Blog Archives

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

Advertisements

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

Perspective

Image result for perspective

Perspective

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

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

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Afraid

Image result for big white barking dog

Afraid –

This morning, driving to a Father/Child reading event I was rounding a curve when out of nowhere came a big white dog, barking and headed straight for the truck. I didn’t have much time to react when at the last second it decided to turn back. My heart went into my stomach and as I looked in the rearview mirror the dog made its way back to the bush it was hiding behind to wait for its next victim. It was frightening to have this huge canine all of a sudden appear on what should have been an easy drive to a county library.

After my heart and stomach settled I thought about the dog and the fright it gave me. The fear had subsided and I wondered where its owner was, why the dog was allowed to play this dangerous game when, in a collision, the vehicle almost always wins?

I don’t like being afraid. Fear is unsettling and I’d prefer to live life without it. However, I admit that life can be a lot like the, almost, run in with the dog today. We navigate the road of life the best we know how hoping to reach our destination. When, out of nowhere, something happens which makes us afraid. It may be a brush with death, a lingering sickness, a mental health issue, a financial crisis, a danger or challenge to friends and family. In these moments we become afraid. Our goal is no longer reaching our destination but getting through each next moment. Everything slows down and our attention becomes solely on the fear.

In one sense it’s helpful our vision is singularly focused. It helps us concentrate on what’s in our way and how to avoid it or fight it. However, if we are not careful the thing which makes us afraid becomes the only thing we see and our vision to all the beauty and wonder of life is obscured. Balancing being fearful and mindful is tricky but is the only way we make sure we don’t spend our lives afraid to live.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Power

Power

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Heart Hunger

Heart Hunger

This afternoon I attended a meeting where a speaker talked about babies born being addicted to drugs. The mothers of these soon to be born children were addicts of both prescribed and unprescribed drugs and when the baby emerged from the womb it too craved the narcotics.

It was heartbreaking to hear the stories of some of the moms. 85% were on welfare, didn’t have much in the way of education, lived in poverty and were receiving the help of many community and national organizations. What was even sadder was the moms knew their addictions were harming their unborn child and yet couldn’t break the cycle. The addiction had overtaken the heart of the mother and superseded their instincts to care for their soon to be born child. The hunger for being a good mom was less than the appetite for the drugs.

Our hearts, the souls, and spirits of us are powerful. They can give us the strength to overcome the greatest of challenges and reach heights unthinkable or take us to the depths of hell and nightmares unimaginable. Wisdom teaches us to choose today who we will be tomorrow. Choose carefully because our decisions mean life or suffering and death.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Hate

https://www.facebook.com/heather.heyer.9

Hate

This week and weekend have been about hate. Hate has only one outcome; death.

Heather Hyer (pictured) was the woman who was killed when a white nationalist drove his car into a group of counter protestors at the Charlottesville, Virginia rally yesterday sponsored by hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, Neo Nazi, and other terrorists organizations. Their hatred fueled the rally and the result was death for Heather and two police officers who died in a helicopter accident.

I don’t understand the hate. I grew up in the south, had a few black friends, but do not recall overt acts of racism. However, I did hear jokes, phrases, insulting words pointed at those who were not white. I didn’t understand what I do now that this is where hatred starts. Words are powerful. They have a way of lodging themselves in our minds and shaping us from the inside out. No one is born hating another. It takes family, friends, co-workers, and others speaking vile, evil, and vicious judgments it poisons our spirits, contaminates our brains and spews out of us like projectile vomit infecting everything we touch.

Hate makes me and others uncomfortable. It’s easier not to engage, to turn our backs, hope it goes away. Unfortunately, this isn’t what happens. Hate grows and spreads. Like minded people come together and depend on most folks looking the other way. Ignorance is a weapon used by people of ill will to gain power. If we aren’t careful, if we don’t call hate what it is it will win and we will be forced to choose hatred or death.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Last Time

Image result for shingling roof

Last Time

This weekend I was speaking with a friend about his roof. It has a leak and he and his wife have decided that they are going to replace the whole roof instead of just trying to fix the leak. “This is the last time I’ll have to put a new roof on the house,” he said. I knew what he meant. My friend is 20 years or so older than me and a new roof might outlast him. His recognition of this gave me a glimpse into a level of self-awareness this man had reached. As we get older, the wiser among us accept the truth that life’s clock is winding down.

Wisdom teachers place the lesson of death at the center of most disciplines. Accepting the shortness of life is the beginning of wisdom. It is the understanding that our lives are a mere number of days of which we are unaware of. Today, tomorrow, whenever, death comes for all. It is not morbid to reflect upon our mortality. It should bring humility and thankfulness. We are humbled by the uncontrollability of it all and are thankful for one more day, moment, breath.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Vanishing

Image result for zen sayings

Vanishing

Yesterday, an elderly woman from Pennsylvania, a beautiful, giving and grace filled soul, passed from this world to the next. This makes 8 individuals from a group of people whom my wife and I love dearly who have died in the last 3 years.

Her name was Alma and the 5 years I knew her she had to be connected to an oxygen tank to help with her breathing. She lived in a tiny apartment in a complex for those who need assistance. She still found the love and strength to bake goodies, spend time with family and friends, go to church and pray for her family and others. She had a wonderful laugh and never complained about her health. Her concern was other people.

Now, she’s gone and the world is poorer not having her in it.

Death isn’t scary, it’s inevitable. What we should be afraid of is living selfishly. A life lived well is one that knows death is closer than we realize and each moment solidifies our place in the hearts of others for eternity.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stripped

Stripped

Death is the great equalizer. As the old proverb states; “King or pauper, rich or poor, famous and infamous, all end up in a box in the ground.

Many faiths and wisdom teachers make a bold declaration that; “death is not the end of the journey but the start of a new one.” Yet, many are scared of this final destination all must face, accept and experience.

Death does indeed strip away all of the illusions and lies we tell ourselves. If allowed, it can bring us a sense of thankfulness and peace instead of dread and anxiety. Death comes for all. Some go kicking and screaming others with an embrace of that which we cannot outrun.

Death can also strip away our excuses, narrow our focus, help us find our purpose. When death is our company on the way it is either a reminder of compromise and wastefulness or determination and simplicity.

We should not fear death but welcome it daily as a silent partner who helps us truly live.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Revealed

Image result for zen sayings

Revealed

Have you ever had someone talk about their funeral with you? I have many times. It’s surreal and humbling all at once.

We spend our lives chasing things which will pass, change, not stay or fulfill us. We ignore death as if that will somehow postpone its inevitability. However, when death becomes a reality and we see life for what it is; most an illusory, transient and brief journey our vision of ourselves and the world changes.

For some, there is anger that they cannot stave off death, it will not leave them alone. They are frustrated by their lack of control over the greatest danger to their destiny and existence.

Others, those who’ve accepted death and have made peace with their limited time in this physical realm have a unique way about them. Their transience doesn’t make them less caring but more empathetic and kind. Knowing each breath could be their last they don’t want it to be used taking but giving, not insulting but praising, not knocking down but lifting up, not selfish but selfless.

Death, the ultimate equalizer, and character revealer.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Connected

 

Connected –

Last week a huge limb from one of our oldest trees snapped and fell into our yard. Today was clean up day. I started this morning hoping it would only take a couple of hours. However, it took all day and we’re still not quite finished. The size of the limb meant there were going to be numerous and large branches attached. We sawed and pried and twisted until we didn’t have any energy left. After we made the last trip to a neighbor’s who is trying to fill in a dried up pond to dump a truckload of debris we came home, showered and collapsed.

As we worked on the enormous project I noticed that most of the leaves had dried up and died. The storm, which had blown the limb down, had robbed most of the leaves of their nutrients by disconnecting them from their source of life. But, there were a few branches whose leaves were still green. Their life source had not been disconnected even though they had experienced the same storm.

I reflected on the similarities in people when their path takes them through a time of testing, a season of storms. Some seem to wilt under the pressure while others, in spite of the chaos of the present moment, continue to thrive.

Wisdom teaches us it is who, what, our source of life is that allows us to experience the worst and yet still live. Being connected to who, what is deeply rooted is the difference between life and death.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Another Way

Another Way

Our little farmhouse has many quirks. One of the most frustrating is no back door. At one time there was one in the kitchen but someone filled that one in and installed a dishwasher. Today, the handymen made a doorway out of a window in the hallway next to our bathroom they are remodeling. It was loud and dusty but they got it done and it looks great!

I sit here today with concerns about friends, family, and acquaintances on my heart and mind. A good man who I grew up with lost his father in a motorcycle accident on Easter Sunday. Another friend’s father has a mental illness that’s beginning to impact his family’s life and a tough decision will have to be made soon. Still another friend is facing a big battle filled with an extensive surgery and an even more difficult recovery.

I find myself wanting another way for these people who are suffering so much in different ways. I wish I had the power to create one. A way not filled with the pain of death, the uncertainty of life filled with disease. If I could I would knock down whatever obstacles which stood in their path but regretfully I do not have that kind of power.

What I can do is pray, offer and give any help needed and trust that though another way may not be available, the way of kindness, love, and grace, are still the balm of healing and new life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Recharge

Image result for jumper cables

Recharge

Today is Holy Saturday. The Master is dead. Hope is gone. Failures are many. All that’s left is silence and the stench of death in a dark tomb.

I went to the dump today and had to take some cardboard to a special container. The big enclosed metal holder was almost empty and dark. I had to take the pieces of cardboard to the back of the container and when I came out of the dark, smelly thing I thought of Jesus leaving the tomb.

On my way home from the refuse and recycling center, which takes me down a long isolated road, a man signaled me to stop and stated that he needed a “jump-start” to his truck. He had been working since early and had forgotten to turn his lights off. We hooked up the cables, waited a while, tried a few times that didn’t work and finally, his battery was charged with enough power to bring his engine back to life.

I thought of Jesus, the Light of all lights and how he had given all his light to those who would extinguish it.I wondered what happened in the empty tomb. Did God the Father have some sort of spiritual “jumper cables” and shock his Son back to life? Or did he gently breathe new life into him like he did with Adam and Eve in the Garden?

Holy Saturday. A day of disappointment. A day of fear. A day after and a day before.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stench of Death

Image result for mouse trap

Stench of Death

Earlier this week we had a visitor. I was getting ready for bed and was walking into the kitchen for something to drink. As I did a little furry rodent ran in front of me. I chased it into the reading room but by the time I flipped the light switch on it had vanished. Usually, mice aren’t a problem as the days get warmer and we’ve had an unusually warm winter so they’ve been few and far between. I set up a couple of traps and waited.

To my surprise, I didn’t catch one but four of them in less than 24 hours. Now, 5 days later, there’s no sign of mice anywhere.  To dispose of them I used plastic store bags, tying them as air tight as I could get them and threw it into the kitchen waste basket. We’ve had a busy week and the trash can didn’t fill up as fast as it usually does. I forgot about the mice until we got back home from church today and there was a stench, a smell that made our noses crinkle and our eyes water. It was then I remembered the deceased creatures in our trash. I took the bag outside, sprayed Lysol in the can, replaced the bag and lit a scented candle.

It was a smelly and good lesson on dead things in our life. Whether it’s a relationship, a job, a habit, a hurt or a hangup if we don’t take care of things which will bring death to our physical, emotional or spiritual lives we will end with a stench surrounding us. Through self-awareness and spiritual guidance, we can identify the decay, clean it out of our lives and not be haunted any longer.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Last Second

Image result for last second

Last Second

Beth and I lost a dear friend yesterday in a car accident. She was 91 years old. She was pulling out of a gas station parking lot and didn’t see an oncoming vehicle. In a moment she was gone leaving behind a wonderful legacy of grace, kindness, and love.

I received the news last night about 8:30PM and I’ve thought about her all day. I’ve reflected upon the sweetness of her spirit, her genuine laugh, and contagious smile. I’ve thought about the violent way she left this world, not at all like the gentleness with which she carried herself.

I first met her in 2008. She was leading a weekly prayer group. She was 82 years old but still had a quick mind and a body, worn down by its eighty-plus years, but she wouldn’t let it stop her. We became quick friends and as I looked at pictures of her today I was reminded all the wonderful things I liked about her.

I can’t help but wonder, as I think of the crash which took her life if she ever saw the vehicle which hit her? Did she react or was there no time in the split-second before impact?

I also wonder, how many of us truly recognize that every next moment, second could be our last?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

New Life In Dead Things

New Life in Dead Things – 

This morning I was walking, reflecting, on a number of things in a friend’s yard where we are spending the weekend. As I ambled around I came across a rotted tree stump about three feet tall (pictured). I jiggled it a little then a lot and soon it came loose and broke off from the bottom. Carrying the piece of dead wood to a place to throw it away I felt a flutter by my hand and looked down in time to see a bird fly up and land on a tree limb nearby. At first I thought it strange for a bird to fly that close but then I examined the dead stump in my hand. Looking closely I spotted a hole in the trunk about a quarter size with tiny red dotted eggs. I realized I had, like a giant movie monster, yanked up the bird’s home and carried it off. I gently righted the stump and took it back to where it was removed. I hope the mama bird will return.

It was a wonderful reminder that life can be found even in places which appear desolate, dark and dead.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Memories and a Christmas Cactus

Image result for christmas cactus bloom

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

wp-image-180059605jpg.jpeg

Broken Vessels

Image result for broken bowl

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” Second Book of Corinthians, Chapter 4

Broken Vessels

Yesterday, on my way to work I backed the truck up to turn around in the driveway and heard a loud crash. I checked all my mirrors and didn’t notice any flower pots or other things I might have ran over, nothing seemed amiss. I proceeded on and forgot about it until yesterday evening. When I took the dog out to take care of business I spotted the culprit who created the loud sound I heard while backing up. It was the dog’s water dish. It was in pieces all over the driveway. What once was good for holding water, giving our active Siberian Husky vitality was no longer good for anything but to be thrown away.

As I picked up the pieces the verse above from Second Corinthians, along with the song from Jars of Clay based on the same section of scripture, recited itself in my brain. I wrote yesterday about a funeral home speaker I listened to at a luncheon on Tuesday and perhaps it was still rattling around in my mind as I reflected on the fragility of human life. What now holds us together physically, emotionally and spiritually will one day not be able. It is not a morbid thought but one which reminds us to live fully and completely in each moment while our earthly vessels are still able.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

img_0511-4

Not too Late to Start Early

Image result for funeral planning

Not too Late to Start Early

At a luncheon today myself and about twenty others sat through two presentations. The first was on the newest technology for breast exams; a 3D machine that can catch cancer 40% earlier than most of the equipment currently used in hospitals and doctors’ offices. As a husband who’s married to a wife with a history a breast cancer in her family, I was extremely interested. Breast cancer which is caught early can have a survival rate of up to 90%!

The meeting was held in the social commons area of a large funeral home and the second presentation had to do with pre-planning your funeral. The speaker gave the advice we all know to be true but would rather not think about; “We each like to think we have more time in life than what we probably have.” She then went on to speak about making a record of our basic information, preferred funeral themes, embalmed or cremation and a host of other options one can choose as their way of saying; “Goodbye.”

After the luncheon I thought about doing things early, being ahead of the game, not procrastinating. Procrastinating is not a big problem for me. My anxiety disorder tends to skyrocket when things are left undone, not finished. It’s like a gnawing in the pit of my stomach until I complete whatever is bothering me. However, there are a few things which seem to be able to slip under the radar and can be put off “until…” I don’t forget about them I’m just able to slide them on to the back burner until they threaten to boil over.

Breast exams for Beth do not fall into this category. Because of her family history with this dreaded and damnable disease I make sure she sets and keeps her yearly appointments. Funeral plans on the other hand we haven’t talked much about. We both know we’re getting older, that death comes for us all and not at the time of our choosing. Wisdom tells us to live in the present moment of today but also be aware there is an unknown tomorrow.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

img_0511-4

Lay Me Down to Rest

Image result for jail bars

Lay Me Down to Rest…

Wednesday night, before my lecture to an Incarcerated Father class, I was speaking with one of the men and learned that a few days prior someone had died in the jail. He was an unknown older black gentleman who had been brought in late Sunday. The story was that he had laid down, complained a little about his chest hurting, rolled over and in the next hour breathed his last. For those who witnessed the event, it was both haunting and a fantastic tale to relay to others. Though morbid, being incarcerated can be terribly boring, it was an unexpected dramatic experience in the malaise that is life behind bars.

As the excited chatter ceased regarding the spectacle, I looked at the man telling me the story and said; “What a sad thing, to die in jail. Alone with no one knowing you or loving you.” I am not sure why I made such a blunt statement except it was a lesson I couldn’t pass up. Many of the men I work with have been in jail several times and if they do not change their ways could very well die behind bars, surrounded by those who are not their family and friends.

I tell the men every class; “Choice is destiny. WHAT you do today determines WHO you’ll be tomorrow.” and we all have a limited number of tomorrows.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

img_0511-2

%d bloggers like this: