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How’s Your Aim?

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How’s Your Aim?

This past Sunday morning the Mrs. and I went to our neighborhood church. It’s a small country congregation who meet in a small white building complete with steeple. We arrived as the service was starting and were quickly noticed by one of our neighbors and invited to sit with them. As with most small churches guests are welcomed profusely and it seemed as if every person in the worship room wanted to shake our hands and to tell us how happy they are to see us. This is one of the reasons I love small churches.

Finally, we were able to sit down and the music minister asked everyone to stand. We sang a few hymns and then the pastor stepped up on the platform to preach. As he was walking up to the pulpit I noticed he was carrying a firearm in a holster on his hip. I began looking around and noticed the music minister, and two ushers also were packing heat! Four guns in a group of about 30 people in a room no bigger than 25 feet by 50 feet. Needless to say, I didn’t feel safer and whispered to my wife; “There are 4 people with guns in this room. If someone comes in and starts shooting there will be bullets coming from every direction. Get on the ground and stay as low as you can!” The pastor spoke on; “Guarding your thoughts” but I must admit my thoughts were on all the firepower in the room and what would happen if someone’s gun fell out their holster and start going off!

This isn’t an anti-gun post it is simply surreal that guns in church are now an acceptable casualty of our culture. It also begs the question; “What would Jesus say about guns in a place of peace?”

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Jesus, The Master; The Gospel according to Saint John, Chapter 14

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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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

a Break

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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

Hope

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Hope

This afternoon the Mrs. and I went to see, “The Last Jedi.” It was good. No spoilers but I still say the Original Trilogy is not in any danger of being replaced on my favorite movies list.

As I sat in the theater I couldn’t help but think of my father. He took me and my brother to see our first Star Wars movie. I remember seeing it and being, pardon the pun, blown away! Dad drove a large white station wagon back then and on the way home from the movie we pretended to be in a spaceship which was in the film named; “The Millenium Falcon.” As we sped down two-lane highways dad would fire lasers, flash high beams, at incoming “Empire” spaceships; “Tie Fighters.” I don’t know what the drivers, targets, of the other cars thought but my brother and I were ecstatic.

The newest Star Wars movie is about hope. In fact, all the Star Wars movies are about hope, fighting an enemy who seems invincible and never giving up. In the newest one different characters are looking for that “spark which will light the fire.” They find it in various places and in other people who give them courage to “not fight what we hate but save what we love.”

I am thankful today for the message of hope and the strength to keep going.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

A Box of Peace

A Box of Peace

I received flowers for the first time in my life yesterday. Sure, Beth and I as a couple have gotten flowers and plants from family members and friends but flowers for just me? This was the first time. My wife and I opened the box and pulled out a beautiful Peace Lilly (pictured). It is a luscious green with one bloom but the potential for several more. There was also a candle and condolence card. The gifts were from my co-workers and I’m thankful to work with such kind souls.

We placed the flower on a stand near a window where it will receive plenty of sun. I’ve looked at it many times today and have reflected on the last couple of long weeks since my father passed. I like that the Lilly isn’t in full bloom yet. It’s symbolic. It’s a reminder that peace will come in its time. Right now we are in the early stages f grief and there may be moments of peace but it hasn’t healed the wounds in our hearts. However, if we give it time we will notice blossoms of peace spring up more and more until one day, hopefully, there will be more peace than sorrow.

Until then, we’ll hold to the promise, the hope, that better days are ahead.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Cleaning Out

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Cleaning Out

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Silence

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Silence

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Words

Words

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

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

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Home

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Home

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Flowing

Flowing

This afternoon, before the person remodeling our bathroom left for the weekend he rigged a shower and a working toilet for us to use. I took my first real shower in almost a week about an hour ago and it was wonderful! Standing there as the water flowed I was reminded of those around the world who have no water due to poverty, homelessness or lack of clean water in the areas they live.

Blessings are in abundance for so many of us and yet we miss the wonders. They are bountiful and flow into our lives like a giant waterfall. Unfortunately, we have become so used to them we take them for granted and dismiss their importance and rarity.

Today is Good Friday, the day the Master died. Because of his death, we in the Christian faith are showered with grace, love, kindness and mercy from our Father who is in Heaven. We’ve grown up with the story. It is so familiar that we miss the importance and the rarity of the God-man who came to our world, clothed in our skin, and made a way for us to bathe in the presence of the Father for all eternity.

For Good Friday, Eternal Acceptance, and showers we thank Thee, O’Lord.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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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Shame & Salvation 

  

Yesterday I was waiting to be allowed into a classroom of the local correctional facility for my bi-weekly Incarcerated Father’s class. As I sat in the lobby I overheard a prisoner talking to a young boy who apparently had misbehaved and his mother had contacted an officer and arranged a visit to the jail to see what life would be like if he didn’t begin to make better choices. The prisoner told the young one; “You don’t want to come here. Stay away from this place. Listen to your mom. Don’t be like me.”  It was heart breaking. There was resignation in his voice, a tone of regret and shame. A man whose life had become a warning not an inspiration. 

Part of what I teach the fathers at the correctional facility is they still matter, their life isn’t a waste, they can be a force for good in the lives of their families. They are integral to breaking the cycle of crime and poverty in our community.

Knowing we have a place in this world, that we aren’t just taking up space, there is a plan and purpose for our existence can be the difference between shame and salvation.

Blessings,

@BrianLoging 

http://www.thewannabesaint.com

  

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