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Listening

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Listening

An elder monk was visiting a friend in the big city. They were walking down a street filled with people, vehicles, construction and a cacophony of noise surrounded them. As they were talking the elder monk paused and said; “I hear a cricket.” His friend raised an eyebrow as the monk went over to a section of the concrete sidewalk which had been carved out and filled with dirt and a small tree. Sure enough, after looking for a moment, he pointed out the chirping insect.

His friend was amazed! “How did you hear the cricket amidst all this noise?” The elder monk smiled and replied; “You hear what you are listening for.” The friend, still astonished, shook his head. “Do you have a coin?” his monk friend asked. “Here,” said the friend as he gave it to him. “Now, watch.” the monk ordered. The elder flipped the coin in the air and let it land on the ground making a tinkling noise. Several people stopped and began looking. “Do you understand?” asked the elder monk with a smile.

One of my favorite wisdom parables. It is a reminder that our lives are about listening to the truthful, just and grace filled voices and sounds in this world. Too often we allow the negative noise into our lives which drowns out the voices of God, nature and the sound of the spirit of each other.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Bad Things Happen

Bad Things Happen

I was listening to a webinar this morning which told the story of a mediator in Gaza (a small self-governing Palestinian territory on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, that borders Egypt on the southwest for 11 kilometers and Israel on the east and north along a 51 km border).

It was a story of how a boy who was abused had learned to read the moods of those who harmed him. With this gift, he knew when to stay home and when to leave. Finally, he was taken from his childhood home and placed in foster care. He blossomed, did well in school, went to college and became a mediator. He says it is his gift of reading people and their moods which make him a good mediator. “If I hadn’t gone through the difficulties of my childhood, I wouldn’t be a mediator today. It was the bad which I used for good.”

Such a great lesson to learn and know. There are times when “bad” things happen and we wonder; “why us?” Perhaps the challenges of life we encounter, if we allow them, can be used to help others. The good in the world often blossoms from the worst situations and seasons.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Labels

Labels

I was speaking with someone the other day about personalities, quirks, how people behave, why and how we label someone as “__________” and then put them in the cupboards of our mind as if who and what they are have been discovered.

I once interviewed for a job and part of the process was taking a personality test. The label put on me by the test seemed to fit but the more I looked at who I was, the more it seemed not applicable. What’s interesting was the interviewee gave me the job and told me his personality type. However, the longer I worked under him the more certain I became that he had mislabeled himself. Perhaps neither of us were correct but it cemented in my mind how we can label others or ourselves and think the labels tell us more than what only true connection and relationships reveal.

The person I was talking with earlier this week had placed a label on himself long ago and assumed it was a negative trait. I explained to him that most of our traits are neutral and mean a certain way we think or do things. “Don’t let a label define who you are or what you become,” I told him.

Good advice for us all.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stuck

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Stuck

Yesterday afternoon I loaded the pick-up truck with the household garbage we keep in a covered area outside. I placed two bins in the back and another bag shut the tailgate and headed to the Refuse and Recycling Center. When I arrived I hopped out the cab, walked to the back, let the tailgate down and something furry jumped out at me! That’s not what happened but it’s what looked like was happening when the deceased mouse (pictured) plopped down on the tailgate when it lowered. “Whoa!” I screamed, initiating a strange look from another person who was throwing away garbage also.

As I looked closer I saw that it was a dead rat. I emptied the bin and discovered he was trapped by a hole in the bottom of the trashcan. He had wiggled his entire body out with the exception of his hips and hind feet. He died trying to escape the trash he willingly entered into. I used a piece of wood to pry him out of the hole and a thick piece of plastic to grab him and toss him in the dumpster.

As I drove away I thought about the choices each of us makes; good and bad, right and wrong, positive or negative. I tell the men I work with; “The choices you make today determine the man you will be tomorrow.” I also speak with them about how there are some choices which drastically impact them and those they love and care about. “Once you make certain decisions you forfeit the ability to be a good man to those who need you be that the most.”

Each of our actions has consequences. We must be careful not get stuck by the choices we make.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stability

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Stability

You never cheated on your wife?!?!” “How long have you been married, and you never stepped out on her?” “What about her? Has she ever cheated on you?” “26 years and nope.” was my answer to a young man who wasn’t insulting me, or being flippant, but was genuinely astonished. I understood why he was asking. He is from a broken home, has siblings by other women and his father isn’t a good role model. On the other hand, I come from a home where my mom and dad have been married a long time, my grandparents, uncles, aunts, have given me multiple examples of stability, faithfulness and purposeful love.

As we continued our discussion and after his surprise wore off, I told him; “This is why it’s important that you be a good role model for your kids. You can teach them what a good relationship looks like, how men and women can communicate in a positive way. You can be what your father wasn’t for you and your children will be much better off.”

Fidelity, love, honor, respect; words that can mean the difference in our lives, the lives of those we love and folks with whom we share our life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Space in Between

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Space in Between

It is such difficult discipline; pausing before you react. A man I had worked with in jail has popped up at twice at a rehabilitation center where I lecture. It’s common to see the men I work with in one place again in another. Many who have addictions have a difficult road staying clean and multiple jail sentences and rehab stays are not out of the ordinary.

He spotted me before I saw him and made a beeline to where I was to say he was there. I asked him the question’ “What are you doing here?” and before he could answer I said; “Have you been making good choices?” He shook his head no and we chatted a little about what he’s been up to. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to talk with him following the lecture due to the tight schedule they keep at the rehab center.

In all my classes and one on one sessions, I talk about the discipline of; “the space in between.” It is the wisdom lesson that when something happens, an action, we have space between and before we give a reaction. The smaller the space between action and reaction the greater chance our reaction will be negative. The larger the space in between the greater the chance our reaction produces a positive result.

In a world where people too often speak and act without thinking, we are reaping a local, national and global community torn apart. We don’t stop and reflect on how what we say, what we do, has positive and too often negative consequences.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com
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The End

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The End

Today is the end of 2016. Fittingly it is a rainy, messy, lazy, stay inside type of day. 2016 has seemed to be filled with more bad than good, negative than positive, a seismic movement towards evil leaving good behind. Even as I write the last sentence images of natural disaster, murders, political theater in the absurd, and the death of people everyone knew and those who impacted lives on a less grand scale but no less important to the ones who still mourn their loss.

Also, as I blog this post it is my understanding that not everyone sees 2016 the same way. Some people had a worse year than what I’m describing and others a wonderful year full of blessings, answers to prayer and enjoyment.

My feeling of the year which has passed is a general feeling of woe for our country and world. Myopically 2016 wasn’t a bad year. Personally, I am still blessed with the most wonderful wife a man could be married to, a job that has seen a lot of changes but an enormous amount of good done for others, a house far from perfect but feels more like home each day, and cast of good people I consider my family and friends.

I continue to pray, hope and seek help for my Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety Disorder. For the first time, I feel my meds, therapy, and personal recovery are headed in the right direction. The diseases I fight are not and will never be easy but having people who care enough to keep fighting with you makes the battles less scary and victory more likely.

So, here’s to 2016, may it rest in peace.  2017? Here’s hoping you’re better than I’m expecting.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Cat Near a Green Tin Roof

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Cat Near a Green Tin Roof

This morning I was letting the dog out for his business appointment and after I put him back in the house, something on the roof near our green tin topped porch caught my eye. It was a cat. This was a surprise because we don’t own a cat and I was unsure how he got on the roof. I; “Meowed” at it like most people do when the see a cat and it; “Meowed” back at me. I warned it as I was leaving that the Siberian Husky inside the house doesn’t take kindly to cats, squirrels, ground hogs, possums, or anything small and furry. It then turned around and disappeared to the other side of the roof.

Life never stops surprising me, catching me off guard and making the unexpected almost expected. I’m not sure what happened to the cat. I; “Meowed” when I got home this afternoon but to no avail. Maybe I’ll see it again, hopefully before our dog; Trooper does. The one thing I do know is life won’t stop being so unpredictable. Blessings and curses, good and bad, positive or negative, probably a lot of in between stuff, will keep showing up and sooner or later I’ll stop being so surprised.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Presence Equals Influence

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Presence Equals Influence

In a few weeks, the community organization I work for and a pregnancy center in Bedford county Tennessee will be hosting a breakfast for dads. I met with the director of the pregnancy center today to go over the details and take a tour of the facility. It was a productive time together and I was able to see and feel the heart of the woman who has dedicated her life to save every child possible, help every family possible.

At the breakfast, I will be speaking with the dads regarding their importance to their families, especially their children. One of the mottoes we use at the Fatherhood Engagement Project is; “Presence Equals Influence.” If you’re not present you cannot have the impact on their lives of those who need you most.

Presence being a prerequisite for influence is not just true for dads but for us all. There are so many ills in our society today. At times it can be so overwhelming figuring out where to start and what to do to help. We give up before we’ve even tried.

If our lives are to be a positive influence in this desperate world the first thing we have to do is show up and then believe we can make a difference with what happens next.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Smoldering

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Smoldering

Sunday afternoon I picked up some branches from the yard, placed them on the fire pit, and set them ablaze. They burned for a while but not long because there were only a few limbs to feed the flame. With only a scarce amount of smoldering embers left I placed a large piece of wood on them and went inside for the evening. The next morning I took the dog outside and noticed the smell of burning wood and looked at the fire pit. The part of a stump I had placed on the glowing embers had burned all night and the piece of wood was almost gone. There was no flame, a bit of smoke, but the stump was slowly being eaten away. Tuesday evening I placed another large piece of wood on the second piece and this afternoon it’s almost gone. Even though a fire cannot be seen the smoldering ashes are still burning away at whatever’s been placed in the fire pit.

I reflected on the embers today and thought about a wisdom proverb;

“Anger is like a hot coal clenched in the hand, ready to be thrown, but destroying the one who grasps it.”

Anger is an emotion that almost everyone, at times, has trouble handling. Whether it’s a spouse, a child, a family member, friend or co-worker, there are people and situations which stoke the embers of anger within. As with every other emotion, anger is not good or bad but rather it’s the reaction to the anger that leads to positive or negative consequences.

When anger is held onto, smoldering, it can destroy us but when expressed in a healthy way can put out the flames, or the embers that burn inside.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Not Out There

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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What Crosses Our Path

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Traditions, superstitions, are strange. Last night my wife boldly declared; “I’m not washing clothes tomorrow nor doing other house work because if I do it on the first day of the year, I’ll be doing it all year!” Being a fan of logic I thought; “Aren’t we going to be washing clothes and cleaning the house no matter what?” but I digressed and simply said; “Okie dokie.”

No matter your traditions, superstitions, predictions, resolutions, each of us are hoping for a good 2016. I do wish we had power over what’s going to happen but the truth is much of what will impact our lives is out of our control. Our real choice is what we’ll do when we encounter the good and the bad, the light and the dark, the positive and the negative when it crosses our path.

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

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Bird Poop & Positive Outcomes

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This morning I walked outside and was greeted by several large “surprises” birds had left on my truck over the weekend. It was unsightly and unappealing but I had no time to do anything before I drove to work. What a way to start off the week! Oy!

After a community father’s group this morning I packed up my supplies for an offsite afternoon group and headed back to my truck. It was pouring rain. One more Argh! on a Monday. By the time I got everything in the vehicle I was soaked but I also noticed the shower had washed the bird refuse off the truck and onto the ground.

I sat in the driver’s seat and reflected on how often things we wouldn’t choose, ask for, or even desire can have positive impacts on our lives. Aggravating situations, difficult circumstances, the storms of life can be the very things which wash the crud away.

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

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