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Extra

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Extra

At a health council meeting today a speaker gave a presentation on going the extra mile. She asked; “Where did this saying come from?” I thought for sure someone would answer but no one did so finally I replied; “Jesus.” She smiled and moved on with her talk. She explained in the time of the Roman Empire there was a rule that if a soldier or other important dignitary asked you to help carry some of their weaponry or baggage you were obligated to carry it one mile. Jesus, however, in Matthew chapter 5, said; “If someone has you carry their stuff one mile go ahead and make it two.” The speaker continued; “The first mile is obligation the second mile is voluntary. It’s the second-mile people remember. When you move beyond your comfort zone, when you give more than what you can afford to, do more than you were asked or expected, offer kindness, grace, and love abundantly, extravagantly.”

As I reflected on her presentation it was a good reminder that what the world expects and usually gets is the minimum, the essentials. When someone digs deeper, cares greatly, meets the greatest of needs, it matters and stays with the one helped and the one helping.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” #MayaAngelou

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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No Other Choice

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No Other Choice

I was greeted today by one of the fathers in my Incarcerated Father’s Class by a resident with a nasty looking black eye. We emphasize choice in this class. Our motto is; “Good choices make good men, and good men make good fathers.” I asked the owner of the shiner what happened and he said he was in a fight. I then asked; “Did you make a good choice?” His answer was yes. He explained sometimes you have no other choice.

I couldn’t argue with him. It would be nice if the world was black and white, clear negative and positives, defined good choices and bad. However, the world offers us a lot of grays. There are times when the choice of going one way or another doesn’t exist. You go forward, with your best intentions and wisdom and hope it works out.

These can be our best or worst moments. They certainly define us or scar us for life. When life doesn’t offer any options, no other choices, we hold our breath and cautiously step into an uncertain future.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Forgive

Forgive

I found this to be an interesting quote. I’m not sure how to forgive; “everything” or if everything needs forgiveness but certainly believe that forgiveness. Genuine forgiveness is in short supply.

We live in a world where everyone seems angry over something. We fight with family, friends, strangers, internet buddies, internet trolls about banal topics that are of no consequence and about subjects with grave consequences. The problem is we can’t tell the difference and fight over everything.

To live with an attitude of forgiveness, to be a walking, breathing living example of forgiveness in a world that hates, fights, shames, shuns, is to invite hurt, pain, betrayal, and accusations of being out of touch. However, it’s also the antidote to the poison that threatens to kill all we hold dear.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Perspective

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Perspective

Beth and I were talking over the weekend about perspective. It amazes me as I get older the more control I lose and the greater perspective I gain. Whether it’s a few moments, days, months or years, our lives, which we like to plan, can come undone.

The world has never been predictable. I was speaking with a friend the other day about the instability which surrounds us. Our political systems, family and community systems, even our environment seems to be spinning out of control. Nothing, if it ever was, is normal nor inevitable.

Last night I read a quote from Eugene Peterson, a pastor, writer, and scholar. He writes;

“The whole of the spiritual life is learning to die.”

This quote resonated with my spirit and experiences over the last several years. Dying takes many forms. Death of all things is a given but we seem to organize our lives as if we might be the ones to escape the fate of everyone else. Death is not a negative word if you’ve learned to die. If you do not hold on treasures and trinkets, live each day as if it’s your last; being kind, grace-filled and loving, never putting off to an uncertain tomorrow what can be done now, in the present moment.

We are but sojourners on this path called life. We are not meant nor built to last for long. With this perspective; how we choose to be today could be how our transient life is remembered tomorrow.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Underneath

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Underneath

Earlier this week Beth and I tackled an intimidating challenge. In our second bedroom, on top of the guest bed, was Mount Clothesmore. This is what we call the clothes that have been washed and put on this bed to be folded. In a perfect world this chore would be done quickly but in our hectic world, the clothes have a way of collecting and multiplying at an alarming rate. Sooner or later it feels if we don’t fold them they may take over the house! So, my wife made a declarative statement on Monday; “We need to do something with these clothes!” and so we did. Little by little the pile of clothes diminished and as we got to the bottom of the pile my wife exclaimed; “There’s a bed underneath these clothes!” We both laughed and finished the job.

Afterwards, I was still smiling about the “discovery” of the bed and began to think about its purpose. A bed is meant for resting, recuperating, sleeping. It’s not meant to be a clothes collector. However, that didn’t stop us from throwing our clothes on top of it. Underneath it was still a bed and only when we removed the clothes did the bed become useful, purposeful, again.

It was a good reminder that we are made for a purpose, to be useful. However, oftentimes we allow life to put stuff on us, cover us up, smother us, and before we know it we forget what we are, why we are and accept the lesser role we’ve been given. It’s never easy but we must overcome these illusions and find our unique and needed place in this world.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The Beauty Within

The Beauty Within

Outward beauty is always fading. Whether it be a person, a flower, an animal, a planet or a solar system, all is in flux and degrading. Nothing stays beautiful on the outside forever.

Unfortunately, we are surrounded and bombarded with messages that tell us outward beauty is the goal. Personal attractiveness, luxurious homes, sleek, stylish cars & hairstyles, anything and everything down to how we prepare our food can and should be a masterpiece.

To see inward beauty, the innate goodness in a person or a thing takes time and practice. It is a difficult discipline, as is most of wisdom’s teachings. It is a way of knowing and perceiving that an object, alive or inanimate, is beautiful because of what it is, not what it looks like. It doesn’t ignore outward beauty but realizes this is a passing observance. It seeks a vision that discovers the inward and lasting quality of that which it is beholding.

To see the real not the surreal, the true not the fleeting, the inward beauty that is each present moment and dismiss the shiny, glossed over, trinkets the world proclaims as treasure is to have life, abundantly.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Reacting

Reacting

What are you reacting to? Such a wonderful and powerful question.

We live in a reactive world. Opinions, biases, judgments, loyalties, choosing sides, seems to be what everyone around us is doing. We don’t have to ask for someone’s thoughts on a matter before they tell it to us anyway. Social media is a primary culprit but I’ve heard stories of this happening in restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores. People can’t shut up or stop typing. It is a wonder anyone can find interior peace when the exterior world bombards our ears with a cacophony of noise and words.

The space in between” is a difficult discipline which needs broader acceptance. Basically, it teaches that between the incident and the comment is the moment to choose our response. Between the action and the reaction, we have the ability to make the situation better, the same, or worse. In the immediate time following an experience we have the ability to make it more or less unstable.

Reacting, choosing, deciding, what our reaction to a stimulus will determine our destiny. Will we be thoughtlessly reactive, speak without considering, act without thinking about the outcome? Or, will we remember the “space in between” and so grace, kindness, and love?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

No Contact

No Contact

A cold front moved through our area last night and this morning bringing with it fall like temperatures and rain. On my way to work today I turned my wipers on to clear the water from my windshield and immediately heard an odd flapping noise. I looked at the wipers as they were swiping left to right and noticed on the passenger’s side the rubber on the far side of right wiper had come off the wiper blade. It wasn’t doing anything but flapping in the wind. As a result, where there should have been a clean windshield instead there was rainwater and condensation.

My day has been spent teaching others how to stay in connection with each other, themselves, emotions, thoughts and deepest selves. It’s troubling that in a world where connection should be easy is getting more difficult. The various social media platforms have become places of strident opinions and harsh judgments. Workplace environments, sporting and other social events, community organizations and even our homes are places where we choose sides and the divisions are growing deeper and harder to cross. Where once there was contact and closeness now there are only people flapping their gums, pounding on their keyboards, yelling at the top of their lungs, and our closeness to each other is being lost.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Power

Power

The late Stephen Covey tells a story about a time he was speaking to a group of people in Sacramento, California:

… I was speaking on the subject of proactivity, a woman in the audience stood up in the middle of my presentation and started talking excitedly. It was a large audience, and as a number of people turned to look at her, she suddenly became aware of what she was doing, grew embarrassed and sat back down. But she seemed to find it difficult to restrain herself and started talking to the people around her. She seemed so happy.
I could hardly wait for a break to find out what had happened. When it finally came, I immediately went to her and asked if she would be willing to share her experience.

“You just can’t imagine what’s happened to me!” she exclaimed.

“I’m a full-time nurse to the most miserable, ungrateful man you can possibly imagine. Nothing I do is good enough for him. He never expresses appreciation; he hardly even acknowledges me. He constantly harps at me and finds fault with everything I do. This man has made my life miserable and I often take my frustration out on my family. The other nurses feel the same way. We almost pray for his demise.

“And for you to have the gall to stand up there and suggest that nothing can hurt me, that no one can hurt me without my consent, and that I have chosen my own emotional life of being miserable well, there was just no way I could buy into that.

“But I kept thinking about it. I really went inside myself and began to ask, ‘Do I have the power to choose my response?’

“When I finally realized that I do have that power when I swallowed that bitter pill and realized that I had chosen to be miserable, I also realized that I could choose not to be miserable.

“At that moment I stood up. I felt as though I was being let out of San Quentin. I wanted to yell to the whole world, ‘I am free! I am let out of prison! No longer am I going to be controlled by the treatment of some person.’ ”

It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.”

Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule, tragedies, sickness, and death, but for the most part, we are a direct result of the choices we’ve made with the experiences we’ve encountered in this life.

I read a quote yesterday that I’ve been reflecting upon; “The world we see and interact with is the product of how our mind perceives the world.” We are assaulted each day by an overabundance of visual, auditory, sensory stimuli. It is hard not to be separated by what we experience. However, if our minds, emotions, and spirits are ever to be free we must train our minds to be still so we can experience the world anew and break free from what we’ve known, what we’ve thought, the life we’ve lived.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Free Zone

Image result for cell phone free zone

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

Fear

Image result for big black spider fuzzy tennessee

Fear

Earlier today I was weed whacking and mowing the grass. As I maneuvered around one of our smaller trees a movement caught my eye and I stopped to see a big black spider fleeing from the lawn mower. It paused for a moment and I had a choice to make; step on it or let it live.

A few weeks ago I suffered a bite from something that caused my hand to swell and turn partially red with splotches. It occurred to me that perhaps it was a spider bite. As I stood there this morning I wondered the same thing. The spider didn’t move and finally, I began pushing the mower in the other direction. I had decided I wasn’t going to kill out of fear this spider, in the middle of the yard, might bite me.

After finishing the chore I sat down with some cold water and my mind drifted back to the spider but also to the way fear can impact us. When fear finds a place in us we can become angry, vengeful, and cruel. We begin to be suspicious of things we may not consider beautiful, acceptable, normal and wanted. We allow the fear to make decisions for us and use it as an excuse for deplorable thoughts, words, and deeds.

Fear runs rampant in our world today. We can’t read online magazines, news, opinion columns or watch the news, many shows without our fear factor being dialed up to the extreme. We are told those who think different, talk different act different, look different, from us are to be feared.

As a result, our world is lacking grace, kindness, and love. The choice is ours to make; live in fear or love like the fate of the world depends on it because it does.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

the Other

the Other

Last night I was speaking to a group of men and we were discussing the needs men have to develop self-awareness. I told them; “Self-awareness is the ability to look into a mirror and see yourself for who you truly are, the good, the not so good, areas where you excel and places in you which need improving. The ability to know yourself is the first step in understanding what needs to be done to become the man you should be.

Knowing, accepting and loving yourself is also the key to loving others. Unless we’ve learned to see ourselves; flaws, hang-ups, habits, hurts and love ourselves we will be incapable of truly loving others. Often times our shortcomings and failings cause us to judge ourselves more harshly than we’d ever do to others. We stew in our self-hatred and weaknesses. This corrupts us from the inside out and results in a distorted view of ourselves which bleeds over into the way we see the world and the people in it.

It is only when we accept who we are, all of who we are, and love what we like and don’t like can we be free of a soul that is bitter and barren. Released from the prison which contains our hearts we find that others, like us, are frail and broken. We recognize the same limitations and discover in each other the strength to travel the path of life together.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Support

Image result for leaf spider web

Support

Today the Mrs. and I were working outside when I noticed a leaf from our Oak tree suspended in mid-air. I quickly put my hands around it and yelled for Beth. When she looked my way, doing my best magician imitation, I pulled my hands apart and waving my fingers declared it was; “Magic!” and wiggled my fingers as it moved in the breeze. To say she was impressed would be an overstatement.

As we continued to work I thought about the “floating” leaf and the invisible supports which held it in place. Even though the wind was strong the spiderweb, which held the leaf, was stronger. In each of our lives, it is important to have supports as well. Family, friends, co-workers, 12-step groups, mentors, sponsors, and other folks who will keep us afloat by helping us when the world and its challenges and difficulties weighing us down.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Vision

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Vision

Last night Beth and I watched the bio-movie; “The Founder”, starring Michael Keaton. It is the story of Ray Croc, the “founder” of McDonald’s, the world’s largest fast food chain. It is an interesting movie of how Croc took a hamburger stand, owned by the two McDonald’s brothers, and made it into a food empire.

At the beginning of the movie, Croc is a persistent, charismatic, but not completely successful restaurant equipment sales rep. While on the road he learns that a place in Bakersfield, California, has ordered six milk shake makers! He’s intrigued enough to find out what kind of restaurant needs this many and drives to their location. While there he sees the McDonald’s brothers “Speedy System” (where and how the workers are placed in the assembly area) and the unique layout of their restaurant which allows them to make “made to order” hamburgers in less than thirty seconds! Ray Croc is in awe and talks the brothers into letting him begin to sell franchises all over America. Initially, everything goes relatively smoothly but Ray Croc’s ambition, craving for money and fame, eventually drive him and the brothers apart. I won’t spoil the movie but it’s worth watching.

As I was reflecting on the story today I thought about vision and how it unites or divides people. It can be the vision of ourselves, family, community, church, organization, nation or world. Everyone has a vision of how things “should” be and some share the same vision while others oppose it. Competing visions can cause dissension and dissolution of connectedness and relationships.

Wisdom teaches us the more tightly we hold to our visions of things the more suffering we cause ourselves and others. Only when we are open and allow for the possibility of differing views can we be at peace with ourselves and others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Invisible

Invisible

The other morning I took the dog outside for some “private” time and waited on the front porch for him to finish. He was taking an extra long so I started walking to make sure he was focused on the task at hand. However, as I stepped forward I walked into a spider web. It was on my face and I did the obligatory “spider web dance” everyone does where you throw your hands in the air, wipe your face and hands trying to get the sticky substance off your face and body. The web belonged to a small spider and the web was invisible until I walked into it.

I feel like our country and world has been walking into spider webs this week. Invisible, sticky, hard to avoid and get out of situations and circumstances. Things such as racial tensions which we avoid until we can’t have been front and center. Politics and how they divide us. History and its impact on our culture. Power, ego, arrogance, and leadership has stuck to those who are trying to direct and guide us. Mistakes, bad choices, negative thinking, biases, judgment, have all clung to us and seem impossible to get rid of.

Wisdom tells us that if we wish to know the true way we must be still, silent, at peace and humble. However, it seems impossible because new crises and threats emerge seemingly every day. There’s also another wisdom saying; “Be still for at least 30 minutes unless you are busy or in a hurry then sit still for an hour.

I long for our world to simply be still, for a moment, and see the difference it could make.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Lift

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Lift

This afternoon I ran into Wal-Mart to grab a couple of items. As I navigated the parking lot my cell phone rang and I began a conversation. Approaching the door a woman was coming out the exit with a grocery cart full of stuff and a pack of paper towels on the bottom of the cart. I noticed right away that the paper towels looked as they were going to fall off and to the pavement. I smiled and said; “Excuse me,” reached down and lifted them back on the cart securely. It happened so fast I’m not sure she was aware at first what I was doing. She replied; “Thank you,” and we headed our separate ways.

It was a small gesture but wisdom writers tell me; “No act of kindness is wasted.” I believe this is true and that if each of us would be alert, aware and willing, we might extend kindness in such a way it would lift our world out of darkness.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Weeds

Weeds

Weeds are those things in our yard we try to get rid of, permanently. Last weekend my wife sprayed a lot of weeds in our yard which were growing out of control. Most people don’t like weeds because we’ve determined they don’t have any value. They’re unwanted, unloved and disposable.

I came across the quote in the picture (included) by  Ralph Waldo Emerson and it gave me pause. It didn’t change my view of weeds but it did make me think of the men I work with on a daily basis. Most of these men are seen as unwanted, unloved and disposable. Those who are incarcerated speak of being lonely not receiving any visits from family and friends. There are many whose wives, girlfriends, and kids have begun to discover life without them in it.

I was speaking with another man this week who has a bias toward a particular group of people. When I inquired if he knew any of them intimately, had sat with them, talked with them, ate with them, gotten to know them, he admitted there wasn’t many. It’s easier to group them together and declare they have no value.

Our world is full of “weeds,” people who are looked at and disregarded for many reasons. Whether it’s their religion, skin color, accent, dress, tattoos, sexual preference, they are seen as less than and lacking virtues such as goodness, grace, and kindness.

No one is a weed. To think and act as if one person or group isn’t worthy reduces the value of us all.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Bad Things Happen

Bad Things Happen

I was listening to a webinar this morning which told the story of a mediator in Gaza (a small self-governing Palestinian territory on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, that borders Egypt on the southwest for 11 kilometers and Israel on the east and north along a 51 km border).

It was a story of how a boy who was abused had learned to read the moods of those who harmed him. With this gift, he knew when to stay home and when to leave. Finally, he was taken from his childhood home and placed in foster care. He blossomed, did well in school, went to college and became a mediator. He says it is his gift of reading people and their moods which make him a good mediator. “If I hadn’t gone through the difficulties of my childhood, I wouldn’t be a mediator today. It was the bad which I used for good.”

Such a great lesson to learn and know. There are times when “bad” things happen and we wonder; “why us?” Perhaps the challenges of life we encounter, if we allow them, can be used to help others. The good in the world often blossoms from the worst situations and seasons.

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

 

Protection

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Protection –

This morning one of my lectures at a rehabilitation clinic was double booked which gave me a free hour until it was time for the second lecture. I needed to pick up a few items at a store so I decided this was a good time. I parked and went inside. Entering the store, through sliding glass doors, an employee was crossing in front of the doors and underestimated how much time she had until we occupied the same space. When it became obvious we were headed to a collision course we altered our current paths. We side-stepped each other and when we did a case for glasses the employee was carrying dropped from her hand and went bouncing on the floor. “Excuse me. I’m sorry.” I said. She replied it was ok and picked up her case. “Good thing you had that case!” I chirped “It sure was!” she said smiling and we parted ways.

Walking through the store and collecting the items on my mental shopping list I thought about the employee and her glasses case. One of the phrases I use when speaking to groups about healthy children and families is called; “Protective Factors.”

Protective factors are conditions or attributes in individuals, families, communities, or the larger society that, when present, mitigate or eliminate risk in families and communities that, when present, increase the health and well-being of children and families.   (https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=protective%20factors)

Protective Factors shape the way we see the world, dictate a lot of our behaviors and coping abilities. The fewer protective factors the more hostile the world looks and this shapes our lives, who we are, in the deepest part of us.

The second lecture went well. Part of my presentation is to ask; “How many of the attendees come from families where drugs and alcohol were abused, physical violence, negligence, abandonment was part of their childhood?” It’s always humbling to see how many raise their hands. We then talk about how our past can determine the way we see the world, how we think and make decisions in the present. I spend the rest of the lecture, hopefully, helping them see how to begin to build protective factors into their and their family’s lives.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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