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The Sound of Silence

The Sound of Silence

A faint cry led a sheriff’s deputy to a pile of sticks and debris in the woods of western Montana. There, the deputy, part of a search-and-rescue team, discovered a 5-month-old infant buried face down, but still alive. “It was just a whimper,” Deputy Ross Jessop said, describing the sound he heard. (Full Story> https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/10/us/baby-buried-alive-montana.html)

An incredibly scary story with an almost unthinkable happy ending. A man committing a crime most of us could not conceive; leaving a baby for dead, face down under a pile of debris in the middle of the woods. A frantic search, pits in the stomachs of the rescuers unsure of what they’d find but certain it wouldn’t be good. The ears of a deputy surrounded by the noise of crickets, trees blowing in the wind, other searchers, his own pounding heartbeat, his inhale and exhale as he worked his area, hoping, praying for a sign or sound. Then, in spite of all the obstacles, overcoming the improbable, ears pick up the faintest of cry. It couldn’t be, the odds of stumbling upon the innocent, helpless victim, almost too high to count. He stopped, held his breath, waited, and heard it again. Stumbling to the focal point of the noise, under limbs and leaves was the tiny baby, clinging to life. However, now it was not alone. There was love, kindness, protection and a hero who would not leave the baby to die but give it everything it needed to live.

I read this story and couldn’t believe the fortune of the deputy and the baby. I reflected on how much noise our world forces in our ears each day. There are miracles and needs all around us but we don’t hear them calling out because everything distracts us and drowns them out. To be still enough to listen, to hear what’s important, to tune out all the rest is the beginning of wisdom and discovery.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Almost Finished

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Almost Finished

I started mowing the grass today around 10:00AM. According to the weather report, a front was pushing through our area near 1:00PM and it takes about 3 hours to mow and weed our yard. It was hot and humid when I began, the skies were blue with puffy clouds. It was warm enough to sweat even though I was on a riding mower. I stopped to drink some water when I finished the back and noticed a patch of dark clouds coming my way. I continued mowing and all of a sudden the wind picked up, the temperature dropped and the skies grew dark. I increased my speed and hoped to get finished in time. Fortunately, I did complete the mowing but the bottom fell out of the sky and I couldn’t squeeze the weeding in because of the heavy rain.

As the rain pounded on the tin roof of our porch I reflected on life and all that is done and left undone. We fill our lives with appointments, events, occasions. We think we have time to do everything which needs to be done. The sun shines on us, the blue skies and the beauty of being alive gives us the illusion that time is on our side. Then a storm of disappointment, disillusion, danger, and death reminds us that time is limited and we can’t take even a moment for granted.

#BenjaminFranklin said; “Be careful with every moment. For these are what life is made.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Good Looking

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Good Looking

I heard someone say the other day that a person needs to be good-looking in order to see. I liked that turn of phrase. Often we think of being good-looking as being, handsome, pretty, “easy on the eyes.” We think of it as someone looking at us and thinking we are attractive. Much of our culture is obsessed with being perfect, interesting, and wanting others to think good about us. To be good-looking is the goal when we are focused on ourselves.

Let’s turn it around. What if good-looking was about finding the positive in others and in our world? What if good-looking was a concept we took to heart and a discipline we developed? What if we stopped being concerned with whether or not others found us, our lives, attractive and we started finding the unique beauty inherent in almost all things? Our world would be transformed if we thought and focused on others more.

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” #CSLewis

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Everything But

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Everything But

This morning I was shopping at Wal-Mart looking for items to check off my list. However, I couldn’t find one so I began to look for an employee to help me. I spotted a man in a white shirt, blue and white ID holder attached to a lanyard. He was about to leave so I called from the opposite end of the aisle; “Excuse me, sir? Could you help me?” He stopped and I walked up to and asked him where the item I needed was located. “Sporting goods. Over there.” and though I thought his answer was vague I thanked him and began looking again. I was frustrated he didn’t narrow down my search. Then, it hit me. The man I spoke to wasn’t a Wal-Mart employee. He just happened to look like one because I was searching for one. I laughed at myself and wondered about the guy who would tell his family and friends today about the stranger who mistook him for someone who worked at Wal-Mart.

Later in the day, I was teaching a Dad’s Community Group and we were learning about listening. One of the ways to be a better listener is to leave your biases out of the conversation. When we’ve made up our mind about a person to or the topic *before* listening and understanding what the person is saying, and feeling, we are not listening. We are only waiting to speak.

Listening is not about criticizing, advice giving, making the conversation about us. Listening is, at its essence, letting a person know they are valued, respected. Too often we make it about everything but…

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Lost in the Moment

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Lost in the Moment

This morning, before worship service began at church, a girl a few pews ahead of us was playing with a squishy ball. Even after the singing started she sat in her seat throwing the ball up in the air and then catching it. Wasn’t long before the inevitable was going to happen, it went flying to the pew and the people behind her. She retrieved her toy and began again. Eventually, her mother noticed and stopped her but for a moment it was just her and the ball. She was focused on that ball and what was next, what might happen, didn’t exist.

Later in the service, another girl was getting fidgety. The preacher was speaking too long and she was ready to go. So she began to mess with the window blinds, play with and drop things on the floor. Making her way around grandma’s legs she was in the aisle and had found a place on the floor that squeaked and clanked when she stomped on it. A boy sitting beside his mother took notice of the girl and slipped from his mom’s grasp to begin stomping on the floor as well. Two more, lost in the moment.

Consequences and outcomes are important. Not thinking ahead can cause great difficulty and trouble. However, there are other times when being lost in the moment, for a moment, can be a wonderful thing.

blessings
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sounds Like

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Sounds Like –

Twenty years ago this week an F3 tornado tore through downtown Nashville, Tennessee (http://www.wkrn.com/news/f-3-tornado-hit-nashville-20-years-ago_20180416214213/1126239206) We weren’t living in Tennessee at that time but we happened to be in Nashville chaperoning hundreds of teenagers at an annual talent and skills competition on the campus of Trevecca Nazarene University. When the announcement came down that all were supposed to seek shelter several of us ran to the different ball fields, tennis courts and other places where events were being held. Making sure to get everyone we saw to safety without a lot of chit-chat was important, however, one young teenage girl stopped and with fear in her eyes and voice asked me if we were in the path of the tornado? Guiding her inside as I answered; “I don’t know.” “How will we know?” she inquired. Not being a meteorologist I repeated what I once had been told; “A tornado sounds like a train!” Unbeknownst to my inquisitor, there was a set of railroad tracks behind the campus of Trevecca. At the exact time, I told her a tornado sounded like a train a train going past the school sounded its horn. “I hear the tornado! I hear the tornado!” I peered into her fear brimmed eyes, smiled and said; “Sweetie, tornadoes may sound like trains but they don’t come equipped with horns.” I got her with the rest of the students in a basement, shut the door and stood outside watching, listening for the tornado and laughing, thankful that even in this storm of chaos a light of joy can shine through.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Corner of My Eye

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Corner of My Eye

This morning I stopped by our main offices to pick up a package and papers which had arrived. As I was leaving the building, looking through my mail, a person caught the corner of my eye. However, my interest was in my hands, not in anything else. “Hi! How are you?” I stopped in my tracks and looked up to see the person asking the question was a co-worker. “I’m sorry. I didn’t see you there!” I hastily replied not wanting to come off rude just unobservant. “How was your weekend?” I inquired and we chatted briefly. She left to go inside and I climbed into my truck.

Once inside I thought about my response; “I didn’t see you there.” It was an honest confession albeit not a good one. I did see someone, a shape, a movement, someone not important enough to tear myself away from looking at the package I received. When I realized it was someone I knew my demeanor and perspective changed. However, the truth is that if it wasn’t someone I knew I never would’ve given the person a second glance. I want to change that. I want to “see” everyone, acknowledge each person I possibly can, not give extra attention simply because I know them but because they are worth looking at, engaging and connecting.

I want to see every “You” there.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Another Way

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Another Way

This morning the pastor spoke from a selection of scripture regarding the story of how David, from the Bible, became King and conquered Jerusalem. It is an interesting story from the book of Second Samuel. When David, newly anointed, marched with his armies to the city of Jerusalem to reclaim it from the Jebusites, the foreigners were unimpressed. A ragtag, wannabe, King with his little army? How could they defeat the Jebusite army who far outnumbered them and were held up in the city of Jerusalem which had a great wall around it to repel invasion forces? They mocked David and told him they could put blind and lame men at the main gate and David still wouldn’t get in. However, David knew there was an access to the city through its water supply and his men came up through a well in the city and mounted a surprise attack to conquer the Jebusites.

“The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, “You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off.” They thought, “David cannot get in here.” Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion—which is the City of David.

On that day David had said, “Anyone who conquers the Jebusites will have to use the water shaft to reach those ‘lame and blind’ who are David’s enemies.[a]” That is why they say, “The ‘blind and lame’ will not enter the palace.”

David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the terraces[b] inward. And he became more and more powerful because the Lord God Almighty was with him.”
-Book of Second Samuel, Chapter 5

As I listened to the story I thought of challenges, difficulties, illnesses and other “enemies” had strongholds in my life. It seemed no matter what I tried I couldn’t defeat them. It was only after I stopped trying to take them “head on” that wisdom made known to me another way. There are battles for our spirits, emotions, our innermost being that requires us to be not frantic but still, not exhausting ourselves but saving our strength, not egotistical but willing to ask for and accept help, not stubborn but soft and bending, not stronger but wiser.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Intimacy

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Intimacy

This afternoon I stopped by a store to run in and grab a few items. When I parked there was a man sitting in his car and as I pulled into a spot he was staring at me. I gave him a head nod and didn’t think much of it As I gathered my things and exited the truck I looked again and he was no longer visible because his, I am assuming, girlfriend was bending sideways across the center console “appreciating him.” She was kissing him and whatever else because I averted my eyes not wanting to see anything that would burn an image in my brain! I went into the store came out a few minutes later and was hoping the car had gone but alas it was still there. Most of the windows were fogged up except the driver’s window and the driver was smoking a cigarette. I looked at my keys, hopped in the truck and drove away, quickly.

Intimacy is one of the greatest emotions and connections humans can share. Lust, on the other hand, is hormonal, selfish, addicting, and satisfied in ways which can hurt others. Our world is filled with lust. Lust for power, fame, money, reputation, knowledge can all be subjects of our lust if they are used only for our selfish purposes. True intimacy is also powerful but the opposite of lust. Lasting intimacy is giving ourselves to another. We have intimacy when we decide to put the other one first, serve the other. In a world where lust burns quickly, brightly, we need those who would rather do a slow burn which lasts a lifetime.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Deflated

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Deflated

Yesterday I received a frantic call from Beth. She had an important appointment and when she walked out of her place of work she noticed her passenger’s side tire was flat! Fortunately, a co-worker let her borrow her vehicle. I hopped in the truck and went to replace her deflated tire with the spare. When I arrived it was completely flat. I’m not sure what she ran over but I soon had the car ready to drive, or so I thought.

After I let the jack down I noticed the spare was low. It was almost flat. I began thinking about it and we’ve had our car for almost 8 years and haven’t had to change a tire. So, the spare has stayed in the back of our Honda for eight years losing pressure over that long time. I told Beth I would drive the car home while she took my truck to run an errand. I stopped at the first gas station with an air pump and filled the spare tire with air. I made it home safely and we’ve contacted the tire store to let them know we’d be coming soon.

Feeling deflated, being deflated can hinder our journey on the road of life. Sometimes we know why we’ve lost our drive, maybe life’s normal wear and tear or a tragedy, difficult time we are going through. Other times deflation takes us by surprise and one day our get up and go has gone and can’t be located. Wisdom teaches us that in these times asking for help, allowing someone else to fix or temporarily repair what impedes us is needed and appreciated.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Groovy

Groovy

Today I am thankful for “shoulder rumble strips” which are; “used primarily to reduce run-off-road collisions. They alert distracted or drowsy drivers that they are leaving the roadway or crossing the centerline of the road.

This morning I awoke before sun up, to take a trip. It wasn’t especially early since the sun doesn’t come out as soon as it did before the time change over the weekend. I didn’t feel tired. I try not to be distracted when I drive but most people feel this way. As I drove down a stretch of interstate the car drifted and before I knew it I was riding on the shoulder rumble strips. They make an awful racket and the dog, asleep in the back of the car, popped his head up as if to ask; “What are you doing?!?!” I yelled back at him that everything was okay and he laid back down. Those shoulder strips can be annoying but I also see how they can be a lifesaver alerting a fatigued or inattentive driver.  I didn’t feel I was either of those but admit they worked and caused me to be more careful to stay in my lane.

It’s good to have people and things which “keep us in our lane” and help us be aware, mindful, so we can continue on our journey and not be stopped or wander off in a different direction. I am thankful for those who assist me in staying the course and alerting me when I begin to drift.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sound of Silence

Image result for rain tin roof

Sound of Silence

For the last few days, the sounds of rain has been bouncing off the tin roof which covers our porch. I love the sound but hour after hour, day after day, and you’re ready for a break. Finally, today around noon, the rain stopped. I sat in my living room and listened to the limbs shed their build-up of water and after a while, there was only silence. I wonder if this was how Noah felt being the Ark, listening to the pounding of the rain and the waves and when it stopped did he pause and enjoy the sound of nothing falling on his big boat?

There’s been flooding in our area, yards are swamped, the drainage ditches are overflowing. Even though rain is a wonderful act of creation you can only handle so much of a good thing. Reflecting on the silence I also thought about what we desire in our lives. Most of us do not desire the “bad” with the “good”.  In our imaginations, if we had all the power, we wouldn’t face the difficulties, the challenges, the mountains we climb on our journey from the cradle to the grave. Everything would be smooth with no setbacks or failures. If life was this way would we get sick of the “good”? Would we grow? What kind of person would we be?

There’s no way to honestly answer these questions but I do wonder if life would be worth living if we got all the things we think make life worth living for.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Single Moment

Single Moment

One of my favorite wisdom quotes is; “All we ever have is this present moment but if we do it right, it’s all we need.” Moments in time are what life is made up of. If we mindfully put enough of them together there’s a life worth living.

About an hour ago I needed to drive into town and pick up some medicine for my wife who has a nasty flu bug that’s been making the rounds. On the way home I was stopped at a traffic light where two lanes merge into one after the light turns green. There was an elderly woman behind me who must’ve just come from the beauty shop. She stopped before she needed to and was blocking traffic from both lanes. I looked in my mirror and watched her as she admired her hairdo. She played with it, flicked it with her fingertips. She was enjoying her hair and herself. Behind her was another driver who wasn’t enjoying the display. She wanted to get into the other lane but couldn’t because the beauty queen was lost in her own world.

Here’s my question; “Which one was living in the moment and which wasn’t?” Part of being mindful is the awareness of the creation around you but it’s also enjoying the little things which can make a big difference. Was I being mindful as I watched the two people in my mirror? Did I miss something because I was “rubbernecking?”

Each moment is special, unique, never to be repeated. Finding the center, the stillness, the focus of not focusing takes the journey of a lifetime. I’m still learning but aware enough to know there are things I need to know.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Hate

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Hate

I listened to a conversation this week where the person told another, to their face, that they hated them. “I hated you when you left,” they said. “It took a long time to not hate you anymore.” It was an honest and startling admission. Most times people are adept at not showing the person they hate their true feelings.

It left me with a question; “Have I ever, in my life, hated someone?” I define hate; as the inability to see the good in someone. As I reflected on the question a person came to mind. If I’ve ever hated someone, according to my definition, this man fit the criteria. I had the hardest time seeing the good, the light, the benefit of his existence, the unique expression of God in him. It was, at times, impossible to not be suspicious of his motives, think of the worst outcome of his decisions, belittle his beliefs and talents. Then, one day, ranting in my head about something he had done the question came from out of the blue; “Can you see any good in this man?” My mind stopped dead in its tracks. The answer was “no, I couldn’t.” It was then I realized the problem wasn’t him it was me.

I’d love to post about how this moment fixed everything but it didn’t. However, it did give me a new way of looking at this person and my role in the frustration, anxiety, and chaos within me. It took me a long time to forgive the hurt and betrayal he had caused but I began focusing on what was going on inside of me instead of what someone was doing on the outside. This made all the difference.

“You will never see God until you can see Him in every next face you see.” #SaintMotherTeresa

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

Pardon the Interruption

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Pardon the Interruption

When my wife and I first moved up north we were aware there would be cultural differences that both the people we work with and we would need to get used to. For instance, down south we say we’re going to put something “in the hopper,” which means we’ll think about it. Up north, however, it has something to do with a commode. So, that was a phrase I stopped using. Another difference was people interrupting each other. It didn’t take long to notice, especially at meetings, that people would start talking before another person was finished. When this happened the person interrupted either returned the favor or waited for the interruptee to stop before they started up again. In the south, we might fake it but we at least acted like we were listening and waited for the person to finish before we began to talk.

I remember bringing this up at a meeting where people were talking all over each other. I stated the difference and perhaps if we waited, and listened until the other was finished, perhaps our meetings would be more productive and not last as long. It didn’t go over well. No one told me to get over it but the behavior never stopped and I never brought up the subject again.

This was about 10 years ago and I’ve noticed rudeness isn’t going anywhere. In fact, rudeness seems to be expanding at an incredible rate. From radio to tv, social media, family, friends, co-workers, people at grocery stores, arguing and not listening, folks stubbornly stating their point of view, driving haphazardly, everyone in a hurry and not caring who they offend to get their lists of to-do’s done. Even our president cusses, calls people names, makes fun and insults others. Rudeness is winning.

So, how do we stop rudeness from continuing to be the norm? My only answer is kindness, patience, being at peace and giving peace. It’s not about arguing a point but being what you hope others will become.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Refelction

Reflection

As I wrote about yesterday, this has been a somber and low-key Christmas for my family. It’s been a crazy, hectic, sorrowful month. Today is Christmas day and it feels like Christmas, sort of. My mind can’t help but think about Christmases which have gone by when the family was all together and laughter and joy filled the air.

I was reflecting on Christmas past this morning as my wife slept in. Being a couple who can’t have children we’ve never had the “privilege” of little ones waking us up at 4 or 5 in the morning declaring; “Santa’s come and it’s time to open presents!” Nevertheless, I am married to a woman who loves Christmas and even in the midst of this year’s challenge to find the Christmas spirit she has filled our home with laughter, reindeer antlers on her head, too many Christmas carols and songs, baked goodies and more. She’s been this way since I’ve known her and the only Christmas I can remember her not celebrating was when her mother passed, December 8, 2006. She is in many ways a light in my darkness.

So today I am thankful for the gift of a beautiful, fantastical, in touch with her inner-child wife who won’t and can’t be stopped from bringing a little Christmas cheer.

Best. Gift. Ever.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Attention!

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Attention!

This afternoon I stopped at a store and picked up a few items. When I was done I walked to my truck, put my seatbelt on and began to back up. My mind has been full of different and difficult thoughts the last several days and for some reason, I only glanced out my rearview mirror. When I looked again there was a woman behind me with a horrified; “This guy’s gonna run me over!” look on her face. I slammed on the brakes and waited for her to pass. I then rolled down my window and apologized profusely telling her it was my fault I wasn’t paying attention.

When I arrived at my mother’s house I asked her to wash a few items of clothes for me and she said she would. I gave her the clothes and was turning around to walk back down the hall when I heard her yell; “No!” I came back and asked what had happened and she said she had poured fabric softener where the bleach was supposed to go. I then told her my story about the woman in the parking lot and we both agreed our attention has been elsewhere.

Stressful times full of difficulties and challenges taxes our minds. We don’t sleep well, eating what’s available, our minds, emotions, and spirits quickly become depleted because our energies are used in other areas. As hard as it is we need to take time to be focused and still. Catching up on rest, eating at more regular times and a decent diet can help. Deep breaths, times of meditation and prayer, trying to be still so the muddied, frenzied water can still so we are able to see.

Finding the mindful way when the way is rough isn’t easy but it might be the only thing which will keep us sane until we reach a more welcoming and easier path.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Blow it Out

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Blow it Out

I am sitting in the living room waiting for a plumber. We have an issue with the plumbing and have tried everything we know to alleviate the problem. However, try as we might, whatever’s holding things up is beyond our capabilities (which isn’t saying much!).

So, a phone call, an appointment made and now we wait. We’re relatively sure it’s a clog and hoping he’ll find what’s stopping the works, blow it out-of-the-way with water or air and we’ll be good to go.

As I listen for the sound of a vehicle pulling down our driveway I’m reflecting on the need for my own pipes to be blown out at times. One of the reasons I go to therapy is so my mind, emotions and spirit can be cleaned out. Friends, mentors, sponsors, pastors and other trusted folk can also make good cleaners.

The truth is there are times we need to be unclogged so life and our souls can flow freely. If we’re unable or unwilling to be available and vulnerable for a good cleaning we can find ourselves flooded, polluted and unable to flow freely.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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