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Into the Light

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Into the Light

Today was a special day for our incarcerated fathers class. The men, who attended and participated, received a certificate of completion, a letter from me along with pizza and soft drinks. Our certificate ceremony isn’t fancy but it is a way to let the guys know how much I appreciate letting me be a part of their lives for the semester.

Getting in and out of the jail is rarely easy which is, I suppose, the way it should be. There’s buzzers, intercoms, thick steel doors and tempered glass to keep people inside. Usually, I arrive at each door, buzz the “door keeper” and identify myself. I then wait until he or she is ready for me to go through the door. Today, however, the corrections officer was especially attentive as I was leaving. He buzzed me out as I was arriving at each door. It was almost as if the doors were unlocked.

In one of our classes during the semester, we talk about action and acceptance. I tell the men; “If the doors of this jail opened and you knew it was okay to walk through you would leave immediately, no hesitation. The problem is this isn’t going to happen. You have to accept you are here until they let you leave. At the same time, you can take action on keeping your family together and connected with the ones you love.” This is the balance of action and acceptance.

I thought about the men in my class today, the lesson of action and acceptance and their decision to come to class, listen, ask questions, share their stories and finally receive their certificates. They are trying to bring balance to their lives and hopefully to those who are travel life’s path with them.

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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Slow, Steady, Still

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Slow, Steady, Still

Today I worked on restoring the section of the porch I demolished earlier this week. It wasn’t complicated but did require some precise cuts to ensure it fit correctly. One of the trickiest for me was cutting a large eight-foot board exactly in half. I’ve never been good at making a straight cut and many scrap wood pieces have been made because of my lack of ability to stay on track.

Today, however, my Mrs. brought out a Chalk box (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chalk_line), which has a string covered with chalk, that you can unravel and use to create a straight line over a long distance. We measured a few times to make sure we had the marks right on either end of the board, unraveled the line in the Chalk box, positioned it, snapped it and produced a nice, easy to follow guideline for me. I began sawing, took my time, and exacted a nice clean, straight cut. I exclaimed to Beth; “Not bad eh?” She smiled and said; “You did good!”

After we were done I reflected on the Chalk box line. Not all of life’s path is so straight and easy to follow. There are seasons when the path is had to find, the way hard to know and you hope for a sign or anything to point you in the right direction.

Wisdom tells us that patience, awareness, and the willingness to travel without wavering is key when the way is known just as stillness is imperative when we need to wait for the way to reveal itself. Both are vital to making our way on life’s journey and arrive at the place of goodness and light.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Where We Look

Where We Look

The last two mornings, as I’ve taken the dog outside for some personal time, there has been a beautiful Robin (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Robin/id) looking for food. When I’ve spotted the bird I become as still as possible and see how close it’ll get near me.  My breathing slows, my movement stagnant, my attention heightened as I watch it hop around looking for breakfast. The rain we had over the weekend has softened the ground and it isn’t long before it’s meal is plucked up from the ground and the bird flies away. I exhale and the world around me comes alive again. The Robin had been my sole focus and until it leaves, by choice or being frightened, and my awareness of the world was dependent on it.

Wisdom tells us that where we place our focus, set our awareness, is life. Where we look, the direction we face is ultimately the direction of our journey. If we only look back we can never go forward. If we’re unfocused, trying to see all directions, we won’t be able to choose a fixed point and begin to travel toward it. Though paradoxical, stillness is the key to knowing and navigating this path called life.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Not Easy

Not Easy

I sat on a stiff wooden pew this morning, in a small Lutheran church, among a few committed Christ followers. The pastor, an elderly gentleman who’s been filling in as the church searches for a new, permanent pastor, pulled double duty this morning playing the piano at the back of the sanctuary and leading prayer and preaching at the front.

As he began his message this morning I could tell he was a bit out of sorts with going back and forward between the piano and the pulpit. After a few moments, he got himself sorted and began to speak regarding the difficulty of being a faith walker in our world today. His words were seasoned with those of a long time follower. He spoke about how life, living out our faith, is tough. Period. There are many questions and confusing cultural conundrums that exist. There’s a lot of pain and suffering and knowing how to handle some, certainly all of them, is hard if not impossible.

His answer was simple; “be like Christ.” There wasn’t any lamenting about; “the good ol’ days” or how the new generation of faith walkers doesn’t have what it takes. His point was that it has always been a strenuous, at times; exhausting journey to travel the path of Jesus. There were no 10 steps to a stronger faith, an acronym to remember when you’re discouraged, a conference one should attend, a book to read that’ll explain everything. Nope. A man who has many more years behind him than ahead telling folks it was okay to struggle, to feel drained, to not have nearly all the answers, to keep the faith of those who’ve walked before us; “Again, to be like Jesus.”

For me, someone who seems to know less and less about everything as the years pass by increasingly fast, it was a needed and hopefully heeded message.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Grudges

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Grudges

Man Repeatedly Vandalizes Childhood Friend’s Tombstone over 56-year-Old Grudge

…“The suspect claims that 56 years ago when the deceased was 10 and this subject was 12, he claims that the [deceased] stole money from him and 56 years later he was getting back at him,” Lieutenant Christopher Ward told NBC 10. “So for 56 years he lived with this grudge. He only realized that he had passed away within the last two years.” It was later revealed that the two had actually been childhood friends, until Donovan accused the deceased of stealing $300 from a wooden box in his room. I guess he never got over it…See rest of story here:  (http://www.odditycentral.com/news/man-repeatedly-vandalizes-childhood-friends-tombstone-over-56-year-old-grudge.html)

Grudges can be powerful things. The man in the story had been carrying around this weight for over half a century! His grudge, like most, come when we feel we’ve been falsely accused, taken advantage of, endure consequences of decisions we haven’t made, suffering because of the selfishness of others.

Grudges are heavy weights to carry. I once witnessed someone speaking on the weights we carry around in our lives. He asked for a volunteer to stand up and to begin walking around the auditorium. After each lap, when he passed the starting point, the speaker would give him something heavy and burdensome to carry. After 4 or 5 laps the volunteer was struggling to walk and couldn’t go any further following a few more.

We all have weights we carry in life. Some of us have illnesses to care for, relationships to heal or keep whole, responsibilities we can’t ignore and a myriad of other burdens we must shoulder for a limited or longer amount of time.

However, there are also other weights we choose to carry such as grudges, judgmental attitudes, bitterness, other bad, hard or ill feelings. Making the choice to let go of this extraneous baggage gives us more strength and freedom to travel the path of life.

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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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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Together

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This week marked an anniversary for me. It was not celebrated or remembered fondly as it was one of the darkest, most difficult days in a challenging and chaotic 2014.

Beth and I sat by the fire pit last night talking about the event and the year that has passed. It was one of those conversations with pauses and lengthy periods of silence.  A conversation which can only be had between life long friends.

The fire began to die out and the coolness of the evening descended bringing with it a desire to go inside. We watched the last of the flames dissipate and spread the embers to accelerate the fire’s demise.

Holding hands we walked to the house in the same way we’ve traveled life’s path over the last almost thirty years… together.

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

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Hit or Miss

There are those days when you; “hit the nail on the head,” and others when you hit the finger instead.

Yesterday evening I finished building two doors for an outdoor lean-to we use for firewood and other misc objects. Critters have been messing around in it and I needed something to keep them out. The project wasn’t hard but my focus was off and in a relatively short amount of time I smashed my finger and hand with a hammer. I was becoming frustrated both by being off target and the pain which was shooting up my arm. Finally, doors in place, I went inside, washed and looked at my damaged digit and hand. Each one had already begun to turn purple and I rolled my eyes at my incompetence. This morning I looked again at the doors and at my bruises. The doors looked nice and will last, hopefully, longer than the damage to my hand. I also thought about all the nails that I hit on the head, drove into the wood without any problem at all.

The path we travel will have it shares of twists and turns, bumps and bruises, obstacles and heartaches. The temptation when we encounter these is to close our eyes to all the good, what’s going right, the blessings and focus solely on what’s not working, hurting us, the negative, impeding our way. The choice to look around and see the fuller picture can be the difference between keep going or giving up, hoping or despairing, living or just existing.

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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Traveling Well

Last week, driving on the 840 bypass around Nashville, TN, a fast-moving white SUV passed me. As it made its way around my little red truck I noticed its right front tire was very low. It was moving too quickly to sound my horn in hopes of getting their attention and I considered speeding up to catch the vehicle but it was moving too fast. As I watched it get further ahead of me I became concerned that the tire would blow, the driver might lose control, injure themselves and others. After a few minutes the SUV suddenly pulled over to the side of the road. When I arrived at their location the tire had blown and the vehicle was stranded. Another driver was stopping to help so I continued on my way.

I reflected upon the tire, the driver and the quick pace of our hectic lives. Oftentimes our days seem to be made up of keeping appointments, getting from one place to another, being in a hurry whether we have a reason to be or not. We are so consumed with our next destination we miss the warning signs, the words and actions of others who would caution us to slow down, take an inventory of ourselves, be sure we aren’t headed for a breakdown, blowout or burnout, that could hurt ourselves and those around us.

The road of life is long. Patience, mindfulness, maintenance, wisdom are some of the keys to traveling well.

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

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Safe to Pass

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This morning, on my way to meet a new client, I rounded a curve and came upon an oversized piece of farm equipment beginning to ascend a hill very slowly. I applied the brakes and occasionally peeked around looking for an opportunity to pass.

Unfortunately, the big red machine was too large and we were approaching the crest of the hill. I then noticed a white truck in front of the hay baler whose driver was motioning for me to pass. He was indicating “all clear” and it was safe to proceed. The decision I had to make was whether or not to trust this one who was ahead of me and could see what I couldn’t. I chose to trust and passed without incident.

Reflecting on the situation as as I continued towards my destination, I thought about the journey of life and the importance of being able to put our faith in others, especially when we can’t see, don’t know, what’s over the hill, around the curve waiting for us.

Perhaps life’s path can be traversed alone but the going will be slower and the joy found in helpful, caring, sojourners will be lost.

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

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Changing the World

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This morning it was my privilege to speak to a group of almost 50 men about the path we travel and how our decisions have a lasting impact upon those we call our families.

In our me centered culture we forget how our lives are not just our own. Who we are, the way we live, models for those we travel life’s path with what’s important. What we hold dear, what we treasure, is reflected by where we put our time, energy and passion. Whoever or whatever is the object of our affection flourishes while what’s neglected wilts and fades away.

“What can we do to promote world peace? Go home and love our families.” #MotherTeresa

Simple but profound wisdom and guidance from Saint Teresa. How can we make this crazy, chaotic, spinning piece of space rock a better place? We start by making sure the ones closest to us are loved and appreciated.

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

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Seeing from Within

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It wasn’t the easiest of conversations to have but he had to know and I had to be the one to tell him. It’s difficult when someone needs to hear a hard truth.  He was sure, convinced, it was out there, beyond himself. Someone else was the harmful influence, another’s behavior and choices were ruining a relationship, spoiling a partnership, when it was, in fact, him. It was his bias, ego and flawed judgement. His view of a perceived “enemy” obscured him seeing the predator within. “The problem isn’t with this other person.” I said. “It’s with you. Until you become more aware of who you are, you’ll never see them for who they really are, appreciate them for the challenge and blessing they bring to your life.”

Unfortunately he never grasped what I was saying, never looked deep enough into himself to see that the way we view others reveals much more about ourselves than it does them.

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

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Don’t Let the Sun

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I was talking with a friend today about being frustrated, irritated, even angry at someone we love. It happens to us all and there’s nothing wrong with being angry if there is a legitimate reason. It’s what we do with that emotion that results in negative consequences. A harsh word becomes hurt feelings, a slammed door becomes a barrier, another flurry of insults adds injuries and a relationship is pulled apart.

Anger is oftentimes the result of ignored stress, built up resentment, unexpressed emotion, lack of communication. One or a combination of these clouds our minds, frays our nerves, drains our emotions, poisons our spirits.

Saint Paul’s wisdom for dealing with anger in his letter to the church in Ephesus is still viable today:

Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give evil an opportunity.

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

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The Perfect Moment

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How do you recognize the perfect moment? How can you tell if where you are at a certain place, a specific time, is more than coincidence, happenstance? How do you know the difference between divine design and dumb luck? Someone told me this week; “You are where God wants you to be!” They said it with such confidence I was taken aback.

There are those who see the world in black and white, right and wrong, God’s will or God’s wrath, while others live in a space painted with many shades of gray. I am one of the latter. I don’t doubt the conviction of the black and whiters I just question my ability to sift through the layers of motives, the machinations of natural and moral laws, missed, realized and ignored opportunities, perception and preconceived notions, desires dreams and destiny.

I believe the path I walk is uniquely mine though I travel with others. The way is uncertain though many have gone before me. The destination is described by the living but only the dead have arrived there. I have this moment, it is all that is promised me and I ask for the strength to live it well.

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

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When the Way is Dark

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I was talking with a friend earlier this week about a difficult time she’s going through.  Someone hurt her, lied and has brought pain and great upheaval into her life. She’s prayed over it, is trying to forgive but clearly the wound is still fresh and deep.

I shared with her my journey and talked about how difficult it can be when people we trust do things that cause us great harm. We agreed that time, grace and a listening ear are all ingredients to forgiveness and finding our path when the way is dark.

A wise person once said; “One day we’ll look back on the people who helped and hurt us and be thankful for them both.” Neither my friend or I have arrived at this point but I was thankful my story could bring solace to one who’s suffering.

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

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Spoiled

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World Water Day is marked on 22 March every year. It’s a day to celebrate water. It’s a day to make a difference for the members of the global population who suffer from water related issues.”

This past Sunday was World Water Day. I read about water related issues across the globe, tweeted a few links and mentioned it on Facebook. Truthfully, however, I didn’t give it much consideration until this morning when I opened up an extra bottle of water that was in my truck, not to drink, to rinse out my coffee mug. As the water spilled onto the ground I remembered those who do not have and I felt shame for my wastefulness and beyond blessed.

I am a white, middle class American male. Much of what I take for granted every day most of the world has little or no access. A lot of what I complain and whine about not having is a dream life to billions of people.

I am spoiled. It is a confession and a prayer to feel the hurt, know the struggle of my brothers and sisters with whom I share this planet.

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

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Whew!

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Busy day! Rushing, running, racing from one place to another. Trying not to be late for meetings and appointments while staying in the present moment is quite a balancing act. I took time to feel the warmth of the sunshine on my face, the cool breeze on my arm while being mindful of the clock that seemed to run fast all day long.

When I finally got home the quietness of the house literally rang in my ears. Silence is loud when you’re accustomed to noise, stillness unsettling when you’ve been in constant motion.

A deep cleansing breath to exhale the dust of the miles I’ve traveled today, a closing of my eyes to forget the clock I’ve watched, a letting go of the schedule I clung to so tightly.

Whew.

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

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