Blog Archives

Little Things

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Little Things

They’re everywhere! Well, maybe not everywhere, but we certainly have quite a few of them in and around the house. We’ve found them in the shower, the bedroom, the bed, the ceiling, on hair brushes and numerous other places. Ladybugs! As the weather turns cooler, they’re turning into a real nuisance. Our first instinct is to swat them but they make quite the mess so instead, we will gently gather them up and show them to the door.

Ladybugs are such tiny things that could pose a big problem. In the same way, our lives can be filled with irritations that pose large challenges. A miscalculated statement to a coworker can become a problematic working relationship. A small lapse in attention while driving causes a large accident or at least scares and angers other drivers. A seemingly insignificant gesture can cause a heated exchange and escalate into a fight. What has the appearance of a minor choice can have enormous consequences.

Too often we think it’s the big things which make or break our lives. Truthfully, more than likely it’s the little things that decide who and what we are, will become and decide our destiny.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Born Again

Born Again

I desire to be born again, each day emerging from a blanket cocoon, different from the person I was yesterday. Each day we take steps toward who we will eventually be at the end of our lives. Some are making progress toward love, grace, kindness, and peace, others walk in another direction.

What we do today determines who we will be tomorrow. This is a truth I try to live by. What we put our minds to, invest our emotions in, allow our spirits to inhabit, shapes the person we’ll be tomorrow and in the future. We underestimate the “big” and “little” experiences we encounter each day. We dismiss character flaws, hidden hurts, negative habits, and other behaviors and attitudes that either place chains on our souls.

To emerge, new each day, takes work today. We choose where our path will go, not what our path will go through, but its destination. We can’t make our path easy or difficult but we can decide how we handle both. The decision isn’t on tomorrow’s agenda but today’s.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Listening is Not Agreeing

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Listening is Not Agreeing

Late last week someone said something about me and that I didn’t agree. At first, the emotion was to respond, defend myself, dig in my heels, push back against the criticism. It wasn’t something overwhelmingly harsh but it did rub me the wrong way.

Instead of responding right away I sat with it for a bit and reflected on it. Oftentimes critiques are met with resistance. We want to defend ourselves. However, if we are too quick to jump our own defense we might miss something constructive. There’s an old wisdom saying; “Both criticism and compliments should be taken with the same weight.” Receiving compliments and praise can be easier but they have a way of pumping up our ego and sense of self. Criticisms, if held on to, can create bitterness, rivalry, and ruptured relationships.

One of the greatest disciplines of contemplative listening is found in the truth; “Listening is not agreeing.” When someone speaks to us a compliment or criticism we do not have to own it, take it inside of us, let it mingle with our minds, emotions, and spirits. We can examine it, turn it over in our minds and, if we have self-awareness, can decide if it is meant for us, to grow, to learn, to let it become a part of us. Perhaps its simply another’s opinion and through insight and stillness, we discover that we can let it go. It’s not for us.

“The mark of a wise mind is the ability to hold a thought in our heads
and not necessarily believe it to be true.” #Aristotle

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Subpoena

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Subpoena

Subpoena; sub·poe·na səˈpēnə/, LAW, noun, a writ ordering a person to attend a court. “a subpoena may be issued to compel their attendance.”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or have become so sick of the news (I completely understand) you’ve no doubt heard the word; “Subpoena” innumerable times over the last several days. It is a summons to court and can be accompanied by additional requirements such as surrendering oneself for arrest. I have been subpoenaed one time in my life. I was a witness to a bad car accident and was compelled by the court to give testimony.

I’ve been reflecting on what it must be like for the people who’ve been served subpoenas and those waiting to be served. I’ve also been reflecting on what it must be like to know your memory and motives will be put under intense scrutiny and anything you say that is false or even misleading will be held against you by the court systems. It’s a scary proposition.

I once heard someone say; “Live your life as if every moment is broadcast live for the world to see.” That’s a lot of pressure but if we live in truth there is little to hide although living in truth can have its own consequences.

Every day we make the decision to live freely and openly or secretly in the shadows.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Free Zone

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Free Zone

Today, on my way to an Incarcerated Father’s class, I was passed by a truck with one of those “How’s My Driving? Call 1-800——–” sticker. There was a number identifying the truck and another sticker I hadn’t seen before which declared the truck a Cellphone Free Zone. Of course, what was the driver doing? Talking on his cellphone. I found it humorous and was tempted to honk my horn and point to his sign but resisted the urge.

I didn’t call the “How’s My Driving?” number either but I did reflect on the thought; what if we had stickers or buttons, shirts or pants, that asked; “How’s my living?” “How am I acting?” “Hate Free Zone” “Racist Free Zone” “Anger Free Zone” even the dreaded; “How’s my driving?” What would people say about us when they called the number? Good, positive reports or not so good, mostly negative?

The truth is we are being watched, all the time, everywhere. Reporting numbers or not, the world needs to see more kindness, grace, and love.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Perfection or Progression

Perfection or Progression

A difficult discipline to master is self-awareness. It is when you are aware of the good and the not so good, the skills you possess and the ones which need work. The biases, skewed vision, different experiences, which make you the uniquely flawed individual like the rest of humanity.

Some of the men I work with have begun to develop this discipline and it is hard for them to see themselves as they truly are, with no excuses. It is especially for those who thought of themselves as good partners and fathers only to discover they have a lot of work to do. If we’re not careful these revelations can do more harm than good because the road seems terribly long. They may even ask; “Why try?

Along with self-awareness, another discipline I try to teach is the truth of progression, not perfection. Oftentimes when we see ourselves, perhaps for the first time, we also envision the amount of hard work inside of ourselves out outside. We have this perfect view of what we want to be and what we think our family, friends, and others want us to be. We throw all of our efforts into becoming this perfect version of ourselves, which doesn’t exist and isn’t attainable, and never come close. We fail miserably.

This is why the path to peace and acceptance is progression, not perfection. We are never going to be the idealized version of what we think we want and should be. We will only wear ourselves out and down. To pursue progression doesn’t mean there isn’t hard work to be done but we recognize the realization of our true selves is found on the journey and not at the end of it.

Perfection or progression, the difference makes all the difference.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Eclipse

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Eclipse

I’m not sure I’ve seen as many people standing outside in the middle of a hot and humid day in mid-August staring at the sky. On my way to the county detention center, where I teach a class on Monday afternoons, it seemed there were groups of people at churches, grocery stores, restaurants, manufacturing plants and yes, even at the jail, looking up, waiting for the eclipse.

I didn’t pick up a pair of “NASA approved glasses” to watch the eclipse. I figured someone, somewhere would have some if I time to watch the eclipse. Sure enough, there was a corrections officer who let me use his and we handed them back and forth. The day turned a grayish hue. The crickets and other insects began to chirp. It was eerie for a few moments and then it started to get light again, I thanked the officer who let me borrow his glasses, and I went inside to my class.

Afterward, I reflected on the experience and I thought about all the people standing outside looking into the heavens. They knew what they were looking for and most were prepared to see it. However, I wondered how often, on a normal every day, we encounter people who are looking for something greater than themselves and the lives they are currently living? Do we offer them words of wisdom to help show them the way? Do we live in such a way that reveals truth and peace? Will our lives eclipse the other bright shiny trinkets humans so often chase and allow them to know where to look and what to look for?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Craving

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Craving

I had a surprise waiting for me in my workshop this morning. On a table where odds and ends are kept is a pail with a plastic top that’s full of rat poison. We’ve had a wet summer and this might be the reason the rats are keeping near the house. Whatever the reason I don’t want these varmints in or near us. Several weeks ago I bought the rat poison and placed some in strategic areas of the workshop. Since then I’ve found two bodies so I know it’s working. However, today, to my shock the lid of the pail with the poison had been eaten through and there was a rat size hole! I took the lid off and much of the poison had been nibbled on along with rat feces. Yuck!

I’m not sure why it was a surprise to me except that I knew it was poison. The whole point is that the rats smell something which entices them to eat. They have no idea its poison. To them, it simply tastes good. For me, knowing it’s poison means I wear gloves when I open it, place it in the desired area, and seal it tightly when finished. I wash my hands after I am anywhere near the stuff. The difference between me and the rat is I know it kills.

I reflected on this today as I finished up the yard work and came inside. Many of the things we crave; attention, respect, fortune, fame, come with a high price. Wisdom teaches us to not get caught up in the cravings. From our point of view, we wonder; “What’s the harm?” but from those who know, it’s a truth which could save our lives.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Change

Change

I was speaking with a group of men last night and we talked about the ability to be someone different from the person we are currently. I told them; “What you do today determines who you will be tomorrow.” If you want to be the man and the dad you need to be you must first know what you need to change and then begin making the choices that will lead you to your goal.

I went on to explain that everything we do presently, what we watch, listen to, speak about, participate in, everything! makes us into the person we will be in the future. Our present choices shape our destiny. “It’s when we see that now, this moment, is all we have and need to transform, that we finally have the wisdom to become what we need to be.”

As I talked to the men the truth of what was being said also resonated with me and my spirit. The truth, when revealed, is powerful enough to impact both audience and speaker.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

On the Inside

On the Inside

This weekend has been hot! Temps and humidity in the 90’s.  In spite of the temps, I did some yard work on Friday and Saturday and I made my self sick. I took water, Gatorade, breaks. I sat down in the shade several times and laid down with my feet up to avoid heat exhaustion. Even with all these precautions I still sweated buckets and became too hot for my own good. The result was major fatigue and a nauseated stomach. Today, I determined it wasn’t healthy for me to get outside again and so I’ve taken it easy. My stomach is still not normal but better than it was Friday and Saturday. Being sick to your stomach is a terrible feeling. It impacts everything from your appetite to sleeping and doing even the simplest of chores or hobbies.

When I read the quote in the picture (included in post) my stomach troubles are of what I immediately thought. The nauseated feeling is similar to how I feel when I have an anxiety episode so it not a new sensation. I reflected on the truth of how what’s going on in the inside impacts the way see and experience each other, every situation and life. Only when the inside is calm, settled, still are we able to accept life and all of its unpredictability.

“The only peace you find at the top of the mountain
is the peace you bring with you.”

– Wisdom Proverb

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Anticipation

Anticipation

The rain is coming! Be ready!” That’s the message I heard from the weather forecasters this morning. As each hour ticked away the chances of rain increased.

I knew the grass needed mowing and cutting wet grass is bad for your mower and your lawn. I rushed outside a little after 8:30 AM and began. I finished it in a couple of hours and hurried inside to collect the trash to take to the dump before the rain began to fall. On my way I drove into a small shower and thought; “This is it!” but nothing else happened. I got back home put up the trash cans, let the dog out, looked at the gray ominous skies and knew it was about to downpour. Nothing.

A couple of hours later it finally rained, a nice shower, but nothing like I, and the weather channel, anticipated. I was thankful for the rain but couldn’t help but wonder; “Where’s the rain that was promised? Why did I hurry to the dump? Mow the grass so early?

Wisdom tells us suffering comes from the difference between our anticipation of life and what life ends up being. The gap is where the struggle takes place. Living in anticipation instead of acceptance is the difference between turmoil and peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Jumpy

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Jumpy

It came out of nowhere this morning when I was mowing the grass! I have seen a lot of small frogs the last couple of weeks and try to be aware of them but this little guy jumped up on my lawn mower and before I could stop it, it hopped on the engine! I was afraid it was going to fry itself, but a nanosecond later he jumped off and into the grass.

Isn’t it interesting how worried we can get over little things? Surprises which suddenly appear and there’s no time to prepare but our anxieties, stress, negative thoughts spike and we ask perplexed; “What am I going to do? What should I do? What can I do?” Sometimes the troubles disappear as quickly as they come and other times life comes to a halt while we figure out the best way to handle it.

What’s interesting is that whatever jumps into our lives is often beyond our control. We couldn’t have stopped it even if we knew it was coming. The second truth is we can only do what we can and let the rest just happen. It’s not comforting to know we can’t always stop or change, difficulties, and challenges that appear in our lives but instead of resisting we can accept and continue to move forward, even if it’s in a different direction.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

Hidden

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Hidden

Last week I posted about a rat that had gotten stuck in a hole in the bottom of one of our outdoor trash cans. Today, as I was collecting the trash from the same bin there was a large mouse in the bottom who could fit through the hole and did so. He didn’t get very far but another movement caught my eye. In the back of the storage place where we keep the trash cans, I saw a patch of brown fur and thought another rat had made its way into the area and needed to be “taken care of“.

However, as I looked closer, I saw it was a large Hedgehog hiding in the corner. He wasn’t something that could be rid of so easily and our Siberian Husky, who’s killed his fair share, was off in another part of the yard. I wondered if he was able to get in the storage area but not out so I opened the door as far as it would go and left. Hopefully, it will get the hint and leave.

As I reflected on the Hedgehog I also thought about self-awareness. It’s the discipline of truly knowing and seeing ourselves, understanding what we do well and what we need to improve. Oftentimes, we become focused on the smaller challenges and don’t see the biggest area of improvement we need to make. True self-awareness reveals the largest issue, hidden behind all the smaller things, which needs to be brought out into the light.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Next?

Next?

A friend and I were discussing the wisdom proverb; “In each rain drop the universe is contained in full.

As with most wisdom sayings, there are many interpretations but we focused on the truth that in each moment all of life is contained. When we try to grab for more it’s like grasping water, nothing is there.

We prefer a life which is predictable. Things to be, and stay, normal. However, what we are after is control. We try to make life stay much the same as it was in the past if we’ve been relatively satisfied.

We’d prefer not to dwell on the truth that life can change in an instant and never be “normal“, the same, again. We don’t like the idea of unemployment, sickness, death, other stresses, tragedies and heartache may be what the next moment holds.

We’d rather ignore this insight and live in oblivion until life ceases to grant us this illusion. This moment is ours, nothing more is promised, nothing more need be if we treasure our only possession; now.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Toxic

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Toxic

There’s a funny, not so funny, saying that goes; “The world would be great if it wasn’t for all the people!

I spoke with someone today who’s going through a difficult time. His relationship with someone important is slipping away and he can’t do anything to stop it. I know this because he told me all the ways he’s tried to stop it and nothing has worked. As we talked I reminded him of the troubling, but truthful news, that if someone decides not to be a part of your life anymore there’s not much to do but accept it.

Sometimes people stay in toxic relationships because what you know is better than what you don’t. However, sometimes one-half of the poisoned couple chooses to end it. Most of the time, even when it’s for our own good, it’s difficult to let go of someone we’ve shared a significant portion of our life.

Wisdom teaches us to keep an open hand on all things and with some things to turn your hand over and empty it. Relationships, be it marriages, partners, friends or co-workers should be built upon trust, love, kindness and mutual growth. When they go bad and there’s no hope of restoration it’s best to let go and move on.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What’s Important

What’s Important

This morning Beth and I went to a small Lutheran church and celebrated Easter with the faith community. The service was meaningful. The songs were on point, the message concise and full of the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection. The only challenge to overcome was the family in the pew behind and their little ones who were banging toys, dropping toys, whispering loudly and moving a lot! Basically, they were being kids. It wasn’t a distraction too often and the focus on the empty tomb was far greater than what was happening around us.

I talked with some friends this weekend who are facing a lot of challenges. As we spoke it was easy to hear in their voices that the things that never mattered had been revealed for what they are; illusions which take our attention off of what really matters and places them on the banal.

It is unfortunate that oftentimes it takes what seems to be insurmountable odds and obstacles to shift our focus back to what truly matters. Only when we understand we have no control over the curveballs life throws our way do we, in humility, search for the truth.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Look Closely

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Look Closely

This evening, on my way to an Incarcerated Father’s class, I stopped by Goodwill to donate a few items. I went inside and noticed they were having a sale on CDs. It’s been a long time since I have bought a compact disc but my truck has a CD player so I began looking at what was available. I went down each row of CDs looking for anything familiar and as I did an older gentleman ambled up beside me and began looking. The interesting thing about this man was that he either needed glasses or forgot his because he was bending over and his nose almost touched the CDs as he previewed. I smiled, feeling confident he couldn’t see the grin on my face. He was quite the sight hunched over and slowly looking, carefully choosing.

After I left the store I thought about the older gentleman and how close he had to get to perhaps find something worth buying. I also reflected on the truth my hunchbacked friend was teaching. Too often we don’t look close enough at things before we invest our time, energy, time, passion and money. In our instant gratification society, we grab and go not even sure what we are grasping or its grasp on us.

Wisdom tells us that what we choose to make a part of our lives should be looked at slowly, closely if we are to make choices that don’t just fill our lives but fulfills them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Open Ears

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Open Ears

No one likes to be told they’re wrong, what they believe is misplaced, what they think is illogical, what they say is confused. Compliments are nice, they stay with us for a while, like a pretty flower, that eventually fades. Criticisms can be wounding and leave a scar that impacts how we live, feel about ourselves, understand our world. This is why criticism is met most often with denial and contempt.

However, one of the greatest disciplines is to learn how to listen to those who may not have the nicest things to say about us. In spite of the urge to fight or insult, hurt them for hurting us, simply dismiss, we should listen. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received is; “Listening is not agreeing.” We listen out of respect for the other because we cannot be respected if we don’t first respect. We listen because each of us has our own ideas, ways of doing things, view of life

Finally, we listen because maybe they are saying something we need to hear. Some of the hardest criticisms to accept are those which end up being on target. Perhaps at first, we didn’t want to hear what was being said but a wise person always allows for the possibility of growth. After listening and reflecting we heed the criticism and, hopefully, grow and become a better person because of it.

Aristotle says; “The sign of a wise mind is the ability to think a thought and not necessarily believe it to be true.

I believe Aristotle might add that sometimes, what is said and thought, turns out to be true.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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True or False

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True or False?

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

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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No Dumping

No Dumping

The other day someone mentioned a piece of juicy gossip to me. I replied; “Hmmm…didn’t know that.” and quickly exited the conversation by finding something else to do some place else. One of the things I enjoy is; “Being out of the loop.” I don’t have any desire to know secrets, troubles, and provocative nuggets of information about other people. The truth is I have enough junk of my own  and enough problems to deal with that folks can keep others’ tidbits out of my life.

If someone is going through a hard time, facing unfortunate circumstances and needs an ear to bend, or a shoulder to lean on, mine are available but those who are only spreading family and friends’  business all over can stay away. I only have enough passion, energy and time to deal with what should be in my life not what others want to dump there.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Like a Falling Napkin

Like a Falling Napkin

Sunday morning I made a cup of coffee and put some bread in the toaster. While waiting I went to grab a napkin out of the holder. However, I ended up grabbing several napkins instead of just one. The sides of the dispenser snagged them and losing my grip they began to fall to the floor. I grasped at one and then another but they had opened up and were dropping in unpredictable patterns. Every one of them evaded my grip and fell to the floor. An exasperated laugh escaped me as I thought about my uncoördinated attempt and looking life a big butterfly having a spasm.

As I picked up my mess and went back into the kitchen I reflected on the truth that life can be like the falling napkins. There are seasons, moments when we’re trying to get a grip on what’s happening and in spite of all of our efforts we end up with nothing. Life can be elusive. Events, difficulties, trying times come our way and we want to grab onto something but find ourselves flailing and then surrounded by a mess.

When, not if, this happens a sense of humor, picking up the pieces and the willingness to keep going can make all the difference.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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