Blog Archives

Turning People Into Trees

Turning People Into Trees

This week I had to drive into Nashville for a training. My destination was an hour and a half from the house so I made sure to leave extra early because Nashville is known for its snarling traffic. Each day I drove in, because I was early and not in a hurry I watched other zip in and out of lanes, speed past me only to end up at the same place as me when traffic slowed. People were eating, putting on make-up, looking at their phones, singing to songs. One woman was smoking with one hand and talking on the phone with the other. I don’t have any idea how she was steering. Everyone going in the same direction but getting there in a myriad of ways.

I reflected on the journey we share with others. Our path is ours alone and yet, paradoxically, we share it with many. It is easy to diminish, insult those who travel differently than we do. Wisdom tells us to be open and accepting not closed off and judgmental.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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How Could He?

How Could He?

Here is Tennessee and even across America, there is a question that is on many people’s mind; “Why did the father of a five-year-old Autistic boy beat his son to death and then hide his body? How could this father then claim the boy had wandered off and allowed law enforcement officials, volunteers, and others to search areas near his home for three days thinking the boy was alive?” (http://fox17.com/news/local/dad-beat-son-joe-clyde-daniels-to-death-hid-his-body-in-remote-area-affidavit) Its horrible, vile, evil, confusing, and no matter the answers they will not satisfy a grieving family and community.

The next two days I will be training to be a trainer in Adverse Childhood Experiences. According to “SAMSHA (Substance Abuse Mental Health Agency) describes “Adverse childhood experiences or (ACEs)” as stressful or traumatic events, including abuse and neglect. They may also include household dysfunction such as witnessing domestic violence or growing up with family members who have substance use disorders. ACEs are strongly related to the development and prevalence of a wide range of health problems throughout a person’s lifespan, including those associated with substance misuse. ACEs include: Physical abuse, Sexual abuse, Emotional abuse, Physical neglect, Emotional neglect, Intimate partner violence, Mother treated violently, Substance misuse within a household, Household mental illness, Parental separation or divorce, Incarcerated household member.”(https://www.samhsa.gov/capt/practicing-effective-prevention/prevention-behavioral-health/adverse-childhood-experiences)

Put simply; what happens to one when growing up impacts that individual’s behavior, physical and mental health as adults. It changes the question from; “Why or How could you?’ to ‘What happened to you?” The difference is all the difference. It allows for context and the ability to understand, not approve, why a person would do something incredibly harmful to others or to themselves by researching their backgrounds, cultural, community, familial and social environments.

It will be a challenging and difficult two days especially in light of the tragedy that unfolded over the past week. However, only when our emotional and intellectual biases are confronted can we move beyond them to greater wisdom and knowledge.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Putting Feet to Your Faith

Putting Feet to Your Faith

This morning, in worship service, when one of the staff members went up on stage and gave the announcements she talked about a missions class. She said; “This class will help you put feet to your faith!”  To my knowledge, this is the first time I heard this phrase or at least the first time it resonated with me. I liked the idea of beliefs and action coexisting, what I think, say and do being in sync.

Later I reacted to a post from someone on Facebook who’s having a rough couple of weeks. There has been progressing in the recent past but for some reason, the last month or so battles thought won were being fought again. I replied to her post; “I understand and live these “honest and ugly” truths. It’s tough, feeling like you have to start over, but I’m reminded by wisdom and therapy that we’ve grown, have learned/are learning, experienced a new normal and the starting line has been moved. We may not be where we want to be but thankfully are not where we started.”

Even when it seems like our journey is two steps forward and three, maybe five, steps back we are making progress. We ask, no plead, for the faith to keep walking, to put feet to our faith.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Elephant in the Room

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Elephant in the Room

I was talking with someone earlier this week about a situation he is experiencing. He is forced to make a choice between one thing and another. It’s not a choice he doesn’t want to make. As he belabored the unjustness of the decision, listing the pros and cons, complaining about the consequences of each side of the coin, I asked him a simple question. “What’s the elephant in the room?” He paused and reflected. “What do you mean?” he inquired. “Dig deeper, past the choice and the consequences, what’s the reason you’re having to make this decision?” He was quiet, then took a deep breath and answered.  He had clarity. Like a man in a cloudy stream, only when his mind was still, did the water clear.

I once had a co-worker whose personality and mine didn’t click. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. It’s the way it is sometimes. He was in charge of employee evaluations. When we met in his office he read over my “grades” and was surprised they were all high. “I didn’t expect this!” he exclaimed. I sat there thinking; “You didn’t expect this because I’ve never had issues with anyone or any part of this job. The problem is you don’t like me and this colors everything.” We chatted and then I left thankful for my scores but still burdened by the negative relationship.

Wisdom teaches us to make sure we deal with the thing that matters not everything else.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Mind Made Up

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Mind Made Up

Today is April 5th. I mowed my grass today because springtime makes things grow. Usually, I mow grass on Friday or Saturday. The reason I mowed today is that rain is in the forecast tomorrow and it might snow on Saturday. Snow. Did I mention we’re in the month of April?

The weather cannot make up its mind. My mind has been made up. I’m ready for spring, all of it. Not a little, not touch and go, not warm one day and cold the next, sunny and then snow. The problem is my mind made up doesn’t impact the weather or the seasons. I don’t have that kind of power. I can be frustrated that I mowed grass in jacket and toboggan today. I can be wary of cool breezes and cold noses. However, my wariness doesn’t change things either. Sigh.

So, I accept what I cannot change, understand the finiteness of humankind and remember that gaining wisdom begins with humility.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Waking Up

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Waking Up

A blessed Easter to all.

This morning during worship service the preacher told a story about a woman who was the pianist at a local church. She had mistakenly not set her alarm and slept through Easter morning services. She was apologetic and everyone forgave her. The next year, on Easter Sunday morning, her phone rang very early and on the phone was the pastor of the church. She answered the phone blurrily; “Hello?” “Jesus has risen sister!” he said loudly, “and maybe you should do the same.” Laughing, he hung up the phone. Needless to say, she was on time for Easter services that year.

After the joke, I leaned over to my wife and exclaimed; “This is how I’m waking you up for Easter next year!” She smiled and patted me on the leg. Her and I both know it would take more than a phone call to rouse Beth if she didn’t want to get up.

Easter is about waking up to a new day, a new normal, a new reality, a new truth, a new understanding of God and a new discovery of ourselves. The veil of illusion has dissipated and we understand life differently. This is wisdom. This is connection. This is relationship.

May this Easter find each of us woke.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

In the Heart

In the Heart

Earlier this week a friend called and during our conversation, she mentioned the weather forecast called for beautiful weather now and the foreseeable future. I explained it was overcast in Tennessee and rain was expected the next several days. The conversation then turned to something she needed to talk about and as I listened it dawned on me that my outside weather was cloudy and rainy and this mirrored her inside on a certain subject.

I hoped my advice helped, at least in part, to help the clouds to dissipate and for her inside and outside to match. The experience was a reminder that we carry seasons, weather in our souls. There are times and places where things are clear, warm, light, easy. There are others where our spirits are dark, overcast, dreary and difficult. Wisdom helps us monitor, adjust, and accept our inside forecast. We change what we have the power to and trust that even the worst of our inside days do not last forever.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Worry is like Prayer

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Worry is like Prayer

I was speaking with someone today and they quoted a wisdom proverb I had never heard;

“Worrying is like praying for something you don’t want to happen.”

It instantly became a favorite wisdom quote of mine. As someone with a Severe Anxiety Disorder, I can relate to worrying and doing it obsessively. One of the symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder is rumination. Rumination is the inability to turn off negative thoughts. Similar to a broken record player (do people know what they are anymore?) or a scratched Compact Disc (same question) getting caught in a loop and reciting the same lyrics in your head over and over.

I come from a long line of worriers and a long line of pray-ers but I never put the two together before. I am sure if the quote is analyzed enough there are theological (the study of the divine) and ontological (the study of being) questions and fallacies but for now it gives me a new way to look at worry, stress, anxiety, rumination and where to focus my thoughts and spirit.

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

Keep What Works

Keep What Works

This advertisement was in my Twitter feed this morning. When I was a pastor who had to prepare and deliver a message each Sunday I loved the times when after the service people would come up and ask a question, make a comment or even challenge something I said during the message.  It meant they were listening! I would listen to them and then discuss whatever was on their mind. At the end of the conversation I would often tell them; “Don’t take what I say as the truth. Go search for yourself. Find out if the all or part of the message is for you and keep what works and leave the rest.” I understood that depending on where we were on our path greatly determined what our minds, emotions, and spirits could process and apply at any given moment. Most of us have had the experience of someone excitedly telling us about something they heard someone say, or read in a book, and how it changed their lives. While we are grateful for our friend’s epiphany we also think to ourselves; “I’ve told them this a thousand times and they never listened!” It’s because they weren’t ready. The good piece of advice, the important life lesson we told them wasn’t ready to be heard.

Wisdom teaches us that many truths surround us presently. However, we can only perceive a few, if any, because we are unaware, distracted. The best news is that these truths are timeless and sooner or later they’re ready to be received and applied. Sometimes we become frustrated because we seem to be learning the same things over and over. We need to learn to give ourselves a break and trust that one day the truth we’ve been searching for will be received and kept because it works.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Junk Path

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Junk Path

This morning I had an early meeting. I loaded up my truck and began pulling out of my driveway. As I neared the end of it I noticed a truck carrying a refuse container coming in my direction. I didn’t have time to jump in front of it and as it passed I sighed. I didn’t want to be stuck behind this behemoth. I thought about the way I needed to take and realized the Refuse and Recycle Center was the way I was going. In other words, I was going to be behind the truck, carrying the container, almost the whole trip into town. Sure enough, every turn, stop, flashing light I encountered the truck was directly in front of me. I followed it to the junkyard.

As I drove powerlessly behind the truck I thought of myself and others who have, at times, been on a junk path. Poor choices, bad decisions, oversized egos, revenge, remorse, not listening, not paying attention, ended in a bad place and a life that wasn’t balanced or centered. There were good people who tried to warn us, wave us off, show us another, better way but we stubbornly stayed on the path to demise.

Wisdom, it doesn’t do us any good if we fail to follow its lead and travel its path.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Invasion

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Invasion

The past few weeks there’s been an invasion of Middle Tennessee! The multi-legged, orange-colored, flying insects called Ladybugs. They’re everywhere and this morning they kept stealing my attention away from the pastor as he spoke from the Book of Saint John, chapter 12. They were collecting near every light fixture which was about 10 feet from the pews the people were sitting in. Every now and then one or ten would fly across the room landing on someone. One tried to use my neck as a resting place but he didn’t stay there long. I watched hundreds on one light fixture as they crawled around it seemingly looking for a way in. I am not sure if they were attracted to the heat or the light. Of course, once in it was nearly impossible for them to get out. They very thing they were after was actually a trap. They would die there getting what they wanted but not able to get out.

I reflected on the Ladybug’s fate and how it also mirrored our own fascination with those things in life which promise safety, warmth, and light. We become fixated on things which we believe will make life better, bring satisfaction and enlightenment only to find out once we’ve achieved or possessed them it was an illusion. Wisdom teaches that what is worth having comes to us. It is our humility, our acceptance that we are not able to control or manipulate love, peace, kindness and a grace-filled life that makes it possible for these to permeate our minds, emotions, and spirits and bring a unique warmth and light to our cold and dark world.

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

Knocking

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Knocking

This morning I woke up with a headache. It felt like a giant was knocking on the front door of my face. I at breakfast took a pill and laid back down. It helped a little but it’s been painful off and on most of the afternoon.

Last week a friend told me he had a “secret knock” whenever he went over to his mother’s home. He said this knock was for her to know that it was him without looking out the window to see. I liked this idea both the reality and the thought behind it.

We have ideas which knock on the doors of our heads. Some of these thoughts, especially the ones filled with doubt, confusion, anger, can take us to places we don’t want to go. Wisdom teachers call this; “monkey mind” a mind filled with chatter like monkeys in a tree, never-ceasing or giving a moment’s peace. It can also be called; “thought train” which is a mind that’s on a particular set of tracks taking us to places it’s not always wise to go.

The good news is we are able to train our minds to recognize “monkey minds, thought trains” and refuse to let them take over our spirits and emotions. The key to mindful living is to be present, in the now. Our minds are not all-powerful and we do have the capability of saying; “No” to negative, repetitive, thoughts and “Yes” to those which keep us centered, balanced and at peace. We simply need to know when and when not to open the door.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Cracked

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Cracked

My fingers have a nasty way of cracking and splitting open when I work outside during the winter in cold and dry conditions. Last week my thumb developed a big one. I had several days of work in front of me and it was becoming sorer by the moment. Finally, after arriving home from a trip yesterday, my wife “made it better.” She cleaned it with Peroxide, gently using a Q-Tip to get the dirt and grime in the crack, applied Neosporin to the affected area and then covered it with a Band-Aid to keep it protected. I repeated the procedure this afternoon and will continue until it improves.

Certain seasons of life can also wound us physically, emotionally and spiritually. We do our best to keep going but sooner or later we must pay attention to the hurt because if we don’t it will only get worse. At times others can help us heal and other times we can do it ourselves. Wisdom teaches us the important axiom; “If we can’t take care of ourselves we can’t take care of others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Difference

Difference

This rainy Monday morning I had several errands to run. It was messy, wet and cold. Parking cars, dodging rain drops, running in and out of buildings is not a fun time. Finally, after it was all done I headed home making the comment; “There would have to be a big difference in this nasty weather for me to even think about going out again!” Unloaded the car, ate lunch, and fell asleep in a recliner. Woke up and the skies had parted and the sun was shining. I smiled to myself thinking; “What a difference stillness, rest makes!”

Still decided not to go anywhere but my outlook on the day was much improved.

Blessings,

@BrianLoging (Twitter)

thewannabesaint.com

Beneath

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Beneath

Today I was tearing down an old wooden, raised flowerbed that was built many years ago. It was mostly rotten and needed to be removed. I was on my hands and knees prying apart a corner and noticed the wood seemed to be moving. Looking closer I realized there was an ant bed behind the wood. If you know anything about ants it is that they’ve noticed you before you notice them. This was true. I looked and they were on the sleeves of my shirt and hands. Fortunately, I was stung only one time. I quickly stepped back and brushed myself off. It was amazing to watch how quickly they went on the defense when under attack. There was no discussion, no plan, just instinct and getting rid of the intruder.

I know people this way. They are quick to attack, slow to find out what’s happening. If they even perceive that someone is going to be a threat they become defensive and hostile.  Some people attack themselves. They are more critical of their life than any critic would ever be. Others’ aggressive style protects themselves from getting hurt.

Wisdom teaches us that this is not the way to live with ourselves or others. We are to be patient, kind, grace-filled, faithful, hopeful, and loving with everyone, including us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannbesaint.com

Comfort

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Comfort

I drove my wife’s car on this cool Wednesday. I enjoy my truck but it doesn’t have one of the greatest inventions in the history of humankind; heated seats.  With the flip of a button, the warmth of coils embedded in the chairs begins to make its way to my shoulders, back and posterior. Its one of those luxuries you don’t realize you “need” it until you use it.

As the heat of the car and the seats began to permeate my body, and ever thinning hairline, I thought about the creature comforts of life. Where do we draw the line at things which we need versus things we like.  A roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, food on a table are things which we need, can’t live without. Television, internet (yes, even the internet), automobiles, computers, phones, and a host of other “things we think we can’t live without.”

Wisdom has a way of winnowing our list of life-items showing us what we truly need, simplifying and emphasizing what’s important and what’s not.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Scattered

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Scattered

Last night I stuck a bag of trash on the porch. Living in the country and not placing garbage in a receptacle is like playing Russian Roulette. Sometimes a varmint gets into it and other times they just pass it by. Unfortunately, last night something got into the trash and scattered it all over the driveway. It was the first thing I saw when letting the dog out this morning. I went inside, grabbed a new bag and began recollecting the trash. There’s nothing quite like picking up frost-covered garbage at dawn.

As I was gathering it and stuffing it into the bag I began to recall a Jewish wisdom tale;

A woman repeated a story (gossip) about a neighbor. Within a few days, everyone in the community knew the story. The person she talked about heard what had been said about her and she was very sad. Later, the woman who had spread the story learned that it was not true. She was very sorry and went to a wise rabbi and asked what she could do to repair the damage. After giving this some thought, the rabbi said to her, “Go home, get one of your feather pillows, and bring it back to me.” Surprised by the rabbi’s response, the woman followed his advice and went home to get a feather pillow and brought it to the rabbi. “Now,” said the rabbi, “open the pillow and pull out all the feathers.” Confused, the woman did what she was told to do. After a few minutes, the rabbi said, “Now, I want you to find every one of the feathers and put them back into the pillow.” “That’s impossible,” said the woman, almost in tears. “The window is open and the wind has scattered them all over the room and blown many feathers outside. I can’t possibly find them all.” “Yes,” said the rabbi. “And that is what happens when you gossip or tell a story about someone else. Once you talk about someone, the words fly from one person’s mouth to another, just like these feathers flew in the wind. Once you say them, you can never take them back.”

It was a great reminder that not only every word but every action has consequences that we cannot foresee. Our lives should be lived mindfully aware that our scattered thoughts, words, and actions will impact the world for evil or for good.

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

What’s in a Day?

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What’s in a Day?

I was once asked by someone; “What do you want to do with your life? What are your plans for the future?” I was sitting outside, leaned back and thought for a moment and then surprising my interrogator and myself replied; “I’m doing it. I am content. I have no more plans.” My friend didn’t like my answer because everyone should have something they are striving for. How else can you measure life unless it’s by your accomplishments? As a contemplative wisdom teaches that days are measured by the moments when you are aware of your connectedness to all living things and that the universe is in every experience.

What would you do if today were your last? Martin Luther is reputed to have said, “If I knew the world would end tomorrow, I would plant a tree.” In other words, I would contribute to the beauty of the world and thus the universe. As Marcus Aurelius states in the quote, I would want to live my last day as I hope to live every day; “without frenzy, without apathy, without pretense.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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