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Everywhere

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Everywhere

This morning, sitting in church with my arm around my wife, I felt her stiffen up and begin looking nervous. I bent my head to her ear and asked; “What’s wrong?” “Wasp!” was her reply. I looked at the window behind us and there was the feared insect. My wife is allergic to any kind of sting and we did not have her Epi-pen. We hoped it would stay there and turned our attention back to the preacher. A few moments later the insect flew between us and landed on the top of a pew about 10 feet away. The woman sitting in front of us and directly behind the wasp saw it, took out a hymnal, and; “Whack!” No more bug, no more danger. We both breathed a sigh of relief.

Reflecting on the wasp’s last flight I am reminded that no matter the place or the time there is always and everywhere a danger lurking. Maybe it’s a sense of unworthiness, a reminder of a loved one gone too soon, a habit, a hurt, a hangup. We must be aware and empowered realizing we are not helpless. There is a difference between living life scared and living it vigilantly. Freedom comes from knowing your enemy not from having no enemies. The difference makes all the difference.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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What You Hear, What You See

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What You Hear, What You See

The new debate that is dividing the nation is no longer pro-Trump or Never Trump, democrat or republican, progressive or conservative, not even black and blue dress or white and gold dress. The division now is whether you hear; “Laurel” or “Yanny” when you play the following audio clip; (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDiXQl7grPQ). The numbers are almost even, 53% to 47%.

As I listened to the audio file and the scientific reason behind what and why we hear a certain word I also began reflecting on our brains and how they interpret information. There’s a quote that reads; “You’re unique just like everyone else.” It’s funny but also true. Not one person on this planet has lived the same life. We are all on this path called life but in different, never walked on before places.

I read an article last week about the “version” of ourselves we want others to see and how its impossible to successfully project this image to another. The problem is each person has experienced a myriad of choices, events, experiences, that have shaped who they are and how they see people. In other words, people see us mostly because of who they are not who we try to be. As many people as we know there are this many “versions” of ourselves.

The question isn’t “Laurel or Yanny?” but why do we spend so much time trying to be someone other than ourselves?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sounds Like

Image result for f3 tornado nashville

Sounds Like –

Twenty years ago this week an F3 tornado tore through downtown Nashville, Tennessee (http://www.wkrn.com/news/f-3-tornado-hit-nashville-20-years-ago_20180416214213/1126239206) We weren’t living in Tennessee at that time but we happened to be in Nashville chaperoning hundreds of teenagers at an annual talent and skills competition on the campus of Trevecca Nazarene University. When the announcement came down that all were supposed to seek shelter several of us ran to the different ball fields, tennis courts and other places where events were being held. Making sure to get everyone we saw to safety without a lot of chit-chat was important, however, one young teenage girl stopped and with fear in her eyes and voice asked me if we were in the path of the tornado? Guiding her inside as I answered; “I don’t know.” “How will we know?” she inquired. Not being a meteorologist I repeated what I once had been told; “A tornado sounds like a train!” Unbeknownst to my inquisitor, there was a set of railroad tracks behind the campus of Trevecca. At the exact time, I told her a tornado sounded like a train a train going past the school sounded its horn. “I hear the tornado! I hear the tornado!” I peered into her fear brimmed eyes, smiled and said; “Sweetie, tornadoes may sound like trains but they don’t come equipped with horns.” I got her with the rest of the students in a basement, shut the door and stood outside watching, listening for the tornado and laughing, thankful that even in this storm of chaos a light of joy can shine through.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stuck Behind

Image result for back of fedex truck

Stuck Behind

This morning, on my way to a community group for dads, I turned left on a road and ended up stuck behind a FedEx truck. He was going slow and I couldn’t tell if it was him or if there was a slow-poke in front of him. I don’t like being behind large semi-trucks, vans with no windows or box trucks because you can’t see what’s ahead. We were on a two-lane road with no place to pass and no way of knowing how many vehicles I’d have to get in front of if I tried passing. I was stuck. The FedEx truck was intermittently breaking taking me by surprise and frustrating me. So, I took a breath and let off the gas and gave the obstacle in my way, blocking my view, more room. We finally made it to a four-lane road and I passed him noting there were a few cars in front of him that he had been stuck behind.

It was a good reminder that at times, in certain seasons, we can’t make the progress we’d like to make. For whatever reason we are stuck and the way forward is hidden from view. We try to fight it, force it, make it work the way we want it to but this only keeps us frustrated. Allowing for slowness, even stillness gives us a chance to catch our breath and trust that when its time the way forward will come into view.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Junk Path

Image result for dumpster on truck

Junk Path

This morning I had an early meeting. I loaded up my truck and began pulling out of my driveway. As I neared the end of it I noticed a truck carrying a refuse container coming in my direction. I didn’t have time to jump in front of it and as it passed I sighed. I didn’t want to be stuck behind this behemoth. I thought about the way I needed to take and realized the Refuse and Recycle Center was the way I was going. In other words, I was going to be behind the truck, carrying the container, almost the whole trip into town. Sure enough, every turn, stop, flashing light I encountered the truck was directly in front of me. I followed it to the junkyard.

As I drove powerlessly behind the truck I thought of myself and others who have, at times, been on a junk path. Poor choices, bad decisions, oversized egos, revenge, remorse, not listening, not paying attention, ended in a bad place and a life that wasn’t balanced or centered. There were good people who tried to warn us, wave us off, show us another, better way but we stubbornly stayed on the path to demise.

Wisdom, it doesn’t do us any good if we fail to follow its lead and travel its path.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Knocking

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Knocking

This morning I woke up with a headache. It felt like a giant was knocking on the front door of my face. I at breakfast took a pill and laid back down. It helped a little but it’s been painful off and on most of the afternoon.

Last week a friend told me he had a “secret knock” whenever he went over to his mother’s home. He said this knock was for her to know that it was him without looking out the window to see. I liked this idea both the reality and the thought behind it.

We have ideas which knock on the doors of our heads. Some of these thoughts, especially the ones filled with doubt, confusion, anger, can take us to places we don’t want to go. Wisdom teachers call this; “monkey mind” a mind filled with chatter like monkeys in a tree, never-ceasing or giving a moment’s peace. It can also be called; “thought train” which is a mind that’s on a particular set of tracks taking us to places it’s not always wise to go.

The good news is we are able to train our minds to recognize “monkey minds, thought trains” and refuse to let them take over our spirits and emotions. The key to mindful living is to be present, in the now. Our minds are not all-powerful and we do have the capability of saying; “No” to negative, repetitive, thoughts and “Yes” to those which keep us centered, balanced and at peace. We simply need to know when and when not to open the door.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Disposal

Image result for pickup full of dirt

Disposal

This afternoon I took a trailer full of wood and debris to the local dump. When I arrived there was a line on one side of the dumpster and not the other so I chose the less crowded side. I chose poorly. I pulled up behind a man who was shoveling dirt, plain dirt, into the dumpster. This struck me as strange and watching him I thought; “Mister? Why are you shoveling dirt into a dumpster? Isn’t there someplace else you could put that dirt in your yard, a hole you could fill, a spot which needs leveling?” Finally, he finished, gave me a friendly wave, and was on his way.

I reflected on the man and his load of dirt which needed to be disposed of.  Each of us has burdens which need to be lifted, weights taken off our shoulders, troubles to be solved, millstones to be removed, from our lives.  We often do not know the difficulties family, friends and strangers are carrying. It is not our place to judge but instead to understand that none of us journey the road of life burden free.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Beneath

Image result for fire ants rotted wood

Beneath

Today I was tearing down an old wooden, raised flowerbed that was built many years ago. It was mostly rotten and needed to be removed. I was on my hands and knees prying apart a corner and noticed the wood seemed to be moving. Looking closer I realized there was an ant bed behind the wood. If you know anything about ants it is that they’ve noticed you before you notice them. This was true. I looked and they were on the sleeves of my shirt and hands. Fortunately, I was stung only one time. I quickly stepped back and brushed myself off. It was amazing to watch how quickly they went on the defense when under attack. There was no discussion, no plan, just instinct and getting rid of the intruder.

I know people this way. They are quick to attack, slow to find out what’s happening. If they even perceive that someone is going to be a threat they become defensive and hostile.  Some people attack themselves. They are more critical of their life than any critic would ever be. Others’ aggressive style protects themselves from getting hurt.

Wisdom teaches us that this is not the way to live with ourselves or others. We are to be patient, kind, grace-filled, faithful, hopeful, and loving with everyone, including us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannbesaint.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

Seeds

Seeds

It is COLD today. Thankfully the sun is out and the icicles and patches are melting. The yard looks so brown and bland. I went to check the mail last night and the ice on the grass crunched under my feet. It’s winter and though I try not to have favorites this particular season isn’t in my top three.

It’s hard to see the green for all the brown but knowledge, wisdom and experience tell me that it won’t stay that way. Even today, in spite of the cold, seeds are germinating and sometime, hopefully soon, they will make themselves known. I anticipate that day but need to be patient. Long, cold, seasons have their place in our lives. True, they help us appreciate other seasons when they come but finding peace and acceptance in the barren times is an important discipline.

Too often we project our lives to a period in front of or behind us when we can discover life, real life, exactly where we are now.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

a Break

Image result for give yourself a break

a Break

Today was the first appointment with my therapist since my father passed. We kept coming back to the theme; “It’s been a long month!” We talked about a lot of things which have happened, are happening and will happen. Responsibilities, experiences, the new normal of living life without dad and how these are impacting my chronic depression and severe anxiety. As we were wrapping up the session her words, her prescription for me was; “Give yourself a break.” In other words, take it one day at a time, don’t fixate on certain challenges, try not to do everything at once and breathe, keep yourself centered.

On the way home I was driving behind a person with a bumper sticker which read; “Of course I love you! Why wouldn’t I?” I received the message and took it to heart. We put such a demand upon ourselves to get things done, live up to expectations, not let anyone down, be what we believe we should be instead of simply accepting ourselves for who we are; imperfect people trying to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God and with each other.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Wait, Hurry Up!

Image result for long lines star wars

Wait, Hurry Up!

This past weekend I went to see “The Last Jedi,” the latest movie in the Star Wars saga.  Beth with went me and when we bought our tickets they told us to go stand in line while we waited for the designated theater room to open. We were first in line and as time ticked by we noticed some people who had bought their tickets weren’t waiting. They were going into the theater room while the rest of us stood by and watched. After this happened several times the line behind Beth and me started to grumble. Finally, a man a few people behind us broke from the pack, hurried to the room and then signaled for us to come. We were swept away in the wave of frustration and elation that at last something was happening. I’m not sure what the manager thought when the line broke but people would not wait any longer!

When we arrived in the room showing the film it was large, seating over 1200 people. The people who had not followed the protocol were already seated but didn’t seem nearly as many in such a sizable place. Everyone found their place and the disgruntled ones settled down and after a few moments and too many previews the movie started.

Afterwards, Beth and I were talking about the movie and what happened before. There was a sense of injustice of the rule breakers being rewarded while the rule followers were punished. This isn’t how its supposed to happen. However, there are reminders around us every day that good doesn’t always win, the righteous aren’t always rewarded, and injustice triumphs more than it should.

So, what do we do? Do we all become rule breakers, go our own way and let the rest of the world be damned? It is a choice we all must make but remember what the Master said; “What good does it profit a person if they gain the world, yet lose their souls?

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

Hurry!

Image result for skid marks on road

Hurry! –

Today, I was driving down my driveway getting ready to pull out on to the main road. As I approached I noticed there was a truck coming and so I slowed down to wait. However, the truck was going at a snail’s pace so I pulled out, rather, quickly, in front of it. I hit the gas harder once my tires were on the asphalt and put a lot of space between me and the truck. I kept checking in my rearview mirror to make sure the truck was out of sight. This one decision impacted the rest of my day because I spent it behind every slow-moving vehicle and driver. Work trucks, buses, elderly drivers talking to their passengers, young drivers talking on the phone. Even on the way home, I spent the last 5 miles behind a big pick-up truck which was hauling another truck on a trailer.

I was forced to wonder if I hadn’t jumped in front of the slow-moving truck and instead have taken a breath and simply waited, would this have reset my day? Perhaps I’d been a few minutes slower but missed all the other obstacles?

Hurrying, rushing, pressing, not being mindful, has its consequences. Sometimes we miss life, which is happening all around us. Other times life has a way of forcing us to slow down whether we like it or not.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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