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Anchors

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Anchors

Today I participated in a class which is teaching those attending about the importance of car seats. It is an in-depth look at this important safety product. One wouldn’t think there’s a lot to know about car seats and how to put them in correctly but one would be wrong. My brain was frazzled with terms, mechanical processes and the different laws and rules. One of the things I learned is that there are hidden latches and anchors on many vehicles which car seats are to be attached to for them to be as safe and secure as possible. Even if you can’t see the anchors there are symbols and signs to alert you of their presence.

After the class dismissed today I began reflecting on the “anchors” in our lives. Often when life turns upside down, runs into trouble, leaves us stranded and lost we can feel discombobulated and adrift in unfamiliar places. In these moments and seasons, we need people and truths upon which we can anchor our life. This wisdom, family, and friends keep us grounded, help us remember what’s important and not forget that which makes life worth living.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Be Still and Wait

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Be Still and Wait

This morning our Siberian Husky Trooper was ready to go outside. Getting to the door to open it he was dancing in circles! I opened the door to the house and the screened in porch and he darted out. Almost immediately I noticed a big rabbit in the field adjacent to our home. My eyes grew big wondering if Trooper was going to see it. The rabbit was still. I thought to myself; “Can you stay that still with danger lurking that close to you?” I watched intently as Trooper began sniffing the area and the bunny watched and didn’t move. After what seemed like a lifetime for me and the rabbit Trooper lumbered back to the porch and the rabbit was safe.

Many times in life we face trials and temptations, difficulties and decisions, choices and complications. Our instinct might be to take immediate action, react in the ways which seem best, hurry up and solve the problem. However, wisdom teaches us that when the way is clouded and we can’t see or crowded with chaos and hard to move the best we can do mentally, emotionally and spiritually is to be still and wait. To breathe, close our eyes and find our center. With a hectic mindset, we can focus on the immediate and “fix it” at the expense of the future. We can also become reckless running around trying everything at once and creating more hardships for ourselves and those we love.

A great master was asked one time by his student to help him solve a problem for which he could not find the solution. “I’ve gone over it a million times, looked at every angle, and can’t seem to see the way. The master told him; “When you step into a stream your feet muddy the waters. Only when you are still will the waters clear.”

Stillness, the quietude of the mind, is underrated. Pause, rest, be still, and the way will reveal itself.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Defenses

Defenses

Earlier today I was mowing and weeding the yard. While doing so I came across a three to four-foot King Snake hanging out in the grass. I didn’t want to hurt it so I nudged it with the wheel of my push mower and it didn’t move. I bumped it again and the snake curled up into a ball. I was hoping the third time was the charm and tried to get it moving but it wasn’t going anywhere. I then went and grabbed a wooden stake, found the snake still rolled up and not willing to budge. As a last result, I pushed the stake through the center of the ball, picked it up and placed it in another part of the yard where it would be safe. “Sheesh!” I thought to myself. It just had to be difficult.

After getting back to my mowing I thought about the defensive behavior of the snake. It wasn’t helpful for it or me. I reflected on my defensive behaviors and unhelpful coping skills. As someone who deals with mental illness, I know first hand what a sense of being in danger, uncertain, threatened can do. It can cause me to make a bad decision, seize up, pull myself into an emotional ball and try to keep the danger out. Most times it doesn’t work but, like the snake, its instinct.

I know if I would’ve been able to communicate with the reptile I would’ve explained it needed to move for its own safety. If it was left alone eventually the snake would relax and be able to go on its way. When people fight, flight or freeze when we try to help our intention doesn’t matter. What matters is understanding and adapting our help to meet the needs of the other.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Warmth

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Warmth

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Safe to Land

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Safe to Land

Today, I was mowing grass and doing yard work for a friend. Most of the grass has already turned brown for the winter except for a few green patches. As I mowed over a patch a large grasshopper jumped up and from the ground and landed on my shirt. I didn’t have time to figure out what to do because he got his bearings and jumped again to a safe space. This happened more than once as I kept infringing on his territory.

Each time the grasshopper hitched a ride I thought about our lives and the times we need temporary safe places to land. Not spaces we will occupy permanently but where we can get our bearings, catch our breath, take stock of what’s happening, see the challenge and the difficulty and perhaps a way to avoid it or, if needed, endure it.

I also reflected on the need to be a place that is safe to land for others who are in trouble. A place where they can feel accepted and be safe. A space that has a listening ear, no advice unless asked for, a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold, patience and empathy to endure and understand.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Worn

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Worn

Last night Beth and I went to Madison, Tennessee to pick up a few items from friends who are having a garage sale this weekend. I always keep a bungee net in the truck bed for when items are placed in the bed and need to be held securely.

Once everything was situated I grabbed the bungee net, hooked it to one side, threw it over to the other and walked around to the other side to set the hooks in place. However, when I pulled the net tight it broke in my hand. Figuring it was just a weak spot worn out by time, weather and use I grabbed another piece and it did the same thing. The net, which I bought several years ago had begun to break down and though I was able to finally find enough strong places, to hook it to the truck, it is time to buy a new one.

On the long drive home I thought about the net and how we too can become worn out physically, emotionally and spiritually. We long to be a source of security and strength to others but seasons of use and stress have taken their toll. Giving up, hopefully, isn’t an option, but as we get older, become more self-aware, we know where our strengths are and the weak places. With this wisdom, we are better able to be a source of security and strength to others and discover we are still capable of being used to help others feel and be secure on the road of life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Safe

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It has begun!

Several weeks ago my wife and I hired someone to remodel our bathroom. Today, they started. I work at home and it wasn’t easy to focus on anything with the bathroom being demolished a few feet away.

A safe space is important for someone like me who’s battling a major depressive disorder and a severe anxiety disorder or another who deals with any mental health issues. We need a quiet, mostly uninterrupted space where we can collect our thoughts, process the day that was and prepare for the next day.  This week I don’t have that and it has me concerned.

In times and seasons when our rhythm is disrupted, our safe space invaded, what we use to cope is taken away, we need to remember that all outward places we look for protection are not always available. The safest space is in the arms of grace, a deep abiding peace which travels with you wherever you go.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Ahead

Ahead

This morning I was on my way to give a lecture and counsel a group of fathers with addictions when a white box truck pulled in front of me. We stopped at a place where you must cross a busy four-lane highway to continue on our current road. I knew the box truck would need extra time to get to the center of the highway where there was a large section used to wait and then continue across to the other side. So I, and several folks behind me waited, and waited, and waited but the box truck driver wouldn’t go though they had ample opportunity. I finally figured out the driver wasn’t waiting for the traffic coming from his left to cease but also from the right. They wanted all four lanes clear and as a result, couldn’t find the right time to proceed.

As I sat there, and when I was finally able to cross the highway, I thought about the stubborn attitude we all have to want everything perfect, “just the way we like it“, how we think it’s supposed to be, before we make decisions, hard choices, take steps of faith, on the road of life. We spend inordinate intervals waiting, wondering, if it’s safe to continue, is this the right time, and, as a result, miss genuine opportunities of growth and progression on our path.

Wisdom teaches that most of the time there isn’t a perfect time to keep going. We must trust the path, it’s maker, ourselves and the belief a greater reward lies on the road ahead.

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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Bug, Windshield or Road?

This afternoon, on my way back from a community meeting, I noticed my windshield was dirty and depressed the level on my steering column which sprayed a chemical onto the filthy glass, causing the wipers to vigorously move left to right and back again several times. After a few moments it was clean, clear and bright. “Nice!, much better.” I thought. Almost immediately another big bug splatted on the windshield. It would’ve hit me between the eyes if not for the protective glass. “Sheesh!” was my next thought. I shook my head at “my kind of luck” and cleaned it again expecting another bug to sacrifice himself on my windshield just as the wipers finished their work.

As I waited for this kamikaze bug I reflected on life and our desperate desire for cleanliness, orderliness in a chaotic, messy world. No matter how much we want or anticipate an end to the unpredictability and muck of our existence the truth is life will never be our definition of spotless and safe. Each of us travel this road and our focus can be the bugs or the distance we are covering.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Protection

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The wind from a mighty storm front howled, pushed, shoved and knocked me around yesterday. I arrived home from work and the dogs were ready to go outside. I grabbed an umbrella and we made our way to the yard so they could do their business. The gusts were so strong that my umbrella knocked me in the head, pulled to the right, left leaving me soaking wet, and was basically useless. Once I was back inside I decided to do it differently next time I ventured out. A couple of hours later, the wind still shaking tree limbs and throwing branches and debris around, I bundled up with a raincoat and hat. My hat blew off my head but the raincoat protected me better than the flimsy umbrella.

Back indoors I dried off my head and reflected upon the storms of life and how at times things we hope will protect us fail, become useless and broken. It’s hard to accept what we’ve placed our faith in has let us down and can’t keep us safe. Letting go of what doesn’t work, finding new places of safety and stillness can be difficult but is also necessary.

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

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Destination and Reaction

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She was shocked, I wasn’t. She wasn’t looking, I was. She didn’t know where she was going, I was watching for her. She scurried out of the way, I slowly proceeded.

This morning, I pulled into the church parking lot and cautiously made my way to a spot. As I located one I also noticed an elderly lady crossing in front of me while talking to someone. She had no idea I was there and only when she took a breath from her conversation and looked up did she realize she had wandered into the path of an approaching vehicle. Her face said it all as her mouth fell open, her eyes grew wide and she made a quick bee line out of the way. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud because I knew she wasn’t ever in any danger.

After I parked I reflected and wondered if our lives are similar. Are we anxious and frightened over perceived danger when in truth we are safe? Our focus is too often on the threat not the One in control. Where we look, what we know, determines our destination and our reaction to life and what it brings our way.

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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Safe is Not a Place

Last night it was my privilege to give a group of dads a graduating certificate from our Incarcerated Fathers’ class. We began the evening by highlighting the previous twelve weeks and the core values we’ve learned as we walked this path together. Then each dad was called up to the front of the classroom and handed an official certificate stating they had completed the course.

I asked the fathers what they had learned over the last three months. Answers included; “how to respect others, communicate, control emotions, expressing emotions in productive ways, better understanding of how to love their children and family, self-awareness and the need to keep trying and not give up.” I followed by inquiring what they would miss about the class. One father stated; “Being with a group of guys and not worrying about sharing, someone judging, knowing we’re all on the same level trying to be better men and better dads.” For a man to express this in a jail, with a group of men he spends almost every minute of every day was huge and humbling.

One of the keys to listening, learning and changing is feeling safe and jail can be a dangerous place. In spite of being filled with people it can also be depressingly lonely. You keep to yourself, mind your own business and try not to get on the wrong side of anyone. You’re on edge constantly and never let your guard down. For a place designed to keep groups of people confined and secure, isolation and fear are ever-present.

Bring together a group of men who’ve seen the worst this world has to offer, living in a place they don’t want to be, put there by both their choices and the choices of others, plop them in a room and trouble seems the likeliest outcome. However, the opposite can happen if you treat them with respect, listen to their stories, see them as equals and commit to walk this part of their journey with them. Do this and friendships are formed, confessions are uttered, weaknesses recognized, worth is bestowed and people become more than what they believed possible.

We are all so very much alike. What unites us is far greater than what divides us. What we need is someone to help us feel safe, a person who makes us feel accepted, loved, appreciated, valued for where we’ve been and where we’re going.

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

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