Heart Space

Image result for broken heart

Heart Space

This morning at worship service with my mom I bumped into an old friend and asked him how things were going. His birthday was a few weeks ago and he said that he was going to celebrate with a trip but had encountered some heart problems and wasn’t able to go.

I’ve reflected on the short conversation several times today. It is Advent season. A time of joy and celebration but our hearts are heavy with the passing of my dad. As we sat in church this morning, visited a home improvement store (which my dad loved to do), did some work around the house our hearts just haven’t been in it.

We know this is the path we must travel and one day much of the pain will dissipate but right now, this evening, it is not the time. Our broken hearts still ache and space which my dad filled is empty. There is no template for mourning, no “right” or “wrong” way to grieve. We take it one day at a time, one moment, one tear and laugh as the memories, experiences, and love flood us and fill us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Redeemed

Redeemed

This morning my scripture readings included the 43 chapter of Isaiah. I had heard a selection of this chapter earlier this week at my dad’s memorial service. He mentioned these verses many times and one of his favorite words in this passage was the word; “Redeemed.”

To redeem means to; “compensate for the faults or bad aspects of (something), to gain or regain possession of (something) in exchange for payment.”

My dad wasn’t a perfect man. He had his habits, hurts, and hangups as we all do. Sunday afternoon, as my mother and I traveled back to her house after meeting the pastoral team who would do his service, I mentioned to my mom that for days all we heard was the good stuff about dad. She responded; “People think he’s a saint!” We both laughed and talked about the myriad of frustrating things dad did that aggravated us so much and the things we did that triggered him.

“The beginning of love is to let the one we love be perfectly themselves,
not twist them to fit our own image.
Otherwise,
we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
#ThomasMerton

Remembering someone after they’ve passed is to try to hold the whole of them together in our hearts and minds. The good and not so good. The positive and the negative. The stuff we loved and the things which drove us crazy.

Loving each other isn’t about forcing someone to change to meet our expectations or being blind to their faults. It is allowing a fusion of imperfect souls to connect in a deeper way where; “love covers a multitude of sins,” a mountain of aggravation, a collection of experiences that allows each one to maintain their unique identity but also redeems both the loved and the lover and together they are better and greater because of it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Cleaning Out

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Cleaning Out

The last two days my mother and I have been working in my dad’s garage. It may be mom’s house but it will always be dad’s garage. We’ve been going through a lot of stuff which needed to be sorted. By the time we finished I had things to throw away, to keep and the garage was clean and organized.

It was a sad and enjoyable time rummaging through dad’s things. He loved tools and one could tell as we tried collecting them in one place. There was paint from projects long ago completed and recent work. Other items hadn’t been opened yet and we wondered; “What project was he thinking about when he bought this?

The garage was a sacred space for my father. None of us would’ve dared gone in and rearranged it before his passing. My mom said this morning; “I know it needs to be done but I don’t want to do it.” I understood what she meant. There was a sense of invading another’s domain, eery and holy at the same time. There were items we kept not because they were important but because we just aren’t ready to part with them.

I think this best describes our walk down the path this week. We know we must go on without dad but we just aren’t ready to part with him.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Attention!

Image result for truck rear view mirror person

Attention!

This afternoon I stopped at a store and picked up a few items. When I was done I walked to my truck, put my seatbelt on and began to back up. My mind has been full of different and difficult thoughts the last several days and for some reason, I only glanced out my rearview mirror. When I looked again there was a woman behind me with a horrified; “This guy’s gonna run me over!” look on her face. I slammed on the brakes and waited for her to pass. I then rolled down my window and apologized profusely telling her it was my fault I wasn’t paying attention.

When I arrived at my mother’s house I asked her to wash a few items of clothes for me and she said she would. I gave her the clothes and was turning around to walk back down the hall when I heard her yell; “No!” I came back and asked what had happened and she said she had poured fabric softener where the bleach was supposed to go. I then told her my story about the woman in the parking lot and we both agreed our attention has been elsewhere.

Stressful times full of difficulties and challenges taxes our minds. We don’t sleep well, eating what’s available, our minds, emotions, and spirits quickly become depleted because our energies are used in other areas. As hard as it is we need to take time to be focused and still. Catching up on rest, eating at more regular times and a decent diet can help. Deep breaths, times of meditation and prayer, trying to be still so the muddied, frenzied water can still so we are able to see.

Finding the mindful way when the way is rough isn’t easy but it might be the only thing which will keep us sane until we reach a more welcoming and easier path.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Flowers

Image result for flowers funeral

Flowers

Turning on the porch light yesterday I spotted a basket with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and fruit. This was one example of the flowers and plants that have been delivered, brought to the memorial service, delivered by courier to our family over the last several days. Each one comes with heartfelt condolences, sweet words, kind thoughts, and prayers. We have appreciated and placed every one of them in a prominent place in the house. I told my wife and mom today the living room looked like a botanical garden.

What’s interesting is many of these plants and flowers are in the process of dying. They are eye-catching, smell wonderful, and fill the house with color, but make no mistake, they are dying. From the time the designer cut the stems on the roses, carnations, lilies, sunflowers, and many more, they began to die. They were placed in water and other sponge-like materials to make them last as long as possible but eventually, they will wilt and be thrown away.

This happens to all living things. There is the moment of birth, growth, blossoming and adorning the world with beauty and life. However, as soon as each living thing is born it begins to die. It can be from lack of care and pass sooner or it can receive lots of attention and adoration and hopefully live a long fruitful life. However, either way, its time will come when it will be no more.

This last week has been a reminder of how soon things pass. On the way home from the memorial service for my dad yesterday I remarked to my mom; “No matter who you are or what you are going through, you always think you have more time than you do.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Silence

Image result for silence

Silence

Today has been unusually quiet compared to the last several days since my father has passed. My wife and my mother spent some time together today which left me in her house alone. I reflected a bit on the week that has been but mostly I have slept. I am an introvert with diagnosed social anxiety so it takes little imagination to understand the state of mind I am in because deaths and memorial services, errands and condolence phone calls, emails and texts are anything but quiet and stress reducing.

My wife and my mom knew sleep and silence are what I needed today and am thankful they gave me some space. I am running on empty and my body, emotions, mind, and soul craves the quietude of muted phones, ignored texts, emails that can wait, errands which didn’t happen and the downtime which occurs the days and weeks after a loved one leaves this world.

They say the hardest part of a dear one passing isn’t the days immediately following. Days which are filled with planning, non-stop moving, endless words and memories are hard but can sweep you away in a flood of activity. It’s the days after which grow long. They are filled with loneliness, and questions, confusion, anger, and doubt. The flood of phone calls slow to a trickle, the flowers stop coming, the cards aren’t in the mail, and life goes on. The silence following the cacophony can be deafening.

So, what is a balm for me will become hurt, especially for my mother. It is in these times I must trust the memories will comfort, family and friends will step in for support and we will learn to live with the blessing of silence.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Words

Words

Today I had the privilege and duty to be a part of the memorial service for my father. It’s been surreal the last few days. So many errands to run, items to check off on a list, places to go, people to see. There’s been a sense of urgency, a nervous energy, a controlled chaos, riding a wave of sorrow and speed.  Because of the hectic pace of the last several days, I stood on the stage behind the pulpit at the service this afternoon with no notes, and no structure to the stories and experiences I wanted to share.

Words, they’ve flooded my mind and soul since Dad passed. Words from family and friends who care and are sorry for our loss. Words that go into an obituary, on a card for flowers, in a service program and used in phone calls, emails, and texts. So many words used to describe the love a family has for one who is, was, the central fixed, point.

Now, standing behind the pulpit at the memorial service today, I had no notes, no words written, no solid ideas, memories swarming in my head but none coming in for a landing. How do you choose the right words to convey the meaning of a life which impacted many people?  In the pantheon of phrases, how do you pick out those which will express the purpose of a life lived well?

A deep breath, a small prayer, and … share my heart, open my lips, loosen my tongue and let the words come. No, they will not be adequate. No, they will not be perfect. Yes, there will be second-guessing and memories that are forgotten to be shared.

Words. They are not, and cannot contain the heart’s cry of longing and loneliness or succinctly express the fondness, the love, the good of being apart from a person you love. This is okay. Living, being, existing, is more than words, deeper than condolences, greater than expressions of sympathy and sadness.

Living should be beyond our ability to communicate it easily if it is done well.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Searching

Searching

This morning my family gathered together to write my father’s obituary and order of service for his memorial. After a while, we took a break and I walked outside with my niece and spotted a huge Sycamore leaf.  It was the biggest one at first we could see and then it became a competition on who could find the largest one of all. We searched a long time and when we were convinced we had discovered the most sizeable one we began looking for the smallest one. This was harder because we had to look under, beside and move other leaves to find the smallest. Finally, we believed we had the tiniest Sycamore leaf in the yard.

It was another busy day with people visiting, numerous phone calls, memorial service being organized, visiting the florist, and other errands. In the hustle and bustle of things, a family must do when one they love has passed it’s hard to find the peace one desires. The big things, the things which must get done are easy to find, it’s the small things; the glimpses of hope, the good memories, times when the good of a life well-lived shines in the darkness of a loved one parting.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Saint John, chapter 1

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Home

Image result for new home

Home

My friend, role-model, and father passed away early this morning a little after midnight. His fight was over and he was ready. He sat up one last time as if to say, “It’s my time. I’m coming home.

The house seemed empty today when we returned from all the breathless running around one does after a loved one takes their final breath. Even though he hasn’t been home in a few weeks it seemed he had just left the house. Keys, hats, computers, movies, his chair all still in their proper place. It seems this is still his house, his home. But…it’s not. Sure, there are memories and experiences. A lifetime of highs and lows to relive for the rest of our time on this shadow side of eternity but he has moved and left a forwarding address.

I sit in the quietude with his presence still lingering. I think about all of the rough days he’s had over the last 8 months, the noises of the machines which were keeping him alive. After we received the phone call we drove over to the hospice house to say our; “Goodbyes.” The room was so still. No beeping, whirring, pumping, dripping, nurses checking in. It was motionless and the silence was deafening. My mother began to fill the atmosphere with soft cries, and soft words to her best friend and lover of the last 40 years. My brother and I standing in the background, witnesses to a heart affair which is rare in this world. Finally, after a few more kisses from her on his hands and cheek, we left all thankful we’d never see that room again and that he had moved on to his permanent address.

And now, we are left to carry on. To occupy a house which isn’t home without him. To learn to adjust to a new normal we didn’t choose. To loosen our grip on this world, this place, because we know home is waiting for us on the other side.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Lost


Lost

I brought our Siberian Husky, Trooper with us when I came down to see my sick friend a couple of days ago. He’s starting to get used to being in a new place. At first he wasn’t sure where to go, what to do and I walked with him around the back yard, took him to his room and showed him everything was okay. Now, he runs around outside, sleeps better than I do in his spot by the bed and has a look of “like” not lost.

I sat with my friend today and in between his naps read from a Jewish prayer book. The words of the almost one hundred year old book contains a lot of comfort using readings, poems, reflections and Psalms. They tell of a new world and give glimpses of a place unknown. As I read to my friend I can tell some of the words are hard to hear for a part of him. He knows this place, it’s sights, smells, it’s delights and even it’s difficulties and challenges, are familiar.

I hope what I read to him, what others read, the prayers said pull back the veil enough to help him become comfortable, perhaps a growing longing, for the new place which awaits him.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

Still

Image result for hospital room

Still

I am sitting at the foot of the hospital bed of my friend who’s been suffering for the last several weeks. The room is quiet except for the loud hum of a pump which is pulling toxins from his body and the oxygen machine, both attached to him. He’s still, trying to find the sleep which eluded him last night. He received a pain shot from a nurse a few moments ago and hopefully, this affords him a quiet mind and a less painful body for a while.

He looks weak, not at all the man I’ve known for most of my life. I know him and if he could leave this place he would in a moment, hospital gown and all. In fact last night someone asked him if they could do anything for him and he quipped; “Trade places with me.” I smiled and thought; “Be careful what you ask for…” It’s these little jokes he still manages that show me he’s still fighting, still holding on, still not ready to take his final steps into eternity.

His legs twitch while he tries to nap. I wonder if they are the result of a dream? Perhaps a time when we were hiking on the Appalachian trail or playing T-Ball, maybe it was working on a construction project at his home. I hope it’s good dreams and brings him happiness, even in sleep.

Still. Still hanging on. Still suffering. Still funny. Still hoping. Still trusting the path to what’s next is not too difficult.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

Similar

Image result for red pickup truck

Similar

This morning, on my way to a meeting, I was driving on the main two-lane road in Columbia, Tennessee. I was about to switch lanes when I happened to look up to see a red truck all of a sudden swerve from behind me in the right to the left lane. He didn’t use a signal or proceed cautiously. He seemed in a hurry to get wherever he was going and I waited for him to pass before signaling and merging to the other lane. A few minutes later a white truck ahead of us both quickly jumped from the right lane to the left lane in front of the red truck and then turned on his signal to turn on to another road. The driver of the red truck had to slam on his brakes and I watched as he shook his head at the carelessness of the other driver. I wondered if it ever dawned on him that they had driving habits in common? Probably not. I reflected on the fact that we recognize bad driving in others but rarely notice it in ourselves. The rest of the way to my meeting I followed the driver of the red truck and pondered if I was also a bad driver but hadn’t realized it yet.

We often spot the bad in the other person. Judge harshly another’s words and actions. We jump to conclusions and condemnations about people we see for a moment and allow it to become the lens by which we determine their motivations and value. We are too quick to label people as something negative because of a lapse in judgment. Our world doesn’t have a lot of empathy. We don’t want to walk a mile in another’s shoes. It’s easier to pronounce them as bad or stupid, unqualified or evil.

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”
-The Master, Gospel of Saint Matthew 7:3-5

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Renewal

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Renewal

Last night I sat in front of a roaring fire outside at our fire-pit. I had cleaned up the yard over the last two days and had limbs and other stuff we no longer needed to burn. I watched as the flames consumed the items and then deposit them in the air as smoke and ash.

I thought about life and all that we hold dear is quickly used up and thrown away. Nothing in this world is permanent. Everything is transient. I reflected upon the life of my friend who is suffering in a hospital holding on to a life which isn’t intended to endure. However, he holds on as tight as he can because he loves his family and his friends. He and we don’t want to say; “Goodbye.” In his weakened condition, he still worries about others and how they will make it without him.

The fire burns down and I start to feel the cold of the evening. I’ve run out of fuel to feed the flames. They get lower, the embers glow less brightly and soon will go out. I get up and move inside. A place of warmth, safety, and comfort. I pray my friend, at the right time, will leave this cold world and find his eternal dwelling place as well.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Laughter

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Laughter

Late last night a friend of my wife and me texted concerning a “rat” that was in her kitchen! I called her and asked if it was dead, moving and how big? She confessed it wasn’t a rat but a mouse and it was moving quicker than she or it would be a dead rodent! I inquired if she had traps or poison and learned all she possessed was a broom. “What are you going to do with a broom?” I asked bemusedly.  “I don’t know. Maybe I can kill it.” I began to laugh at the thought of my friend chasing down a small, fast, furry, creature and then she began to laugh as well. I informed her that the chances were slim she would rid herself of the mouse with a broom and she could either go get traps and poison now or tomorrow. She was already dressed for bed so she decided to wait until today.

My friend’s had a rough go of it the past several months and a mouse was one more problem she didn’t need. I understood but I also told her at least it was a distraction for a couple of moments and we did have a good laugh at the thought of her playing hockey with a broom and the rodent.

Laughter, funny moments and experiences, can be a blessing. Even in a time of turmoil and terror, a good laugh can chase the fear and uncertainty away for a little while. I hope my friend finds more moments of light-heartedness as she walks a trail that no one desires.

Treasure laughter. A good medicine. A great reminder that even in the darkest of times we can find humor, hope, and the strength to go on.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Continues

Image result for raking leavesContinues

I spent most of the day raking leaves and mowing the grass in the front yard. Raking isn’t my most favorite thing but it did get me out of the house on this beautiful, cool, day. As I raked I thought about a couple of things. I thought about my friend, who’s in the hospital right now fighting a losing battle for his life. I reflect on the leaves, now brown and shriveled were green and beautiful not too long ago. Time passes so very quickly and it catches us by surprise no matter when it runs out.

The wind was also blowing as I raked today and it was frustrating at times when it would catch a group of leaves I was trying to make go one way and send them scattered the opposite way. I noticed if I could collect a large group of them together it made a difference in getting them to the spot I needed them to go. The larger the group the better it worked. As I used this strategy I was thankful for the help and support of others as my friend battles an ominous disease. He doesn’t fight alone.

A quiet day, a somber day, a beautiful day with a reminder that even as life ends, it also continues.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Messy Good

Image result for make macaroni and cheese

Messy Good

Today I sat on a stool in the kitchen while my wife cooked a dish for the family Thanksgiving meal. I watched her boil noodles, crack eggs, mix in cheese, add milk, thick whipping cream and whip all of the ingredients into a thick bowl of mush. It didn’t smell, look, or appear appetizing at all. She then poured it into a large glass casserole dish and slide it into the oven. About an hour later out came one of my favorite dishes, “Nana’s macaroni and cheese!” It looked great, smelled even better and, when it cools off, I will have a large serving and enjoy every bite.

It’s amazing to me how something so messy and chaotically made can turn into something so tasty good and wonderful. This week has been rough! Someone close to me is going through hell and the only thing I can do is pray and offer words of encouragement. One of the hardest experiences to endure is knowing you’re powerless to stop someone else’s suffering. Pain, medicine, bad reactions, heartache, death. Life can be messy, unseemly, and at times unbearable.

However, there is a light which stirs in us a hope that the chaos, the turmoil, the misery, somehow, someway, will be made into goodness and worth the messiness life can bring our way.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

I Love Her

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I Love Her

Earlier this week at one of my incarcerated father’s classes one I was listening to resident tell another about a woman who works with the residents at the jail. He said; “I love her!” A few minutes later he was talking about corrections officer and repeated; “I love her!” I couldn’t help myself as I asked him; “You love her?” “Yep,’ he shot right back. ‘Women, all of them. Short ones, tall ones, skinny ones and fat ones. I love ’em all. Except for the ones without teeth. They need to have all their teeth. That’s a real turn-off.” “It’s good to have standards.” I quipped. “Do you think perhaps your lack of judgment when it comes to women is part of the reason you’re in jail?” He thought for a moment and replied; “Yes.

There is a difference between love and lust, want and need. Those who follow their passions only end up making choices that negatively impact their lives. Those who know they shouldn’t have everything they want, their every heart’s desire, satisfaction to every immediate impulse, make better decisions that positively affect their present and future.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Extra

Image result for going the extra mile

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

No Other Choice

Image result for black eye

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

Blind

Image result for wind night time

Blind

Last night a mighty storm with fast blowing winds and rain came through our area. I sat in the house listening to dead limbs being shaken from the big Oak tree in our front yard, the rain pounding on the roof. There were a few times I went outside to see the storm but the sun had already set and with the clouds overhead there wasn’t much to view. Then the power went out. It wasn’t surprising because of the fierceness of the wind. I went outside again and nothing could be seen but I could feel the wind threatening to blow me over as it had a couple of our potted trees. Finally, after a few hours, the storm had passed, the lights were back on, and I was thankful the storm has passed.

I don’t like storms at night. The biggest reason is that I can’t see anything, not even the direction of the blowing wind. As I sat in a candlelit living room, everything quiet but storm raging outside, I was reminded of life and the storms we face. There are times we see the storm coming but there are other times when one comes out of nowhere. It’s ferociousness rocks our lives and we feel blind as we try to feel our way forward. These can be the scariest of all because there is seemingly no light to see by, to make us feel safe, or to tell us we are nearing the end. The only thing we can do is wait, trusting that no storm lasts forever.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Till Death

Image result for wedding

Till Death

Today I had the honor of officiating the marriage between a young woman I have known for a long time and her finance. It was a homespun affair. The bride, groom and myself on the porch, the rest of the family and friends in mismatched chairs under two canopies to keep away the strong wind and drizzle that wouldn’t give up the fight. It was a beautiful wedding. The bride and groom truly cared for each other and it showed. They wrote most of their vows which is the norm these days. However, they still included the phrase; “Till death do us part.” Marriage is supposed to be a lifelong commitment.

Before I arrived at the home where the event was held I pulled into a church parking lot to put on my dress shirt and tie. Afterwards, since I was running early, I sat in the car and watched a family walk through a maze of headstones trying to pick one out at a Memorial and Engraving shop which was located just down from the church. I wondered about their story, the person they were looking for.

I thought about the experience after the wedding as well and hoped for a story of long-lasting love and a life-long commitment for the couple who said their; “I do’s.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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