with such confidence I was taken aback.

There are those who see the world in black and white, right and wrong, God’s will or God’s wrath, while others live in a space painted with many shades of gray. I am one of the latter. I don’t doubt the conviction of the black and whiters I just question my ability to sift through the layers of motives, the machinations of natural and moral laws, missed, realized and ignored opportunities, perception and preconceived notions, desires dreams and destiny.

I believe the path I walk is uniquely mine though I travel with others. The way is uncertain though many have gone before me. The destination is described by the living but only the dead have arrived there. I have this moment, it is all that is promised me and I ask for the strength to live it well.

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

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When the Way is Dark

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I was talking with a friend earlier this week about a difficult time she’s going through.  Someone hurt her, lied and has brought pain and great upheaval into her life. She’s prayed over it, is trying to forgive but clearly the wound is still fresh and deep.

I shared with her my journey and talked about how difficult it can be when people we trust do things that cause us great harm. We agreed that time, grace and a listening ear are all ingredients to forgiveness and finding our path when the way is dark.

A wise person once said; “One day we’ll look back on the people who helped and hurt us and be thankful for them both.” Neither my friend or I have arrived at this point but I was thankful my story could bring solace to one who’s suffering.

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

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Spoiled

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World Water Day is marked on 22 March every year. It’s a day to celebrate water. It’s a day to make a difference for the members of the global population who suffer from water related issues.”

This past Sunday was World Water Day. I read about water related issues across the globe, tweeted a few links and mentioned it on Facebook. Truthfully, however, I didn’t give it much consideration until this morning when I opened up an extra bottle of water that was in my truck, not to drink, to rinse out my coffee mug. As the water spilled onto the ground I remembered those who do not have and I felt shame for my wastefulness and beyond blessed.

I am a white, middle class American male. Much of what I take for granted every day most of the world has little or no access. A lot of what I complain and whine about not having is a dream life to billions of people.

I am spoiled. It is a confession and a prayer to feel the hurt, know the struggle of my brothers and sisters with whom I share this planet.

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

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Whew!

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Busy day! Rushing, running, racing from one place to another. Trying not to be late for meetings and appointments while staying in the present moment is quite a balancing act. I took time to feel the warmth of the sunshine on my face, the cool breeze on my arm while being mindful of the clock that seemed to run fast all day long.

When I finally got home the quietness of the house literally rang in my ears. Silence is loud when you’re accustomed to noise, stillness unsettling when you’ve been in constant motion.

A deep cleansing breath to exhale the dust of the miles I’ve traveled today, a closing of my eyes to forget the clock I’ve watched, a letting go of the schedule I clung to so tightly.

Whew.

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

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Blessing of Chaos

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Let’s hear it for chaos! The confusion and catastrophes we encounter on the road of life. The chasms and canyons we must cross, climb out of, forge and finagle to reach the promise land of peace and contentment.

Change is frightening, fearful and our instinct is to fight and hold on for dear life to what is familiar. We place our faith in what is comfortable, old habits, well known friends, old wine skins stretched and worn.

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Chaos. Waves crashing, wind howling, tides pulling us under, we gasp for air, it is life. Going down, drowning, sinking deeper into the unknown abyss we close our eyes and breathe our last.

Chaos, uncertainty, instability. The tidal wave of change sweeps us under and in the depths we find stillness. Lost in the darkness of confusion an unseen path leads us home.

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

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Breathing in Hope

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The bug man came to the house today to spray inside our home and outside to protect future plants and soon to be flowers from pesky predators. It’s another sign that spring is on the way!

I took the dogs to the top of the hill behind our house so they wouldn’t bug the bug man as he did his business. The wind was blowing and the pooches and I stuck our noses in the air taking deep breaths of a new season sweeping in. There’s something about spring, the warm chasing out the cold, the blue skies overcoming the gray, the light increasing as the dark retreats.

Sitting on that hill, filling my lungs with air was like inhaling hope and exhaling the despair of a long, cold winter.

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

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the Happy Place

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Today is International Happy day! If you didn’t realize this you’re not alone. I had no idea until I read about it online.

Being happy can be difficult in a world so full of sadness and badness. Some folks find it difficult, if not impossible, to find the good, when darkness obscures their vision. Trite expressions such as; “don’t worry be happy, turn that frown upside down, you’re as happy as you make up your mind to be,” ring hollow in the ears of those struggling with life circumstances that steal their joy, sap their strength, weigh heavy on their spirits.

For some, at this time in their life, where they are on the journey, happiness isn’t an option. They are simply trying to take the next step, to not give up, to survive.

Happiness, an often desired but elusive emotion, state of mind and being.

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

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How it Ends

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I know someone who’s struggled through a very hard life. We talk about where and how he grew up, the choices others have made to help shape his life and the choices he’s selected. The toxic environment he was born into poisoned much of his childhood and tainted his vision of the world. Much of his current struggles have a lot to do with his complicated and chaotic past.

When we talk I remind him that the book of his life has not been finished. Some of the chapters were written by him and others by different authors but he decides who and what will write the rest.

The obstacles he needs to overcome, the lessons learned, the people left behind, the consequences accepted, will not be easy but it is his choice. He didn’t choose how the story began but he can choose how it ends.

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

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Good Shoes

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This morning I put on my “good shoes” for an important presentation to a group of highly respected people. These are my shiny, black, fancy dress shoes that I wear with one of the few suits I own. I’ve had these shoes for several years but they still hurt my feet because they’re not worn enough to get broken in. Mostly they’ve taken me to weddings, funerals, other important services and events. I’d much rather wear a pair of tennis shoes or flip flops but there are occasions when only my “good shoes” will do.

As I reflect upon my journey over the last year and the places my “good shoes” have accompanied me I realized most have been painful, even heart breaking. I wore them to a service when I said; “goodbye” to friends I loved. They were on my feet when I laid my dear friend Mary to rest.

No one’s ever promised an easy journey and sometimes “good shoes” are required.

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

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Still Believe?

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His life was written in wrinkles on his face and faded tattoos on his arms. As we talked it shocked me to learn he was not much older than I physically but the world had aged him far beyond his years.

He asked me a simple question but it was loaded with uncertainty and resignation; “Can it get better?” The inquiry betrayed his hard outter shell.  It revealed a life, a person whose hope had been dashed against the rock of reality, his outlook shaped by dissapointments and pain.

I paused before I answered. A blithe response, a quick anecdote, a dismissive comment could crush an already broken spirit. “Yes,’ I answered, ‘if we keep working, trying, and refuse to believe our story is complete, that there are no more pages to be written.'” He sighed.

We parted ways and I wondered if he’d heard that answer before and I wondered if he still believed.

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

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