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Stuck

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Stuck

Yesterday afternoon on my way to a fatherhood class I was driving down a road and rounded a curve with a truck parked almost in the middle and its hazard lights flashing. I slowed down and getting closer I saw the problem. A guy and his lawnmower were stuck in a ditch. The man who owned the mower seemed at a loss as the driver of the truck attempted to tie a rope around the mower and pull it out of the ditch. It was going to be a feat because somehow the man has positioned his mower where all four wheels were not touching any ground. I hoped everyone was safe and they were able to get the man and his machine mowing again.

Continuing on my way I reflected upon the man and his mower. I’ve felt like him before. There have been times when navigating the road of life, following the path I believed was correct, when all of a sudden there was no traction, no way forward or backward. I was simply and absolutely stuck.

This can be a horrible and helpless feeling. To not know how to proceed or retreat. Finally, after all attempts to get going I accepted the truth I wasn’t going anywhere. In these frustrating times, I learned to be still. Trusting the way would be made available I made the place where I was stuck an altar, a place of divine intervention. Sooner or later someone or something would always come and help me get moving again. My focus in these times moved from being stuck to being still.

Wisdom taught me that not being able to move was a blessing, a season of rest and a time of trust.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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New Life In Dead Things

New Life in Dead Things – 

This morning I was walking, reflecting, on a number of things in a friend’s yard where we are spending the weekend. As I ambled around I came across a rotted tree stump about three feet tall (pictured). I jiggled it a little then a lot and soon it came loose and broke off from the bottom. Carrying the piece of dead wood to a place to throw it away I felt a flutter by my hand and looked down in time to see a bird fly up and land on a tree limb nearby. At first I thought it strange for a bird to fly that close but then I examined the dead stump in my hand. Looking closely I spotted a hole in the trunk about a quarter size with tiny red dotted eggs. I realized I had, like a giant movie monster, yanked up the bird’s home and carried it off. I gently righted the stump and took it back to where it was removed. I hope the mama bird will return.

It was a wonderful reminder that life can be found even in places which appear desolate, dark and dead.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Left Behind

Left Behind

Whew! It’s been a long day! So, this will be a short entry.

Today, Beth and I went through the belongings of a dear friend who passed a few years ago. It was both erie and interesting.

To know one day each of our lives will be reduced to a few boxes, pieces of furniture and other knick knacks is a great lesson in humility. Truly, what we do, who we are is what matters in the short time we exist in this planet. What a shame it would be to just be remembered for the trinkets we left behind instead who we were and the lives we impacted.

Thankfully, my friend lived a life that touched many, didn’t collect a lot of useless things and as we went through her left-behind belongings they paled in comparison to who she was and what she left in us by her love and grace.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

A Strange Season

A Strange Season

When I was growing up Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were filled with family, food and gifts. We were at one grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve and the other on Christmas Day. In between was the opening of gifts followed by a big breakfast with my parents. It was a special time and for me never to be repeated.

People say the magic of Christmas is lost as you enter your teens and twenties but can be recaptured when you have children and eventually grandchildren. The joy, excitement, anticipation in a child’s eyes can reignite the ember within. Christmas can also transform into a time of being with family and friends. Instead of gifts you open your hearts to others and allow relationships to be renewed.

Beth and I don’t have any children so recapturing the Christmas Spirit this way isn’t an option. We live near Beth’s family and she loves spending time with them. Her Christmas Spirit is almost always burning brightly. She comes from a large family who welcome me with plenty of love and open arms but the amount of people in a confined location triggers my social anxiety. I’ve tried a few times in different settings to be a part but it’s difficult to be comfortable while fighting a real battle on the inside.

So, Christmas has become a strange time for me. I have not given up hope for the return of the Christmas Spirit. I am thankful for it being on a Sunday this year and the chance to celebrate it with others. I’m also thankful for a wonderful wife who supports me and the challenges I try to overcome each day. Knowing when to push, when to hold, attempting to understand what I have a hard time describing. She is my greatest gift.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Walking With 

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” -Book of Proverbs, chapter 13, verse 20

Walking With

The above scripture was included in my morning prayers today. As I meditated on it, I thought about the men and fathers in the addiction groups I lead.

One of the steps to becoming and staying clean and sober is to understand that those you consider friends, love like family, perhaps are family, if they use drugs or alcohol, can no longer be a part of your life. It seems harsh but staying on the path of sobriety tales tremendous courage and fierce determination.

This is truth not only for recovering addicts but for us all. If we aren’t careful with who’s a part of our lives we’ll find our lives falling apart.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Two Sides 

Two Sides – 

Earlier this week I received a phone call about a father who needed help as soon as possible. There were insurmountable and dangerously difficult obstacles he was facing and the concerned caller made sure I understood the need for me to connect with the dad.

So, I called the dad and explained why I was calling and offered my immediate assistance in anyway I could help. After a long pause the father told me; “Thank you.” but he was fine, handling everything life was bringing his way and appreciated my offer but at the present time wasn’t sure he needed any. I told him again if he changed his mind to call me anytime. He said he would and we disconnected.

I was confused at the original caller’s insistence of the father needing immediate help and the dad’s assured response that he was doing just fine. I then reflected on the wisdom teaching of knowing all sides to each story and person before acting. Once again it’s a lesson hard to remember and to put into practice. 

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Nowhere to Hide

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Nowhere to Hide

Today was my last visit to the dentist for the final part of a procedure that was started in July. I am glad it’s over. My only regret is that you have to keep going back for further check-ups…but that’s only for the rest of your life! Sigh.

The dentist’s office is the only place where I sit in the waiting room and hate for my name to be called. It was, and I went back to the little room with the horrible looking chair and sat down. Waited only a few moments before the doctor came and was in a talking mood! I answered his questions but my only thought was; “Dude, please, just get this over!”

Finally, he swung the big light into place and switched it on. I detest that light. It’s only inches from your face, you can feel its heat, your eyes adjust to the brightness, while it whispers;  “You aren’t going anywhere until we’re through with you.” Under that light, the dentist can see everything in your mouth and on your face. It’s a very vulnerable, and for someone like me with claustrophobia, frightening position. After we were done I stood up, shook his hand because he extended it, and got out of that room as fast as possible.

Light has a dual way of allowing us to see and be seen.

The wisdom of the Master says; “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light” he summed up everything a sojourner needs to know. He is the way, the path, the journey we walk. It is the true way, in the midst of many deceptive roads which promise peace. Finally, he is the light by which we see the way, and the way, in turn, sees us. Our journey is inward, to the deepest recesses of who we are, and only by shining a light in the darkest places are we able to find the way home.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Kindled 

Kindled

Fall is one of my favorite seasons. It’s warm enough in the day to work but not sweat too much and the evenings are cool enough to sit around a fire pit.

Last night I gathered some wood, made a fire and enjoyed the warmth as the sun set. To keep a good fire going you need to rotate the wood as it burns and adjusting the pieces so the fire doesn’t run out of fuel. During one of the adjustments last night a hot ash jumped over my head and onto my back. It quickly burned through my shirt while I shimmied, loudly saying; “Ow! Ow! Ow!” Finally, most of the pain subsided and I sat down once again enjoying the fire but still, every now and then, feeling the burn.

Wisdom teaches us that it takes frequent adjusting to keep the fire lit inside. If we aren’t careful the flames quickly turn to embers and can be snuffed out. Accepting these alterations isn’t always easy and can be painful. However, the pain is temporary and a kindled fire in our spirits can last an eternity.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Settling

Settling – 

This morning, as I was preparing to go to the office, I  heard a sound; “Knock, Knock, Knock.” And again; “Knock, Knock, Knock.” I checked the front door and no one was there but the knocking continued. Then, as a wannabe Sherlock Holmes would do, I stood perfectly still and waited for the next, “Knock, Knock, Knock.” and began following the sound to the source. I did this until I was ear to wall with the front porch. The sound was definitely coming from the other side. I tried spying through the window blinds but could not get the right angle as the, “Knock, Knock, Knock” echoed through the house. I walked back to the front door opened it and the screen door as quietly as possible. I crept along the side porch until I could see a female Woodpecker, who also saw me, and flew away. She was knocking on a piece of scrap wood. About twenty-five feet away from this warped and splintered two by four is a giant Oak tree. I wondered why did the bird settle for a snack when she could’ve had a gourmet meal? 

I also reflected on the truth that too often we settle for a trinket when there’s a treasure waiting, chase after worthless shiny objects when the most important things are there if we would alter our gaze. Wisdom tells us; “Don’t settle for scraps. Wait, keep searching, what you seek may be just around the corner.” 

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Waiting

Waiting – 

Beth and I stopped by Lowe’s Home Improvement store on the way home from church today. One of the items on our list was a gallon of paint. We found the right brand and then went to the kiosk where they mixed in color. There was a line of three people and one woman working as hard and fast as she could. After a while it was our turn and as we walked up to the counter a man came up to the counter, got the employee’s attention and proceeded to have his order filled. I was frustrated. He had cut in line while the rest of us had waited our turn. Seemingly without noticing or caring he had his paint mixed and then left.

After we finished and checked out, I asked Beth; “Was he in line before and I hadn’t noticed?” “Nope.” she said but in a way that told me she had moved on and was in the present while I was still reliving the past. “Well,’ I said, ‘no big deal.” and following my wife’s example I moved on as well.

In this life we will face injustices and inconveniences. Injustices are worth fighting against for they impact past, present and future. Inconveniences, however, are just distractions that take our distort our focus and blind us to the now, the present, where life happens.

Blessings,
Brian Loging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Looking and Still

Looking and Still – 
Yesterday, as I worked outside on a project, a small brown butterfly landed on my red t-shirt. I immediately froze and admired it’s beauty. It flapped it’s wings a few times and then flew away. A little while later it was back and on me once more. It made no noise, demands, wasn’t frightening or frightened by me. After a while it flew off again. This happened several times all day long into the evening. In the middle of working hard, sweating, sawing, hammering, drilling measuring, the butterfly would, seemingly out of nowhere, appear, alight on me and I would stop everything and admire it until it fluttered away.

After quitting for the day I reflected on that beautiful butterfly whose presence brought a sense of wonderment and a reminder that in the midst of busyness the miracle of existence is all around us. To notice we have to be looking for it and be still enough to soak it in when it makes itself known.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Welcome 

Welcome – 

A few days ago I watched a documentary entitled; “Welcome to Leith.” It told the story of a white supremacist man who moved to a small town in North Dakota. The population of Leith was at most a few dozen and the WS plan was to have other like minded folks move to Leith and take over the town by taking over the government through legally democratic elections. The town caught wind of his plot and stopped it from happening. 

What was interesting is the fear which gripped the people of Leith.  This man and another family scared the townsfolk so much that they armed themselves, began to harass the WS group and used legally and morally questionable behavior to have the WS group sent to jail and ultimately drove them out of Leith. By the time the documentary was over I wondered which group was more dangerous.

Fear is a powerful force. It can make us think, say and do things we’d not think possible as a civilized person in a civilized community. Yet, people, groups, nations use fear to bring out the worst in us. Wisdom instructs us not to be ruled by our emotions but to let the actions of  grace, kindness and love be our guide to how we approach ourselves and each other. 

Blessings, 

@BrianLoging (Twitter) 

thewannabesaint.com 

Grabbing or Letting Go

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A mother’s work is never done…

This morning, during worship, a young rascal of a boy was giving his mom a hard time, on Mother’s Day, no less. After a while the mom had enough of his mischief and began to escort him out of the sanctuary for an “intense conversation.” The son, seeing what was happening, grabbed onto the edge of the wooden pew, deciding he didn’t want to go. The mom, who was having no more of it, bent down, whispered into the youngster’s ear and the boy promptly let go. It was a funny scene to watch but I’m sure the mother wasn’t amused.

Stifling my laughter I thought about how often as a young boy I had reached the end of my mom’s good grace and needed an “intense conversation” to help me get back on the straight and narrow. I also reflected on life and it’s ability to change, quickly. We are often dragged into a place, a season, not of our choosing. It isn’t pleasant but it is necessary. The question becomes; “Will we accept and let go or grab and fight that which we cannot change?”

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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To Grow or to Stay

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Last winter the Mrs. and I bought four Baby Blue Spruces and placed them in nice decorative pots. We thought they’d give the house a sense of the holiday seasons and they did. However, now that the spring season has arrived in full force our little Christmas trees aren’t so small and are quickly out growing their present place.  So, this morning, I planted them in the front yard. Now they have as much room to flourish as they need. The trees are beautiful and we’re a little nervous about their ability to adapt and grow in their new location but we realize they can’t stay in the safety of their decorative pots any longer.

As I dug the holes for each tree I thought about the wisdom teaching that there are seasons in our lives when our present location is perfect for growth and maturity. However, there will also come a time when we’ll need to make the choice to risk the comfort and safety of what we know, move into the unknown and hope for the chance to flourish and grow as never before.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Stop Searching

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We are missing a few cans of paint.  No idea where they are hiding.  We’ve looked every place we know to look but haven’t found them. The Mrs.  thinks I’ve put them somewhere and forgot, she’s probably right. Nonetheless, after searching high and low, wide and narrow, we have yet to locate the elusive cans.

As I searched for them and tried to think of other places they may be I’ve reflected on the wisdom quote; “Stop searching and you will find that which you seek.” The meaning is simple but the discipline is difficult.

Too often we want our problems solved now, our challenges conquered, our questions answered, our purposes revealed. However, our desire for resolution and the timetable for the eventual solving of them are rarely aligned.

Allowing for patience as the path unfolds. Accepting the limits of our power and knowledge. Living life with open hand instead of trying to grasp, manipulate, control is not easy but worth understanding and doing.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Forward, Together

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“Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.” #OgMandino

I was talking with a colleague yesterday about the work we do with families and how it often progress means two steps forward one step back. We both shared anecdotes of clients who were doing well, making good life decisions for a period of time, and then a negative event or experience happens followed by a season of regression. We both agreed what we do, trying to help people change their lives, wasn’t a quick or easy process.

I reflected on this conversation later and realized everyone’s journey is unique but similar. We each are searching for purpose and trying to avoid habits, hangups, hurts, which trip us up.

The best way forward is together, helping one another and to remember, as Plato says; “Never impede a person who’s making progress, no matter how slow.”

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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How Long

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A young monk and his Abbott were walking one day when they came across a giant Oak tree which seemed to reach the skies. The young student asked his Master; “How long has this tree been alive?” The elder monk looked for a long time at the towering tree, admiring it’s beauty, strength and then shrugged; “It was here before me it will be here after me.” The Father then continued with the journey. The young monk hurried after him. After a time of reflection the young one asked his wise leader; “Is it not sad that we won’t even live as long as a tree?” The Master smiled and said; “No, not sad, wonderment, that such temporary creatures as ourselves could behold such a sight and carry it with us into eternity.”

Life is short. However, who we are, what we do, our experiences, our lives, will echo for ages into the generations which follow.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Setbacks

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Out of nowhere they come. Like an assassin’s bullet or blade. Unexpected, unwanted and overwhelming. Moments, seasons which reveal our most painful weaknesses, deepest struggles, greatest need and darkest secrets.

The path of life is never easy nor allows us to become too comfortable. Setbacks, those sections of the journey where our way seems blocked, progress grinds to a halt, backwards the only direction, retracing our steps, navigating through places we thought we’d left permanently behind.

Setbacks. Getting stuck. Walking in circles. The journey of life can drain us of our purpose and passion. We wonder how long we’ll wander, why the journey must be this difficult, if it’s worth the struggle, why we wrestle with the same demons and obstacles so often.

A favorite wisdom quote, and comfort, when the way is hard and setbacks many;

The obstacles (setbacks) in your way are your path to freedom.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Desire to Please

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This morning I was talking with someone about the lack of follow through in certain disciplines which accompany our religious faith. The basic question was; “I try to pray and read the Bible but sometimes I’m not as focused as I should be. My mind wanders, I become distracted by the day’s worries. Have I disappointed God?”

I shared the story of my friend Mary who passed away a couple years ago. She’s what many would call a; “Prayer Warrior.” However, toward the end of her life, when praying at night, she would often fall asleep. This brought her intense guilt and she confessed it to me one day. I smiled and told her not to feel ashamed; “What better way to end your day then being held by the Father as you whisper your cares and love into His ear?

One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite authors, Thomas Merton, says in part; “I may not know always how to please you my Lord, but let my wanting to please you, please you.”

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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More than Enough

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A while ago my wife read me a list of food and drink items which can help contribute to anxiety. As someone who struggles with the Big A it was an article she thought I needed to hear. I listened as she continued to read and then paused when she mentioned; “caffeinated coffee.”

Coffee has long been a staple of my morning routine but I decided to cut my Java intake in half and try to gauge the impact, if any, on my battle with anxiety. So far I haven’t noticed much of a difference in my stress level but I have noticed that I’m still filling up the coffee pot with water to the level I used to drink before I cut back. It’s a habit and a waste so I’m trying to remember I don’t need as much as I used to.

Life goes best when lived simply and lightly. As we travel our path we begin to drop, let go of the things we don’t need. Wisdom teaches us that our lives become full when we’ve learned to limit our desires and empty ourselves of things no longer needed.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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