Blog Archives

What Do You Feel?

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What Do You Feel?

Identifying feelings can be hard. One doesn’t usually experience just one feeling but a myriad of them. When we ask someone; “What do you feel? or How do you feel?” what is our honest expected answer. There are many events I attend, running into acquaintances and they ask; “How are you?” I wonder what they’d do if a person told them their feelings. If someone actually laid our their emotions, the good, bad and in between, what would be the response? I think most of us wouldn’t know how to handle it. When we ask; “How are you?” there is an unspoken code that says; “Fine, good, or okay” is the appropriate comebacks.  We get used to this and even when someone we love and loves us inquires about feelings we give the easy answers.

Therapy was today. My talk therapist doesn’t let me get away with; “Fine, good, okay.” She digs deeper, wanting to know what I’m feeling, why these feelings, what happened to produce these feelings. She’s big on feelings and questions about feelings! I’m not big on answering them. Honestly, I squirm, become animated and agitated, but she’s persistent and eventually, we dig down deep enough where there’s no longer pleasantries but raw emotion.

I realize we can’t do that with everyone but there are times if we’re focused and aware of the person we are talking with we notice the answer doesn’t match the facial expressions, the tone of voice, the hollow eyes or body language. Are we willing to set aside our schedule to dig deeper, offer a listening ear, reach out to help? Feelings and emotions are messy. However, if someone opens up to you be sure not to let this amazing moment pass by.

For more posts, reflections and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannebsaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

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What’s Worse?

What’s Worse?

The pastor started out this morning’s message with the question; “What’s worse than finding a worm in the apple you’re eating? Finding half a worm.” The insinuation being you are already eating the other half. It’s gross but it’s funny. His message was about being good, having true character, inside and out.

Google defines authenticity as; “the quality of being reliable, dependable, trustworthy, credible; accurate, truthful.” That is a lot for a person to live up to. We live in a world where the president’s lawyer said last week; “What is the truth? There is no truth.” The president himself is seen as a man whom constituents from both parties agree has a difficult time with the truth. The cardinals, bishops and perhaps the pope(?) in the Catholic church, the head coach at Ohio State University, Republican and Democratic congressional candidates, and many others from all walks of life seem to find telling the truth, being of true character, a challenge.

True character starts from the inside and makes it way out. Who we are, what we are, will always be revealed sooner or later. The question; “Am I an authentic person? A person of true character?” is one of the most important and ultimately life-defining we can ask. However, don’t stop until you can answer it with certainty and clarity.

For more posts, reflections, and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging

Everything But

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Everything But

This morning I was shopping at Wal-Mart looking for items to check off my list. However, I couldn’t find one so I began to look for an employee to help me. I spotted a man in a white shirt, blue and white ID holder attached to a lanyard. He was about to leave so I called from the opposite end of the aisle; “Excuse me, sir? Could you help me?” He stopped and I walked up to and asked him where the item I needed was located. “Sporting goods. Over there.” and though I thought his answer was vague I thanked him and began looking again. I was frustrated he didn’t narrow down my search. Then, it hit me. The man I spoke to wasn’t a Wal-Mart employee. He just happened to look like one because I was searching for one. I laughed at myself and wondered about the guy who would tell his family and friends today about the stranger who mistook him for someone who worked at Wal-Mart.

Later in the day, I was teaching a Dad’s Community Group and we were learning about listening. One of the ways to be a better listener is to leave your biases out of the conversation. When we’ve made up our mind about a person to or the topic *before* listening and understanding what the person is saying, and feeling, we are not listening. We are only waiting to speak.

Listening is not about criticizing, advice giving, making the conversation about us. Listening is, at its essence, letting a person know they are valued, respected. Too often we make it about everything but…

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Seriously

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Seriously –

I saw her when we came into the church this morning. She was standing far enough away from us that I found my seat before she zeroed in. This woman, this hugger, does not take “No thanks!” for an answer. A couple of weeks ago she was standing at the front door of the church greeting folks as they came in. She hugged my wife, who is a great hugger! and then extended her arms to me. I tried to fend off her advances by grabbing a hand and shaking it but she was too quick. I even told her; “I’m not a hugger.” Didn’t matter. She replied as she thwarted my defenses; “Well I am and you’re a man and can handle it.” I didn’t have time to answer and had no desire to debate so once she was finished I found my seat but never the rhythm of the service. I was thankful this morning she was far enough from me I could slip in under her radar.

You’re a man and can handle it.” Actually, no, I can’t. I have a well established large personal space. It comes from being introverted, claustrophobic and someone who deals with social anxiety. When someone insists on hugging me it’s not about me it’s about them. She would respond; “I’m friendly.” Imagine me saying that to a woman who didn’t want a hug and then forcing one upon her. I don’t think “friendly” is what she’d feel about me.

It’s a reminder that we are all wired differently. Some people are talkers, others observers. One person may love being a social butterfly while another can think of nothing more joyful than a night at home. Extroverts, introverts, center of attention and wallflower. Knowing people, respecting them and helping them feel comfortable and at ease requires a relationship. When someone tells you, asks you to do or not to do something don’t dismiss it. Listen to it, take it seriously, and proceed with kindness and caution.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Second Thoughts

Second Thoughts

Earlier this afternoon there was a knock on our front door. Unfortunately, I was indisposed and couldn’t answer it and be decent at the same time. When I finally got to the door the person was gone and all that was left was a book on the evilness of Protestantism. I picked up the book, flipped through it as I walked into the house. I put it down in the foyer and continued on with my day.

However, as I was busy with other things a thought crept into my mind; “What if someone had brushed a coat of poison on the outside cover of the book? What if there had been dust inside and as I flipped through it floated into the air and on me?” I asked my wife; “How have we gotten to a place in the world where a book left on a front porch can cause us to have thoughts of terrorism and criminal intent?”

We live in a time where nothing seems innocent. We are suspicious, judgemental, accusatory, on high alert, expecting and preparing for the worst. How do we get back to a more innocent time? Was there ever such a thing?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sound of Silence

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Sound of Silence

For the last few days, the sounds of rain has been bouncing off the tin roof which covers our porch. I love the sound but hour after hour, day after day, and you’re ready for a break. Finally, today around noon, the rain stopped. I sat in my living room and listened to the limbs shed their build-up of water and after a while, there was only silence. I wonder if this was how Noah felt being the Ark, listening to the pounding of the rain and the waves and when it stopped did he pause and enjoy the sound of nothing falling on his big boat?

There’s been flooding in our area, yards are swamped, the drainage ditches are overflowing. Even though rain is a wonderful act of creation you can only handle so much of a good thing. Reflecting on the silence I also thought about what we desire in our lives. Most of us do not desire the “bad” with the “good”.  In our imaginations, if we had all the power, we wouldn’t face the difficulties, the challenges, the mountains we climb on our journey from the cradle to the grave. Everything would be smooth with no setbacks or failures. If life was this way would we get sick of the “good”? Would we grow? What kind of person would we be?

There’s no way to honestly answer these questions but I do wonder if life would be worth living if we got all the things we think make life worth living for.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Behind the Eyes

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Behind the Eyes

I saw a picture of me from several years ago today. As most people, I don’t care for my photo to be taken but when it is I “grin and bear it.” Looking at the picture today the smile was there but it wasn’t genuine. There was also something missing in the eyes. There was no light behind them. They were hollow and sad. I was surrounded by friends in the photo, good friends. It should’ve been a time of stories, thankfulness, and memories but I can tell in my eyes it wasn’t any of those for me, only a blank stare and pasted smile. This was about a year before I was diagnosed with a Chronic Major Depressive Disorder.

The journey over these last years has been a hard one and there is still far to go but looking back I can see where I’ve come from and this does bring me relief. I’m not stuck in the same place even though sometimes it feels that way.

I’ve been watching a documentary titled; “The Kingdom of Us.” (https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/oct/08/the-kingdom-of-us-review-netflix-teenagers-lucy-cohen) It is the story of a family recovering from their father’s suicide. They listen to recordings of his voice, often in song, and watch videos of him and the family. They ask each other repeatedly, “Look at him! He’s so sad. Why didn’t we see it?” I know the answer; “because he didn’t want it to be seen.” We’ve all been there and done that; plastered on a smile when our hearts are breaking inside. We’ve pushed on even though everything feels broken inside.

Too often we take people’s word when we ask; “How are you?” and they reply; “Fine’ or ‘Good.” The key to discovering the truth is asking more than once and keep at it until they feel you might actually want to know.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What’s in a Day?

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What’s in a Day?

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Hate

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Hate

I listened to a conversation this week where the person told another, to their face, that they hated them. “I hated you when you left,” they said. “It took a long time to not hate you anymore.” It was an honest and startling admission. Most times people are adept at not showing the person they hate their true feelings.

It left me with a question; “Have I ever, in my life, hated someone?” I define hate; as the inability to see the good in someone. As I reflected on the question a person came to mind. If I’ve ever hated someone, according to my definition, this man fit the criteria. I had the hardest time seeing the good, the light, the benefit of his existence, the unique expression of God in him. It was, at times, impossible to not be suspicious of his motives, think of the worst outcome of his decisions, belittle his beliefs and talents. Then, one day, ranting in my head about something he had done the question came from out of the blue; “Can you see any good in this man?” My mind stopped dead in its tracks. The answer was “no, I couldn’t.” It was then I realized the problem wasn’t him it was me.

I’d love to post about how this moment fixed everything but it didn’t. However, it did give me a new way of looking at this person and my role in the frustration, anxiety, and chaos within me. It took me a long time to forgive the hurt and betrayal he had caused but I began focusing on what was going on inside of me instead of what someone was doing on the outside. This made all the difference.

“You will never see God until you can see Him in every next face you see.” #SaintMotherTeresa

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Pardon the Interruption

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Pardon the Interruption

When my wife and I first moved up north we were aware there would be cultural differences that both the people we work with and we would need to get used to. For instance, down south we say we’re going to put something “in the hopper,” which means we’ll think about it. Up north, however, it has something to do with a commode. So, that was a phrase I stopped using. Another difference was people interrupting each other. It didn’t take long to notice, especially at meetings, that people would start talking before another person was finished. When this happened the person interrupted either returned the favor or waited for the interruptee to stop before they started up again. In the south, we might fake it but we at least acted like we were listening and waited for the person to finish before we began to talk.

I remember bringing this up at a meeting where people were talking all over each other. I stated the difference and perhaps if we waited, and listened until the other was finished, perhaps our meetings would be more productive and not last as long. It didn’t go over well. No one told me to get over it but the behavior never stopped and I never brought up the subject again.

This was about 10 years ago and I’ve noticed rudeness isn’t going anywhere. In fact, rudeness seems to be expanding at an incredible rate. From radio to tv, social media, family, friends, co-workers, people at grocery stores, arguing and not listening, folks stubbornly stating their point of view, driving haphazardly, everyone in a hurry and not caring who they offend to get their lists of to-do’s done. Even our president cusses, calls people names, makes fun and insults others. Rudeness is winning.

So, how do we stop rudeness from continuing to be the norm? My only answer is kindness, patience, being at peace and giving peace. It’s not about arguing a point but being what you hope others will become.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Long

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Long

A question was asked today; “If you had one word to describe this year what would it be?” I knew the answer before the question was finished. The answer was/is looooooooooooooong.

My father passed away on December 1st. His battle with pancreatic cancer began near the first of the year. I went through it with him and my mom long distance, over the phone, and travelled down to South Carolina several times to see them. What they went through, the endless doctor’s appointments, the good news and bad news proclamations from well-meaning physicians, the ultimate acceptance of; “there’s nothing more we can do,” and then his sudden demise. As I said, “long year.”

Yet, paradoxically, there is a part of me that is holding on to 2017. It may have been fraught with battles and ultimately surrender but at least there was still a fight to be had. Since December 1st and the flurry of activity of the next few days prepping for his memorial service, the days have been living in slow motion. In spite of it’s pace, this was the last month I can say that I saw him, talked with him, sat in his presence, read and prayed with him. Now, in just a few hours I won’t have that attachment any longer.

It is quite difficult to let go, to walk into an unknown future, live a new normal with only 30 days of adjustments and finding our place, gaining our balance. It will be a challenge to press on into this new, strange year, but it must be done.

A soft, sorrowful; “Goodbye 2017” and a hesitant, and perhaps hopeful; “Hello” to 2018.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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

Origins

Origins

In the last few days, I have developed a rash on my left hand. I don’t know where it came from but I only noticed it yesterday on the way to work. It doesn’t itch too bad but my hand is a little swollen. When she came home from work yesterday Beth looked at it and we tried to figure out what I had gotten into. There is, what looks like a bite, near the knuckle on my index finger. I haven’t been near any unusual plants or, as far I know, been bitten by anything. We began treating it last night with an anti-itch, anti-swelling cream and taking a Benadryl. It looks better today and hopefully will continue to disappear.

Since realizing I had the rash I’ve been lost trying to figure out what happened. It seems as if it appeared from nowhere but I know this isn’t the case. Somewhere, somehow I got infected but it doesn’t matter when it comes to treating it and monitoring it.

Wisdom teaches us that we will not always see new challenges and difficulties coming. There are times and seasons when things just appear and we must adjust our lives to it. Illnesses, financial struggles, job loss, people we love enduring suffering. We desire two pieces of knowledge we think will help us deal with these issues. We want to know why and how long. Why, how, did this happen to us and how long will it last before we can get back to normal. Often, however, we don’t have an answer to these questions but they shouldn’t stop us from accepting a new normal, adjusting to the unknown, and continuing to live while we recover.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Not Easy

Not Easy

I sat on a stiff wooden pew this morning, in a small Lutheran church, among a few committed Christ followers. The pastor, an elderly gentleman who’s been filling in as the church searches for a new, permanent pastor, pulled double duty this morning playing the piano at the back of the sanctuary and leading prayer and preaching at the front.

As he began his message this morning I could tell he was a bit out of sorts with going back and forward between the piano and the pulpit. After a few moments, he got himself sorted and began to speak regarding the difficulty of being a faith walker in our world today. His words were seasoned with those of a long time follower. He spoke about how life, living out our faith, is tough. Period. There are many questions and confusing cultural conundrums that exist. There’s a lot of pain and suffering and knowing how to handle some, certainly all of them, is hard if not impossible.

His answer was simple; “be like Christ.” There wasn’t any lamenting about; “the good ol’ days” or how the new generation of faith walkers doesn’t have what it takes. His point was that it has always been a strenuous, at times; exhausting journey to travel the path of Jesus. There were no 10 steps to a stronger faith, an acronym to remember when you’re discouraged, a conference one should attend, a book to read that’ll explain everything. Nope. A man who has many more years behind him than ahead telling folks it was okay to struggle, to feel drained, to not have nearly all the answers, to keep the faith of those who’ve walked before us; “Again, to be like Jesus.”

For me, someone who seems to know less and less about everything as the years pass by increasingly fast, it was a needed and hopefully heeded message.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Grow Again

Grow Again

A few weeks ago when I mowed our lawn it seemed mostly running the blades over dirt. However, the last week and a half has brought several days of much-needed rain and the grass is growing again. In less than a week since the last mow the yard needs cutting again! I am certainly not complaining. I would rather mow more often than look at brown grass and stunted plants. I don’t know if the rain will continue to fall but I am enjoying every drop that settles on the parched land.

It’s interesting how new patterns in life can emerge. For most of the summer the rain would fall around us, just a few miles away but not often at our place. Now we are enjoying being on the receiving end.

The rain is a wonderful reminder that life seems unfair when others are being “blessed” while we are merely witnesses. Though we try to be thankful for others’ gifts and favors we can’t help but wonder; “Why not us?” The answer is often elusive but patience and acceptance are the lessons learned and for these we should be thankful.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Cleaning or Fixing

My face has several areas of dry skin. I try to keep it moisturized but often, during the day, these areas become flaky again and need more lotion applied. To this end I keep moisturizer at home, work and in the truck. The last few weeks, however, when driving around, I’d notice a dry spot reach for and apply the lotion but after putting it back in the holder somehow there would be moisturizer on my pants, the steering wheel, cup holder, floor board and I couldn’t figure out what was happening. Finally, yesterday, I noticed there was a crack in the bottom of the white lotion tube. I didn’t see it before because the lotion and the plastic are the same color. Once I spied it, the messes made sense. I grabbed some duct tape (one of the greatest inventions ever!) and fixed it.

Shaking my head and laughing at my confusion I wondered why I hadn’t seen the crack before. The simple answer was because I never looked for it. I just cleaned up the mess and kept going. I reflected on this and wondered how often we just keep cleaning up the messes that spill into our lives without ever checking to see to where they come from? We get so used to habits, hurts, hangups and learning how to live with them. What if, instead of cleaning the mess, we fixed the problem?

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Desire to Please

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This morning I was talking with someone about the lack of follow through in certain disciplines which accompany our religious faith. The basic question was; “I try to pray and read the Bible but sometimes I’m not as focused as I should be. My mind wanders, I become distracted by the day’s worries. Have I disappointed God?”

I shared the story of my friend Mary who passed away a couple years ago. She’s what many would call a; “Prayer Warrior.” However, toward the end of her life, when praying at night, she would often fall asleep. This brought her intense guilt and she confessed it to me one day. I smiled and told her not to feel ashamed; “What better way to end your day then being held by the Father as you whisper your cares and love into His ear?

One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite authors, Thomas Merton, says in part; “I may not know always how to please you my Lord, but let my wanting to please you, please you.”

Blessings ,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Rainy Day Prayers

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I spent most of the morning building an Adirondack chair and putting a temporary finish on an outdoor project.

About 1:30PM I went in for lunch and when I came back outside it began raining and hasn’t stopped yet. At first I was frustrated because my “to-do” list became a “won’t be done” until tomorrow list but the irritation quickly passed because we’ve had a very dry summer. Any rain is appreciated even when it’s unexpected and not completely wanted.

Listening to the rain does wonders for my spirit and as I listened to it I reflected on how prayer is like rain.

I’ve heard farmers pray for rain and to stop raining. I’ve heard others pray for no rain when traveling or going on vacation and for rain to avoid work or a dreaded outdoor event. I often question how God chooses which to answer; the prayer of the farmer for rain or the little league baseball team players who don’t want their game rained out.

I don’t know the secret to prayers being answered. Truthfully I don’t think anyone does and am very wary of those who claim to have the formula, secret, special language or know the certain scripture verses that, when read in a particular order, repeated the right number of times leads to success.

Answered prayer, like rain, often comes when we don’t expect it and doesn’t come when we are desperate for it. It can be frustrating, exhilarating, confusing and disheartening.

Our hope remains in the One who sends rain, and answered prayers, on the good and the bad, the just and the unjust, the believers and those yet to follow in the way.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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