Blog Archives

Elude

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Elude

Mowing the grass today I crossed paths with a butterfly which seemed for a moment he would land on the lawn mower and I’d have a riding partner. Alas, at the last moment, he turned and fluttered away.

I like this quote (pictured). It’s a good reminder that happiness too can elude us quickly. There are many things in this world which promise happiness, contentment, satisfaction but few deliver and even fewer last more than a season. What’s interesting is we keep chasing after the new thing which promises us a better, more respected, fulfilled life but like the butterfly, it flutters away.

It isn’t wrong to seek happiness but in our frenetic, ever evolving, never steady world it’s easy to get lost in chasing trinkets and listening to voices on the wind. The more difficult way is to be still and allow happiness to find us. It takes trust and patience but most good things do.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Shift

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Shift

I know someone who is a friend of a friend. I’ve briefly encountered this individual a handful of times. The thing is, for some reason, this person rubbed me the wrong way. He hadn’t done anything to me except be himself and being himself didn’t sit right with me. I had lots of excuses as to why this person was what I thought he was but nothing tangible, just a feeling.

Then, earlier this week, I learned something about this man and it suddenly shifted my view. There were still those things that got on my nerves but while a few weeks ago they looked so big now they seemed petty and brought upon me a sense of shame.

It’s easy to teach and write about not judging others but a whole other level to practice what you speak. All it took was one thing to shift my view, understanding of this man and his life. An important and embarrassing reminder that we must always be on guard about how we see people. There’s always more there than we initially see and experience.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Decisions

Image result for child supportDecisions

One of the hardest decisions a father has to make is whether or not to give up the rights to his child(ren).  I spoke with someone today who is wrestling with this decision. He is thousands of dollars behind on his child support payments and realizes that every day increases the debt he owes.

He doesn’t make any excuses and understands why most people would look on his fathering skills with disgust. He’s been in and out of jail, rehab and has developed the habit of making the worst possible decisions.

Still, however, there is hope. Hope that he can turn it around and be a good man and a good father. Hope that he can have a relationship with his child. Hope that his life even at such a young age won’t be told with head shakes and frowns but with smiles and sighs of relief.

The piece of paper he’s being offered, to give up parental rights to his child, represents both a way out financially but a resignation that he will never be the dad he needs to be and his child will grow up without knowing their dad.

Decisions. Some come with little or no consequences, others with incredibly heavy burdens and life-altering outcomes.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Don’t Move

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Don’t Move

Yesterday, taking a break from yard work on a hot day in May, I sat on the porch wiping the sweat off my brow with a towel and drinking a bottle of water. As I sat there a brown bird, who has a nest in the corner of the porch swooped down and landed on my leg. I froze. A bird landing on me was awesome but I didn’t dare move for fear of scaring it away. Sweat poured down my face, my tired arms and restless legs immovable. It seemed like it was forever but I knew it was only a few minutes until I had to dry the sweat from my eyes and take another drink of water. Predictably, the bird flew off as soon as I moved. For a second, however, I was still enough to enjoy the experience.

It’s hard being still in today’s world. We miss so much because we are so busy. We’ve got places to go and people to see. Schedules have to be kept and filled calendars emptied.

I wonder how many small wonders we miss because life’s most important moments are only ours to experience if we’d simply be still?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Anchored

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Anchored

The last couple of weeks there has been roof work being done at one of the churches down the street from us. The roof was damaged by strong winds a month or so ago and the roofers arrived to replace the damaged one. The church is an old building, tall with a serious incline to the top. To ensure they don’t fall off the workers have been using ropes and an anchoring system. Once the rope is securely attached to the bolted down anchor they tie it around themselves so if a mishap occurs it doesn’t become a tragedy.

As I watched these guys work hard and quick even with the ropes tied around them I wondered; “Who attached the anchor? Who tied the rope to the anchor? Who tied the rope around the guys?” I wonder because if I were using them I’d check everything multiple times to make sure everything was secure before I trusted it with my life.

Wisdom also teaches us to make sure we know what we’re anchored to and how to test it to make sure it will hold. Everything depends on being anchored to what/who can hold us when mishaps and dangers occur. If we choose poorly; a tragedy. If we choose wisely; a life preserved and productive.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

In the End

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In the End

This morning I watched a documentary entitled; “Get me Roger Stone!” It was a biographical tale of one of the most famous, some might say; “Infamous” political consultants. He helped Ronald Regan get elected, many other Republican candidates be successful, and was one of the architects of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Near the end of the film, Mr. Stone says (paraphrasing); “If I go down as the dirtiest player in the game I’ll consider myself a success.”

I grew up thinking people, as the get older, begin to think on the brevity of life and what comes after. I thought the older people became the more spiritual, wise and kind they became. No matter the type of life they lived when they were young there was always an age where they turned the corner and began to live virtuous lives.

I think my understanding of older people was skewed by the ones I knew. I had two godly grandmothers and the only others were from church. They taught Sunday school, gave praises and lots of hugs, smiled a lot, didn’t judge and seemed to be one step closer to heave n than the rest of us youngsters. To me, this is how all older people acted. However, as I grew up I realized this wasn’t the case. True, there are some people who changed but most older people are just older versions of their younger selves. There wasn’t an age where they ripened into good fruit or a corner that made them spiritual and wise.

The documentary today was a reminder that we are choosing our destiny every day. Each choice we make takes us down a path and at the end of our journey the story of our lives will be told by the choices we made. What’s written on our headstones, spoken about at our eulogy, remembered about us is what we have done, are doing and will do.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Worthy

Worthy

I listened to a mom today tell of a time not so long ago when she and her daughter were not getting along. A long-simmering unspoken argument turned into a loud, heated word-fight in a public place. “I hate you! You never listen! You don’t care what I want! Nothing’s ever good enough for you!” were the words her child screamed that day. Instead of shouting back, the words of her child wounded her heart and she realized; “I might actually lose my daughter if I don’t start doing things differently.” Over the next several weeks she discovered that what her daughter said in an anger tirade was true. This mom was pushing her too much, not letting her discover herself, applying too much pressure on things which weren’t that important. In short, she was trying to make her daughter into what she thought she should be and not allowing her daughter to find herself.

Wisdom tells us that when we attempt to control others, make them presentable to us, what we think is best, we end up either chasing them away or killing the spirit within. Truly loving someone is allowing them to grow, make mistakes, choose different paths, free of our judgment and disapproval. It’s letting them be and loving them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

Cover Up

Image result for butterflies on poop

Cover Up

This afternoon, on the last half of my walk/run loop I came across a few blue butterflies, gathered on the road. They didn’t fly away as I approached and I thought; “how beautiful.” After a moment, they flew away, revealing a pile of animal excrement. “Yuck!” I thought as I made sure not to step in it.

It was a paradoxical revelation; beauty covering ugliness. Continuing on my way I thought about the truth of the butterflies and the dung. We like attractiveness, excellence, alluring, flashy things that catch our and others’ attention. We like to show off, surround ourselves with gorgeous trinkets for all the world to see and admire.

The problem with this is the ugliness it reveals. When we are motivated to be the envy of our family, friends, neighborhood, community, there is a repulsiveness uncovered. Wisdom teaches us to look for the beauty in others not to crave it to be seen in ourselves. Only then will we truly the whole world be beautiful.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

Connected

 

Connected –

Last week a huge limb from one of our oldest trees snapped and fell into our yard. Today was clean up day. I started this morning hoping it would only take a couple of hours. However, it took all day and we’re still not quite finished. The size of the limb meant there were going to be numerous and large branches attached. We sawed and pried and twisted until we didn’t have any energy left. After we made the last trip to a neighbor’s who is trying to fill in a dried up pond to dump a truckload of debris we came home, showered and collapsed.

As we worked on the enormous project I noticed that most of the leaves had dried up and died. The storm, which had blown the limb down, had robbed most of the leaves of their nutrients by disconnecting them from their source of life. But, there were a few branches whose leaves were still green. Their life source had not been disconnected even though they had experienced the same storm.

I reflected on the similarities in people when their path takes them through a time of testing, a season of storms. Some seem to wilt under the pressure while others, in spite of the chaos of the present moment, continue to thrive.

Wisdom teaches us it is who, what, our source of life is that allows us to experience the worst and yet still live. Being connected to who, what is deeply rooted is the difference between life and death.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Empty

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Empty –

A wise master received a university professor who came to inquire about true wisdom.  The master served her tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full and then kept on pouring.  The professor watched the overflow until she no longer could restrain herself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”  “Like this cup,” said the master, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you wisdom unless you first empty your cup?”

This is one of my favorite wisdom parables. It is a great reminder that we can become so full of ourselves, our opinions, our convictions, our beliefs, and our ego that we are unable to receive something new, different, exciting or growth producing.

To come to each day with an empty cup and allowing it to be filled with each experience, every person, circumstances, and situations is to be a true student of wisdom.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Grip

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Grip

Our Siberian Husky, Trooper, has a problem with our little farm-house. The kitchen floor is covered in old, slick linoleum and many other rooms have wooden floors. For most of his life, he’s lived in houses which were wall to wall carpet and gave him places to grip as he walks. Now, he’s finding it hard to keep his footing as he walks in our home. We’ve several large carpets in the wooden floor rooms and small carpets along with one of his beds in the kitchen. He slips and slides from one carpet to another and refuses to walk in a space where there’s no carpet in sight for him to reach. We’ve tried several different ways to help him get over his fear of the slick floors but fear has a way of getting inside of people and animals alike.

I have friends and family members today, as all of us do, who are finding it hard to get a grip on new, difficult and challenging situations. I also have friends and family members who are dealing with old hangups, habits, hurts and wonder if they will ever be able to grapple with and overcome these persistent, negative areas.

What can we do when those we love and care about are gripped by fear? We can lay down rugs, pieces of carpets, by doing random and purposeful acts of kindness and grace. We cannot take their fear away but we can show them our love is greater than what has them afraid.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

A Little Help

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A Little Help –

This afternoon I took a large load of yard debris to the county dump. It was a truck and trailer full. When I arrived I began unloading the trailer first. It was filled with rotten deck boards and trusses. It was quite a bit to handle by myself but the man standing at the dumpster, who presses the button to activate the compactor, wasn’t in the mood to help. In fact, he asked me to walk to the other side of the dumpster to push in a small piece of lumber which was sticking out. I thought to myself; “Dude. You see how much junk I am trying to unload. A little assistance would be greatly appreciated.” Sigh. I finished with one dumpster and moved to the second one, unloaded what was left and drove off.

I don’t know what kind of day the worker had. He might’ve helped everyone before me and was too tired to be of any assistance. It is unfair to judge him by one encounter and so I let the frustration go. However, the lesson of offering help to those in need, little and big gestures of kindness and grace, wasn’t missed. Hopefully, the next time I can lend a hand I’ll remember and not leave someone hanging.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Together

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Together

A friend of mine had surgery not too long ago and is still recovering. As a result, he is unable to do yard work or any other outdoor project. One of the projects on his list for the summer was to remove several Red Tip bushes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photinia). Red Tips are great for privacy but can quickly grow out of control. Before his recent bout with the illness, he had started the removal but couldn’t finish the job. However, while he was in the hospital a group of neighbors got together and completed the project for him. They didn’t expect to get paid or rewarded in another way they did it because it was a way to help.

As I listened to the story being told to me yesterday my heart was warmed at the generosity we can show each other. A person told me recently; “The news is too depressing. I just don’t watch it.” I tried explaining that ignoring the news doesn’t make the world better but it does eliminate our ability to confront, counter the evil and darkness with good and light.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Deep

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Deep –

A few weeks ago Beth and I began planting several different types of trees. Some are fruit trees others are for privacy as land around us is being sold. We chose Leyland Cypress for this because they were recommended for quick growth and their thickness which is tough for prying eyes to see through.

However, over the last seven to ten days brown spots have begun showing up on the limbs. We’ve been watering the trees but this hasn’t stopped the brown spots from appearing. This week Beth talked to a landscaper who suggested cutting pieces of PVC pipe about 18 inches, drilling holes in them and driving them into the ground near the trees. Leyland Cypress, once they are rooted will take care of themselves, but until that occurs they need lots of water and for it to be delivered to the roots underneath the soil. The PVC pipes will distribute the water deeper to the roots that need it most.

The pipes will have to wait for this weekend but I reflected on the advice as we watered the trees tonight. I thought of how we live in a world where we water the top, take care of the surface, make what people see look good and too often ignore what’s deep inside of us. We are more concerned with what’s seen than unseen. As a result, we begin to die. What’s not being taken care of at the deepest part of our spirits, what counts the most, is not being nurtured and sooner or later it shows itself on the surface.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The Chase

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The Chase

This morning, on my way to work, I rounded a curve and was met with two dogs. I could tell by the look of the younger one a chase was about to go down. The other, who looked much older, wasn’t so sure. As I passed the younger it took off running as fast as it could trying to match my speed. I’m not sure he’d know what to do if he caught me but he was giving it his best effort. The elder ran for a while and then gave up. He knew he wasn’t fast enough to catch his prize. I smiled at the younger dog and his stamina. He kept up for a long time and even after I turned a corner and accelerated he was still giving it a go. I never saw the older dog again.

It reminded me of life. When we’re young we chase after shiny things, fast things. Our attention is easily captured by whatever’s on the horizon. We put a lot of effort into obtaining things which never satisfy or give us the rush of the chase. As we get older we realize there’s only so much passion, energy and time to give to pursuing and, hopefully, we understand there are precious few things worth chasing after.

Wisdom teaches us to filter and to focus on that which satisfies and to leave the chasing of fast, shiny things to others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Be

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Be

When I was a student at Trevecca Nazarene University one of the classes I took was a spiritual formation class. On the first day, the teacher of the class lit a candle and told us it represented the presence of the Holy Spirit, alive, moving and not be captured or coerced. He lit the candle at every class. For some, it was probably hokey but for me, it was my first step into Contemplative Christianity which eventually led me to become a Benedictine Oblate (http://www.osb.org/obl/intro.html).

Another discipline we would learn and one I still do to this day is praying Psalm 46:10; “Be Still and Know I am God.” We would sit quietly and begin by quoting the entire verse and then let a word(s) drop off after saying each phrase multiple times…

“Be Still and Know I am God
Be Still and Know I am
Be Still and Know
Be Still
Be”

When we arrived at; “Be” it was understood we found ourselves, our true selves, only in God. God wasn’t number one, he was the only one and everything else found its place in Him.

I follow this rhythmic prayer, often praying; “Be Still.” many times between rising in the morning and going to bed at night. It focuses, settles and comforts me or rather the words open my spirit and remind me I am because God allows me to be.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Intimacy

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Intimacy

This evening, on my way into the classroom at the county jail for our incarcerated fathers class, I passed two inmates. One was sitting in a chair while the other cut and trimmed his goatee and hair. There was absolute trust, no shaking, or worrisome behavior, just an intimate moment between two men.

Intimacy, for most folks, means something other than what it meant for these guys. For them, and the other inmates, putting their hair, face, neck in the hands of another man is what they have to do if they don’t want to look like BigFoot.

I watched without staring and was reminded that we are to be intimate with each other. How many family members, friends, co-workers, acquaintances would let us cut their hair and shave their face? This type of intimacy is built over time and out of necessity.

Our world today could use more acts of intimacy, trust and moments that inspire others to do likewise.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

Another Way

Another Way

Our little farmhouse has many quirks. One of the most frustrating is no back door. At one time there was one in the kitchen but someone filled that one in and installed a dishwasher. Today, the handymen made a doorway out of a window in the hallway next to our bathroom they are remodeling. It was loud and dusty but they got it done and it looks great!

I sit here today with concerns about friends, family, and acquaintances on my heart and mind. A good man who I grew up with lost his father in a motorcycle accident on Easter Sunday. Another friend’s father has a mental illness that’s beginning to impact his family’s life and a tough decision will have to be made soon. Still another friend is facing a big battle filled with an extensive surgery and an even more difficult recovery.

I find myself wanting another way for these people who are suffering so much in different ways. I wish I had the power to create one. A way not filled with the pain of death, the uncertainty of life filled with disease. If I could I would knock down whatever obstacles which stood in their path but regretfully I do not have that kind of power.

What I can do is pray, offer and give any help needed and trust that though another way may not be available, the way of kindness, love, and grace, are still the balm of healing and new life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Tag Along

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Tag Along

One of the more interesting things to watch as the two men we hired to remodel our bathroom is how one of them tags along behind the other. Clearly one has the experience, the know-how, to redo the bathroom and overcome any obstacles they encounter. The other, younger one, has the strong back and follows orders instantly. Whatever the older needs his assistant retrieves so the work can be done as quickly as possible. I’m not sure how much the younger knows but I do know he is under no illusion that his knowledge matches or surpasses the veteran builder. Wherever the seasoned worker goes the other tags along; handing him the tools, wood, drywall, fixtures and whatever else might be needed. They seem to make a good team.

I was talking with some men last week and asked them if they’ve ever encountered a “know it all?” Every one of them raised their hands. “The problem with ‘knowing it all’, I said is you never learn anything.”

A wise man once said; “If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. If you’re smart, surround yourself with people who disagree with you.

Socrates said; “True knowledge begins
in knowing that you know nothing.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Fight the Way You Practice

Fight the Way You Practice

This afternoon was the first class for Incarcerated Fathers, Spring 2017. The first day of class is always a little awkward. The residents do not know you and you don’t know them. You explain how the class works, what’s required of them and what you will give for the class to be a success.

We talked about respect and relationships and how the key to successful parenting is our children being able to trust that we will be there for them in every way possible. By doing this we give kids the confidence that they can venture out into the world because home is always safe and always there.

Many of the men I teach in these classes didn’t have that kind of home life growing up and find it difficult to picture what a family such as this would look like. As we go through the class we will practice showing them it is possible and necessary to give their children the childhood the residents didn’t grow up with and for them to be the parents they aren’t sure they can be. Once they work on these skills, practice them they will begin to believe it possible.

You can only fight the way you practice.” This the hope we have for the men who participate in our class; to learn to fight in such a way that builds up, not destroys.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The Risk

Image result for bumble bee screen insect

The Risk

There’s a bumblebee stuck on a screen of our front porch. It’s the porch we’ve been building for several months now and have almost everything completed but the doors. There will be double sliding doors leading to the front door of the house and a side door leading to the front of the house. These missing doors leave large gaps to fly to freedom, yet for some reason, for several days, the little-winged insect stays put.

The problem is we’re hoping to finish up the porch quickly so we can enjoy it these spring and summer months. When the doors go up the bee goes out, forced to face the world full of birds, bug zappers, and countless other dangers.

When I see him I think of the invisible barriers that we all place upon our lives. Most of us like the idea of a smaller world.  A place where we aren’t in too much danger, there’s shelter from storms, protection from so many things which we can’t control.

However, to truly live, we must venture beyond our comfort zones and self-constructed barriers. There’s no guarantee we will be safe nor comfortable but freedom is worth the risk.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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