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Afraid

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Afraid –

This morning, driving to a Father/Child reading event I was rounding a curve when out of nowhere came a big white dog, barking and headed straight for the truck. I didn’t have much time to react when at the last second it decided to turn back. My heart went into my stomach and as I looked in the rearview mirror the dog made its way back to the bush it was hiding behind to wait for its next victim. It was frightening to have this huge canine all of a sudden appear on what should have been an easy drive to a county library.

After my heart and stomach settled I thought about the dog and the fright it gave me. The fear had subsided and I wondered where its owner was, why the dog was allowed to play this dangerous game when, in a collision, the vehicle almost always wins?

I don’t like being afraid. Fear is unsettling and I’d prefer to live life without it. However, I admit that life can be a lot like the, almost, run in with the dog today. We navigate the road of life the best we know how hoping to reach our destination. When, out of nowhere, something happens which makes us afraid. It may be a brush with death, a lingering sickness, a mental health issue, a financial crisis, a danger or challenge to friends and family. In these moments we become afraid. Our goal is no longer reaching our destination but getting through each next moment. Everything slows down and our attention becomes solely on the fear.

In one sense it’s helpful our vision is singularly focused. It helps us concentrate on what’s in our way and how to avoid it or fight it. However, if we are not careful the thing which makes us afraid becomes the only thing we see and our vision to all the beauty and wonder of life is obscured. Balancing being fearful and mindful is tricky but is the only way we make sure we don’t spend our lives afraid to live.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Stuck

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Stuck

This morning I listened to a man tell a story about a time he and his wife went hiking during the fall in a National Park. He described the scenery and that he and his wife were so absorbed in the beauty they didn’t realize how late it had become. They hurried back to the car, trying to be in the vehicle before dark. They made it and then pulled out of the deserted parking lot. Unfortunately, they were met a large yellow chain hooked on two polls each side of the entrance/exit.  They weren’t sure what to do. There wasn’t enough room to drive on either side of the polls and they didn’t want to be there all night. As they sat in their car wondering who to call the wife asked a simple question; “Is there a lock? I don’t see a lock on the chain or polls.” The husband got out of the car, walked up to the chain unhooked it and went back to the car smiling at his wife’s genius. They drove through the exit and then put the chain back in place.

The man followed up his story with a reflection on how often we think we’re stuck, there’s no way out, a hopeless situation. He said that once we decide we can’t go, get or keep moving, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I reflected on the man’s reflection and began thinking about times in my life where I thought I couldn’t go any further but by the grace of God, the kindness of loved ones and friends I was shown a way and was able to get unstuck and keep traveling the road of life. I’m thankful today for those who are smarter than me, see different from me, think in ways I don’t and can show me the way when I can’t see how to keep going.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Leaving a Mark

roadkill

Leaving a Mark

If I were mayor of our town for a day I would rename a section of road a few miles from our house; “Road Kill Way.” Over the past several weeks the temperatures have been significantly above normal, the varmints are out in force and some of them apparently aren’t looking both ways before they cross the road.  I’ve seen rabbits, squirrels, armadillos, possums, foxes, and skunks. Way too many skunks. The rest of the unfortunate animals don’t leave the trace the skunks leave. You smell them coming and going. It’s an unmistakable odor. If I remember in time, I hold my nose, if not I am quick to catch my breath once I catch the scent.

Trying to dodge the leftover animal parts today I thought about the road of life and how dangerous it can be navigating our way. I decided I want to go out like the skunk! I want to leave a mark and for people to know, unmistakably, that I was there.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Asking

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Asking

I could tell she needing something without knowing how to ask for it. Finally, she began to say a few words, jumbled, somewhat coherent, and then blurted out a need her husband had and could I help? Responding in an assuring voice with, hopefully, peace giving words I told her; “Yes” and “would she like a card?” She smiled affirmatively, took the card and said; “Thank you.” “Anytime,” I replied back. “I hope you have a nice weekend.” I don’t know if I’ll hear from her or her husband again but it was not my first time I’ve encountered someone looking for assistance and yet hesitant, resistant, to ask for help.

I reflect on our brief conversation and wonder; “Why is it so hard for some to admit need?” I think part of it is our; “Pull yourselves up by your own bootstraps” culture. Folks who need a helping hand often feel they are somehow “less than” others.

Maybe it’s the thought that; “Others are so much worse off.” It seems selfish to take food out of their mouths, clothes off their backs, a roof over their heads.

Might be, perhaps the darkest reason; “I don’t want to be lumped in with the people who ‘have their hands out.'” They are judged, looked down upon, seen as lazy, under-achievers, taking advantage of people, churches, community organizations and the government.

Being in need is nothing to be ashamed of. Whether its physical, mental, emotional or spiritual we all need each other to make it. A wisdom proverb states; “No one can navigate the road of life alone.” In truth, we are all needy, weak, impoverished and cannot do it on our own. Asking for help is not helplessness it’s having the right balance of strength and humility to admit we are flawed, defective, deficient, have shortcomings, imperfections, in short,we are all; human and to be so is to be in need.

Someone asked the great Master one day; “What is the gospel?” The Master replied; “The gospel is simply one beggar telling another beggar where to find food.” Wisdom Proverb

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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The Obstacle is the Path

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The Obstacle is the Path

This morning, on my way  to Fayetteville, Tennessee, I came across a couch in the middle of a 4 way stop intersection. It didn’t take me long to come to the conclusion; “That doesn’t belong there!” It had obviously been dropped  out of a vehicle because it was broken in half and the feet and cushions were scattered. I cautiously drove around the couch, and through the intersection, continuing on my journey wondering who dropped it, why and that someone should pick up the unsightly mess before some body gets hurt.

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A few more miles down the road a baby deer hopped onto the road while its sibling stayed off to the side. I slowed down and thought; “What a beautiful sight!” and proceeded cautiously in case the one, not on the road, decided it wanted to be reunited with its sibling. I soaked in the beauty of nature, wondered where its mother was and was thankful for being present at that time and place.

Two sights, two different responses.

I reflected on how we decide what should and should not be on our road of life. For the unwanted, ugly, messy thing we judge as not worthy, we try to avoid it and want it gone. To others, which we deem as beautiful and worthy, we are thankful and count ourselves blessed to enjoy the wonderment of life.

Wisdom teaches us to accept all things on the road of life. We are not to judge which is good or bad, positive or negative, but to allow the possibility of everything to teach and guide us. It is only when we stop slapping labels on things, (including people) and accept each experience with open minds, hearts, and spirits that we can appreciate, find the mystery and beauty in all obstacles on the road of life.

“The obstacle is the path.” -Wisdom Proverb

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Fumes

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Fumes

On Saturday, Beth and I drove to the store to buy a few items for the long weekend. Returning home I noticed the gas gauge light had come on but wasn’t sure how far I had driven since its illumination. I made a mental note to get gas first thing Tuesday morning. Today, however, I forgot to stop by the fuel station as I drove to my first appointment. It was only several miles later I noticed the gas gauge again and felt my stomach drop. The indicator was on; “E” and there wasn’t a gas station anywhere close to my present location. My focus went from all the things which needed to be done today to that gauge. I knew I was running on fumes and was worried about being stranded on a Tennessee highway on an already hot Tuesday in September. My eyes darted from the road to the indicator and back again over and over. Finally, a gas station came into view and I pulled in to get gas and let out a huge sigh of relief!

After filling up and getting back on the road I reflected on the tense moments and how the worry and anxiety took over everything. Running on fumes is not enjoyable. When we’re depleted, at our wit’s end, have been used up and we’re not sure we going to make it much further, we have a difficult time seeing anything else. Our focus becomes survival not finding the meaning in every moment or the good with each person with whom we connect.

Being sure we are caring for ourselves and keeping our mental, emotional, and spiritual, tank full is vital for our lives and the ones with whom we share the road of life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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The Way Out

The Way Out

Yesterday evening Beth stopped by my office to see me (and give me some sugar!). After a while, she hopped back into her car and I got in my truck. She began to drive out the main entrance. I tried to warn her with hand signals not to go that way but she didn’t notice me. I, on the other hand, went another way to avoid all the traffic that bottles up at the main entrance, this time, every work day. After almost two years I knew to avoid it and how. As I made two quick turns I passed Beth who was still sitting in line and waved. I called her and she asked; “How did you get in front of me?” “Took a different, better way to get out as quick as possible,” I said. She laughed and I told her I would see her following a class I was teaching in the evening.

As I drove past her I thought of one of my favorite wisdom proverbs;

A man was walking down the street and fell into a big hole. Try as he might, he couldn’t get out. He heard someone passing above, it was a professor. “Hey, Sir! Can you get me out of here? I’m stuck.” he yelled! The professor threw down a book on philosophy and existentialism and kept on walking. Our man heard another person approaching, it was a priest. “Hey, Padre! Can you help me out? I’m stuck!” The priest wrote out a prayer and dropped it into the hole. The next guy was a good friend and the man yelled out; “Hey Joe! Please, I’m desperate. Please help me out of this hole.” The friend looked down and then proceeded to jump down in the hole. The man was flabbergasted! “What’d you do that for? Now we’re both stuck.” Joe smiled and said; “Relax. I’ve been in this hole before and I know the way out.”

The road of life is filled with u-turns, yields, long boring stretches, deep holes and exciting hairpin turns. Traveling with those who know the way is always better than traveling alone.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Caution Ahead

On my way home from leading a couple of Addicted Fathers’ groups today, driving up a windy country road, I came upon a sign warning me of a; “Flagger Ahead.” I immediately slowed down and sure enough, a little further down the road, there stood a flag man, his sign read; “SLOW” and he was gesturing emphatically to move over and stay in the left lane. I followed his instructions and began cautiously moving up the curvy road looking for the reason I was told to drive in the “wrong” lane. Up and up I went with no reason in sight for staying in a lane which made me anxious. I kept thinking another vehicle would come around the next curve and hit me head on. Finally, I saw a big tractor with a large attached mower cutting grass, bushes and trees in the right lane. It was a great reason to be in the other lane! Soon, after passing the big machine, another flagger, standing in the left lane motioned me to get back in the left one.

Moving into the lane, feeling more comfortable, and continuing on my journey I reflected upon the truth that sometimes we must travel in places which aren’t pleasant, agreeable or feels safe. There are folks we trust who warn us about the way ahead; threats, hazards and risks to avoid. One of the greatest gifts are wise ones in our life who can help us navigate the road of life. The question becomes; “do we listen and trust their guidance or remain in a place, which may feel safe, but puts us in danger?”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Fuel

Fuel

This morning, on my way to speak to a group of men with addictions, I stopped by a gas station. Pulling in, the pump I was hoping to use was occupied, so I chose another one and began filling up. I looked over at the vehicle parked beside the other gas pump and noticed the woman sitting in her car talking on the phone. She had finished getting her fuel but hadn’t pulled out of the way for the next person. As I continued filling up, she completed her call and then began reading either a book or a magazine. Finished, I hopped in the truck and began pulling away from the pump, glanced over my shoulder and there the driver still sat, reading and taking up a space someone else needed.

Driving away I thought about traveling the road of life. There are times we need recovery, renewal, restoration of our emotions and spirits to continue our journey. During these pit-stops I hope to encounter folks who are as interested in; “refilling my tank” as they are in theirs and pray that I’ll return the favor.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Snagged

Plastic bag flying through the air

It floated effortlessly in the air across the opposite lane of traffic. It caught my eye as it passed over the left lane of my side of the highway and a gust of air lifted it up just enough to get over the hood of my truck and became stuck on my antenna. “What are the odds?” I thought, “that this plastic bag and my truck antenna would meet at the exact time and place where it would be snagged and now dragged?” It made an awful noise flapping in the wind. There were too many vehicles on the road to stop and of course a traffic light or stop sign was nowhere to be found. The antenna bent abnormally and because of it’s style the bag was gripped and not going anywhere. Finally, I arrived at a red light and when the truck came to a halt the plastic bag slipped from the antenna and blew away to aggravate someone else.

After the light turned green I made my way to an appointment and reflected upon the way life brings both good and bad things into our path. We aren’t expecting, nor could we arrange the blessing or perceived curse coming our way or manipulate the circumstances to embrace or avoid what we encounter. What we have the power to do is move forward, accept what comes and hope for the courage and humility to deal with the things which float into our lives and attach themselves to us.

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

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Whose Watching

On my way home today I was listening to the radio when I looked in the rearview mirror and noticed there was a police vehicle behind me. I turned the radio off, sat straighter in the driver’s chair, checked my speed frequently, made sure I was in the center of the lane and stayed tense and aware until we parted ways.

I reflected on my reaction to the law enforcement officer driving behind me. I was vigilant, paranoid?, the best driver I could be as long as he was behind me. I found it interesting to admit to myself that I was a better driver with the “eyes of the law” watching me than at other times.

Wisdom tells us that there are always eyes upon us, watching us, learning about life from the way we live. Who we are, how we navigate the road of life is not just important for us but for those we who are traveling with us.

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

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Heeding the Signs

This morning before dawn, on my way to an early appointment, I was travelling on a busy highway and rounding a curve spied the unmistakable flashing blue lights of a police car. Immediately I took my foot off the gas pedal and began slowing down. Apparently a truck, driving too fast for the rainy conditions, hydroplaned into a guard rail. I applied my brakes as another parked law enforcement vehicle came into view. As I slowly navigated the scene a small gold Honda came quickly around me and had to suddenly stop his car from hitting a semi-truck in front of me. “What are you thinking?” I said out loud. “Didn’t you see the multiple vehicles with flashing blue lights? All the brake lights of the line of cars and trucks ahead of you? How’d you miss that?!?!?” After passing the accident the driver of the gold Honda zoomed around the semi and was soon out of view. As I watched him go I tried to figure out why the wreck, the lights, the backed up traffic didn’t clue him in to drive more carefully, especially on this rainy, dark morning. Some folks can’t or won’t heed the signs.

I then reflected on times in my life when I ignored or disobeyed warnings, advice, wisdom offered by others and hurried my way directly into avoidable difficulties and trials. Wisdom teaches us to listen and consider the words and experiences of those who have traveled the road of life before us or refuse to and proceed at own peril.

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

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Do You Smell That?

Skunk on Rural Road at Night

The smell either hits you before you see it or you spot it and brace yourself for the pungent odor that is sure to follow. It is the unmistakable stench of a skunk that’s been hit by a vehicle, its last act of defiance to spread its “fragrance” on the road it wasn’t lucky enough to make across.

The other day my wife and I came upon the carcass of a dead skunk and my wife quickly covered mouth and nose with her shirt but because I was driving my hands weren’t free. Then, it hit us. “Whoa!” I said shaking my head as the stench filled the truck. Eyes watering, nose burning, I did my best to not inhale, trying to will my nostrils shut. “Is it gone?” Beth asked. “Not yet. Hold on. It’s still in here!” were the only sentences I could muster. Finally the offensive aroma diminished and we both took deep gulps of fresh air.

I’ve come across people who give others the same reaction as the deceased polecat. Folks with rotten attitudes, judgmental spirits, bitter, angry individuals whose fragrance seems to permeate the places they go and the people they encounter. Being in their presence is difficult. You’re tempted to hold your nose when coming near them for fear of breathing in their noxious and infectious disposition.

It’s easy to dislike, avoid, dismiss these caustic people with whom we share the road of life. We look for a detour or hope they take another way or just go away. Wisdom teaches us that good can be found in every difficult person and difficult season. Life’s path brings us to unplanned encounters and unwanted traveling companions but these burdensome, divine?, periods of struggle with others reveal truths about our own particular pungency.

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

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Going in Circles

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Wednesday morning I needed to go to Nashville for a fatherhood regional meeting. I left early to beat the heavy traffic that’s notorious when you’re trying to get into the city. My GPS of choice is Waze. I like the look of it, the ability to alert other drivers of traffic, accidents, construction and be warned if you’re approaching hazards or other difficulties.

With the address plugged in I set out for my destination. Everything was going smoothly and as I approached an area known for a lot of stop and go, standstill traffic, Waze suddenly changed my route. I wasn’t sure what was happening but chose to follow its directions. It exited me off the interstate to another highway then another exit to the right and another right, straight for a few more miles and then another right which brought me back to the same interstate I was on 5 minutes before just a mile or so ahead of my previous spot. It didn’t save me any time or significantly advance my position, it just added anxiety to my journey.

The rest of the trip was event free and as my truck rolled down the road I reflected on our inclination to take short cuts, try to get ahead, around, bypass obstacles on the road of life. If we could we’d skip the painful places, the stressful situations, the locations on the path of life that bring unwanted obstructions, forces us to stop and perhaps wonder if we’ll ever get moving again.

The problem is we can’t steer clear of the unpleasant, traumatic, heartbreaking places of life. We might be able to evade them for a while but sooner or later we must traverse, experience, deal with these or risk being stuck mentally, emotionally and spiritually for a lifetime.

Getting where we need to go often times means going places we’d rather avoid.

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

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