Blog Archives

Mentoring

Mentoring

Today, at a county health council, I had the privilege to listen to a man speak about an abusive childhood which was saved by someone who cared enough to take him under his wing and become his mentor. He described how this older gentleman would take him out for breakfast some morning and listen, just listen. This went on for several months. Finally, it dawned on the young man that he wasn’t being judged or given unsolicited advice, his mentor was there to hear him. He listened to the good and a lot of bad, the smidgen of positive and a plethora of negatives. The young man, at last, ran out of words to say and the mentor slowly helped him work through all the challenges and difficulties which result from growing up in an abusive and neglectful home. This mentor made all the difference in his life and as a result, the speaker now helps run a multi-county mentoring program and has improved the lives of countless young men and women.

It was a great reminder that most times the greatest gifts we can give another is presence and listening. Too often we see our role in the chaotic lives of others as telling them what to do, how to do it, advice that will make things better and shape to look more like ours. The speaker said today; “I didn’t need someone to tell me all the things I needed to do. I needed someone to let me get it all out so I could sort through it all and figure out what to keep and what to throw away.

Presence and listening. Two of the greatest and perhaps least used treasures we possess.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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to Lead

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to Lead

Last night I finished watching a movie about Winston Churchill  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winston_Churchill) and his role and his role in what would end up being the last year of World War II.  Churchill was against “Operation Overlord (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Overlord) also known as D-Day because of a similar strategy that went horribly wrong in World War I that Churchill had championed.

The movie focuses mainly on Churchill’s resistance to the Allies plans to invade France and his leadership being questioned until he was sidelined as only a voice to rally the people instead of being involved in the day-to-day fighting the Nazis in Europe. The crux of the film was whether or not Churchill would accept his diminished, but still needed, place in British society. Ultimately, he discovers that he was still a different kind of leader but one his country still looked to and found hope.

It was a good movie and a stark reminder of true leadership. Too often we see leadership as forging a new way, dragging people kicking and screaming in a direction they do not wish to go, or cozying up to the right people to get them and then others to follow. While leadership has some of each of these, lasting leadership is understanding what people need, how best to serve them, working and walking together on this path of life and taking on the challenges and difficulties united in purpose and passion.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Adjusting

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Adjusting –

Beth and I just finished moving furniture around in the living room. Couches, bookshelves, chairs, stools, everything. The reason we did this is that the bookshelves were given to us last week and the way we currently had our living room arranged wouldn’t work with them added. So, we moved and looked, moved and pondered, moved and finally have the room the way we think looks nice and is functional.

The last couple of hours have been a good reminder that anytime we add things to our lives, positive or negative, there is adjusting required. Each of us has a finite amount of time, energy and passion. The more stuff we have in our lives the less we have of the three. This is why mindfulness is so important. We must make sure what we add is worth the readjusting and investing of time, energy and passion.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Excuse Me?

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Excuse Me

Someone asked me today; “Who’s your favorite killer?” I did a double take and asked in return; “My favorite what?” “Color,’ came the response, ‘favorite color?” “Oh!, blue,” I said. I was told I needed to work on my Tennessean listening skills.

It was a good laugh at my expense and a good reminder about listening. Each of us come from a unique background. We often forget that when we are speaking and listening to someone. People speak using words we don’t use, wouldn’t use, aren’t sure how to use. Folks speak with biases, colored by experiences, influenced by generational cycles of positive and negative cultural, religious and familial understandings.

This is why it is so important to listen with our whole being, not casually while we mess with our phones, distract ourselves with “more important” things or not honor the person who is speaking with mindfulness and focus.

Listening is a sacred gift we can give one another.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Learning and Letting Go

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Learning and Letting Go

Today was a training day for learning what is and how to do Motivational Interviewing. It sounds like a discipline someone would learn who is a professional job seeker! However, it is a counseling, teaching, technique that helps people overcome their biases and objections and allowing them to live a better life. I have done a quite a bit of training in Motivational Interviewing but the leader today was a Certified Motivational Interviewing Trainer so she had more information than online learning could give.

The two biggest keys to Motivational Interviewing are listening to learn the client’s story and needs and letting go of the idea we are responsible for the client’s success in counseling and/or learning. Our work is helping the client get to the place where they can choose for themselves their own path. By listening to understand who the client is and their willingness to get healthy in mind, body, and spirit, we can help them find the inner strength to make the changes that will impact them and their families.

I liked the training and the approach through my anxiety makes it difficult for me to sit for long periods as was the case today. It was a great reminder that we can’t fix people. It is not within our power to do so. What we can do is come alongside and help them discover their path and the willingness to walk it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Broken

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Broken

We have a beautiful Banana tree in front of our house. It is ten feet tall with as many leaves and several smaller Banana trees growing around it. Unfortunately last night a sudden thunderstorm with strong winds knocked it over and snapped the trunk of the tallest tree. We are going to have to cut almost 5 feet of the tree off and hope it will survive. Beth and I both are disappointed at the mishap. We’ve spent years feeding, watering and taking care of the Banana tree.

It was a painful reminder of the transience of life. There is nothing permanent, nothing which can withstand the storms of life forever. Everything and everyone has a breaking point. One of the most difficult wisdom lessons we can learn is holding things and people loosely. This seems like an easy concept to grasp. We are surrounded by constant reminders of how quickly life changes. What once was is not anymore. Years pass by in the blink of an eye. Adjusting to a new “normal” is an almost everyday occurrence.

“Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it.”
-W. Somerset Maugham

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Focus

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Focus

This morning, it had already gotten hot as I went outside to do some mowing and weeding. The Cypress saplings Beth and I planted a few months ago need to have the grass from around them removed but the little trees are still too small to risk using the weed eater. So, I use the push mower to get as close to the trees as I dare without harming them.

My attention was on the grass, the saplings, and the mower when out of nowhere a butterfly flew into my eye! I had sunglasses on and still not sure how this medium size winged insect got between the frames of my glasses and my eye socket but it did. Luckily, I was able to close my eye in time and immediately took off the glasses allowing the butterfly to flutter away.

I’ve never had a butterfly do that before. It was shocking! It was also a good reminder of the beauty which surrounds us every day. We can become so focused on the work, chores, schedules, and to-do lists that we miss the wonder of simply being alive and the joy each breath can give us.

Hopefully, being aware, sensitive to the beauty which surrounds me won’t require it to smack me in my face next time.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Motion


Motion

When your only bathroom in the house is being remodeled you find creative ways to workarounds the missing bathroom. You wash your hair with a cup in the kitchen sink, take sponge baths, and other ways to do other bathroom things.

Life has a way of making us adapt. We get used to what’s normal just to experience the demolition and forced to adjust or be lost in confusion.

Wisdom teaches us to be aware of how transient life is and how “normal” is an illusion. Everything temporal is always in flux. The key isn’t finding a place that never changes but learning to find peace in the motion.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Speak Up

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Speak Up

I was pulling out of a parking space at the Dollar Saver when I saw this red 4 door sedan pull in. In the back was either an infant or toddler and in the front were two women smoking cigarettes, windows rolled up. I hit the brakes and debated on whether to say something, risk them getting upset and inform them or remind them that cigarette smoke is harmful, deadly to children. The debate didn’t last long, I couldn’t keep quiet. When they were out of the car I rolled down my window and said; “Excuse me. I wanted to tell you that smoking around a baby is not good. It really hurts them and you shouldn’t do it.” The driver said she had her window down. I don’t think she did but that doesn’t stop smoke and carcinogens from poisoning the child. I repeated myself again; “It’s really not good for the baby and can be very harmful!” Silence followed and then the driver said; “Thank you,” which I am sure was code-word for; “bugger off weirdo!” I pulled out of the parking lot not sure if saying anything did anything.

Most times in life we talk too much but there are moments when speaking; reminding, informing, reprimanding is a necessity. To not speak up is to miss an opportunity. We can’t choose the outcome of our words but we can choose to defend the helpless and those who cannot speak up, stand up for themselves.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Mind Your Feet

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Minding Your Feet

Earlier today I stopped to get gas. I got out of the truck, inserted my bank card into the machine slot, chose my fuel type and began to pump. As I stood there I thought I might as well put my wallet back in my bag and began stepping over the hose which was connected to my truck and the pump. As I tried this, which I’ve done dozens if not hundreds of times, somehow one foot or both feet got caught on the hose and down I went. WHACK! right onto the cement. It happened so fast I don’t remember much but I must’ve screamed when I started to fall because a kind gentleman stopped to see if I was ok. I assured him I was although I wasn’t actually sure. My arm was hurting but my pride was hurting more at that particular moment. I finished getting gas, gingerly climbed back in the truck and have been nursing my right arm, which took the brunt of the fall, ever since.

It was a painful reminder not to get ahead of ourselves as we walk the road of life. When I went to put my stuff in the cab I just assumed I had cleared the hose instead of looking to make sure. Minding our feet is imperative if we want to stay upright, keep going and make it home.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Good Eye

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Good Eye

Last week I had an important meeting. During it, a woman walked into the room to give the person I was meeting with a message. As she delivered it the other noticed the woman was shaking. She asked; “Are you okay? You’re really shaking!” The person said she had a lot going on and was trying to fit all of it into a small amount of time. She then left the room and my meeting continued. Afterwards, I saw the woman who had been shaking and told her I hoped she had a good day.

As I went to my next appointment I thought about both the woman and the fact that I didn’t notice her shaking at all. I totally missed it. I try to be aware of people and their emotional, mental and spiritual states. I even try to notice new glasses, haircuts, and changes people make but not this time. I realized it swept by me because all of my focus was on the “important” meeting. The person I met with was at the same meeting but didn’t allow it to consume all of her attention and she was able to show concern to someone in need.

It was a good reminder that true awareness is finding the balance between paying attention to ourselves and others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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True or False

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True or False?

Netflix has an intriguing documentary on the crime, trial, and person of Amanda Knox; the young woman accused of murdering her roommate while living in Italy almost ten years ago. No spoilers but it is worth the watch whether you think her guilty or innocent. The trial was a media sensation. There were four of them and reporters for news agencies from around the world packed the small Italian villa to give those who cared every detail of the sordid story.

Toward the end of the documentary, one of the reporters was asked about the media’s sensationalizing of the murder, Amanda, her boyfriend and the trials, and if they played any part in the way it all eventually ended. One of the featured reporters said; “What are we (reporters and journalists) supposed to do? Are we going to double-check our sources and make sure the information given is true? If we do that our competitors will beat us to the scoop!” As I heard him say this I said out loud to the man on the TV; “Yes! That’s exactly what you’re supposed to do! You’re a journalist!

It was a sober reminder that often people are more interested in gossip than facts, assumptions than authenticity, falsehoods which are more tantalizing than boring truth. As Mark Twain said;

“A lie can travel around the world and back again while the truth is lacing up its boots.”

I see this on a smaller scale with social media, local communities and, sadly, even churches. We are so careless with our tongues and keep our ears shut tight. We are ready to believe the worse and to pass it on to anyone who will listen before we ask ourselves three important questions; “Is it true?” “How do I know (what are my sources)?” “Is it any of my business?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Ongoing Grace

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Ongoing Grace

One of the hardest acts in life is letting go of the expectation of an apology from someone who has hurt, offended us. Many times, we never receive what we are tempted to think we deserve.

Not too long ago I received a surprising apology from someone who had hurt me years ago. They asked for forgiveness and I gave it to them. However, apologies can be tricky. When someone expresses regret about an action or harmful words our ability to forgive has much to do with our place on the journey of forgiveness. Saying the words; “I forgive you.” helps but rarely completely, instantly heals the wounds.

Since the apology, there have been moments of pain when I am reminded the wounds are still healing. Times when memories are relived and the urge to fall back into negative thoughts patterns, judgmental attitudes are present. It is here, on our journey, we realize forgiveness is not a one-time act or phrase but a process, an ongoing combination of acts, words, and intent of spirit. There are seasons, moments, instances when the past impresses itself on the present. Wisdom teaches us not to ignore, resent, or seek escape but to let it be a reminder that forgiveness in an ongoing act of grace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Muddy Words

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Muddy Words

I had an interesting conversation with a gentleman this week who had a unique combination of over-confidence, a persecution complex, an incredibly loud voice and a gift(?) for being able to talk for long periods without taking a breath.

It was hard to follow everything he was saying. There were times when I tried interrupting, even holding up my hand to try to get him to pause long enough for me to say anything! No luck, so I took a breath. Wisdom tells me when water is muddy only being still will allow you to see clearly.

So, I listened, without obstructing his word flow and waited. Finally, he was finished and I knew what he was trying to tell me. I didn’t agree but listening and agreeing aren’t the same thing. When I was able to speak with him I did so slowly, purposefully, not with the idea of changing him, but letting him know he had been heard. Doing this made all the difference in the rest of our time together.

It was another reminder we are never the master, always the student when it comes to the lessons wisdom tries teaching us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Season Pass

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Season Pass

“Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.” ~ Author Unknown

On my way back from a lecture today in Hohenwald, TN the sun was shining brightly through the limbs of the trees which are rapidly becoming barren. It still feels like summer with temps in the low to mid 90’s but fall is approaching. The leaves are already giving up their grips and descending to the ground. We probably won’t have too much color as they turn this year due to the lack of rain this hot and barren summer.

Fall is another reminder of the transience of life. Summer’s rapid end reflects our own aging and how life is fleeting. The youth of spring and summer is like the cool morning mist of fall; easy to see but impossible to grasp and hold on to.

Accepting that life’s seasons pass quickly is the first step to living fully in every moment, not taking for granted any breath, experience, ray of sunshine, or drop of rain. Wisdom teaches us to be mindful of every moment for these are what life is made up of.

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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Listen, Understand, Grace

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Listen. Understand. Grace.

This week I had an appointment with a person, at a place, I’ve never been before. Arriving at where I thought it would be I checked in with the receptionist. She looked at her schedule and couldn’t find my name. I told her perhaps I was at the wrong address but she seemed to have missed that because she had me sit and wait. About 10 minutes passed and a gentleman came to the reception area and had me follow him. We sat and talked for a while but I couldn’t shake the feeling something was wrong. After another 10 minutes were gone the receptionist came in and interrupted us and said to me; “I think you’re in the wrong place. You want the building next door.” Frustration built as I, through gritted teeth, told her; “Thank you.” I made my way quickly to the other office building, found the correct place and checked in, again. I was late for my appointment but they worked me in and we’re understanding about the mix up. Their acceptance of my predicament was a gift of peace in a chaotic situation.

It was a great reminder that listening to the other person is essential if we are to help them get where they need to go and giving grace and understanding to those who are lost is like balm, a healing ointment for the soul.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Power

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A yellow monster of a truck quickly lurched up behind me this morning. I was loaded down with wood, crawling along, when the driver of this behemoth decided I wasn’t going fast enough for him. He revved his loud engine and would slow down, wait a few moments, and then catch back up to me. Because of the small two lane highway we were traveling, there wasn’t anything either of us could do to rectify the situation. The obvious power of his truck aside we were both stuck, powerless. Finally, the road opened up, a passing lane appeared and he roared past me.

I smiled as he disappeared from view. It was a good reminder that each of us,  no matter the strength and power we think we possess, are always at the mercy of the things life brings our way we can’t change or control.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Down & Out Loud

On my way to the office today I stopped at a drive-thru and ordered a drink to take with me to a meeting. There was a long line and I didn’t have too much time to spare. The woman in the car in front of me ordered and then pulled up, but not enough for me to be able to move into position and place my order. After a few moments, waiting, I said out loud, seemingly to myself, “Let’s go lady!” I had already rolled down my window and then noticed she had hers down also. “Oops,” I thought to myself, “I hope she didn’t hear me.” I watched to see if there was any reaction from the woman and didn’t discern any. I breathed a sigh of relief and didn’t mutter another word.

“No one regrets a harsh word unspoken.” -Wisdom Proverb

It was a good reminder to me that words, once uttered, can never be taken back. Whatever the circumstances, or intentions, our words have the power of life and death. We should always be mindful to use them wisely.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Coldness and Life

Last Friday I mowed the grass in shorts and a t-shirt under a gorgeous sun and basking in a balmy breeze. Then came Saturday. Winter, it seemed, wanted to remind us that it wasn’t quite finished and blew a cold front into the area. What was warm, sunny, blue sky days quickly became dim, cloudy and frigid thanks to a mighty wind which blew non-stop for two days.

As I was standing outside waiting for the Husky to do his business on Sunday I looked up and saw green buds and leaves beginning to show on the branches of trees. The spring like weather earlier in the week had done its work and signs of life were present even though the cold of winter was still blowing.

It was a good reminder that even in frosty seasons of the spirit, when hardships and chaos blow a chill into our souls there is still life. It may be hard to see but it’s there if we’ll take the time to look and remember.

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

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Unseen Protector

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Yesterday, on my way back to Columbia, TN from Bedford county, I passed a cable laying company and noticed a large empty wooden spool. I pulled into the business’ parking lot, walked in and asked if they would sell, or even better, give it to me. The owner was willing to part with it at no cost and helped me load it into the back of my truck. There were already some other building materials in the bed so we positioned it on top and I tied it down. However, because of the other materials the tailgate was lowered and the spool couldn’t be turned sideways. I am fairly confident in making a knot that’ll stay secure but I kept a close eye on the big wooden spool all the way home. There were two fears; one that it would roll out the back and into another vehicle, two that it would roll forward and break out my back window. Slowly navigating the back hills to my home I held my breath on every incline and decline, turn and stop. Finally, I pulled into the driveway and exhaled! “Whew!” I gathered my work things from the crew cab and started to go inside. I walked around the truck and to my surprise and amusement I spied the chrome metal toolbox that’s attached to the bed of the truck just below the back window. I’ve owned my vehicle for almost a year and a half and have used this toolbox many times but today completely forgot it was there. The back window was never in danger of being broken because this forgotten protector would’ve stopped it from getting that close.

My worry was that my knot, my ability, my attempt to keep myself and others from pain and loss wasn’t enough. I was so concerned and focused on this obstacle of potential destruction I never considered there was something else stronger, sturdier, in place to keep me from harm. Looking through my rear-view mirror I only saw the spool, never the toolbox.

It was a needed reminder that our focus determines our state of mind, emotions and overall well being. When our vision is obscured because of forgetfulness or refusal to look at other things our minds, bodies and spirits are tied in knots, our energy strapped, living itself becomes a labor. However, when we remember our protector, even though unseen, is keeping us safe we are able to let go and trust even in the most anxious and stress filled circumstances.

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

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