Category Archives: Life

Head On

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Head On

On Friday, my chores included riding the lawn tractor around the property picking up limbs, leaves, trash and other debris. I was finishing up just as it was getting dark. There were a couple of pieces of trash on the corner end of our yard which is next to the road. I stopped, picked them up, threw them in the trailer attached to the mower, checked both ways and drove the lawn tractor up and on the road. I had the headlights on and as soon as I made it on the road a semi-truck turned and began driving toward me. I was a spot where I couldn’t stop or pull back in the yard because of a steep grade and tried to figure out how far I had to go before me and the large truck would be at an impasse. I was going as fast as I dared and the semi didn’t seem to be slowing down. With my limited headlights on, while being blinded by the brightness of his, I searched for a location to pull back into the yard. Looking, longing, becoming anxious at the thought of being flattened by the truck I found a safe place to get off the road and avoid anymore; “playing chicken with motor vehicle” scenarios.

After breathing a sigh of relief I reflected on my; “Fast and Furious” moment. There are times, on the road of life, where there is little light by which to see. We are blinded by what’s coming our way and helpless to stop it. We do everything we can to find a safe place but disaster, danger, difficulties are looming and we don’t know if we’ll make it. Sometimes, at the last moment, we discover a safe spot a place out of danger. Other times we keep going, hoping, praying, there’s more strength, power, and courage in us than we’d ever imagine.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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In Time

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In Time

I was talking with a friend the other day about getting older. She’s in her fifties and I’m in my middle forties. We were comparing grunts, groans, aches, pains, hurts, everyday stiffness and general uncomfortableness. I remember being told when in my thirties that once you hit 40; “It’s all downhill from there!” Admittedly forties have been rougher on my body than ever before but the fifty-year-olds are telling me; “Wait until you’re 50! It’s all downhill from there!” Just when I’m about to get to the top of the hill and ready to roll down the other side they keep adding more hill to climb.

I heard someone say the other day; “You just get used to some hurts and pains and learn to live with them. It’s life.” I believe there is a lot of truth in this statement. We all walk different paths, have dissimilar experiences and what we go through at a particular point in our lives doesn’t necessarily mean we can predict what others will encounter at the same point in their lives.

Wisdom tells us the aches and pains, joys and blessings of life are unpredictable and our only real choice is to accept or fight when and what the path brings us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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The Other End

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The Other End

One of the key tenets of our incarcerated father and fathers with addictions class is the understanding that every choice we make has consequences. There may be huge, dramatic outcomes or little and benign results but there are repercussions to every decision. Most of the men in the classes understand they’ve made some big, bad choices to be locked up but in the class, we are discovering that often the momentous poor choice was preceded by smaller ones.

We conversed about this last night as we do each week, “What you do today determines who you’ll be tomorrow.” What they think about, talk to one another about, listen to, read, watch, everything has a deciding factor in the person they are becoming.

Self-awareness, is the discipline of truly knowing who you are; the good, the bad, and the in-between. Until you are honest with yourself about the person you are you’ll never discover how to become the man, the father, you’re supposed to be.”

A wise teacher once told his followers; “When you pick up one end of the stick, you also pick up the other.” A good lesson for us all to learn and remember.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Wait a Moment

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Wait a Moment

I wore short sleeves today! That may not seem a big revelation but just four days ago the high was near 20 degrees and today the thermometer almost hit 70. I’m not sure what’s going on with winter this year but it seems as confused as I am. I was lucky to find a short sleeve shirt since I packed up all my spring and summer clothes a couple of months ago. There is a saying in Tennessee; “Don’t like the weather? Wait a moment!” It certainly describes what’s happened the last few weeks with severe cold spells followed by several warm days. Who knows what the rest of the season will be like. Will we seemingly experience all the seasons in one as we have so far or is winter setting us up for what comes next? Only time will tell.

As I drove to my incarcerated father class tonight I was thinking about my short sleeve shirt and the crazy winter we’ve been experiencing. I also reflected on how seasons of life can seem this way when everything happens at once. There’s good, bad, negative, positive, neutral and it can leave us crazed, confused with our heads spinning. Life is much like the saying about the weather in Tennessee; “…wait a moment, it will change.”

Life is transition. On the surface, this can be disconcerting but there’s also comfort in knowing even the harshest of seasons will not last forever.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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To Trust, To Share

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To Trust, To Share

This afternoon I was in Lewisburg, Tennessee for a meeting. I arrived early along with several other people and we were sharing with each other big and small life events which have happened recently. There were several birthdays which happened in January, someone had gotten married, another person was recently engaged and other good news passed along to the group.

We know deep down that other people have lives we know nothing about. We understand that friends, acquaintances, even family members are experiencing things on the road of life that we may never know unless they choose to share.

Too often we are absorbed in our own worlds and forget about the countless worlds of others which surround us.  Sometimes this focus on ourselves isn’t selfishness but survival. We are going through challenges, fighting battles and just trying to stay alive. Sometimes we are myopic and consumed with whatever is happening in our lives there’s not room for others.

Life is sharing, connecting, enjoying and struggling with those with whom we share the road of life. Good and bad, negative and positive or somewhere in between when we open our stories to others and they, in turn, trust us with theirs relationships happen.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Dashed Hopes

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Dashed Hopes

One of the incarcerated fathers I work with was told recently by the parole board that it would be at least another 12 months before he would be eligible again. The board didn’t think he was to the point where he was ready to be released. He was crushed by this revelation. “I didn’t want to get my hopes up,’ he said, ‘but they were raised anyway. Now I’m just down and lost.” We spoke for a while about making good choices while he was still incarcerated, using the time wisely by taking other classes the jail offers, hanging around the right people and not giving up. He agreed but I could tell he was coming to grips with dashed hopes.

Hope is a wonderful thing but it can also be devastating when what you desire, long for, remains elusive, out of reach. Hope can help us through the most trying of circumstances and drag out difficult and challenging seasons. Hope can be the driving force behind our survival but it is also the reason we burn ourselves up and out. Trying to figure out when to keep hoping and when to give up hope seems impossible to know. Perhaps giving up hope is not the solution but rather learning where to place our hope is true wisdom.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Memories and a Christmas Cactus

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Memories and a Christmas Cactus

My riend Mary, before she passed away, gave us a Christmas cactus. This year it’s finally bloomed. The simple beauty reminds me of her. My Facebook places memories on my start page and two days ago they were of the winter we brought Mary up to our house in Pennsylvania and she stayed with us for the winter. Mary, it seems, is making her presence known to us this Christmas season.

My wife had a birthday yesterday and we had a fun time joking she was rolling down the hill to a big age milestone. We also talked seriously of life and its quick passing. Death, whenever it comes, is closer than ever.

Wisdom teaches us to number our days. This is not a morbid discipline but a joyous one. Each day is precious, not one is to be taken for granted. We are to enjoy and embrace every day as a gift, like the Christmas cactus blooms and pictures which seem from a lifetime ago.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Going

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Going

The sight and sounds of it are everywhere. Even though it has been cold today with temps staying in the low 20’s, the sun has shone most of the day and the melting of the snow we received Thursday and Friday has begun. Each time I take the dog outside, more and more of it has retreated from the rooftops, tree limbs, sidewalks, and grass. The frigid air cannot stop the heat from the light of the sun, cannot stop the snow from going.

There’s wisdom in the mud and leftover, soon to be gone, snow. Nothing lasts. Whether beauty or ugliness it all will pass and soon there’ll be no trace of it. It’s the same with the storms and seasons which we encounter on the path of life. Whether attractive like the snow or repulsive as the mud, all must be accepted and allowed to endure for their time.

Life is nothing if not always transitioning. Each moment, season, lifetime, is fleeting. Welcome with open hand and do not grasp as it goes away.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Covered

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Covered

It snowed last night and today. It’s not a lot but a few inches and everything is a pristine white. The other day I was complaining about the brown, gray, dead look of winter and today the season revealed it too, can be beautiful. I’m not a fan of snow but the way it covers everything, makes it all look different, changes and challenges my outlook, even for a short moment, is wonderful.

The quote in the picture also reminds us that we have the power to change a difficult season for ourselves and others with acts of kindness. I would add; love, grace, forgiveness.

I told someone this week; “You sure are complaining a lot!” I now wish I would have blanketed them with compassion and compliments and perhaps, in their difficult season, their outlook on life would’ve changed, even briefly, and the world would’ve been better for it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
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Standing Still

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Standing Still

Tonight was the first class of our winter semester for incarcerated fathers. When I arrived at the corrections facility I was busy getting my things together before opening the truck door because a cold front has moved into the area and for the first time in a while it feels like winter. I shut the front truck driver’s door, turned around and saw a deer about 30 feet away staring at me. Then I saw another and another. Three deer standing, looking at me as I looked at them. I didn’t want to disturb the moment. I kept expecting them to run away but they stood their ground and me, cold and shivering didn’t want to do anything to spook them. Finally, after what seemed like several minutes I knew I needed to get inside and prepare for class. I moved slowly and the deer watched as I opened the back truck door, took out my supplies, and shut it. I began walking toward the entrance, turned around and they were gone.

It was a perfect moment which happened all by happenstance; the deer and me, right time, place and spirit of awe. I hope 2017 brings more of these because my soul desperately needs them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Out of the Loop

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Out of the Loop

I had a meeting this morning, at least I thought I had one. I missed this monthly meeting in December because of a scheduling conflict and apparently it was decided that there wouldn’t be one in January. It’s not a big deal. It gave me an extra hour to catch up with a couple of other items which needed to be done.

On my way back I set the cruise control and enjoyed the feeling of not being rushed. Into my bliss came an old small blue Ford pick-up truck driven by a young man in a hurry! He rode my bumper for a while and then finally passed me. Several miles up the road I caught up with him as he waited to turn into a shopping center. I drove past him thinking; “All that rushing and nothing to show for it.”

The canceled meeting gave me the time to drive thoughtfully, carefully and do my best to enjoy a bleak, gray, overcast day. I saw cows, hawks, Turkey Buzzards, businesses closing and others opening, people working, walking, talking, going to and fro. I was in the moment, my mind was present each mile and not jumping ahead to my next appointment and whether I would be on time.

I’ve decided it would be great to have an extra hour between all my appointments. I’m not sure this is possible so this year I’d like to try being more mindful, less in a hurry, more observant and less focused on the clock, more present less worried about what’s next.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Resolute

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Resolute

Ah! New Year’s resolutions. A rite of passage for most folks as they walk into the new year filled with the hope and promise of new beginnings, fresh starts.

Several years ago I quit making New Year’s resolutions. I forget what I was reading or whom I was speaking with but it led me to the conclusion that most resolutions are ego, self-focused. A lot of losing weight, less TV, reading more, exercise, quitting smoking, getting more sleep, etc. While none of these are bad or negative in any way it’s hard to see how they improve anything else but ourselves and perhaps other’s opinions of us.

January 1st, after all, is an arbitrary date. It is not different from any other date. The universe doesn’t know it’s a new year, the cosmos didn’t throw a party. Any date can be used to strap on a pair shoes and go walking, choose to eat better, chew gum instead of lighting up a cancer stick, turn off the telly, etc.

If the New Year is to have true, lasting meaning then what we need is self and global awareness. The ability to see the world, its need, our abundance and be empowered to do something about it. A diet for ourselves doesn’t abate world hunger, quitting smoking doesn’t stop smog hanging over cities and global warming, getting more sleep doesn’t help those with no bed or home, exercise won’t put shoes on those with dirt covered feet living in poverty.

Our New Year resolutions are often self-absorbed and myopic because we aren’t globally minded. We live in the richest society ever in history. Most of us don’t want for much. Perhaps this is the year we begin to give some of it away.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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A Little Quieter

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A Little Quieter

Our Siberian Husky, Trooper, has a bed in our living room. When Beth and I are sitting watching the television or messing with tablets or the laptop most of the time he is the room with us. We haven’t always had a bed for him here but after we had to put Belle, our Golden Retriever, down we knew he would need some extra attention. Everything has worked out fine until the last couple of months. For some reason, he has become extra sensitive to noises coming from the TV. Explosions, gunfire, yelling or loud music in a movie rattles him and he begins to get up and wander around the living room. We’ve tried turning down the sound on the television as much as we can and this helps. We’ll also watch a documentary where there is mostly talking and this works. However, any type of movie or show with startling noises and/or blaring musical score and he gets up and we tell him to get back on his bed and this scenario is repeated until finally one of us takes him into the kitchen.

I was thinking about him today, this behavior which has developed, and decided maybe he’s not the one with the issues. When I think of 2016, the year which has passed, I think of noise. Most of it came as a result of the political season and the candidates, the talking heads on television and radio, the choosing of sides by almost everyone and a cacophony of opinions, predictions, debates between candidates and their followers, accusations, lies and boisterous babel that still hasn’t stopped.

I’ve decided, like our dog Trooper, I want a quieter 2017. Please…and world peace would also be acceptable.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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The End

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The End

Today is the end of 2016. Fittingly it is a rainy, messy, lazy, stay inside type of day. 2016 has seemed to be filled with more bad than good, negative than positive, a seismic movement towards evil leaving good behind. Even as I write the last sentence images of natural disaster, murders, political theater in the absurd, and the death of people everyone knew and those who impacted lives on a less grand scale but no less important to the ones who still mourn their loss.

Also, as I blog this post it is my understanding that not everyone sees 2016 the same way. Some people had a worse year than what I’m describing and others a wonderful year full of blessings, answers to prayer and enjoyment.

My feeling of the year which has passed is a general feeling of woe for our country and world. Myopically 2016 wasn’t a bad year. Personally, I am still blessed with the most wonderful wife a man could be married to, a job that has seen a lot of changes but an enormous amount of good done for others, a house far from perfect but feels more like home each day, and cast of good people I consider my family and friends.

I continue to pray, hope and seek help for my Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety Disorder. For the first time, I feel my meds, therapy, and personal recovery are headed in the right direction. The diseases I fight are not and will never be easy but having people who care enough to keep fighting with you makes the battles less scary and victory more likely.

So, here’s to 2016, may it rest in peace.  2017? Here’s hoping you’re better than I’m expecting.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Getting Rid of the Clutter

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Getting Rid of the Clutter

My workshop has gotten out of control lately. Because of outdoor projects, it’s mostly been used to house tools, scraps and other materials needed for whatever I’ve been working on outside. So, today I spent the afternoon cleaning it up and out. There was a lot of stuff which needed to be thrown away, some went to the burn pile, other to the local junk yard. I picked up tools and put them back in their place, wood went to the wood bin, lawn care to their place and replaced a table in the middle of the workshop with a long shelve on the side. This created a lot more space to work. I’m tired but it was a which needed to be done and one which will benefit me in the long run.

Wisdom tells us a decluttered life is also necessary to possess peace of life and spirit. When there are too many things occupying space in our minds, emotions, lives we seem to always be in a rush, stepping over, shuffling around, putting things where they don’t belong and not paying attention to a life filling up with many useless trinkets. Wisdom also reveals that the more things in our life the less time we have for those things. Our attention, love, relationships all suffer when our lives are cluttered.

Perhaps the New Year might be a good time to discover what is and what isn’t important. Accept the truth we only have so much energy, time and passion to whatever is in our lives and do some decluttering of own.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannbesaint.com

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Small

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Small

Last night a front of mighty thunderstorms came roaring into our area. They were complete with strong winds, many lightning strikes, hail and a couple of hours worth of a drenching rain.

There are not too many other things which can make you feel small like a thunderstorm. The sheer power puts you in a state of awe. The four elder trees on our property which are at least 40 feet tall were shaking as though they were saplings. The water which fell made a stream where there had been only dry land. The wind blowing loosened and felled many branches while shaking the house.

Beth and I could only watch, listen and hope nothing would be damaged by the storm. We were safe as possible and everything else in our lives is replaceable. After a while, the storms passed and this morning I walked out to survey any lasting impact from the night before. Nothing more than a few limbs downed and dirt from the driveway moved about.

Wisdom teaches us that storms come into the lives of the “good” and the “bad”. They blow us around and seem to shake the very foundations of where we place our faith and hope. Storms make us feel small, insignificant and powerless. Wisdom tells us that’s one of the benefits of experiencing storms. Too often we forget how weak we truly are and storms bring; humility, silence, and teach us appreciation for what we should value and a thankful spirit when what we love most isn’t swept away.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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In the Air

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In the Air

A couple of weeks ago the Mrs. and I were sitting by the firepit talking about our day with our Siberian Husky, Trooper, laying beside us. One of us were in mid-sentence when he popped up and began sniffing the air. He smelled…something. We weren’t sure what. We hadn’t heard, seen or smelled anything but he has the stronger; “sniffer” so his alertness got our attention. I grabbed the flashlight and began shining it all over the area and sure enough, there was a possum ambling through the yard. Possums aren’t dangerous but I wouldn’t want one to waddle through my legs and Beth might still be running today if it had scurried past her. Thanks to our dog’s senses we had ample warning of the encroaching critter.

Wisdom can give us an extra sense of perception, a radar of sorts, which alerts us when something isn’t right, a correction needs to be made, or heightened alert is in order. It’s in these times we want to shine a light in the dark places, be vigilant, ready to make a course adjustment, be still or move forward cautiously. Finding our way can be difficult. We must be sure that every sense is used and heeded.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Using Your Head

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Using Your Head

It’s 70 degrees today! Almost January and balmy. Beth and I decided to take advantage of the day by working outside. Perfect weather with a little sun, a few clouds and a nice breeze. Everything was going smoothly until walking off the side of the porch I misjudged the sloped roof and whacked my head on a beam. “OUCH!” After rubbing the area which was throbbing and walking around a bit I decided to nail up a piece of material to mark where the beam was so I wouldn’t repeat the experience.

Wisdom teaches us that sometimes we are going to make mistakes, poor judgments, take a step in the wrong direction, not use our heads for what they were made for; thinking and making wise decisions. However, this isn’t the end of the journey. It’s a time for evaluation, choosing a different course, using the experience as a lesson learned and, hopefully, not repeated.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Surprise!

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Surprise! 

This morning my wife and I sat in a small Lutheran church singing familiar Christmas carols, reciting Christmas liturgy, listening to Bible verses telling the coming of the Savior to our world. In the middle of the service. a woman rolled down the aisle a cart with a birthday cake on it. The pastor then called the children up front and talked about Jesus’ birthday and began to light the candles on the cake. To his surprise and the congregants, the candles began to sparkle! A few of them sparkled enough to him to exclaim; “We might have to call the fire department to put these candles out!” It was a humorous response but also portrayed his concern over the flashing, flickering candles. After the children’s’ portion of the service, the same woman rolled out the gleaming cake. No firefighters showed up so I assume she took care of the candles.

As I think about the candles and cake I am reminded that Jesus’ birthday is; “more than.” It’s more than candles, hymns and carols, Bible verses, liturgy, communion, special services and magnificent homilies. The birth of Christ changed the universe, a cosmos of atrophy, mystery, transience and death. A child surprised all of creation. The birth of the Christ-child re-animated a dying world and beyond. We have become so used to the story but it should take us by surprise every Christmas! The impact of his birth is still being felt today. Our lives are not just saved but should be made vivacious and ebullient, sparkling out of control for the world to see, to dare others to take a closer look and maybe catch fire from the flame we celebrate today.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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A Strange Season

A Strange Season

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Where there’s Smoke…

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Where there’s Smoke…

Our little old farmhouse doesn’t have central heat and air. We hope to add it one day but there are several other home improvements we’d like to make before investing in a unit and duct work. During the summer we use window air conditioner units and in the winter we have a few space heaters plus a Kerosene heater for the main front rooms. It works well enough for now and does a good job keeping the cool at bay.

Last night, after we finished sitting around the fire-pit for a while we came inside and I lit the Kerosene heater. I went into another room and it wasn’t long before Beth was yelling my name; “Brian! There’s smoke, lots of smoke, everywhere!” I came running into the living room and she was right, the heater was putting out black smoke which was filling the room. I quickly took the heater outside, we opened all the windows in the three rooms the smoke was residing and put fans in them to help draw out the unwanted ash cloud. It didn’t take long to clear and for our hearts to begin beating at a normal rhythm again.

Though we like the Kerosene heater, the trick is getting the wick lit and the container which fits around and over it set just right. If you aren’t careful you can end up with rooms full of black smoke or worse. It was a good lesson in paying attention and making sure something which needed to be done specifically and correctly was done so.

As the fans hummed drawing out the smoke and soot last night I thought about how careless we are in other areas of life. There are times when we don’t handle things rightly, correctly, carefully and making sure what we do doesn’t end up making a big mess.

Wisdom, mindfulness, tells us to focus on what we are doing, presently, in the now. Lesson learned, again, yesterday.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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